When I wrote this presentation originally, I thought the shift in pace and place I would be talking about would be the new online microcredentials – Micromasters ™ – courses we have been piloting this year.
Little did I know that we would, as a sector, experience a seismic shift to remote learning online in little more than a week. At University of Edinburgh we have all shifted place- we are now working from home or are stranded and trapped. We have all shifted pace. Things which we thought would take months and years to do suddenly gained urgency and we ‘flipped’ or ‘pivoted’ to remote learning and working outwith the university at very short notice.
I can tell you about what we have been doing at Edinburgh in online distance learning, because it is this previous work which has given us the capacity, capability and vision to respond quickly now.
We know that distance is a positive principle, not a deficit. It can generate meaningful learning opportunities and a positive student experience; it can build community; and it can advance a values-led and professionalising position of teaching, one that does not downgrade teaching into (mere) facilitation.
New futures? who knows what will happen next? I won an EduFuturists Award recently for an individual ‘who embodies a vision of where education could be 20 years from now’ , and suddenly it seems like I should come up with this vision pretty fast. This is a new era and a paradigm shift for ‘business continuity’. In the past i warned my colleagues to ‘expect locusts‘. I wanted them to think big. I asked them to think about what happens if for some reason we can’t operate as usual. I admit, I thought the challenges would be strikes, snow or rogue volcanos, but I like a bit of Biblical scale…..
Some of my emerging thoughts for possible futures:
After this current ‘panic pivot’ to teach out the current academic year. Universities will quickly start to think about semester 1 next year. Will university campuses re-open or will we teach semester 1 online?
The online learning landscape
A rush to online delivery by many universities will see skillful course design for accessibility, quality and learning communities become key.
Even if the on-campus learners return, this is not a one-off, they will need reassurance that they can go home, if called home and still complete their studies.
The undergraduate online market in the UK will be transformed. Things we thought impossible will become pragmatic.
Some universities will collaborate with peer institutions to develop courses and deliver together. Some will not.
Interoperability, licensing, IP, technical standards and open development will be as important for sharing, interchange, reuse, local adaptation of materials as they always have been. Expertise in this area will be prized.
Learning technologists who know about staff development, course design and open educational resources will realise they can work from home and work for any institution in the world. Their salaries will increase, and the work will be more flexible, more compatible with family life.
The (already) global market for academic colleagues who teach well online will thrive.
On campus service such as counselling, wellbeing, welfare, disability support, finance, careers will need to find new elements of quality in delivery online.
Students will want to watch their lectures online.
Traditional face to face exams will become antiquated, and the purpose and methods of assessment will become increasingly diverse.
‘Halls of residence’ will be forever known as ‘petri dishes’.
The global platforms ( Coursera, Edx, Futurelearn, Linkedin Learning) will finally see return on their business model and they will own all the student data.
Home-based learners will sacrifice privacy and personal data in the rush to use Zoom and Houseparty et al.
Vendors and suppliers will try to renegotiate the costs of VLEs, streaming video and virtual classroom tools.
Libraries will finally invest properly in digitisation and digital collections and no-one will believe publishers’ protests that they cannot offer open access any more.
I am so impressed by how well our teams and services are responding to this situation. We are seeing increased use of all our learning technology systems and receiving great, positive feedback on the support, training and expertise we are providing.
We have trained 800 staff to support remote teaching and offered online training in how to work from home.
The result has been:
1200 Media Hopper Create uploads in Week3 March in comparison to 400 in the same week last year.
Support calls for Media Hopper Create down on last year show that the training and guidance is good quality.
16-18th March 800 Collaborate sessions per day. 23rd March, 1400 sessions involving 6000 users
Learn Logins steady each day at 4,000 logins but this is fewer than an average day when everyone is on campus. We would usually see nearer 5,000 per day.
Our academic colleagues are working hard to play their part in tackling the Corona Virus. This is one of the very good things about working in a research university. We are providing services which support research and teaching and knowledge creation and dissemination.
We will be shutting down our Museums, Galleries and exhibitions spaces starting today.
We will be shutting down all the ISG managed libraries on all campuses with the exception of the Main Library on George Square.
The Main Library will remain open as a vital service for remaining students and staff who require Wifi, study, office, printers and other services. In a further communication we will publish revised opening hours and services that the Main Library will offer.
We have sourced additional laptops for use in high priority areas of the University. These will be prioritised by the University COVID-19 planning team. We hope to have these available to hand out to staff by the end of this week.
We have sourced 100 extra mobile phones. These will be prioritised by the University COVID-19 planning team. We hope to have these available to hand out to staff by the end of this week.
We have enlarged the size of the Remote Desktop Gateway threefold. We have modelled that this will allow the number of connections needed. (enlarged from 2 host servers to 6 host servers)
We have accelerated the installation of the new VPN. The new VPN has a bandwidth of 10 Gig and over 100,000 concurrent connections. We will announce this new service when it is up and running.
We are creating about 200 new teleconference numbers. A simple, but highly reliable, low-tech option for staff meetings and other activities when you work remotely. We are looking to have these built by early next week and distributed to units across the University through the PA and Technology staff.
We have worked with our external SaaS providers such as Blackboard (LEARN VLE and Collaborate), Microsoft (O365, OneDrive & Teams) to ensure they are scaled up for the expected increase in demand.
Based on ideas from staff we have sourced disposable gloves for Library staff who wish to make use of them.
ISG is performing a series of tests to ensure each of its teams can work from home. Lisa McDonald is coordinating this testing.
We will be reviewing our IT Change management processes and communicate later this week about whether additional Change controls will be put in place.
We would ask staff to sign out of your PCs, but do not turn them off as we may want to enable remote desktop on your machines.
Some top tips to keep in mind when planning to teach remotely:
It is important to remember that good teaching online brings with it some of the same principles as good teaching face to face. A strong teacher presence, engaged learning communities, contact time between teacher and student and for students in pairs or groups. The following tips are designed to facilitate that as simply as possible and minimise disruption both for you and your students.
Keep it simple. See the technology as servicing some core teaching function and only choose what you need. Video for lectures (if you lecture), discussion boards for debates and dialogue, a virtual learning environment for hosting your content, a well-structured reading list, maybe a blog for student reflection and group work.
Get professional advice and ask for help early on if you can. Speak to your school learning technologist and IT support; information services staff and librarians are here to help and advise.
Communicate with students. This is critical. Let them know we are trying something new and why. Let them know where to go and who to contact if they run into difficulty. Get them talking on the discussion boards with prompts and questions at regular intervals.
Discuss with your colleagues and networks of contacts at other universities how they may have used technology in similar situations teaching in similar disciplines. Many universities offer the same or very similar learning technologies, so sharing practice can be helpful to someone you know.
Your students may already know you, but you need to show them you are present online: a picture of yourself, some short videos, encouragement on the discussion boards. Videos don’t need to be perfect. Showing personality has currency in the online space.
Consider assessments. Do you need to rethink the assessments if you are moving online? You might. There are many ways to assess online and most aren’t too complicated.
Consider which parts of your course such as fieldwork, labs, studios and practicals may have to be cancelled or changed. Think about the adjustments you have previously made for students with disabilities, are those alternative versions appropriate for all your students now?
Do the best you can 🙂 we understand this will be new and different for many teachers.
This is the second time I’ve been on strike across International Women’s Day. The UCU strike action two years ago was at the same time of year.
That year, while we were on strike we were also hit by the ‘Beast from the East’ -unprecedented snow. This year we are hit by Coronovirus and the University is hurriedly making preparations ( but not reparations obv.).
The snow and the virus are acts of G_D and can be seen as business continuity incidents. The impact of both can be mitigated by use of learning technology.
If you are wondering why your university is slow to publish guidance on using tech for remote teaching and working from home. It may be because some of the professional expert teams are on strike.
The strike is not about short term things, it is about long term things and these are things worth recognising on IWD. The lack of equality at the University of Edinburgh is real. The pay gaps are real: gender (16.7%) and race (7.9%).
It is frustrating to not be able to come into work but we have gone for some digital celebrations, most of which do not require anyone to cross any picket lines.
To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March 2020, events and activities are taking place across Information Services Group to celebrate women and their contributions to the University and beyond.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, a new training room at JCMB is being named after computer scientist and educator, Xia Peisu.
Xia Peisu (夏培肃) (1923 – 2014) has been hailed “the mother of computer science in China.” After graduating from The University of Edinburgh with a PhD in electrical engineering in 1950, she returned to China where she was recruited by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Xia eventually became a founding professor of the Academy’s Institute of Computing Technology and led the development of Model 107, China’s first locally designed general-purpose computer.
Throughout her long career, Xia made numerous contributions to the advancement of high-speed computers in China and helped establish both the Chinese Journal of Computers and the Journal of Computer Science and Technology. A devoted educator, she taught China’s first course in computer theory and mentored numerous students. In 2010, the China Computer Federation honoured Xia with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her pioneering work in China’s computer industry.
LinkedIn Learning playlist
The Digital Skills and Training team have compiled a LinkedIn Learning collection of International Women’s Day themed videos and courses. The collection includes videos in a wide range of topics, presented by women who are experts in their field, and will be available from Monday 24th February. To access this playlist, make sure you are logged in to LinkedIn Learning with your University account, and choose My Learning > From Your Organization > International Women’s Day 2020. Alternatively, you can view the collection at https://edin.ac/37Nhs1N.
The Main Library’s Digital Wall is showcasing images and videos of women who are shaping the University and those who have had a significant impact in their field. These range from content from our historic collections including L&UC digital images collections and videos have been curated from the Media Hopper media asset collection.
Visit the Main Library to see the Digital Wall, which will be live until the end of March 2020 as part of Women’s History Month.
Data-Driven Innovation – Women in Data campaign
The Data-Driven Innovation Women in Data campaign aims to showcase the rich landscape of women working with data science, technology and innovation across a diverse range of industries, fields and sectors in the City Region. From students to government ministers, chief executives to lab technicians, the campaign captures their achievements, careers and hopes for the future in our 60+ eclectic interviews.
Women in Data aims to show women and girls that others ‘just like them’ are thriving in these areas, including from atypical and ‘non-scientific’ backgrounds. The campaign sheds light on their stories and talents, and supports long-term, critical conversations about the ongoing journey to gender equality.
In 2020 90% of lecture courses are taking place in rooms where recording is enabled. Of those,89% are using the automatic scheduler developed by ISG and Timetabling teams to minimise the admin burden for staff. The percentage coverage of 90% is above the sector average, which is approximately 80%.
Use of the service has risen rapidly, reflecting the expansion each year to cover more rooms. In 18/19 we had 470,000 video views, in 19/20 we have 1.14 million.Coverage across schools has been good with only4 schools currently below 80% in semester 1 19/20.
Recorded lectures are made available to students via Learn VLE as a supplement to face-to-face teaching. In 17/18 500 course in Learn had recorded lectures. In 2019, the number is 1605.With lecture recording implemented university-wide, negative comments on the lack of a central lecture recording service are no longer appearing in the NSS.
A focused study was undertaken in the Medical School and among the benefits discussed, the most common was the use of lecture recordings to enhance or complement students’ learning practices, such as revision, clarification purposes, and especially learning in their own time. Staff participants perceived lecture recordings as an accessibility tool, which can be useful for students who may struggle to learn, e.g. those with learning adjustments. The provision of lecture recordings was seen as reassuring and conducive to better engagement by all students interviewed, as they discussed that they can immerse themselves in the lecture experience rather than struggling to take notes while listening and trying to understand the taught material at the same time.Early findings from research done in Moray House institute of Education and Sportindicates that Students perceive lecture recording as a ‘luxury’ service provided by the university to enhance accessibility and enable a more individualised and flexible approach to learning.
The BSHS Ayrton prize recognises outstanding web projects and digital engagement in the history of science, technology and medicine (HSTM). The prize name was chosen to recognize the major contributions of Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923) to numerous scientific fields, especially electrical engineering and mathematics, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The prize is awarded once every two years.
Given the remarkable strength of the field, they decided to supplement the main Prize with a Highly Commended category, to be awarded to two further projects.
I’m delighted to say that our University of Edinburgh Wikipedia project “Changing the ways the stories are told” is one of the two Highly Commended projects! The judging panel were particularly impressed with the initiative’s track record of contributions to the infrastructure of knowledge on which research and public engagement in the history of science depend.
‘Changing the ways the stories are told’: Engaging staff and students in improving the Wikipedia content about women in the history of science, technology and medicine in Scotland.
This project began 5 years ago and has been delivering more and more each year with wider reach, large engagement numbers and considerable impact in terms of public engagement and media coverage. This project is supported by University of Edinburgh and we work in partnership with science, engineering and heritage organisations in Edinburgh to run events to edit and improve Wikipedia content of topics specifically related to the history of women in science.
Our mission is to work with staff, students and members of the public to support them in developing the digital skills they need to engage in writing and publishing new articles on Wikipedia. We have a specific focus on the history of women in science and medicine. Our first ‘edit-a-thon’ in 2015 was based on ‘The Edinburgh Seven’- the first women to study medicine and our most recent was in conjunction with Young Academy Scotland at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. This work towards getting all students and staff in the university to be active contributors is unique in the sector.
The audience for our content includes any members of the public who look at HSTM articles on Wikipedia. The audience for our skills development training are staff and students who learn about how historical information can be brought out of the university (and other) archives to illustrate, enhance and improve the stories of historic development of science, technology and medicine. We work closely with librarians, archivists and academic researchers to bring their hidden content into the most modern digital platforms and give it new relevance for the public today.
Edinburgh staff and students have created 476 new articles, in a variety of languages on a huge range of topics and significantly improved or translated 1950 more. These articles have been consumed by millions of readers. All editors are supported to understand the impact and reach of their work, to find the analytics and reports which show how their contribution is immediately useful to a wide range of audiences.
By working closely with HSTM scholars, digital librarians and archivists we ensure that our staff and students learn the best practice in using digital platforms for public engagement. We ensure that information is accessible and navigable and make best use of both the archives and the new technology. Images released from our archive collections and added to Wikipedia as part of this project have now been viewed 28,755,106 times.
As well as learning the skills of editing, referencing and science communication, we are ensuring that many more of our staff and students learn about how information is created, shared and contested online. We work specifically to address gaps in coverage and improve information where it is poor.
We address the gender gap amongst Wikipedia editors by training large numbers of female students and staff and empower them to edit on whatever topics they choose and thus engaging in the use of digital platforms for their own study and work.
The University of Edinburgh is the first UK university to engage a Wikimedian in Residence to focus entirely on developing student and staff skills. The project fits with our missions for teaching, research and public engagement as well as the embedding of technology in our activities to engage in digital citizenship and crowd-sourced sharing.
The most innovative part of the project has been to work closely with academic colleagues to embed Wikimedia tasks in the curriculum so that students work on topics which have direct relevance to their studies. One example where we work with the students on the MSc Reproductive Biomedicine is now in its fourth year. The students are assessed and gain credit for the work they do in improving content of Wikipedia.
Five years on from our original work in changing the way the story of the Edinburgh Seven is told, the University gave posthumous degrees to the women who had struggled as pioneers in this area. The degree ceremony in 2019 marked 150 years since the Surgeons Hall riots and this new, updated history of women in science and medicine gained considerable media coverage and impact in Scotland and beyond.
We ensure the sustainability of this project by making it part of the ongoing digital skills and digital literacy training programme delivered to staff and students in the University of Edinburgh and we hold public engagement events alongside our partners in library, heritage and science organisations in the city.
The Wikipedia platform is maintained by the Wikimedia UK foundation and our contributions to improving the public facing content on that platform is part of ensuring that it is a sustainable, growing, open, relevant and useful resource for everyone. Working directly with the Wikipedia platform to add content ensures that we do not take on the long term costs of hosting such a platform for our selves, thus the work of training editors and contributing content can continue as long as the platform is an appropriate place to do it.
Last year this work won a Herald Higher Education Award for innovation in technology and we are expanding our skills training team in the coming year to ensure that we can meet the demand from academic colleagues and students to be trained as editors and as contributors to Wikidata and similar sister projects.
This project represents a clear statement by the University that we want to enable our staff and students to engage in becoming active citizens in the digital world.
In the long dark days of the Scottish winter when its tempting to hibernate it’s always nice to have a few things lined up to look forward to in the ‘Spring’. Here are some of the dates I already have in my diary. These are events and conferences at which I’ll be giving presentations or keynotes about a range of topics.
Over the the last few years I have cut down on my international travel for work, but still very much enjoyed the range of events at which I get invited to speak.
If any of these topics interest you, it would be great to see you there.
Strategic leadership of open and online learning
31st March- Keynote: Online Learning Summit ‘Growing your University online: Routes to student success’.
18th June- Keynote at University of South Wales Learning & Teaching conference. Thank you to Catherine for the invitation.
The future of libraries and learning technology
27-28th May- Keynote: CONUL Conference 2020 ‘Imagining the future and how we get there’. http://conference.conul.ie Thank you to Laura for the invitation.
Wikimedia in the curriculum
I’ll be presenting with Ewan about our work embedding wikimedia in the curriculum and LILAC and OER20 and we’ll be launching our book of case studies of wikimedia in UK HE reflecting 5 years of ongoing work. At OER20 Lorna and I will be reviewing 5 years of our Open Educational Resources (OER) service at University of Edinburgh.
17-19 March- Equality Diversity and Inclusion Conference 2020: ‘Courageous conversations and adventurous approaches: creative thinking in tackling inequality’ I’ll be presenting with Dominique about the experiences of making changes in our organisation and joining a panel about the the ‘taboo’ subject of menopause. https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/programmes-events/conferences/EDIConf20
I am also planning to complete and defend a massive piece of writing which is currently a bit of a monster, but i’m hoping that preparing these presentations will help me to hone my ideas.