New Canvas feature coming in spring

Story by Matthew Parks, Staff writer

Next semester, Murray State will be unveiling a new function on Canvas known as SIPX, coordinated through the University Libraries.

Once available, SIPX will allow students to access online articles and journal databases through Canvas and will be accessible through students’ module tabs on the left side of the Canvas screen.

Christine Ferguson, director of technical services, said the main objective of the service is to make the libraries’ electronic resources and subscriptions more visible to faculty and students.

Ferguson said SIPX will integrate access to the libraries’ resources into Canvas, allowing faculty members to build a custom reading list for a course using the full text provided by the libraries’ subscriptions.

She said it will also greatly benefit the university and the university’s libraries in avoiding copyright issues.

Ferguson said previously if a faculty member wanted to include an article in a printed course packet, it was their responsibility to ensure that copyright permissions were obtained and guidelines followed correctly.

With SIPX, all linked materials will be in compliance with copyright laws and should therefore make both students’ and faculties’ access to these materials much simpler.

While there is potentially a cost associated with SIPX usage, Ferguson said students would pay this out-of-pocket cost, which is derived from copyright fees, rather than paying for a printed course packet. She said that SIPX fees will be less expensive than traditional course packets.

Currently, the libraries and Faculty Development Center are planning an outreach effort to educated faculty about SIPX and the advantages it can provide them in the classroom.

“It is important to note that a student will only use SIPX if the faculty member teaching the course has opted to use SIPX to build a reading list,” Ferguson said. “If the professor does not use SIPX to create a course reading list, then those students will not see a link to a SIPX reading list.”

Melony Shemberger, assistant professor of journalism and one of the professors who has been utilizing SIPX in her graduate courses as a trial run, said the purpose of the tool is to enable professors to provide readings that may otherwise be difficult to find, such as those in library databases or journals.

“I see this project being used to heavily supplement reading materials,” Shemberger said. “I could see [SIPX] growing to eventually replace textbooks.”

She said this new tool is a fantastic way of making sure Murray State and its libraries are not violating any copyright laws, which may happen occasionally in the traditional method of accessing databases or scanning pages out of physical journals, even though it is usually unintentional.

Shemberger said she believes it greatly enhanced her graduate JMC 614 course this semester, because she was able to provide pertinent reading materials for her students without the drawbacks of traditional library database access.             

“I’m pretty much in love with [SIPX],” Shemberger said.

Ashley Ireland, dean of University Libraries, has been instrumental in developing SIPX services for Murray State. She said she believes SIPX will be an invaluable channel in connecting students with supplemental readings for their courses.

She said it will also be helpful in providing copyright-compliant supplemental reading material and has high hopes for its success, and she believes it will be used more often in the future.

“With exposure to a breadth of readings alongside traditional textbooks, hopefully students will look for opportunities to contribute their own research and voices to those conversations,” Ireland said.