what’s so special?

a special celebration

I have been thinking about what makes the landscape for digital education at Edinburgh so distinctive.  We are going through a programme of curriculum review. There is a tendency from some to see learning technology as something that ISG does to the rest of the university or ‘digital’ as something that is done to us by outsiders (commercial suppliers). Neither are true and Edinburgh has key distinctive elements which offer differentiation, USP and value alignment.

Off the top of my head in no particular order:

-Edinburgh  leads in open source software development. we take care to ensure that we are not entirely dependent on commerical solutions, we are committed to development of open source tools and to software development in house as part of open source communities. Our developers are contributing to and leading the development of tools e.g webPA. Software developers who will push frontiers and find new solutions. I want them working in my university. I want to attract them and I want them to stay. I need diversity of thinking in my creative teams. Values driven. Invest in areas which showcase and make clear the role we play in leading with these values.

-Edinburgh as a publisher and consumer of open educational learning materials- Faculty at Edinburgh publish thousands of items of OER which ensures we are one of the largest  Creative Commons content producers in UK HE, publishers of learning materials and open educational resources. UNSDG . values. Open education is one of those access to quality education for all, education for all and the redistribution of wealth in education through open sharing of learning materials and knowledge. Our open courses play an important role in supporting the SDGs. Our approach to developing and delivering digital education opportunities champions the fourth goal, to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’, as learners anywhere in the world, at any stage of life, can gain access to free, flexible, accessible materials on a broad range of subjects. We source, create and publish all course materials under open licence, making a critical contribution to achieving the aims

-Edinburgh as a world leader – 70+masters courses online and 80+MOOCs. We have always taken an outward looking view. We are steeped in a history of Scotland spreading enlightened views around the world ( even as we struggle with our independence and secession issues at home)

Commercial innovation

Edinburgh as a commercial supplier – ethical edtech products and services developed and used within Edinburgh and supplied commercially to other schools and universities – Digimap, Digimap for Schools, DataNation, Notable.

We partner with 3 big global education platforms to offer strategic choice and access to new markets. Channel for translational research. shorten the distance from bench to bedside ( or barnyard) – public engagement. COVID MOOC

We have a direct route to market for our learning technology MOOCs

We offer learning technology MOOCs

We have the only UK Micromasters on EDx

Student engagement/Student voice

We employ students in our organisation to ensure their input into the development of our services

Data informed practice- We carry out mass surveys of student user experience to ensure that our services meet student needs. We support faculty in changing their practice in response to this research.

Data informed practice- we gather and analyse data on service usage and adapt to changed in behaviour, trends or gaps.

Students as learners – we have a huge programme of skills development available. For all, for free.

Professional practice

We have a more professionally accredited learning technologists that any other institution in the UK

More than half of our educational design team have teaching qualifications.

We sponsor PTAS research projects to ensure that ‘edinburgh experience’ is reflected in scholarship of teaching.

Faculty as learners – we have a huge programme of skills development available for faculty to learn how to teach and data on who attends.

Learning technology teams regularly network with colleagues across and outwith the university, participating in scholarship, presenting at conferences and sharing knowledge.

We meet to discuss ethical and EDI issues in our ISG reading group.

We employ an equality and data officer to help us ensure that our services are inclusive.

There’s no gender pay gap in our learning technologies group.

All ISG staff have ADRs and CPD.

Our procurement is rigorous and we take care with DPIAs and EQIAs.

We have data stewards in place. we have control of our own data and the ability to shape the technology to the way we want to teach. We should try to avoid having to say no, you cant’ teach that way because the technology won’t let you.

We understand cookies and analytics.

We understand accessibility.

We understand ethics.

Things which are not common at other universities:

We have a learning design service to support colleagues in designing courses.

We have a UX service to ensure that we consider the user experience of services.

We have an OER service to help staff make positive choices for sharing

We have an edtech policy officer to ensure that our policies are robust.

We have a data and equality officer

We host media platform for all staff and students so that they don’t have to use Youtube with adverts.

We host a blogging platform for all staff and students who want to blog so that they don’t get spammed.

We have lecture recording fitted in 400 rooms.

We have a wikimedian in residence to integrate digital skills and knowledge activism into the curriculum

We have cool makerspaces staffed by students in the library.

We have in-house media production studios dedicated to educational media production.

We have in-house graphic design.

We have computational notebooks available to all staff and students.

We understand how subtitles and captioning robots work.



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