Teaching Matters is the University of Edinburgh’s website, blog and podcast about learning and teaching, for sharing ideas and approaches to teaching, and for showcasing our successes, including academic and professional colleagues who are leading the way in delivering brilliant teaching.
The Information Services Group (ISG) at University of Edinburgh is committed to providing work experience 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.
The work on this initiative is ongoing and growing. Team managers are finding opportunities to 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”’
Our CIO has set a target within ISG’s Strategic Plan to employ at least 500 students over the course of each academic year.
How can the impact of this work be measured?
More than 300 students have worked with us so far this year. Because ISG is 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 employment to our students.
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.
We want each student to get the most out of their work experience with us, so we collaborated with our Careers Service and HR colleagues to create a ‘digital student guidebook’ and professional development resources to support students balancing employment alongside their studies. 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.
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.
Impact can also 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 while building a healthy pipeline of talent, which we hope we may benefit from in the future.
The longer-term impact of the work or initiative on its staff and/or the performance of the organisation.
The longer- term 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 ‘ISG Alumni’ who have worked with us and may promote or choose our organisation in the future.
· Our number of student workers is increasing year on year as more managers welcome them into their teams.
· Some of our student workers are now returners who return to work with us each year in different roles.
· We have been able to appoint a number of students into full time roles following their placements and internships. They have become a loyal group of workers who identify us as their employer of choice.
How is the work linked to the organisation’s strategy and achievement of its objectives?
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. On-campus employment offers students an opportunity to work with the University to shape the delivery of services that directly affect the student community.
What was innovative or outstanding about the work and how can that be demonstrated?
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 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.
In a city filled with tech employers, we might not always be an obvious choice for students wanting to work in the IT sector, so we continuously look for interesting and innovative projects and service enhancement activities to attract the best talent to our organisation.
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. Specific recent examples include contributing to work on the opening up of our educational resources, part of a worldwide movement to promote and support sustainable educational development, and as champions for the roll-out of lecture recording, bringing a student perspective to our communications, training and project activities.
How could other institutions or IT professionals learn from this work and use it in their own organisation?
Universities are very 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 what digital, library and IT jobs there may be on campus 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 some of the best and brightest in the world. We are really lucky to have a pool of such talent and creativity available to us.
The work we have done in Information Services at Edinburgh is easily transferable to other institutions and there is a sector imperative now to build and grow talent in IT 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.
Some of our key learnings and tips are:
· Be targeted: writing tailored communications 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.
· Get face-to-face: digital works but students really value chatting to employers on campus.
· First impressions count: students are sensitive to image and want to work for organisations that wear their ‘inclusivity-heart’ on their sleeve, so your reps on campus should reflect this.
· Students listen to students: peer word of mouth is a powerful tool, encourage your student ambassadors to tell their friends!
This blog is for Amber because she wants to know about institutionally provided technologies #openblog19
At University of Edinburgh we know that our people are our strength. This is a place of knowledge creation, and a place of knowledge sharing.
As Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services I am lucky to have responsibility not only for the institutionally provided learning technology, but also the institutionally provided Web. You know me, I like to have a strategy for such things.
Our Web strategy addresses how the university uses web technologies to enhance our
students’ experience, disseminate our best research and engage with our diverse audiences.
The University’s web estate and use of online channels has evolved largely organically, which has led to gaps in corporate knowledge and exposed the institution to significant risks. Its no secret that there is fragmentation of technology, working methods and standards, which leads to uneven and, in some cases, broken user journeys.
We try to address these issues, with a tight focus on the University’s vision to deliver impact for society through leadership in learning and research. While University websites, including the corporate website (EdWeb) and MyEd portal, are at the core of the strategy, strong consideration is also given to online channels as a point of user acquisition and engagement.
Our vision is founded on a need to work together in the use of web technologies to achieve business goals across the University, developing the operational agility to take advantage of the most promising online opportunities.
Our web strategy aligns with the University’s Vision 2025, Corporate Plan and other significant institutional and national strategies, and complement initiatives such as Service Excellence and Digital Transformation. This strategy was developed in the manner in which it should be executed – collaboratively – with strong senior leadership and active engagement from publishers and practitioners across the University.
One theme of our strategy is that of ‘Influential voices’. We aim for:
- Increased online visibility for the work of staff, students and, ultimately, the University
- Improved profile and visibility for the University across search and online channels
- Well-trained staff and students who effectively and safely manage their online identity
- Improved cooperative working online with partners from the commercial, third and public sectors
- Enhanced partnership syndication of University content
- Investigation into the development and deployment of a centrally-managed website publishing platform
- Development of policies, processes and quality control mechanisms to support staff and student publishing
- Development of content syndication and sharing tools
- Creation of training materials and investment in associated communities of practice
The development of and launch of an academic blogging platform and Domain of One’s Own is a big part of what we are doing in this theme of our web strategy. You can read more about this in blog posts from Anne-Marie and Lorna. And once Jonathan is in post, you can meet our new Head of Web Strategy to find out more about each of the other themes.
The University of Edinburgh recently ran its first institution-wide staff engagement survey.
It has sparked some long-needed conversations in many areas of the University. To support us in exploring the reports further a data analysis pack has been produced which gives some insights into the key results and messages at University, College and Professional Service Group level .
Within LTW we have started conversations to help us explore our data, and to build on initiatives happening across the University. At our LTW All Staff meeting in December 2018 we ran a session/activity to increase our understanding of contributing factors in the responses by LTW staff and to contribute to an outline action plan.
We know that 42% of the LTW respondents believe that action will be taken as a result of the survey. That’s 10% higher than in the rest of ISG and a clear message to the director and managers. We are in the midst of our annual processes for ADR, reward and recognition ( more than 20 staff have been nominated for lumpsum payments or increments) and we already have programmes for innovation, staff development and equality and diversity. In addition, ISG have finally appointed a comms officer to look at internal communications, so we can hope that messages to and from our staff are heard.
This week we will try our first run of our ‘Where do you draw the line?’ workshop to learn about the factors that empower participants to work collaboratively to address concerns about bullying and harassment.
More updates on our plans will follow.
It’s been a very busy week.
On Friday, for international women’s day I welcomed ISG colleagues and Friends of the Library to celebrate the naming of the Brenda Moon Board Room in Argyle House. It was a naming, but also a re-instatement. There was previously a Brenda Moon Room in the Main Library, but it got lost, and although Brenda still has an info board on display there, I felt it was important that she should also get her room back. She is, after all, the only woman ever yet to hold the title of ‘University Librarian’ at Edinburgh, and having a room of one’s own is important.
Our ISG celebrations for IWD are growing and and thriving. A fabulous team of colleagues were involved this year. We edited wikipedia, created new art inspired by old collections and made badges for everyone to wear.
On Monday I went with colleagues to see Helen Pankhurst speak. A woman with a famous name. We had invited her as part of our ‘Vote100′ project in ISG, but on Monday the visit was hosted by Students’ RAG week. When I was a student we called it ‘on the rag’ week, but seems like not so much anymore. At University of Edinburgh it used to be called ‘Settlement Week’.
The meeting touched on the future of adult learning in the digital age.
Me: “we should be discussing the emerging business models of the huge global learning platforms”
Them: “when I search google I can find lots of interesting things”.
Me: “the internet giants try to disrupt every sector they set their sights on and they are very interested in training and lifelong learning”
Them: “its just like reading newspapers and going to the library”.
Me: ” “.
Dominique and I presented our work in Equality and Diversity in London this week. We were invited by Universities HR to showcase ‘The PlayFair Steps‘, our award winning staff development and organisational change programme.
A quick check around the audience indicated that we were the only non-HR professionals in the room. Dominique was certainly the only student. Nevertheless, the audience were very kind and seemed genuinely interested in how much we have achieved. Colleagues from Salford and Leicester have already contacted me to find out more.
We touched on a number of challenging ideas. We spoke about the sector imperative for IT services in universities to ensure that the services and products we develop meet the diverse needs of our students and users, and how diversity in our workforce can contribute to that business advantage. We spoke about the need for the sector to work together to make a career in university IT seem like an attractive choice for all. We spoke about the value of students as change agents in your organisation and the importance of intersectionality. Dominique managed to say ‘intersectionality’ to this audience nearly half a dozen times.
In the bar afterwards we reflected that equality and diversity at work is a matter for leadership, not something to be ‘left’ to HR.
In July 2015 only 1 out of the 8 grade10 posts in ISG were held by women. In January 2019 we are 4 of 9.
In July 2015 9 out of 35 grade9 posts were held by women. In January 2019 we are 15 of 38.
Looking at staff engagement, 438 staff in ISG have signed up to attend events in our ‘PlayFair Steps series’. Event titles include:
|Understanding age in the workplace: challenges and opportunities|
|PlayFair Steps Equality Working Group: introductory session|
|Race Matters in the Workplace|
|PlayFair Steps – LinkedIn for recruitment|
|PlayFair Steps brown bag meeting|
|PlayFair Steps – Coding for Diversity|
|PlayFair Steps: Supporting fathers to make the most of workplace entitlements|
|PlayFair Steps: Changing Recruitment Language|
|PlayFair Steps: Girl Geek Scotland|
|PlayFair Steps: Disability and Employment – The Challenges of Finding and Keeping a Job|
|PlayFair Steps: Managerial and Critical Perspectives to Understanding Gender in the Workplace|
|PlayFair Steps Working Group: Dads’ Focus Group|
|PlayFair Steps Working Group: Managerial Perspectives to Understanding Millennials in the Workplace|
|PlayFair Steps Working Group: What is LGBT+ and why does it matter at work?|
|PlayFair Steps Working Group: Religion at the University|
|PlayFair Steps: Working Dads Focus Group|
|Playfair Steps Equality Working Group: Moving Beyond ?Add women & Stir? Approaches to Equality and Inclusion at Work|
|PlayFair Steps: Renew You (a one day course for women)|
|PlayFair Steps: Speak Up (a one-day course for women)|
|PlayFair Steps Working Group: IT and Accessibility|
|PlayFair Steps: Outsiders Within? Can Feminist Managers Make a Difference?|
|PlayFair Steps – Age Awareness: Working in Inter-generational Teams|
One of our innovation projects over several years was to develop a Playful Engagement Strategy for ISG and to test some playful approaches. We know our Information Services Group (ISG) staff are innovative and creative, and they have developed a variety of fun, creative, and engaging ways to provide and deliver our technologies and services.
We want to ensure that this continues and that ISG fosters an environment, and culture, where innovation, playful learning, and creative engagement are embedded in our practices. This is in line with the University’s aim to offer an educational experience that is inspiring, challenging, and transformational.
To this end, we have established playful engagement themes, strategy and goals.
Our goals are to:
- Facilitate the development of playful innovators, researchers, and creators
- Promote creative, playful, and innovative use of technologies and tools in ISG services
- Utilise our world-class libraries and collections in innovative and engaging ways to enrich our services
- Support a healthy work life balance, and a positive, engaging and inclusive work environment
Our 6 themes are:
- Digital technologies
- Libraries museums, galleries and collections
- Communities of practice
- Reflection, development and innovation
- Exploration and innovation
- Work–life balance
I am very pleased that Charlie has been able to spend the time to really think about what playful engagement could mean for a large IT and libraries service. Her work draws upon a whole raft of team, game, maker, challenge and enjoyment activities which all combine to make working here much more fun than it might otherwise be.
She and I will be presenting about this at the UCISA leadership conference in Edinburgh.
We are taking the opportunity of International Women’s Day to rename our Boardroom in Argyle House after Brenda Moon, the first woman to head up a research university library when she was Librarian here at the University of Edinburgh in the 1980s and 90s.
Brenda played a major role in bringing the University into the digital age, as Edinburgh became the first major university library in the UK to tackle and deliver a computer-based service.
In addition to Brenda Moon, we will also be renaming three of our IT training rooms after notable Edinburgh women – Irene J Young, Marjorie Rackstraw and Annie Hutton Numbers. These are women who have been celebrated in our university archives and showcased by our Equality and Diversity Images Intern, Francesca.
Also on the day we will be hosting an ‘Edit-a-thon’ for staff, students and friends of the University to create Wikipedia entries for notable women currently missing from the encyclopaedia site, and a ‘Sketch-a-thon’ using images from the Centre for Research Collections’ Special Collections. All artistic abilities welcome!
There will also be copious badgemaking.
Wikipedia Editathon – Women of Edinburgh:
This event is open to staff, students and friends of the University and is an opportunity to help add more notable women associated with Edinburgh. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:University_of_Edinburgh/International_Women%27s_Day_2019
Learn about the lives of some of the incredible women in the archives of the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh, while putting your creative side to use in a relaxed learning environment!
This event will enable you to portray the work of pioneering women through a series of fun, fast-paced challenges that will help you flex your sketching muscles and experiment with daring colour-combinations, silly caricatures and speedy doodles. No drawing experience is necessary to join us, and all students and staff are welcome. Materials will be provided, but please do feel free to bring your own coloured pencils or felt-tip pens if you wish. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/international-womens-day-sketchathon-tickets-55208621473?fbclid=IwAR2krJRic9Q0qPV3GUtDni2Qr4fNXW0ww5yvhmhawQvPIKNyqqC1QESBEuA
Advice from HR was not to call this job ‘Witchfinder General’. So we didn’t. But we wanted to.
University of Edinburgh has a database of Scottish Witches. It has been published as open data and we are looking for a Data and Visualisation Intern to work with our Wikimedian in Residence to help us develop a linked open-data set by:
- Re-using pre-existing data and creating new data which allows geographical mapping of parts of the data set.
- Developing other visualisations of the data which allow new, previously unknown, patterns in the data to be extracted and new stories and hypotheses about the data to be developed.
If you like data and you like witches, this could be the job for you https://equatecareerhub.org.uk/job/data-and-visualisation-intern-database-of-scottish-witches/
We’ve advertised it via the new Equate Scotland Careerhub Website, because that ‘s where we think all the canny witches will be looking.
Some interesting equality and diversity activities going on in our libraries and collections:
Equality and Diversity Images Internships
The Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections (CRC) has a student internship curating images from our collections that show gender, race and diversity with a view to having these images be used for promotion of the University courses, and as part of courses where they are relevant. The successful outcomes of this have been digitisation of materials, engaging blog posts which have narratives from the collections that raise the profile of resources and narratives in the collections to support work in the area.
Following on from this £10,000 was awarded from the Innovation Fund to engage student interns to look at images and narratives of equality, diversity and community to support Students Association campaigns and encourage student engagement. This will be undertaken in the first 6 months of 2019 and is supported by the Students Association executive.
We are recruiting student interns to work with
@CRC_EdUni identify real student stories over the generations, looking at community, equality and diversity. Paid work for Edinburgh students. https://mycareerhub.ed.ac.uk/students/jobs/detail/576652/student-experience-in-archives …
Project: Revealing and Expanding Diversity in our Library Collections
In 2017-18 Library and University Collections teams worked with Students Association to organise two collection displays in the Main Library. A display in October 2017 celebrated Black History Month and in February 2018 a display celebrated LGBT+ History Month. A small number of additional books were purchased to contribute to the LGBT+ display and to increase the range of Library resources; the LGBT+ display also linked to a display in the Library’s CRC which highlighted first editions of books, signed letters, essays and other manuscripts related to W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood.
The Main Library Black History Month display in October 2018 included 41 new items purchased through the project budget, and the project budget also enabled the purchase of additional display units for the Main Library and the purchase of new display units for New College Library and ECA Library. Further displays in 2018-19 are planned to support the Students Association’s four Liberation Campaigns (Black and Minority Ethnic – BME, Disabled Students, LGBT+ and Women). Students Association representatives and colleagues from across the University are involved in organising the displays, selecting resources for purchase and communicating the project to students. The displays have been popular with students, with display items being borrowed and students providing positive feedback to staff.
We ran a ‘Diversithon‘ Wikipedia editing event to celebrate diversity in science and Scottish history for the Festival of Creative Learning and LGBT+ History Month 2019.
Women’s Collections Cataloguing
The Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections have had an intern for 8 weeks cataloguing the collection of Louisa Matilda Jane Crawford, a composer from the 19th century, to raise her profile and make the collection available for dissertations and study. The Centre hopes to do more of this type of project – the archive projects team have prioritised how women are described in collections and are reviewing best practice for future cataloguing
The Libraries and University Collections (L&UC) have also been working with the Student Association’s LiberatEd project to highlight the functionality available to students to suggest new readings for their course resource lists.
UoE staff are invited to our joint workshop on Wed March 6th with EUSA VP of Education Diva Mukherji on decolonising & diversifying the curriculum & how open educational resources can help. http://open.ed.ac.uk/event/decolonise-diversify-the-curriculum-with-open-educational-resources/ …
Feminist Art Collecting Strategy
In the past few years the Libraries and University Collections (L&UC) has adopted an equality strategy to balance the women artists represented in the University collections. They are actively working with the Principal to diversify the art seen in Old College. For example, of the works that have been collected since 2012, 54% are by female artists. This has included noteworthy work by significant female artists as well as works that deal with gender representation and diversity concerns.
The Contemporary Art Research Collection
The Contemporary Art Research Collection, established in 2016, is the newest art collection at the University and is the most significant area of activity in the diversification of the collection. The Collection is linked to the research of colleagues in History of Art. Their research and teaching area concerns feminism within the structures of Globalisation. This collection actively redresses the gender imbalance as well as the prevailing geographic focus on Western Europe and therefore enable us to broach new territories in terms of space, media and practice. The works acquired thus far highlight the major concerns of our times and the issues that affect women in particular – for example sex workers rights, care work and housing.
This gender and diversity bias in the Collection is perhaps highlighted most evidently within the Portrait Collection. The majority of portraits in the collection do not date from the contemporary period and therefore there is an overwhelming imbalance of representation – a recent estimate suggested that approximately 5% of artworks were by female artist or female sitter. This is no more obvious than in the display of works in historical parts of the University like Old College. On the request of the principal, over the last few months work has been carried out internally on how best to rehang Old College to better reflect both the history and diversity of the University community in our displays. This will be an ongoing, long term project.
A pop up exhibition opened in the Main University Library in November 2018, telling the story of how some of the University’s first female graduates pushed the agenda forward for equal enfranchisement in the UK. The exhibition focuses on when Chrystal Macmillan, Frances Simson and Frances Nairn took the fight to the House of Lords in November 1908. Chrystal Macmillan and Frances Simson became the first women to speak in the House of Lords. The exhibition was opened by Diva , Students Association Vice President for Education, who spoke about how inspiring the women were for students today, showing that students had fought for their rights and for equality.
As a result of this project L&UC are helping RAG week reps with hosting Helen Pankhurst to come and speak in March 2019.
New Internship for Equality, Diversity and Gender in Archive Catalogues
This project will look at the University of Edinburgh’s archive catalogues to explore the description, language and surfacing of women, cultures, communities and diverse groups in these catalogues. Many of the catalogues have been inherited over centuries of collecting, meaning that women and minority groups are often misrepresented or simply missing altogether from the catalogues. This project will require the business school students to analyse our data and explore the issues and problems, coming up with ideas to make them more diverse and inclusive using qualitative and quantities methodologies.