Month: January 2015

learn to edit Wikipedia and change the way the stories are told

Rosie the Editor
Rosie the Editor

All welcome.

Join us at our women in science Wikipedia Editathon  each afternoon 16-19th Feb

Have you ever wondered why the information in Wikipedia is extensive for some topics and scarce for others?

Did you know that the Edinburgh Seven were the first women to matriculate to study medicine in HE in the UK? Do you know when? Do you know their names and the things they went on to do? Do you know about the Surgeons Hall riot?

Did you know that of the 300,000 people who make regular edits to Wikipedia only 13% are women?

It seems like there is work to be done to enrich the quality and quantity of articles which might inspire people to know more about the history of women in science, particularly in Edinburgh where we have such cracking stories to be told.

During  Innovative Learning Week, the University’s Information Services team  are running a series of four Wikipedia ‘editathons‘ with the support of the School of Literature, Languages and Cultures, the Moray House School of Education, EDINA, and the National Library of Scotland. We will  focus on improving the quality of articles about women in Scottish science history. Working together with archivists, academic colleagues and Wikimedia experts, we will train you how to edit and add information to Wikipedia. It really is very easy.

We will explore how writing Wikipedia articles develops digital literacy and academic writing skills. You will be supported to develop articles covering women in science, Scottish women in history, Edinburgh as the birth place of medicine, the Edinburgh Seven, University history, distinguished Edinburgh alumni etc. We will bring out content from the University archives which has never been mentioned on the Web before and you can bring your research, your knowledge, your search skills, your writing skills.

This series of events will run over a series of afternoons with focused topics. You can attend just once or on multiple days, and can select topics that interest you and which need development on Wikipedia. Training, technical support and subject area advice will be provided throughout. One day we will focus on editing biographies and people pages, another day  buildings, places and linking to maps, another day on adding images, but you can work on any of those as we go along.

Each workshop is open to all: campus-based students, distance learning students, alumni, all staff and members of the public.

Once you have learned to edit  you will want to do it again and again. Trust me.

As a starting place we have selected people, mostly women, who are significant to the University, medicine and science, past and present, and will bring interesting source materials that will support article development. You are welcome to bring your own topic and source materials. We will be working to improve and extend the articles about:

  • Mary Anderson (Edinburgh 7)
  • Charlotte Auerbach
  • James Miranda Steuart Barry (aka Margaret Ann Bulkley)
  • Emily Bovell (Edinburgh 7)
  • Matilda Chaplin (Edinburgh 7)
  • Sir Robert Christison (opponent of the university education of women)
  • Mary Crudelius (campaigner for women’s education)
  • Helen Evans (Edinburgh 7)
  • Elsie Inglis (maternity health)
  • Sophia Jex-Blake (Edinburgh 7)
  • Eve Johnstone (Psychiatry)
  • Judith MacKay (tobacco control)
  • David Masson (supporter of the university education of women)
  • Noreen Murray (molecular geneticist – as in Ken and Noreen Murray Library)
  • Edith Pechey (Edinburgh 7)
  • Elsie Stephenson (nursing)
  • Isabel Thorne (Edinburgh 7)




immersion learning

ilwUniversity of Edinburgh Innovative Learning Week (ILW) 2015 #ILW2015 will take place from 16-20 February. Event booking is now open!

ILW 2015 is our fourth annual festival of creative learning and is a chance for students, staff and alumni to develop skills, meet new people and celebrate innovation in our academic community.

This year’s programme includes a fine spread of events hosted or facilitated by LTW in conjunction with friends and partners across the university.

“Shoot the Uni” – Photography Competition 11:00 – 13:00 Mon 16 Feb

Open Courses with Open Resources 09:30 – 12:30 Tue 17 Feb

Peer-Reviewing Online 13:00 – 14:00 Tue 17 Feb

Driving Seminar Room Technology  Various times Tue – Fri

What no Chalkboard? An Insight into Electronic  Various times Tue – Fri

Extending the Boundaries – Virtual Classroom Spaces 13:00 – 14:00 Wed 18 Feb

Women, Science and Scottish History – Wikipedia Editathon 14:00 – 17:00 Mon – Fri

Smart-data hack with Informatics Various times Mon – Fri

ILW 2015 Fair! 16.30-18.30 Fri 20 Feb

TedX 9.30-18.30 Thurs19 Feb

planning round

Le Notre, Andre 1679-83  Marly : general plan ECA Library Image Collection
Le Notre, Andre 1679-83 Marly : general plan ECA Library Image Collection

The Learning, Teaching & Web Services Division (LTW) brings together the technology enhanced learning, digital education, website, web services and classroom technology teams to ensure that we offer a service to colleagues and students which meets the needs of Schools and Colleges.
LTW will support and engage with initiatives generated by our staff, students, alumni and those outside the University. I hope that colleagues across the collegiate university will engage with our services, case studies and events, give advice to our projects and invite us into ongoing discussions about how best to make use of the technology on offer.

Engaging with users
Since establishing the Division in August 2014 I have been out and about around the University, discussing the support needed for learning, teaching and outreach, and for an enhanced student experience. I have been delighted to find so many colleagues with enthusiasm for new ways of thinking and working as part of a University-wide conversation on digital innovation. Ongoing investment in this area will enable us to maintain excellent services within the University by providing a robust foundation for the enhancement of learning, teaching and communications. The University is moving towards an increasingly open presence on many digital platforms: open educational resources, open data, open science and open practice. Effective digital communications from the University will ensure that this digital shift benefits society on a national and a global scale. The success of massive online and distance learning courses demonstrates that we have found new audiences and collaborators from across the globe. Your help will be needed to make the most of the new website to ensure that those seeking knowledge about any area of academic activity discover relevant work carried out at Edinburgh.

Technology in the classroom
My conversations with colleagues have highlighted an increasing demand for digital skills training and for support to integrate technology into the classroom. The distinction between IT and AV is becoming increasingly blurred: it’s all digital now. For many colleagues it is the technology context – the technology available in the teaching rooms – which influences their choice of media to use. As you would expect in a research institution, colleagues are using the most up-to-date technologies every day in their research. Our challenge now is to find appropriate ways to model those activities in teaching so that students learn how professional researchers make use of the tools, methods and datasets in their field. The technology on campus should provide a flexible environment that lets students and staff experiment, co-create, build, share and learn from each other.

The digital estate
Digital content and tools which make up the university’s digital footprint, or digital estate are growing. Digital content and tools such as Learn, MyEd, Turnitin, PebblePad, mobile apps and webpages have a key part to play in equality and a consistently excellent student experience. Reviewing support for the digital experience requires us to look across the University at what systems and services we provide. It is important to assess how these are perceived, navigated and experienced by students and staff; what shortcomings and gaps there are; and what will be required of these systems and services in five years’ time. Should we invest as much in our digital estate as we do in our physical one?

I am looking forward to working with groups across the institution to identify the services that will help us to deliver what we need locally, nationally and internationally.

ambition, distraction and disruption

John Tenniel`s original (1865) illustration for Lewis Carroll`s “Alice in Wonderland”. Alice sitting between Gryphon and Mock turtle

Today, braving hurricane winds and winter storms, the FutureLearn Academic Network gathered in Edinburgh to discuss the extent to which MOOCs are (still) disruptive and suggest new directions for the future.  A number of very interesting sessions were spoken.

Unfortunately for me I was distracted early on by mention of ‘The MOOC Turtle.

My concern stemmed partly from the fact that the Mock Turtle is a difficult, unhappy creature, being neither entirely one animal nor another; and partly from the fact that the speaker illustrated the phrase with a picture of a tortoise. What MOOCs have tort us is an altogether different research question.

If one were using the Mock Turtle as the basis for a discussion about online courses the pickings would be rich*. As you know, the Mock Turtle was a lifelong learner, schooled in Reeling and Writhing, and the different branches of Arithmetic– Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision, and Mystery- ancient and modern, Laughing and Grief, Seaography, Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils.  Any of which could easily be new FutureLearn courses.

And if one were looking for new delivery models, what better than ten hours the first day, nine the next, and so on?

`That’s the reason they’re called lessons,’ the Gryphon remarked: `because they lessen from day to day.’

Learning analytics have nothing on this.


*Have i mentioned that I think the liberal arts are a good grounding for understanding technology?

can you tell she is cheating by the way she is dressed?


Any discussion about wearables in higher education quickly progresses to the age-old question: Can you tell by how some-one is dressed that they are cheating?

Would your exam invigilators know if students were wearing google glasses? How long before there is no more need to write formulae on your sleeve, you’ll  be able to just use your cufflink to scroll down?  Can you tell how long there is to go on a cheating watch?

It may be that we have to give up entirely on the idea that closed book exams are done in sealed rooms with no extra help.

Or we could do exams in the nude. Or scrubs. Or in special orange exam survival jumpsuits. Good thing we have a costume design degree.

where are your wearables?
Mask and Plastic Limbs. Graeme Magee. University of Edinburgh Art Collection

Apparently 2015 is the year of wearable technology.  I got blue-tooth gloves for Christmas to match my hounds-tooth check handbag. One makes me look considerably cooler than the other.

The year begins with the launch of our ‘Glasses in Classes‘ competition.  Get your best ideas in quick, active learning just got personal.

Some of this tech still costs an arm and a leg, and some of it moves so fast it is retro already, but is very good value for bloggers, punners and journalists. Expect to see blog posts from me entitled  ‘She wears it well’,  ‘Through glass darkly’ and ‘Wear the wired things are’  etc.

games changers

Japanese Paintings: Children’s Games, 1894 © The University of Edinburgh

Did you get bored of games for Christmas?

On the 14th January I will be in Huddersfield speaking as keynote at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Annual Teaching and Learning Conference.  Doing my research, looking at their website I see that they also host a Conference on Serious Games.

It seems to me that games may be about to become seriously important in higher education in various ways. People I know have been researching this for years, and I wonder whether the time has finally come. There are many aspects to this , obviously. There is game design, gamification, serious gaming, research about people who play games, the people who design games, the potential for games to be learning environments, for children, for adults, for problem solving, for social skills, for violence, for misogeny etc. Certainly after #gamergate it seems like it is an area of activity with some dark sides which might beneft from having a bit more light shone upon them before activists are hung out to dry.

Universities, beyond their informatics and design departments, will I think, be paying more attention to games soon, if they are not already, because a generation of people for whom computergames and e-sports are commonplace are heading towards university now.

Several universities host major gaming conferences, Nottingham has declared itself Game City.

Some universities offer e-sport scholarships.

Some games lobby to be part of the Olympics.

E-sports attract enormous audiences.

The British Museum and British Library are using gaming platforms to promote engagement with their collections.

There are many MOOCs about gamification and game design, some about games, some which are games and some which have been gamely gamified.

There’s also a tasty Game Masters* exhibition at our National Museum of Scotland.


*Not to be confused with the Scottish Game Fair or seriously good game.