The University of Edinburgh recently ran its first institution-wide staff engagement survey.
It has sparked some long-needed conversations in many areas of the University. To support us in exploring the reports further a data analysis pack has been produced which gives some insights into the key results and messages at University, College and Professional Service Group level .
Within LTW we have started conversations to help us explore our data, and to build on initiatives happening across the University. At our LTW All Staff meeting in December 2018 we ran a session/activity to increase our understanding of contributing factors in the responses by LTW staff and to contribute to an outline action plan.
We know that 42% of the LTW respondents believe that action will be taken as a result of the survey. That’s 10% higher than in the rest of ISG and a clear message to the director and managers. We are in the midst of our annual processes for ADR, reward and recognition ( more than 20 staff have been nominated for lumpsum payments or increments) and we already have programmes for innovation, staff development and equality and diversity. In addition, ISG have finally appointed a comms officer to look at internal communications, so we can hope that messages to and from our staff are heard.
This week we will try our first run of our ‘Where do you draw the line?’ workshop to learn about the factors that empower participants to work collaboratively to address concerns about bullying and harassment.
On Friday, for international women’s day I welcomed ISG colleagues and Friends of the Library to celebrate the naming of the Brenda Moon Board Room in Argyle House. It was a naming, but also a re-instatement. There was previously a Brenda Moon Room in the Main Library, but it got lost, and although Brenda still has an info board on display there, I felt it was important that she should also get her room back. She is, after all, the only woman ever yet to hold the title of ‘University Librarian’ at Edinburgh, and having a room of one’s own is important.
Our ISG celebrations for IWD are growing and and thriving. A fabulous team of colleagues were involved this year. We edited wikipedia, created new art inspired by old collections and made badges for everyone to wear.
At the weekend I worked on our workplace equality and diversity programme, writing a case study for Equate Scotland.
On Monday I went with colleagues to see Helen Pankhurst speak. A woman with a famous name. We had invited her as part of our ‘Vote100′ project in ISG, but on Monday the visit was hosted by Students’ RAG week. When I was a student we called it ‘on the rag’ week, but seems like not so much anymore. At University of Edinburgh it used to be called ‘Settlement Week’.
Dominique and I presented our work in Equality and Diversity in London this week. We were invited by Universities HR to showcase ‘The PlayFair Steps‘, our award winning staff development and organisational change programme.
A quick check around the audience indicated that we were the only non-HR professionals in the room. Dominique was certainly the only student. Nevertheless, the audience were very kind and seemed genuinely interested in how much we have achieved. Colleagues from Salford and Leicester have already contacted me to find out more.
We touched on a number of challenging ideas. We spoke about the sector imperative for IT services in universities to ensure that the services and products we develop meet the diverse needs of our students and users, and how diversity in our workforce can contribute to that business advantage. We spoke about the need for the sector to work together to make a career in university IT seem like an attractive choice for all. We spoke about the value of students as change agents in your organisation and the importance of intersectionality. Dominique managed to say ‘intersectionality’ to this audience nearly half a dozen times.
In the bar afterwards we reflected that equality and diversity at work is a matter for leadership, not something to be ‘left’ to HR.
In July 2015 only 1 out of the 8 grade10 posts in ISG were held by women. In January 2019 we are 4 of 9.
In July 2015 9 out of 35 grade9 posts were held by women. In January 2019 we are 15 of 38.
Looking at staff engagement, 438 staff in ISG have signed up to attend events in our ‘PlayFair Steps series’. Event titles include:
Understanding age in the workplace: challenges and opportunities
PlayFair Steps Equality Working Group: introductory session
Race Matters in the Workplace
PlayFair Steps – LinkedIn for recruitment
PlayFair Steps brown bag meeting
PlayFair Steps – Coding for Diversity
PlayFair Steps: Supporting fathers to make the most of workplace entitlements
PlayFair Steps: Changing Recruitment Language
PlayFair Steps: Girl Geek Scotland
PlayFair Steps: Disability and Employment – The Challenges of Finding and Keeping a Job
PlayFair Steps: Managerial and Critical Perspectives to Understanding Gender in the Workplace
PlayFair Steps Working Group: Dads’ Focus Group
PlayFair Steps Working Group: Managerial Perspectives to Understanding Millennials in the Workplace
PlayFair Steps Working Group: What is LGBT+ and why does it matter at work?
PlayFair Steps Working Group: Religion at the University
PlayFair Steps: Working Dads Focus Group
Playfair Steps Equality Working Group: Moving Beyond ?Add women & Stir? Approaches to Equality and Inclusion at Work
PlayFair Steps: Renew You (a one day course for women)
PlayFair Steps: Speak Up (a one-day course for women)
PlayFair Steps Working Group: IT and Accessibility
PlayFair Steps: Outsiders Within? Can Feminist Managers Make a Difference?
PlayFair Steps – Age Awareness: Working in Inter-generational Teams
One of our innovation projects over several years was to develop a Playful Engagement Strategy for ISG and to test some playful approaches. We know our Information Services Group (ISG) staff are innovative and creative, and they have developed a variety of fun, creative, and engaging ways to provide and deliver our technologies and services.
We want to ensure that this continues and that ISG fosters an environment, and culture, where innovation, playful learning, and creative engagement are embedded in our practices. This is in line with the University’s aim to offer an educational experience that is inspiring, challenging, and transformational.
To this end, we have established playful engagement themes, strategy and goals.
Our goals are to:
Facilitate the development of playful innovators, researchers, and creators
Promote creative, playful, and innovative use of technologies and tools in ISG services
Utilise our world-class libraries and collections in innovative and engaging ways to enrich our services
Support a healthy work life balance, and a positive, engaging and inclusive work environment
I am very pleased that Charlie has been able to spend the time to really think about what playful engagement could mean for a large IT and libraries service. Her work draws upon a whole raft of team, game, maker, challenge and enjoyment activities which all combine to make working here much more fun than it might otherwise be.
She and I will be presenting about this at the UCISA leadership conference in Edinburgh.
We are taking the opportunity of International Women’s Day to rename our Boardroom in Argyle House after Brenda Moon, the first woman to head up a research university library when she was Librarian here at the University of Edinburgh in the 1980s and 90s.
Brenda played a major role in bringing the University into the digital age, as Edinburgh became the first major university library in the UK to tackle and deliver a computer-based service.
Also on the day we will be hosting an ‘Edit-a-thon’ for staff, students and friends of the University to create Wikipedia entries for notable women currently missing from the encyclopaedia site, and a ‘Sketch-a-thon’ using images from the Centre for Research Collections’ Special Collections. All artistic abilities welcome!
Learn about the lives of some of the incredible women in the archives of the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh, while putting your creative side to use in a relaxed learning environment!
Advice from HR was not to call this job ‘Witchfinder General’. So we didn’t. But we wanted to.
University of Edinburgh has a database of Scottish Witches. It has been published as open data and we are looking for a Data and Visualisation Intern to work with our Wikimedian in Residence to help us develop a linked open-data set by:
Re-using pre-existing data and creating new data which allows geographical mapping of parts of the data set.
Developing other visualisations of the data which allow new, previously unknown, patterns in the data to be extracted and new stories and hypotheses about the data to be developed.
Some interesting equality and diversity activities going on in our libraries and collections:
Equality and Diversity Images Internships
The Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections (CRC) has a student internship curating images from our collections that show gender, race and diversity with a view to having these images be used for promotion of the University courses, and as part of courses where they are relevant. The successful outcomes of this have been digitisation of materials, engaging blog posts which have narratives from the collections that raise the profile of resources and narratives in the collections to support work in the area.
Following on from this £10,000 was awarded from the Innovation Fund to engage student interns to look at images and narratives of equality, diversity and community to support Students Association campaigns and encourage student engagement. This will be undertaken in the first 6 months of 2019 and is supported by the Students Association executive.
Project: Revealing and Expanding Diversity in our Library Collections
In 2017-18 Library and University Collections teams worked with Students Association to organise two collection displays in the Main Library. A display in October 2017 celebrated Black History Month and in February 2018 a display celebrated LGBT+ History Month. A small number of additional books were purchased to contribute to the LGBT+ display and to increase the range of Library resources; the LGBT+ display also linked to a display in the Library’s CRC which highlighted first editions of books, signed letters, essays and other manuscripts related to W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood.
The Main Library Black History Month display in October 2018 included 41 new items purchased through the project budget, and the project budget also enabled the purchase of additional display units for the Main Library and the purchase of new display units for New College Library and ECA Library. Further displays in 2018-19 are planned to support the Students Association’s four Liberation Campaigns (Black and Minority Ethnic – BME, Disabled Students, LGBT+ and Women). Students Association representatives and colleagues from across the University are involved in organising the displays, selecting resources for purchase and communicating the project to students. The displays have been popular with students, with display items being borrowed and students providing positive feedback to staff.
We ran a ‘Diversithon‘ Wikipedia editing event to celebrate diversity in science and Scottish history for the Festival of Creative Learning and LGBT+ History Month 2019.
Women’s Collections Cataloguing
The Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections have had an intern for 8 weeks cataloguing the collection of Louisa Matilda Jane Crawford, a composer from the 19th century, to raise her profile and make the collection available for dissertations and study. The Centre hopes to do more of this type of project – the archive projects team have prioritised how women are described in collections and are reviewing best practice for future cataloguing
The Libraries and University Collections (L&UC) have also been working with the Student Association’s LiberatEd project to highlight the functionality available to students to suggest new readings for their course resource lists.
In the past few years the Libraries and University Collections (L&UC) has adopted an equality strategy to balance the women artists represented in the University collections. They are actively working with the Principal to diversify the art seen in Old College. For example, of the works that have been collected since 2012, 54% are by female artists. This has included noteworthy work by significant female artists as well as works that deal with gender representation and diversity concerns.
The Contemporary Art Research Collection
The Contemporary Art Research Collection, established in 2016, is the newest art collection at the University and is the most significant area of activity in the diversification of the collection. The Collection is linked to the research of colleagues in History of Art. Their research and teaching area concerns feminism within the structures of Globalisation. This collection actively redresses the gender imbalance as well as the prevailing geographic focus on Western Europe and therefore enable us to broach new territories in terms of space, media and practice. The works acquired thus far highlight the major concerns of our times and the issues that affect women in particular – for example sex workers rights, care work and housing.
This gender and diversity bias in the Collection is perhaps highlighted most evidently within the Portrait Collection. The majority of portraits in the collection do not date from the contemporary period and therefore there is an overwhelming imbalance of representation – a recent estimate suggested that approximately 5% of artworks were by female artist or female sitter. This is no more obvious than in the display of works in historical parts of the University like Old College. On the request of the principal, over the last few months work has been carried out internally on how best to rehang Old College to better reflect both the history and diversity of the University community in our displays. This will be an ongoing, long term project.
A pop up exhibition opened in the Main University Library in November 2018, telling the story of how some of the University’s first female graduates pushed the agenda forward for equal enfranchisement in the UK. The exhibition focuses on when Chrystal Macmillan, Frances Simson and Frances Nairn took the fight to the House of Lords in November 1908. Chrystal Macmillan and Frances Simson became the first women to speak in the House of Lords. The exhibition was opened by Diva , Students Association Vice President for Education, who spoke about how inspiring the women were for students today, showing that students had fought for their rights and for equality.
New Internship for Equality, Diversity and Gender in Archive Catalogues
This project will look at the University of Edinburgh’s archive catalogues to explore the description, language and surfacing of women, cultures, communities and diverse groups in these catalogues. Many of the catalogues have been inherited over centuries of collecting, meaning that women and minority groups are often misrepresented or simply missing altogether from the catalogues. This project will require the business school students to analyse our data and explore the issues and problems, coming up with ideas to make them more diverse and inclusive using qualitative and quantities methodologies.
I have a long relationship with speech-to-text technology.
In 1998 we had a room in Student Services where students would go to talk to Dragon Dictate. The more they spoke, the less it understood, the more they would laugh, the more it would transcribe their laughing. It was a very popular service as a ‘pick-me-up’.
By 2012 I managed a large collection of contemporary educational oratory -the Oxford Podcasts collection, which includes some fine examples of inspirational rhetoric and clearly communicated ideas. Our interactions with voice recognition software, however, had been frustrating. During the project the team explored various solutions including both automatic translation and human transcription services. We began a project to explore how to best represent the content of our podcasts in text. By focusing on keywords generated by recognition software we were be able to give a searchable interface to users before they listen and represent the amount of relevant content within. Blog post April 2012
Some people have asked if we are going to have subtitles on our lecture recordings as default. The answer is no, but we are exploring creative ideas on how we could do it.
My experience is that automated speech to text although improving, is not fully there yet. And costs remain prohibitive, so transcripts or subtitles are not automated in the lecture recording system. Specialist language in lectures remain tricky and are often subtitled badly. It is also difficult for the transcription to discern whether the lecturer is quoting, reading, muttering or joking. The kind of ‘performance’ and content some of our colleagues deliver would need a highly nuanced translation. All UK HE struggles with this challenge and colleagues are anxious that their speech is not misrepresented by a poor quality subtitle which might be more confusing for learners. Blog post August 2017
The overarching objective of our new project for 2019 is to establish and evaluate an initial pilot Subtitles for Media service and make recommendations for future sustainability and resourcing.
The initial focus will be on designing and piloting a service which can scale and improve the usability/ accessibility of our front facing media content through the addition of subtitles and transcripts as appropriate. The service design will aim to include all users and will be primarily concerned with publicly available University media content hosted on Media Hopper Create, EdWeb or one of the University’s Virtual Learning Environments.
The project will have three strands:
Testing the feasibility, viability and cost of a student-led transcription service
A 3-month pilot will allow us to understand what is needed to establish a sustainable programme of work to support our ambitions based on the outcomes of this pilot phase. The students will gain paid work experience and new digital skills. There is already a thriving market in the local region of students who offer proofreading, transcription, audio typing, subtitling and translation services in their spare time and from home. We will work with academic colleagues in the School of Sociology (Dr Karen Gregory) to research the emerging ‘gig economy’ to understand how best to establish an ethical model for piecework in this area.
Research and Development
The project will strike a balance between evaluating and costing a model for a growing service, and Research and Development to ensure we keep sight of technology trends in this area and understand how they might influence service development over time. We will run a series of events to engage with other organisations and our own technology leaders in this field to ensure we understand and are able to take advantage of technology developments and opportunities for funding or partnerships.
Improving digital skills and promoting culture change
We aim to move towards a culture where subtitling our media is standard practice at the point of creation, not only because of changing legislation but because it promotes engagement with our media for the benefit of our whole audience, and at the same time promotes digital literacy and digital skills.
In order to achieve all this, the Subtitling for Media Project will:-
Establish and evaluate an initial pilot service of a student-led subtitling service
Develop a costed plan for an ongoing service including support and service management
Make recommendations for future sustainability and resourcing
Ensure students are trained to deliver a pilot subtitling service
Create an ethical model for student piecework in this area
Deliver training and guidance to enable best practice in media creation
Develop an understanding of current and future technology to support accessibility and ensure our developing service remains in broad alignment
As part of the ISG vision for the University of Edinburgh we aim to support all digital educators in making informed choices about their digital materials. Through this project to establish a new service, staff and students will develop digital skills in creating and using accessible digital materials. Benefits will include supporting staff and students to understand how and why to make learning materials accessible, and development of digital skills in support of wide scale engagement with digital education. The Subtitling for Media Project will establish and evaluate an initial pilot service and make recommendations for future sustainability and resourcing.
I am honoured to have been invited to join the Centenary Commission on Adult Education. The membership of the Commission is as follows:
Dame Helen Ghosh DCB (Chair)- Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Previously Chief Executive, The National Trust; Permanent Secretary, Home Office; Permanent Secretary, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
Sir Alan Tuckett OBE (Vice Chair) -Professor, University of Wolverhampton. Previously Chief Executive, National Institute of Adult Continuing Education; President, International Council for Adult Education.
Melissa Benn- Author, novelist, journalist, broadcaster. Chair, Comprehensive Future; Council member, New Visions for Education Group; founder member, Local Schools Network; Advisory Board member, Oxford Women in the Humanities.
Lord (Karan) Bilimoria CBE – Co-founder & Chairman, Cobra Beer; Chancellor, University of Birmingham.
Dr Sharon Clancy-Chair, Raymond Williams Foundation. Previously Head of Community Partnerships, University of Nottingham; Chief Executive, Mansfield Council for Voluntary Service.
Uzo Iwobi OBE -Chief Executive Officer, Race Council Cymru. Previously Principal Equality Officer, South Wales Police; member of the Commission for Racial Equality.
Melissa Highton -Assistant Principal, Online Learning and Director of Learning, Teaching & Web Services, University of Edinburgh.
Roger McKenzie-Assistant General Secretary, Unison. Previously Vice Chair, West Midlands Assembly; Midlands Regional Secretary, TUC; Race Equality Officer, TUC.
Sir Ken Olisa OBE -Chairman, Shaw Trust; Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London; founder & Chairman, Restoration Partners; Deputy Master, Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.
Sue Pember OBE- Director, Holex (professional body for Adult Community Education and Learning). Previously lead Director for FE, Dept for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Dept for Education & Skills (DfES); Principal, Canterbury College of F&HE.
Paul Roberts -Chief Executive Officer, Aspire, Oxford.
Dr Cilla Ross- Vice Principal, Co-operative College, Manchester.
Sir Peter Scott -Emeritus Professor of Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education. Previously Vice Chancellor, Kingston University, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Professor of Education, University of Leeds; Editor, The Times Higher Education Supplement.
Ruth Spellman OBE -General Secretary, Workers’ Educational Association. Previously Chief Executive of Chartered Management Institute, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and Investors in People UK.
The whole thing is being facilitated by Jonathan Michie, President of Kellogg College.
We hope to provide authoritative, evidence-based, recommendations on how ‘lifewide’ adult education – i.e., for all aspects and stages of people’s lives, and not just for work – should develop over the decades ahead. Our remit is the same as proposed for the 1919 committee: “To consider the provision for, and possibilities of, Adult Education in Great Britain, and to make recommendations.”
The Commission’s report will, attempt to cover the following:
The need for lifewide adult education. Globalisation, technology and the changing world of work; threats to democracy and social cohesion; new social movements; demographic changes.
The state of British adult education today. Who provides; who takes part; who does not provide; who does not take part. What types of provision are made (subjects, approaches, locations, media, etc.), and what are not. The relative importance of different types of provision for different social groups.
The British contribution to adult education. A brief discussion of approaches developed historically in Britain, and of new practices developing today, and their contribution to democracy, civil society and personal growth.
What we can learn from international experience. From UNESCO to the OECD; key reports; the impact of the current ‘output and measurement’ craze; international research.
The structures, institutions and systems we need. Types of provision. Priorities for government: legislation, regulation, fees, public spending. What non-governmental agencies might do: local government, voluntary organisations, FE and HE, schools, private companies, etc. Meeting the needs of communities and social groups. Strengthening democracy in teaching and curriculum development.
Implementing the changes. How can the changes be brought about: overcoming the forces in government, media and society that have inhibited the development of lifewide adult education over recent decades.