Category: Learning, teaching and web services

Make your choice

We’ve launched our opt-out policy for lecture recording,  it will apply to all lectures in enabled rooms from the beginning of semester 2 in January. We expect to be recording around 13,000 lectures for 2,000 courses.

If you want to opt-out you need to do that now.

The Replay Scheduler is a simple online tool for the management of lecture recording scheduling preferences and to enable opt-out.  This is available for use now.  You must ensure your preferences are actioned in the Replay Scheduler if you wish to opt-out.  Your Course Organiser will be able to either give you access to the Replay Scheduler or act on your behalf. 

 

If you don’t do it in advance, remember – you are in control of what happens in a teaching space.  If the recording light changes to red to indicate that a recording is taking place, simply press the light to pause the recording.  The light will change to flashing amber.

Student helpers will be available for the first week of teaching to provide ‘on the spot’ support.

time to update our timeline

Lovely infographic made by LTW interactive graphics team.

Inspired by a conversation with Lauren today, and some recent announcements,  I am updating our timeline of learning technology developments at University of Edinburgh. Are there other things I should include?

taming the wild web

The title of this image from the CRC collections is: ‘Examining an Doubtful Brand’. https://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/n8dh30

Work is currently underway to manage and  rationalise the web estate.

The University owns and manages the domain www.ed.ac.uk but a devolved approach in managing the University web estate has resulted in a growth of websites and associated web applications.

An audit of University infrastructure in September 2017 found that there are around  1,600 University of Edinburgh websites, only one of which is the corporate University Website (www.ed.ac.uk/*). The  corporate University website contains 400 sub-sites of its own.

The other website domains are split between circa 1,300 sub-domains (for example, law.ed.ac.uk) and 300 top-level domains (for example, www.mediblog.ed.ac.uk) depending on the business unit’s affiliation to the University. The suppliers, technology base or quality of these solutions is not well known and it’s a bit of a wild west at the moment.

lecture recording and the law

Wise Owl from the University Collections https://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/txp932

We’ve had some questions about the legal bits of our University of Edinburgh lecture recording policy. I’m not a lawyer, but I know some good ones.

Here, thanks to our excellent Policy Officer Neil, is our explanation:

The policy task group considered the intellectual property and data protection implications extensively during development and we’re confident that the new lecture recording policy is legally compliant.  We took detailed advice from the University’s lawyers and Data Protection Officer, from the School of Law’s academic IP expert and from the ISG Copyright Service, in addition to the evolving versions of the very helpful JISC guidance.

In terms of Data Protection:

  • Uses:  The policy clearly defines and limits the purposes that a lecture recording may be used for, including an “essential purpose” of allowing the students on a Course to review their lectures.
  • Lawful basis:  We’re using legitimate interests of the University in providing the service to its staff and students as the lawful basis for processing personal data within the Media Hopper Replay service.  The Data protection Officer and lawyers were very clear that this is the appropriate basis (and that the consent lawful basis would actually not be appropriate for a number of reasons, including ensuring consent is freely given, given the power imbalance between the University and either a member of staff or a student, and some of the implications for implementing any withdrawal of consent once a recording has been made.
  • Sensitive data:  There is a clear requirement in the policy to obtain written consent from a data subject before recording sensitive personal data.
  • Retention:  There is a clear retention period and disposal policy for the recordings.

We have undertaken a Data Protection Impact Assessment and there will be an updated privacy statement for the service that will both be published in due course.

In terms of Intellectual Property:

  • Rights in recording:  The policy recognises that the University, the lecturer and any students who make a contribution to the lecture will each hold some intellectual property rights in the recording.  (The University is the producer and at least in part the director of a recording, and the lecturer holds performer’s rights in the recording.)  In a collaborative approach, these rights will be retained by the respective rights holders who will licence the University and/or the lecturer to use the recording for the defined purposes.
  • Further uses:  It spells out that the University, the lecturer, a student or anyone else may not use the recording for any other use without further agreement from all the rights holders.
  • Lecturer opt-out:  If a lecturer does not wish the University to use a recording containing their performer’s rights, they will be entitled to arrange not to make the recording in the first place.  The lecturer has complete control of whether or not to record a lecture, whether to pause recording, and whether and when to release the lecture to the students.
  • Student opt-out:  It provides for students not to be recorded or – if necessary – to request their contribution deleted, and for students to know in advance which of their lectures will or will not be recorded.  We understand there are practical limitations on keeping students out of shot in some smaller venues but haven’t seen specific problems in practice.
  • Third party copyright:  The policy reiterates the standards required in terms of permission, licence and citation when using third party copyright materials in a lecture, whether or not it’s recorded.  The  ISG Copyright Service will produce specific guidance on use of films, broadcasts or musical excerpts within recorded lectures and on openly licencing recordings if preferred.

I hope that helps.

 

widening participation and access

Photo of WoW leaflets from my mothers cupboards. No rights reserved by me.

This week I’m at the Advance HE conference in Liverpool. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the University of Edinburgh ‘s new Widening Participation strategy is being launched.

University of Edinburgh actually has a long history of widening participation initiatives, but our institutional memory does seem to get lost along the way. Luckily we have splendid university archives.

I’m inordinately delighted to have found a place for both my parents in the University archives.  My father, previously mentioned, and now featured in a group picture of the front of a new book, and my mother Joanna*, in a blog post about Widening Opportunities for Women, the WOW courses of the 1980s.

The WOW programme was aimed at women planning to return to work –most often after pregnancy and years of domestic ‘employment’–, and sought to provide training opportunities as well as guidance over how to approach the job market, what type of opportunities might be available, and what obstacles may be encountered.’

Joanna first attended this programme, after having been stuck at home  with us lot for many years, and then she became the course leader.  I used to visit her in her office in a basement in Buccleuch Place. She’s very pleased to know that in my role in ISG I’ve been able to find places for ‘women returners‘ in our organisation.

After ‘WOW ‘and ‘Second Chance to Learn’,  and ‘Return to Work or Study’, she then led for many years the University of Edinburgh Access Programme  for part-time adult learners who wished to return to education to study humanities, social sciences or art and design.

Nice to see these things coming around again.

 

*just a note to say lest you be concerned, that although I found my father in the archives after his death, my mother is still very much alive.

on having an even bigger sister

In some cities, such as Edinburgh, the university may be one of the largest tech employers in the city. At Edinburgh we have around 600 staff in IT roles. That makes us a big player in tech employment. We also get the benefit of having an even bigger sister standing right beside us. The University of Edinburgh as a whole is a huge employer and a huge part of the public sector workforce. The terms, conditions and perks which we as information services are able to offer to our potential employees are made possible by virtue of being a small part of a huge organisation.

As well as a range of flexible working options and attention paid to being family-friendly most universities offer generous maternity and parental leave and arrangements for sick-pay.  Although many universities do not offer as much on-site childcare facilities as some would like, I suspect it is still way ahead of some tech employers.

University holiday allowances are pretty good. 40 days a year is about the average for most institutions (including national holidays and closure days). Equal pay schemes and university unions ensure that salaries and pensions are decent. Universities are also able to offer permanent or open-ended contracts for IT staff. Other industries might offer more in terms of up-front salary, but there are many extra benefits to working in a university .  We have information about staff  benefits and reward calculator which we use to show the real value of our arrangements.

Universities are learning organisations, if you need to grow and develop in your job training is usually offered for both the skills needed for your job and to assist career and personal development. There are mentoring schemes and career development and promotion tracks.

The climate for equality and diversity is also generally good, most universities have a very progressive stance on equality and diversity in terms of both recruitment and working environment. The very fact that there are high profile initiatives underway in higher education for students and academics contributes to the social environment or culture constructed in universities in which the professional staff work. That is to say, IT professionals working in universities benefit  from large initiatives such as Athena SWAN which are given resource and investment by the university.

There is a range of less talked about perks which I think make universities great places to work.

1) Universities have sport facilities, theatres, staff clubs, art galleries, museums, music venues and shops which are there to be enjoyed by staff at discounted rates, often for free.  There are very few employers who can boast such a range of amenities.

2) You get to working on a filmset. I worked for several years at Oxford and you couldn’t turn a corner without bumping into  a film crew, catering vans and extras dressed in medieval outfits. Or inspector Morse. Or a boy wizard.

3) Culture and collegiality abound. Every evening all across campus there are research seminars, events, book launches, receptions, openings, exhibitions to go to which are open to all staff and anyone interested. Its a lovely way to meet people and network.

4) The festival city is on your doorstep. Literally. Your office may be requisitioned at short notice for a comedy show .

5) Your children and the children of all your friends will have access to the extensive cultural capital at your fingertips when they need to find work experience for school.

6) Eduroam wireless will be provided to you free of charge as you move around the world.  You can sidle up to any university, library, hospital or museum building in any city and pick up free wifi.

7) We are fighting the good fight for truth, facts and against news. You get to be part of this.

bags of blogs

Image from University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections

Blogging? I’ve never been a fan, as you know. Nonetheless, we are launching a new service for all our staff and students.

The Academic Blogging service directly underpins the “Influential Voices” theme within our Web Strategy 2018-2021. This theme aims to: “Give our staff and students an online presence to publish and promote their work, and exchange ideas with organisations and communities globally”.

The  service will give our staff and students the tools and support that they need to publish online effectively, to develop a digital identity, and make more visible a range of authentic voices from across our academic community that are identifiably connected to our institution.

Our staff and students will be able to link their academic blogs into their profiles on social media or academic networking sites, improving the profile and visibility of the University across online channels. Staff and PGR students will also be able to link to their official University profile on EdWeb. Selections of blogs can be presented on our web pages to represent the range of learning, teaching or research activities that take place in a particular area. Content from blogs can be syndicated by ourselves, or by our partners or external organisations to create curated selections of content, reflecting the richness of our institutional activity.

 

If you want one, let us know.

dealing with relationship breakdowns

Picture taken by me of a projector at the National Museum of Scotland. No rights reserved by me.

This is the session I’ll be presenting at ALT Conference next month.  It’ll be filmed and streamed apparently.

edit: Recording here https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2018/sessions/next-expect-locusts-dealing-with-relationship-breakdowns-18-47/

What happens when things go wrong? How resilient is the relationship between edtech and educators when we are tested by strikes, snow and sedition? How do we best learn from critical incidents? Can breakdowns in trust be repaired? What will we do when it happens again?

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

Early 2018 saw an unprecedented period of industrial action at many UK universities. Never before in the 25 years of ALT have so many colleagues protested for so long against their employers, and never before has there been so much technology available to those employers to mitigate the impact of that strike. Where should learning technologists loyalties lie when they are asked to provide systems such as VLEs and lecture recording services which can be used to keep the business of learning and teaching running? When support is withdrawn and communication breaks down what agency do you have?

In addition to industrial action by learning technologists and academic colleagues who are members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) in March we also saw extreme weather events across the UK resulting in school and university closures which left many staff to stay at home and work remotely and many students to access their materials in distance learning mode. As the strikes and the snow dragged on the edtech polices and practise in many large institutions were tested. The UCU were vocal and vexed by the use of recorded lectures with or without expressed permission. Large collections of openly published lectures and learning materials, which had once been hailed as assets of great value came under scrutiny as strike breakers and motivations for institutional support for OER were questioned.

Session content: evaluation and reflection

This experimental and exploratory session will give ALT participants the chance to consider their own ethical positions with regard to strike action, business continuity, policy and practice in educational institutions and learn from insights and lessons learned by the learning technologist community. The session will be of particularly interest to CMALT holders who reflect on their own professional practice and colleagues who hold responsible roles as service owners, service operations managers and senior managers.

It is hoped that this session will be the start of a wider, longer conversation about disruptive events, professional roles, management negotiations, actions short of a strike, and the impact on academic buy-in for technology which disrupts learning and teaching.

Previous, related blog posts

http://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2018/03/06/woke/

http://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2018/02/22/strike-that/

http://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2018/03/07/teach-out/

http://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2018/02/28/glue/

References

Schön, D. (2008). The reflective practitioner : How professionals think in action.

Tripp, D. (1993). Critical incidents in teaching : Developing professional judgement. London: Routledge.

Lam, W. (2002). Ensuring business continuity. IT Professional, 4(3), 19-25.

Lecture Capture Emerges as Key Resource for University Business Continuity Planning; Echo360 Sponsors October 1st Business Continuity Planning Webinar for Higher Education. (2009, September 23). Internet Wire, p. Internet Wire, Sept 23, 2009.

McGuinness, M., & Marchand, R. (2014). Business continuity management in UK higher education: A case study of crisis communicationin the era of social media. Business continuity management in UK higher education: a case study of crisis communication in the era of social media. International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, 17 (4). 291 – 310.

Resources for participants

2018 UK higher education strike https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_UK_higher_education_strike

Collective bargaining and Beatrice Webb https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatrice_Webb

intersecting sectors

‘Intersecting sectors’ slide made in powerpoint by me for a research presentation . No rights reserved by me.

If one were going to try to evaluate the success of a diversity programme at work ECU have published a handy guide to methods you might use to monitor and evaluate impact .  We work in a space which is shaped by characteristics and  drivers of overlapping sectors.  The HE sector has its own diversity, nature and drivers; the sector of digital employers in Scotland has significant growth of its own and a different focus as regards ‘bottom line’.

The size of the digital sector is growing, the size of the university sector is growing, universities (indeed, all organisations) are becoming more digital. Competition for best employees is increasing. The IT sector is under some pressure to be more diverse, but that is difficult to link to a bottom line. Some employers have diversity programmes, and there are awards to celebrate that. Diversity programmes are notoriously hard to implement and evaluate and there needs to be a strong force to make a shift happen. Perhaps the rising competition for visible fairness and diversity will be that moment of overlap for the sectors.

Within the IT industry there is a significant gender split. According to BCS there were 1.18m IT specialists working in the UK in 2014, of which only 17% were women. This compares with a figure of 47% for the workforce as a whole (BCS, 2015) and that level has been fairly stable for ten years. Women represent 10 per cent of IT directors (Shankland, 2016).

University of Edinburgh headcount of professional staff by job segment and gender, 2016/17

Universites do collect gender information about staff working in IT roles, and we know what it is for University of Edinburgh, so presumably the other universities know their numbers too. I note that although BSC women produce some numbers for the national sector, ScotlandIS give no gender information in their reports. They refer only to categories of staff as graduates, contractors etc.

If you were wondering how big these sectors are and how much they are growing, here’s what I’ve found:

Significant amounts of public money are spent on higher education. The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reports that there are 162 higher education institutions in the UK in 2017. In academic year 2016–17 there were circa 207,000 academic colleagues employed. There were also circa 212,000 non-academic staff (UniversitiesUK, 2018). Non-academic staff numbers include a variety of professional and technical staff who provide services, support and management to the institutions. The total operating expenditure for the sector in 2017 was £33 billion and Universities UK (UUK) report that of that £3 billion was spent on IT, museums and libraries (UniversitiesUK, 2018).

The ‘IT, Museums and Libraries’ sector within HE is in itself diverse in size, shape and investment. In some universities those services are combined or consolidated in one large group within the organisation, in others the libraries and museums are managed separately from IT, and from each other. In some institutions IT is largely centralised, in others any central services may be supplemented by locally based IT staff in academic departments and colleges. UCISA, an industry membership body for HE IT, report that UK universities currently invest some £1.3billion in their technology infrastructure every year.(UCISA, 2018) UUK report that in 2014 universities spent £630 million running 390 libraries (UniversitiesUK, 2016).

The Scottish higher education sector is part of the wider sector in the UK, with some distinct funding sources. There are 19 universities in Scotland and Scotland has 4 research intensive universities which achieve consistently high world rankings. The Scottish Government provided £1.1 billion to universities in 2014/15, and approximately £623 million for university student finance support. (AuditScotland, 2016)

Across the UK in 2015-16 the income for the sector was £34.7 billion and the universities generated £95 billion in gross output for the economy. The sector contributes 1.2 % of UK GDP and supported more than 940,000 UK jobs.(UniversitiesUK, 2018). In Scotland in 2014/15. Universities had an income of £3.5 billion, and was growing rapidly. The sector in Scotland generated a surplus of £146 million in 2014/15 and overall reserves stood at £2.5 billion. (AuditScotland, 2016)  Universities Scotland calculated that the Scottish higher education sector supported 144,549 jobs and contributed an estimated £7.2 billion to the Scottish Economy in 2013/14, only the energy, financial and business services sectors made a larger contribution.(AuditScotland, 2016)

Scotland’s digital sector contributed £4.45 billion to gross value added in 2014. Employment in the digital sector was 64,100 in 2015.Total digital sector exports were £4.24 billion in 2015 (Scottish_Government, 2017). In 2018 the sector is growing and optimistic (BBC, 5 April 2018; BBCNews, 2018) and firms continue to plan to recruit more staff (ScotlandIS, 2018). Demand for graduate recruitment is growing with 72% of digital employers expecting to recruit graduates in 2017. As business grows demand for experienced staff also increases (ScotlandIS, 2017) Companies predict that they will recruit most of their new staff (73%) from the Scottish market.(ScotlandIS, 2017).

Recruitment and retention of good IT staff  for universities in Scotland is likely to get even more  competitive in the next few years. Best get ready.

If you have other reports etc which might help me to find out how diverse the UK HE IT community is, please do let me know.  Thank you.

AuditScotland. (2016). Audit of higher education in Scottish universities. from http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/uploads/docs/report/2016/nr_160707_higher_education.pdf
BBC. (5 April 2018). ‘Sharp rise’ in number of Scottish tech start-ups. from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-43647584
BBCNews. (20 March 2018). Scottish digital tech firms see ‘positive’ year ahead. BBCNews. from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-43457740
BCS. (2015). THE WOMEN IN IT SCORECARD : A definitive up-to-date evidence base for data and commentary on women in IT employment and education from https://www.bcs.org/upload/pdf/women-scorecard-2015.pdf
ECU. (2018). Monitoring and evaluating impact. from https://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/monitoring-evaluating-impact/
ScotlandIS. (2017). Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2017. from https://www.scotlandis.com/media/4933/scottish-tech-industry-survey-2017.pdf
ScotlandIS. (2018). Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2018. from https://www.scotlandis.com/resources/scottish-technology-industry-survey/
Scottish_Government. (2017). Realising Scotland’s Full Potential in a Digital World: A Digital Strategy for Scotland: The Scottish Government, March 2017.
UCISA. (2018). UCISA Strategic Plan 2018-22: Connecting and Collaborating for Success.
UniversitiesUK. (2018). Higher education in numbers . Retrieved Higher education in numbers . (2018). Universitiesuk.ac.uk. Retrieved 16 June 2018, from https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/facts-and-stats/Pages/higher-education-data.aspx

employing students

SEOTY

Delighted that we have been awarded prizes for our student employees AND as an excellent employer  in the Student Employee of the Year Awards.

Here’s the student testimonial which won us our Employer award:

Why have you nominated this person/company for Student Employer of the Year? Tell us why you think this employer is exceptional. Suggested areas of excellence: offers excellent experience and advice; opportunities to learn; understands study commitments; contributions to studies.

The Information Services Group (ISG) at the University of Edinburgh is a brilliantly dynamic place to work as a student. The company offers a large variety of part-time jobs which are designed for only one day a week so you can easily combine work with your studies. While you might assume that most of the jobs would be in IT, ISG actually offers a huge range of roles, providing exceptional means to develop digital skills even if you are studying something completely different for your university degree. For instance, there are jobs in copyrighting, media production, customer services, archives and libraries, communications, web development, event management and IT training. The jobs are designed to fit with the kind of skills students might already possess and you really get the impression that the organisation values the skills and insights that we bring to the table from our varied studies and experiences. 

ISG has a specific scheme to increase the number of University of Edinburgh students they employ. They understand that having work experience during your studies is a big part of being employable and getting a job when you finish your degree. They employ undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research-based PhD students like myself in various roles, but I don’t think many students realise the sheer range of opportunities available at ISG. All jobs are advertised on the University Careers website, MyCareerHub, and there is a student employment officer in the HR team who works tirelessly to ensure that all student workers come away with a fantastic experience. The ISG team are continually thinking about digital ways to enhance the profile of student employment. All student workers are encouraged to think about developing their own profiles on LinkedIn and describing the skills they are learning. This has also greatly enhanced ISG’s brand presence on LinkedIn as an employer that focusses on the student work experience while creating a digital network for student employees as well. Some managers in ISG even write recommendations on LinkedIn for their student employees when they reach the end of their contracts and these references can then also be used as evidence of the work experience each student has undertaken.

Please provide a specific example of a time when this employer has provided exceptional support understanding or opportunities to development. Give evidence of the qualities and characteristics listed above.

I have been working in ISG as their digital recruitment and marketing intern for the past year and a half. My own PhD research, however, is in English Literature, so I am bringing my writing and analytical skills to benefit the organisation in improving the style and language used to communicate job adverts and digital marketing content. One of the unexpected opportunities I have found in this work is learning much more about equality and diversity issues than I ever thought I would in an IT-based role.

Since IT is a competitive and heavily male-dominated sector, however, ISG are particularly keen to attract more diverse applicants for their workforce. They are keenly interested in attracting women and young people into STEM careers, for example, and work very hard to ensure an open atmosphere with equal opportunities for all. There is an extensive programme of equality and diversity activity within the organisation, and a particular focus on making female role models visible. A series of workshops called the PlayFair Steps have been especially crucial in highlighting the equality and diversity issues that still exist within our organisation and the steps we must take in order to mitigate these issues. Through these workshops, I have learned much about implicit bias, especially in terms of gendered recruitment language, and am now much more mindful of the ways in which I formulate my own writing here in my role at ISG, as well as in my PhD research and daily life.

This year, I have been working with staff across the organisation, alongside another student who works in the equality and diversity project, to source and write profiles of women working in STEM roles in ISG and to promote these profiles online, where a wide range of people can then learn about the diversity of the careers and the people in the organisation. I’ve been given the opportunity to plan and lead my own work on these case studies and it has been extremely eye-opening to learn about the many issues that shape women’s careers in STEM and beyond. These are invaluable insights which have given me an opportunity to think extensively about careers and employment beyond university.