Information overload… I have it, you have it, and all of our users have it. So what did the VOCEDplus team do to help our users quickly and easily access quality information and publications? We developed the VOCEDplus Pod Network (http://www.voced.edu.au/pod-network), 20 interconnected web pages, called Pods, on specific tertiary education and labour market themes. Each Pod contains links to a range of Australian and international resources including published research, news, media, events, and featured authors.
The VOCEDplus team manages VOCEDplus, a free international database for tertiary education research which provides access to published research, policy, practice, and statistics relating to the outcomes of tertiary education. It contains over 70,000 English language records, many with links to full text documents.
The VOCEDplus Pod Network was created as a quality controlled sustainable technological resource. Many of the research pieces appearing in the VOCEDplus Pod Network link directly through to VOCEDplus records thereby raising the profile of the VOCEDplus collection and showcasing its strengths. Most importantly the VOCEDplus team has been able to give users an enriched information and knowledge gathering experience that combines convenience with curation.
The first 10 Pods were released in February 2016. To keep the publicity momentum going, the other 10 Pods had staggered releases between March and July 2016. The Pods focus on broad themes including Apprenticeships and traineeships, Career development, Foundation skills, Pathways, Quality, Skills and knowledge, Students, Teaching and learning, and Workforce development.
Podlets on narrower topics under each of the Pods have also been developed and released since February 2016. By mid-2017 there will be more than 70 Podlets available. Podlets focus on topics including Competency based training, Equivalence of qualifications, International education, Online learning, Recognition of prior learning, Skill demand, STEM skills, Training packages, and VET in schools.
Since its launch, the VOCEDplus Pod Network has had rapidly growing exposure and ever increasing numbers of page visits. In the first month the VOCEDplus Pod Network received almost 5,000 page views, from a wide range of countries.
Positive anecdotal feedback indicates that researchers enjoy the convenience of the resource finding it quick, easy and intuitive to use. Many researchers have commented that it is a great place for getting started on a topic and really appreciate that they can then also delve into material more deeply as required through the ‘Access items in VOCEDplus’ feature. They also love that they can refer others to the VOCEDplus Pod Network rather than sending them to several different places to find information.
We regularly receive content suggestions from users, an indication that they see the Pods as worthy of their interest and time investment. Requests to advertise conferences, in particular, are useful for helping us maintain the currency of the Pods, and show the value users see in being a part of the VOCEDplus Pod Network.
The time, money and effort put into creating the VOCEDplus Pod Network have definitely been worth it. It looks great and users are able to easily and quickly access quality information and publications on a range of topics. The VOCEDplus team have developed new technology skills and become subject specialists for the Pods they are responsible for managing.