Month: May 2019

leading institutions to change

I am delighted that we are able to host the Echo360 conference in Edinburgh next week.

I’ll be speaking at the conference about how important it is for leading institutions to change.

The implementation of lecture recording at University of Edinburgh was an innovative project to equip up to 400 teaching spaces and automate the recording of lectures at scale. The University has targeted an improved student digital experience by investing several million pounds in a state-of-the-art lecture recording system that has covered all the campus lecture rooms. Our approach is based on being widely flexible and enabling choices of formats and pedagogy.

The demand for lecture recording at University of Edinburgh was designed to in response to student feedback. The ability to watch lectures again as an aid to revision is immensely popular with our students already, video and audio recordings of lectures supplement the rich set of online resources that already exist to support learning.

The project was managed by a well co-ordinated team and delivered to a high quality specification, on time and in budget. The team demonstrated an outstanding commitment to delivering a high quality service for the institution. Over the last 12 months the team have successfully handled complex academic development, policy implementation and technical challenges with considerable skill and sensitivity. All throughout this time they retained a core focus on supporting an excellent student experience, championing accessibility and inclusive practices.  This work has opened up critical conversations that go beyond technology to discuss the value of lectures, the value of recordings and why we teach the way we teach and has been accompanied by evaluative research into the impact and value at institutional level.

The team has been particularly effective at incorporating research findings to continually improve the service and respond to the needs of users. As an organisation we learned a huge amount from the process: academic insight, student satisfaction, new research, communications strategies, technical know-how and a field-tested working model of how to complete a project of this size and ambition.

The Lecture Recording Project at Edinburgh University is one of the largest upgrades of AV technology in teaching rooms to take place in an educational institution anywhere in the world and it was done across an historical and rapidly expanding estate.  We now have the capability to record close to 100% of lecture activity within the institution. We   offer a consistent experience for all students and support our diverse student community. Many of our students have complex lives and are balancing study alongside caring responsibilities, or the need to work to fund their studies. Recordings of lectures can lessen anxiety about keeping on top of study, and provide a safety net when life circumstances prevail.

The team delivered transformational aspects of lecture recording by:

  • Supporting a programme of evaluation and engagement activities which has opened up critical conversations about the role of the lecture and why we teach the way we do.
  • Running a pro-active communications campaign around opting-out of lecture recording, to be sensitive to concerns raise by academic colleagues.
  • Working with course organisers and professional staff to develop highly usable scheduling software based on timetabling information, to automate the recording of lectures at scale.
  • Equipping 400 teaching spaces, including our innovative camera and recording solution for capturing chalkboards in Maths and Physics.
  • Improving the use of microphones in lecture theatres and increasing awareness of accessibility and inclusion issues.
  • Integrating the new lecture recording service with the University’s VLEs offering safe and secure access to recordings.
  • Training 40 student helpers across the campuses during the first week of teaching in each Semester to provide immediate advice on use of the recording equipment.
  • Offering comprehensive training programme to support academic colleagues to prepare teaching materials for lecture recording.
  • Delivering a system designed to be as user-friendly as possible and to have minimal impact on the presentation and delivery of lectures.

There are many proven benefits to making recordings of lectures available including supporting students for whom English is not a first language and ensuring that our face to face lectures are available in an alternative format for students who require it. Not having to take notes at speed allows students to focus more on what is being said and use valuable contact time to ask questions, knowing that notes can be reviewed and improved later.

This work at Edinburgh has had a wider impact across the sector, we have involved commercial partners, external advisors, learning technologists, academic developers AV specialists, trainers, researchers and staff and students from across all disciplines to deliver one of the most successful large scale roll-outs of learning technology across a large institution with a challenging physical estate.

2018/19 Academic Year: Recordings made/scheduled: 24,000, Student views (year to date): 528,000. Hours watched (year to date): 527,000

We gratefully acknowledge all the colleagues and practitioners in other institutions who have shared their practice with us. Much of our project has been built upon the lessons learned by others. We believe that by considering the widest possible range of technical, academic, policy, and social factors around lecture recording, we have achieved a model for lecture recording, and indeed other learning technology implementations that others could copy. A large part of our ethos has been to work as openly as we possibly can, sharing and reflecting on our practice. With that in mind we have tried to make as many of our guides, training materials, research, evaluation, processes and planning as possible available openly online for the benefit of the wider sector.

developing data skills for all

You’ll be aware that 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. 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.

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.

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/help-consultancy/is-skills/programmes-courses-and-resources/development-programmes/data-skills

Participants have enjoyed the programme:
‘There are many data courses out there. Having a course which is specifically designed and at the correct level was time-saving and encouraged me to finish. I loved doing the course and I’m keen to get started on the next level. I would not have been able to do this without the course format, nor the tutor with her helpful, caring approach.’.

There have been many more comments from participants that echo these sentiments along with a real thirst from learners to go on to study all 3 levels of the Programme.

We will be having a ‘graduation ‘ celebration for all the staff and students who completed the programme on Monday 1st July. If you would like to come along to hear more about the successes and how they plan to apply their new and improved data science skills, please let me know by reply and I will send you a diary invitation.

and it’s only Wednesday

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.

 

herald success

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.

And we hope we will win. Obv.