Month: December 2019

Festive thank you

Our LTW festive card goes out to nearly 300 people on our Christmas card list.

That’s 300 people outside of LTW who we can thank for the time and effort that they contribute to our success. They don’t have to do this, they have other jobs, they may not think that coming to our user groups and planning meetings and programme boards is the most fun thing to do.  So when they do, we need to make sure we make it as painless as possible for them because we benefit from their advice and engagement.

Thank you for all your help this year in making our services and projects the best they can be. We appreciate all the time, insights and creativity that you give through your work in partnership with us. We couldn’t do it without you. Wishing you a relaxing festive break and a happy New Year.

Every 6 months I ask each of the LTW heads to send me lists of the top achievements in their teams and we celebrate these achievements at our LTW all-staff meeting. This is a tough task for them because there is so much which warrants attention and celebration. Some directorates in ISG only have their staff meetings once a year. In LTW we have our staff meetings every 6 months, partly because we always have so much new work to celebrate and partly because we often have new staff and new projects and it is really important that  we get to know the  people who work in other teams so that we can provide the best, joined up services to the University.

It’s been another busy year and special thanks go to the colleagues who work directly in roles which support our committees and projects, the comms teams, the project managers, the programme managers the project administrators who make sure we are all in the right place at the right time talking about the right thing.

We have been busy on campus: This year we created a learning and teaching spaces strategy to describe the vision and plans for maintaining, improving and expanding teaching space (in rooms and online).  We launched a remote support service so that the spaces team can reach you wherever you are  and we put in a bunch of phones in lecture theatres to enable you to call for help. We created new service dashboards and analytics to better understand how the rooms are used by staff and students and better kit including  recording writing surfaces in all large lecture theatres. The recording of writing surfaces as well as the recording of slides and lectures continues to be a project which attracts a lot of attention  from other universities who are keen to know how we have done it.

We have been busy in our community:  In September we hosted the national conference of learning technologists at Edinburgh which was a huge success, many of you were there, presenting or helping and we won several awards at the conference, including one for the lecture recording team and we celebrated several more of our staff gaining their CMALT certification.

When I meet with the other heads and directors at other universities, we are still one of very few universities who have a Wikimedian in Residence. Which just amazes me. I am not sure why other universities haven’t figured out that wikimedia is a key set of learning technology platforms for knowledge sharing, information literacy, data,  maps and images.  But in the meantime, before they all figure this out, it gives us at Edinburgh a unique edge and a chance to win national awards.

We are also one of only a few universities to be so strongly committed to open educational resources. Our activities in open education and open source are important to us. This is a big part of what we do, what we are commited to in the ways that we work and part of how we show that we understand not just about learning, teaching and web but also civic engagement. Our colleagues in the Library work on open access and open research, we work on open educational resources (OER), open data and open source tools.

OERs are created by students for the specific purpose of re-use.  We work closely with School of Geosciences to release free and open teaching and learning resources for school teachers created by students as part of the Geosciences Outreach and Engagement course. The resources are tagged for ease of use and shared on Times Education Supplement website which is where the school teachers look. To date we have made 43 OERs available to school teachers on TES Resources. They have been downloaded 12000 times.

Moocs are also a  big part of our open activities. We have, as you know, a huge stable of MOOCs. We launched 3 new MOOCs  in the last 6 months and saw 100,000 new enrolments across our portfolio of free short online courses.

We have not been snoozing  with our big systems either: We Launched the new MyEd to the University . We kicked off the procurement for the new Web Publishing Platform and EdWeb. Our Learn VLE  is used by tens of thousands of students everyday, at all times of day and night. Learn and MyEd are the most heavily used of any of the university IT systems, except for perhaps email. We moved Learn to the cloud and began our VLE foundations project  to ensure that it is being used consistently.  10 of our student interns migrated 700 courses into the new Learn Foundations template. They checked the accessibility of 13000 course items and classified 128000 content items against learning activity types. This is the most in-depth analysis of courses in the VLE ever undertaken at the University.

We are investing a lot of time in learning design: We  had 53 attendees at ELDeR workshops, each giving up 2 days of their time so that we can support them in the learning design of a range of academic programmes and courses. We worked with over 70 student reps (UG and PG) on developing student personae to increase inclusivity in learning design.

This year we hosted  75  student workers as interns, champions and helpers. This is important for them and for us. Important work experience for them. New ideas and input for us. As well as being a potential pipeline for new people to join our organisation, it also allows us to tackle some of the scale issues which challenge us. Individual students have done unique work  and groups of students  have ploughed through work which has transformed how we support learning and teaching, working as Subtitling Editors, Student Helpers in Lecture theatres and Digital skills trainers.  In LTW we do it well. So well in fact that we won an award in HR Network Scotland which is the national awards for HR.

In semester 1 this year we recorded 15,000 recordings lectures. We launched the UK’s first MicroMasters programme and a new model for teaching online. Lauren went to Africa to film video testimonials from online students and alumni and we published an interactive Power BI dashboard to enable colleagues to interrogate 5 year’s worth of demographics for applicants and intakes to PG online learning degrees.

We continue to celebrate equality and diversity: LTW is also the home to the University’s Ada Lovelace Day celebrations again this year in October. Ada Lovelace day is when we celebrate the first computer programmer and the contribution of women in STEM and tech. We partner with the schools to run events -This year with School of Engineering, another very successful event and a great turn out for our evening speaker, Ursula Martin. We named our new datacentre after Mary Somerville and appoined a Data and Equality officer.

We have ramped up our engagement with the wider University: we ran workshops and pop up events for over 100 members of staff to gather requirements for our future web services. We have attended 15 promotional events to raise awareness of digital skills. We also hosted the JISC digital capability event in Edinburgh.

We have approved £40k of expenditure in the last 6 months to support  LTW staff attending a large number of training events, conferences and other development activities.

We need to be developing our own skills, but we are also the people responsible for helping staff and student in the rest of the university develop theirs too. Counting bums on seats is all very well but we need to be sure we are reaching the parts of the University other services don’t reach. Since 1st July 2019 we have delivered 263 courses and trained 2088 people and we delivered 13 making the Most of IT sessions to 1,115 new students.

Thank you again to all who contributed this year in making our services and projects the best they can be. We couldn’t do it without you.

Wishing you a relaxing festive break and a happy New Year.