wearable tech

lovely, generous people wearing lanyards and mics
Lovely, generous people wearing lanyards and mics. Pictures taken by Laura, no rights reserved by me.

The teams in LTW’s Learning Spaces Technology spend a lot of time thinking about how best to provide high quality AV services to a diverse university community across a very mixed estate.  We aim to ensure that our technology is universal and accessible to all and that the benefit we provide to the university is useful in enabling accessible and inclusive teaching.

We support 400 rooms and 30,000 hours of teaching every semester. We pride ourselves in providing high microphone quality across the University Estate, hence why we use high-tier quality Sennheiser models.  We upgrade and improve our services on a rolling basis. Whenever Sennheiser produce a smaller or lighter model or a new technology solution we check it out.  The current model that we provide in teaching rooms is easily worn on a lanyard ( as modelled). This makes it an ideal, gender neutral solution as it doesn’t require  a belt or pockets and works fine with any neckline or dress.

It has to be said, we’ve tried out some smaller, wireless mics around the place, but the quality just wasn’t good enough for the serivce we provide for learning and teaching but you can look forward to ‘flexible beamforming‘ from Sennheiser. We’ll be trialling this in the new Edinburgh Futures Institute building when it is ready.

what happened as a result of the staff survey?

Me presenting at our LTW staff meeting. Picture taken by Jenni in the room. No rights reserved by me.

Last year, in September, the University of Edinburgh carried out an institution-wide staff engagement survey. It was the first time this had happened in a very long time.  The results were fed back to directors and heads of units and schools, with an expectation that things would happen as a result.  Since we had our LTW all-staff meeting this week, and in the interests of transparency and open approaches to leadership it is timely to provide an update on progress, actions and next steps around the Staff Engagement Survey in LTW.

A network of University Champions has been established to communicate and share good practice across the University as well as helping to shine a light on the actions needed to improve staff engagement in each area.  Kevin has been appointed as our champion on this and is part of a wider group feeding back and co-ordinating action across the institution.  At our December 2018 Staff Meeting, we reviewed the output from the survey and worked together to identify our key strengths and challenges and to share thoughts on actions that we could take. We had positive scores we received for the majority of the questions in the survey and that our positive scores were generally higher than comparative scores for ISG as a whole and the wider University.

Our highest scores were in relation to the statements:

“I have good relationships with colleagues I work with”

“I am treated with fairness and respect by colleagues”

“I am proud to work for the University”

And our lowest scoring areas for improvement were:

“Poor performance is dealt with effectively where I work”

“My department deals effectively with bullying/harassment”

“The University manages change effectively”

It is a credit to all of you and the work we do in our teams to develop good working relationships. In LTW we have regular all-staff meetings in July and December and many opportunities to come together to meet and celebrate our work achievements. In ISG we have a programme of work specifically designed to ensure that our workplace is fair and inclusive. LTW staff are the by far the largest group of participants in these equality and diversity activities.

We also take care to ensure that achievements are recognised and celebrated beyond ISG. LTW staff have won a number of high-profile national awards in the last 6 months and these reflect the pride you can rightly have in your work. Our Wikimedian in Residence was shortlisted for a LILAC award and won a Herald HE Award for Innovation in use of Technology. Our VLE migration team won a Blackboard Catalyst Award along with Law colleagues for their work on the VLE migrations. 2 of our student interns got prizes in the Student Employee of the Year awards at university level. Dominique won Equate Student partnership of the year and the Lecture Recording team are finalists for ALT Learning Technology Team of the year.

One of the questions in the staff engagement survey was about managing change in the university. I don’t think we manage change for the whole university, but we are definitely part of bringing change in the university and I think we manage it well. Projects like lecture recording, subtitling,  DLAS, VLE foundations, digital skills framework, student helpers, student interns,  and chat bots  are actually changing the conversations we have with colleagues about use of technology and I think contributing to changing the culture in the institution.

“Good performance is recognised and appreciated at the University”

“My manager recognises and acknowledges when I do my job well”

Each year in ISG we have a round of pay rewards over and above the normal increments.  29 LTW staff were recognised and rewarded for exceptional contribution in 18/19 through the annual Contribution Reward process and a further 37 staff via the Voucher Reward Scheme. Awards were given at all grades and we ensure that we consider our grade and gender profiles as part of our nomination process.

“The training and development opportunities I receive help me to do my job more effectively”

We have approved £65k of expenditure to support LTW staff attending a vast number of training events, conferences and other development opportunities in 18/19 as we believe these activities bring real benefits to the individual and to LTW and the wider University.

LTW colleagues presented and attended in leading conferences of the field e.g.UX Scotland,  Blackboard Europe, Echo 360 Europe, Open Apereo,  Open Educational Resources 19, Drupal Dev Days, Institution Web Manager’s Workshops (IWMW), Frontend United, Digital Day of Ideas, Digifest, Dealing with Data, Jisc Events, HEIDS events, UCISA events, ALT events, LILAC, ICEPOPS, Pebblebash, University Learning and Teaching conference, Drupal camp, Jupyter Camp  etc and delivered a dozen events  for students in  our Festival of Creative Learning week. We are still, by far, the largest group of CMALT accredited learning technologists in the UK, or in the world and when the  ALT conference comes here in September we will be the largest group there from any one institution I’m sure.

“I found my last Annual Review or Probationary Meeting useful”

“I receive regular and constructive feedback on my performance”

“My role makes good use of my skills and abilities”

Colleagues across LTW are aware of the importance of the Annual Development Review (ADR) and regular 1:1 discussions between managers and staff.  ADRs support staff to realise their full potential by reviewing their progress against previously agreed objectives, discussing future plans and development needs and setting objectives for the year ahead.

LTW reviews include specific prompts to discuss digital skills development, which reflects partly the fact that we have the Digital Skills & Training team in our directorate and partly that we aim to be up to date with our skills as lifelong learners. Reviewers and reviewees are both responsible for making annual review conversations meaningful.  The Digital Skills team will collate and analyse digital skills training needs identified in this year’s ADRs to ensure that relevant training is available is to develop the skills that we need.

To support digital skills development the university’s Digital Skills Framework, based on Jisc’s Digital Capability Framework, is available to help managers and staff (and also students) to:

  • Evaluate current digital skill levels using a self-assessment questionnaire (Jisc Discovery Tool);
  • Identify and think about the digital skills required for various roles using digital role profiles;
  • Develop your digital skills by using the Resource Finder to explore hundreds of resources and development opportunities including Digital Skills Programme classroom-based training, online learning with Lynda.com, development programmes, online guides, user groups and more.

“Poor performance is dealt with effectively where I work”

This is a always a knotty challenge. Linked to the ADR update/actions above, the University is committed to a culture of high performance and to supporting employees to do their jobs well and to meet the standards expected of them.  Managers aim to support employees who are not managing to meet these standards and work together to identify and agree appropriate actions and evidence of improvements through ADRs and 1:1s. Given the sensitive nature of these discussion and actions, they will not be visible to other colleagues, but we do have  relevant policy, procedures and performance improvement plans, and we do use them.

“My department deals effectively with bullying/harassment”

The University launched the Don’t Cross the Line campaign which aims to demonstrate the University’s zero tolerance stance towards bullying and harassment; raise awareness of the support mechanisms that are in place; and promote awareness of our existing Dignity & Respect policy.  Within LTW, we organised a “Where do you draw the line?” workshop, which provided the opportunity to learn about factors that contribute to a work environment in which harassment and bullying occur, and empowers participants to work collaboratively to address concerns. Following the positive feedback from the workshop, we have encouraged other ISG Directorates to organise their own events and places have been offered to LTW colleagues who were unable to attend our event.

“I am satisfied with the support in place to help me manage my health and wellbeing at work”

“I feel comfortable with the pressure placed upon me in my role”

Linked to Mental Health Awareness Week, Digital Skills colleagues compiled a Lynda.com playlist of online videos and tips for managing stress in the workplace. These tips cover areas such as looming deadlines, unfinished tasks, dealing with interruptions, and more and would encourage all staff to make use of these resources. Our teams also worked with students and colleagues in L&UC to create a new colouring book for relaxation and mindfulness.

Because we take an intersectional approach to  thinking about our experience of the workplace, we ran an “Overheating and stressed in the workplace” Playfair Steps event focussed on 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.

In LTW we are trialling a number of ‘playful approaches’ for engagement and innovation at work. One of these is the playful engagement trolleys which include all the kit and caboodle you need for making meetings more creative and fun.

“I am satisfied with my physical working environment”

The Argyle House User Group (AHUG) regularly requests input from colleagues and looks to identify actions that can be taken. One key area of concern has been the temperature/working environment in our building and  some actions around thermal blinds and A/C are being taken.  In addition the Digital Skills Training team have acquired a line of merchandising which proclaims ‘I’m a Digital Skills Programme fan’. If you would like one of these hand fans, come along to a digital skills training event and pick one up.

“I am able to strike the right balance between my work and home life”

“As long as I get the work done, I have the freedom to work in a way that suits me”

LTW managers promote achieving a healthy work/life balance and support activities coordinated by the Healthy Working Lives group. Colleagues will be aware the LTW SMT agreed to refrain from sending emails outwith core hours of 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and encouraged this approach to be cascaded within their teams. In addition, we continue to support flexible working requests in line with UoE policy and we have staff working across LTW on a variety of working hours / patterns / arrangements.

Next steps:

We now have access to the data from the survey and have produced MI/charts focussing on various demographics, which we can share with the groups and use to inform our action planning. We will continue with the work to identify opportunities to celebrate those areas where we achieved our highest scores and look for things we can learn and apply to areas where we did not score so well.

 

 

staff development for extension teaching

extending online

Our Edx Micromasters(TM) pilot aims to address how online education programmes at scale can be configured and supported in such a way to ensure an optimal learning experience for the student by  using new educational research in the pedagogic design of the new programmes. We’ve learned a lot from MOOCs and our online masters programmes already, but this is new.  Our new pedagogic model, originally scoped by Professor Sian Bayne and Dr Michael Gallagher, works to address the challenges and advantages of distance education by offering discipline-relevant approaches to at-scale provision.

We have spotted some risks inherent in doing a project which focusses on scaling up online learning:

  • learners may not feel part of a community
  • academic colleagues may not feel sufficiently supported to deliver high quality teaching
  • colleagues or students may consider lower-cost education to imply lower quality.

We’ve thought about these risks and we are building an academic /staff development programme to get colleagues working together to think about these challenges.  The Edinburgh Extension Model development programme will extend teaching reach, practice and the university by ensuring that tutors involved in the design and delivery of Micromasters programmes understand research evidenced best practice and available tools to:

  • Help students to feel like they are members of a learning community, a sense of belonging within their department, programme, and the University of Edinburgh
  • Provide capacity for regular and substantive feedback on students’ work across different media
  • Provide for visible, and visibly engaged, teachers who are experts in their fields

Work on the staff development training resource is progressing well.  We’ve got a cracking team working on it. The core development team for the course consists of:
• Stuart Nicol: Learning, Teaching and Web Services
• Dr Michael Gallagher; Centre for Research in Digital Education
• Andres Ordorica; Instructional Designer, Learning, Teaching and Web Services
• Sheila MacNeill; Consultant expert academic developer

The programme will be piloted in September 2019.

what not to do with lecture recordings

lecture recording guidelines
Excellent guide by Emily Nordmann et al

At University of Edinburgh, now that we have near-comprehensive coverage of lecture recording facilities, we plan to give students across the University guidance on how to use recordings in their studies.

The excellent guide has been created by colleagues from other universities cited below.  I recommend it. It’s available for adaptation and we have added to the ‘Do Not’ section:  ‘Do not share, publish or sell recorded lectures outside the University of Edinburgh.’

 

Please cite these guides as Nordmann et al. (2018).Lecture capture: Practical recommendations for students and lecturers  Preprint: https://osf.io/esd2q/

Emily Nordmann1, Carolina E. Kuepper-Tetzel2, Louise Robson3, Stuart Phillipson4, Gabi Lipan5 and Peter McGeorge5
1 School of Psychology, University of Glasgow, 62 Hillhead Street, Glasgow, G12 8QB
2 Department of Psychology, Scrymgeour Building, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 4HN
3 Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN
4 IT Services, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL
5 School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3FX

Corresponding author:
Emily Nordmann
emily.nordmann@glasgow.ac.uk

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

what we are doing about accessibility

purely decorative
Image from the University art collections @University of Edinburgh Female Faces, Lips and Dots http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/186b57 Purely decorative.

What with the new accessibility legislation coming into place, I am gathering together a list of things/projects/initiatives and services we offer in Learning Teaching and Web Services to support accessibility online.  I have to say, I do think a working knowledge of accessibility is a key knowledge set for learning technologists and web developers. I am often surprised when people think it is something you only pay attention to when legislation changes.

*work in progress*

Website accessibility

We have a huge corporate web estate so we are taking what we believe  to be the most pragmatic and effective way forward toward improving accessibility, and thus reducing overall risk. We will proceed with the ‘future web services’ project, in conjunction with a migration to Drupal 8 with a view to a stringent approach to accessibility throughout design, development and testing, considering both the end users’ experience and accessibility needs and the design of the CMS user’s experience to effectively nudge and enable users to achieve best practice. We will proceed with a content audit, with a view to decommissioning and archiving portions of the estate as appropriate and rationalising the remainder, redeveloping content as needed and with accessibility in mind. We will agree on the key user journeys on our estate, giving us a prioritised backlog for more in-depth accessibility assessment and continue to investigate, develop and distribute audit and automated testing tools as an aid to monitoring accessibility, and flag any general issues for remediation through our usual development channels. We will develop, adopt and communicate policy, standards and guidelines around accessibility as part of our continuing development of our digital governance.

Accessible design of our VLE

We are currently working with six Schools and a Deanery to implement a new site structures in Learn.   The new site structure is being rolled out to Schools with the support of a team of student interns during the summer break to create consistent courses within Learn in preparation for the start of the 19/20 academic year.The aim  is to create a new site structure that will provide a consistent student experience by making course specific materials easy to find as well as supporting staff in delivering rich, online courses.  It will ensure courses are more accessible and inclusive and the terminology used relating to learning and teaching is more consistent.  We will do an accessibility audit of courses in phase 1 of  over the summer with a view to reporting back to heads of schools. The project is being delivered over a three year period with phase two beginning in September 2019 at which point, the project will be looking to engage with those Schools/Deaneries who have not taken part within phase one.  If you are interested in talking to the project team or looking to find out more information regarding the project contact the Learn Foundations team

Accessible content in the VLE

The University provides a selection of assistive software to staff and students. One such piece of software, and one which we are excited about is called  SensusAccess . We believe this is a really useful piece of software for staff and students using the VLE. SensusAccess allows you to convert electronic documents into alternative versions of the document – such as audio, e-book or digital Braille formats.  It even tackles less accessible documents such as image-only PDFs and PowerPoint files.  It is quick and easy to use, and free to students and staff of the University.   You upload the document you wish to be converted to another format to the software and it is then emailed to you once the conversion is complete. You can then upload this version of the document to the VLE.  Students can also use it themselves to create a version of the document which suits them best.

 

Media subtitling

The Subtitling for Media Pilot was established to investigate the feasibility, viability and cost of a student-led transcription service, alongside improving the digital skills of staff and promoting a culture change in our approach to delivering accessible content. In particular, we were interested in whether transcription was the kind of work that might be attractive to students, specifically those who need some flexibility in hours and location of work. We were aware that this kind of work might offer opportunity for employment for students with caring responsibilities, who have disabilities, or who prefer solo working. Ten students were recruited to work for three months. All of the successful candidates were interested in the role because they were studying subjects related to language studies or media. The team subtitled public-facing audio and video content within Media Hopper Create, with a focus on content that was embedded in the main University website. Automated subtitling services are notoriously inaccurate and require checking before publication.  In the pilot, subtitles were automatically generated and the student team acted as human mediators, checking and correcting the subtitles and drawing on their own knowledge and expertise of Edinburgh and University life.  As a result of the pilot more media content is open and accessible to all users and new training courses  are available for staff and students on DIY subtitling, aiming to move to a position where subtitling of media is standard practice at the point of creation as far as possible.

Professional Development for colleagues

Our University of Edinburgh PgCap Learning and Teaching includes a session on “Building accessibility & inclusion into your teaching & learning with technology”. We are going to develop this into a stand-alone session, and we’ve talked about developing a baseline e-accessibility resource (either on the open website or as a self-enrol course in Learn).

Our course on Effective Digital Content (Writing for the Web) is mandatory if you need access to  edit EdWeb. It is open to all staff and students and available online or in person. This editorial training course covers good practice in writing and structuring information for the web. It also includes guidance on data protection, freedom of information issues and improving performance in search engine results.

Things 5&6 in our ’23 Things’ course are diversity and accessibility https://www.23things.ed.ac.uk/week-3/

Policy review

The University of Edinburgh University Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy is due for a review, not least to reflect the technology environment on campus which has changed significantly in the past 6 years and to include the fact that we have online courses and students to whom the policy would also apply.

Lecture recording

We’ve fitted some rooms with lecture recording facilities ( I may have mentioned this before). We hope that lecture recordings can support a wide range of accessibility and inclusivity needs including those:

  • who are visually impaired
  • who work with a scribe to create text notes from lectures
  • who have dyslexia or other learning needs
  • who have autism spectrum disorders
  • who may find physical attendance overwhelming
  • for whom English is not their first language
  • who are learning complex technical terms or in translation
  • who experience debilitating anxiety as a result of missing classes.

We are well aware that in some of our largest lecture theatres the distance from the front to the back of the room is significant. The chalkboard recording facility with Replay allows “zooming in” when playing back, and offers an improved experience for students who might have been at the back of the lecture theatre.

Microphone usage

For many students the most useful thing colleagues can do to make the content of their lectures accessible is to use the microphone. The microphone in the room is linked to the induction loop which is essential for students with hearing loss and is the best way to capture high quality audio as you talk. We’ve learned from our rollout of lecture recording that the best quality and most accessible recordings are produced when the most suitable microphones are used.Whether you have a loud voice or small group, all microphones will pick up only the closest speaker. Lapel mics work best for presenters, handheld mics and Catchboxes work best for audience interaction. In the largest teaching spaces, there will be a throwable microphone called a Catchbox.  In rooms without Catchbox or a handheld microphone,  you should repeat questions to ensure they are picked up on the recording. Find out more about how lecture recording can support accessible and inclusive learning.

 Accessible online courses

Our distance learning and MOOC platforms have very clear and rigorous rules about the ways in which content is presented. We work with FutureLearn, Edx and Coursera to make sure our content is accessible as it can be for our learners.

OER advice

on lisencing which makes making alternative versions permissable. http://open.ed.ac.uk/how-to-guides/things-to-consider-when-creating-an-oer/

Social media advice

on making accessible gifs for twitter use.

Any more things we are doing?

 

 

how to wear a radio mic with a dress

Portrait of a woman in a spotted jumper, from behind. From ECA Art Collection. Copyright University of Edinburgh https://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/j60nf2

We all know that moment when you realise that the AV tech is going to want to fix the radio microphone pack to your dress.  We all know that the single most considerate thing we can do to make our content accessible is to use the mic supplied. As a woman who always wears dresses and those dresses rarely have waistbands or pockets here are my top tips:

1) Stay still.  Clip the mic to your dress, put the pack on the lectern, and don’t stray far.  This has the added advantage of offering a chance to hold on to, lean on or bang the lectern to punctuate your talk.

2) Use the fixed mic instead. In many of our teaching rooms and some of our conference venues, there’s a mic fixed on the lectern for you to use.

3) Hold the pack in your hand. I realise that some women have small hands, but the packs we have are not much bigger than a mobile phone ( yes, I know some phones are too big for women’s hands, but it’s not a problem I’ve ever had).

4) Use a hand-held mic. If you like to walk around and your hand is big enough to hold it.

5) Use the lanyard round your neck.  The universal design solution. All University of Edinburgh staff, and most conference delegates will be wearing a lanyard with a staff card or ID on it. These lanyards are perfect for clipping the mic on to and the pack will hang easily on your tummy next to your staff card.

6) Use your shoulder-bag. If you happen to be wearing a cross body handbag, or you have one you like which matches your dress, put the mic pack in there with your card, phone and keys and wear it as you present.

7) Knit your own attractive accessory. The perfect gift for the  female professor and definitely a gap in the market.

Now, you might be outraged that women’s dresses rarely have pockets. That’s certainly a feminist and historical issue which could get fixed. Or you might suspect that radio mic packs have been designed by men for men. You might be right, but I’ve looked into the technology (I asked an expert)  and those mics are not going to work without the pack and those packs are not going to get much smaller any time soon*.

So my last tip is:

8) Be glad you are not on Love Island. Those women are wearing radio mics with their bikinis. They have no pockets and their waistbands are too skimpy for much weight. They wear their microphone packs on belts around their middles, moving them regularly so as to avoid unsightly tan lines. It is what it is.

We have a range of these belts with microphone pack pouches available from ISG if you would like one. Its a very practical solution, but please don’t jump into the swimming pool with it on.

 

*If you are interested in the next generation of technology coming, you should check out  ‘flexible beamforming‘ from Sennheiser. We’ll be trialling this in the new Edinburgh Futures Institute building when it is ready.

what do older women want?

*work in progress*

My collection of workplace fans. Take what you need when you need it.

When talking about the lack of women in digital technology, the focus tends to be on engaging the interest of girls and supporting women to become qualified in relevant areas. Without change within the industry itself, however, the women who pursue digital technology qualifications will still not remain in or be attracted to the sector.

The ‘leaky pipeline’ is definitely a thing so we must  think about ways in which we can create a more inclusive and attractive work culture where women aspire to stay. Business-wise it make sense to retain valuable, experienced staff rather than having to train new staff.

Do we know what older women in the workplace want? do we ever ask them?

When we take an intersectional approach to recognising that people’s identities and social positions at work – particularly in the technology industry – are shaped by multiple and interconnected factors.   We have to pay attention to how long people have been working and where they are in their careers.

We are a big recruiter, with a high turnover and a lot of innovation, so we need to attract and retain talent. We advertise placements and returnerships via Equate Scotland.  We also need to explore how age and length of time in the organisation influence staff engagement.

RETAINING WOMEN IN WORK

In ISG we monitor the age profile of our staff, and because of course, we want to retain in our organisation, or in the sector as many women as we can, we invest in training and development including, personal development for women. We have a number of visible examples of Positive Action Measures which include:

  • Personal development programmes

We have coaching programmes and mentoring for women- we take part in the Aurora and Connections programmes and we run specific  ‘Renew You’ and ‘Speak up‘ personal development programmes for women.  The participants on these courses seem to find them valuable and so it seems like a good investment, but I don’t have any actual data for evaluating impact.

We have run sessions specifically about the impact that feminist mangers ( with Prof Fiona MacKay) can make and  about how promotions and annual reviews work. We have data on who gets sent on leadership programmes.

  • Raising awareness and widening discussions

We organise events and discussion on topics which raise awareness of gender issues in the workplace such as gendered communications, inclusive language, shared parental leave and menopause. Menopause is an intersectional issue of gender, health and age and it is an important issue for managers and service teams. For many women it is experienced 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.  We are figuring out how to promote a menopause -friendly workplace.

One of the first steps is to make sure everyone has access to fans to cool down.  The aim is to normalise and destigmatise the use of fans- but it has to be said this is not such a  great challenge as we work in one of the hottest buildings in Edinburgh!

The next step will be to gather some actual data about how many work days are lost because menopause symptoms go unreported and to think of ways to bring that number down.

  • High profile events  which make women visible

We do a lot of work to celebrate and support high profile ‘women in tech’ and ‘women in STEM’ activities. We organise events for Ada Lovelace Day, International Women’s Day and  we name our training rooms  and systems after inspirational women. The numbers of women who attend these events are growing, the Wikipedia activities particularly are getting pretty impressive .

We need to do more in really under-represented areas though, to think about how to involve more women in AV, VR, IoT and GIS.

  • Universal design in technology

There are moments in the workplace when you may suspect it has not been designed with you in mind. As a technology provider we can promote universal solutions ( such as how to wear a radio microphone pack with a dress) and disaggregate our data by gender and age where ever we can.

  • Recognise and rectify historical wrongs

Those of us who have been around for a while have heard the stories of historical wrongs. We can do things now to help our institutions to address some of that history , such as the degrees finally given to the Edinburgh Seven.

  • Professional  and skills development

I have anecdotal information that middle-aged women are the group least likely to attend ( or be chosen for) new skills training in tech. We are very aware that we have a large group of women who have already chosen to work in information services, who could develop skills more specifically in data science, so we have been running ‘Developing Your Data Skills’ Programme for staff and students at University of Edinburgh this year.

The programme has been very successful and we have now had more than 130 learners on course. It wasn’t targetted exclusively  at women, but we managed to attract 65 % women to participate. We have designed the course to fit with participants’ busy working lives and thought specifically about how to attract mid-career learners to upskill in this area. Since our staff live and work in Edinburgh and the region, I think this can be seen as part of the investment we are making in retraining and upskilling in data skills for the city. We have evaluated the programme and gathered feedback, so we will be able to report on the ISG KPIs.

  • Flexible working

We have pretty good flexible working arrangements and policies in ISG. It is not clear though whether they are consistently applied.

  • Developing male allies

We know that male allies are a big part of the success of any equality and diversity initiative. At ISG we have a Fathers Network which provides a space to discuss the experiences of the fathers in our teams who juggle work and family responsibilities. We are also working with CIPD to develop a new personal development course for men. This will focus on emotional intelligence at work and the challenges faced by men in managing workplace expectations in relation to their roles. It is important  to acknowledge some important intersections, and where men can see that they also face intersections of identity which may influence the experience of other men, then that can carry over to understanding what that may be for women.

 

What else should we be doing?

 

 

 

summer podcasts, summer not

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

If you are short of something to help you doze off in the sunshine:

A Teaching Matters podcast featuring me talking about how we did our large IT project to roll out lecture recording at Edinburgh.The challenge in learning technology is to match the right technology to the right institution at the right time. This can be quite difficult – particularly as there will be many voices telling you that this is not the right the technology, nor the right institution, nor the right time. So the skills to do this come with experience, come from working at, or learning from other institutions, this is a big part of leadership in learning technology. Once a technology is right,  if you get it right,  it can reach a tipping point and spread throughout an organisation.

Copyright Waffle Podcast in which Charlie describes how we are supporting Open Education at Edinburgh. Apparently our Open Education Services is still fairly unique in the sector.

data driven

Just some of the roles we recruit to.

The Data Driven Innovation initiative programme led by the University of Edinburgh aims to expand on our existing expertise to grow data based projects, products, and services in the public, private, and third sectors. To do so in a way which is socially inclusive, we must tackle both implicit and explicit biases within the technology communities and industries, and data structures themselves. What can be done to support gender equality in data science at the University of Edinburgh?

Diversity programmes and women in STEM programmes are notoriously hard to implement and evaluate and there needs to be a strong management commitment to make a shift happen. The work we do in ISG to support gender equality in data science at the University of Edinburgh has been planned, sustained, reported and evaluated and is an example of best practice amongst the sector- the Scottish IT sector and in the Universities IT sector.

Information Services Group  aims to be a best practice employer with regard to tackling the gender gap in technology, information science and data science. We are one of the largest employers in the city and we compete with the big banks and famous tech companies in the city to attract and retain female staff.

GENDER EQUALITY IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS

The more diversity we can find in our teams, the more we can be sure that our services and products meet the needs of the diverse student and staff in the university and the more creativity we can support the more innovation and transformation we can deliver. It is vital that we position ourselves in the market as an inclusive employer.

ENGAGING WITH OUR OWN DATA AND STRUCTURAL INEQUALITY

We have delivered on a number of workplace initiatives. Over the last 3 years we have:

  • Improved all our EDI reporting across the organisation.
  • Produced a SMART plan of strategic management actions for 1,3 and 5 years to get us to a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
  • Addressed gender bias in promotion, reward, review processes.
  • Demystified the experience, criteria and competencies for management roles.

Based on decisions that generated by data, our senior managers chose to implement policies that support and benefit all staff. This allows us to have the most inclusive workplace we possibly can.  In 3 years the profile of women across grades has changed significantly with significantly more women now in senior roles at Grades 9 ( up 30%) and 10 ( up 300%) and our recruitment efforts routinely attract a more diverse set of candidates than ever before.

We have worked with third sector organisations such as Fathers Network Scotland, Equate Scotland, Age Scotland, Girl Geek Scotland and Wikimedia Scotland to create new opportunities for staff to engage with practical actions and the celebration of role models and mentors.

PROMOTING VISIBLE ROLE MODELS

We have transformed our ‘working for ISG’ web pages to include information and case studies about the flexible working and family –friendly aspects of our workplace. We have also:

  • Created an employer profile on Linked in and keep it updated with a steady flow of stories about what it is like to work here.
  • Highlighted and showcased on Linkedin some of the women in ISG and their varied digital roles, backgrounds and careers.
  • Engaged with our own history, libraries and collections to discover, highlight and celebrate diversity from our past.
  • Tackled directly women’s lack of engagement and representation with major technology areas such as AV tech, flying drones, media production, creating open source software, and software development for edtech.

CREATING AN ATTRACTIVE WORK CULTURE

When talking about the lack of women in digital technology, the focus tends to be on engaging the interest of girls and supporting women to become qualified in relevant areas. Without change within the industry itself, however, the women who pursue digital technology qualifications will still not remain in or be attracted to the sector. So we think about ways in which the digital technology industry can create a more inclusive and attractive work culture where women aspire to work and remain across their careers. Our activities include:

  • Creating an inclusive environment with a highly visible equality and diversity training programme – Called the Playfair Steps designed to highlight all the ways in which our workplace is experienced.
  • We take an intersectional approach to recognise that people’s identities and social positions at work – particularly in the technology industry – are shaped by multiple and interconnected factors.
  • We have developed a range of activities exploring how a person’s age, disability status, race and ethnicity, gender, gender identity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, and parent status contribute towards their specific experiences.
  • Between October 2016 and February 2018, we surpassed our short-term goal and that 60% of staff have participated in some form of equality and diversity training.
  • High profile events and support for Ada Lovelace day, International Women’s day and naming our training rooms  and systems after inspirational women.

ATTRACTING WOMEN TO THE SECTOR

We are a big recruiter, with a high turnover and a lot of innovation, so we need to attract and retain talent. It became clear that our recruitment effort and language needed to be overhauled. This is still ongoing, with some parts of ISG engaging more than others. We have run several training sessions for recruiting managers on Checking Language, Overcoming Recruitment Bias, and widening Recruitment Searches. We also directly support the female student pipeline by hosting 20-30 student interns every year and offering female-only placements (Scottish Witches Data intern) and women returner-ships ( Data skills training and development) – we do this by working with Equate Scotland

RETAINING WOMEN IN WORK

Because of course, we want to retain in our organisation, or in the sector as many women as we can, we invest in training and development including, personal development for women. We have a number of visible examples of Positive Action Measures which include:

  • Coaching and mentoring for women
  • Events and discussion on topics which raise awareness of gender issues in the workplace such as gendered communications, inclusive language, shared parental leave and menopause.
  • Continuing Professional Development opportunities (such as editathons and data skills training) targeted at women.

We are very aware that we have a large group pf women who have already chosen to work in Information services, who could develop skills more specifically in data science, so we have been running ‘Developing Your Data Skills’ Programme for staff and students at University of Edinburgh this year. The programme has been very successful and we have now had more than 100 learners complete.

We have designed the course to fit with participants’ busy working lives and thought specifically about how to attract mid-career learners to upskill in this area.

GAINING EXTERNAL RECOGNITION

This initiative at Edinburgh has already won a number of awards and recognition in the sector.

  • In 2018 we won Universities HR Excellence Award for Equality and Diversity and were finalists in the ‘Employer of the Year’ category in the Scotland Women in Technology Awards and ‘Diversity Project of The Year’ in the Women in IT Excellence Awards.
  • Our case study was highlighted in the Equality Challenge Unit’s briefing on ‘Intersectional Approaches to Equality and Diversity and
  • we were awarded the Scottish Union of Supported Employment (SUSE) Inclusive Workplace award in 2017.
  • Our student pipeline -women students into IT roles as summer interns providing paid work and industry experience winning the Student Employer of the Year (SEOTY) award in 2018.

The work we do  in ISG to support gender equality in data science at the University of Edinburgh has been planned, sustained, reported and evaluated and is an example of best practice. This is what can be done to support gender equality in data science at the University of Edinburgh.

supporting student employability

A picture of some of our interns. Picture not taken by me. Original at: http://www.teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk/mini-series-turning-internships-into-blog-posts-and-friendship-into-teamwork/

Offering students work experience in our STEM organisation is a no-brainer for me.

We get up to date ideas and creative thinking from them. They get real work experience and digital skills from us. The digital sector in Scotland is booming and students are hungry for work experience which will help them to succeed once they graduate. If you are not studying a STEM discipline the digital sector may be hard to enter, we need a pipeline for students to find their way into well paid jobs and new roles.

This is the fourth year I have hosted interns in LTW and the numbers keep getting bigger.  This is credit to all the teams and managers who establish a range of really interesting summer projects and to the reputation we are gaining as a great place to work.

Our interns come to us via a variety of routes. We are happy to host 24 new student interns this summer (11 via Employ.ed, 10 as VLE support, 2 Napier Placements, 1 Equate Careerwise) , plus 2 returners from last year (Anirudh and Samuel ), 2 who have been with us for 3 years ( Dominique and Vicki), 6 student trainers and 10 media subtitling assistants.

While they are with us the interns write blogs and as they leave we ask them to reflect on what they have learned. Each team and project they are involved with benefits from their input. And yes, we pay them.

Read interns’ blogs: https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/isintern/