This is turning into a very nice week for me. Not only is the weather splendid and the outlook unobstructed, but I have also received/achieved two nice awards.
The first is Fellowship of CILIP, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, the second is a student research excellence award. These are linked, because becoming a student again after about a million years has required me to keep a research diary and reflect on the skills I am developing.
I’ve had to learn to use Endnote and to use library catalogues properly and stick to a referencing style. I’ve even had to manage my research data. Returning ( and struggling) again to these research and information management skills caused me to think about my own skills development over the years and the CILIP portfolio offered a good structure for pause and reflect.
For those of you who like open practice and enjoy reading such things, I’ve put the outline of my CILIP portfolio here on my blog. The actual full thing has to be built within the CILIP VLE. Don’t start me on how frustrating it is trying to learn a new VLE. I shall reflect.
Doing research into management and leadership has been challenging too. At the Business School Research Conference today a panel of academic colleagues mused on how it is that so little of their research is ever taken up, or even read, by leaders and managers in practice. I pointed out that some of us were here doing research which was useful, relevant and likely to have an impact simply by virtue of our questions being questions we had been sufficiently motivated to research on top of doing a full time job. There was some nodding.
Anyway, its only Wednesday. The rest of the week includes menopause and massive financial planning, so it could go either way.
Teaching Matters is the University of Edinburgh’s website, blog and podcast about learning and teaching, for sharing ideas and approaches to teaching, and for showcasing our successes, including academic and professional colleagues who are leading the way in delivering brilliant teaching.
ISG’s LTW staff are regular contributors. Here is a selection of our writings:
This blog is for Amber because she wants to know about institutionally provided technologies #openblog19
At University of Edinburgh we know that our people are our strength. This is a place of knowledge creation, and a place of knowledge sharing.
As Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services I am lucky to have responsibility not only for the institutionally provided learning technology, but also the institutionally provided Web. You know me, I like to have a strategy for such things.
Our Web strategy addresses how the university uses web technologies to enhance our
students’ experience, disseminate our best research and engage with our diverse audiences.
The University’s web estate and use of online channels has evolved largely organically, which has led to gaps in corporate knowledge and exposed the institution to significant risks. Its no secret that there is fragmentation of technology, working methods and standards, which leads to uneven and, in some cases, broken user journeys.
We try to address these issues, with a tight focus on the University’s vision to deliver impact for society through leadership in learning and research. While University websites, including the corporate website (EdWeb) and MyEd portal, are at the core of the strategy, strong consideration is also given to online channels as a point of user acquisition and engagement.
Whether delivered centrally or locally, there is a clear need to empower our staff by providing them with the intelligence, tools, standards and resources to attract and engage users.
Our vision is founded on a need to work together in the use of web technologies to achieve business goals across the University, developing the operational agility to take advantage of the most promising online opportunities.
Our web strategy aligns with the University’s Vision 2025, Corporate Plan and other significant institutional and national strategies, and complement initiatives such as Service Excellence and Digital Transformation. This strategy was developed in the manner in which it should be executed – collaboratively – with strong senior leadership and active engagement from publishers and practitioners across the University.
One theme of our strategy is that of ‘Influential voices’. We aim for:
Increased online visibility for the work of staff, students and, ultimately, the University
Improved profile and visibility for the University across search and online channels
Well-trained staff and students who effectively and safely manage their online identity
Improved cooperative working online with partners from the commercial, third and public sectors
Enhanced partnership syndication of University content
Investigation into the development and deployment of a centrally-managed website publishing platform
Development of policies, processes and quality control mechanisms to support staff and student publishing
Development of content syndication and sharing tools
Creation of training materials and investment in associated communities of practice
The development of and launch of an academic blogging platform and Domain of One’s Own is a big part of what we are doing in this theme of our web strategy. You can read more about this in blog posts from Anne-Marie and Lorna. And once Jonathan is in post, you can meet our new Head of Web Strategy to find out more about each of the other themes.
One of our innovation projects over several years was to develop a Playful Engagement Strategy for ISG and to test some playful approaches. We know our Information Services Group (ISG) staff are innovative and creative, and they have developed a variety of fun, creative, and engaging ways to provide and deliver our technologies and services.
We want to ensure that this continues and that ISG fosters an environment, and culture, where innovation, playful learning, and creative engagement are embedded in our practices. This is in line with the University’s aim to offer an educational experience that is inspiring, challenging, and transformational.
To this end, we have established playful engagement themes, strategy and goals.
Our goals are to:
Facilitate the development of playful innovators, researchers, and creators
Promote creative, playful, and innovative use of technologies and tools in ISG services
Utilise our world-class libraries and collections in innovative and engaging ways to enrich our services
Support a healthy work life balance, and a positive, engaging and inclusive work environment
I am very pleased that Charlie has been able to spend the time to really think about what playful engagement could mean for a large IT and libraries service. Her work draws upon a whole raft of team, game, maker, challenge and enjoyment activities which all combine to make working here much more fun than it might otherwise be.
She and I will be presenting about this at the UCISA leadership conference in Edinburgh.
We are taking the opportunity of International Women’s Day to rename our Boardroom in Argyle House after Brenda Moon, the first woman to head up a research university library when she was Librarian here at the University of Edinburgh in the 1980s and 90s.
Brenda played a major role in bringing the University into the digital age, as Edinburgh became the first major university library in the UK to tackle and deliver a computer-based service.
Also on the day we will be hosting an ‘Edit-a-thon’ for staff, students and friends of the University to create Wikipedia entries for notable women currently missing from the encyclopaedia site, and a ‘Sketch-a-thon’ using images from the Centre for Research Collections’ Special Collections. All artistic abilities welcome!
Learn about the lives of some of the incredible women in the archives of the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh, while putting your creative side to use in a relaxed learning environment!
Keen to make the most of being local, I encouraged all the LTW teams to submit proposals to showcase our work. We have successful projects in a number of areas where I think we are leading the sector. Our projects do not always succeed and they often end up quite different from how they began, so reflecting on this and sharing our learning with our wider IT management community is valuable. We have experiences from which others might learn, and save themselves some time and money.
We came up with potential showcases on:
‘Implementing successful Equality and Diversity Programmes in University IT’,
‘Supporting digital transformation through digital skills development’,
‘Lecture Recording Communications for academic engagement’
‘Success and impact of a Wikimedian in Residence’,
‘Developing a Playful Engagement Strategy’,
‘Developing an inclusive and enabling strategy for web and digital channels’, and
The two which were accepted by UCISA were:
‘Success and impact of a Wikimedian in Residence’
‘Developing a Playful Engagement Strategy.’
The other showcases are still available if there are other conferences who would like to hear more about them…..
And one for OER 19, 10-11 April 2019, National University of Ireland, Galway https://oer19.oerconf.org/#gref on ‘Positioning the values and practices of open education at the core of University business’
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.
19th-23rd March is #ResourcesListWeek in the University of Edinburgh.
I am often asked about the value of lecturing ( and lecture recording). In my day, I was always told that the purpose of a lecture was to send you to the Library. A good lecture, given by an academic colleague who is passionate about their subject and actively researching in the area will inspire you to go and find out more for yourself. Lectures were never designed to be the way to cover and transmit all the course content. The reading list is as valuable to students as the lectures.
In a research institution the Library holds collections way beyond the reading lists and provides an environment for individual exploration and discovery.
We send our students to the library clutching their reading lists. If you want the books to be there when they get there, you need a Resources List. Sending in your resources list causes your librarian to order-in what is needed.
If you think our library should hold more diverse authors, if you would like to liberate the curriculum, if you would prefer we used more open access resources, this is one way to drive that change.
The Librarians are ready and waiting, give them something to occupy their time.
Some of us are on strike. (I may have mentioned this before). Academic colleagues are holding ‘teach outs’. What kind of activity would be the learning technology version of a ‘teach out’? I’m thinking ‘making OER ‘and ‘wikimedia editathons’.
I’ve asked a guru and been told that a ‘teach-out’ takes place outside the walls, has an informal curriculum, is activist focused and free!
Open education and OER is all about ‘beyond walls’, it is about sharing, releasing openly, deliberately, resources which can be re-used by others for free. There are whole conferences about how this is informal, disruptive, beyond the curriculum and underpinned by activism for social change in HE. There are even Declarations about it. Wikimedia is the largest online open educational resources platform in the world. Wikimedia is an activist organisation whose members support and campaign for changes in copyright, access, freedoms and disruption of traditional knowledge publishing models. There is also a well known issue with gender bias in the content.
They show students that their teachers aren’t just putting their feet up. We care about students’ education and are willing to educate unpaid — just not to do the kind of educating we’re normally paid for.
We only go on strike when bad things are happening, but promoting the teach-out allows us to focus conversations on a positive activity. Attending allows students (and anyone else!) to show support for the strike.
The teach-outs also give members a communal, productive activity to do on strike days that builds ideas, capacity, and community — and reminds us what higher education is really all about.
Not all members are willing or able to be involved in picketing, but are happy to participate in teach-outs, broadening the possibilities for activism on a strike day.
Organising teach-outs is very easy! Almost everyone in UCU organises conferences, open days, meetings and talks professionally. Moreover, it’s in the nature of teach-outs that they’re ad hoc, a bit improvised, even carnivalesque. So basically, it’s about doing what we’re good at, yet no-one minds if it goes wrong “
This is exactly the kind of thing we encourage through our OER activities and wikimedia editathon events. It is #openeducationweek as well as #internationalwomensday and #ussstrikes. The best thing you can do is join a ‘tech-out’. You don’t have to cross a picketline, Wikipedia is definitely outside our walls, but conveniently adjacent, and differently owned, like a local pub or community hall. You can learn how to do OER from our handy guides. You can join our wikimedia editathon remotely with our helpful videos.
If you want a communal, productive activity to do on strike days that builds ideas, capacity and community, and reminds us what higher education is really all about, Comrades, join me in Open Education.
EqualBITE: Gender equality in higher education is an open access book to which I contributed a chapter. My chapter is about the positive power of wikipedia editathons, but the book contains a full range of ideas and responses to tackling the real lived experience of inequality in higher education.
The piece I wrote I wrote a long time ago, before we even had a wikimedian in residence and before the Playfair Steps had really got going. The book has taken a while to come to fruition. It began as an idea to develop a set of ‘recipies’, with each of the contributions having a witty pun-laden title styled as instructions, method and ingredients. I thought that was a cute idea, but seemingly the author team lost their resolve for this, decided that recipies were too girly and decided to adopt a more formal style.
The result is still good though.
It’s free to download, or you could buy it.
It would make a lovely Christmas present.