a cloud named eleanor

Eleanor Anne Ormerod (1828-1901).jpg
By Eleanor Anne Ormerod – Eleanor Anne Ormerod, Public Domain, Link

It’s always fun to name new services after goddesses.

Eleanor Anne Ormerod, was the first woman Fellow of the Meteorological Society and first woman to be given an honorary doctorate by University of Edinburgh. During the conferral of an LL.D. degree from the University, she was described as the “as the protectress of agriculture and the fruits of the earth, a beneficent Demeter of the nineteenth century.” Her portrait is in Old College.

We’ve named our new research cloud computing service after her.

Information Services Group has created a comprehensive cloud computing service, able to support flexible provisioning of infrastructure.  Based on OpenStack, it is an ‘Infrastructure as a Service Cloud’ for carrying out computational and digital research. We provide free and funded tiers.

Once registered, you can access the interface at eleanor.cloud.ed.ac.uk

host a wikimedian: you can’t afford not to

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]This week I spoke at a Wikimedia Edu conference. I spoke about the value of wikimedians in residence (WiR) for higher education (HE).  Some people have told me they can’t afford to host a wikimedian. I would argue you can’t afford not to.

There are 3 main reasons why you can’t afford not to. They are:

  1. Universities must invest in digital skills.
  2. Gender inequality in science and technology is a real thing.
  3. Wikimedians will save us from Wikimedians.

Universities must invest in the development of digital skills for staff and for students. The senior managers in your institutions will be well aware of the recent HEPI report and numerous other reports. Which urge universities to pay attention to digital skills. It is widely recognised that digital capabilities are a key component of graduate employability. To stay competitive globally, ‘the UK must ensure it has the necessary pool of (highly) digitally skilled graduates to support and drive research and innovation throughout the  economy.’

Universities do invest- some more than others. Some employ IT skills trainers, information literacy librarians, study skill tutors, they buy a site-wide license for Lynda.com. For staff they invest in staff development units, learning and development teams. They choose writing for the web training, social media training,  data management skills,  public engagement training, they choose coding for all.

If you are in a university, go look how much those digital skills trainers are paid, that is what you should be paying your wikimedian. If you have a wikimedian hiding in your library, it’s time to come out from behind the stacks and engage with the real business of teaching and learning.

We can’t afford not to develop graduates’ digital capabilities; universities need digitally-skilled staff with digitally-enabled experience.

The formal recognition of students’ digital capabilities is also important. Technology can make it easier to develop authentic learning experiences that are relevant to the labour market and help  students demonstrate their skills to employers.

If you put your wikimedian alongside your digital skill trainers and learning technologists.  Their impact can be significant.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]And it’s not just about editing skills, it’s about open data, replicability, re-use, understanding sources, spotting fake news, understanding analytics, understanding copyright, being part of communities on line. Writing in different styles. Understanding how robot editors and human editors work together- all that new ‘digital labour’.

With HE students and staff wikipedia leads to discussions about privilige and geographies of knowledge, transparency, bias, and if there is ever a ‘neutral’ point of view.  If our staff and students choose to participate in developing new tools, they are developing tools as part of a world-wide  open-source software development project, which is  a significant authentic opportunity.

Gender inequality in science and technology is a real thing, and that is the second reason why you can’t afford not to have a wikimedian in residence.

Your institutions will all be participating in Athena Swan initiatives to some extent.  To achieve Athena Swan awards departments must show how their workplaces and practices tackle the structural barriers for women working in academia, specifically in the STEM disciplines. The Athena Swan assessors like to see evidence of networks and activities, highlighting achievements, and role models and  visibility.

One of our early editathons at Edinburgh – focusing on the Edinburgh 7– the first women to study medicine,  was cited as an example of good practice by the institution in preparing our submission for silver award. Edinburgh was the first of the Scottish institutions to gain that award. The challenges of overcoming structural inequalities which mitigate against  women’s contributions  is an endeavor higher education shares with Wikipedia. It is not enough to say women don’t participate because they don’t have time or technical skills. It is not enough to say that if women learned to behave more like men they would be able to fit in or join in. It is not enough to say that the world of Wikipedia- and science in general- is ‘neutral and fact driven’ and thus free from bias.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]The first step maybe to target articles about women, and recruit new female editors, but  as soon as you go a step beyond that, and apply some kind of Wikipedia Bechdel test –does an article about a woman scientist draw upon a credible source written by a woman? Do those credible sources about women scientists exist, if not why not?  You quickly come up against a wider structural issue about womens participation in academia and scholarship, and promotion, and publication.*

So I suppose my point here is that if you are making a business case for a WiR and you can’t get the funding straight away from the digital skills budget holder, you might be able reference your own institution’s Athena Swan activity and show how the kind of work activities a WiR would do would deliver successful, measurable outcomes for gender equality initiatives.

Which brings me to the third reason why you need a Wikimedian in Residence- is because dealing with Wikimedia is a job in itself.

Wikimedia has developed, in quite a short time,  a particular culture amongst its community. Also it’s tools , toys and projects are growing at a rate of knots.  It’s hard to keep up unless you are immersed.

Sprawling bureaucracy and policy labyrinth is very familiar to those in HE- particularly those in ancient institutions. We also know about exclusive language and communities of practice. There is some irony in the fact that Wikipedia cannot explain itself clearly. Its policies, its processes, its rules and community.

What I have learned from hosting a WiR to develop curriculum activities for students is that is it just not that simple. I was lucky to get one who is already a teacher, because he has had to do a lot of work to ‘translate’ Wkimedia’s policies and processes into ways we can engage.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]Editing as an individual is a different activity than editing as a group or class. Classroom activities – learning and teaching activities- need to be carefully designed and structured and although this can be done successfully it takes a bit of work and that’s what we need a resident to help us with. So if Wikipedia can meet educators halfway and explain its process simply & effectively (e.g. a detailed lesson plans, a robust Visual Editor, easy to follow video tutorials etc) that would really help teachers and trainers in their workplace.

We can’t expect learners and teachers to bend themselves completely out-of-shape to accommodate Wikipedia when there are things we can do quite simply to which would bridge the gap: highlighting its rubrics, assessment criteria, word count tools, plagiarism & copyright detectors and past course assignments & materials etc. Modelling good practice and sharing exemplars will lead to takeup in courses.

Students come to classes and staff come to staff development sessions to learn in groups and that group work activity requires time, effort and resources before during and after. We are working towards that at Edinburgh, creating and sharing re-usable lesson plans and models for classroom activities, but it is that ‘translation’ role between the technology and the teachers which is missing.

‘Twas ever thus in learning technology. This is not new, this is what learning technologists do. It is timely for Wikipedia now.

And in return, we  will enrich content with our collections and expand the range of knowledge covered. We will contribute not only our research to Wikipedia but do research with and about Wikipedia. We will use the data sets being shared and study how the work of knowledge sharing and gathering is conducted.

And hopefully we will all end up pulling in the same direction.

 

  • Please read
    Heather Ford and  Judy Wajcman
    ‘Anyone can edit’, not everyone does: Wikipedia’s infrastructure and the gender gap’
    Article in Social Studies of Science, May 2017

 

the time is now

picture taken by me at Gartner conf. No rights reserved by me.
picture taken by me at Gartner conf. No rights reserved by me.

The Festival of Creative Learning includes a variety of events being run by staff and students across the University. The festival runs from 20-24 February and we are running, and collaborating, on a variety of events – do come along and join us! You can view the full calendar of events on the Festival of Creative Learning website: www.festivalofcreativelearning.ed.ac.uk

 

A Public Art Puzzle: A symposium on Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s Tottenham Court Road Mosaic Arches at University of Edinburgh

Fragments of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s mosaic arches from Tottenham Court Road were donated to the University in 2015. Hear from, and engage with, the specialists tackling the art historical, curatorial and conservation challenges that this high profile gift has presented.

Board Game Jam: The Expansion

We’re taking board game jam design skills to the next level. We’re looking at prototyping and play testing as students take existing games from previous jams and give them an upgrade.

Crowdsourcing Conservation

A two-day event where 30 students will aim to rehouse section II of the Laing manuscripts – the University’s most important written collection.

Designing for you: Collaborative design techniques for better student experiences:

Collaborative design workshop to highlight the needs of students and look at how different course structures, layouts and technologies could deliver better experiences.

Design the Future of Digital Education

Automated tutors? Boredom sensors in lecture theatres? Analytics dashboards to help students map learning? Video-making instead of exams? Augmented reality lectures? Digital dissertations? All these aspects of digital teaching are already possible: but do we want them?

Gender, Global Health and Justice Wikipedia Editathon

Women across the University who work on issues related to gender, global health and/or justice are invited to participate in a day-long Wikipedia edit-a-thon.

History of Medicine Wikipedia Editathon

Focusing on areas under-represented on Wikipedia such as: the celebrating History of Nursing as it celebrates its 60th anniversary, the Scottish Women’s Hospital, the Polish School of Medicine and more.

Making history: a Feminist Craft Project

Historically, and in the present day, women’s achievements and contributions to society have been erased from history – let’s change that! Join us at the Lothian Health Services Archive to explore our materials on women’s history, and make our own history through a crafty zine-making session.

MOJO and Beyond (A guide to mobile film making)

An introduction to the mobile film making kit available for loan with a show and tell. Followed by a panel session with experts from the world of broadcasting and media.

Successes in Online Learning

Bringing together experience across the institution on delivering teaching online from MOOCs to Masters to CPD.

The Edinburgh IoT Challenge

The Edinburgh IoT Challenge is a week-long activity enabling students and staff to learn and build new applications and services using Internet-of-Things technologies.

grab some scottish pussy

If you feel the urge, as Donald Trump sometimes does, to grab some pussy, this 3D model of the skull of a Scottish Wildcat (Felis Silvestris) made by Dr. Tobias Schwarz, of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies has been shared as OER on Sketchfab where it can be viewed, grabbed, re-used and re-shared.  It’s a cat with big teeth.

You and I both know that phrases like ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ does not go down well with Scottish women, nor with our national Bard,  Robert Burns. Even in 1792  he warned that such locker-room banter was old-fashioned.   Burns’ poem on ‘The Rights of Women‘ describes three rights we can expect from men: protection , decorum and admiration.   On decorum I am confident he would have stood with most men and scolded Trump bigly.

‘There was, indeed, in far less polish’d days,
A time, when rough, rude men had naughty ways,
Would swagger, swear, get drunk, kick up a riot,
Nay even thus invade a Lady’s quiet.

Now, thank our stars! those Gothic times are fled;
Now, well-bred men-and you are all well-bred-
Most justly think (and we are much the gainers)
Such conduct neither spirit, wit, nor manners.’

On protection of our rights, one week in to the Trump presidency, I’m not filled with confidence. The pictures from the White House of Trump’s all-male advisors gleefully signing executive orders is chilling.

‘While Europe’s eye is fix’d on mighty things,
The fate of Empires and the fall of Kings;
While quacks of State must each produce his plan,
And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit some attention.’

At our Burns Night supper this week I was grateful to be reminded by Sian that it was Hilary Clinton who coined the phrase “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” . That was more than 20 years ago (1995) at  the United Nations Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing.

“What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well. That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on this planet does have a stake in the discussion that takes place here.”

If only that had been more important than how she managed her emails. This episode of ‘This American Life‘  Act 1: ‘Server be Served’ describes how Secretary Clinton was  scupperd by her own IT support.

The interviews “depict less a sinister and carefully calculated effort to avoid transparency than a busy and uninterested executive who shows little comfort with even the basics of technology, working with a small, harried inner circle of aides”.

( Act 2: ‘Knowing what we Know’, a dramatised conversation between Hillary and Huma is excellent too)

on tour again

Touring Scotland Game, owned by me but not my copyright.
Touring Scotland Game, owned by me but not my copyright.

In February I’ll be speaking at this event:

The Wikimedia UK Education Summit, in partnership with Middlesex University, aims to bring together educators and Wikimedians to share ideas and best practice in using the Wikimedia projects to support learners of all ages. Our keynote speakers, Melissa Highton (that’s me!) and Stefan Lutschinger (Associate Lecturer in Digital Publishing at Middlesex University) will open the day with presentations about the inspirational work with Wikimedia taking place at their institutions. This will be followed by a choice of workshops where attendees can develop practical skills in using and editing the Wikimedia projects, and gain new ideas and insight into how to incorporate open knowledge into their own teaching practice. Sign up to come along. It’ll be exciting, interesting and educative.

things to create, curate, collate

OpenAdvent homepage (2011) CC-BY University of Oxford
OpenAdvent homepage (2011) CC-BY University of Oxford

Creating a curated collection is one of my favourite passtimes. Selecting items from a larger collection and  curating a subset for an exhibition or theme can amuse me for hours. Digital curation is Thing15 of our 23 Things.

I do think this is one way in which discerning people can add value to the internet. Making curated pathways through the never ending maze of linked content.

Some examples of curated sets I have created include:

Three online advent calendars which showcased the Oxford OER collections and OUCS services on a Christmas theme. It was not an arduous task ; the collections are rich and wonderful, and the premise of generous giving suits the spirit of the task. The calendars were wordpress sites scheduled to publish a new post each day in Dec.

I also encouraged my podcasting teams in Oxford to develop a tool for the podcasts.ox website to enable us to showcase a handpicked collection drawn from accross the collection e.g. some of our best female academics on interational women’s day. At the moment the tool  is being used as ‘featured people‘.

More recently, at the Edinburgh Gothic editathon I learned how to curate a timeline using Histropedia. If the internet keeps producing tools like this for curating content I may be done for.

I haven’t managed to persuade anyone at Edinburgh to join me in an ‘Advent of technology’ or ‘Internet of free things’. But I did get Charlie to curate this set of 23 things and the world is a better place for it.

Update: As of 1 December there now is an Open Advent calendar at Edinburgh. Check it out!

hearing things

even-august-melissa-highton-11-1024
old technology

Many years ago in a galaxy far, far away Oxford University launched on ItunesU. Here’s the screenshot from BBC ceefax that night.

Podcasts are Thing 14 of our 23Things and I am getting nostalgic again.

Here’s a case study  by Terese Bird of how we approached podcasting at Oxford.

And here’s the Oxford podcasts site (outside of ItunesU).

I’m on there, here’s my podcasts and ebooks. They include a recorded talk about my research on the student digital experience and 5 years of blog posts available as an ebook.

In April this year I was delighted to welcome one of Oxford’s top podcasters, Dr Emma Smith to keynote at OER16.   I first met Emma around the time we were launching  Oxford on ItunesU. She is a Fellow of Hertford College and  Professor of Shakespeare Studies.  She was one of the first academic colleagues to  champion the use and creation of OER at University of Oxford through her involvement in the Jisc funded Open Spires and Great Writers Inspire projects. Her OER licensed lectures reach an international audience and she continues to produce, publish and share cultural resources online.

After some early Jisc funding in 2009 Oxford’s podcasts collection quickly became one of the largest growing collections of openly licenced university lectures online.  Oxford podcasts have published nearly 10,000 thousand audio and video items. 50% of this content is CC licenced.  It includes 6,000 individual speakers and presenters. More than 23 million episodes have been downloaded. 10 million episodes have been streamed.

Emma was one of the first of the Oxford podcasters and the first major contributor to record podcasts herself. She has published 48 episodes which are part of 7 different series. Her biggest successes are ‘Approaching Shakespeare’ and ‘Not Shakespeare’.

Approaching Shakespeare has had more that 500,000 thousand downloads and regularly features in the itunesU global top ten.

Emma’s podcasts are only a small part of her work, but whenever I hear discussions about open academic practice I think of colleagues like Emma at Oxford who share so generously, but always with a wise, and enquiring eye to what might happen as a result.

Writing this post is reminding me of the connection between podcasting,  recording and lecture capture…..ing,

things we can name

Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USN (covered)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper
My choice of platform for Thing13 of our 23things is Media Hopper.

You may wonder why Media Hopper is called Media Hopper. You will know the following definitions of hopper:

hopper ( agric) :  a container for a loose bulk material.
hopper ( minecraft ):  a block that can be used to catch item entities, or to transfer items into and out of other containers.
channel-hopper( tv) : quickly changing from one channel to another to find something you want to watch.
Grace Hopper ( rolemodel) : an inspirational computer scientist. She developed the implementation of standards for testing computer systems and components and coined the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches when she removed a moth from her computer.
Dennis Hopper (role model):  just cool.
space hopper ( toy ):  just orange and bouncy.

As I was explaining to Vicki, our Digital Recruitment and Marketing intern just the other day, Media Hopper gathers together all the mixed up multitude of video material from all over the University; brings it into one place; channels it into our VLEs, websites, portals and courses; applies standards and metadata  is very cool.

I think it’s important to name things after inspirational women when you can, and Grace Hopper fits the bill for me.

Vicki will now be using videos in Media Hopper to liven up our LinkedIn presence.

 

people make things open

University of Edinburgh Spy Week Wikipedia edit-a-thon 02
Open practice in action. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:University_of_Edinburgh_Spy_Week_Wikipedia_edit-a-thon_02.jpg
Thing 12 of our 23 things is OER.

I talk a lot about OER. Last week I was talking about it in Barcelona,  this week I’m talking about it in Paris, in two weeks I’ll be in Berlin. I also write a bit about OER. On this blog and occasionally for case studies and articles.  My work in creating a culture of openness is  featured as a case study by  OEPS. At the moment my homework is to write a case study for Gill and Fred to include in their new book.

I am also pleased to be able to make the case for new posts based on our institutional commitment to open. We have had support to extend contracts for our OER Adviser and our Wikimedian in Residence. We have also just signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Library at a time when they are working to open up huge swathes of their collections.

The task is to find OER to use in my work. I enjoy finding OER to use in my blog and presentations. Other OER I use in my work tend to be the OER about OER such as:

(1)Open Educational Resources infoKit JISC[online] Available at: https://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com/w/page/24838043/Approaches%20and%20models [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].

(2)Compelling Reasons to Adopt Open Educational Resources [online] Available at: https://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com/w/page/45742558/Compelling%20Reasons%20to%20Adopt%20Open%20Educational%20Resources# [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].