Category: Learning, teaching and web services

you can’t be what you can’t see

One of the new images from our online learning collection

Racial and ethnic diversity is a challenge for the Scottish HE IT sector. In Scotland in 2017 95.6 percent of the population identified as white. The next highest ethnic group was Asians with 2.6 percent. 

Jackie Kay thinks Scotland is ‘decades behind in attitudes to race’.

Skills Development Scotland highlight the  business drivers:

‘Getting race equality right in the UK is worth £24bn per year to the UK economy -1.3%of GDP. Employers with more diverse teams also have 35% better financial results.There are persistent unemployment rate gaps, with some ethnic minority groups experiencing employment rates which are twice as high as their white counterparts.  In 2016/1only 1.7%of Modern Apprentices in Scotland identified as BME’

 

Student interns work with us over the summer

In ISG we take an intersectional approach to  addressing the multiple factors, gender, race, religion, class, sexuality, and disabilities which shape the experience of our staff. Ethnicity is also a complex category. I had to google ‘do Jews count as minority ethnic?’ and there’s a whole discipline around collecting data.

Here are some of the things we have done:

We have employed an intern  (Dominique ) who is an expert in gender and race issues and how those combine to reinforce inequality. She has advised us on how to ensure that our gender equality initiatives also include race, age and class considerations.

In our recruitment, we have changed the language and images we use to  communicate what it is like to work in ISG.  We have also changed where we advertise, making more use of LinkedIn and the new Equate Scotland jobs board and the university careers service. As a result our new workers, and particularly our student interns appear to be a much more diverse group than the longer standing staff. Our interns are a pipeline to bringing new diversity into digital jobs.

We make sure that the images we use in BITs magazine and in other ISG promotional materials  reflect the diversity of our staff and discourage the use of ‘stock’ images to do so. We have also changed the images we use to promote use of technology and online learning, ensuring that the images on our websites reflect the demographics we know we have in our community. We are exploring how we can make more use of positive action images collections such as JopWell

A report from the Scottish Government’s independent adviser on race equality in Scotland in 2017 recommended actions for those with the aim of working towards achieving the goal of parity in employment for minority ethnic communities in the workplace.

Distribution of non-white ethnic backgrounds in Scotland in 2017* © Statista 2019m Source: Scottish Government

‘It is generally accepted that for public services to be effective and relevant for all communities in Scotland, the public sector workforce should reflect the community it serves. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that by 2025 its own workforce will reflect at every level the minority ethnic share of the population. According to the 2017 staff diversity data published in the Scottish Government’s Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report, BME staff currently comprise 1.6 % of the civil service in Scotland, an increase of 0.2 % since 2013.

The position set out in the CRER report of March 2014 is that just 0.8% of staff in all Scotland’s Local Authorities are from BME backgrounds despite making up 4% of the general population in Scotland. In Glasgow City Council the proportion of the workforce from a BME background is less than 2% although the BME population is 12%.

Given that the Public Sector employs 20.7% of the workforce in Scotland, accelerating action to tackle the diversity deficit in the Scottish Public Sector and meet the Scottish Government’s equality outcomes is, I suggest, a matter of some urgency.’

One of the new images from our online learning collection

People of colour make up 9.7 per cent of the total staff numbers at University of Edinburgh and suffer structural disadvantage in pay as we can see by looking at the gender pay gap. 

BME staff are more likely to report a culture of bullying, racial stereotyping and microaggression (Advance HE/Fook et al, 2019; Rollock 2019). We have held staff development sessions on:

We have also run Wikipedia events in Black History Month and in association with  UncoverEd. We have a representative ( Rachel) on the LTC task group on decolonising the curriculum and we have created OER specifically on that topic.  We have tasked our Equality Images Intern ( Francesca) to discover the stories of diverse staff groups in university history  and we sponsored student -led university events  organised by our interns Vicki, Gina and Dominique on topics of mental health and transexuality  which took intersectional approaches to understanding the experiences of UoE students.

Ongoing activities:

  • We take care not to organise all-staff events on major high days and holidays
  • Staff, mainly in User Services Directorate, attend cultural awareness training
  • We  take part in projects across libraries and collections and across the sector to explore the implications of decolonialising our  metadata and descriptions
  • We will name the next of our training rooms after David Pitt during Black HIstory Month 2019
  • We are meeting with Advance HE to explore how University of Edinburgh can be part of their race equality project:

    ‘Racial inequality is a significant issue in UK universities. It is evidenced by the BME attainment gap, the BME staff pay gap, and the lack of representation and promotion of BME staff . A number of UK universities have made strategic and public commitments to advancing race equality, but the sector has found consistent progress hard to come by.

    Advance HE/ECU has been actively working with the sector in Scotland on race equality since 2013 to promote conversations and initiatives on race equality with universities and colleges. In 2016, the Race Equality Charter was launched, and the Scottish Race Equality Network (SREN) first met. This project aims to support a group of Scottish universities to make significant and meaningful progress in developing strategic approaches to race equality, and in particular develop effective initiatives to support the recruitment and development of Black/BME staff. Improved staff representation, whilst being a key longer term outcome itself, is also a necessary condition for significant improvement in the Black/BME attainment gap.’

There seem to be some Scotland-specific challenge, Advance HE report that:

Scottish manifestations of race inequality in HE are under-explored. Intersectionality and differences between BME ethnicities are underexplored in the national sector literature, and may be different, and/or particularly relevant to the Scottish context. Positive action is under-utilised to drive strategic and institutional change, partly due to institutional conservatism, lack of expertise and lack of leadership.

wearable tech

lovely, generous people wearing lanyards and mics
Lovely, generous people wearing lanyards and mics. Pictures taken by Laura, no rights reserved by me.

The teams in LTW’s Learning Spaces Technology spend a lot of time thinking about how best to provide high quality AV services to a diverse university community across a very mixed estate.  We aim to ensure that our technology is universal and accessible to all and that the benefit we provide to the university is useful in enabling accessible and inclusive teaching.

We support 400 rooms and 30,000 hours of teaching every semester. We pride ourselves in providing high microphone quality across the University Estate, hence why we use high-tier quality Sennheiser models.  We upgrade and improve our services on a rolling basis. Whenever Sennheiser produce a smaller or lighter model or a new technology solution we check it out.  The current model that we provide in teaching rooms is easily worn on a lanyard ( as modelled). This makes it an ideal, gender neutral solution as it doesn’t require  a belt or pockets and works fine with any neckline or dress.

It has to be said, we’ve tried out some smaller, wireless mics around the place, but the quality just wasn’t good enough for the serivce we provide for learning and teaching but you can look forward to ‘flexible beamforming‘ from Sennheiser. We’ll be trialling this in the new spaces on campus and in Edinburgh Futures Institute building when it is ready.

staff development for extension teaching

extending online

Our Edx Micromasters(TM) pilot aims to address how online education programmes at scale can be configured and supported in such a way to ensure an optimal learning experience for the student by  using new educational research in the pedagogic design of the new programmes. We’ve learned a lot from MOOCs and our online masters programmes already, but this is new.  Our new pedagogic model, originally scoped by Professor Sian Bayne and Dr Michael Gallagher, works to address the challenges and advantages of distance education by offering discipline-relevant approaches to at-scale provision.

We have spotted some risks inherent in doing a project which focusses on scaling up online learning:

  • learners may not feel part of a community
  • academic colleagues may not feel sufficiently supported to deliver high quality teaching
  • colleagues or students may consider lower-cost education to imply lower quality.

We’ve thought about these risks and we are building an academic /staff development programme to get colleagues working together to think about these challenges.  The Edinburgh Extension Model development programme will extend teaching reach, practice and the university by ensuring that tutors involved in the design and delivery of Micromasters programmes understand research evidenced best practice and available tools to:

  • Help students to feel like they are members of a learning community, a sense of belonging within their department, programme, and the University of Edinburgh
  • Provide capacity for regular and substantive feedback on students’ work across different media
  • Provide for visible, and visibly engaged, teachers who are experts in their fields

Work on the staff development training resource is progressing well.  We’ve got a cracking team working on it. The core development team for the course consists of:
• Stuart Nicol: Learning, Teaching and Web Services
• Dr Michael Gallagher; Centre for Research in Digital Education
• Andres Ordorica; Instructional Designer, Learning, Teaching and Web Services
• Sheila MacNeill; Consultant expert academic developer

The programme will be piloted in September 2019.

what not to do with lecture recordings

lecture recording guidelines
Excellent guide by Emily Nordmann et al

At University of Edinburgh, now that we have near-comprehensive coverage of lecture recording facilities, we plan to give students across the University guidance on how to use recordings in their studies.

The excellent guide has been created by colleagues from other universities cited below.  I recommend it. It’s available for adaptation and we have added to the ‘Do Not’ section:  ‘Do not share, publish or sell recorded lectures outside the University of Edinburgh.’

 

Please cite these guides as Nordmann et al. (2018).Lecture capture: Practical recommendations for students and lecturers  Preprint: https://osf.io/esd2q/

Emily Nordmann1, Carolina E. Kuepper-Tetzel2, Louise Robson3, Stuart Phillipson4, Gabi Lipan5 and Peter McGeorge5
1 School of Psychology, University of Glasgow, 62 Hillhead Street, Glasgow, G12 8QB
2 Department of Psychology, Scrymgeour Building, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 4HN
3 Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN
4 IT Services, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL
5 School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3FX

Corresponding author:
Emily Nordmann
emily.nordmann@glasgow.ac.uk

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

what we are doing about accessibility

purely decorative
Image from the University art collections @University of Edinburgh Female Faces, Lips and Dots http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/186b57 Purely decorative.

What with the new accessibility legislation coming into place, I am gathering together a list of things/projects/initiatives and services we offer in Learning Teaching and Web Services to support accessibility online.  I have to say, I do think a working knowledge of accessibility is a key knowledge set for learning technologists and web developers. I am often surprised when people think it is something you only pay attention to when legislation changes.

Website accessibility

University of Edinburgh has a huge corporate web estate so we are taking what we believe  to be the most pragmatic and effective way forward toward improving accessibility, and thus reducing overall risk. We will proceed with our ‘Future Web Services’ project, in conjunction with a migration to Drupal 8. We will take a stringent approach to accessibility throughout design, development and testing, considering both the end users’ experience and accessibility needs. We will proceed with a content audit with a view to decommissioning and archiving portions of the estate as appropriate and rationalising the remainder, redeveloping content as needed and with accessibility in mind. We will target agree key user journeys giving us a prioritised backlog for more in-depth accessibility assessment.   We will develop, adopt and communicate policy, standards and guidelines around accessibility as part of our continuing development of our digital governance.

Accessible design of our VLE

We are currently working with six Schools and a Deanery to implement a new site structures in Learn.   The new site structure is being rolled out to Schools with the support of a team of student interns during the summer break to create consistent courses within Learn in preparation for the start of the 19/20 academic year. The aim is to create a new site structure that will provide a consistent student experience by making course specific materials easy to find as well as supporting staff in delivering rich, online courses.  It will ensure courses are more accessible and inclusive and the terminology used relating to learning and teaching is more consistent.

The student interns are working over the summer to complete accessibility audits of course areas  with a view to reporting back to heads of schools.  If you are interested in talking to the project team or looking to find out more information regarding the project contact the Learn Foundations team

Accessible content in the VLE

The University provides a selection of assistive software to staff and students. One such piece of software, and one which we are excited about is called  SensusAccess . We believe this is a really useful piece of software for staff and students using the VLE. SensusAccess allows you to convert electronic documents into alternative versions of the document – such as audio, e-book or digital Braille formats.  It even tackles less accessible documents such as image-only PDFs and PowerPoint files.  It is quick and easy to use, and free to students and staff of the University.   You upload the document you wish to be converted to another format to the software and it is then emailed to you once the conversion is complete. You can then upload this version of the document to the VLE.  Students can also use it themselves to create a version of the document which suits them best.

Library Website Improvements -A workstream in our Digital Library Programme is looking at making improvements in particular to Collections, but also, some changes to DiscoverEd, with the focus being on improving search for collections.ed but also accessibility and usability where possible.

Promoting universal design

We have specialists in our LTW teams who promote and train in universal design, whether that is design of digital materials, web sites, communications or  AV kit.

Media subtitling

The Subtitling for Media Pilot was established to investigate the feasibility, viability and cost of a student-led transcription service, alongside improving the digital skills of staff and promoting a culture change in our approach to delivering accessible content. The team subtitled public-facing audio and video content within Media Hopper Create, with a focus on content that was embedded in the main University website. Automated subtitling services are notoriously inaccurate and require checking before publication.  In the pilot, subtitles were automatically generated and the student team acted as human mediators, checking and correcting the subtitles and drawing on their own knowledge and expertise of Edinburgh and University life.  As a result of the pilot more media content is open and accessible to all users and new training courses  are available for staff and students on DIY subtitling, aiming to move to a position where subtitling of media is standard practice at the point of creation as far as possible.

Accessible work experience

In designing our projects we were interested in whether digital work was the kind of work that might be attractive to students, specifically those who need some flexibility in hours and location of work. We were aware that this kind of work might offer opportunity for employment for students with caring responsibilities, who have disabilities, or who prefer solo working.

Professional Development for colleagues

Our University of Edinburgh PgCap Learning and Teaching includes a session on “Building accessibility & inclusion into your teaching & learning with technology”. We are going to develop this into a stand-alone session, and we’ve talked about developing a baseline e-accessibility resource (either on the open website or as a self-enrol course in Learn).

Our course on Effective Digital Content (Writing for the Web) is mandatory if you need access to  edit EdWeb. It is open to all staff and students and available online or in person. This editorial training course covers good practice in writing and structuring information for the web. It also includes guidance on data protection, freedom of information issues and improving performance in search engine results.

Things 5&6 in our ’23 Things’ course are diversity and accessibility https://www.23things.ed.ac.uk/week-3/

Policy review

The University of Edinburgh University Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy is due for a review, not least to reflect the technology environment on campus which has changed significantly in the past 6 years and to include the fact that we have online courses and students to whom the policy would also apply.

Lecture recording

We’ve fitted some rooms with lecture recording facilities ( I may have mentioned this before). We hope that lecture recordings can support a wide range of accessibility and inclusivity needs including those:

  • who are visually impaired
  • who work with a scribe to create text notes from lectures
  • who have dyslexia or other learning needs
  • who have autism spectrum disorders
  • who may find physical attendance overwhelming
  • for whom English is not their first language
  • who are learning complex technical terms or in translation
  • who experience debilitating anxiety as a result of missing classes.

We are well aware that in some of our largest lecture theatres the distance from the front to the back of the room is significant. The chalkboard recording facility with Replay allows “zooming in” when playing back, and offers an improved experience for students who might have been at the back of the lecture theatre.

Microphone usage

For many students the most useful thing colleagues can do to make the content of their lectures accessible is to use the microphone. The microphone in the room is linked to the induction loop which is essential for students with hearing loss and is the best way to capture high quality audio as you talk.  We provide advice on how to wear a microphone and pack  with a dress and on a lanyard.  We’ve learned from our rollout of lecture recording that the best quality and most accessible recordings are produced when the most suitable microphones are used.Whether you have a loud voice or small group, all microphones will pick up only the closest speaker. Lapel mics work best for presenters, handheld mics and Catchboxes work best for audience interaction. In the largest teaching spaces, there will be a throwable microphone called a Catchbox.  In rooms without Catchbox or a handheld microphone,  you should repeat questions to ensure they are picked up on the recording. Find out more about how lecture recording can support accessible and inclusive learning.

 Accessible online courses

Our distance learning and MOOC platforms have very clear and rigorous rules about the ways in which content is presented. We work with FutureLearn, Edx and Coursera to make sure our content is accessible as it can be for our learners.

OER advice

We provide advice to staff making elearning materials on licensing which makes making alternative versions permissable. http://open.ed.ac.uk/how-to-guides/things-to-consider-when-creating-an-oer/

Social media advice

Our social media training includes advice on making accessible gifs for twitter use.

 

 

 

 

how to wear a radio mic with a dress

Portrait of a woman in a spotted jumper, from behind. From ECA Art Collection. Copyright University of Edinburgh https://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/j60nf2

We all know that moment when you realise that the AV tech is going to want to fix the radio microphone pack to your dress.  We all know that the single most considerate thing we can do to make our content accessible is to use the mic supplied. As a woman who always wears dresses and those dresses rarely have waistbands or pockets here are my top tips:

1) Stay still.  Clip the mic to your dress, put the pack on the lectern, and don’t stray far.  This has the added advantage of offering a chance to hold on to, lean on or bang the lectern to punctuate your talk.

2) Use the fixed mic instead. In many of our teaching rooms and some of our conference venues, there’s a mic fixed on the lectern for you to use.

3) Hold the pack in your hand. I realise that some women have small hands, but the packs we have are not much bigger than a mobile phone ( yes, I know some phones are too big for women’s hands, but it’s not a problem I’ve ever had).

4) Use a hand-held mic. If you like to walk around and your hand is big enough to hold it.

5) Use the lanyard round your neck.  The universal design solution. All University of Edinburgh staff, and most conference delegates will be wearing a lanyard with a staff card or ID on it. These lanyards are perfect for clipping the mic on to and the pack will hang easily on your tummy next to your staff card.

6) Use your shoulder-bag. If you happen to be wearing a cross body handbag, or you have one you like which matches your dress, put the mic pack in there with your card, phone and keys and wear it as you present.

7) Knit your own attractive accessory. The perfect gift for the  female professor and definitely a gap in the market.

Now, you might be outraged that women’s dresses rarely have pockets. That’s certainly a feminist and historical issue which could get fixed. Or you might suspect that radio mic packs have been designed by men for men. You might be right, but I’ve looked into the technology (I asked an expert)  and those mics are not going to work without the pack and those packs are not going to get much smaller any time soon*.

So my last tip is:

8) Be glad you are not on Love Island. Those women are wearing radio mics with their bikinis. They have no pockets and their waistbands are too skimpy for much weight. They wear their microphone packs on belts around their middles, moving them regularly so as to avoid unsightly tan lines. It is what it is.

We have a range of these belts with microphone pack pouches available from ISG if you would like one. Its a very practical solution, but please don’t jump into the swimming pool with it on.

 

*If you are interested in the next generation of technology coming, you should check out  ‘flexible beamforming‘ from Sennheiser. We’ll be trialling this in the new Edinburgh Futures Institute building when it is ready.

what do older women want?

*work in progress*

My collection of workplace fans. Take what you need when you need it.

When talking about the lack of women in digital technology, the focus tends to be on engaging the interest of girls and supporting women to become qualified in relevant areas. Without change within the industry itself, however, the women who pursue digital technology qualifications will still not remain in or be attracted to the sector.

The ‘leaky pipeline’ is definitely a thing so we must  think about ways in which we can create a more inclusive and attractive work culture where women aspire to stay. Business-wise it make sense to retain valuable, experienced staff rather than having to train new staff.

Do we know what older women in the workplace want? do we ever ask them?

When we take an intersectional approach to recognising that people’s identities and social positions at work – particularly in the technology industry – are shaped by multiple and interconnected factors.   We have to pay attention to how long people have been working and where they are in their careers.

We are a big recruiter, with a high turnover and a lot of innovation, so we need to attract and retain talent. We advertise placements and returnerships via Equate Scotland.  We also need to explore how age and length of time in the organisation influence staff engagement.

RETAINING WOMEN IN WORK

In ISG we monitor the age profile of our staff, and because of course, we want to retain in our organisation, or in the sector as many women as we can, we invest in training and development including, personal development for women. We have a number of visible examples of Positive Action Measures which include:

  • Personal development programmes

We have coaching programmes and mentoring for women- we take part in the Aurora and Connections programmes and we run specific  ‘Renew You’ and ‘Speak up‘ personal development programmes for women.  The participants on these courses seem to find them valuable and so it seems like a good investment, but I don’t have any actual data for evaluating impact.

We have run sessions specifically about the impact that feminist mangers ( with Prof Fiona MacKay) can make and  about how promotions and annual reviews work. We have data on who gets sent on leadership programmes.

  • Raising awareness and widening discussions

We organise events and discussion on topics which raise awareness of gender issues in the workplace such as gendered communications, inclusive language, shared parental leave and menopause. Menopause is an intersectional issue of gender, health and age and it is an important issue for managers and service teams. For many women it is experienced as a double or triple whammy, coming as it does just at the time when your children are teenagers, your parents are elderly and you have just made it back from a career break.  We are figuring out how to promote a menopause -friendly workplace.

One of the first steps is to make sure everyone has access to fans to cool down.  The aim is to normalise and destigmatise the use of fans- but it has to be said this is not such a  great challenge as we work in one of the hottest buildings in Edinburgh!

The next step will be to gather some actual data about how many work days are lost because menopause symptoms go unreported and to think of ways to bring that number down.

  • High profile events  which make women visible

We do a lot of work to celebrate and support high profile ‘women in tech’ and ‘women in STEM’ activities. We organise events for Ada Lovelace Day, International Women’s Day and  we name our training rooms  and systems after inspirational women. The numbers of women who attend these events are growing, the Wikipedia activities particularly are getting pretty impressive .

We need to do more in really under-represented areas though, to think about how to involve more women in AV, VR, IoT and GIS.

  • Universal design in technology

There are moments in the workplace when you may suspect it has not been designed with you in mind. As a technology provider we can promote universal solutions ( such as how to wear a radio microphone pack with a dress) and disaggregate our data by gender and age where ever we can.

  • Recognise and rectify historical wrongs

Those of us who have been around for a while have heard the stories of historical wrongs. We can do things now to help our institutions to address some of that history , such as the degrees finally given to the Edinburgh Seven.

  • Professional  and skills development

I have anecdotal information that middle-aged women are the group least likely to attend ( or be chosen for) new skills training in tech. We are very aware that we have a large group of women who have already chosen to work in information services, who could develop skills more specifically in data science, so we have been running ‘Developing Your Data Skills’ Programme for staff and students at University of Edinburgh this year.

The programme has been very successful and we have now had more than 130 learners on course. It wasn’t targetted exclusively  at women, but we managed to attract 65 % women to participate. We have designed the course to fit with participants’ busy working lives and thought specifically about how to attract mid-career learners to upskill in this area. Since our staff live and work in Edinburgh and the region, I think this can be seen as part of the investment we are making in retraining and upskilling in data skills for the city. We have evaluated the programme and gathered feedback, so we will be able to report on the ISG KPIs.

  • Flexible working

We have pretty good flexible working arrangements and policies in ISG. It is not clear though whether they are consistently applied.

  • Developing male allies

We know that male allies are a big part of the success of any equality and diversity initiative. At ISG we have a Fathers Network which provides a space to discuss the experiences of the fathers in our teams who juggle work and family responsibilities. We are also working with CIPD to develop a new personal development course for men. This will focus on emotional intelligence at work and the challenges faced by men in managing workplace expectations in relation to their roles. It is important  to acknowledge some important intersections, and where men can see that they also face intersections of identity which may influence the experience of other men, then that can carry over to understanding what that may be for women.

 

What else should we be doing?

 

 

 

summer podcasts, summer not

Picture taken by me in the street in Glasgow. No rights reserved by me.

If you are short of something to help you doze off in the sunshine:

A Teaching Matters podcast featuring me talking about how we did our large IT project to roll out lecture recording at Edinburgh.The challenge in learning technology is to match the right technology to the right institution at the right time. This can be quite difficult – particularly as there will be many voices telling you that this is not the right the technology, nor the right institution, nor the right time. So the skills to do this come with experience, come from working at, or learning from other institutions, this is a big part of leadership in learning technology. Once a technology is right,  if you get it right,  it can reach a tipping point and spread throughout an organisation.

Copyright Waffle Podcast in which Charlie describes how we are supporting Open Education at Edinburgh. Apparently our Open Education Services is still fairly unique in the sector.

leading institutions to change

I am delighted that we are able to host the Echo360 conference in Edinburgh next week.

I’ll be speaking at the conference about how important it is for leading institutions to change.

The implementation of lecture recording at University of Edinburgh was an innovative project to equip up to 400 teaching spaces and automate the recording of lectures at scale. The University has targeted an improved student digital experience by investing several million pounds in a state-of-the-art lecture recording system that has covered all the campus lecture rooms. Our approach is based on being widely flexible and enabling choices of formats and pedagogy.

The demand for lecture recording at University of Edinburgh was designed to in response to student feedback. The ability to watch lectures again as an aid to revision is immensely popular with our students already, video and audio recordings of lectures supplement the rich set of online resources that already exist to support learning.

The project was managed by a well co-ordinated team and delivered to a high quality specification, on time and in budget. The team demonstrated an outstanding commitment to delivering a high quality service for the institution. Over the last 12 months the team have successfully handled complex academic development, policy implementation and technical challenges with considerable skill and sensitivity. All throughout this time they retained a core focus on supporting an excellent student experience, championing accessibility and inclusive practices.  This work has opened up critical conversations that go beyond technology to discuss the value of lectures, the value of recordings and why we teach the way we teach and has been accompanied by evaluative research into the impact and value at institutional level.

The team has been particularly effective at incorporating research findings to continually improve the service and respond to the needs of users. As an organisation we learned a huge amount from the process: academic insight, student satisfaction, new research, communications strategies, technical know-how and a field-tested working model of how to complete a project of this size and ambition.

The Lecture Recording Project at Edinburgh University is one of the largest upgrades of AV technology in teaching rooms to take place in an educational institution anywhere in the world and it was done across an historical and rapidly expanding estate.  We now have the capability to record close to 100% of lecture activity within the institution. We   offer a consistent experience for all students and support our diverse student community. Many of our students have complex lives and are balancing study alongside caring responsibilities, or the need to work to fund their studies. Recordings of lectures can lessen anxiety about keeping on top of study, and provide a safety net when life circumstances prevail.

The team delivered transformational aspects of lecture recording by:

  • Supporting a programme of evaluation and engagement activities which has opened up critical conversations about the role of the lecture and why we teach the way we do.
  • Running a pro-active communications campaign around opting-out of lecture recording, to be sensitive to concerns raise by academic colleagues.
  • Working with course organisers and professional staff to develop highly usable scheduling software based on timetabling information, to automate the recording of lectures at scale.
  • Equipping 400 teaching spaces, including our innovative camera and recording solution for capturing chalkboards in Maths and Physics.
  • Improving the use of microphones in lecture theatres and increasing awareness of accessibility and inclusion issues.
  • Integrating the new lecture recording service with the University’s VLEs offering safe and secure access to recordings.
  • Training 40 student helpers across the campuses during the first week of teaching in each Semester to provide immediate advice on use of the recording equipment.
  • Offering comprehensive training programme to support academic colleagues to prepare teaching materials for lecture recording.
  • Delivering a system designed to be as user-friendly as possible and to have minimal impact on the presentation and delivery of lectures.

There are many proven benefits to making recordings of lectures available including supporting students for whom English is not a first language and ensuring that our face to face lectures are available in an alternative format for students who require it. Not having to take notes at speed allows students to focus more on what is being said and use valuable contact time to ask questions, knowing that notes can be reviewed and improved later.

This work at Edinburgh has had a wider impact across the sector, we have involved commercial partners, external advisors, learning technologists, academic developers AV specialists, trainers, researchers and staff and students from across all disciplines to deliver one of the most successful large scale roll-outs of learning technology across a large institution with a challenging physical estate.

2018/19 Academic Year: Recordings made/scheduled: 24,000, Student views (year to date): 528,000. Hours watched (year to date): 527,000

We gratefully acknowledge all the colleagues and practitioners in other institutions who have shared their practice with us. Much of our project has been built upon the lessons learned by others. We believe that by considering the widest possible range of technical, academic, policy, and social factors around lecture recording, we have achieved a model for lecture recording, and indeed other learning technology implementations that others could copy. A large part of our ethos has been to work as openly as we possibly can, sharing and reflecting on our practice. With that in mind we have tried to make as many of our guides, training materials, research, evaluation, processes and planning as possible available openly online for the benefit of the wider sector.

developing data skills for all

You’ll be aware that we have been running ‘Developing Your Data Skills’ Programme for staff and students at University of Edinburgh this year. The programme has been very successful and we have now had more than 100 learners complete. Since our staff live and work in Edinburgh and the region, I think this can be seen as part of the investment we are making in retraining and upskilling in data skills for the city. We have evaluated the programme and gathered feedback, so we will be able to report on the ISG KPIs.

We have designed the course to fit with participants’ busy working lives and thought specifically about how to attract mid-career learners to upskill in this area.

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/help-consultancy/is-skills/programmes-courses-and-resources/development-programmes/data-skills

Participants have enjoyed the programme:
‘There are many data courses out there. Having a course which is specifically designed and at the correct level was time-saving and encouraged me to finish. I loved doing the course and I’m keen to get started on the next level. I would not have been able to do this without the course format, nor the tutor with her helpful, caring approach.’.

There have been many more comments from participants that echo these sentiments along with a real thirst from learners to go on to study all 3 levels of the Programme.

We will be having a ‘graduation ‘ celebration for all the staff and students who completed the programme on Monday 1st July. If you would like to come along to hear more about the successes and how they plan to apply their new and improved data science skills, please let me know by reply and I will send you a diary invitation.