CPD workshops

Delivering leadership workshops for continuing professional development networks is an important contribution to developing our community.  These opportunities for knowledge dissemination and industry engagement offer routes to integrate critical analysis with practical, meaningful links from the research findings of information professionals.

This year I have ensured that the work we are doing in researching higher education has been disseminated via the UCISA CPD programme.

I have  delivered 3 CPD webinars for UCISA membership so far, and we have another one planned.  In each case I am drawing upon new data and evidence gathered from staff, students and professional service colleagues in higher education.

The workshops have been:

Diversity and Digital Leadership
Digital leadership is an area of leadership studies which is gaining popularity as organisations seek to ensure that their businesses are best positioned to thrive in an increasingly digital world. Digital leaders are often at the forefront of change, leading departments which are inclusive and empowering. People and culture are key to ensuring that staff are treated well and feel an ongoing loyalty to their organisation, but there are risks for digital leaders who push for change on too many fronts. This session is an opportunity to hear some of the latest research on building inclusive workplaces and consider the recommendations for understanding data about your people.

The challenges of attracting staff to skills training  with Jenni Houston
Why is it so challenging to attract colleagues to training in digital skills? How can we create a learning culture within our universities and colleges? This workshop will explore some of the successes and challenges of offering a comprehensive digital capabilities programme in a large institution and suggest possible strategies for overcoming the Dunning–Kruger effect which causes people to overestimate their ability.

Who is getting hurt online? with Vicki Madden
Online harassment is very much part of our students’ experience. Ethnic minority and female students experience the more harmful forms of online harassment in comparison to their peers. Disabled students and those from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups are more likely to be harassed on institutional platforms than their peers. What is your institution doing about this? Although most institutions have support services in place for students and staff who experience incidents on campus or amongst people who can be identified, Student Services and Wellbeing staff may be unaware of the nature of cyberstalking, doxing, online shaming and revenge porn. This workshop will explore some of the risks associated with offering services dealing with social media behaviours.

‘Uncovering the real value of academic engagement’ with Lorraine Spalding
What are teachers’ hopes and concerns in using technology with their students? How can academic engagement enhance our major educational technology projects?  Hear more about how the Learning, Teaching and Web Directorate at the University of Edinburgh, is engaging academic colleagues in a strategic way to implement large institutional changes such as the rollout of lecture recording and a VLE service improvement programme.  This presentation will also reference useful resources for supporting engagement and effective communications practices, such as the ucisa communications toolkit.

growing your website? deadheading is key

For those of you who are a bit green fingered and like gardening. You’ll know we always have to remember what to dead-head and what to leave. We dead-head flowers so that they don’t go to seed. Unfortunately  that has happened all across the university estate.

If you want to grow a successful, health, well-stocked and well-designed web garden on your digital estate you need to get ruthless with your deadheading and weeding.

In order to improve the quality of our website content we have conducted the first University-wide website content audit.

Let me introduce the University of Edinburgh ‘100K content pruning challenge’, aiming to remove unnecessary/duplicated content. #deadheading https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/website-communications/content-audit-findings-and-the-100k-challenge/

attack of the 50th Women in Red editathons

Attackofthe50ftwoman A huge fifty, 50! Women in Red editathons have now been held at University of Edinburgh. Every month we gather together online to hack away at the skewed content.

Hannah’s video on how to make Wikipedia articles has had a towering 18K views since Sept 2020 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBCxb9oaz5s).

Join us at our Women in Red monthlies https://edin.ac/3gh243I

Pick up an article that interests you.

If not you then who?

If not now then when?

Dress code: casual.

adressing the pay gap

Front Cover Issue 9 – Image of woman with household items: iron, thread etc. Usage terms: © Estate of Roger Perry Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence – See more at: http://www.bl.uk/spare-rib/articles/design-and-spare-rib#sthash.LtV84Eu5.dpuf

That feeling when you discover that the bit of the organisation  of which you are in charge has a gender pay gap in the ‘other’ direction.

Addressing the pay gap is one of the  commitments directors in ISG have made as part of our EDI plan.

This is, I think, the sort of equality data in which sex matters although presumably sex and gender are being used interchangeably in the reporting context.

The average full time equivalent salary of women in ISG is 16.97% lower than the average salary of men. This compares to 9.59% across all Professional Service Groups and 16.18% for the whole University.

The median full-time equivalent salary of women is 25.48% lower than the median for men. This compares to 14.87% across all Professional Service Groups and 11.10% for the whole University.

Gender pay balance is different in the various Directorates.

LTW has a gender paygap in the opposite direction. I have overshot and I will now seek to correct, as all gaps are bad.

With regard to senior management the gender imbalance and broad salary range within grade 10 have a major impact on the University’s overall gender pay gap. When grade 10 staff are excluded from the dataset, the University average and median pay gaps reduce to 8.8% and 8.5%. However, this is not the case in ISG where the numbers of women and men are roughly equal and are paid much the same ( apart from the CIO/VP who skews the data obv).

The University’s average salary disability gap is 1%; there is no median pay gap. However, at 3%, the rate of proactive disclosure by staff renders it difficult to make meaningful observations regarding any pay gap between staff who have disclosed a disability and those who have not.  For ISG, 4.5% have declared a disability and the average disability pay gap is 3%. Interestingly, when the recent home-working survey was done ISG recorded a much higher rate of disability than our HR data would suggest and than other parts of the University.

The University’s ethnicity pay gap is 1% (average) and 5.7% (median) in favour of staff who have proactively declared their ethnicity as ‘White’. While these have reduced since the 2019 audit (8.8% and 8.4%) there has been an increase in the percentage of staff whose ethnicity is unknown/withheld (to 21%) rendering it difficult to draw overall meaningful conclusions regarding the pay of our BAME staff. For ISG, our ethnicity pay gap is 19% (average) and 24.6% (median) and the demographic of our staff ethnicity declaration is: 75% White; 8% BAME; and 8% unknown. Although our Learning Technology colleague Rachael features widely as the face of the university, including on the equal pay report!

LILAC Hindsight 2020

‘The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo’. Picture of art in my home. No rights reserved by me.

In 2009 I delivered a keynote at LILAC  conference.

I was the new Head of Learning Technologies Group at the University of Oxford.

The talk  was titled ‘Managing Your Flamingo‘, an analogy from Alice in Wonderland, where Alice is trying to play croquet and every time she goes to play either the flamingo’s head pops up or the hedgehog uncurls and walks away. The challenges of getting our back end and front end systems  working together are not much changed.

Wonderland analogies are timeless and rife at Oxford and I own a print from the original Tenniel woodblocks.

This year I am hosting a panel at LILAC which brings together  Josie Fraser, Jane Secker and Allison Littlejohn. Each of our panel have more than 10 years as change agents in information and digital literacy and have led high profile initiatives to shift thinking and disrupt traditional ideas in (in)different institutions and sectors. Together they will bring unique perspectives on the topic of ‘2020 hindsight’. Come along to find out if their radical inclinations have been tempered by their time in institutions.

The conference is delayed by a year and as Josie has pointed out, you get one year’s extra reflection for free.

Hindsight bias can be dangerous if it leads us to think we ‘knew it all along’ . We all suffer sometimes from memory distortion (“I said it would happen”), inevitability (“It had to happen”), and foreseeability (“I knew it would happen”). Our panel will join you in reflecting on, considering and explaining what has happened and how things that didn’t happen, could have happened. How would things be different if we knew then what we know now?

Is there such a thing as lilac-tinted spectacles?

Back then, I spoke about different types of literacy, (digital, media and information) and questioned whether they were all comparable concepts or subsets of each other, and how far IL should integrate itself into these other literacies. I encouraged librarians to contribute to a digital literacy framework (i=skills) and encouraged everyone to edit and contribute to the digital literacy page on Wikipedia.  And media literacy is a hot topic because of the Internet Safety Bill.

The wikpedia page about digital literacy has been much improved this year, but mostly by north Americans. I continue to encourage librarians to edit Wikipedia. And I continue to invest in Wikimedians in Residence and wikipedia in the curriculum.

In 2009 I predicted that all graduates, not just computing graduates, needed algorithmic modelling literacy and back then, Oxford was  working on a Modelling4all project.  Check out their website, The Epidemic Game Maker provides a way to quickly and easily make models of epidemics and turn the models into games.

In 2009 I predicted that Youtube U (an educational YouTube) was just around the corner, in much the same way as the University of Oxford had just launched on iTunes U in October 2008. ItunesU and podcasting were a huge success for Oxford, we even featured in the ipod advert on the telly. Who’d have thought that podcasts would be having such a renaissance a dozen years later?

Our partnership with Apple on Itunes brought massive scale and reach, millions of downloads for openly licensed recorded lectures. When Coursera and Edx came in 2012 I thought the reaction would be similar but I struggled to get Oxford interested in MOOCs. They never did, and have suffered no ill-effects as a result.  I moved institution and Edinburgh now boasts a boat-load of online open courses. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s them.

I was also wrong about YouTube U. But I have spent some years building something similar in-house. The widespread use of lecture recording has added a whole new type of ‘learning resources’ which are part of the way students learn, study and revise.  Huge, born-digital collections.

No-one can really predict how the future will be. We learned that last year. But we can pay attention to signals and think about readiness. I know that the work we did at Edinburgh around business continuity for snow and strikes served us well for Covid.

It is perhaps challenging for online learning leaders and learning technology aficionados to come to terms with the fact that we did not deliver this change through careful support, inspirational argument or the power of convincing evidence. We had to do it  in ways we never anticipated. We have been forced to do things we hoped we would never have to do. We have put in place systems and support for rushed replication of on-campus delivery online.  We have become middleware.  We are at the same time  essential and largely irrelevant. And we are caught in a crazy world in which students and staff who would previously have mounted barricades to resist the use of technology in their teaching are balloting their unions and lobbying management to insist on it.

How will this play out? If students do well in their exams this year will we hail the lift and shift as a success? Perhaps all our previous insistence on planned, careful design was unwarranted. Are exam results the measure of good teaching and learning? If so, it’s a good thing each institution has autonomy in assessment and everything is open to interpretation. In whose interest is it for the shift to online story to be told as a huge success or a massive failure?

Boris Johnson presented Joe Biden with my photo of Frederick Douglass to mark their first meeting

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Douglass#/media/File:Ross_Blair_%E2%80%93_Frederick_Douglass.jpg

A picture I shared on Wikimedia has been given by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a gift to President Joe Biden.

Just goes to show that serendipitous things happen when you share openly.

President Biden and Dr Biden are visiting the UK this week. In preparation for the visit the  Downing Street offices began searching for a thoughtful gift. They know that the Bidens have an interest in history and in the life of Frederick Douglass.  They found my picture of a mural of Douglass on Wikimedia and contacted me.

The mural is by Edinburgh artist Ross Blair (AKA TrenchOne) and features as part of our BLM ‘Curious Edinburgh‘ mural tour which in turn is part of a wider tour Scotland-wide.

I gave them a high-res version and the Prime Minister’s Office  got it printed up and framed.

When I saw the mural I recognized the subject immediately. The artist is talented and the image is striking.

Frederick Douglass was one of the most photographed people of his time, many people were interested in him and he was keen to ensure that he was represented as an equal during such a difficult time in American history. During the 1800s he sat for more portraits than even Abraham Lincoln.

Frederick Douglass is part of the cultural history not just of the US, but also of Scotland. He came to Edinburgh several times, first in 1846 . He made a number of public anti-slavery speeches and wrote letters back to the USA from here. He considered the city to be elegant and grand and found the UK to be very welcoming. ‘Everything is so different here from what I have been accustomed to in the United States. No insults to encounter – no prejudice to encounter, but all is smooth. I am treated as a man an equal brother. My color instead of being a barrier to social equality –is not thought of as such’.

I was born in Scotland but I am a dual national by virtue of having an American parent. My US family are in Maryland and I am delighted to see this image of such an important American icon here in our public spaces. The fact that I am a dual national seems to be an added bonus for the gift to President and Dr Biden.

I took the photograph on an evening walk during lockdown just as the sun was setting. The mural is very close to the building where Frederick Douglass stayed while he was in Edinburgh. I shared it on Wikipedia so that more people could see it and enjoy it.

The picture has had 1,200,000  pageviews on English Wikipedia since it was added to the Frederick Douglass page on 23 October 2020. My profile on wikipedia is here:  User:Melissa Highton – Wikipedia

Some people on Twitter are being a bit rude about the traffic cone but I would remind you that both Edinburgh and Glasgow have a fine tradition of adding traffic cones to significant public art works and perhaps David Hume wasn’t using his.

Global press coverage:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/picture-of-edinburgh-anti-slavery-mural-given-to-president-biden-by-pm-n3l953nrn

PM gifts photo of Edinburgh anti-slavery mural to Biden – BBC News

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/06/12/biden-boris-gifts/

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/boris-johnson-gifts-joe-biden-picture-of-anti-slavery-campaigner-spotted-by-officials-on-wikipedia/ar-AAKXjuv

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/biden-boris-johnson-frederick-douglass-mural-b1864468.html

https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/edinburgh-news/boris-johnson-welcomes-president-biden-20799321

https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/with-nod-black-lives-matter-uks-johnson-gives-biden-mural-photo-2021-06-10/

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/black-lives-matter-uk-s-boris-johnson-gifts-joe-biden-mural-of-19th-century-abolitionist-frederick-douglass-101623377062480.html

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/joe-biden-gifts-boris-johnson-24294179

http://proudamericanblog.com/?p=10045

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/art/what-to-see/try-harder-boris-have-given-biden-g7-summit

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/with-a-nod-to-black-lives-matter–uk-s-johnson-gives-biden-mural-photo-14990120

https://www.tech-gate.org/usa/2021/06/10/boris-johnson-gives-joe-biden-gifts-at-g7-summit-in-cornwall/

Boris Johnson presents gifts to Joe and Jill Biden ahead of G7 Summit – Wales Online

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2021-06-10/with-a-nod-to-black-lives-matter-uks-johnson-gives-biden-mural-photo

Black Lives Matter: Johnson gifts Biden mural of 19th-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass – 1st for Credible News (1stnews.com)

‘Special relation’: UK PM gifts Biden a mural depicting abolitionist Frederick Douglass (republicworld.com)

Curious Edinburgh photo presented to US President – Bulletin magazine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2021-06-27/In_the_media

Open Education on a Post-Pandemic Planet

Slide designed for me by Gill because I am very lucky to have a graphic design team.

I gave a keynote presentation at Open Apereo conference.

Here’s the recording https://youtu.be/D7hL9i-NdyM

Here’s the blurb:

Open Education on a Post-Pandemic Planet

As we try to predict what the future may hold there are a few things  from the Before Times that we still know to be true: Open educational resources, open source software and open access digital tools offer our last, best hope for equity and inclusion. Education must not be dependent on digital platforms controlled by private companies, and large educational institutions must show their support for open sharing, collaboration and assurance of accessibility for all our audiences. As well as deep reflection on our purchasing decisions and the skills in our edtech teams we must ensure ‘open literacy’ within the curriculum and within pedagogical training. As we struggle against the denial of scientific knowledge, actively fight misinformation, attempt to decolonise and care for our planet, there is much to be done. Melissa will bring stories from Scotland on how universities are rising to these challenges and bringing their own leadership to the table.

 

Note: if I do this presentation again, and I have time, I’ll include Jupyter notebooks and  our new space MOOC https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/observing-earth-from-space

health-based approaches to supporting learning technologists

As soon as we all moved to work from home it became clear that our top priority was going to be to identify the protective factors that support health and wellbeing for our learning technology teams so that they would be able to perform at the top of their game in supporting the university in this extraordinary year.

In universities, colleges and schools all across the UK and the wider world, learning technology managers could quickly see that their services were going to be put under extreme pressure. We have, for many years been persuading, inspiring and supporting colleagues to make use of online technologies to do their teaching in different and new ways. It was a long term, gradual, endeavor with 2 year, 5 year and 10 year plans. This year has seen a huge shift from using learning technologies with colleagues who had opted in and wanted to learn, to a world in which people with very little knowledge, or familiarity with the tools for teaching online were suddenly forced to upskill fast.

Focusing resources that promote the self-esteem, resilience and coping abilities of individuals and communities of learning technologists has been essential as they have been on the forefront of services overwhelmed by demands from colleagues who are too stressed to care. It is challenging for online learning leaders and learning technology aficionados to come to terms with the fact that we did not deliver this pivot to online teaching through inspirational argument or the power of convincing evidence. We had to do it in ways we never anticipated. We have put in place systems and support for rushed replication of on-campus delivery online even though we know in our hearts that is not the best way for learning technology to be used.

With many people locally engineering their own solutions in a panic, resilience mitigations against the risks of chaos were essential and we have brought a new focus to sharing practice in our community . For many years the University of Edinburgh learning technology roadshows provided a focus for distributed learning technologists to come together across schools. This year these have grown and moved online as community events. Through these we have been able to identify and mobilise the community’s assets to help local learning technologists to overcome some of the challenges they face. We have invited senior managers to give regular updates to the community of learning technologists to ensure that the bigger picture is understood.

Staying grounded in what we know has been important. University of Edinburgh has been world-leading in online masters courses for many years and invested heavily in digital innovation and technology for distance education which put us in a better position than many of our peer universities . We have a  strong culture of sharing open resources and a good understanding of the licencing  issues involved in re-using materials from elsewhere. In some of our services this commitment to openness and sharing ensured that we were able to stay in business.  Information Services Group have good infrastructure for media which ensured that we didn’t have to resort to YouTube. Senate Education Committee have spent time on the policies for privacy, ethics and accessibility in digital teaching. We have a strong culture of research informed delivery and we have ensured that learning technology at Edinburgh is shaped by published educational research about uses of learning technology in pedagogy.

The learning technology community of practice has grown fast this year and it is important to take time to ensure than new members were welcomed. During this pandemic year the university has recruited a dozen new learning technologists and in order that they were all able to join our community with a shared understanding of the technologies we have on campus, we put together a training programme available to Schools to ensure that their new recruits were quickly up to speed as expert users of the university systems and a reading group to provide a place to discuss some of the more nuanced aspects of technologies such as bias, surveillance and online harms. We invested quickly in a ‘grow your own‘ strategy for up-skilling and cross-skilling  other technology staff to support learning technologies and in recruiting and training students to help us with the up-scaling and heavy-lifting in our services. Last summer 40 students joined us to help with Learn and I am delighted to see so many of them return to ISG for another stint as interns this summer. Their input and insights are energising.

Recognising the professionalism of the community we have continued to support colleagues in completing their professional accreditation and CPD to develop in their roles.  Reflections on the demands of this year have provided good content for their portfolios. Our national networks have been essential for understanding that in each institution the learning technologists are tacking the same challenges. Many of us deal directly with the same software suppliers. We have swapped guidance, experience and shared stories to keep each other going and offered help to those whose systems collapsed. At the annual national conference of the Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) we came together to share experiences and everyone got an award to say thank you, recognising the importance of the role they play in keeping our institutions teaching.

As learning technologists’ mental health suffered and joined the queues to access counselling support,  we worked hard to ensure that the central technology teams had the regular meetings, catch-ups and social interactions needed to combat isolation.  We have used blogs and social media to celebrate achievements and talk about the things that are going well, exchanged home-schooling tips and grieved for the loss of loved ones. Whether we survive this year unscathed remains to be seen. Universities across the UK seem to be expanding their online learning teams in moves towards the future, but at the same time many exhausted technologists are leaving the business and taking the opportunity to find new things to do. The set of digital skills, understanding of technology, empathy, resilience and commitment to helping people which are core to the job of learning technologists are transferable in many ways and this year has underlined the importance of support for health and well-being for resilience.

digital natives

Picture taken by me in the street. No rights reserved by me.

I called out the myths of digital natives again today at a WonkHE event on the Future of Learning Resources.

I am impressed with how long this idea has been perpetuated, it clearly offers a hook for those who want to push for innovation, but it still has an air of ageism and is a worrying starting point for service or course design.

As a reminder, Prensky wrote that stuff in 2001. That’s 20 years ago.

Those college grads  he was writing about are well into their 30s and 40s now.  They are the faculty, the librarians and the support staff in universities. If they were all  “native speakers” of the ‘digital language of computers, video games and the Internet‘   they would by now have turned all teaching into ‘edu-tainment‘ and games as he predicted and we wouldn’t be finding it so hard to deliver good quality higher education online this year.

proctoring

Is it just me who thinks proctoring exams sounds like a pain in the backside?

I am inspired to write a poem about entymology:

Educe or education means to bring out.
Pedagogy requires a boy child.
Assessment means to sit beside, and examine to weigh.
Seminars plant seeds for ideas to grow, over three semesters or 18 months.
Curriculum is a race chariot, that gets you round a course. 
A symposium requires wine, not just crisps and online proctoring is the arse end of what we do.
………………………….

Any how, if you want to do it, here’s the Edinburgh University Information Services position: https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/assessment/onlineproctoring