Month: October 2017

last night I dreamt I went to St Cecilia’s again

Actually, I didn’t dream it. I was there to present to Academic Senate. Senate means ‘old men’, in case you didn’t know. It’s from the Latin.

Our Senate at Edinburgh University is actually fairly mixed, and the room was packed for a discussion about ‘The Future of Distance Learning’, and that is my bag.

St Cecilia’s Hall was looking lovely. Much better than the first time I visited.

I have to say though, the AV technology brought in for the event, while lovely, and useful, kinda spoiled the point of the venue. St Cecilia’s is famous for its age and its accoustics. It is set out with amphitheatre steps to sit on around the sides like those Latin-speaking senators might have done in ancient times.  I think we should have spoken from the performance area without ppt slides* and been our own projectors.

St Cecilia’s Hall, University of Edinburgh

In case you are wondering , University of Edinburgh currently has about 2,920  distance learning students studying via online programmes at Masters level. We have 65 programmes – (with about 100 permutations).

In terms of cohort size, 7 out of top 10 are CMVM programmes. Surgical Sciences peaked in 2014/15 (155) and has returned to its previous steady state level (105).  Yes, we do teach surgery online. Most other programmes teach fewer than 35 students per year.

For the demographic fans amongst you we have 62% women studying online masters compared with 57% of all masters students. Our online students are also  older  than our on-campus ones.  88% are over 25. We have students from 134 countries studying online. 60% reside outside the UK; but that is not very different from the domicile of our on campus students. The top 6 countries are all English speaking ( Scotland, England USA, Australia, Canada, Ireland)  and account for 59% of students

A significant difference in the student mix is that there are few Chinese online students, whereas they account for 21% of campus based PGT students. Our MOOC learners come from all over the world… but despite there being 2million of them, only 80 apply for online masters.

Only 1.4 % of our online learners are  our alumni.

Alumnus is also Latin, it means ‘foster-son or pupil’. Alumna is for women.



*I had lovely slides designed by Yujia in a colour scheme to match the venue as you can see.


treat it like treasure

Cover of our BITS magazine designed by our ISG Graphic Design Service designers

This week is Information Security Awareness Week at University of Edinburgh. The graphic design team have made a range of lovely graphics for them based on treasure, phishing, pirates, datastewards etc. And I invented a tagline and hashtag for them.

The information, datasets and creative content we work with every day are valuable assets to the University and to other people. We should treat them like treasure. We should know where they are, how safe they are, who has access to them and how easily they might be stolen. Our feature topic for this issue of BITS is information security. This magazine is part of a University-wide awareness raising initiative for all colleagues and students to take care.

We have information and advice about what you can do to keep you and your work safe, and what the institution support services are doing to make that easy. Don’t underestimate how attractive even your most mundane information about people, processes and finances might be to someone looking in from outside.

The @UoEInfosec team have sometimes seemed reluctant to use the #treatitliketreasure hashtag in their tweets.
I wondered if perhaps they don’t like it.
I asked.
‘I don’t really understand how twitter hashtags work’ was the reply.
I wonder if that is ok?

what will you watch?

Students watching Replay highlights. Picture from University of Edinburgh Image collection. CC BY

We are more than two weeks into term now at University of Edinburgh.

My poem:

Lectures are being recorded.
The sky has not fallen in.
The service is called Replay.
Students like it.
Staff like it.
We are gathering data.
The learning technology teams have shown themselves to be expert in the jobs they do.
The learning technology teams have shown themselves to be excellent in the jobs they do.
I’m not shocked.
Well done all.