by Pen Lister, on Apr 23, 2014

What are Shortreads?

Snapshot: Shortreads is the name we're giving to a new quick and easy way of contributing to the Ematrix. Write and send us an email, it's that easy!

Books aren't the only way to write
Books aren't the only way to write | Credit: Pen Lister/penworks
Books aren't the only way to write
Books aren't the only way to write | Credit: Pen Lister/penworks

Why Shortreads?

The Ematrix is attempting to pioneer shared learning materials, written and used by practising academics in higher education. We know there are lots of other websites full of learning material, and they're great. But we're trying something slightly different - the Ematrix is trying to build a trusted community around academic partnerships, both individual and institutional. We envisage the content to be used in both formal and informal learning, for academic professional development as well as in lectures and seminars with students. But we've ran into a slight problem. Academics are time poor, very very time poor. And though they are enthusiastic about the site and its aims and usefulness, they can't get round to contributing. So we put our heads together to think up another way for our colleagues to contribute in a way they are very familiar with, and can do without learning anything new - to make it possible for them to email us a short article, with a picture, which consequently is published on the site exactly as it is sent to us. The system as yet will be fairly simple, image and text, displayed in a shortread page, categorised with one or two categories (shortreads, interdisciplinary), but in time this may become 'cleverer'. 


The idea of Shortreads also helps to overcome another obstacle, that of personal data and our liabilty for its protection and security. As a university we are duty bound to be cautious about data and our legal position is strict: no risks, no leaks. This has meant that currently we are unable to offer user accounts to members outside of our own elearning team, so again, it makes it difficult for other colleagues to contribute easily, at a time that suits them. Even if they were to send us articles in Word document format, it still means extra workload for our own team, which isn't a practical solution as we are also time poor! 

Why Shortreads should be short

Academics often think that the only way to write something of value and of sufficient academic merit is to write a long paper, book chapter or even a whole book. This may not be untrue of itself, but in todays fast paced content consumption world, short articles are increasingly what people are looking for, and may indeed prove to be most useful to most people most of the time. As a way of getting a succinct point across, a summary of findings from a research paper, an outline of an approach to a teaching method, a Shortread can provide everything you need, in one short burst. You can of course include links to other material or even other Shortreads.

Why you should email us a Shortread

Being part of a group of people who are contributing to a resource is a really useful thing for everybody. One of the greatest things that the internet has taught us all and made possible is the value of a lot of people contributing ideas and ways of doing things, so that others can share in those experiences and knowledge. Anyone who is involved in education, perhaps specifically higher education and technology enhanced learning, has something to offer a resource like the Ematrix. By building the content and expanding the uses of the content, we all help to develop new ways of thriving in our chosen profession.

I'm interested in writing Shortreads - what do I do?

Contact us on if you want more infomation on writing Shortreads for us - we really look forward to hearing from you! We'll allocate you a special email address and you can help us test the new system. Your articles will be published after a quick check by us for typos/copyright arrangements. All articles will be published under the CC 4.0 share alike, attribution no derivatives licence.