Category: People, Place and Work

musing on muses

Rosie the Editor
how do i know Stella Cartwright?

I can’t claim any connection with Stella Cartwright, but I created a Wikipedia page for her. I learned about her last night at an event at The Scottish National Galleries: Beyond Artemisia: Women Artists Brought into the Light.

Last year at an event organised by Scottish National Galleries around their ‘Modern Scottish Women’ exhibition I created a page for Anne Finlay.

One of the things both these women have in common is that their biographies include a number of ‘affairs’ with the (more famous, and often married) men in their circle.

Anne has a considerable body of work. The challenge with Stella is to consider whether being a muse, but not an artist in ones own right, is a notable enough contribution to warrant a page. Stella is mentioned in a number of citable sources, but her role is as an inspiration for the work of others. She had an impact on their lives and work, but their pages perhaps do not mention her…..

I am sensitive to the arguments made by Hilary Mantel, that we should not retrospectively make the women in our stories strong and independent, but I do think some of them deserve to be named as notable*.

I have made links for Stella to University of Edinburgh Library archives, and to published articles and resources. I hope that her story will stand the scrutiny of my fellow Wikipedia editors. The page has already been reviewed, so that is good. But the category I created for ‘muse’ has been deleted.

* When I first started editing Wikipedia, when ‘AdaLovelace Day” was being invented, it is worth remembering that most of the discussion behind the scenes on Ada’s page was about the relative worth of her contribution to the work of the better known Babbage.

how do I know Edith Simon?

Rosie the Editor
Speaking of women in art and women artists, sometimes this is how my evenings go:

First of all I’m reading ‘Discover’ magazine from National Library of Scotland. In it there’s an article about Edith Simon. I remember Edith Simon. I look her up in Wikipedia. She has a mere stub of a page. I’m thinking it needs some development and presumably the nice ‘open images ‘ policy at NLS will free up some lovely artwork to include.

Then I ask my excellent mother: ‘How do I know Edith Simon?
She was fabulous, Jewish, and she made beautiful paper-cut portraits of your child-hood friends, when they were young, before they died of CF ‘ is the reply.

So, I decide it is my task to improve Edith’s wikipedia page, I find her obituaries etc and I make a start.

As I read about her I learn that her husband Eric worked here at University of Edinburgh in the Genetics department. Those of you who are following this story closely will remember that that is where my father worked. And yes indeed, the line portrait that Clare recently found for me with my father in it, is indeed a work by Edith Simon!

Her obit says:
‘The qualities of intense discipline, exuberant delight in the world of flesh and objects, and sheer graphic ability involved in these productions are rare enough individually. She had them all, together with considerable intellectual power, literary gifts, charm and a mordant wit. She was striking in appearance, trenchant in her views and generous to the young and those in need. ‘

I can’t add that picture to the wikipedia page because the licence belongs to her daughter Antonia Reeve, but I’m still hoping the NLS will liberate some great images for this fabulous woman.

Feel free to join on in and add or edit for Edith.

Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/news/obituaries/edith-simon-1-544516

women in art

Wikipedia editathon for Art & Feminism 2016 at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
Looking very GLAM. Wikipedia editathon for Art & Feminism 2016 at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
Looking back at my original  plans for the Playfair Steps equality and diversity initiative in ISG, one of my hopes was that we would take the opportunity afforded by the move to Argyle House to display more artwork created by women artists.  I’m pleased to say we have done some of that.

If you have ever visited our meeting rooms on Floor E you will have been immersed in an installation by Fabienne Hess.

This installation of images on the glass walls of our meeting rooms in Argyle House is a whole work by  Hess, she was commissioned as part of the refurbishment the office spaces to create a work featuring images of existing objects of University collections. Her work  exploring the University of Edinburgh’s Collections has spanned across several years and she features in current displays at The Talbot Rice.  The process of digitizing, which started in the summer of 2012, has involved photographing almost 25,000 diverse items, from ancient manuscripts to musical instruments, anatomical drawings to historic maps. Throughout the process Fabienne has also created a series of ‘sub-collections’- these groupings, put together in arbitrary themes such as those images containing a red dot, those featuring a person raising an arm, a triangular shape, a certain shade of blue, create a fascinating set of ‘new’ collections. One of these new collections is the installation you are in.  Did you notice?

In the past year our teams of enthusiastic Wikipedia editors have participated in a number of targeted events aimed at improving coverage of women artists. Including one at The National Portrait Gallery to support their Modern Scottish Women exhibition. On the day we created 6 new articles, and improved 8.

In addition to more editing and inspired by Kirsty, I am also looking forward to hosting an intern, in conjunction with colleagues in Centre for Research Collections to look at the metadata which describes our images so that the women ( and others) are more easily found!

 

how do I know Ruth Adler?

Rosie the Editor
I created a Wikipedia page for Ruth Adler, because I saw her on Ewan’s list of ‘women in red’ (women notable enough to need Wikipedia pages but yet have none). I remember Ruth from my childhood in Edinburgh. Her kids went to the same school as me. She was also prominent in many of the causes in which my mother was involved and her name was mentioned in our house many times.

In creating the page I learned how impressive she really was and how much she did. I’m pleased University of Edinburgh recognise her.

Read more about Ruth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Adler

counting steps and supporting fathers

Picture taken by me outside the British Library, London. No rights reserved by me.

Counting steps is all the rage amongst the ladies of my acquaintance. How many steps have you managed today? this week?  Is it time for a wee sit down now? Yes. You deserve it.

I’ve been making some progress on our PlayFair Steps Programme  in ISG.

We have welcomed some excellent speakers as part of our commitment to raising understanding of equality and diversity issues in our workplace. It has been particularly interesting to have academic colleagues present the most up to date data from their research and describe how their work influences public policy development in Scotland.

Our speakers this year have been Barbara Melville (Equate Scotland) on the language of job ads; Morna Simpson introducing Girl Geek Scotland; Professor Sheila Riddell (Chair in Inclusion and Diversity) on disability data and employment and Dr Tom Callard (UoE Business School) on managerial perspectives. ISG directors have also considered initiatives for apprenticeships, ‘Women Returners’ projects and we have become an institutional sponsor of Geek Girl Scotland.

For our next event the PlayFair Steps team have partnered with Fathers Network Scotland – a national charity who specialise in creating dad-friendly workplaces – to facilitate a short focus group specifically for ISG. Research has consistently shown that one of the key groups missing from discussions on gender equality are fathers in the workplace. Dads at work also need to feel supported in combining their work with their family commitments. This focus group will explore the key areas in which you believe could be addressed at work to support work-life balance.

We have also recently announced the appointment of the new Director of Software Development and Application. There will now be three ( that’s three!) women at Director level.  I think that might be a record.

learning technology time

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

As Professor Sir Tim O’Shea is retiring  I am putting together a timeline of learning technology developments at University of Edinburgh. Are there other things I should include?

dangerous statues

Statue of Isabella Elder
Isabella Elder safely on a plinth. She’s in Glasgow. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Statue_of_Isabella_Elder.JPG
Edinburgh is a city with more named public statues to dogs than women. The dogs are called Bobby and Bum. The one woman is called Victoria.

Statues of women in public places do seem to draw attention. Particularly if they are at street level. After the awful spectacle of the Fearless Girl being frotted by a Wall Street Wanker I wondered if statues of grown women at street level would suffer the same fate. I visited Dublin and learned that yes, they do. Lucky girl Molly Malone is routinely groped.*

This week the Fearless Girl is back in the news. It’s all about context. The Charging Bull’ sculptor says ‘Fearless Girl’  violates his moral rights.  It’s a derivative work, he says. Without his bull the power of her stance would not be  as significant. Her presence changes his meaning. She makes a difference.

All very interesting in the week that Edinburgh University begins to discuss signing up to the UN ‘HeForShe’ campaign.

HeForShe is the UN Women’s solidarity movement for gender equality, with the aim of “bring[ing] together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all”.

 

* Molly is in a song. Fearless is in our minds. Bum and Bobby lived long lives.

committee work

Wise words. Artwork created by A-M Scott (2016) Artwork owned by me 🙂 No rights reserved by me.

Programme boards, project boards and university committees make decisions about all kinds of aspects of HE business activity. I don’t think I have ever sat on so many. I’m honestly not sure whether this is a reflection of my growing role, or a symptom of a widespread rush to governance.

Currently the roles I play on such groups include: Senior Sponsor, Senior Supplier, Senior User, Senior ISG representative, Director of LTW, Assistant Principal, Service Owner, Business Service Owner, Chair, Champion, and ‘person-volunteered-in-their-absence’.  My current portfolio of boards ( around 20) include:

University Learning and Teaching Committee

University IT Committee

University Knowledge Strategy Committee

Learning and Teaching Policy Group

Service Excellence: Student Recruitment and Admissions Board

Service Excellence: Student Administration and Support Board

Digital Transformation Governance Board

Assessment & Progression Tools Steering Group

Web Governance Board

MOOC Strategy Group

Lecture Capture Programme Board

Lecture Capture Policy Task Group

Lecture Capture Evaluation and Benefits Realisation Board

Learning and Teaching Policy Group

Learning Analytics Policy Group

Learning Analytics Project Board

Space Strategy Group

Digital Scholarship Steering Group

Digital Education Vision Group

Library and Information Strategy Committee

Edinburgh Futures Institute Project Board

Information Services Senior Mangement Group

Information Services Change Programme Board

Information Services Equality and Diversity Theme Lead

 

…. and those are only the ones internal to Edinburgh!

 

 

 

time for an evidence base for technology enhanced learning?

Red herring
Red Herring By misocrazy from New York, NY (Cropped from Kipper) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I spoke at JISC Digifest 2017. It was lovely to see so many colleagues old and new there.

Jisc had gathered a community of learning technologists and IT specialists and asked us to think about how we might find an evidence base for TEL.

But I do wonder: Should we even try?

There is a real risk to the universities in having the people who are best placed to build and develop excellent new services  spending too much of their time of fruitless tasks.   I think knowing what kinds of evidence is relevant for which decisions is a leadership skill, and leadership in learning technology is what its all about.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t make evidence-based decisions, or decisions based on data. We need to know the difference between evidence and data. But I think ‘technology enhanced learning‘ might be a red herring. Or possibly a hens tooth.  Or may be both.

Even before the Trump era of post-fact and post-truth there were already many people, with strong convictions will not be persuaded by evidence, however well it is presented.

Some times I suspect that people ask for evidence not because they want to make a decision, but because they already have.

Sometimes I suspect that the request for more evidence, and more detail is a stalling or blocking tactic. It is just one approach to resistance.  No amount of detail will ever be enough and you’ll spend a long time looking for it.

What I am sure is true is that different kinds of evidence persuades different kinds of people in different kinds of decision-making and we need to be smart with that. The  kinds of evidence that persuades users to use the tools, is very different from evidence budget-holders need to make decisions on spend and buy the tools in the first place.

The evidence-base is not the same as the business-case.

So, In summary: Should we spend more time assembling an evidence base for technology enhanced learning?

I vote No. The opportunity cost is too great.   It would have to be so broad, yet so detailed to convince university lecturers it would be quickly unstainable. It would be backward looking and the data unreproducable. It would have little useful link to the real, real-time decisions being made for investment for the future. We should not waste that time, we have more urgent things to do.