Weekly Featured Article

My Favourite Resource on Campus…Is Online!


It’s no secret that I access A LOT of resources on campus. From my college to the bookstore, I try to take advantage of as much of the stuff that is provided for me as a student – it is there to help me after all, right?

However there is one campus resource – which is actually brand new to York, having only been officially released this year – that has been an absolute lifesaver for me this year.

The best part about it is that I don’t actually have to be on campus to access it – It’s Online! 

That resource is SPARK. For those who are unfamiliar, SPARK is short for Student Papers and Academic Resource Kit – basically, these are two synonyms for everything you have ever wanted in your life as a student. 

But what is it exactly? To put simply, it (among other things) is a set of online tutorials that are designed to help coach you through difficult assignments, such as research proposals or analytical papers. According to it’s About page, “SPARK…is an e-learning resource designed to help students succeed at written academic assignments…. [It] focuses on the development of academic literacies, such as research, writing and learning skills.”

It is divided up into three sections – Getting Started, Exploring, & Pulling It Together. Each of these sections have a number of modules within. Every module has a different purpose, from Understanding Assignment Requirements to Writing Strategies; has a great deal of supplementary information, such as a printable sheet with a list of procrastination solutions or important and helpful links to other sites; and – most conveniently of all – only takes about 5-10 minutes each. For me, each usually takes only about a maximum of 5 minutes, realistically.

The Procrastination Solutions sheet is one of many very helpful resources – outside of the regular modules – that is provided through SPARK

As previously mentioned, SPARK was only released earlier this academic year on October 16th, 2013, making it even more exceptional that it has – already – had such a profound on students here at York, myself included. It has by far been the one resource that I have accessed most this year, and I continue to access it more in the future.

Still not convinced? Well, maybe 5 of my most-used SPARK modules will help show you just how incredibly useful it is!

5) Types of Written Assignments

Sometimes the hardest part about getting down to writing is not knowing how to approach an assignment. This really helped me with that, and I guarantee it can help you, too!

4) Creating Bibliographies

I used to get by in high school with easybib.com. Life was so simple. Then university happened, and I realized that I didn’t know the difference between MLA and my left MCL. It was disastrous, to say this least. So this came in handy this year. (RefWorks is also a great resource, on a side note – Monika wrote a blog post about it, once upon a time).

3) Gathering & Noting Ideas

Effective note taking. It’s easy to tell why I quite like this one.

3) Choosing a Topic

Know who’s indecisive almost all the time? This guy. This tutorial helps me narrow down what I want the topic of my assignment to be, and it helps me make a plan as to how to attack it, so to speak.

2) Effective Reading Strategies

I sometimes have trouble absorbing material when I read it – especially when researching something that I have never had the opportunity to learn about before. Using this tutorial helped me avoid going back through the same paragraph fifty times by showing me how to make the most out of what I read. Very effectively, and wonderfully helpful. C’est formidable!


No words can explain how much use I have gotten out of this tutorial, nor how many times this year I have been saved by having managed my time (relatively) well. That was all thanks to this lil’ beauty right here.

Looking for more information on SPARK? Check out the website at yorku.ca/spark! As always, feel free to comment below with thoughts or questions!

~ Christopher Ford

Me, just upriver of the Dom in Berlin, Germany

Me, just upriver of the Dom in Berlin, Germany (with coffee in hand, of course)


One thought on “My Favourite Resource on Campus…Is Online!

  1. Pingback: My Favourite Resource on Campus…Is Online! | redzone.scld.yorku.ca

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