Author: mhighton

Burns

One of the bagpipes in our collection at St Cecilia’s. Picture taken by me in the room. No rights reserved by me. http://www.stcecilias.ed.ac.uk/

It’s that time of year again. I’m looking forward to an evening of poetry, haggis and song with good friends.

My favourite contemporary of Robert Burns is Mary Somerville.

Mary had a much loved uncle who was keen on punning.  Burns publicly made fun of Mary’s uncle’s punning and the uncle never punned again.

Burns, possibly a bit of an arse.

edtech haikus

We have some fun, creative programme managers around here. One has the crazy idea that we should get project boards and teams to reflect on the lessons learned from a project via the medium of reflective haikus.   This is what you get when you ask your Lecture Recording Programme Board to draft reflective haikus from their experiences of participating in the programme.

Students love it.
Powerful technology.
Accessible for all.

Scared at the start point.
Found our feet and so much more.
Brimming confidence.

Policy delays.
Sometimes arise the temperature.
All’s well that ends well.

Student employment.
Sound, but high administration.
Make it easier.

People have made it.
Together across the campus.
Very sound service.

The structure worked well.
Project team could make progress.
Good decisions made.

Colleagues are afraid.
What would be the best practice?
Get out to the schools.

Working it out together.
Breaking down barriers.
Business as usual.

Working together.
One big team.
Making a difference.

The retention period.
Navigating treacherous waters together.
To be revisited.

Knowhow captured.
Knowledge exchanged.
Change happens.

Emotion is motion.
Sharing the shifting.
Noticing the change.

We win over Hearts and Minds
Inclusion throughout our teaching
Must keep the ball rolling

Broken Moments of Learning
Resolved and repaired
Independence gained

Silent recording.
Disabled students can’t hear.
Wear the microphone.

A barrier or enabler.
The research reveals many facets.
The community comes together.

Pedagogy meets ethics.
Anxiety and confusion meet innovation.
All ending in positivity.

Give us every view.
We do intend to listen.
A project for all.

 

2020 futures

Photo taken by me at the zoo. No rights reserved by me.

Happy new year to you, Reader.

In the long dark days of the Scottish winter when its tempting to hibernate it’s always nice to have a few things lined up to look forward to in the ‘Spring’. Here are some of the dates I already have in my diary. These are events and conferences at which I’ll be giving presentations or keynotes about a range of topics.

Over the the last few years I have  cut down on my international travel for work, but still very much enjoyed the range of events at which I get invited to speak.

If any of these topics interest you, it would be great to see you there.

Strategic leadership of open and online learning

31st March-  Keynote: Online Learning Summit  ‘Growing your University online: Routes to student success’.
Thank you to Margaret for the invitation.
18th June- Keynote at University of South Wales Learning & Teaching conference. Thank you to Catherine for the invitation.

 

The future of libraries and learning technology

27-28th May- Keynote: CONUL Conference 2020   ‘Imagining the future and how we get there’. http://conference.conul.ie Thank you to Laura for the invitation.

Wikimedia in the curriculum

I’ll be presenting with Ewan about our work embedding wikimedia in the curriculum and LILAC and OER20 and we’ll be launching our book of case studies of wikimedia in UK HE reflecting 5 years of ongoing work. At OER20 Lorna and I will be reviewing 5 years of our Open Educational Resources (OER) service at University of Edinburgh.

Digital literacy and digital skills

6-8 April  at LILAC conference I’ll be hosting a panel with Josie and Jane called ‘Hindsight 2020: if we knew then what we know now’ https://www.lilacconference.com/lilac-2020

Equality and diversity/women in STEM

17-19 March- Equality Diversity and Inclusion Conference 2020: ‘Courageous conversations and adventurous approaches: creative thinking in tackling inequality’ I’ll be presenting with Dominique about the experiences of making changes in our organisation and joining a panel about the the ‘taboo’ subject of menopause.  https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/programmes-events/conferences/EDIConf20

 

I am also planning to complete and defend a massive piece of writing which is currently a bit of a monster, but i’m hoping that preparing these presentations will help me to hone my ideas.

 

 

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.

 

learning technology leadership and strike action

Thank you for visiting my blog. I am out of my office and taking part in the University and College Union’s (UCU) strike action to defend our rights to fair pay, fair play and equality at work.

I was pleased and honored to be invited to speak at a recent HELF (Heads of e-learning Forum) meeting at University of Glasgow.  I was asked to speak about leadership and change from a political and ethical standpoint. How these views guide our approaches to change within an institution and the tensions that may arise. What does it mean to be and become an agent of change?

The meeting fell on the day after this current round of strikes were announced  and it gave me the opportunity to talk with these learning technology leaders about the role learning technology plays during strike action.

If we work with technology for teaching and learning then all our technology comes into contention during a strike.

This is important for HELF  because  that what happens at one university is quickly heard about at others. I know several large institutions have been having discussions about lecture recordings and learning materials last week. I asked for a show of hands in the room, to see how many HELF leaders were union members. A good number of hands went up, so I assume there will be at least a few institutions in which the leaders of learning technology are not at meetings today.

I am a strong believer that if you are a member of a union you should remain a member of that union even when you become senior management. The reason for this is that I believe you get better decision making when there is diversity around the board table, and union members are part of that diversity of thinking. Having some managers in the room who are union members means you get better management which is more inclusive and considerate of a range of staff views.

My hope, is that with this better-informed thinking comes fewer staff-management stand-offs.  But since the UCU have voted to strike again, you need to know your institutional policies on lecture recording and VLE use.

The relationship between professional learning technologists and academic colleagues is a finely balanced one. Learning technologists offer technology solutions to teaching problems and encourage innovations in pedagogy and learning. We bring technology into classroom spaces on campus and online and ask colleagues to embrace it. We assure academic colleagues that the technology is there to help not replace them. We ask for trust, understanding, communication.  We ask them to give it a go. We know that academic ‘buy –in’ is key to all of our success.  But, as part of the business, our IT services are also key in ensuring business continuity, supporting students beyond contact hours and mitigating the impact of disruption to time and place.

At a time of strike, what might before have been thought of as a fairly neutral service becomes very political. There are expectations from both sides and either way your choice of action will be political.  It may come down to your own  political or ethical position.

Management will expect you to use every tool you have to mitigate the impact of the strike,  to keep learning and teaching going. And academic colleagues, or those on strike, will expect you not to. You may have to pick a side.   Do you want to be seen as a management tool or a friend to academics?  Are you them, or us?

What impact does the decision you make to keep working during the strike have on the longer term relationship you have with those colleagues, those academic colleagues who see you  and your services as a management tool?

Although the strike is obviously not about technology per se, Learning technology, VLEs and lecture recordings in particular are very much on the union policy agenda and they will be used as part of negotiations alongside other issues. VLEs make it possible to teach larger numbers of students with fewer staff and lecture recordings make it possible to deliver lectures when they aren’t there. Neither of those sound good to labour unions. Anywhere where strikes about pay and conditions are going on any suggestion that we can  make digital materials, or recordings, or whatever available will impact directly on security of  tenure for the staff, particularly those on precarious contracts.

I hope we can have more conversations about how our roles relate to strike action. Mangers and learning technologists and learning technology managers should think about the advice and discussions which happened with regard to business continuity during the strike.   Did managers give the impression you could not or should not strike?   If you are a manager, what conversation did you have with your staff?  Is your manager in the union? Were you asked to cover for them?  Think about how you feel about retention policies and management requests to  give access to last year’s materials.  I hope we can have more discussions in this community about how we reassure our colleagues and where we position ourselves. To see ourselves as others see us.

 

 

Adult Education and Lifelong Learning

“A Permanent National Necessity…” – Adult Education and Lifelong Learning for 21st Century Britain

100 years since the Ministry of Reconstruction’s adult education committee published its Report on Adult Education, the centenary commission I  sit on has published our report which argues that adult education and lifelong learning must be a permanent national
necessity, an inseparable aspect of citizenship, vital to addressing the huge societal divisions and challenges to democracy we currently face.

You can read the full report here: http://www.centenarycommission.org/

The challenges include the climate crisis; communities more divided than in living memory, with many feeling excluded from today’s politics; and artificial intelligence threatening to disrupt jobs and permanently alter the nature of work forever. The report mostly focuses on England but we did manage to get in some references to Scotland and Wales and to the potential of digital to transform the ways in which adult education can be offered and enjoyed. Funding for adult learning and apprenticeships has fallen by 45% in real terms since 2009-10, cutting adult education participation dramatically.

Our Report calls for:
• A national Adult Education & Lifelong Learning Strategy, with a participation target to reduce the gap between the most and least educationally active.
• A Minister with specific responsibility for Adult Education and Lifelong Learning to report annually to Parliament on progress.
• Community Learning Accounts, alongside Individual Learning Accounts to provide funding for informal, community-based learning initiatives led by local groups.

International Mens Day

International Men’s day is November 19th.

As you know the  broad objectives for all International Men’s Day are applied equally to men and boys irrespective of their age, ability, social background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious belief and relationship status, and each year they add an additional theme. This year’s theme is: “Making a difference for men and boys.”

  • To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sportsmen but everyday, men who are living decent, honest lives.
  • To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.
  • To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
  • To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law.
  • To improve gender relations and promote gender equality.
  • To create a safer, better world; where people can live free from harm and grow to reach their full potential[125]

Some of the things we do in ISG to make a difference for men and boys.

We showcase the exciting work our male student interns do.

We run regular Fathers Network events

  • ISG Directors Tony, Alistair and Kevin have all attended our Fathers Network events to highlight the importance of understanding the workplace issues which face working dads.  The sessions help to normalise experiences by sharing experiences and telling stories about fatherhood with other dads. They are valued as a chance to meet other fathers with the university and learning from how others deal with policies and flexibility. Some comments from our staff on the value of these sessions include: ‘Understanding updated policy on parental leave.’ ‘Hearing experiences from other working fathers’. ‘Raise awareness of issues facing fathers – as peer support’.’ Significant difference as it raises awareness of “invisible” issues’. ‘Anything that helps encourage dads to be involved and ask for help is worth it.’Strengthen families & hence benefit society is worthwhile.’

We run personal development programmes specifically for men

  • This year develop a full day session:Men at Work: Expectations, experiences, and the workplace. We are partnering with Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) to host an interactive full-day workshop for male colleagues. This workshop will delve into the often tricky and sometimes complicated area of identity in the workplace with a focus on your experiences.  Aspects such as society, career stereotypes, diversity and cultural norms in workplaces create a set of unspoken ‘rules’ that shape expectations of actions and behaviours. This workshop will explore how these expectations manifest themselves in ISG, the advantages and disadvantages this offers, and what (if any) steps we can take as a result.

We promote mental health

  • Stewart is now bidding for funding for the third! edition of his mindfulness colouring book.
  • The Healthy Working Lives  group in ISG promote well-being.
  • Lothian Health Services Archive’s UNESCO-recognised collections on the history of HIV prevention, treatment and care in Edinburgh reflect a widespread and co-ordinated response from a range of individuals and groups to an unprecedented crisis which reached its height in the late 1980s.
  • We share openly available learning resources  about LGBT+  men and Healthcare

We promote gender equality, diversity and inclusion

  • Ewan runs regular wikipedia editathons which focus on celebrating  hidden voices and changing the way stories are told.
  • The Playfair steps programme runs staff development and engagement sessions which take an intersectional approach to workplace diversity.
  • Kevin ‘s detailed and caring approach to developing processes has transformed the scale and quality of our student employment programmes, such that they are now award winning.
  • Gavin our CIO has set equality and diversity targets for the whole of ISG and regularly calls out teams or areas which are being slow to change.

We support  and encourage shared parental leave

We celebrate the contributions of men from history to modern thinking about community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.

  • Charles Lyell’s thinking can shape the way we approach the climate change crisis.

 

Designing learning: from module outline to effective teaching

I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting for the new, updated Butcher, C., Davies, C., & Highton, M. (2019). Designing learning: from module outline to effective teaching ( 2nd edition). Routledge.

You’ve been waiting a long time. The last one was written in 2006. Writing with Chris and Clara has been just like old times.

You’ll be thinking loads has changed in the techniques of learning design and use of technology to support learning and teaching……

For most teachers the main technology to support teaching on campus is still the VLE, but in this edition I’ve managed to include up to date examples from lecture recording, maker spaces, OER, online reading lists, diversity in the curriculum, inclusive design and learning analytics.  Course leaders still need a really good grounding in learning design though, if their teaching is going to be successful. We have  a Learning Design Service at Edinburgh which is growing from strength to strength.

Bridging the gap between theory and practice, this fully updated new edition of Designing Learning offers accessible guidance to help those new to teaching in higher education to design and develop a course. With new considerations to the higher education context, this book uses current educational research to support staff in their endeavour to design and develop modules and degree courses of the highest quality.

Offering guidance on every stage, from planning to preparing materials and resources, with a focus on the promotion of learning, this book considers:

  • Course design models and shapes, and their impact on learning
  • How the external influences of learning and teaching are translated by different institutions
  • How to match the content of a course to its outcomes
  • Frameworks to enable communication between staff and students about expectations and standards
  • Taking into account the diverse student population when designing a course
  • The place of Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), communication tools and systems for monitoring students’ engagement
  • The importance of linking all aspects of the taught curriculum and wider co-/extra-curricular activities to support learning
  • Ways to evaluate and enhance a course and to develop oneself as a teaching professional in HE.

Providing advice, illustrative examples and case studies, Designing Learning is a comprehensive guide to designing a high-quality course. This book is a must-read for any academic looking to create or update their course or module.

 

Award winning ‘Attraction and Resourcing’

Satu, Kevin, Jeanette and me with our award which weighs a ton.

We are delighted to win the Scottish HR Network Magazine  Attraction & Resourcing Award of the Year 2019

Executive Summary:

The University of Edinburgh is committed to providing employment opportunities for Edinburgh students. The student workers in our organisation transform the culture, bring new viewpoints and diversity to our teams and provide unique student perspectives on our services to help us improve. Increasing the number of students who work in our organisation is part of our strategic ambitions and a vital part of enabling the University effectively to meet future challenges.

For the last 4 years we have had specific programmes in place to recruit and support students into our data, digital and IT jobs as interns over the summer and as part time workers throughout the year. Students work in our organisation in a wide range of roles including: as web developers, IT trainers, media producers, project support officers, help desk staff, graphic designers, AV fit-out technicians, data analysts and learning technologists. We aim to develop a strong and vibrant community of young staff who are supported, valued, developed and engaged.

Students are also the main consumers of our services. By employing them to work on projects that affect them we benefit from a rich source of productivity and innovation to help shape and improve these services.

The work on this initiative is ongoing and growing. Team managers are finding opportunities to attract and work with students across more and more projects.  They say:

“It started with a single summer internship analysing some data from our MOOC courses. Since then we’ve had summer interns developing media migration tools, capturing case studies on how media is used, assessing chat bots and where they could fit into our work, and helping with the roll out of lecture recording. This year we also had a team of around 30 students working with us over the start of term to support lecture recording use in large teaching spaces.”

“Personally I loved the experience of working with students again, and in a brand new area of IT support. I find their enthusiasm for the role and energy is infectious and I’m always looking for ways to challenge them and help them grow in the role”’

The work we have done at Edinburgh University is easily transferable to other institutions and there is a sector imperative now to build and grow talent in organisations. The competition for new graduates is fierce and the investment in students now yields return for the future. Students bring a new diversity to our workforce and contribute to a change in workplace culture enhancing our ways of working across intergenerational teams.

Our CIO has set a target within the Strategic Plan to employ at least 500 students over the course of each academic year.

Supporting Evidence

  1. Evidence of a particular recruitment project that has impacted positively on the organisation including evidence of the planning, delivery, evaluation and return on investment

University of Edinburgh HR colleagues have planned and delivered more than 300 employment opportunities so far this year as part of this project. Because we are responsible for all the digital services across libraries, IT, learning technologies and study spaces in the university we are in a perfect position to offer flexible, 21st Century skills employment to our students.

The impact on our organisation can be seen several ways:

  • The experience we are gaining in developing our scheme in response to feedback from our student workers has led to improvement in practice. We have a staff network for interns and managers to share experiences and learning.
  • Our projects and services improve as a result of the skills, creativity, input and ideas brought by the students.
  • Our understanding of our users is improved by the perspective that our students bring to the workplace. Their outside perspective is useful in terms of challenging and broadening our thinking.
  • Our student workers are now a growing group of ‘Alumni’ who have worked with us and may promote or choose our organisation in the future.
  • Some of our student workers are now returners who return to work with us each year in different roles.
  1. Demonstrate the positive outcomes in planning for future skills and abilities being assessed and delivered

Positive outcomes can be seen in the work being done to generate a sustainable pipeline of talent. Giving individuals the platform they need to excel is critical to our long-term success and also helps us make a vital contribution to our community.  Providing work experience and supporting employability empowers our students, which we hope we may benefit from in the future.

We support a positive employment experience for our student workers and encourage them to create LinkedIn profiles to evidence their skills and to engage with their peers through promotional videos and blogging about their work experience. Every student who works with us should leave able to describe an experience of working in a professional environment, on a meaningful project, with real responsibilities, and have a good non-academic referee to add to their CV.

Students can also complete an ‘Edinburgh Award’ – a wrap-around reflective learning framework that helps students to articulate their work experience. We can measure the impact of our student employment initiatives through the ways in which the students reflect on the value of their experience.

The cohort have also become a loyal group of workers who identify us as their employer of choice.

  1. Evidence that the recruitment & selection process contributes to overall effectiveness of the talent strategy

The University is one of the largest local employers, covering multiple sectors and job roles. The University of Edinburgh has a Youth and Student Employment Strategy 2017–2021, which presents our whole-institution approach to employability skills.

The University is committed to long-term goals in creating, promoting and delivering opportunities that enhance the employability of our students.  The University recognises the shortage of highly skilled data, digital and IT workers and is therefore safeguarding for the future and building a sustainable talent pipeline, which addresses current and future skills requirements. In addition, this gives our students the platform they need to excel, which is critical to our long-term success, our competitive advantage and also helps us make a vital contribution to our community. This is particularly important for sectors with national skills shortages such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and this is an opportunity to ‘grow our own’ in these areas.

The National Student Survey (NSS) and Edinburgh Student Experience Survey (ESES) results have highlighted areas for improvement in recent years. Developing more student employment opportunities is one way to improve the student experience and expands the employment prospects of our graduates.

  1. Evidence of the organisations commitment to diversity and assessment of skills to ensure organisation performance and culture fit

Universities are well placed to employ students in flexible ways, but often we assume that these will be in fairly low skill jobs in our shops, bars and residences. In exploring digital, library and IT opportunities we have opened up a variety of roles and reaped the benefit of a vibrant new group of staff with new ideas for our organisation.  Our students are amongst the best and brightest in the world. We are lucky to have a pool of such talent and creativity available to us.

As an employer within a university we are afforded unique opportunities to engage our student body, including delivering learning technologies used in curriculum, improving their study spaces and access to research.

Students are sensitive to image and want to work for organisations that wear their ‘inclusivity-heart’ on their sleeve, so we have promoted a cultures of equality and diversity, as part of our change agenda, to ensure that our reps on campus reflect these values.

By empowering our students they become champions and ambassadors for our work, which brings business benefits as we strive to roll-out new technologies and the cultural changes associated with these different ways of working.

  1. Evidence of effective interview techniques and the role of induction offered to new employees

To identify and attract the best candidates and provide a positive experience for both interviewers and interviewees, ISG supports and promotes best practice in our recruitment processes.  We think about how we can:

  • Be targeted: writing tailored questions for different audiences is time-consuming, but really effective.
  • Be distinctive: with so many opportunities out there, be clear about what makes your organisation different.
  • Be aware: of your own non-verbal communication and unconscious bias.

We want each student to get the most out of their employment experience with us, so as part of our induction process, we have collaborated with our Careers Service and HR colleagues to create a ‘digital student guidebook’.

To help line managers and staff support these groups, we’ve developed ISG ‘student experience’ resources, as well as collated a list of useful tools and platforms to enhance professional development and support students balancing employment alongside their studies.

In addition, we run ‘career insight’ sessions, to get staff talking about their career/role (what a typical ‘day in the life of’ looks like, how they got here etc.) with the objective that it will provide new employees with an understanding of the diverse range of careers available and create a space for them to ask questions.

data for measuring change in equality and diversity

We began the PlayFair Steps four years ago in ISG to bring a culture change and raise awareness of E&D issues.  We’ve been lucky to have an impressive selection of academic colleagues and researchers come to give talks and seminars about age, race, disability, sexuality, religion, class and policy issues in the workplace.

Diversity efforts  which are systemic and structural  in organisations take time. Long-term culture change requires a significant commitment of resources and leadership.  We need to conduct regular employee attitude surveys about E&D  to understand how our culture is changing. Or not.

Organisational-level change take time to materialize, given the risks of setbacks and variable commitment over time. Very few organisations actually publish cultural audit survey data, most  keep the data internal for fear of negative publicity or other adverse outcomes.

We surveyed in 2015 and have just done so again in 2019.

This year 76.1% of you agree that our workplace is inclusive, compared to 40.1% in 2015. Those of you who have worked here 3 – 5 years are most likely to remember the launch of PlayFair Steps and the E&D change theme;  83% of you now agree that ISG inclusive.  

This is a really positive change. Please continue to get involved and give us feedback.

You say:

‘ It’s a great way of meeting new people, or simply feeling like you are part of a workplace where there are like-minded people.

The events are consistently thoughtfully organised and insightful. They cover a range of topics, most of which I have limited experience with but interest me a great deal”,  

it is really important as a colleague and a manager to take time out to listen to others’ perspectives in the workplace’.

We are going to do more with our data too.  This week we are interviewing for a new post: Data and Equality Officer.

Data and Equality Officer 

“At University of Edinburgh we want to use our data in inclusive ways. We are looking for a Data and Equality Officer to join our IT central teams.  

You will help us to ensure that we have the data we need to understand the experience of our diverse staff and students in the University. You will have a passion for data, good data handling skills and knowledge of gender equality, diversity and inclusion issues.   

This a new role, created as part of our digital transformation and our commitment to ensuring that our IT services and projects challenge the structural biases and assumptions of the past. ”

It’s a strong field, so I hope we will get someone to fill Dominique’s fabulous shoes.

You can read more about the PlayFair Steps https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/playfair-steps/