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 another about some more 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. It is a place in which we invest in the digital skills of our staff and students. It is true in any job that there is a need for learning and development and when you work in the digital sector the need is even more urgent in a rapidly changing environment.
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 digital skills training provision. You know me, I like to have a strategy or framework for such things.
Our strategic investment in Lynda.com has been a huge success. The digital skills training team are excellent and they have invested the kind of time and effort in managing this service for the institution which has brought us return in terms of take-up and impact which puts us at the forefront of the UK HE sector.
All staff and student at University of Edinburgh are offered an account with Lynda.com. We’ve seen a steady increase over 3 years to the current 15,000 users.
I am particularly pleased that uptake is highest in Information Services Group (87%), and is consistent across all three Colleges (23-28%). The service is most popular amongst taught postgraduate students with 47% having a Lynda.com account. Between 1,200 and 1,800 hours of video is viewed every month. ,
The vast majority of courses viewed are on digital skills topics. Programming courses are consistently the most popular (Programming Fundamentals, HTML, Python) but data skills courses have recently gained popularity.
Lynda.com has been heavily and proactively promoted by ISG. We appointed a dedicated Service Manager to get out and about around the university to encourage engagement. We have reached out to users across the campuses and to our 3,000 distance learning students. We use Lynda.com to to develop staff and student skills, to supplement curricular teaching and to increase operational efficiencies for the other training providers on campus.
Developing student skills
- Providing extra-curricular learning to enhance the student experience, aligned to frameworks such as the Digital Skills Framework or the Researcher Development Framework.
- Developing employability skills, both digital and business, through the Careers Service.
- Increasing visibility of achievements by downloading course completion certificates or posting them to LinkedIn profiles.
Developing staff skills
- Developing the digital skills and capabilities of our workforce, enabling staff to play an active role in digital transformation and keep up to date with new technology.
- Helping managers to support staff development and reviews by signposting a broad range of Lynda.com courses for their staff through the Digital Skills Framework.
- Encouraging career development by mapping courses to professional development frameworks.
- Enhancing curricular teaching by supporting digital classroom technologies.
Use by training providers
- Enabling training providers to offer resources across a wider subject range and provide an alternative to classroom-based delivery. Examples include the Effective Digital Communication (Web Publishing) course which was re-designed from a face-to-face to online course using Lynda.com materials; HR’s business skills toolkits (launched in summer 2018) and ISG’s digital skills toolkits (to launch in April 2019) both of which signpost Lynda.com resources.
- Including links to Lynda.com resources in pre- and post- course emails on Digital Skills Programme courses for preparation and further skills development.
- Providing immediate help to those on waiting lists
- Assisting in software and systems rollouts including Office 365, Windows 10 and lecture recording.
- Reducing spend on external training courses by offering a just-in-time online alternative.
Lynda.com will be upgraded to LinkedIn Learning in summer 2019 and will bring benefits of a more personalised learning experience, more courses, the facility to include University of Edinburgh resources, the power of worldwide member profiles for trend and market analysis, and improved learning analytics. As an organisation we can add our own learning content to LinkedIn such as guides, videos and links to University web pages and online resources for viewing by an internal audience. There is a new reporting dashboard providing more learning analytics and data on learner behaviour, including aggregated trend data from across the globe.
There’s no doubt that the resource has been a good investment in the staff and student experience at University of Edinburgh.
“This type of resource is critical in underpinning a number of projects, both Digital Skills and Capabilities and Digital Scholarship.”
“I wanted to let you know how helpful I have found Lynda.com. I have not used SPSS for 20 years! So going back to do statistics has been daunting. The SPSS videos have been brilliant and helped enormously with my thesis.”
“This year, in Residence Life as part of my annual training program, I made all 220 of our Resident Assistants sign up to Lynda and throughout the course of the year have assigned them all courses to complete; time management and developing your professional image as well as encouraging Line Managers to set annual review objectives relating to courses which has all been incredibly positive.”
You can keep up to date with our ‘Learning with Lynda.com at The University of Edinburgh’ e-newsletters. Six editions have been published, with over 5,000 views to date and our dedicated Lynda.com web pages at www.ed.ac.uk/is/lynda or follow @LyndaUoE on Twitter
We nominated Dominique for this award and she won.
Dominique Green is a PhD student at University of Edinburgh. She is a data scientist and a tutor in quantitative methods. She also works one day per week as Equality and Diversity Intern in the University’s Information Services. Over three years Dominique has made an amazing impact on the institution. Her expertise has helped us to address the challenges we face as a large tech employer, to support women in our workplace and to change and develop policy. Her work has developed our organisation, improved and celebrated the experience of women in STEM and contributed to a cultural shift towards ‘openness to diversity’. Her own passion for the topic and expertise in theory grounded in data inspired us to adopt an intersectional approach to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in our workplace and has pushed us to go beyond anecdote and use data-based decision making to really address some entrenched structural issues.
Since the beginning of her internship Dominique has helped us to understand the link between diversity in our workplace and improved services for staff and students. She has also helped us to understand the data we have about our organisation and the management decisions we can make as a result. After analysing the data from our 2015 gender equality survey, Dominique produced a SMART plan of strategic management actions for 1,3 and 5 years to get us to a more diverse and inclusive workplace (plan attached below).
Her recommendations were accepted by senior management and integrated into departmental plans and reporting dashboards. She has organised an innovative programme of activities to engage staff across the organisation ( c500 staff have attended these events). She has liaised with academic experts, third sector groups, charities and consultants to put together a staff development programme of 20 training and discussion events which enables colleagues to engage with new ideas and thinking about how we experience our workplace and how we design our services. She has also become to go-to expert for advice on how to ensure that our work has real impact.
Dominique’s work in partnership with University of Edinburgh Information Services has had short and long-term impact on the Edinburgh University student population and for the wider community of university staff. She has ensured that we are accountable and transparent in the ways in which we consider diversity in the organisation and understand the experience of women in STEM. The profile of women across grades has changed significantly with significantly more women now in roles at UoE Grades 9 and 10. She has pushed our services consider equality and diversity in their design and encouraged us to welcome students from all across the university as change agents in our organisation. More than 50% of staff have undertaken equality and diversity training. We now employ more than 100 students with us as interns, placements and apprentices. As a student herself Dominique has been uniquely placed to help us understand how to be an inclusive STEM workplace, and the value of this partnership working between institution and student has been seen across the organisation.
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.
Jisc have published a case study of our Wikimedian in Residence . We are not sure why they won’t capitalise ‘Residence’ in the job title, or spell Allison Littlejohn’s name correctly. We did ask, but no joy.
I’ll be making reference to Allison’s work this week when I speak about the future for learning and development at the Museums Association event in Edinburgh .
I’ll also be speaking about our playful engagement strategy, MOOCs and OER. A day later I’ll be speaking about some of those same things again, with Charlie, at UCISA.
In other news:
Our Equality and Diversity Intern, Dominique has been shortlisted for an Equate Student Award and I’ll be joining the event in the evening to celebrate what it looks like to be a “Steminist‘ #thisiswhatasteministlookslike . Thanks to Sandra I have managed to get one blue ‘steminist’ t-shirt, If you would like to take a photo with it, it’s near my desk.
Chris, Clara and I are nearly finished the update of our book on designing learning. It’s only taken us the 10 years.
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.
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.
I have a long relationship with speech-to-text technology.
In 1998 we had a room in Student Services where students would go to talk to Dragon Dictate. The more they spoke, the less it understood, the more they would laugh, the more it would transcribe their laughing. It was a very popular service as a ‘pick-me-up’.
By 2012 I managed a large collection of contemporary educational oratory -the Oxford Podcasts collection, which includes some fine examples of inspirational rhetoric and clearly communicated ideas. Our interactions with voice recognition software, however, had been frustrating. During the project the team explored various solutions including both automatic translation and human transcription services. We began a project to explore how to best represent the content of our podcasts in text. By focusing on keywords generated by recognition software we were be able to give a searchable interface to users before they listen and represent the amount of relevant content within. Blog post April 2012
7 years later the challenge of making academic audio collections accessible continues to be one which is high in my mind as we roll out lecture recording across the campus at Edinburgh. We’ve been tailoring our Replay roll-out to support the university’s policy for Accessible and Inclusive Learning .
Some people have asked if we are going to have subtitles on our lecture recordings as default. The answer is no, but we are exploring creative ideas on how we could do it.
My experience is that automated speech to text although improving, is not fully there yet. And costs remain prohibitive, so transcripts or subtitles are not automated in the lecture recording system. Specialist language in lectures remain tricky and are often subtitled badly. It is also difficult for the transcription to discern whether the lecturer is quoting, reading, muttering or joking. The kind of ‘performance’ and content some of our colleagues deliver would need a highly nuanced translation. All UK HE struggles with this challenge and colleagues are anxious that their speech is not misrepresented by a poor quality subtitle which might be more confusing for learners. Blog post August 2017
The overarching objective of our new project for 2019 is to establish and evaluate an initial pilot Subtitles for Media service and make recommendations for future sustainability and resourcing.
The initial focus will be on designing and piloting a service which can scale and improve the usability/ accessibility of our front facing media content through the addition of subtitles and transcripts as appropriate. The service design will aim to include all users and will be primarily concerned with publicly available University media content hosted on Media Hopper Create, EdWeb or one of the University’s Virtual Learning Environments.
The project will have three strands:
- Testing the feasibility, viability and cost of a student-led transcription service
A 3-month pilot will allow us to understand what is needed to establish a sustainable programme of work to support our ambitions based on the outcomes of this pilot phase. The students will gain paid work experience and new digital skills. There is already a thriving market in the local region of students who offer proofreading, transcription, audio typing, subtitling and translation services in their spare time and from home. We will work with academic colleagues in the School of Sociology (Dr Karen Gregory) to research the emerging ‘gig economy’ to understand how best to establish an ethical model for piecework in this area.
- Research and Development
The project will strike a balance between evaluating and costing a model for a growing service, and Research and Development to ensure we keep sight of technology trends in this area and understand how they might influence service development over time. We will run a series of events to engage with other organisations and our own technology leaders in this field to ensure we understand and are able to take advantage of technology developments and opportunities for funding or partnerships.
- Improving digital skills and promoting culture change
We aim to move towards a culture where subtitling our media is standard practice at the point of creation, not only because of changing legislation but because it promotes engagement with our media for the benefit of our whole audience, and at the same time promotes digital literacy and digital skills.
In order to achieve all this, the Subtitling for Media Project will:-
- Establish and evaluate an initial pilot service of a student-led subtitling service
- Develop a costed plan for an ongoing service including support and service management
- Make recommendations for future sustainability and resourcing
- Ensure students are trained to deliver a pilot subtitling service
- Create an ethical model for student piecework in this area
- Deliver training and guidance to enable best practice in media creation
- Develop an understanding of current and future technology to support accessibility and ensure our developing service remains in broad alignment
As part of the ISG vision for the University of Edinburgh we aim to support all digital educators in making informed choices about their digital materials. Through this project to establish a new service, staff and students will develop digital skills in creating and using accessible digital materials. Benefits will include supporting staff and students to understand how and why to make learning materials accessible, and development of digital skills in support of wide scale engagement with digital education. The Subtitling for Media Project will establish and evaluate an initial pilot service and make recommendations for future sustainability and resourcing.
The UCISA19 Leadership Conference will be held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, from 27-29 March 2019: https://www.ucisa.ac.uk/events/2019/ucisa19
Keen to make the most of being local, I encouraged all the LTW teams to submit proposals to showcase our work. We have successful projects in a number of areas where I think we are leading the sector. Our projects do not always succeed and they often end up quite different from how they began, so reflecting on this and sharing our learning with our wider IT management community is valuable. We have experiences from which others might learn, and save themselves some time and money.
We came up with potential showcases on:
- ‘Implementing successful Equality and Diversity Programmes in University IT’,
- ‘Supporting digital transformation through digital skills development’,
- ‘Lecture Recording Communications for academic engagement’
- ‘Success and impact of a Wikimedian in Residence’,
- ‘Developing a Playful Engagement Strategy’,
- ‘Developing an inclusive and enabling strategy for web and digital channels’, and
- ‘Academic Blogging’.
The two which were accepted by UCISA were:
- ‘Success and impact of a Wikimedian in Residence’
- ‘Developing a Playful Engagement Strategy.’
The other showcases are still available if there are other conferences who would like to hear more about them…..
We have also had a session accepted for LILAC 2019, UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM 24-26 April https://www.lilacconference.com/lilac-2019 on ‘Embedding Wikipedia in the Curriculum’.
And one for OER 19, 10-11 April 2019, National University of Ireland, Galway https://oer19.oerconf.org/#gref on ‘Positioning the values and practices of open education at the core of University business’
Well done to all the presenters.