This is turning into a very nice week for me. Not only is the weather splendid and the outlook unobstructed, but I have also received/achieved two nice awards.
The first is Fellowship of CILIP, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, the second is a student research excellence award. These are linked, because becoming a student again after about a million years has required me to keep a research diary and reflect on the skills I am developing.
I’ve had to learn to use Endnote and to use library catalogues properly and stick to a referencing style. I’ve even had to manage my research data. Returning ( and struggling) again to these research and information management skills caused me to think about my own skills development over the years and the CILIP portfolio offered a good structure for pause and reflect.
For those of you who like open practice and enjoy reading such things, I’ve put the outline of my CILIP portfolio here on my blog. The actual full thing has to be built within the CILIP VLE. Don’t start me on how frustrating it is trying to learn a new VLE. I shall reflect.
Doing research into management and leadership has been challenging too. At the Business School Research Conference today a panel of academic colleagues mused on how it is that so little of their research is ever taken up, or even read, by leaders and managers in practice. I pointed out that some of us were here doing research which was useful, relevant and likely to have an impact simply by virtue of our questions being questions we had been sufficiently motivated to research on top of doing a full time job. There was some nodding.
Anyway, its only Wednesday. The rest of the week includes menopause and massive financial planning, so it could go either way.
Delighted that we are finalists in the 2019 Herald Higher Education Awards.
This nomination for innovative use of technology focuses of the development of digital literacy skills at University of Edinburgh through our partnership with Wikimedia UK. Project achievements have gone far beyond what might have been expected and has shown impact and reach which is unique and well worth celebrating. This work involves staff and student across the entire university and reaches out to members of the public, local community and researchers as active participants in this new area of reputation, reach, digital and data literacy and knowledge sharing.
Wikipedia is simply one of the largest websites in the world. It is visited by tens of millions of people every day as a source of information. The quality and reliability of the information in Wikipedia relies on volunteers putting information there to be discovered and used. As the site grows, so the demand for contributions grows and the need for that community of editors to be one of knowledgeable, critical experts in their field increases. We have transformed 600 students, 400 staff and 250members of the public from being passive readers and consumers of Wikipedia information to being active, engaged contributors. The result of this is that our community is more engaged with knowledge creation online and readers all over the world benefit from our research, teaching and collections.
At every turn the mention of Wikipedia has been met with scepticism. Nonetheless the digital skill team have persisted in helping all of us see how contributing to sharing information can bring benefits for the university in terms of discovery, education, equality, outreach and excellence. We have run more than 50 skills training events each year. The skills needed by those contributing to Wikipedia are the same student digital literacy skills which a degree at University of Edinburgh is designed to develop: Those of critical reading, summarising, paraphrasing, original writing, referencing, citing, publishing, data handing, reviewing and understanding your audience. In this era of fake news it has never been more important that our students understand how information is published, shared, fact-checked and contested online.
This work towards getting all students and staff in the university to be active contributors is unique in the sector. Edinburgh staff and students have created 476 new articles, in a variety of languages on a huge range of topics and significantly improved or translated 1950 more. These articles have been consumed by millions of readers. Images released from our archive collections and added to Wikipedia have now been viewed 28,755,106 times. All editors are supported to understand the impact and reach of their work, to find the analytics and reports which show how their contribution is immediately useful to a wide range of audiences.
This project represents a clear statement by the University that we want to enable our staff and students to engage in becoming active citizens in the digital world:
Curriculum development: We have been working with academic colleagues to embed data literacy tasks into the curriculum. Courses which now include a Wikipedia assignment include: World Christianity MSc, Translation Studies MSc, History MSc (Online), Global Health MSc, Digital Sociology MSc, Data Science for Design MSc, Language Teaching MSc, Psychology in Action MSc, Digital Education MSc, Public Health MSc and Reproductive Biology Honours. Each of these activities bring benefits to the students who learn new skills and have immediate public impact. For example:
Global Health students add 180-200 words to a Global Health related article. 31 student editors added 7,500 words to 18 articles. Their edits to the Wikipedia page on obesity are viewed on average 3,000 times per day.
A Reproductive Biology student’s new article on high-grade serous carcinoma, one of the most common forms of ovarian cancer includes 60 references and diagrams and has been viewed over 60,000 times since September 2016.
MSc in Translation Studies students translate 4,000 words on a topic of their own choosing. 30 students each year translate articles from English to Arabic, Chinese, French, Greek, Turkish, Japanese and from Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Norwegian into English. They wrote with a potential global audience in mind and Wikipedia editors all over the world scrutinise their work.
Community engagement, equality and inclusion: We work with students to target areas of inclusion. The Wellcome Kings and UnCoverEd groups have added biographies of notable LGBT+ and BAME individuals missing from Wikipedia and we organise high profile events for Black History Month, Ada Lovelace Day and International Women’s Day. An event focusing on cultural representations of mental health during Student Wellbeing Week 2018 saw 33 articles updated to ensure that when students and the public search for information about mental health the information they find will be of a higher equality than it was before.
Wikipedia is one of the world’s largest information and knowledge sharing websites, and University of Edinburgh is now the university with the highest level of contribution and engagement to that endeavour. We hope that this project can be seen as a model for other universities to follow as a way to share the knowledge we create in universities via the most public and open of platforms.
We recently ran an excellent session on using inclusive language in recruitment. We spent some time thinking about the positive things we can say about the inclusive culture in ISG. One of the aspects of an inclusive culture can be seen in the extent to which we think about and talk about how our colleagues experience the workplace differently.
With regard to organisational culture and openness to diversity Olsen and Martins offer a theory-driven framework for evaluating managerial and organisational approaches to diversity management (Olsen & Martins, 2012). They propose that organisational approach is particularly important to study because it is within the control of the organisation more explicitly than external society-level factors. The Olsen model aims to explore the ‘how’ and ‘why’ which underlie diversity management approaches in organisations and to link these to organisational outcomes. ‘Openness to diversity’ is defined as putting an emphasis on pro-diversity beliefs and attitudes and refers specifically to group members’ positive attention to dissimilarities (Lauring & Villesèche, 2017). Diversity programmes in the workplace are socially situated and the organisation provides the specific environmental context in which such initiatives will success, thrive or fail to a lesser or greater extent.
For me, as senior leader, this means that whenever there is a workplace issue, even if it is not a top priority for me personally I try to think about how it might impact other people and specifically whether there are any groups of colleagues who might be disproportionately affected, and whether there are voices which are unlikely to be heard. In the workplace we are all part of different groups. Those may be identity groups (e.g. age, gender, race, class, ethnicity) and/or organisational groups (job function or place within organisational hierarchy). While managers are an organisational group and members of the management group may be perceived as representative of that group by their staff, their own membership of one or more identity group will also influence how there are perceived or behave (Kossek & Zonia, 1993).
One of the workplace issues which particularly exercises the ISG staff who work in Argyle House is the heat. Colleagues want to see data, and they want to see action. When I think about the excessive heat in the office I know that this will disproportionately affect colleagues who are struggling to regulate their own body temperature, such as women who are experiencing hot flushes as the result of menopause. I also know that the voices of those experiencing menopause are often unheard and easily dismissed. Menopause is still a ‘taboo’ topic for many and we don’t gather good data to know what the impact really is on our organisation. A smart employer with an inclusive culture would attend to this. Women of a certain age are a large group in ISG.
Menopause is an intersectional issue of gender and age. For many women it comes as a double or triple whammy, coming as it does just at the time when your children are teenagers, your parents are elderly and you have just made it back from a career break. In an ‘aged hierarchical’ organisation like ours it may also come just at the time when you are consolidating leadership and management responsibilities. Three out of five (59%) working women between the ages of 45 and 55 who are experiencing menopause symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work (CIPD, 2019) For these reasons it is a topic of interest for employers, unions and politicians. If you haven’t thought about menopause in the workplace before, or what it means to your practice as an inclusive manager I recommend a quick google search on ‘menopause in the workplace’.
Here’s the blurb for our upcoming PlayFair Steps event at University of Edinburgh Information Services. It’s part of the ISG ‘going through the change’ theme 😉
PlayFair Steps: Overheating and Stressed in the Workplace?
We know from our very first PlayFair Steps event that age is an important issue that affects employees at work in a variety of ways. Experiencing the menopause while working can be a double whammy bringing stress, sleepless nights and hot flushes which make it difficult to perform at your best and thrive at work. Recognising and understanding the causes of stress in the workplace and thinking about how we can best support our colleagues makes sense for leaders, managers, recruiters and customer facing service teams. All are welcome at this session to discuss and engage with how ISG can be a better place to work for all. This session is the starting point for ensuring ISG promotes a culture that is open to employees talking about health issues.
***Remember that all IS staff are welcome to any PlayFair Steps event, even if you do not know much about the topic under discussion. You are encouraged to use this space to ask questions and have meaningful discussions. As this working group meeting will be over the lunch hour, do feel free to bring your lunch.*** Booking link: https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=33941.
Olsen, Jesse E., & Martins, Luis L. (2012). Understanding organizational diversity management programs: A theoretical framework and directions for future research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33(8), 1168-1187. doi:10.1002/job.1792
Lauring, Jakob, & Villesèche, Florence. (2017). The Performance of Gender Diverse Teams: What Is the Relation between Diversity Attitudes and Degree of Diversity? European Management Review, 0(0). doi:10.1111/emre.12164
Kossek, Ellen, & Zonia, Susan. (1993). Assessing Diversity Climate: A Field Study of Reactions to Employer Efforts to Promote Diversity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14(1), 61-81.
To aid reflection sometimes it is good to look backwards. Here’s what we said in 2016 that we would do by 2019.
And I’m pleased to say, we have.
Learning technology developments for 2016-19
Background, Context and Strategic Alignment
ISG work with partners from across the University to provide an on-campus student experience where technology enhances and optimises learning and teaching, and to establish and embed a framework for the development of digital literacy. Collectively, these measures ensure we meet student and staff expectations for world class learning. Our services make a key contribution to the University strategic objective of Leadership in Learning, ensuring that students’ learning and progress are supported by the latest in learning technologies and that we are at the forefront of digital education. We provide opportunities for students and staff to develop the digital skills needed for work, study and teaching.
ISG work aligns with the Digital Transformation development theme within the University’s Strategic Plan 2016, by supporting and enabling every educator to be a digital educator and every student to be a digital student. We aim where possible to provide and use systems which integrate with each other to provide a consistent student experience and useful data upon which to make decisions about learning and teaching planning.
The ISG planning round includes Learning, Teaching and Student Experience as one of a number of programmes that enable more strategic use of information technology. In 2016/17 a total of £1.5 million was awarded to this programme. The bulk of the investment has been used to deliver significant improvements across the AV estate.
ISG aim to align learning technology projects and services with school and college learning and teaching plans where possible. Representatives from our learning and teaching teams are available to attend school learning and teaching committees on request and are able to provide updates on any of our work areas. We invite colleagues to attend monthly Learning Technology Showcase & Networking Events to keep up to date and feed into discussions about new services.
In support of the work of the University’s Space Strategy Group, ISG enable the delivery of a centralised model for the management and maintenance of the University’s “general” teaching space. We target a single support model with a dedicated helpline and technical support staff. We provide regular preventative maintenance and project managed rolling replacement programmes. This enhances the ability to roll out strategic, large scale system changes, such as lecture recording. ISG learning technology work supports the delivery of the University Learning and Teaching Strategy. In particular there are a number of areas in which ISG has identified significant projects and key performance indicators for achievement.
Learning and Teaching Strategy areas
2.5 Committing to the creative use of digital technologies in our teaching and assessment where appropriate whether online, blended or on-campus
ISG provide virtual learning environment platforms (VLEs) , computer aided assessments, in-classroom technologies, media asset management, media production, learning design, web design, interactive content, maker spaces, Wikimedia projects and learning technology consultancy services.
In 2016/17 critical new demands in such areas as automated assessment, eExams, feedback & assessment and student analytics are high priority.
We aim to build communities of practice which encourage innovation and diffuse good ideas across the University. We do this by organizing showcase events, training sessions, facilitated networks, conferences and staff development sessions, and by producing and publishing case studies of innovative teaching practice on our platforms and social media.
2.6 Utilising our world-class libraries and collections in innovative and research-led ways to enrich our curriculum
ISG support the provision of online reading lists and integration of learning technology tools with Library systems to ensure that resources can be easily added to VLEs and playlists.
ISG host a growing collection of born-digital diverse teaching and learning resources for sharing and re-use and we aim to support colleagues in being open content literate about the lisencing and sharing of these online.
4.2 Building on and growing the University’s portfolio of online learning programmes and using them to innovate with new approaches to learning and teaching
In support of on campus and distance learners we are on target to have 30% of the applications available on the Open Labs PCs available online
By 2020 we aim to have 90% of all courses using one of two centrally supported VLEs; 70% of fully online courses use learning design model for excellence and 70% of courses producing or using open content or media.
5.6 Reviewing and enhancing the way that our physical and digital estates support high quality learning and teaching and interaction between staff and students
During 2016-17 we prepared for implementation of University lecture recording service from 2017-20. This will bring significant enhancements for students to support revision, study and those most in need of the opportunity to listen again or revisit lecture content.
We continue to invest in the student digital experience in line with recommendations following the Headscape review and those under discussion via the Service Excellence Programme.
ISG manage 400 teaching spaces across the university. We aim to have 100% of general teaching spaces digital enabled and centrally supported and 100% of general teaching space enabled for lecture recording by 2020.
5.7 Exploring whether learning analytics systems can help Personal Tutors provide effective academic support and enhance learning
ISG deliver pilot projects (2016-18) to understand where learning analytics approaches could be useful within the University. We also include data exchange, retention and management plans for all our new systems
6.7 Pursuing the aspiration that every educator is a digital educator, and that all teaching staff are supported in the appropriate use of the full breadth of learning technologies
ISG provide staff development programmes and training for professional development for academic staff and professional accreditation for learning technology support staff.
All staff and students are supported to develop their skills and know how to be lifelong learners for more skills in the future. Digital skills provision aims to improve the student experience. We provide a rich set of existing online resources for flexible learning. We strive for service excellence: our trainers are trained, our programme is extensive and up to date, our rooms are modern, our delivery is flexible and evaluated. We aim for digital skills training uptake in Schools and planning units of at least 75%
Projects for Blended Learning, Digital Skills, Online Learning, Teaching Spaces, Assessment and Feedback
VLE consolidation for UG and ODL
ISG leverage opportunities to promote the strategic market advantage in being excellent in digital education, distance learning, MOOCs and online CPD, with the aim of developing a sustainable capability in digital education. We work with partners from across the University to establish a framework for digital literacy and the on-campus student experience to be one where technology enhances and optimises learning and teaching, to ensure we meet student and staff expectations for world class learning.
In support of growth in ODL and a consistent student digital experience, ISG is undertaking a significant VLE consolidation and resilience project, working with academic programme teams to consolidate a number of the bespoke VLEs that exist within the institution into the two centrally support platforms, Learn and Moodle. This project will addresses specific improvements in the student experience in key areas such as Undergraduate Medicine, as well as ensuring much of the more general investment being made in VLE resilience, robustness, user experience, learning analytics and other areas are available to all our student community.
Simplification in this area should also deliver some efficiency benefits for administration and support of academic programmes in the medium to long term. This work is proceeding with care and through a close working relationship with academic programme teams to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on existing students as part of this transition. Several online distance programmes in particular also have mature processes which inform the process. Consolidating all teaching activities into the two central VLEs will further increase requirements for robustness, resilience and support of these platforms. Options are being scoped for improved resilience, maintenance and availability and funding in future years is likely to be required.
Course teams from across the University have been migrating their course content and establishing new, well designed online spaces with enhanced usability for students. After 1.5 years of investment in VLE Consolidation activities, we have reduced the number of VLEs from 15 to 8, and are targeting a reduction down to 2 by the end of 2020.
The University is currently distinctive amongst peers in not having guidelines for VLE minimum standards of use. During 2017/18 ISG will begin projects to explore how the student experience can be enhanced by consistent support offered via tools in the VLEs.
In order to deliver a consistent student experience we are on target to have 30% of the applications available on the Open Labs PCs made available online through the new ‘Apps to User Devices’ service.
The largest learning and teaching project outlined in the ISG plan is to provide a fit for purpose centrally supported lecture recording service and significantly scale up the use of lecture recording across the institution. In additional to the £3.25m Lecture Recording capital spend approved by the University Court in September 2016, ISG will spend a further £0.2m annually in 2016-19 in support of the programme. This system will deliver a new modern and comprehensive service in all 400 University lecture theatres and seminar rooms.
The scope of the Lecture Recording programme is significant and complex, with many stakeholders, and consultations to date around policy development have highlighted the strength of appetite for information and reassurance amongst colleagues.
Delivering a high quality digital-enabled teaching space estate requires significant continual investment in technology, support and innovation. The AV and IT equipment within our teaching spaces is in constant use due to the increased usage of electronic delivery alongside ever increasing room utilisation. A continued recurrent investment is required to continue the replacement programme and ensure the estate is supported & maintained for the staff and student experience.
A responsive support model and regular maintenance is essential to keep disruptions to a minimum. This will provide the necessary on-site support, spares and license costs to ensure quick classroom support and facilitate regular maintenance of what is anticipated to be a heavy use building. This is in keeping with our strategy to centralise as much support as possible to avoid the inconsistencies in service delivery that undermine student and staff experience.
Delivering a high quality digital teaching space estate requires significant continual investment in technology, support and innovation. In 2016/17 £1m is being invested in improving our teaching spaces. The timescales for the replacement of audio visual and IT systems across our campuses vary depending on system size and complexity, but an average system is at its best within its first four years. To ensure a high quality user experience and to make the most of new innovative technology it is a recognised standard that these systems should be upgraded every six years. The age and quality of these systems vary greatly across our campuses due to historic funding restrictions. Over time this has built up a technology rich, highly utilised teaching estate with an overall equipment replacement value of ~£8m.
The 2016/17 investment has enabled ISG to take ownership of an additional 103 teaching spaces in 2016, we can now provide management and support of all 316 general teaching spaces across the George Square, the King’s Building’s and Holyrood campuses. This centralisation project enables us to address a lack of investment in some spaces previously owned by Schools and standardise the level of technical support and maintenance provided. The 2016/17 funding for an additional 2.0 FTE of technical support staff required to support the additional spaces has been met by the three Colleges.
ISG provide an extensive range of digital skills development opportunities for all staff and students. The programme offers over 300 classroom-based events every year, complimented by an extensive catalogue of online learning resources. Events are designed by the Digital Skills & Training team in collaboration with subject experts, and delivered by a pool of over 40 trainers from across ISG.
We offer tailored events designed in collaboration with Schools to meet specific requirements. Topic-focused programmes for internal and external audiences ( e.g. code sprints and hackathons, Wikipedia editathons, 23 Things for Digital Knowledge, Future Teacher Programme, Using Online Assessment, DIY Film School, Using Open Educational Resources, Writing for the Web); online videos and guides developed in-house and hosted on Media Hopper and Learn, and an extensive video library provided by Lynda.com.
In 2015/16 ISG purchased a three-year campus subscription to Lynda.com, an extensive library of high quality video courses in digital, technology, creative and business skills. The investment in Lynda.com has transformed the way we offer digital skills training and hugely increased our capacity for digital skills development, continuously developing the digital culture within the University. It has enabled us to offer flexible learning to both campus and distance students in a broader and deeper range of digital skills subjects than we previously had the capacity and facilities to provide.
The Lynda.com digital skills for staff and students programme was rolled out during June 2016 and is fast becoming a huge success. By the end of January 2017 we had 5,000 unique active users across the University and are confident of reaching our initial target of 10,000 digital skills courses taken within 2016/17 well ahead of time.
ISG have invested in enabling single sign-on for all staff and students and developing management information reporting using our Business Intelligence reporting tools. This will allow data from Lynda.com to be combined with information in our existing corporate systems to show at relatively granular levels of detail what courses are being used and by which areas of the organisation. Information can also be combined with existing skills training attendance information and it will be possible to benchmark engagement across Schools and Support Groups and deploy resources accordingly. Lynda is also integrated with DiscoverEd.
We evaluate our ISG digital skills programme using attendee questionnaires after each event, acting on feedback to make improvements and expanding our programme. The usage metrics available from Lynda.com enable us to identify popular areas for development amongst our users and identify gaps for future development and places where face to face training can really add value. The UK HE User Group provides a platform for universities to influence the Lynda.com product roadmap, and as a result EndNote and Research Methods courses have recently been released.
ISG Digital Skills training team also support major projects, managing and delivering high-volume rollout training and online resources underpinning the introduction of new technologies to the University. These have recently included the introduction of the new Media Hopper and Lecture Recording services, as well as comprehensive training and support for the rollout of online marking within CAHSS.
ISG have invested three new training rooms opened in October 2016 in Argyle House, offering flexible space for technical training. Two rooms feature desks with dual displays, allowing the user to view both their computer feed and the tutor’s feed simultaneously. The third room is a collaborative space, with four group tables with flip down multi-use work stations, allowing for the use of the built-in computers, the user’s own mobile device or a clear desk space for writing. In all rooms, users are able to share their work by wirelessly projecting their mobile devices and desktop computers onto any of the large display screens.
A maker space in the Main Library opened in spring 2017, providing staff and students with a place to learn through experience with resources to work on innovative ideas and projects related to making, whilst supporting personal development and improving creative and technical skills. A variety of tools such as Arduinos and Raspberry Pis, as well as 3D printers and scanners are offered, with workshops for students and staff interested in making. Branded as ‘uCreate Studio’, this is a multi-functional space that can be used for in-curriculum teaching as well as extra-curricular activities. Over the next few months we will be installing new technologies in the space to broaden the range of activities that can take place in there. We also continue to invest in the Media Hopper Service which provides colleagues and students with a platform and tools for creative, shared use of media assets.
ISG is also promoting the development and recognition of professional skills for key learning technology staff across the institution. All the ISG Digital Skills team members now have training certification, awarded by the British Institute for Learning and Development. We are supporting a first cohort of 20 learning technology staff in achieving their Certified Member of the Association of Learning Technologists (CMALT) award in 2017.
Tools for Assessment and Feedback
Online assessment and feedback has been an area of strategic importance for some years and ISG continue to invest in this area. £0.035m has been allocated to support key requirements in the College of Science and Engineering, including the pilot of an online essay-based examination system (ExamOnline) in Biological Sciences and the integration of the open-source ‘STACK’ assessment tool with the Learn VLE in the School of Maths. Integration of STACK has the potential to save the School £0.014m per year in license fees, and save students money as they will no longer have to buy online content along with their core textbooks. ISG has also invested in additional staffing capacity to support the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences rollout of fully online marking and feedback to students, the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine for the rollout of the Speedwell assessment system in Veterinary Medicine, and the procurement of a new assessment solution for Undergraduate Medicine.
Enablers – underpinning the strategic funding and projects
In our current planning within ISG, we have concentrated on the next three years of our 10 year programme, specifically on adjustments to items already agreed in the 2016/19 planning round and on emerging new areas for investment. We have focused on those items that are critical to the University in order to achieve its strategic goals.
The University’s strategic target of 10,000 paid distance learners will not be achieved within next 5 years if we continue with the current approach. Our distance learning is not scalable and margins are thin or difficult to determine. Significant investment in distance learning at scale will leverage the geographic scalability of the existing external MOOC platforms to deliver formal paid accredited courses. Continued recurrent investment is also needed to ensure the quality of our AV in teaching spaces across the estate.
Work across the Learning, Teaching and Student Experience area is very broad and there are a number of governance mechanisms in place to guide ISG work:
Teaching space priorities are identified through a combination of consultation with Schools, consideration of hardware age and the amount of support calls received. Annual plans are reported to the Estates Committee and the Space Strategy Group.
Large strategic projects and services typically have their own boards for governance. For example, the Lecture Recording project is a complex programme containing multiple strands of project work. A project board is in place for the procurement phase and a programme board is being established to govern implementation and rollout.
Progress across all projects is reported monthly to the IS Senior Management Team with processes in place to scrutinise projects flagged as having encountered challenges.
Progress for specific projects is also reported to Senate Committees as appropriate, including Learning and Teaching Committee and Knowledge Strategy Committee, either as part of larger ISG strategic project updates, or standalone papers.
Several of the areas of work in learning technology practice require the creation of new enabling policies. To provide additional capacity within the required timescale, ISG has employed an Educational Technology Policy Officer at 0.5FTE to work in partnership with colleagues in Academic Services.
Teaching Matters is the University of Edinburgh’s website, blog and podcast about learning and teaching, for sharing ideas and approaches to teaching, and for showcasing our successes, including academic and professional colleagues who are leading the way in delivering brilliant teaching.
ISG’s LTW staff are regular contributors. Here is a selection of our writings:
The Information Services Group (ISG) at University of Edinburgh is committed to providing work experience for Edinburgh students. The student workers in our organisation transform the culture, bring new viewpoints and diversity to our teams and provide unique student perspectives on our services to help us improve. Increasing the number of students who work in our organisation is part of our strategic ambitions and a vital part of enabling the University effectively to meet future challenges.
For the last 4 years we have had specific programmes in place to recruit and support students into our data, digital and IT jobs as interns over the summer and as part time workers throughout the year. Students work in our organisation in a wide range of roles including: as web developers, IT trainers, media producers, project support officers, help desk staff, graphic designers, AV fit-out technicians, data analysts and learning technologists. We aim to develop a strong and vibrant community of young staff who are supported, valued, developed and engaged.
The work on this initiative is ongoing and growing. Team managers are finding opportunities to work with students across more and more projects. They say:
“It started with a single summer internship analysing some data from our MOOC courses. Since then we’ve had summer interns developing media migration tools, capturing case studies on how media is used, assessing chat bots and where they could fit into our work, and helping with the roll out of lecture recording. This year we also had a team of around 30 students working with us over the start of term to support lecture recording use in large teaching spaces.”
“Personally I loved the experience of working with students again, and in a brand new area of IT support. I find their enthusiasm for the role and energy is infectious and I’m always looking for ways to challenge them and help them grow in the role”’
Our CIO has set a target within ISG’s Strategic Plan to employ at least 500 students over the course of each academic year.
How can the impact of this work be measured?
More than 300 students have worked with us so far this year. Because ISG is responsible for all the digital services across libraries, IT, learning technologies and study spaces in the university we are in a perfect position to offer flexible employment to our students.
Students are also the main consumers of our services. By employing them to work on projects that affect them we benefit from a rich source of productivity and innovation to help shape and improve these services.
We want each student to get the most out of their work experience with us, so we collaborated with our Careers Service and HR colleagues to create a ‘digital student guidebook’ and professional development resources to support students balancing employment alongside their studies. Students can also complete an ‘Edinburgh Award’ – a wrap-around reflective learning framework that helps students to articulate their work experience. We can measure the impact of our student employment initiatives through the ways in which the students reflect on the value of their experience.
We support a positive employment experience for our student workers and encourage them to create LinkedIn profiles to evidence their skills and to engage with their peers through promotional videos and blogging about their work experience. Every student who works with us should leave able to describe an experience of working in a professional environment, on a meaningful project, with real responsibilities, and have a good non-academic referee to add to their CV.
Impact can also be seen in the work being done to generate a sustainable pipeline of talent. Giving individuals the platform they need to excel is critical to our long-term success and also helps us make a vital contribution to our community. Providing work experience and supporting employability empowers our students while building a healthy pipeline of talent, which we hope we may benefit from in the future.
The longer-term impact of the work or initiative on its staff and/or the performance of the organisation.
The longer- term impact on our organisation can be seen several ways:
· The experience we are gaining in developing our scheme in response to feedback from our student workers has led to improvement in practice. We have a staff network for interns and managers to share experiences and learning.
· Our projects and services improve as a result of the skills, creativity, input and ideas brought by the students.
· Our understanding of our users is improved by the perspective that our students bring to the workplace. Their outside perspective is useful in terms of challenging and broadening our thinking.
· Our student workers are now a growing group of ‘ISG Alumni’ who have worked with us and may promote or choose our organisation in the future.
· Our number of student workers is increasing year on year as more managers welcome them into their teams.
· Some of our student workers are now returners who return to work with us each year in different roles.
· We have been able to appoint a number of students into full time roles following their placements and internships. They have become a loyal group of workers who identify us as their employer of choice.
How is the work linked to the organisation’s strategy and achievement of its objectives?
The University is one of the largest local employers, covering multiple sectors and job roles. The University of Edinburgh has a Youth and Student Employment Strategy 2017–2021, which presents our whole-institution approach to employability skills.
The University is committed to long-term goals in creating, promoting and delivering opportunities that enhance the employability of our students. The University recognises the shortage of highly skilled data, digital and IT workers and is therefore safeguarding for the future and building a sustainable talent pipeline, which addresses current and future skills requirements. In addition, this gives our students the platform they need to excel, which is critical to our long-term success, our competitive advantage and also helps us make a vital contribution to our community. This is particularly important for sectors with national skills shortages such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and this is an opportunity to ‘grow our own’ in these areas.
The National Student Survey (NSS) and Edinburgh Student Experience Survey (ESES) results have highlighted areas for improvement in recent years. Developing more student employment opportunities is one way to improve the student experience and expands the employment prospects of our graduates. On-campus employment offers students an opportunity to work with the University to shape the delivery of services that directly affect the student community.
What was innovative or outstanding about the work and how can that be demonstrated?
As an employer within a university we are afforded unique opportunities to engage our student body, including delivering learning technologies used in curriculum, improving their study spaces and access to research.
Students are the main consumers of our services. By employing them to work on projects that affect them we benefit from a rich source of productivity and innovation to help shape and improve these services.
In a city filled with tech employers, we might not always be an obvious choice for students wanting to work in the IT sector, so we continuously look for interesting and innovative projects and service enhancement activities to attract the best talent to our organisation.
By empowering our students they become champions and ambassadors for our work, which brings business benefits as we strive to roll-out new technologies and the cultural changes associated with these different ways of working. Specific recent examples include contributing to work on the opening up of our educational resources, part of a worldwide movement to promote and support sustainable educational development, and as champions for the roll-out of lecture recording, bringing a student perspective to our communications, training and project activities.
How could other institutions or IT professionals learn from this work and use it in their own organisation?
Universities are very well placed to employ students in flexible ways, but often we assume that these will be in fairly low skill jobs in our shops, bars and residences. In exploring what digital, library and IT jobs there may be on campus we have opened up a variety of roles and reaped the benefit of a vibrant new group of staff with new ideas for our organisation. Our students are amongst some of the best and brightest in the world. We are really lucky to have a pool of such talent and creativity available to us.
The work we have done in Information Services at Edinburgh is easily transferable to other institutions and there is a sector imperative now to build and grow talent in IT organisations. The competition for new graduates is fierce and the investment in students now yields return for the future. Students bring a new diversity to our workforce and contribute to a change in workplace culture enhancing our ways of working across intergenerational teams.
Some of our key learnings and tips are:
· Be targeted: writing tailored communications for different audiences is time-consuming, but really effective.
· Be distinctive: with so many opportunities out there, be clear about what makes your organisation different.
· Get face-to-face: digital works but students really value chatting to employers on campus.
· First impressions count: students are sensitive to image and want to work for organisations that wear their ‘inclusivity-heart’ on their sleeve, so your reps on campus should reflect this.
· Students listen to students: peer word of mouth is a powerful tool, encourage your student ambassadors to tell their friends!
This blog is another about some more institutionally provided technologies. #openblog19
At University of Edinburgh we know that our people are our strength. This is a place of knowledge creation, and a place of knowledge sharing. It is a place in which we invest in the digital skills of our staff and students. It is true in any job that there is a need for learning and development and when you work in the digital sector the need is even more urgent in a rapidly changing environment.
As Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services I am lucky to have responsibility not only for the institutionally provided learning technology, but also the institutionally provided digital skills training provision. You know me, I like to have a strategy or framework for such things.
Our strategic investment in Lynda.com has been a huge success. The digital skills training team are excellent and they have invested the kind of time and effort in managing this service for the institution which has brought us return in terms of take-up and impact which puts us at the forefront of the UK HE sector.
All staff and student at University of Edinburgh are offered an account with Lynda.com. We’ve seen a steady increase over 3 years to the current 15,000 users.
I am particularly pleased that uptake is highest in Information Services Group (87%), and is consistent across all three Colleges (23-28%). The service is most popular amongst taught postgraduate students with 47% having a Lynda.com account. Between 1,200 and 1,800 hours of video is viewed every month. ,
The vast majority of courses viewed are on digital skills topics. Programming courses are consistently the most popular (Programming Fundamentals, HTML, Python) but data skills courses have recently gained popularity.
Lynda.com has been heavily and proactively promoted by ISG. We appointed a dedicated Service Manager to get out and about around the university to encourage engagement. We have reached out to users across the campuses and to our 3,000 distance learning students. We use Lynda.com to to develop staff and student skills, to supplement curricular teaching and to increase operational efficiencies for the other training providers on campus.
Developing student skills
Providing extra-curricular learning to enhance the student experience, aligned to frameworks such as the Digital Skills Framework or the Researcher Development Framework.
Developing employability skills, both digital and business, through the Careers Service.
Increasing visibility of achievements by downloading course completion certificates or posting them to LinkedIn profiles.
Developing staff skills
Developing the digital skills and capabilities of our workforce, enabling staff to play an active role in digital transformation and keep up to date with new technology.
Helping managers to support staff development and reviews by signposting a broad range of Lynda.com courses for their staff through the Digital Skills Framework.
Encouraging career development by mapping courses to professional development frameworks.
Enhancing curricular teaching by supporting digital classroom technologies.
Use by training providers
Enabling training providers to offer resources across a wider subject range and provide an alternative to classroom-based delivery. Examples include the Effective Digital Communication (Web Publishing) course which was re-designed from a face-to-face to online course using Lynda.com materials; HR’s business skills toolkits (launched in summer 2018) and ISG’s digital skills toolkits (to launch in April 2019) both of which signpost Lynda.com resources.
Including links to Lynda.com resources in pre- and post- course emails on Digital Skills Programme courses for preparation and further skills development.
Providing immediate help to those on waiting lists
Assisting in software and systems rollouts including Office 365, Windows 10 and lecture recording.
Reducing spend on external training courses by offering a just-in-time online alternative.
Lynda.com will be upgraded to LinkedIn Learning in summer 2019 and will bring benefits of a more personalised learning experience, more courses, the facility to include University of Edinburgh resources, the power of worldwide member profiles for trend and market analysis, and improved learning analytics. As an organisation we can add our own learning content to LinkedIn such as guides, videos and links to University web pages and online resources for viewing by an internal audience. There is a new reporting dashboard providing more learning analytics and data on learner behaviour, including aggregated trend data from across the globe.
There’s no doubt that the resource has been a good investment in the staff and student experience at University of Edinburgh.
“This type of resource is critical in underpinning a number of projects, both Digital Skills and Capabilities and Digital Scholarship.”
“I wanted to let you know how helpful I have found Lynda.com. I have not used SPSS for 20 years! So going back to do statistics has been daunting. The SPSS videos have been brilliant and helped enormously with my thesis.”
“This year, in Residence Life as part of my annual training program, I made all 220 of our Resident Assistants sign up to Lynda and throughout the course of the year have assigned them all courses to complete; time management and developing your professional image as well as encouraging Line Managers to set annual review objectives relating to courses which has all been incredibly positive.”
We nominated Dominique for this award and she won.
Dominique Green is a PhD student at University of Edinburgh. She is a data scientist and a tutor in quantitative methods. She also works one day per week as Equality and Diversity Intern in the University’s Information Services. Over three years Dominique has made an amazing impact on the institution. Her expertise has helped us to address the challenges we face as a large tech employer, to support women in our workplace and to change and develop policy. Her work has developed our organisation, improved and celebrated the experience of women in STEM and contributed to a cultural shift towards ‘openness to diversity’. Her own passion for the topic and expertise in theory grounded in data inspired us to adopt an intersectional approach to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in our workplace and has pushed us to go beyond anecdote and use data-based decision making to really address some entrenched structural issues.
Since the beginning of her internship Dominique has helped us to understand the link between diversity in our workplace and improved services for staff and students. She has also helped us to understand the data we have about our organisation and the management decisions we can make as a result. After analysing the data from our 2015 gender equality survey, Dominique produced a SMART plan of strategic management actions for 1,3 and 5 years to get us to a more diverse and inclusive workplace (plan attached below).
Her recommendations were accepted by senior management and integrated into departmental plans and reporting dashboards. She has organised an innovative programme of activities to engage staff across the organisation ( c500 staff have attended these events). She has liaised with academic experts, third sector groups, charities and consultants to put together a staff development programme of 20 training and discussion events which enables colleagues to engage with new ideas and thinking about how we experience our workplace and how we design our services. She has also become to go-to expert for advice on how to ensure that our work has real impact.
Dominique’s work in partnership with University of Edinburgh Information Services has had short and long-term impact on the Edinburgh University student population and for the wider community of university staff. She has ensured that we are accountable and transparent in the ways in which we consider diversity in the organisation and understand the experience of women in STEM. The profile of women across grades has changed significantly with significantly more women now in roles at UoE Grades 9 and 10. She has pushed our services consider equality and diversity in their design and encouraged us to welcome students from all across the university as change agents in our organisation. More than 50% of staff have undertaken equality and diversity training. We now employ more than 100 students with us as interns, placements and apprentices. As a student herself Dominique has been uniquely placed to help us understand how to be an inclusive STEM workplace, and the value of this partnership working between institution and student has been seen across the organisation.
This blog is for Amber because she wants to know about institutionally provided technologies #openblog19
At University of Edinburgh we know that our people are our strength. This is a place of knowledge creation, and a place of knowledge sharing.
As Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services I am lucky to have responsibility not only for the institutionally provided learning technology, but also the institutionally provided Web. You know me, I like to have a strategy for such things.
Our Web strategy addresses how the university uses web technologies to enhance our
students’ experience, disseminate our best research and engage with our diverse audiences.
The University’s web estate and use of online channels has evolved largely organically, which has led to gaps in corporate knowledge and exposed the institution to significant risks. Its no secret that there is fragmentation of technology, working methods and standards, which leads to uneven and, in some cases, broken user journeys.
We try to address these issues, with a tight focus on the University’s vision to deliver impact for society through leadership in learning and research. While University websites, including the corporate website (EdWeb) and MyEd portal, are at the core of the strategy, strong consideration is also given to online channels as a point of user acquisition and engagement.
Whether delivered centrally or locally, there is a clear need to empower our staff by providing them with the intelligence, tools, standards and resources to attract and engage users.
Our vision is founded on a need to work together in the use of web technologies to achieve business goals across the University, developing the operational agility to take advantage of the most promising online opportunities.
Our web strategy aligns with the University’s Vision 2025, Corporate Plan and other significant institutional and national strategies, and complement initiatives such as Service Excellence and Digital Transformation. This strategy was developed in the manner in which it should be executed – collaboratively – with strong senior leadership and active engagement from publishers and practitioners across the University.
One theme of our strategy is that of ‘Influential voices’. We aim for:
Increased online visibility for the work of staff, students and, ultimately, the University
Improved profile and visibility for the University across search and online channels
Well-trained staff and students who effectively and safely manage their online identity
Improved cooperative working online with partners from the commercial, third and public sectors
Enhanced partnership syndication of University content
Investigation into the development and deployment of a centrally-managed website publishing platform
Development of policies, processes and quality control mechanisms to support staff and student publishing
Development of content syndication and sharing tools
Creation of training materials and investment in associated communities of practice
The development of and launch of an academic blogging platform and Domain of One’s Own is a big part of what we are doing in this theme of our web strategy. You can read more about this in blog posts from Anne-Marie and Lorna. And once Jonathan is in post, you can meet our new Head of Web Strategy to find out more about each of the other themes.
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.