Every Friday I write a message to my teams in LTW.  Reassuringly, in the University we are getting a steady stream of high-level communications from HR and ‘the very top’.  In my messages I try to focus on achievements and successes.

I’ll keep them here to look back upon when we come out the other side. They already serve to be an impressive list of what the teams  have been doing.

Starting a new page for 2022

Even more for 2023

Friday 20th March 2020

Home office.

Dear All,

Well done all, for making it through what must be one of the craziest weeks at work, ever.

Thank you for all your work in getting set up to work from home, for looking after each other, and for taking care to be safe and well.

Thank you also for all the extraordinary measures you have taken to ensure that the University is successful in continuing learn, teach and web.

Gavin has asked me to pass on his thanks for  ‘The wonderful and immense response from LTW to the challenge of moving to remote teaching. Please give my thanks to everyone involved’.

I realise that we still have a lot to sort out about how we keep working, in our homes and with our families and pets who need us. This situation is unprecedented, but I trust that we will try hard and make it work.

Best wishes, enjoy your weekend.


Director LTW

Friday 27th March

Empty streets

Dear All,

I hope you are all ok at home. 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.

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.

In LTW, we are all part of this. We are currently:
• helping to open up content on MediaHopper to be used by NHS Lothian staff,
• helping MSc Critical Care to open up a Learn course to thousands of clinicians and creating a new MOOC.
• helping Usher Institute to create a web database of evidence based research on COVID-19 that can be accessed by policy-makers and clinicians seeking up-to-date and reliable answers to key questions.
• adapting the graphic design in chapters from the Adult Medical Emergencies Handbook to be put online.

This is important work and the university appreciates the contribution we are making.

Well done for making it through another week. If you are unsure, or short of something to do, please let me know.

Best wishes, enjoy your weekend.


Director LTW

Friday 3rd April

Deserted castle.

Dear All,

Another week has passed and I hope you are all still doing ok at home. The pace of activity in LTW does not seem to have slowed at all, many of you must be exhausted.  The Principal has given us two days of leave in recognition of the fact that everybody needs a rest from work sometimes.

I am very pleased to see how well you are managing to shift your teams, events, board meetings, steering groups and  community activities online. I know that there are online teaching and training sessions going on every day.

Amongst our many achievements:
• The Web Team ran our first ever Web Publishers’ Community online via Collaborate.
• Catherine Koppe was nominated for a Sustainability award for providing an electronic workbook service within the ISG training suites. The judges were impressed by the amount of paper this has saved, and direct cost savings as a result, they offered heartfelt thanks and congratulations for the fantastic work she is doing.
• Amanda Scully has been elected by University of Edinburgh students as Students’ Association VP for Community next year. Congratulations!
• You attended and spoke at virtual conferences to virtual audiences.
• You launched a new MOOC at short notice and high speed and shifted big courses from platform to platform as demand changes.  https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/covid-19-critical-care-education-resource/1 This  resource will help frontline healthcare workers in this high-stress, high-risk environment.
• Stewart Cromar and Jon Wilson are supporting ISG comms to make changes on the ISG website.
• You are progressing with recruitment and on-boarding where that makes sense.
• There is much blogging, podcasting and sharing of pictures of pets.
• Ewan McAndrew launched our new publication about using Wikipedia in Education. https://oer20.oerconf.org/wikimedia-in-education-online-launch/ It’s a beautifully designed book of case studies about curriculum innovation, with many examples from Edinburgh. The event was supposed to be in London for 200 people, but it shifted to online for 1,000 people.

You will have seen that Gavin is keen to advertise work opportunities for staff who are short of things to do. This will be very interesting for us in LTW as we may have colleagues from other directorates who join us to work in areas supporting Learn Foundations and media subtitling.

Well done for making it through another week. If you are unsure, or short of something to do, please let me (or your line manager) know.

Best wishes, enjoy your weekend. Stay safe. Thank you.


Director LTW

Friday 10th April

The University gave us along weekend Friday and Monday holiday

Friday 17th April

Cherry blossoms.

Dear All,
I hope you are all ok at home. It sounds like this lockdown will continue for a while, so please pace yourself for the long haul.
You will have noticed that Gavin has got the hang of Media Hopper Create and is doing regular video messages.  He is also very impressed with the success of the COVID MOOC and the future thinking from Learn Foundations.  Similarly popular is our course  ‘An Edinburgh Model for Teaching Online’. We have 150 staff signed up and 100+ more on the waiting list. Its great to see so many colleagues eager to find out how to do it!
I am getting a very strong sense that we will need to provide a lot more learning technology support to the College and Schools in the coming months, and perhaps for longer, so can I ask you each perhaps to have a think about people you know around the university ( or IRL) who you think would be assets to our teams (and might be on precarious contracts now)?  Staff or students. We will particularly need people who may have used our tech, built websites, taught or designed MOOCs, with good knowledge of accessibility and UX and a passion for teaching and learning.  Let me know.
Well done for making it through another busy week.
Best wishes, enjoy your weekend.
Director LTW

Friday 24th April

Library looking lovely.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another busy week.

Stuart has attracted 400 academic staff to his training programme. Jon has 31,000 on his MOOC and Gavin now believes we can make MOOCs in a week. Lauren and Emma’s marketing efforts have brought more than 900 sign ups for the online learning open day. Ewan got 14 editors, 18 new articles and 80 articles improved as a result of his Earthday Editathon.

As a result of your creativity:

Our free courses are listed on https://www.edinburghlockdowneconomy.com/
The CRC collections are now available in Animal Crossing https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/dlam/2020/04/23/animal-crossing/
We now have a new “How To Make Video Content” series: https://media.ed.ac.uk/playlist/dedicated/102178591/1_ss0sj2nw/1_jwi6ubp1

You will be aware that concrete plans for semester 1 are still elusive.  Time constraints over the summer mean that it will not be possible to redesign all on-campus courses to be taught ‘fully online’, nor to develop a fully ‘hybrid’ model. I expect that we will use best efforts and the good thinking that has been already done in the Learn Foundations project to repurposed a scalable solution for moving all on-campus courses (particularly those for returning students in 2nd, 3rd and 4th years) into a state where simplified remote teaching can take place, continuing students can be held close and we can maintain community to sustain continuation of studies.

Another thing we learned this week is that the email announcing you have a voucher reward looks a lot like spam, so be careful if you get one not to just bin it!

Colleagues in the CRC are collecting your lockdown artefacts for their archive. I trust you will send them your many creative pieces.  https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/staff/2020/covid-19-experiences-to-be-documented

Best wishes, hang in there, enjoy your weekend.


Director LTW

Friday 1st May


Dear All,

Well done for making it through another busy week.

Students have been doing their first week of online and open book exams, and we’ve been supporting them as best we can.

We have been moving our classroom-based training programme online. We now have online delivery options for most of our classroom courses and Developing Your Data Skills Programme. These include webinars, videos, LinkedIn Learning courses, resources, guides. Digital Skills Programme webinars have been delivered to another 250 staff and students.

We are seeking to systematically improve our estate as is, starting with audits of content and accessibility. We are underway with a major programme to develop a new suite of common tools, services and technologies – including a modern, cloud-based publishing platform as a replacement for EdWeb – designed to offer our web community what they need to deliver a world-class experience for their users for years to come. We are also hoping that the university will sign up to the W3C ‘contract for the web’ https://contractfortheweb.org/ but it has to go through half a dozen committees first.

You have also been supporting Usher Institute in developing their ‘UNCOVER’ site full of evidence based reviews of COVID 19 https://www.ed.ac.uk/usher/uncover  and publishing new guidance for students on how to stay safe online.https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/help-consultancy/is-skills/digital-safety-and-citizenship It is important to remember that just as ‘home’ may not be a safe place for everyone, the internet is a toxic place for many too, and we need to take care of each other.

You’ll have heard much talk about the dire impact the situation is having on the university. Your managers are working hard to try to ensure that contracts get renewed and jobs are secure. You will also hear much about furloughing, and economic recovery. This week Nicola Sturgeon launched a skills gateway online which links thorough to the MOOC platform where we have many of our online courses. https://www.myworldofwork.co.uk/learn-and-train/find-free-online-courses

Our ISG teams in UCreate Makerspace have been working hard to develop PPE for anyone who needs it. They have shared the design of the 3D stackable visor model they have been developing at uCreateStudio.  The model has been uploaded by the OER  team to Sketchfab so it can be downloaded under open licence. This makes the design available to anyone to make, re-use and adapt further as they wish.

Best wishes, enjoy your weekend.


Director LTW

Friday 8th May


Dear All,

Well done for making it through another busy week.

Good to see so many of you blogging about life working from home

This week we launched a new MOOC on blended learning.  1700 people signed up for the online learning open day. We have welcomed new colleagues and we have colleagues joining us from other directorates to help with Learn Foundations and subtitling.  We have also moved some LTW colleagues into furlough if it hasn’t been possible for them to keep working. Colleagues on furlough are still able to undertake training, so there is no escape from updating your digital skills.

We are working with Schools to provide support for two different types of exam alternatives – open book exams with a 2 day turnaround, and shorter closed book exams with a 2-3 hour turnaround (plus an hour for digital submission, many of these are hand-written). Exam period is the 27th of April until the 29th of May, so still a while to go.  There are 483 exams in total, with 17K sittings. There are quite a few at the weekend and cover is being provided for any issues that occur on those days too.  Assessment continuity support: https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/more/assessment-continuity

This week we also began planning for Welcome Week in September. Leaflets and handouts will be a no-no, we will need to think creatively about our merchandising  and inductions this time.

You may have seen discussion of a ‘hybrid’ model for teaching next year.  It is still a bit hard to get ones head around how social distancing will work on campus with each person needing a certain amount of space around them, our lecture theatres and seminar rooms will be very different from how they were before.  It its important to the University to advertise that this hybrid model is NOT an online-only model, and this is a strategic distinction for the University.  We know that many international students remain extremely nervous about the recognition of online only programmes.  So ‘hybrid’ delivery does not assume either a fundamentally on-campus or fundamentally online model but is designed for easy student transition between the two.  I’m sure it will become more clear, eventually.

We are running more training sessions for remote working and teaching and we have updated our training and documentation including documentation to support making video and streaming from home.  You may have spotted that the BBC have released images from their archives  to be used as backgrounds in Zoom https://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/empty_sets_collection/zfvy382   It sounds like ISG is about to buy a site-wide license for Zoom, so if you have suggestions of images from our archives which can be used as backgrounds I’d be happy to see them.  You too could work from under the eaves of McEwan Hall https://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/pit557 or dance at the 1949 Revel https://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/fnjyew

Best wishes, stay safe.

Director, LTW.

Friday 15th May


Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week.  Today is national #workFromHomeDay. 15th of May, in case you have lost track.

The University has launched a stream of recovery, renewal and adaptation projects. There are several streams with different names and subgroups. If you are invited to join one please do, but also please let me know.

I know you are all busy. A training programme for remote teaching is running every week, as is a whole raft of digital skills training for staff and students. Our copyright teams have added new guidance for copyright in remote teaching. Our graphic designers are discussing ways to make posters, stickers and signage for a socially distanced campus.

We are recruiting Learning Technology Support Officers, if you know anyone who might be interested https://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/CAB451/learning-technology-support-officer  Knowledge of the university, of LTW and of the technologies we use would be a bonus.

We are continuing to get regular updates from Gavin and all-staff emails from the Principal. On 26th May I’ve organised for VP Colm Harmon to meet with the university learning technology community to share his thinking about the way forward for semester 1. If you consider yourself to be a learning technologist and would like to join the meeting you are most welcome,  Laura will be sending out a meeting invitation soon.

You all know that there is online training in health and safety, bribery and corruption, bullying and harassment, equality and diversity for you to do. If you still haven’t done your mandatory training and you have teenagers at home, why not get them to work through it with you and use it as a home-schooling teachable moment about what its like to work in a behemoth.

Best wishes, stay safe.

Director, LTW.

Friday 22nd May

Selected fish and chip shops re-open in Edinburgh.

Dear All,

Well done for surviving another week at home.  Nice to see you keeping busy:

Callum tells us about the work involved in UNCOVER:


Duncan tells us about his art projects:


and the Tab tells us what is going on:


Even in lockdown, LTW is still winning:  <secret until it is announced> on Friday, June 5, 2020, so don’t tell anyone until then.

We told the students we were recruiting interns and more than 100 of them applied to work with Learn Foundations one the summer. This is an amazing response and an exiting opportunity to show how we can work with students to co-create this new hybrid offering of (h)ours. 

We told the world about our online programmes and applications to PG OL degrees are up 21% on same time last year.

We told our academic colleagues about teaching online and another 400 of them are going to start to learn more in June.

We told our academic colleagues about making video and they told us they need an additional six media production studios around the campus!

We want to tell our new students everything we can about how to be successful as hybrid leaners so we are making courses to support them in 4 broad areas:

  • Getting started including intro to the Universities digital spaces/environments and interacting online
  • Digital Study skills
  • Digital Literacy and the online libraries
  • Digital Wellbeing and support

All told, not a bad week.

It was Mental Health Awareness Week this week, I am sure you are aware. Be kind to yourselves.

Best wishes, stay safe.


Director, LTW.

Friday 29th May

Dragons Den.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week at home. Today is the last day of the semester.  Thank you to all of you for adapting well and working so hard to ensure that students can complete their studies.

As the easing of the first lockdown begins, discussions about how and when the campus will reopen are happening across the University. It is hard to imagine what the new normal will be.

In the meantime, we must wave goodbye to 6 of our student digital skills trainers who leave us to spend their summers and future careers in new and exciting ways.  The Digital Skills Team are working with the Careers Service to think about what online support can be offered to graduates seeking work and attending interviews online.

On Monday we welcome 20 new student interns to help deliver the Learn Foundations project. They will be part of an important project to work alongside our returning students to shape the reality of how the hybrid model of teaching will work in September. Thank you to those of you who were able to join me on Tuesday to hear Colm Harmon, VP Students talk about his hopes for the coming semester, I think it was clear from what he said that he understands how vital our services are to delivering that.

The range of activities in LTW continues to be as impressive as ever.

The findings and recommendations from our ISG Equality and Diversity survey will finally be presented to Directors next week. It has been bumped several times. Additionally, Lilinaz is beginning a thematic analysis of the feedback and questions which come in from ISG staff during Gavin’s All-Staff meeting.   You will have seen our LTW all-staff meeting diary date in June going into your diaries. Any thoughts on what we should do at that meeting happily received.

Have a lovely weekend, stay safe and don’t forget to wear sunscreen.


Director, LTW.

Friday 5th June


Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week when the world is going crazy.

Welcome to our new colleagues. In addition to our 20 Learn Foundations interns in LTW, I am pleased to say Kevin has persuaded each of the 3 Colleges to take a bunch of interns each to work on Learn support directly in the Schools.  This is important because the more we can support students by offering paid employment opportunities at the moment, the better and the more we involve students in co-creating their learning environments, the better.

You’ve been busy purchasing, testing and recommending remote desktop filming kit to standardise quality of media outputs.  You have been presenting at online conferences and winning international awards. You are supporting the operational setup of new temporary media studios across campuses along with establishing the workflows and staffing for these new resources. Guidance videos and materials are being created to support staff to prepare and film remotely. You are reviewing the edtech landscape to find new solutions for online assessment. You are supporting homeworking and making sure everyone has the kit they need for the long haul.  You are updating your skills and learning to become Edweb editors. Use of our LinkedIn Learning service has increased significantly since lockdown began. You have run 3 ABC ‘train the trainer’ workshops this week, with 46 attendees who are learning technologists and course leads from across the institution. The Final Assessment for the Predictive Analytics MicroMasters has now started and the Business School Chatbot has now been fully signed off and ready to go in August.

You continue to blog about work, working from home and what’s going on for you:



It is Pride month and we have resources and events going on



The University has issued a statement about the George Floyd killing and this has re-awakened some wider discussions about the experiences of Black and Ethnic Minority students and staff.


After a wee nudge, colleagues in Centre for Research Collections have released more Teams backgrounds from the archives.

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/crc/collections/meeting-backgrounds-from-the-collection/56/ECA Photographs

My mission to attract more people into careers as learning technologists continues, and we have another LTW alumna success, as Daisy Mickleson has finished her time as an intern with the Digital Skills team and secured a job as a learning technologist in School of Literature, Languages and Culture.

Applications to online PG degrees are up 30% as of 1 June (compared to 1 June 2019) and the alumni 20% discount has been confirmed for all years of study ,which is good. Our  website is now updated. The discount applies to online and campus PG degrees. Tell all your friends.

Remember to follow all the news on  @UoE_LTW  and ISG on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/university-of-edinburgh-information-services-group

Please do keep your IS News stories coming through to Kevin https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/about/news

Best wishes, stay safe, take care, be a lert and wear a face covering as appropriate.


Dir. LTW

Friday 12th June

Canal pleasures.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week.

Our annual VLE rollover is underway, you’ve been working on mechanisms for deleting old course sites and long-gone users to ensure we are compliant with data protection regulations.   We are moving Learn to Blackboard’s Continuous Delivery Option (CDO). This will provide monthly updates to Learn meaning that bug fixes will be available more quickly and these updates will not require any downtime. We’ve seen a 65% increase in active users of our PebblePad eportfolios and we have 20 Schools/Deaneries signed up as part of our Learn Foundations project. We have seven ISG colleagues on ‘learning assignments’ working on the accessibility review of content and another seven doing subtitling, for around 80 hours per week. 100 people from around the World attended Ewan’s online event about using Wikipedia in teaching.

New services are being launched across ISG. The EdWeb and MyEd teams worked to support the launch of ‘EdHelp’ and keep your eyes peeled for new services for ‘online events’, ‘zoom parties’ and ‘apps everywhere’.

You’ve done yet another really impressive piece of work to establish a co-ordinated learning design service to support hybrid courses in Learn. I’ve always suspected that learning design was key to delivering learning technologies at this institution, I’m glad we have such an excellent team across LTW and the Schools, and that people are able to give time, even when everything is so busy. Thank you to Jon, Ryan, Tracey, Neil, Brendan, Meredith, Lizzie, Graeme, Alison and Lorraine. https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/learning-design/abc/course-design-for-uncertain-times

Our Blackboard Catalyst Award for Student Experience win got a mention in Gavin’s CIO update and Gavin has called out for contributions to the next ISG newsletter with an equality, diversity and inclusion theme, please do send him your ideas.

Vicki and Lilinaz started pulling together an anti-racist reading list. Reading lists are complex things in themselves, particularly when works of fiction get mixed in with books on politics, policy and history.  If you have suggestions about books which you think should be on a reading list for ISG, perhaps with an EDI /tech or learning angle, please let them know.

On the topic of reading:

Kevin will invite you all to prepare PechaKucha lightning talks for the LTW staff day. Don’t be shy.

Have a lovely, socially distanced weekend.


Dir, LTW

Friday 19th June

Just before the haar hit.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week working from home, and welcome to even more of our LTW student interns, thank you for joining us, we are happy and lucky to have you.

As ever, you have been busy:

The Learn Foundations work continues at pace, we are rolling over Schools as fast as possible in order that academic colleagues can start to build their courses for the new semester.

The second run of our CoViD MOOC is open now for enrolments. https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/about/news/covid-19-critical-care-online-course This course includes an option for learners to purchase a certificate of completion. The income which comes to the University through sale of these certificates will be donated to charity.


The third run of our ‘Edinburgh Model for Teaching Online’ is ready to start with 400 staff on it and our training sessions for using learning technology tools continue to run every week.

We are back in conversations with the ‘Book MOOC’ teams to prepare our ‘How to Read a Novel’ course in conjunction with the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the James Tait Black Awards for 2020. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/how-to-read-a-novel

Our Learning Design service teams have been working in partnership with school learning technologists and have created a rapid ABC learning design approach based on the model initially adapted for DLAS courses. New online workshops have been designed and toolkits produced which increase capacity for learning design for hybrid teaching. https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/learning-design/abc/course-design-for-uncertain-times. The hybrid design app has already been played more than 1,000 times.

There are a number of units across the University who run training sessions for staff and students, L&D, H&S, Careers, etc. Our Digital Skills team have produced a guide to support UoE training providers with transitioning to training in online environments and designing online training.  https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/help-consultancy/is-skills/programmes-courses-and-toolkits/creating-online-training-guidance

Members of our LTW team have been attending and presenting at Open Apereo #openapereo and University of Edinburgh Learning and Teaching Conference ‪#uoeltconf20  Please do share with your colleagues what you learned.

If you have watched everything on Netflix and Amazon don’t forget we also have:

Enjoy your midsummer weekend.


Dir. LTW

Friday 26th June

Remains of the day.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week working from home.  There is light at the end of the tunnel, as the campus seems to be slowly opening back up. Just in time for an institution-wide ‘working from home experience survey’.

As the buildings start to re-open keep your eye out for messages from Gavin about the return to a new normality and get ready to return those library books. There are 53,000 of our books trapped in people’s homes and we need them back. All fines are forgiven.

Thank you to all our brief colleagues who joined LTW during lockdown to help with subtitling and Learn and now must return to their main jobs on the front line in the libraries and receptions.

Thank you to all of you who prepared posters for the Learning and Teaching Conference, you can see them here:


and thank you in advance to those who are preparing presentations for our LTW all-staff meeting, we are a friendly audience looking forward to trying out the logistics of a big group meeting in Teams.

If you missed our staff reading group on online shaming, I won’t name you here, but please do join us for the next group meeting in July to discuss anti-racism and the intersections between race and technology.


Some letters have arrived on my virtual desk for those of you who have been awarded lump sums in the annual round of reward and recognition. If you get a letter, thank you again for your hard work and don’t spend it all at once.

Stay safe,


Dir LTW.

Friday 2nd July

Thistle do nicely.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week working from home. It was great to see so many of you at the LTW all-staff meeting on Tuesday.

In a spare moment please do help Mary by completing her user survey to gather all good data which feeds directly into the design of the MyEd interface.  It’s a quick and easy task, and should take no more than 10 minutes.  To take part, click the link and follow the instructions: https://edin.ac/2YGuYCQ

If you haven’t done it yet please also complete the working from home survey. https://edinburgh.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/uoe-working-from-home-experience-survey We are particularly interested to know how the experience has been different for different types of people, young and old, parents and carers etc and it will help with planning how we organise our teams and services for the future.

Some of our services have been even busier and more critical than usual. You have been writing new code to make tasks easier for Schools, helping with higher-levels of enquiries and calls than normal, and keeping the services up-and-running. We are planning lots of work over the coming months to keep the Schools happy. If you are a School rep, your role is more important than ever.

If you are preparing to come back on to campus to staff our frontline services, please be reassured that we are taking this seriously and your line managers will have discussions with you about heath and safety.

Some other things that have been keeping you busy:

Now that the 5 mile travel limit has been lifted we are all free to head to the mountains.  Enjoy your weekend.



Friday 10th July

oh, you skies.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week working from home. A special thank you to those who have ventured back to campus to open up facilities and media studios.  No long message from me this week as I’m on annual leave, just a note to update you on the VR headset witty caption competition.

The winner from LTW is Delia  in the Learning Spaces Technology team for her suggestion:  ‘You’re virtually here now!’  Congratulations, Delia!

These headsets combine with a smartphone to allow use of 360 and VR content. Headsets will initially be distributed with welcome week content: VR tours so students can get a feel for the campus; social apps and team building games for students to meet course mates and get to know new friends etc.  Once they’re with students the headsets are theirs to keep, opening up the opportunity for teaching staff to make use of VR content in their courses confident in the knowledge that their students will have the tools to access this kind of material from home.   If you are interested in this kind of project, please do contact  in the UCreate Studio. The design has been created by Luisa , one of the UCreate student interns.

Have lovely weekends,


Dir LTW.

Friday 16th July

Mermaid in a mask.

Dear All,

Well done for another week.  I hope you will be able to enjoy an email-free day tomorrow. This week we are welcoming Jess Gramp to our team, and on Monday our two new interns from Napier University will join us and find things strangely quiet.

If you are looking for something to read on a quiet day, Karen has blogged her reflections on her first six months as our Head of DLAM.  https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/khowie/2020/06/30/where-do-i-start/

As part of our partnership with Wikimedia UK we have run 222 training sessions. We’ve trained 1,151 students, 516 staff and 432 members of the public to edit Wikipedia. They have created 793 new articles and improved 2,752. Hannah has blogged about her first week as our Wikimedia Training Intern. https://blog.wikimedia.org.uk/2020/07/wikimedia-training-intern/

Lilinaz has our reading group lined up to discuss the intersection of technology and race. Please do join us.

Thank you to all who completed the staff working from home survey. We had an 80% return from LTW which ensures that your views and experiences get heard.

If you like a survey, there’s another one here from the UCreate team asking for suggestions on which maker workshops they should run for staff and students. https://edinburgh.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ucreate-online-workshops

On the subject of surveys, the 2020 National Student Survey finds 85% of Scottish universities’ students were satisfied with the quality of their course. The ISG-related questions have improved at Edinburgh. ‘resources and facilities support my learning well’ – 82.28% up from 80.49% last year, ‘Library resources’ 87.51 up to 88.53% and ‘course specific resources, equipment, facilities, software, collections’ 87.71 to 88.29%.  I think we can claim that as a result for LTW!    Thank you all for your hard work.

Stay safe,


Dir, LTW

Friday 24th July


Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week. You’ve been busy.

  • Members of our teams have been at Drupalcon and BBWorld conferences.
  • Welcome to Marek Golebiewski and Pilar Rodriguez Perez our >new team members from Napier and Laurie, Craig and Mari-Nikol ,our new media producers who have joined us to open up the pop-up studios.
  • The Web and Comms Technology team had a socially distanced meet-up in the Meadows to welcome new colleagues who have joined us working from home.
  • There is new training for you to do: “Home Working 2020″ and “Returning to the University Estate 2020” are designed to keep you safe. https://www.ed.ac.uk/health-safety/training/e-learning/cardinus/covid19-training
  • Emma Carroll and Laura Rose Wood, jointly won Wikimedia UK’s Up-and-coming Wikimedians of 2020 at the WikimediaUK AGM.
  • Kate Yee and her teams have opened up the media studios spaces https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/more/teaching-continuity/media-studios
  • Lauren Johnston-Smith  and Emma Charlesworth have  launched a mini series of ‘mythbusting’ films – 4 x <1 minute films which blow away those negative ideas that naysayers have about what online learning is. The first film is live now: https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/1_jtu5t14s 
  • We now have our anti-racist reading list which includes several suggestions for books which are relevant to our work in technology, and some novels https://eu01.alma.exlibrisgroup.com/leganto/public/44UOE_INST/lists/26314230440002466?auth=SAML
  • If you would like to interrogate the staff survey data here’s a link. Contact Lilinaz Rouhani if you have questions or suggestions on how the data can be presented.  https://app.powerbi.com/Redirect?action=OpenApp&appId=35799c3a-0597-4585-95d9-e491ceff9643&ctid=2e9f06b0-1669-4589-8789-10a06934dc61
  • If you like novels, our course with the Edinburgh International Book Festival is now on. On the course you’ll discover four of the main building blocks of modern fiction: plot, characterisation, dialogue, and setting using examples from a range of texts including the four novels shortlisted for the 2020 James Tait Black fiction prize. You’ll also explore the formal strategies authors use, how they came to be, and how they affect us as readers. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/how-to-read-a-novel
  • Remember that Edinburgh alumni get a discount on online PG degrees, tell all your friends.
  • If you would like to be part of an LTW bake-off, contact Lorraine Spalding.
  • Best wishes to Stewart Cromar, we hope you will be well and back with us soon.

Stay safe,

Dir, LTW

Friday 31st July

Let it bee.

Dear All,

Well done as ever, and particularly good wishes to those who have carved themselves out some holiday time in spite of being so busy. This week and next we welcome more colleagues back from furlough so that we can get all hands on deck.

Please join me on Monday at 3pm, we have another audience with VP Colm Harmon and a chance to talk together about preparations for semester 1, which is approaching fast!

Kevin spotted that Google have named their new high-end transatlantic data cable after Grace Hopper, which is totally copying us since we named our finest media services (Media Hopper) after her, years ago. It is clear that many colleagues are having no problem getting hands-on with Media Hopper. We’ve had 4,262 uploads in June and 3,458 in July. That’s up 356% from last year. Our collection of lecture recordings is also proving popular. As expected, the number of captures (recordings) dropped in June, but views were approximately 3x higher than the same month last year. We are only 15,000 views away from 1 million views in this academic year.

Andy has made a video about how much you love Linkedin Learning https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/1_trs8853w

Nicola Sturgeon has set our distancing at 2m so there is a lot of work to configure buildings. It seems likely that DHT will be repurposed as a study space centre, and Estates are building temporary structures in Bristol Square for Welcome Week to annoy the skateboarders. No news yet on the return of the food trucks and Prosecco bars.

Get well soon to Charlie, our playful engagement maven, who has broken some bones playing out, and happy #SysAdminDay to all who keep our systems running.

Have a lovely weekend and fingers crossed it is sunny where you are.

Dir, LTW

Friday 7th August


Dear All,

Well done for another week.

Thank you to all of you who volunteered to help with Clearing.

Special welcome to new colleagues who have joined us this week, some of whom you already know: Dave, Candice, Lee-Ann, Rebecca, Alan, Robyn, Edward and Maz, and best wishes to all those who have family members with exam results and fresh stationery supplies ready for the return to school.

I hope you have your questions ready for the Principal because you are all invited to his Town Hall Meeting.https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/staff/2020/invitation-to-staff-town-hall-session

You can submit your questions about COVID here:  https://www.ed.ac.uk/usher/news-events/covid-19-webinars/students-ask-covid-19

Stuart, Jess and Nikki have been wrangling our platform partners ( EdX, Coursera and FutureLearn) and fingers crossed we’ll have some  new ‘bundled’ packages of free, open, massive online courses to announce soon.  Arthur and Billy have been building a much-needed new website for the UCreate Studio.

Coming up soon is the Association of Learning Technologists’ summer summit online https://altc.alt.ac.uk/summit2020/ If you would like to attend online, please ask your line manager. University of Edinburgh is an active partner in ALT, we host conferences and events and we encourage staff to gain CMALT accreditation. If you are a CMALT holder and you would like to be added to this list, of CMALTers please let me know.https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/more/professional-development/uoe-cmalt-holders

If you are considering doing CMALT, please discuss it with your line manager. One of the nice things about getting CMALT is that it gives you some additional post-nominal letters which you can add to your EdWeb profile. If you would like to update your EdWeb profile, please do. Here’s how: https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/pages/viewpage.action?spaceKey=edweb&title=Profile+page

If you are in Edinburgh or you have a ‘high vantage point’ don’t forget to spot ‘My Light Shines On’ at 9.30pm on Saturday https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/aug/03/edinburgh-sky-to-be-lit-up-for-launch-of-international-festival

Have  lovely weekend. Stay away from Aberdeen.


Dir, LTW.

Friday 14th August

Look North.

Dear All,

Well done for surviving another week. I hope you all remained watertight during that epic storm and now have internet back up and running.

Today is 14th August and Welcome Week begins one month from now.  Always nice to see algorithms as a top national news story.

It is great to be able to keep many of our LF interns with us for an additional few weeks as we brace for a last push on getting all materials ready for the start of teaching.  Congratulations to all of you who presented your Edinburgh Award Employ.Ed Final Presentations. Excellent presentations and so many creative ways that you have achieved your development goals. It sounds like we have turned you all into Excel experts and accessibility evangelists and you are the only people who actually know what DRPS stands for, thank you Ruby. There’s no doubt that your work has contributed to making a difference for the University and nice to see Thomasina achieving a hat trick.

Congratulations also to the 84 UoE staff and students who completed Tracy’s ‘Developing your Data Skills Programme’ from home. Amazing tenacity shown and superb individual data projects.

Congratulations to the media teams for some lovely new webpages advertising the new media studios for all https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/onlinecourse-production/media-production/studio

We’ve been running a lot of training during lockdown in LTW we have run 271 sessions since the start of lockdown and we are scheduling nearly another 300 sessions for semester 1. We are training academic colleagues everyday to ensure they can use all our best learning technology tools. Our CIO referred to us as ‘a godsend’ which is nice. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/membership/stories/rapidly-up-skilling-staff-in-lockdown-11-aug-2020#

We are always researching new technology solutions (Myles has blogged about online proctoring https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/mylesblaney/online-proctoring-chicken-or-egg/ ) and presenting our work. There is a call for papers at Open Education Conference if anyone is interested: https://openeducationconference.org/2020/call-for-proposals

If you feel like you haven’t strayed far from your house for a while why not explore our city with a Curious Edinburgh tour http://curiousedinburgh.org/  we have hosted Curious Edinburgh for a couple of years and it really is a lovely thing.

Have a lovely weekend.


Dir, LTW

Friday 20th August

Dear All,

Well done for another week working from home.  As per Nicola Sturgeon ,’working from home remains the default position’.  Despite this, our AV fit-out teams are back on campus, rapidly fitting AV and IT into the spaces that time forgot. Our captioning robots are working their little digits off, typing up subtitles for video content, and people all over the university are getting freaked out by turning on the ’together’ mode in Teams. It’s all good practice for the start of term.

James has blogged about inheriting a pre-loved service https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/sliceoflearning/2020/08/14/service-inheritance/

Lauren has blogged about being on the front line at clearing https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/ede/2020/08/19/on-the-frontline-for-clearing/

I’ve been watching more Edinburgh Award presentations, lovely reflections from Hannah on working from home and managing distractions.

Its lovely to see the Preparing for Study and LibSmart courses on Learn. Excellent work from Lizzy, Marcello and Vicki. Nice also to see Andrew presenting at the Apps Lunchtime Seminar on Teams.

I hope to see some of you at the ISG reading group for a discussion of mental health.

Friday 28th August

Dear All,

Well done for working another week at home.  As you might suspect, the University is considering possibly thinking about making a plan for what we would have to do if we went  ‘back into lockdown’. I’d be interested to hear any thoughts you have about things LTW would do differently next time.

In the meantime, ISG is offering 70 ‘how-to’ sessions to new students. https://www.ed.ac.uk/students/new-students/online-information-sessions/ug-online-sessions 40 of those are being run by you in LTW, online.

With a focus on care, Stratos and his team have been doing great work on the student wellbeing project, conducting a 3 month qualitative research project exploring student experiences around health and wellbeing.  We wanted to learn how we might prevent the less severe problems students experience from escalating to more complex problems and associated support.

The semester 1 study support courses are ready to go.  Our Student Ambassadors are being trained to support and moderate the discussion boards for the centrally managed ‘Preparing to Study’ course.

Tracey is ready to launch her Learn course on inclusion, accessibility and universal design and Jenni’s team have launched their ‘Working from Home’ digital skills toolkit  http://www.ed.ac.uk/is/staff-remote-working-toolkit  .

Vicki has explained digital citizenship to all of ISG and Lesley’s teams are getting to grips with the teaching space operational plan.

Our chatbot is working on the Business School website. Is this really the university of Edinburgh’s first chatbot? The bot provides answers to the most common questions that the admissions team receive via email.

As the University phases out the name of the David Hume Tower, I have been reading the Wikipedia pages about George Square and the Dundas Riots. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Square,_Edinburgh  Anyone can edit.  If you have spare time I understand there is work to be done on the Scots Wikipedia. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/aug/26/shock-an-aw-us-teenager-wrote-huge-slice-of-scots-wikipedia  Ewan and Hannah can show you how.

Have a lovely weekend,


Dir, LTW


Friday 4th September

Nice weather for ducks.

Dear All,

Well done for surviving another week of work. Special mention to the Media Hopper teams who are having a rocky time. With everyone going back to school and uni in  the UK and USA the internet is taking a battering and our many colleagues who have left it until this week to upload their video materials are feeling the strain.   Hold on tight as we hurtle towards the start of term. Thank you to those who are providing extra cover for Helpline and the logistical challenges of study spaces.  Sympathise with the LST teams while they test a variety of cleaning unguents on their delicate equipment. Marvel at the tumbleweed in the media studios. Reflect on what we have learned.

Great to see the Carlyle Circle website going live. The ‘how to’ sessions continue a pace, the new Digital Skills programme is in place. Learn Foundations is looking tip top. The professional certificate in Digital Marketing is open for enrolment, as are myriad MOOCs and the study support courses in Learn. Thank you to all who have done your ADRs, SEP data and mandatory training, they may seem like a faff to you, but it we all know that organisations this size are powered by these details.

Before you go out for your walk this weekend, check out ‘Wiki Loves Monuments’ its got an interactive map of listed buildings etc which have no picture on wikimedia. There’s loads and its easy to upload from your phone. https://wlmuk.toolforge.org/#/q/Q23436d  From where I’m sitting it seems to need basically every large house in south west Edinburgh and all kinds of asylums, poorhouses, churches and merchant schools . If you have a good eye, you could even win a prize.  Never let it be said that we are not competitive.  Scotland uploaded 300+ images in 2016. That rose to 2,100 in 2017 with 1,351 of those uploaded by staff at the University of Edinburgh. In 2018, Scotland smashed it with 4,411 images uploaded. You know what to do. https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/wir/2019/09/

Have a good weekend,


Dir, LTW

Friday 11 September

Send in the clowns.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week. Thank you to all of you who have helped to shore up Media Hopper Create this week, I know the teams have been up all night.  Karen had a call with the Kaltura Executive and gave them her best hard stare. They hung their heads in shame. Unclear whether it is fixed yet though.  Thank you also to Lorraine for rapid comms work, and to all the teams fielding questions about the relative merits of Collaborate, Teams, Streams and Zoom for teaching. Thank you to Stratos’ teams for picking up another piece of last minute work from the apps.ed service and to Neil for his persistence and patience with the virtual classroom recording policy.

Our colleagues have now launched more .ED services. To join book.ed, Seat.ed, discover.ed etc. Any further suggestions for for past participle service names are welcome.

Please follow ISG on linkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/company/university-of-edinburgh-information-services-group and if you are a student looking for part time work remember to register with Unitemps https://www.unitemps.com/Edinburgh-homepage

Please join us at the next ISG reading group on the 24th September. We will be discussing the dark side of classification systems. Those of you who grew up with the Dewey Decimal system in your school library will be shocked.  Contact Lilinaz to find out more.  https://teams.microsoft.com/l/channel/19%3acaa54f30849a429db1ae4c1489cf1bbd%40thread.tacv2/General?groupId=bdd45b33-1c61-49e0-8ea7-92efded6abe2&tenantId=2e9f06b0-1669-4589-8789-10a06934dc61

Join Duncan’s network of humans to talk about user experiences.


If you have been into town, or been doing cartwheels in the Meadows,  you will have seen the prefabs sprouting in Bristo Square. These are self proclaimed ‘scandi-style’ hang-outs for students, but remember not to hygge anyone who is not in your social bubble.

Have a good weekend,


Dir, LTW

Friday 18th September

Keepers of fully trained bees.

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

The start of term could be a bit rocky. But remember, as Douglas Adams said ‘It’s not the Fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop’, so we just have to keep moving, keep pushing through.

Dates for your diary: We have declared Ada Lovelace Day this year to be Tuesday 13th October. Please do get your thinking caps on for fun hybrid things we can do. The much talked about deadline for public sector organisations to make all existing websites accessible is 23 September Get your accessibility good news stories ready. Tonight is the start of Jewish new year and I am happy to judge your honeycake baking efforts.

The new website for Apps.ed looks gorgeous,https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/computing/desktop-personal/apps-ed/using-apps-ed  great work by Callum and team. As does the new video about the media studios https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/1_gm9crazm , great work by Kate and team.

Media Hopper seems to have reached a level of calm. Despite the hurdles in their way, colleagues have successfully uploaded 8300 media items and made 5000 captioning requests since the 1st of September.  We now have 92,995  items in Media Hopper Create. That’s on top of the 63,000 items we have in our Replay Lecture recording system. That’s a huge collection of home grown, born digital content. Worth shouting about. Well done.  3470 of the items in Media Hopper have the open, creative commons licences on them. If you have ideas how to encourage  more colleagues to choose that  option to make their materials open educational resources (OER) for others to use, that will help the university towards its commitment to the UN sustainable development goals  https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/Once Media Hopper had recovered, both Learn and MyEd started demanding attention. To say nothing of Collaborate. We are going to need to be alert to all kinds of strange behaviour as hybrid delivery kicks in in earnest.

I went for my evening walk  last night to check out the campuses. The new social spaces are nearly built. The students are partying hard and the university is threatening them with fines and rustication. As a primer on what happens when you put young people in a place where partying is banned, I recommend the 1984 classic ‘Footloose’.

Grab some sunshine and have a good weekend,


Dir, LTW

Friday 25th September

Enough said.

Dear All,

Week 1 has passed. Treat yourself to something this evening.

We had a wee blip with Learn on Monday, but I don’t think anyone noticed and we totally got away with it.

You’ll have seen the news from our university and others about CoViD19 cases and clusters in student halls. https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/students/2020/new-covid-19-restrictions  If they all get locked down in their rooms its going to be a fairly grim environment for learning, so anything we can do to support teaching and learning digitally will be a help. I know that you all know we make a huge contribution to this university being the best university it can be.

In the face of further crisis, the university is modelling a range of emergency business continuity plans including  a lock-down of student halls, a ransom-ware attack and/or a union strike. Please make sure you have your business continuity plans clear in your teams.

In inclusion news, the public sector Accessibility Regulations came into force this week. We’ve been working all year across our web estate to prepare: training dozens of web practitioners, writing hundreds of accessibility statements, testing tens of thousands of pages. Jon has blogged: blogs.ed.ac.uk/website-communications/the-accessibility-drive-updates-and-resources/

We have around 10% of matriculated NEW students enrolled on the Prep courses in Learn, 7% on the LibSmart one  and 19% on the PGT course.  Numbers could be better so please do promote through any channels you have. Remind everyone about Box of Broadcasts and the movie collections too. There ’s not going to be a lot to do if the pubs are out of bounds.

This is the last weekend to win WikiLovesMonuments. It’s easy to take part, just look at this map https://wlmuk.toolforge.org/,  zoom in on your house and marvel at how many listed buildings there are on your street. Snap a picture with your phone ( with due regard to privacy of your neighbours) and upload them.

Have a good weekend,  Stay safe.


Dir, LTW

Friday 2nd October

Dear All,
Well done for another week.
We are seeing some huge numbers of usage across our systems and across our helpline first and second line call handling. Thank you to all of you who are delivering these key learning and teaching services to the university. We couldn’t do it without you.
Thanks to our ‘major incident’ and ‘out of hours’ response teams  (particularly Karen, Marc, Mark, Liam, Stephen, Stephannie, Joe, Mary, Stratos and Duncan) the only causalities  this week were a slight dent to user confidence and an overcooked bolognese.
You are keeping busy:

The Principal has sent you a particular message which he asked to be passed on to professional services teams.

Dear Colleagues

Just a few lines from me are inadequate to describe the respect and gratitude that I have for all of your efforts to support our University community as we collectively navigate the unprecedented pandemic and all its implications. I am fully aware of the scale and pace of the tasks that you have confronted, that you all have “day-jobs” to do as well as many complicated challenges brought by working remotely, and that you all share a deep and impressive commitment to the vision and mission of our University. There is an inevitable tendency for the small number of items that “fall thought the cracks” in such situations to receive a disproportionate amount of attention, and we have all seen and been injured by coverage of “errors” or “failures”. These mask the much higher number of “successes” and examples of a job very well done in extraordinarily challenging circumstances. Our Communications colleagues are aiming to publicise the evidence that we have got far more right than we have got wrong, that everyone is doing their best, and that we are learning from our experience so that we can make things even better. Please convey my sincere thanks and appreciation to each of your teams. The University of Edinburgh is full of talented and committed people, and together I am confident that we will overcome the present challenges. l am proud of you all. Thank you.

With best regards,


Have a good weekend,


Dir, LTW

Friday 9th October

Frederick Douglass returns to Edinburgh for Black History Month.

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

Welcome to Arifah who has joined us (taking over from Vrinda) to manage our LinkedIn presence.

The First Minister has binned all our pubs and started a national debate over the definition of café.

The University Secretary, Sarah Smith has made it clear that ‘We will continue to deliver hybrid learning and teaching as we are currently doing’.

Across the UK other universities have suffered serious outages of their VLEs and lecture recording services this week and we can feel sympathy for them. They are also seeing rising numbers of Covid cases and criticism of how they are feeding their students in halls.

If you would like to help reinforce the key public health messages following the recent tightening of restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 you can find downloadable assets on the University’s Covid-19 SharePoint page: Public health assets which you can use on your social media channels.  Nicky is working with CAM to create some graphic designs to help students interpret the changing guidelines.

Tomorrow is #WorldMentalHealthDay collated health and wellbeing resources for staff are available if you need them https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/covid-19/staff/support-and-guidance/health-and-wellbeing

It’s black history month https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2020/black-history-month-marks-10th-anniversary and Ada Lovelace Day https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/ada-lovelace-day/ and an area double the size of the UK is needed to feed ISG pets. https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2020/area-twice-size-of-uk-needed-to-feed-worlds-pets

Attendance on campus is down, but matriculated student numbers for online learning are up. 1,629 new online PG students, compared to 1,296 last year. This is the first time CMVM have over 1000 new online students. Join Lauren to find out how the University ran its first Uni-wide online learning advertising campaign and what our plans are for 2021 recruitment. https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=43569

6,028 new learners joined our ‘Introduction to Philosophy’ MOOC last week. 2,000 joined ‘Fundamentals of Music Theory’. 3200 University of Edinburgh staff and students are blogging. James has blogged about blogs.ed https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/sliceoflearning/2020/09/23/more-about-blogs-ed-and-plugins/ Triin describes the experience of successfully training staff on the use of Learn https://www.teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk/roads-bridges-and-roadmaps-building-courses-on-learn/

For those of you who combine artistic and anatomical knowledge there’s a pumpkin carving competition for you https://anatomynights.com/competition/ although it is a pumpkin competition, any vegetable will be acceptable.

Thank you for your many suggestions on what we can do for our LTW festive celebrations in December, the senior management team are taking them under consideration.

Stay safe, have a lovely weekend,


Dir, LTW

Friday 16th October

I took some annual leave.

Friday 23rd October

Pastoral care.

Dear All,

Well done for another week.  Now that we are getting some more clarity about people and money for this year I am very pleased that we have been able to extend contracts for some more of our team including Martin, India, Pil, Claudia, Emma, Joan, Mateusz and Vicki.  Keep up the good work.

Our community continue to pound our bandwidth. Edinburgh students watched 8 million minutes of media hopper content in September, and presumably millions more on netflix, youtube, amazon, BoB etc. In terms of broadband Edinburgh has been assessed as the best place in the country for working from home. https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/news/article/13002/edinburgh-named-best-place-in-scotland-to-work-from-home which must be painful for those of you living in Fife.

Our captioning robots continue to amuse and frustrate staff and students in equal measure with their strange interpretation of academic concepts. I suspect there’s a piece of creative art or digital humanities research to be done by someone using this data.

If you have spare time in your day to read, I recommend the EDUCAUSE 2020 Student Technology Report which includes key findings from analysis of over 16,000 students’ responses https://library.educause.edu/resources/2020/10/2020-student-technology-report-supporting-the-whole-student.

If you have spare time in your workload on 12th November, ask your manager if you can participate in this eduHack event ‘to design practices, applications, or digital spaces that might potentially enhance our distributed campus in a way that draws together our cohorts and surfaces our diversity’. https://digieduhack.com/en/edinburgh-edinhack-digieduhack-at-the-university-of-edinburgh

Stay in touch with what’s going on via the Myles and Michael learning technology podcasts: https://media.ed.ac.uk/channel/M%26M+Podcast/134395031

Please join us at our next ISG Reading Group in three weeks time at 12:30pm on Wednesday, 11 November. We’ll discuss precarity in higher education and inter-generational experiences of economic instability.

Please take a moment to admire the work Geoff and Calum have done by making a sustainable food security course promotional video entirely from recycled materials:  https://www.edx.org/course/sustainable-global-food-systems

We have been experiencing bad behavior from both the network (major outage on Tuesday night) and students ( warning letters and fines for hundreds at Pollock Halls). The high level battle for online learning continues as senior management make remarks about its qualities and the Unions demand it.

Scottish summertime officially ends on Sunday and the ISG knitters are gearing up for a big push.

A gaggle of damp students are planning to protest on Saturday in Bristo Square.  The network is planning to stay indoors.

Have a good weekend.


Dir, LTW

Friday  30th October

Halloween at home under lockdown.

Dear All,

Well done for another week.
I trust you are all ready with your pumpkins and turnips for socially distanced fun as per Scottish Government guising guidance? LTW has a good track record of winning the Healthy Working Lives pumpkin carving competition, so I expect to see no slacking this year.
You’ll remember that last year we created a map of historic scottish witches. Now that you are working from home, if you need to find your nearest witch here’s the map again. https://witches.is.ed.ac.uk/  It’s been updated with the most pressing data.
We are playing with the LTW twitter account to sport a spooky name for the season,  there’s still time if you have suggestions.
If you have access to a 3-d printer, you can add that special something to your Halloween costume with a range of digital skulls. https://sketchfab.com/openededinburgh
If you would like to be on telly, ITN Productions and ALT are co-producing The Future of Learning, a bespoke programme that will explore the benefits of technology to assist learning, training and development for staff, and highlighting the importance of the Edtech sector. Check out the ALT website. https://www.alt.ac.uk/news/media_releases/itn-productions-industry-news-announce-new-programme-collaboration-association
Please  join the Learning technology community channel in Teams for async chat and other forms of sharing.
Consider presenting or attending MozFest https://www.mozillafestival.org/en/get-involved/proposals/
For Black History Month we have added a BLM mural tour to Curious Edinburgh.  https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/about/news/curious-edinburgh-black-lives-matter-mural-trail
For any of you who noticed that the university renamed David Hume Tower, you might have suspected it would not be that simple.  https://studentnewspaper.org/article/when-it-comes-to-slavery-40-george-square-should-worry-us-more-than-dht
Thank you as ever for the work you do in keeping our services and systems up and running. Karen, Kevin and I have been practicing our hard stares at Blackboard and Kaltura again, but brace yourself because everyone is raising their prices.  In your teams you might consider having some discussion about how we can clear out, archive and store old content or consider moving it from places in which we pay much to places in which we pay less. Top storage ideas which spark joy are welcome.
Have a good weekend,
Dir, LTW

Friday 6th November

Dear All,
Well done on the Halloween bakes.
You may have spotted a nice guide from the Heritage Lottery Fund which has been written to support heritage organisations to get started with online learning. Pleasingly it features several examples from LTW. https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/publications/digital-guide-getting-started-online-learning
You may have spotted the University’s announcement about supporting volunteering.https://www.ed.ac.uk/local/our-community-plan  I’d be pleased to hear any examples you have of how you are doing digital volunteering.
You may also have spotted the university’s announcement about freedom of speech.  And a student recipe competition. And some extra days holiday. Clearly university comms has gone into overdrive.
Did you spot Lauren’s guest appearance in Mona Siddiqui’s Thought for the Day? https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/bulletin-magazine/2020/11/04/thought-for-the-week-4-november/
At time of writing we still don’t have a result in the US elections, personally I have been re-watching West Wing as an escape and I enjoyed this quote about our e-learning platforms: “the most costly disruptions, always happen when something we take completely for granted stops working for a minute,”  Jed Bartlet, The West Wing
Please join us for an editathon on Scotland, Slavery and Black History https://www.facebook.com/events/405385503950934/
Read the nice things people say about our media studios. https://digital.eca.ed.ac.uk/hybridteaching/production-studios-experience/
As the nights draw in, our graphic design team are on the case to create the LTW seasonal greeting card. You’ll remember that we send this out to the people across the university ( and more widely) who have given their time to help us this year as partners in our many services, projects, cunning plans and hare-brained schemes.  If you would like to update the festive card list for this year, please have a think about it in your teams. Mary has the list from last year.
Stay safe,
Dir. LTW

Friday 20th November

Dear All,
Well done for another week.  
Great to see you assembling as Lords of Misrule and Abbesses of Unreason to plan our 24 hour LTW Festive Celebration. We may need that extended break with respite days to recover.
If you are ready to do your Christmas shopping I note the craft fair is back  https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/christmas-craft-fair/ if you are missing campus, take a virtual tour  https://virtualvisits.ed.ac.uk/ remember to use the postcode checker if you find yourself in tiers https://www.gov.scot/check-local-covid-level/
You’ve been busy again, of course.  
  • Ewan has reached his first century having delivered 100 Wikipedia editathons at University of Edinburgh which is more than any other resident wikimedian ever.
  • Ryan reports that in October we ran 33 hybrid teaching staff development courses in ‘Teaching Continuity’, ‘Building Effective Courses Online’, ‘Feedback and Assessment’, ‘Building Online Communities’ and ‘Transforming Learning’.
  • Your work behind the scenes continues. We had 855,886  logins to our Pebblepad eportfolios at University of Edinburgh in September which is a big leap for that service. There are 5,000 bloggers at University of Edinburgh. We’re going to need more space to host them all.
  • Your work on the front line continues. In September you dealt with more than 1,000 calls in the unidesk queue. 9,710 sets of automated captions were requested and processed in September and continue to amuse and frustrate in equal measure. 
  • The work Callum did on the UNCOVER website has led to it winning a Chancellor’s  Award https://www.ed.ac.uk/principals-office/the-chancellors-awards/2020-chancellor-s-winners-announced
  • Your work on accessibility continues. Weprioritised linguistic accessibility during the production of our massive open online course (MOOC) Nitrogen: A Global Challengeon edX https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/online-courses/2020/11/12/linguistic-accessibility-for-short-online-courses/
  • Feel free to use a free set of printable and digital visual signs designed to help teachers, learners, and any remote participants, to communicate easily and visually during online teaching sessions and virtual meetings. https://open.ed.ac.uk/visual-communication-cards-in-arabic-and-english/
You are welcome to do the 2020 staff survey (see recent email from Sarah Smith) and if you have any friends or relatives who you think should stand as University Rector please do https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/elect-your-rector
Thank you, as ever for all your hard work.  Remember to keep fingers and toes warm when you sit for hours at a computer, I don’t want any of you getting chilblains.  Pets can be used for localised heating  and advice on knitting socks is available from LTW colleagues.
Best wishes,
Dir, LTW

Friday 27th November

I took annual leave to Give Thanks. My charity giving this year has featured Sustrans, Bletchley Park, Wikipedia and Ian Linkletter.

Friday 4th December

Walter Scott looks on while a magical Hart of Mid-Lothian struggles to break free of his wire traps.

Dear All,

Well done for another week, the end of semester 1 is clearly in sight.

Thank you to those of you who were up all night with a network outage again. Courage to those still battling with the new People and Money system.

I hope you have all signed up for our festive revel and ordered your pudding for home delivery.

Thank you to you all for the work you’ve been doing in being super helpful and making the world a better place. Nikki magicked up from nowhere a whole programme of training for CoVid testers at 2 days notice and 260 people got trained so that 1,000 students could be tested on the first day. Geoff has made a video about it: https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/t/1_ouj73hdw

Maz, Robyn, Rebecca, Alan and Edward have been presenting at UCISA conference and Maz has also raised over £600 for the Movember foundation. You can see his dance-a-day on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/mirzanathoo_adanceaday-activity-6735935951295549440-Lo2X

The Chaplaincy have released a podcast episode about Islamophobia Awareness  in which our MOOCs and Wikipedia work get a name check.https://anchor.fm/lets-talkuoe

The Interactive Content team have been helping young people to learn how to say ‘ antibodies’ and identify their supercytes super-powers https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/dlam/2020/10/08/animations-part-two/

The MOOCs team have been reviewing the MOOCs we’ve made this year. Despite what anyone might say on twitter, MOOCs are far from over https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2020/12/03/moocsalive/

The Main Library projections are ‘snowflake-like’ but also a bit like flowers.

Our friends in the uCreate Makerspace won a Times Higher.  If you don’t read the Times Higher it is worth a look, and the University has a digital subscription, so it’s free to you all. UCreate have a new website made by Arthur and Aileen to launch any moment now.

Week  after next we will see many members of LTW presenting at ALT winter wonderland. Tune in and sign up.  https://www.alt.ac.uk/events/winter-conference

Karen has been one of the ALT judges this year and a wee bird  tells me the awards will be worth watching.

I know many of you like a survey to complete. The ALT survey is open for responses now at https://go.alt.ac.uk/ALTSurvey2020 and will close on 18 Dec. You have until 9th Dec to complete the 2020 Staff Survey. The survey only takes 5 minutes to complete and is really important in helping us to make the University an even better place to work. Find it here ➡️ https://t.co/IF8Q3CGKy1 https://t.co/cdrrJftK3O

The University has launched a ‘new staff benefits portal’. It’s not really a portal, and it’s not just for new staff, but it is in time for Christmas so get your discount saving offers now.   https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/bulletin-magazine/2020/12/01/new-staff-benefits-portal/

Speaking of new staff,  being up all night and wee birds Duncan Stephen has had a baby. He may be too stunned to blog about it yet https://duncanstephen.net/category/personal/

I’ll see you on Monday at our LTW all-staff meeting.

Dir. LTW

Friday 11th December

Totally lit.

Dear All,

Just a wee Friday note because we have more things to celebrate.

On Tuesday the Principal’s Medals were announced and not only did the COviD MOOC win again, but so did the Edinburgh Model!    Well done to all, and particularly to Stuart who will collect the trophy on all our behalves ?.  You can find the medal winners here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/staff/2020/principal-s-medal-winners-2020

The Five did famously in their presentation to UCISA. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BK72kWZeuw&list=PLAbTIAWMEP4wl2oDMXG2Y5F04JI7iVZtO

The new UCreate website went live, just after I sent my last message. You can admire it here: https://www.ucreatestudio.is.ed.ac.uk/

Jon finally got Gavin to sign up to the Contract for the Web. You can read it here: https://contractfortheweb.org/

Lorraine and Mary sent out our Festive Thank You card to 350  colleagues across the University who give their time to contribute to our many endeavours. Beautifully designed by Julie, you can enjoy it here: LTW Festive Thank you 2020 (ed.ac.uk)

The LST teams got a special mention at ART Future Home/Hybrid Working meeting  for lots of good work and generally being brilliant.

And in personal news, I passed the viva for my doctorate. It was on my list of things to do before I am 50, which obviously is still MANY years away. (It’s not). You can reference it here:  https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2020/11/22/with-the-living-voice/

See you later at the LTW festive extravaganza,


Dir, LTW

Friday 18th December

As we approach the festive break, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you a safe, happy and restful holiday. We look forward to working with you in 2021. Artwork by Julie Freeman

Dear All,

That’s it. Semester over. Well done. Well played. Fantastic result. Feel free to collapse in a heap.

Unless you run any critical IT services, in which case, stay standing and have our total respect.

Stuart has blogged about his winning Christmas background https://stubot.me/virtual-elf-benefits/

WonkHe have a university corporate Christmas card quiz. https://wonkhe.com/blogs/the-great-big-wonkhe-uni-christmas-cards-quiz/ Can you guess which university sends these? Very odd choice by university number ten.

Have a lovely festive break,


Dir, LTW

Friday 8th January 2021

Dear All,

Welcome back.   I hope Santa brought you woolly socks, thermos flasks and comfy slippers because we are heading into some long dark weeks of lockdown.

Remember the LTW top tips: keep structure in your day, stay connected, get a good chair, start a new hobby, eat healthy, sing regularly and embrace elastic waistband trousers.   If you are doing a dry January I recommend not watching the news.

In recognition of the need to keep a healthy work/life balance, I do encourage managers not to send emails before 8am or after 6pm. Even though we all work different hours in our reality, I think it is important to keep some vestiges of a structured work day and notion of ‘core hours’. If you’re not sure how to delay sending your emails LinkedIn Learning video shows you how to use Delay Response in Outlook.

In recognition of our very short days I would encourage you to try to get outside in the 1 hour of actual sunlight. Take a break, or make a phone meeting and talk as you walk.  Jon and Satu can give us their best septentrional advice and we will ignore the fact that Jess is having a midsummer.

If you are struggling with the icy pavements, copy what you can from penguin cam https://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/webcams/penguin-cam/

If you think you might get scurvy, the students have some suggestions  regarding VitaminC https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/1_fyqy1aky . The last known case of scurvy in Scotland was the former Rector of Edinburgh Robin Harper, which is not a good recommendation.

LinkedIn Learning also offers videos across a range of topics to support you such as mental health, mindfulness, resilience, humour in the workplace, adjusting facial features, hooking with hooks and banjo fundamentals.

Remote Working: Setting yourself and your teams up for success learning path (collection of 13 courses)

Supporting Your Mental Health While Working from Home course (17 mins)

Building Resilience course (34 mins)

While you are hunkered down under a your tartan knee rug, I recommend the BBC Iplayer drama ‘Traces’,  https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08zhbt6  it features a MOOC production team solving a heinous murder. One of the rare depictions of learning technologists in the media. If you know of others, let’s start a list, we could publish a book.

In an attempt to give us something to look forward to,  hands up if you are interested in joining me to organise  an LTW Virtual Burns Night? A chance to share your wildest haggis trapping stories, your best neeps recipes and your whisky recommendations.  Poems, singing, fiddle/banjo paying etc welcome and if anyone has an immortal memory or toast to the lassies up their sleeve, I’d love to hear from you.

Warmest wishes,


Dir. LTW

Friday 15th January

Picture taken by me at the water’s edge. No rights reserved by me.

Dear All,

I have been holed up in a darkened cinema all week on jury duty, but I gather you have all continued to fight the good fight and make the world a better place for learning, teaching and web activities.  While I was watching justice buffering Kevin was in senior leadership meetings laying out our plans for the coming year. The context is looking a bit grim, money is tight and the heavy lifting we have been doing continues. Please help your managers by giving them all the information they need about the work you are doing and the services you are running, we have to work together to present  the solutions and support we offer as a good investment for the university.

The rules about drinking, collecting, covering and taking away are all changing again, please stay home and stay safe as much as you can. The information for students and staff is confusing again, so please be patient and sensible. Home schooling is on again. Your managers are looking at who should be furloughed, again.

If you would like to be involved in change, Rector nominations are still open https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/elect-your-rector/election-timeline  As are the Students Association Sabbatical roles  https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/yourvoice/elections/march/

You may have spotted Karen Beggs on Reporting Scotland talking about her stained glass work, a skill learned during lockdown. Skip to 23 mins https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000r8zc/reporting-scotland-evening-news-14012021 I suspect I am the proud owner of  a KB original as a result of LTW Secret Santa. If you would like one too, here’s her Folksy page: KayBee Glass on Folksy

A new LinkedIn Learning video collection is curated by our digital skills team called Students: Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

Hristo and Stewart have built a lovely pilot site for  Mapping the Scottish Reformation, Mapping the Scottish Reformation Blog – A database of the Scottish clergy, 1560 to 1689 showcasing again the potential of open technologies when deployed at scale in large humanities research projects. Data is taken from historical manuscripts and stored in Google Sheets; that data is then entered into Wikidata.  Wikidata is one of the Wikimedia stable. The most famous is Wikipedia which is celebrating its 20thbirthday today and University of Edinburgh staff and students continue to be the largest group of contributing editors from UK HE. It also looks like the LTW bakers will be getting involved in #WikiLovesCakes as part of Wikipedia 20 activities.  When you contribute to Wikipedia you are your support for the idea that knowledge should be free and that everyone should be able to contribute to and benefit from it. You can make a change today,  it’s never too late to join in . Here’s Hannah explaining how https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/1_oqke8mu3 .

If you would like to join me for our virtual Burns night on Monday 25th January,  please be ready with your favourite whisky and a poem/ song/dance by Burns or any of his contemporaries or similar Scottish music performance. Burns was prolific and one of the joys of his work is that you can find a poem or a view from him on just about anything.  If you can find his view on Brexit ‘While Europe’s eye is fix’d on mighty things’, COVID ‘Tae a virus’ , lockdown ‘Here’s friends locked doon on baith sides o’ the firth’, working from home, social distancing ‘Gin a body meet a body?’, face coverings ‘Fair fa’ your honest, covered face…’, well-being, hobbies, black lives, sourdough, furlough, home-schooling ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.’,  Teams ‘To see oursels as others see us!’ or elearning  you’ll win a fab prize.  If you can write a poem which sounds like Burns on any of those topics a prize is also coming your way.    Everyone is welcome , whether or not you want to perform.

Stay safe,


Dir, LTW

Friday 22nd January

On frozen pond.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week. Thank you for your participation in the IS All staff meeting, I hope you found it useful and interesting.

Congratulations to James Slack for his win in the international competition to bake a cake for Wikipedia’s birthday. His beautiful cake which features a design based on the ‘Women in Red’ logo wowed the judges, including TV’s Sandy Toksvig.  It was a cardamom and pistachio cake with first time fondant. The star baker said “I’m glad the cake turned out well and that it was well received! Also if anyone liked the cake but didn’t know about Wiki Women in Red, be sure to head to Wikipedia:WikiProject Women in Red – Wikipedia to find out more.”  If you would like to see the cake it is available for sharing here  File:Wiki WomenInRed Cake.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

If you like a bit of modern Scottish history, an event you may enjoy being organised by LTW in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh Staff Pride Network and the Disabled Staff Network is the HIV Scotland Wikipedia Editathon, Thu 28 Jan 2021 at 17:00 on Thursday 28th January, with special guests from HIV Scotland, to help redress the balance of information on Wikipedia and acknowledge activists and organisations that blazed a trail for HIV and AIDS awareness and treatment in Scotland. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hiv-scotland-wikipedia-editathon-tickets-135846856605

Congratulation too to the  MOOC production teams who launched two new online courses open for enrolment: Uncover important themes in the history of Christian and Muslim relations and understand the politics that continue to shape it. Christian-Muslim Relations – Theology and Politics Course – FutureLearn and Explore diagnosis and management of respiratory disease using case studies from low resource settings Diagnosing and managing chronic respiratory diseases – Online Course (futurelearn.com)

Congratulations too to the  Open Education team who won a student experience grant. The full list of student experience grants is published Autumn 2020 awards | The University of Edinburgh worth a look.  You’ll spot us down at the bottom of the list in the ‘non academic weirdos’ section.  This is the fund which has previously funded the classic LTW colouring books vols 1,11 and 111.  This year they are funding an open mooc book. If you like the graphics on the page I think I am right in remembering they were done be a previous LTW graphic design intern too.

Have a lovely weekend, and please do join us on Monday evening for a wee Burns. Bring your tartan background, recommend your favourite whisky and hear poems specially written for the occasion.  There will also be the opportunity to suggest a name for the Scottish Wildcat we have adopted ( via Edinburgh Zoo) as our LTW mascot.

Stay safe,


Dir, LTW

Friday 29th January

A drunk woman looks at a thistle.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week.

Thank you to those who attended our Virtual Burns Night (VBN) which featured beautiful music performances from Lauren (Wild Mountainside) and Lorraine ( The Silver Tassie), the suggestion  from Ewan that we all upload pictures of our haggis dinners to Wikipedia and a plan to make waulking songs the next Tik Tok sensation.  During the evening a number of  recently discovered / lost Burns manuscripts were given their first public performance. A curated selection of these are now published  https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2021/01/24/vbn/

We suggested names for the LTW Scottish wildcat which has been adopted via Edinburgh Zoo.  The Scottish Wildcats lost their EU funding because of Brexit, so this sponsorship supports one cat to continue its studies and live and eat safely. The winning name by a whisker was Lady Lawson! Catty McCatface gained only 3 votes.

Paul Smyth is the winner of the  2021 LTW Burns Poetry Prize. The prize is a complimentary ticket to visit  Lady Lawson ( or similar) at the Zoo ( once it re-opens).

Those of us who sometimes attend campus may be getting excited about this news that the Book Festival will be right on our doorstep next year, significantly increasing our likelihood of bumping into favourite authors over lunch. Edinburgh International Book Festival to move from Charlotte Square to art college complex

In finance news the Scottish budget apparently includes increased levels of student support, including over £328 million for higher education student support ‘Investing £2.7 billion in education and skills including £125 million to help close the attainment gap, and £1.9 billion for our world-class universities’. So if you haven’t made your millions shorting the stock market, working in HE is still an option.

In Canada students are discovering that their recorded lecturers are no longer living  Concordia University says lectures from dead professor are ‘teaching tool’ (msn.com) Senior leadership at Edinburgh are checking whether our lecture recording policy would preclude this.

The January digital skills newsletter is out the AV teams continue to work their way through the covid-compliant teaching rooms adding new microphones and hybrid enhancements. Meanwhile the web team wait patiently for sign off from procurement and DLAM begin some extreme tidying of the storage in our big systems. EDE have been publishing masses of OERs and mapping our massive courses against the UN SDGs.

I have seen several requests for  attending online conferences and events it is a good thing to keep updating your knowledge and skills. If you are proposing papers or booking to attend, remember to check with your line manager first.

Next week the learning technology leaders of the UK universities will assemble to give Blackboard a dressing down about their performance. It remains to be seen whether Blackboard will pull their socks up in response.

Stay safe and have a weekend.


Dir, LTW

Friday 5th February

Plastic flowers with real icicles.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week.  Vaccinations seem to be making their way through the elder community so I hope that where you have them, they’ve had ‘em.

Congratulations to Sheri and all the web team for finally getting the web procurement across the finishing line! The amount of work has been huge and the pace frustrating. Thank you all for your perseverance and patience.

Congratulations to Karen and all the DLAM team for finally getting our contract agreed with Kaltura! The amount of work has been huge and the pace frustrating. Thank you all for your perseverance and patience.

Microsoft have launched a new product to help you thrive https://news.microsoft.com/2021/02/04/microsoft-unveils-new-employee-experience-platform-microsoft-viva-to-help-people-thrive-at-work/ Microsoft have also added an extension for Proctorio, the less said about that the better.

The news from UCU is that there will be no industrial action ( for now) but will continue campaigning on working under Covid.

News from elections is that Debora Kayembe has been elected Rector https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debora_Kayembe

News from the students is that they are demanding their graduations back Edinburgh University students want guarantee they can choose delayed in-person graduations rather than online ceremonies

20 people joined us for our #HIV #Scotland #Wikipedia editathon last week. They did good work in improving the online content which shapes how the story is told. New articles and thousands of words added. #LGBTHM21 Well done, all. Thousands of words have also been added to by University of Edinburgh staff and students to tell the stories of Scotland, Slavery and Black History. Important work. Scotland, Slavery and Black History… and Wikipedia  Wikipedia have also announced their new code of conduct  Wikipedia Embraces First-of-Its Kind Universal Code of Conduct, Conceived For The New Internet Era which may be helpful in combatting some of the worst behaviours and attacks on our finest public intellectuals.

We now have  an update from our policy expert on the topic of dead lectures:

“On lectures from the dead:  the main safeguard against this in the LR and VC policies is that by default the recording is only available to the student cohort on the instance of the Course it’s delivered to, and that the University would normally need the lecturer’s explicit agreement to deliver it to subsequent cohorts.  It could potentially happen as a last resort, if a School decided in one of the sort of exceptional situations described in the policies that there was no other way of delivering the teaching in question.

Otherwise students would only have access to a lecture from a deceased lecturer here if

  • the lecturer died during delivery of the Course, after delivering the lecture, or
  • the lecturer had made the recording into an open resource, or
  • the (unlikely, I suspect) event that the lecturer bequeathed their recording rights to the University in their will.”

Our position on dead boring lectures continues to be: comedy interpretations by the Media Hopper captions tool.

The Learn team begin their extreme tidying soon. The backlog of stuff taking up space on there includes courses rolled over from WebCt in 1583.

Sometimes you learn something new about a tool you’ve been using for years. Karen’s blogged about a couple of things she learned recently:  Did you know … users can magnify any screen sharing in Collaborate?  Did you know…. you can use LaTeX formulae in Learn?

Applications to online PG degrees are up 52% on same point in 2020, so online learning may still save us.

Stay safe,


Dir, LTW

Friday 12th February

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

I trust that you have been making the most of the beautiful snowy views. For those of you trapped, you can always take heart from watching the Scottish gritter tracker Trunk Road Gritter Tracker (arcgis.com).

If you have managed to get out and get your creative muscles moving, please send a picture of your snowpersons, ice creations and partially-built igloos into the LTW Snow Show competition. LTW Snow Show competition.pptx (sharepoint.com)  Create a new slide and paste in your image along with your name and the category in which you would like to be judged.​  We will be judging in 3 categories you will recognise from the Great Pottery Throwdown:​ Build quality​, Throwing skill and Artistic flair.  Winners will be announced next Friday and a fabulous prize will be awarded.

Planning is beginning across the university for next academic year and trying to foresee the kinds of restrictions which might still be in place. There are plenty of pieces of research being done which suggest that even if some of us are back on campus, many students would prefer that elements of hybrid learning continue, which is good news for anyone working in learning, teaching and/or web. The expectation gap II – students’ hopes for learning and teaching in the next normal | Wonkhe

If you are hearing any grumbling about Learn VLE please do encourage colleagues to get involved with the academic user group. Here’s info Enhancing Our Use of The Learn VLE in Different Teaching Settings – Teaching Matters blog (ed.ac.uk) please do click through and read the article, because the number of clicks also gets the article to the top of the 2021 Teaching Matters Hit Parade.

If you would like to secure your own place in the charts, if you would like to audition as a voice-over artist, please contact Stuart Nicol and the excellent media production team. Our current star, Lauren has a world-wide fanbase fronting the UoE Moocs Trailers for free short online courses – Media Hopper Create and we have room for more.

Looking forward to Valentine’s Day this weekend, James has published the recipe for his beautiful heart cake A Recipe for (a) Change – A Slice of Learning (ed.ac.uk)  he suggests you break it down into manageable chunks.

For those of you looking for someone different to celebrate on Sunday the 14th,  commemorated on this day are a pair of Slavonic brothers Saints Cyril and Saint Methodius who are the patron saints of data management. Cyril and Methodius began translating the Bible in the 9th Century but ran up against the problem of the lack of a suitable alphabet. This is a common research problem: They had access to a substantial body of important information; they wanted to share this with a wider audience, and to ensure that it was transmitted accurately and preserved for posterity in a way that would be easily comprehensible. When they found that no existing encoding system was adequate for the task, they set about developing a new one. Undeterred, Cyril invented a new coding system. He invented a new alphabet. His work formed the basis for Cyrillic, still widely used today. Methodius ‘s name was actually Michael but he changed it to reflect his key research priorities: persistent pursuit of truth conducted in an orderly and methodical way.   #ISG bakers, you know what to do.

Have a good weekend,


Dir, LTW.

Friday 19th February

Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week.

Thank you for joining me at the  Learning Technology conversation meeting  with VP Colm Harmon on Wednesday, he seems keen to see us again soon.

Congratulations to our two winners of our LTW Snow Show, Geoff and Lauren ( see attached images). Geoff’s daughter’s igloo will put all your other home renovation projects to shame and Lauren’s throwing skills are the talk of East Lothian.  They both win Edinburgh Filmhouse Café Bar Nachos & Beer for Two. When it re-opens.

Satu has blogged: Lessons Learned: Digital Skills in 2020 and beyond – Teaching Matters blog

Alan has blogged:  Similarity or Plagiarism – It shouldn’t just be mechanical – Educational Design and Engagement

Satu and I also tried out the new EventsAir platform to recruit new interns at the Tech & Data Careers Fair Online (Wednesday 10th February 2021) which was fruitful.  65% of those who visited our air during the fair started a conversation with us. Whether they ever speak to us again remains to be seen.

If you would like to attend Digi-fest, https://www.jisc.ac.uk/digifest  check with your line manager. It’s a good place to get an overview of what’s going on at other universities.

In Edinburgh the city council seems to be planning ipads and rubber stamps, Council tax freeze and free iPads for pupils agreed as city council rubber-stamps budget | Edinburgh News (scotsman.com)  and the edtech companies are all ready to charge universities even higher prices for virtual classrooms Tired of ‘Zoom University’? So is edtech | TechCrunch

Speaking of Zoom, there has been another unpleasant event which has attracted news coverage https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-56100079

Please make sure that all your friends, family, colleagues and student groups know how to keep themselves safe online.  The Digital Skills and Training team offers a range of resources designed to help students and staff stay safe while meeting with others and hosting events online. Our Staying Safe While Learning and Teaching Onlinepage in our Digital Safety and Citizenship web hub provides safety tips on avoiding zoom-bombing and video conference etiquette suggestions. We also run a variety of webinars on best practice when using online meeting tools, including Introduction to Zoom video conferencing, which covers important security steps and features that help minimise the potential for disruption. Our Digital Safety and Citizenship for Students webinar (also open to staff) also provides general information on how to stay safe while engaging with others online. Additionally, the Information Services Zoom guidance includes important information on security, data protection and privacy that staff and students should take into consideration when using Zoom.

Stay safe,


Dir. LTW

Friday 26th February


Dear All,

Well done for making it through another week.

I realise that we are all suffering from pandemic fatigue as we approach the one year anniversary of retreat from Argyle House. I am continually impressed by how well you all do to keep going, solving challenges and bringing forward new ideas.  Please remember to be kind to each other in meetings and respect each other’s expertise.

Congratulations to many of you who have had papers accepted for the University Learning and Teaching Conference.

For those of you engaged with community groups at home, just to remind you that the university does have a community grants scheme for projects which make our local world a better place and they open next week.  Community grants | The University of Edinburgh

Stuart and I met with ThingLink this week, I’d be interested to hear what you think of them and if you would like to be part of our trial account Create unique experiences with interactive images, videos & 360° media — ThingLink

Karen has spotted that the digital librarians are walking for charity Ianthe Sutherland is fundraising for Scottish Association for Mental Health (justgiving.com) If you have suggestions for an LTW Charity March March, let us know.

EDE said goodbye to Katya this week. When Katya first started, the beast from the east struck and we were all confined to barracks. When she came back from maternity leave the whole country went in to lockdown. Luckily the work she was leading is part of our mission to make it possible for anyone to learn from anywhere. She has been a key part of our  MicroMasters  development and most recently led the projects for the Sustainable Food Systems and Respiratory MOOCs which ensure that we eat better and breath more easily. She’ll be much missed in EDE but you can still catch her on Etsy Greeting cards and wall art designed and by YayKatYayStudio (etsy.com)

Lauren blogged  Showcasing 80 online courses hosted on 3 platforms – Online Courses

Looking forward to International Women’s Day we have our usual editathon on the 6th,  which draws together students and staff  to improve the representation of women online.


Surely we have covered them all by now?  Feel free to add suggestions:


I have managed to get Equality, Diversity and Inclusion re-instated on the ISG corporate SharePoint Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (sharepoint.com) you have to click a link and then click another link, but do let me know if you’d like to be involved in adding stuff and events to the site.

Congratulations to Robert and Joanna for  delivering another LTW lockdown baby.

Get well soon to Stewart.

Stay safe,


Dir, LTW

Friday  5th March

Less bores, more helebores.

Dear All,

Well done for making it through nearly a year of working from home.

We are sadly waving goodbye to another colleague, David who has been project managing many of the technical projects which were part of DLAS and has managed to figure out how to get people to pay £225 for something which was previously two things at £40 each.   These are valuable skills to have and we are sorry to lose him, but we wish him the best for the future and congratulations for upcoming nuptials.

As one DLAS closes another opens, and we can say welcome to Kari, Ifeanyichukwu, and Ana who have joined us to work on an open e-books project with Lorna Open e-textbooks for access to music education – Open.Ed

Thank you to all of you who have been helping to put together plans for hybrid classrooms and pilots of Learn Ultra, these are potentially big, transformational projects and an opportunity to get into very detailed conversations about multi directional microphones, media storage and shifting spaciotemporalities.

To keep up to date with all that is going on Andreas has blogged about the importance of online discussion rooms  https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/ede/2021/03/03/the-importance-of-discussion-forums-for-online-learning/

Rachael, Sean, Tracey, Liam and Craig have blogged about the Aspiring Manager Programme for anyone interested in developing into a management role. https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/papertrail/2021/03/04/aspiring-manager-programme/

And we have begun our series of blogs to celebrate 5 years of the OER service. Open for Good: Five Years of Open Education Resources at the University of Edinburgh – Teaching Matters blog The articles in this series will cover a wide range of uses of OER in teaching, both the creation of materials for sharing and the re-use, and adaptation of materials created elsewhere. The generous position colleagues take to openly licencing their materials is one of the classiest things about this institution.  Thank you to all who do.

I am sure you are all ready to #choosetochallenge for International Women’s Day and you have your standard answers ready: ‘There is. Yes, we do. It’s on November 19th ‘.

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 12th March

destroyed plants
Crocii who did not use adequate protection.

Dear All,

Well done for nearly a year in lockdown.

For all of you who have been doing in-family IT support this year . You are amazing  https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/mar/10/computers-are-marvellous-older-people-embrace-internet-in-lockdown

Well done to Karen for closing a huge deal with Blackboard 5 minutes before the deadline. This places us well for starting pilots of Learn Ultra. Stuart has reached out to the heads of e-learning across the country to find out if anyone has tried this yet, and the responses are that ‘a heap of universities are in exactly the same place as us, or just ahead. All reporting the upgrade generally positively, with the lack of features in Ultra either seen as manageable, or actually a good solution to the feature-creep of the version we’re currently on’.

Thank you for all the work you continue to do on software integrations, reporting and fixing. Managing technical debt and backlogs of work can be disheartening, but its important work and it needs to be done.  I am very pleased to see the Web Platform project progressing at speed. We continue to press for resource for integrating Teams into Learn and multiplying numbers  in the hope of  a major step forward in classroom AV.

Well done to Jenni and Karen who have finished their Edinburgh Leader course, complete with reflective video.

Thank you, welcome back and well done to Andy for sorting a security problem and all the work you do to contribute to open source communities supporting learning tools.

Well done to Ewan who organised another fab IWD editathon and Vicki who published a reading list for IWD2021 https://open.ed.ac.uk/information-services-group-international-womens-day-2021-resource-list/

Well done to The World Wide Web Foundation for highlighting How online gender-based violence affects the safety of young women and girls – World Wide Web Foundation Many of you will be aware that there is currently an out pouring of stories about violence against women in the news and social media. Things do seem to have become even worse during lockdown Violence-Against-Women-and-Girls-Snapshot-Report-FINAL-1.pdf (endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk) . The University continues to make slow progress on the  Report & Support Platform, but knowing that many people find their information on the internet I have created a new page on Wikipedia for Rape Crisis Scotland Rape Crisis Scotland – Wikipedia  If you have other topics or organisations you would like to highlight, please join Ewan this afternoon, he’s still training editors 2-4 pm today. Women EmpowerED: Wikipedia Editathon

If you have been at Digifest this week, don’t forget to blog about what you learned.

If you are a website owner you may have had an email from Jon encouraging you to look at our list of ‘ISG owned websites’. Please take a look and claim any of those which belong to you.

Have a good weekend. Stay safe, and remember to protect your bulbs from squirrels.


Director, LTW

Friday 19th March

The old place still holds us.

Dear All,

Well done all for a massive year in lockdown.  You’ve all done really well.

There’s perhaps an end in sight, or at least a chance to get a haircut booked.

The weather is doing its best this week to keep us cheery for another 2 weeks.

You may have heard mention of a national 1 minute silence  at 12 noon on the 23rd which is officially one year on from the start of the first lockdown.  Please do put it in your diaries.   I think that it is important sometimes to take a moment to focus on the very sad things which have happened.  I’ve created a space for us to remember those we have lost this year.  Please do add in a memory you would like to share. It could be that you have lost someone close, a family member, friend, colleague, neighbour, much-loved pet, or that you lost out on the chance to say goodbye to someone.  When we are far away from each other we can still share a little of what’s been happening at home.

LTW memories of those lost during lockdown

There is also another separate place for you to add messages of condolence directly in memory of John Baird from ISG helpdesk team who sadly died this week. Remembering John (muchloved.com)

As we move into the second year I suspect you are going to get quite bored of my messages as I start to repeat myself commenting on the seasons and the academic cycle.

It’s been election time again and as Amanda Scully’s stint as Students Association VP Community draws to an end I think we have another ISG intern alumna elected as VP Welfare congratulations to Aisha Akinola.

You’ll have seen that the university’s current stated position for next year is :’ We currently plan to deliver a mix of in-person and digital teaching for the academic year starting in September 2021’. Teaching and learning in 2021-22 | The University of Edinburgh. Ryan has been interrogating our training data and it looks like in some parts of the university fewer than 2% of the academic staff came to any training on how to use the tools they needed for their teaching this year. We must think creatively about how to create a culture of learning amongst our colleagues so that they can do it better next time.  The students who are often disabled by the  physical teaching environment are concerned that ‘Accessibility and the way that it is being dealt with is currently being seen as a side effect or a consequence of the pandemic. However, the resistance from staff to online teaching is frustrating and doesn’t give hope for post-Covid ‘. We must think creatively about how to ensure that accessibility is seen less as a technical issue but more one of inclusion.

I spent some of this week at the AdvanceHE conference on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. It’s a conference which was delayed a year. Dominique joined me to present about the work we had done on The PlayFair Steps and I got dragged into a discussion about who invented the pie chart. The #ISGBakers were busy baking for pi day. The SFC used the event to launch some new support materials Tackling Racism on Campus (sfc.ac.uk)

Andy has been back for  5 minutes and has already delivered creative hacks for the People and Money system. https://www.noexceptions.io/people-and-money-days/

I am sure you one of the things you have missed this year are the Edinburgh First platters in our workplace. Come along to our ISG lunchtime reading group on Thursday, bring your own hummus and crudites as we discuss humour and crudities.  I will be asking Andy to hack a special ‘groan’ button for puns in Teams.

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 26th March

Kings Buildings sunset

Dear All,

Congratulations for making it to the end of the teaching year. Just exams, marking and all the rest of it to go.

As we move into assessment time Karen’s team have been making heroic efforts to support Maths in their use of Perusal. Maz and Paul have been supporting users of Web PA and Myles has published his guidance on ‘proctoring’ (hint: it’s the same as ‘invigilating’, only worse)  Online Proctoring | The University of Edinburgh Thank you, all.

You’ll have spotted that a new Scottish digital strategy has been published A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world – gov.scot (www.gov.scot) This is an interesting read and may start to shape the University’s  stance in relation to digital investment. For any of you preparing a CMALT portfolio, you may want to take a look as it shapes the national context in which you work.

As we Passover in lockdown for a second time and Stratos and I debate how many Greek women pirates there were, the highlight of my week was the Reading Group session on humour in the workplace. You had to be there.

Emma has published an excellent piece about the research which has been done with thousands of our students to support their use of Learn VLE. Understanding what staff and students need from Learn for hybrid teaching and learning – Website and Communications Blog   Please take a look because if you hear colleagues casting aspersions about Learn being hard to use, it is important that you know that what we do is informed by students real experience of it.  BB TLC and BB World this year will be open to everyone and free apparently, so please think about attending and presenting. https://www.blackboard.com/tlceurope https://www.blackboard.com/bbworld . Lorna will be leading our plans for piloting the Ultra Base Navigation (UBN) and will ensure that all base belong to us.

Ryan has shown me some data about how some areas of the University never attend any training. Tracy has shown me data about how transformational it can be when they do. Kevin will start to chase you soon about doing again your mandatory training, so please make it your priority so that he doesn’t have to. Our Digital Skills Team are preparing a Festival of Digital Skills. If you would like to do a show, busk, flyer or otherwise participate, please do sign up. fill out a short form

In Hybrid Classroom news Euan premiered his  Hybrid Classroom in 10 mins – to wide acclaim and great reviews.  There is some risk that he has made it look so simple that this will cause everyone to say ‘we’d like level 4 now, please’ a bit like when Jon Jack told us he could make a MOOC in a week.

Sadly next week we say goodbye to Jon Trout, who is off to pastures new having spent 2 years valiantly mapping and corralling our wild west of the web. If you would like to catch up with him and hear stories of taking one paper through 56 governance committees, please grab him before he goes off on a well-deserved break before starting a new role in the charity and international development sector.

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 2nd April

Current mood.

The University has given us the day off and I’m knackered. so I’m not doing a message this week.

Friday 16th April

Lockdown is dragon on.

Dear All,

Well done for all the moving and shaking over Passover/Easter/ Ramadan/Vaisakhi. It’s that time of year that Kevin starts our mandatory training, sure as eggs is eggs.

If you are watching the news and fancy a side-line in bribery and corruption, there’s a course for that.

Jasmin has started her new job, which is our loss and ISG Corporate’s gain, but no escape from mandatory training.

Lauren thought you’d all like to see the final film that McGraw Hill publishers produced about the Critical Care MOOC which was our high profile rush project a year ago: https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/t/1_br1sxz70  And the MOOC teams have  made another very cool trailer made entirely of re-cycled OER Climate Solutions | edX

Stewart has been winning healthy working lives with his rendering of the Main Library in Lego. Stewart Lamb Cromar is fundraising for Sight Scotland (justgiving.com) The University ‘Main’ library  used to be called the ‘Littil’ library, named for Clement Littil but luckily it’s not called that any more so it is not confused with various book cupboards on sticks which spring up in local communities.

Our intern adverts are now live on unitemps:  University of Edinburgh Jobs – Unitemps. Please use all your social media and newsletters to get these adverts out far and wide. We need to recruit another set of the finest student talent for our edtech operations.  If you would like to add Post-punk Researcher or Wikisourceror to your CV, sign up for an online masters now.  We now have 6 online masters students taking part in the Uni’s Unibuddy ambassador scheme who would be happy to chat to you about it.  This is important because it is sometimes hard to get the university to remember that not all our students are on campus undergraduates https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/online-learning/postgraduate

In your teams you are looking at your data to try to make sense of the crazy world. Comparing sem1 (Sept-Dec 2020) with sem1 in 2019: Learn logins up by around 25% .24,000 more Collaborate sessions run . 844% increase in plays and 1664% increase in minutes viewed in Media Hopper. A 60,000 increase in submission numbers to Turnitin.  Tracy continues to teach people data wrangling skills. The Developing Your Data Skills Programme has 350 participants this academic year. There are 12 completers so far.

The inter-species wrangling of Learn, Teams and Zoom continues. As does the attempt to define micro-credentials https://wonkhe.com/blogs/micro-credentials-big-problems/

The Learn Foundations Project has been investigating mechanisms to allow course information which is stored in EUCLID to be transferred over to the corresponding Learn course site at the start of each academic year.   Over the last couple of years, our team of summer interns have personally completed this work, but this year we are hoping to automate it.  Creation of new Learn courses for 21-22 academic year begins at the start of June.

70 Digital Skills Programme webinars ran in March, including 57 bespoke webinars. 26 of the 70 webinars were on learning technology topics delivered by 32 tutors. Who attends digital skills training? Mostly women. Guys, if you want to ensure you get your fair share of the university’s investment in digital skills sign up to learn something new now. Staff attendance decreased by 18% during lockdown but student attendance increased 81%.

Stratos is signing up to  partner with Manifesto and the parties are publishing their manifestii. Worth a look.

  • Greens launch manifesto: Independence referendum; student accommodation strategy; opposition to REF and TEF; and review role of Confucius Institutes in Universities
  • SNP launch manifesto :Independence referendum; student accommodation strategy; review of funding for PGs; new tech-scaler hub in Edinburgh; percentage of construction projects for culture; new Scottish Erasmus replacement

If you liked seeing an Edinburgh student on Bake off, you’ll enjoy this series of Sewing Bee.

Have a sunny weekend,


Director, LTW.

Friday 23rd April

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

I know that many of you have been tuning in to the Q&A sessions with the Principal  (featuring Chester the Lion) and our teaching updates with VP Students Colm Harmon (who doesn’t appear to have any pets) .  If you are keen for more information about, or contribute to discussions on  Hybrid Working and Curriculum Transformation there are sharepoint sites live now with all the documents and engagement activities. There are more ISG all-staff meetings coming up next week so prepare yourselves for breakout group work.

Lizzie has blogged about sustainable development goals  Short Online Courses: Supporting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Lorna and our student interns Ana, Ifeanyi and Kari did a fantastic job of presenting  “The Scale of Open: Re-purposing open resources for music education at the OER Conference The Scale of Open: Re-purposing open resources for music education  – Open e-Textbooks for Access to Music Education and Ewan  prerecorded his presentation to include video contributions from Hannah and 2 students on the Scotland, Slavery and Black History project https://drive.google.com/file/d/1l1LMCX_FgPNnQr0FRRVg56yycM7OHiaJ/view?usp=sharing . Meanwhile over on social media, James has baked kittens and Jon’s whittling has started to look a bit like a boat. It is not clear if CAM’s new media monitoring service will pick up important stories such as these https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/about/news/automating-the-university-media-monitoring

The adverts for our many student interns have closed and applications have flooded in. Thank you to all of you in advance for the work you do in choosing and supporting the many student interns we have in LTW. I hope you find it a rewarding part of your work, I do think it is one of the most important things we do to ensure that our success is co-created with students from our own university.

For your amusement the first year engineering students have released the videos of their Rube Goldberg machines constructed in their lockdown bed rooms https://open.ed.ac.uk/rube-goldberg-machines/  . Rube Goldberg is the US version of Heath Robinson. The machines demonstrate an unnecessarily complicated way to perform a simple task and can in no way be used as a metaphor for the ISG planning process.

Just as we are preparing for an influx of interns, we sadly also say goodbye to Sheri who has led us through a programme of change activity in the web team and battled valiantly with the tangled red tape of procurement to give us a platform as a service for the web transformation we need to do. Sheri has played a huge part in changing thinking and practice and  I hope you will all wish her well in the challenges she chooses to tackle next.   More instructions on what you will all need to do to prepare your web pages for a brave new world will follow shortly.

Also coming soon will be all the details at www.digitalskillsfestival.ed.ac.uk  please mark you diaries for the sessions you might lead and the ones you might enjoy . It is equally  as good to give as to receive.

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 30th April

Blossom time again.

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

EFI is starting its big reveal, if you get a chance to walk past it, it is one of the largest restoration projects in Europe and is providing work for many, many people in high vis jackets.  Ask Euan to show you the pictures of the new teaching spaces.

The EDUCAUSE horizon report for 2021 has been published featuring a name-check for our open education and Wikimedia teams. The six emerging technologies and practices selected by the expert panel are: Artificial Intelligence, Blended and Hybrid Course Models, Learning Analytics, Micro-credentialing, Open Educational Resources (OER) and Quality Online Learning, so I am confident yet again that Edinburgh is ahead of the game.  2021 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report: Teaching and Learning Edition

If you are interested in learning analytics, student engagement, surveillance and monitoring, there are some interesting seminars appearing on media hopper https://media.ed.ac.uk/playlist/dedicated/79280571/1_eym2g76d/1_rtms3r1a  or come to the ISG reading group at lunchtime today.

Speaking of horizon scanning, I spoke at a WonkHE event about the future of learning resources and got into a scrap about digital natives. Do any of you identify as digital natives? Prensky wrote that stuff in 2001. That’s 20 years ago. Those ‘college grads’ he was writing about are well into their 30s and 40s now.  They/ you are the faculty, the librarians and professional staff in universities. Have we turned all teaching into ‘edu-tainment‘ and games as he predicted?

In other news:

The Student Stories blog and vlog site has finally transitioned from their old wordpress site to its new home on our blogging platform. It can now be found via: https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/studentstories/

If you have ever wondered what the BSL  signs for pen-test, pineapples and packet sniffing might be  watch this space. https://www.de.ed.ac.uk/project/british-sign-language-glossary-signing-computingdata-science . If you have ideas on what the signs for proctoring, hybrid classrooms and accessibility checking should be, let me know.

The discussions about racism in universities rumble on UK universities are institutionally racist, says leading vice-chancellor  for those of us who work in systems  and services it is important that we review our own practice to discover whether anything we are doing contributes to excluding or marginalising groups.

There is depressing news from the sector that Turnitin have a near monopoly on all our students’ work, but cheering news that Echo now have both zoom  and teams integration, should we wish to implement them  and Kaltura has some interesting stuff coming in the next 6 or 7 months including a new homepage design, some new reports that will help us with content management.

Rachael has blogged about the Learning Technology Community Hub  https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/papertrail/2021/04/23/we-are-the-community/

Tracey has blogged about delivering learning design sessions online https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/ede/2021/04/27/a-moving-experience/

Stuart has blogged about using 3d cameras in animation and giving. https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/dlam/2021/04/19/climate-solutions-mooc-animation-using-ae-3d-cameras/

Lorraines’s sharepoint skills are going from strength to strength but don’t tell anyone.  Nikki, Lauren and Karen are all busily prepping papers for copious committees and Stratos is invited to give senior leadership his thoughts on procuring a platform as a service.

Ryan did the Kiltwalk last weekend with a broken foot on a bike. He cycled the 37 miles, saw the Kelpies in all their huge-horse-head glory and raised an impressive £600 for Waverly Care


Stay safe. Don’t forget your tartan knee rug when you go to the pub.

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 7th February

Dear All,

Well done for another week. I am sure you are all on tenterhooks waiting for election results.

Well done for a really impressive set of Teaching Matters articles this year. I’m looking back at all the pieces you have written which share insights into the work we do.

https://www.teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk/category/schoolcentre/learning-teaching-and-web/  It is ADR season again, so if you have been contributing articles like this remember to highlight that to your manager.

Well done also to those of you who have completed CMALT and those of you preparing to submit your portfolios.  You can see the current list of CMALT holders in the university here: University of Edinburgh CMALT Holders |

I hope you have booked your place at the Learning and Teaching conference University of Edinburgh Learning & Teaching Conference   and please do look at the Curriculum Review ‘hub’. There are some padlet boards on which you are invited to give your input. How can I get involved? (sharepoint.com)  Don’t be shy.  We need learning technology voices in there, even if it is just to point out the accessibility issues with padlet.

Congratulations to Ryan for getting a new role in the web team. Fingers crossed for Vicki as she waits to hear about her PTAS bid.

Thank you to you all for contributing to the papers we take to various committees: ITC, KSC, SEC, ETC.  Thank you to Colin for setting out all the options and to Zak for finishing the longest procurement in the world.

Jenni and I are presenting at this: Is the future blended – ucisa  but there are many sessions and seems to be free, if you want to tune in to sessions.

There’s an impressive show of locked-down and socially-distanced dancing by University of Edinburgh students showcased on Media Hopper this month Media Hopper Create and the Media Hopper teams are preparing to launch their own series of promotional dancing activities to engage users in being properly creative with video.

Remember , if you have lunch marked in your diary and someone invites you to a meeting, and you want to protect your lunch, just say no.

Have a weekend,


Director, LTW.

Friday 14th May

Charity shops back to normal.

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

Well done Jenni for achieving a silver medal in the ISG Pedometer Challenge and team cheers for an honourable bronze in the team category for the Web Team’s Coyote and the Roadrunners combined 1,192,548 steps.

Well done to the online course production teams for launching the fabulous new LTW MOOC  https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/how-to-create-an-online-course  in a super-speedy turn-around time. Proving once again that if you remove academic staff from the process, everything gets much quicker.  This time, you are the expert content contributors. Lizzie, Marcello, Andres and Jess were the leads. Paul and Myles contributed to the accompanying podcasts. Lorna and Tracey contributed content and QA. Lauren, Emma and Rachael on coordination and Geoff on drums. Great to see original music composition by Marcello and a debut from our new voice over artist, Rebecca in our media trailers https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/1_8plrjsry

Obinna is the new face of THE Digital Campus.  With credit to Lauren for wrangling, University of Edinburgh is now a ‘contributing  partner’ https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/institutions/university-edinburgh  If any of the rest of you have been up Arthurs Seat recently, send us your photos and you too could become a multi-platform media star.

Also in the mass media, Stewart has made it into the Scotsman, if you can brave the popup ads to look at their website, Edinburgh Lego fan with sight loss takes on 100-brick challenge for charity (scotsman.com)

Thank you to you all who, every day, help academic colleagues to teach in new ways . Your support brings them awards for excellence.

‘I have to say that the idea of me getting nominated for something to do with anything digital would make all the IT people who’ve had to work with me laugh! That is totally down to [the staff at the Supported Media Production Studios]https://www.teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk/looking-through-a-new-lens-teaching-during-a-pandemic/

Initially, I struggled with the technology. It has, therefore, been helpful to attend IS training sessions and to talk with colleagues. I now feel more confident in my ability to deliver my lectures online. The challenge remains that designing online lectures takes a much longer time. In addition, it is sometimes difficult to encourage student enthusiasm to have more interactive discussion in the online class. As with everything, these challenges are also works in progress.’ https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/learningexchange/2021/05/06/celebratingtogether-dr-omolabake-fakunle/

Thank you again to all of you who have been involved in student intern interviews this week. Offers are out and acceptances are coming in.

Places at Digital Skills Festival are filling fast. Home | Digital Skills Festival – The University of Edinburgh

Enjoy your celebrations of Ascension, Eid and Shavuot. Once again I remind the ISG bakers that I am available to sample cheesecakes.

Keep up the good work,


Director, LTW

Friday 28th May

Dear All,

Well done for another week. Special thanks to everyone who covered for me while I was sick.  Just as Mary was wrestling with multiple versions of the  ITC TEL071 appendix, my own was disintegrating into a hot mess of poison and only the out-of-hours NHS saved me.

Showing considerably more resilience than my vestigial organs Lauren held the fort at the PG online learning open day with more than 2,200 sign ups, Nikki presented at KSC with venerable Court members and Kevin represented you all at the Director’s SLT service review with all your service stats.

While I’ve been out for the count, the learning technology podcasts are back M&M Podcast 23: The return and setting out the themes going forward – Media Hopper Create and my blog about Learn got published Teaching in the online space – Teaching Matters blog (ed.ac.uk)

The digital skills team (and many more amongst you) have delivered a veritable feast of digital skills. More than 50 events in a week and nearly 1,000 attendees so far. And still going strong today. Topping the popularity charts are Andy’s Adobe Spark for social media, Ari’s principles of effective digital content, Jen and Mike with the power of research computing , Tracy introducing data science and Ewan on Wikimedia. Candice helped out at her first blogging training session, Lauren did a VLE session in which she walked through Learn accompanied by a student in Kabul, and today they are hacking humans  and tackling misogyny.

Exams are over for another academic year.  Thanks to you in DLAM and EDE for staffing the Exams Teams ‘Hotline’ throughout the period and being on call on Saturdays.  Fingers crossed we all passed. Thank you also to  the Learning Applications Development Team  who continue to work on the technical debt we inherited replacing a couple of legacy systems for CMVM.  This is has been a big job, mostly behind the scenes, it’s been a long time coming and a relief to get the business requirements signed off  by stakeholders and the work started.

You’ve been at 2021 Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference Europe and sending in your proposals for ALT-C.  If I can prop myself up on sufficient cushions I will see some of you next week at Open Apereo. Gill is making me some special space age slides for my talk about education on a post-pandemic planet.  In other space news the new Astronomer Royal, Catherine Heymans is partly famous due to our  very popular Astrobiology MOOC.

The directors office team have been all round the houses delivering/dispatching laptops for our incoming interns. If we’ve got interns incoming it must be summer! Grab your sunscreen and your gardening clogs/hiking boots/running shoes/sparkly flip flops and get out there!

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 4th June

Dear All,

Well done for another week. The streets of LTW are crowded today. Our numbers are swelled and our cups overflow.  Welcome, and welcome back Aashfeen, Sioned, Chi Hei, Amy, Alysha, Catherine, Simon, Hannah, Kathleen, Laura, Omar, Patricija, Caitlin, Claudia, Hannah, Phil, Martin, Ruth, Blair, Jazz, and Bhavith.  I’m really delighted that so many of you are returners, and it is a credit to you and your managers that this work is rewarding in many ways.   Remember to get blogging on the LTW interns blog and join our ISG community on Linkedin. List us as your employer https://www.linkedin.com/company/university-of-edinburgh-information-services-group/

After we all survived  the end of exams last week, I hope you have all braced yourself for the great Learn roll-over coming soon.

This year has been another  bumper year for new services ending in ‘-ed’ and you are all invited to sign up to  TestEd Covid | The University of Edinburgh

It’s that time of the year that you might want to display a rainbow in your teams or zoom backgrounds, remember you can get handy corporate branded backgrounds and rainbows here: https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/Brand/SitePages/Branded-environment.aspx

I’m looking at the categories in the global open education awards and I’m thinking we could put forward something or some-one from LTW in EVERY category. Check it out:  https://awards.oeglobal.org/

Milo and the web team have launched the 100k Content-Pruning Challenge, recommending 100,000 URLs which should be removed across our web estate. If you have nominations please let him know. Content Audit Findings and the 100k Challenge – Website and Communications Blog (ed.ac.uk) I’m working on my own list.

Sadly, Emma is leaving us next week to take up the role of marketing manager for A N Other university’s online programmes. Emma has led on marketing for many of our MOOCs, finding us new learners from all over the globe, from python-lovers for Predictive Analytics to conservation activists for the Climate Change course. She created a consistent brand identity for our courses, and embedded meta-data beside our course trailers which help them perform better in search engine results.  Please join me in wishing her all the best in her new role.

Meanwhile our MOOC trailers just get better and better.

Get well soon, Lee-Ann.

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 11th June

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

Get your voting fingers ready. Our Wikimedia Intern Hannah Rothmann is a finalist for a national award as  the LILAC ‘leading light’. Hannah is currently finishing studying Classics, last summer she was the Wikimedia Training Intern here with us in LTW.   We are all eligible to vote. Voting is open now until 30thJune. You know what to do.  https://medium.com/festivil-by-lilac/awards-940c5b3e3700

Just in case anyone thought we had enough interns already, two more  join us this week. Welcome Erin and Clea!

Lovely to see our summer blogging has started My first week as an Open Content Curator Intern – Amy – Open.Ed  My first week as an open content curator intern -Alysha – Open.Ed

I note there’s been much less University of Edinburgh coverage of Serena on Sewing Bee than there was of Peter on Bake Off. Nonetheless she is still going strong and is through to the final.

You’ll have noticed that the university is properly chuffed at have been announced at 16th in the world.

In news from other world-leaders, when the UK Prime Minister met US President Joe and Dr Jill Biden  yesterday they exchanged gifts. The gift Boris gave the Bidens was a framed print of a picture of mine that they found on Wikipedia. It’s a picture of the Frederick Douglass mural which is part of our Curious Edinburgh BLM trail.  President Biden is a fan of Frederick Douglass and Downing Street know how to use google.  Just goes to show that serendipitous things happen when you share openly.


If you like art, you may also be interested to know what our library and museums have been doing with their spends:  Recent Acquisitions | The University of Edinburgh

Many of you will be attending sessions at the UoE Learning and Teaching Conference next week, so I will see you there.

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 18th June

Peonies envy

Dear All,

Well done for another week.   We have another new intern joining us this week, welcome Rosie.

Thank you for all the presenting and postering at UoE Learning and Teaching Conference, Universities UK Skills conference and Coimbra group. Next week we’ll be at ALT Scotland and Oxford ICTF.

Thank you to Alan, Myles, Ed, Jon, Rachael, Robyn, Tracey, and Stuart for all the blogging

Comply to Compliance – mylesthoughts (ed.ac.uk)

Digital Skills Festival 2021: looking back – Educational Design and Engagement



In addition to Ewan our Wikimedian and Erin our new WikiSourceror we also have Clea our Open Data and Knowledge Equity intern combining forces to fight a noble fight against misinformation.



The internet won’t know what’s hit it.

Thank you for all the close investigations you are doing into various software companies’ claims, and the due diligence you take whenever our contracts are renewed. The edtech market continues to be a volatile place.

Speaking of volatile, you may be following the ongoing  freedom of speech controversies in the university Students want to dictate teaching, says Edinburgh University | Scotland | The Timesthese issues are interesting because as well as academic freedom they also touch on inclusion, co-creation, student voice and online behaviour, all of which are ongoing areas of work for us.

Thank you for all for  your service but especially this week to two more staff who are leaving us. We are losing Laurie next week. As part of the media studio team Laurie has provided hands on support and expertise to help coach academics through over 350 videos filmed and edited in our pop-up studios in 20/21. The Principal was filmed in the quad yesterday for the hybrid working project and Laurie is doing the final edits to our updated video welcoming our oft-forgotten fully online students. He is off to A N Other local university to work as a Media Technician in their studios where he is looking forward to filming other academics and students.

We are also saying goodbye to Jess. Jess has been with us for just short of a year, spending that time stranded in Australia due to the pandemic and working constant backshift. Even though Jess has never met you all face to face, she has become a valued colleague and effective manager of the Online Course Production service. Jess has helped us unpick the complexity of reporting from three competing MOOC partners to a single set of University strategy and QA groups and overseen the development of money making MOOCs. She is joining the team of a scrappy young Australian VLE operation whose name rhymes with noodle.

Have a lovely weekend. If you are approached by evil head hunters, just say no!

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 25th June

snacks for the train. 🙂

Dear All,

Well done for another week. No more interns to announce but we seem to have added several new kittens to #ISGPets.

You’ve been at SCHOMS conference learning about hybridity. You’ll be attending the ISG Reading Group to learn about privilege .

Jackie’s been blogging Conveying statistical concepts through animation and data storytelling – Digital Learning Applications and Media

Delia and Liam have been making promo videos Main MHC Promo video – Media Hopper Create

Well done to the teams who have had papers accepted for ALT-C.

Thank you for all the work you have done in scoring and examining our e-exams platform procurement.

The first run of our LTW MOOC on ‘How to create an online course’ attracted 1650 participants. The income will be used to buy fabulous prizes for our LTW all-staff day. Speaking of which, please help your team heads to gather their list of your top achievements in the last 6 months.  HEPI have published a report on the student academic experience this year SAES_2021_FINAL.pdf (hepi.ac.uk). I’d be really pleased to hear any thoughts from our student interns  ( and any of you who are part-time students)  about your own experiences this year.

If you are involved in something green in your community you can apply for a green micro-grant.https://www.ed.ac.uk/local/community-grants/the-green-micro-grants

If you have found someone inspirational this year you can nominate them to be included on the EdTech50  Edtech50 2021 (google.com)

If you would like to nominate LTW as being the best place to work in digital, check out the categories here: Digital Technology Leaders Awards – Home Page (computing.co.uk)

If you have a spare hour you can watch 5 years of Wikimedia activism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTGAQt8b4kA  or stories from the Before Times https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7hL9i-NdyM. Speaking of space strategy, I will have to update my presentations now that we have another Space MOOC! https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/observing-earth-from-space

If you’d like to be a leading light  (Auroran), ask your line manager. Aurora is Advance HE’s initiative for  northern women taking their first significant step towards  a leadership role. Further details available at: www.ed.ac.uk/human-resources/learning-development/edi-leadership/aurora

Remember to get some annual leave into your diary. Everyone needs a break before we all start hurtling towards start of term again.

Speaking of which, I’m taking a break next week. Kevin is in charge. Stay safe.


Director, LTW

Friday 9th July

Thank you for lovely birthday gifts.

Dear All,

Well done for another week. Most of these things are true:

Thank you as always,


Director, LTW

Friday 16th July

Dear All,

Well done for another hot week. It was lovely to see so many of you at our LTW all-staff meeting this week.

You have been busy bees:

Our service data shows a massive spike in usage of MyEd on 22nd June when everyone logged in to get their results.  Congratulations to all of you who were graduands and are now graduates! Book your place to celebrate at the Castle. https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2021/graduation-celebrations-at-edinburgh-castle

If you have summer reading in mind the book MOOC is worth a look https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/how-to-read-a-novel

Brace yourself for the NSS scores. National Student Survey 2021: universities mental health support dwindled during pandemic | HeraldScotland

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 23rd July

Dear All,

Well done for another hot week. Congratulations to Rachael for passing her course and gaining a shiny new micro-credential.

Special welcome to Cristina and Karoline who have joined us as interns on their industrial placement year in our industrial web development teams.

There have been a number of communications issued to staff, the Hybrid Working Sharepoint Site and Website are live, and you may also be aware that planning is underway around the re-opening of Argyle House, with the establishment of a Re-opening Building Review Team. Our reps on that group are Kevin Brogan and Billy Wardrop. They are keen to hear from you. Another email with more detail will come to you today.

Some of you who joined us this year may never have seen Argyle House. It’s a special place. Creative thinking is needed to ensure LTW is the best working environment it can be. With regards to working on campus, you may be aware that planning and risk assessments are based around natural ventilation i.e. having windows open at all times. It sounds nice now that we are celebrating Eid in the middle of a heatwave ( I hope you all have your digital skills fans ™) but will be challenging as we move towards the winter months, so we will need to be creative in thinking about comfort and care.  I’d be happy to hear any suggestions around LTW hoodies, knitted garments, knee rugs, thermos flasks or any other creative/colourful solutions.

My plan is to work on-campus 3 days per week from early September and it will be lovely to see you there. I hope that Fridays will be reserved as ‘no meetings’ to prioritise other work activities such as writing (code or prose). It is clear that in some teams the fully online working has brought real benefits and we must ensure that hybrid working does too. Decisions about hybrid working in LTW should be inclusive, involving a wide range of voices, but also attention to difference. What works for you may not work for someone else, and we are all involved in multiple groups/communities with colleagues outwith LTW.

In other news, the Online Learning Brochure has been updated (course A to Z, refreshed infographic page etc) https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/online-learning/postgraduate/why-edinburgh/online-learning-brochure and Lorna is earning her Equity points as a voice over artist in the open education resilience https://youtu.be/7gsecG75MBg

Thank you to everyone involved in writing bids for awards. Fingers crossed we win some of them because it is always nice to have things to celebrate.

Your opinion is being sought by a whole range of people. Please feel free to share your views, I know you have them:

Stay cool,


Director, LTW

Friday 30th July

Celebrating my graduation in a bus shelter

Dear All,

Well done for another hot week. The summer is fair flying by now. The George Square beer garden is back and the Bristo Square Olympic skateboarders have had their training interrupted again.

Remember to snatch and grab your staff discounts for the Festivals Discounts for Edinburgh Festivals 2021 | The University of Edinburgh

If you have ideas on what we could do next with Edinburgh’s middle-distance  virtual worlds Virtual Worlds Technology for University of Edinburgh |, let Stuart know.

The  2018 Web Strategy now has a website https://www.ed.ac.uk/about/website/web-strategy and a place for you to upload the examples of gold medal web work you have done in the last 4 years: https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/UniversityWebStrategy

The  hop, skip and jump to flip 100k urls is going well. 30,000 gone already and the leader-board is hotting up.

Ari is collecting articles and reports about the future trends of online learning Marketing for Online Learning – Market Insight relating to Online Learning and Covid19 – All Documents (sharepoint.com) and I am sure you are all cheering her multi-event ‘student voices’ campaign on Instagram.

Alan is collecting a list of all the classrooms which are sporting new kit  Hybrid Classroom Locations (sharepoint.com)

Lizzy’s video presentation is on the podium for OEGlobal. Her presentation “University of Edinburgh Short Online Courses: Making a Global Impact” will be running “continuously around the clock for worldwide participation Monday 27-September-2021 through Friday 1-October-2021”https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SoDvu9XoudkWof2hwPa3eAL6lc_UEcPZer3jTgSQQnQ/edit

ISG (via EDINA) are sponsors of ALT conference this year https://altc.alt.ac.uk/blog/2021/07/thank-you-to-our-sponsors-for-supporting-altc21/  with all the press coverage of unethical behaviour by the big edtech companies, we can champion EDINA as the plucky underdog.

For those of you who enjoy spending time in marathon meetings with senior managers, contorting positions and leaping hurdles, it is fairly rare that grade 9 jobs come up in ISG, so if you think you, or someone you know, might be interested in some heavy lifting as Head of IT Corporate Services Group at The University of Edinburgh (jobs.ac.uk) please do ask me or Kevin about it. It’s a bit impenetrable from the job description, but basically like the job Sheila Fraser does for liaison with CMVM and Victoria Dishon is the team for CSE.  This job is the liaison for CSG, which is Corporate Services Group which is the huge bit of the university which includes Estates, accommodation, residences etc so may be of interest if you are interested in IT for sustainability, sport, transport, mapping, wifi or similar.  https://www.ed.ac.uk/corporate-services/about

Stay safe, have a  good weekend and remember, it’s the taking part that counts.


Director, LTW.

Friday 6th August

digging deep.

Dear All,

Well done for another week. Time is racing by and summer projects and internships will end as we hurtle towards the start of term once more.

You’ll be aware that Estates, Health and Safety and the Trade Unions are reviewing all aspects of ventilation, face coverings, distancing, building flow, sanitisers, etc. with a view to trying to assist across the University with more definitive statements / guidelines for movement to sub-zero on Monday.  I know you are all thinking about how we can ensure that our services are the best they can be for staff and students and I have always felt that one of the ways in which LTW is distinct from some other parts of ISG is through the close connections we get through meetings and usergroups, and being part of the community. We’ve done really well at that during lockdown and I am confident that we will do well at it during this period of hybrid experiments.  After the peak of inflated expectations I expect we will spend some time in the slough of despond before we reach enlightenment and the plateau of productivity again.

Lilinaz’s EDI reports have been added to the Hybrid Working site, have look.  https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/HybridWorking/SitePages/Research-Insights.aspx?csf=1&web=1&e=EUhSno&cid=8c4a440a-6c37-4a79-8464-9d7363f337b6

If you do one thing today, make sure you have a 1:1 annual development review (ADR) booked with your manager. It’s important, for them and for you.

For anyone interested in working in training, development, HR, event organising or programme management we’ve got an opportunity opening up in the Digital Skills Team https://elxw.fa.em3.oraclecloud.com/hcmUI/CandidateExperience/en/sites/CX_1001/job/1642   an excellent job for someone just graduated who would like to stay and start a career in the heady world of learning, teaching and web.

I know you have heard that there are some jobs being advertised at the top of the university. The search will be run by ‘headhunters’, but I have the opportunity to pass on any names or recommendations of people whom the recruiters ( not assassins) might contact. So if you know, or know of, people who you think would make good, inspirational leaders for this university, do pass their names to me. It would be good to get in a diverse range of top talent.  If you are looking for an assassin, please use my other email.

I expect essential skills for leadership and management for the next few years will be the ability to make decisions based on only partial or rapidly changing information, so I am keen that we all get good at that. Ask your manager as part of your ADR, for training in managing change or confident, inclusive decision making.

Thank you again for all that you do.


Director, LTW

Friday 13th August


Dear All,

Well done for another week.

I know you have been tackling Collaborate privacy issues, re-writing retention policies and working hard to get new AV into rooms. Some of you are spending the weekend at Wikimania and next week we will meet to celebrate what we have learned from our summer internships.

I hope get a chance to enjoy the food trucks and beer garden at George Square. If you happen to be passing Old College, check out the tent of transparency in the quad. It’s pretty impressive. You may also have spotted the #KB101 campaign celebrating more than 100 years up the hill.

I know you saw my message on Wednesday about our return to campus. I hope you will embrace this opportunity to experiment with hybrid working, because what we learn now will shape the options which are offered to us for the rest of our time here. I’m in this for the long haul and I want to make sure we get the best range of possible models which recognise the different shapes and balances of our lives and help us to attract new colleagues in the future. 2 years ago the range of hybrid working options available to us was pretty limited, a year from now I hope they will be much more aligned to diverse needs.

It will be a huge change and as we do our ‘post-covid recovery’ we need to take care. You may remember that in the past we have had workshops and sessions on offer from Fathers Network Scotland Dads’ Mental Health – Fathers Network Scotland , and Changing People  Renew You Personal Development Course for Women (changingpeople.co.uk). Please let me know if you think it would be helpful to start those again.

Please check out the Women in STEM Street Art Trail | Curious Edinburgh  and if you have ideas for other tours which could be added to Curious Edinburgh let Stratos know.

Check out the new videos from St Cecilia’s Hall. If you  like old musical instruments and you haven’t visited our collections you really should.

It’s also never too early to start thinking about  how we can celebrate Ada Lovelace Day in October.

Tickets are available for Data Fest Tickets for DataFest21 and  you should add IT Futures Conference to your diary. Euan promises that it will be a showcase of the future for hybrid events.

I have been told not to mention the Festive/Christmas party as I might jinx something.

Stay safe,


Director, LTW.

Friday 20th August

fully booked

Dear All,

Well done for another week. Only four weeks to go until Welcome Week again. So soon.

The start of term is a busy time for us all, so please stay focussed on how your services will run in a hybrid model. We will have new things like Zoom in Learn and Miro to contend with, in addition to a huge strain on our LST  and EDE helpdesks to support hybrid teaching and meeting rooms. We are bringing in re-enforcements in some areas but please be kind to colleagues if stress levels rise.  Due to the current worldwide shortages of both hinge and bracket, we may find ourselves beaming into hybrid meetings with cameras on the floor, which will be a drag.

I see that James’ Wikipedia cake has been getting international coverage again.  A definite advantage in being back together in the office will be the possibility that the #ISGbakers will share cakes, not just on social media.

As we move towards the end of the summer internships, we have time to reflect on experiences, business outcomes and personal development. You will all have had your ADRs by now and if you haven’t please chase your manager for that. As you know I always like to celebrate successes and so I am much chuffed to hear that we are shortlisted for two more industry awards for how we promote innovation and diversity in our organisation .  The awards are from Computing magazine. https://event.computing.co.uk/digitaltechnologyleadersawards/en/page/2021-finalists

We are finalist in 2 categories: Best Place to Work in Digital and Project Team of the Year. The awards are for the work we do in supporting student interns into our organisation and the work the interns do in Learn Foundations. We have won awards for this work before, so to get more prizes reflects your sustained excellence.  The winners will be announced at a glamorous awards ceremony on Wednesday 13 October in fancy London. I am considering booking a table at the awards, please let me know if a) you might be living in London in October and b) you own eveningwear.

If you haven’t caught up with each other yet in person, the courtyards at Art College and High School Yards are set up with seating and bars and a bookshop at ECA. Very pretty and very empty of an evening. If you like a nice place to sit out and you aren’t ready for crowds, I recommend as a place to stop by on a fine evening.  Stuart tells me there is also a neat eatery tucked away in the multi-storey carpark.

Mary is helping to find venues for our next all-staff meeting. I’m thinking less hybrid, more hydro….

Stay safe,


Director, LTW

Friday 27th August

pipes and drums

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

Myles has blogged about podcasting https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/mylesblaney/michael-myles-learning-tech-podcast-the-story-so-far/ and Tracey features as this month’s celebrity guest.

Nicola Sturgeon was the celebrity guest at graduations last night  https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2021/graduate-castle-celebrations   watch the live stream for a dose of pipes and drums again this evening.

The Book Mooc & James Tait Black Prize winners have been announced,  Electrifying tales claim UK’s oldest book awards | The University of Edinburgh

Clea and Erin have explained the work they’ve been doing LTC Special Event – Intern Insights -Wikidata, Knowledge Equity and Wikisourcery – YouTube

I am incredibly impressed with the creative thinking, teamworking and problem solving  skills so many of you are demonstrating.  Much appreciated. The facilities staff are in measuring desks and now that we have a note of your chosen days to come in, we can work through this data with H&S colleagues to ensure we have appropriate numbers in the building.

Callum has been doing sterling work (as ever) ensuring that we have the right kit for moving back to our office desks. The Digital Skills Team have created and published six Top Tips guides to help staff with hybrid working Hybrid Meetings (sharepoint.com).  If you are bringing your bike in, remember you need a new card for the lock up.

If you have chosen your days and would like to be included in a focus group looking specifically at the hybrid models which suit particular groups (working parents, carers, menopausal persons, people with declared disabilities, weekend workers, nightowls  etc) let me know.  Hybrid Working – Home (sharepoint.com) the Hybrid Working Programme was set up to investigate how this different way of working might be incorporated into future work patterns.  In exploring hybrid working, we get the opportunity for ourselves to re-think how, where and when work is delivered, so as ever I am keen for all to be involved.

If you are interested in discussing toxic positivity and tragic optimism the resource list for our ISG reading group is available containing a number of videos and articles looking at the idea of TP from different POV.


If you would like to accelerate your portfolio writing try  CMALT Accelerator Workshop October 2021 | Association for Learning Technology

If you need to accelerate your presentation writing, time is fast running out ALT Annual Conference 2021 – | Association for Learning Technology

Stay safe,


Director LTW

Friday 3rd September

I fear the Shows are trolling us. ***king circus.

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

You completed 100% of 103 ADRs before the deadline. Thank you all for that effort to get them all done and sorted.

The last vestiges of the Festivals are being cleared away from campus, and the Shows have arrived in the Meadows. Scream if you want to go faster.

Next week many of you will be attending or presenting at ALT conference. Another live rollercoaster platform to experience, I’ll be interested in your feedback.

Argyle House is now open, it’s not crowded and colleagues who are in are working hard to contribute to the hybrid university. It is very important that we do not fall into unhelpful, 2-tier silos of people who are on campus and people who are off, and I encourage each of you to come in, check your desk, have some face to face meetings and set up any new technology you need.

Each of you should check the webpages which describe your services. Check for out- of-date references to COVID or to how teaching was done last year. Check for dead links referencing training for hybrid teaching or recordings of training sessions which lead nowhere.   We will need to be offering a full suite of training to staff.  I am VERY concerned that our web pages are out of date as this gives a poor impression of your services. Our LTW comms, webpages and newsletters for the start of term must be clear with neon signs and flashing lights on teaching.

This year is going to be  even more complex. Colleagues have returned from their academic summer and started to select their modes of teaching. In a series of unexpected changes, there is widespread concern at so many sessions planned to still be online, despite the fact that students will be back in town. Apparently there may be more than 10,000 students queuing to attend virtual/synchronous lectures from study spaces in the Library on a Wednesday at 11am during semester 1, so we will still be dealing with overload on platforms and need clear advice on how to flip, turn, rotate, record, store and share.  I expect there will be more questions about lecture recording than we had last year and helpdesk enquiries may be confusing as colleagues may be using any one of several different tools for their hybrid teaching. Fingers crossed we do not experience vertical drop out of Learn or slow-climb of Kaltura as we did this time last year.

The fit out of classrooms and meeting rooms continues at a fair pace, we are grateful to have Craig join us to help with the comms.

I am getting a lot of scary questions about how we will ensure that teaching this year is ‘still accessible’ so have a discussion in each of your teams about how we answer that and what information on our web pages we point to.

You have been busy this summer and we now have a raft of papers going to university committees in September. Updates to the OER and Accessible Learning policies and business cases for VLE upgrade and micro-credential platforms. as well as a rapidly changing e-assessment and subtitling landscape.

Despite the widespread frustrations about the People and Money system, the EDI teams have lobbied hard and you can now choose to indicate your pronouns in the name field and it will follow through into office 365. Swings and roundabouts.

We are at full tilt for the start of term now.  Buckle up and try not to spew on the waltzers,


Director, LTW

Friday 10th September

Dear All,

Well done for another week. Thank you for joining me in experimenting with hybrid meetings, it’s been lovely to see you in Argyle House.  Still plenty of space if anyone else would like to try it out.

Societies fair is occupying Bristo Square for all your poster and house plant needs.  Hopefully the students will make more use of it than they did the big blue box Controversial Edinburgh Uni ‘student bar’ cost £7k a day for just 61 days open – Edinburgh Live

Thank you for all the effort to get our web pages up to date, it really is appreciated by our staff and students when our information and services look well maintained.

Jon and Tracey have blogged: https://www.teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk/reflections-on-the-use-of-personae-in-learning-design-activities/ and Vicki has been helping students to stay safe online.

107 training sessions are planned for September. Thank you to all who deliver those. Welcome weeks are well under way, and we have more students and more confused students than ever, so please make sure you are attending to your services. The digital skills team are seeing up their stall in the main library and the transitions courses are available to all students online.

Thank you also for the presentations you made at ALT conference. I expect recordings are available if you missed it. Stuart, Tracey and Marcello have shared theirs https://drive.google.com/file/d/1P9vaAZmcUZhRjLQDEleuxPRh33g9W88_/view

ALT’s  Ethical Framework for Learning Technology was launched at the conference  https://www.alt.ac.uk/about-alt/what-we-do/alts-ethical-framework-learning-technology .  They are keen to gather examples if you would like to contribute case studies.

Speaking of ethics,  Michael Feldstein is always worth reading https://eliterate.us/the-edx-aftermath/

On Monday the Principal’s message goes live Principal’s Welcome | The University of Edinburgh . The University is rapidly reshaping itself with rapidly changing data and adopting a Bayesian approach of “constantly updating our beliefs in proportion to the weight of new evidence”.

The university has a new ‘Student Voice’ policy studentvoicepolicy.pdf (ed.ac.uk) which will be of interest to those of you involved in UX activities. You may quote it and use it as support in project bids, LTW is the equivalent of a ‘school’.

Stratos has his own IMDB page  imdb.com/name/nm9971452/  and our subtitling robots are readying themselves for rapid translations.

Also experiencing world-wide fame is Marcello, whose article on THE Digital campus has had miles more views than any other UoE article on the site https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/instructional-design-advice-how-translate-your-academic-knowledge-effective-online-course

Learning for a Sustainable Future launched https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-for-sustainable-future and our cats and dogs MOOC is straight in at number 4 in  the top ten ‘unusual’ courses https://www.digitaleducationawards.com/post/ten-unusual-online-courses

As Holyrood hears plea for Queen to pardon thousands of Scottish women, our witches map got mentioned again https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/scotland/1849701/new-interactive-map-shows-where-men-and-women-accused-of-witchcraft-lived-in-the-north-and-north-east/

The People and Money system continues to function as an effective recruitment freeze. Thank you to you all who persevere.


Director, LTW

Friday 17th September

Dear All,

Well done for another busy week.  Only one early outage recorded – Congratulations to Laura – (who will not be reading this email).

Welcome to Jo  who will be covering for Laura in Digital Skills.  Well done to Neil and Lorna for the labour of getting the review of the OER policy past Senate and to any of you who have managed to get any jobs advertised. Tracy and Andrew managed to push out a truckload of fluffy gonks at the welcome week fair. I have been to the University SLT away day to remind them that we are quite good at  delivering online learning, and we have been invited to give a paper about open education at  the newborn Sustainability, Social & Civic Responsibility Committee.  New lawn has been laid at Old College and the university continues to celebrate its status in various league tables and rankings and hopes no-one mentions the NSS. The Glaswegians and Fifers continue to improve.

Lorraine and Craig have been doing sterling work on the emotional rollercoaster  of getting comms out and about. Please can I ask you, (particularly those of you who are school reps), to have a read of our learning technology newsletter and our Media Hopper newsletter and acquaint yourselves with our new stance on Zoom and our new advice around making lectures accessible.  There is a lot of blurred backgrounds and misinformation out there.

Ewan has been working on his website Wikimedian in Residence | The University of Edinburgh and Jenni will be championing this work in embedding digital skills in the curriculum as part of curriculum review.

We have papers going to ITC about the VLE, captioning and Top Hat.  The debates over passing or dropping the mics continue.

Have a good weekend and get some sleep because next week brings the full pain of the start of teaching. Let me know if you need gas and air.

Stay safe,


Director, LTW

Friday 24th September

Dear All,

Well done  for another week.

It’s the start of term and Jon’s boat is nearly finished. We’ve got student helpers on board and everything is starting to feel a bit like old times.  Media Hopper Replay is the star of the show,  with live streaming and Zoom recordings  and Media Hopper Create getting a well-deserved rest. Stephen played his first gig in London since lockdown.  MyEd was briefly shy, but Mary coaxed it back into the limelight.

Bake Off is back and this year we all have a better chance of getting a taste if James and Delia come into the office.

We’ve got job ads out for more new colleagues to join us on stage.  Other universities may be advertising jobs to help them get started with online learning. At Edinburgh we are taking it to the next level. We need someone to be Learning Technology Team  Manager working with the MOOCs , micromasters and online courses teams

Learning Technology Team Manager – University of Edinburgh Jobs Careers (oraclecloud.com) (Grade 8) and we need a web developer Assistant Web Developer – University of Edinburgh Jobs Careers (oraclecloud.com) (Grade 6) to work with our development and interactive content design teams. It could be you.

Our front of house teams have been providing 1st line support  and volumes for Learning & Teaching Technologies go up to level 11. The average number of calls received daily has been increasing week on week since mid-July as staff get courses ready for the start of semester.   LTS worked late into the night on Friday to get the ECA Teaching venues ready for performance.  “It was a thrill to be in there today and see how beautiful the rooms look, and to see the tech working. I know how much effort you’ve all put in to make this happen, and many staff have commented how impressed they are, and that they are looking forward to teaching there next week. Please pass on our thanks and appreciation to all the relevant folk.”  Get ready for the ITI teams to rock the network though, and be ready to catch anything that falls over in the teaching rooms.

The Learn Foundations user group went well with academic colleagues joining us in Argyle House and online.  Learn Foundations will continue to be our institutional approach to good basic course design.  Lorraine is sending out her ‘closing one door and opening another’ comms. Board members were particularly mindful of the extra lengths taken by all of you in the learning technology community to support hybrid teaching.  In preparation for the first steps in moving the University to Learn Ultra, we have started rehearsing now.

Emma has blogged Defining the UXD process to support a user-centred web publishing platform – Website and Communications Blog and Duncan will tell you if you are top of the charts Measurement strategy in Google Analytics – Website and Communications Blog (ed.ac.uk)

Remember to use the logos  I sent round to celebrate that you are winners ( well, finalists)  in the Computing Magazine digital leadership awards. The people make the place.

Have a good weekend,


Director, LTW

Friday 1st October

Sick Kids no more.

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

So pleased to see so many of you have overcome the mental hurdle and made it in to Argyle House. It’s been lovely to see you and hear so many new ideas and stories.

Thank you also to those of you who are trying out the new kit in the various meetings rooms, the more feedback we can give into the design of the hybrid meeting set up, the better it will be.  Campus is buzzing. The turnout for welcome week events were good and teaching is off to a good start with hundreds of lectures being delivered in rooms every day. Some really impressive kit-out is going on in teaching spaces and each meeting I am in seems to be finding more and more solutions to meeting the demands of our colleagues.

The university community grant pot is open again Community grants | The University of Edinburgh if you are involved in  any community groups who might want closer links with the university.

Rachael’s been counting our Sept MOOC stats and……….. We’ve got over 4 million enrolments . Which is pretty darn impressive. Well done all.

October, as ever is Black History Month, our editathons are a great place to get involved in exploring this part of Scottish history and our Curious Edinburgh tours are perfect for a crisp autumnal day.

Please remember and take advantage of Friday’s  in LTW being free of ‘meetings’  and time for ’writing’. It’s National Poetry Day  on 7Th October so I will be giving prizes for the best Hybrid Learning Haiku. I hope to see at least one submitted by each team.

It’s Ada Lovelace Day  on 12th October so please take a moment to think about resources  we can celebrate and promote.

Speaking of celebrating, our ‘Edinburgh Model for Online Teaching’ is a shortlisted finalist in the 2021 Global Academic Development Good Practice Awards.  ‘Global’  in this context means ‘Australian’ so if you are  a night owl who knows about academic development and would like to attend these awards, let Stuart know.

Breaking news today is that the Covid 19 MOOC is a finalist in the Smarter Working Live Awards 2021 https://www.smarterworkinglive.com/shortlist/  That one has a dinner in London in November so we may need to activate our southern dining contingent for that as well.

Lizzy has been attending  the Open Global conference, but we still  have to hang on a long time to find out if we won any awards. As someone said ‘ it’s like the long pause on Britain’s Got Talent … but really, really long’.

Speaking of taking a long time, Tracy has finally submitted her CMALT but can be reassured that she is not the slowest person by any stretch.

Next week we wave goodbye to Kate and to Mari-Nikol, both of whom have been integral to developing the media studio services which serve our colleague who want to make video for online teaching. Thank you both for all that you have done – this year during lock-down particularly. The work Kate did to ensure that our pop-up studios were safe for all to use was incredibly detailed and all new. I’m sorry we never got to do the ‘women as drone pilots’ project together.

Have a good weekend.

Stay safe.


Friday 8th October

Dear All,

Well done for another week. Well done to everyone back on campus, my apologies if I haven’t managed to catch you to say hello in the office.  I hope you all found your welcome back card beautifully designed by Gill.

Congratulations to Lizzy for winning an Open Global Implementer Award and to Neil for winning the LTW  National Poetry Day Edtech Haiku prize.

The judges’ favourite haiku was:

Flexible Hybrid
Overcomes some challenges.
Let’s not lose these gains!

Your next chance for a fabulous prize will be the LTW annual pumpkin carving elite sports event, you know what to do.

We have found the life-size lego Ada in the office and we have ordered algorithm snacks for our editathon on Tuesday up at JCMB. If you can’t attend the editathon we have many other things to do. The UCISA Women in Technology group are running a full day conference WiT21 – UCISA  and Lilinaz and I were  already the warm-up act.  You can nominate your STEM heroine for our Wikipedia editathon, you can download and colour your own Ada and Mary, and you can check out our resource list dedicated to bridging the digital gender divide https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/ada-lovelace-day/ada-lovelace-day-2021/

If you get the Wikipedia editing bug, you can now earn an Edinburgh Award for your digital volunteering:  Activities and Versions | The University of Edinburgh

IT Futures conference featuring Craig on the main stage is now open for booking https://www.itfutures.ed.ac.uk/

Please join us at our next ISG Reading Group on Thursday 14th October, at 12.30. We will be discussing Online Shaming, Freedom of Speech, and Cancel Culture in universities.

ISG Home working research insights reports completed by Lilinaz on HOME working are available on the Hybrid and Home Working site Research Insights (sharepoint.com)  If you haven’t participated in a HYBRID working yet, please do so. If you don’t, your experiences will not be included as part of our research and planning and it is really important that we gather data from everyone, because we are all different.

Lesley reports that the experiments with voice recognition cameras are going well in the ISG meeting rooms where the cameras are picking up the faces in the murals and artworks and thinks they are speaking.   I’m saying nothing about the big stripey horse’s ass in the Boardroom.

Thank you as ever to those who are sharing home baking.  Navratri Goddess snacks are always welcome. I’m glad I’m getting the exercise of my morning commute!

Please remember to book and use up your annual leave. If you want time off for feasting at Divali, Rohatsu, Posadas Navidenas, Solstice,  Zarathost Diso, Thanksgiving, or Channukah, or to avoid being in town for the LTW Christmas party, book it with your manager now.

Fingers crossed for winning on Wednesday evening. Thank you to all who are feasting for us at the London Waldorf Hilton.

Eat well,


Director, LTW

Friday 15th October

Dear All,

Well done for another week.  Welcome to our Hybrid Classroom Helpers in LST Angelina and Ugne.

We reported NO downtime for our VLEs in September and everyone in DLAM can briefly breathe a sigh of relief.

For Ada Lovelace Day we joined editors all over the world  to make the internet a little less sexist and attempted to change what you get when you google ‘May’ and ‘Badger’.

The big news is our storming success at the Digital Leaders Awards. The Learn Foundations Project won Team of the Year! A very glamorous contingent were there to collect the award, including Callum sporting  a kilt with tanned knees. A new chunk of glass can now be added to our trophy cabinet. This is not the first award this project has won and it is a great credit to you all.

We have also won an Open Global Open Assets Award for our  Open.ed Collection of GeoSciences Outreach on TES.  2021 Open Assets Awards Winners – OE Awards for Excellence (oeglobal.org)

New to look out for in the awards season: the Digital Skills Festival has been shortlisted for a Staff Development Forum (SDF) Developing Excellent Practice Award to recognise and celebrate outstanding staff development individuals or teams. That one goes for further judging in November. Any teams not currently in the running for an industry award in 2021 need to get a wriggle on!

If you like to present, there are current calls for papers: ALT Winter Conference 2021 – Call for Proposals Now Open! | Association for Learning Technology  and LILAC | Call for Presentations (lilacconference.com)

If you like students, there are current calls for creative ideas: https://www.ed.ac.uk/student-experience-grants  these are one-off contributions of up to £5,000 to support innovative projects and initiatives that will enhance students’ social, academic, sporting or cultural development this year Lorna worked with students to create an open access textbook – we could do more projects with students if you know any who would like to make things together with us.

If you like open sources OpenUK’s “state of open in the UK” research is the latest report https://openuk.uk/stateofopen/ and includes some very interesting numbers of value.

If you like the planet you can be part of our “Live at COP26” course Be part of the action with our free “Live at COP26” online course | The University of Edinburgh

If you like voting for things, ask Wesley about his  polling service procurement project.

If you would like an LTW hoodie for wearing this Fall, send me your best suggestions for what should be printed on it. Current suggestions include  ‘at home to hybrid’, and ’edtech in the hood’. I’m sure you can do better.

Stay safe and keep winning,


Director, LTW

Friday 22nd October

ghost pumpkins.

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

The heating in Argyle House continues to be an ever-changing condition. Some days it is lovely and toasty, other days not so much.  Thank you also for your suggestions about warm clothing. Many amongst you had varying views as to what would be most fetching, so I have settled on the idea of vouchers for spending at the university shop. They have a range of hoodies, scarves, mittens and snoods. Let me know if you would like one as part of your regular hybrid working pattern.

It’s nearly that time again when the world will be looking for their witches, so I expect we will see a spike in activity on our interactive historical witches map. https://witches.is.ed.ac.uk/

Get your knives out and images in for the 2021 LTW pumpkin carving comp.

Congratulations to all involved with the ‘Can’t Stop the Music’ project particularly Kate, Calum, Geoff and Lizzie and all who helped with the filming sessions and editing work. https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/ede/2021/09/30/discover-st-cecilias-hall-and-musical-instrument-collection/

Thank you for all the reporting you do on use of your services. It is really heartening to see that many of the tools we introduced people to last year are still being used ( as part of hybrid teaching). Learn logins are consistently high with up to 75,000 logins per day.   Collaborate maintains more than double the sessions of 2019 and 22 times more attendees across those sessions than back in 2019.   There have been record numbers of media plays in Media Hopper Create.  Content created last year is being  adapted and re-used. Items uploaded  to Media Hopper Create are up by 423% in Aug and Sept. Plays are up by 430% and minutes viewed is up by 924%.  Lecture recording activity is increasing as is live streaming. Zoom is now being used with Media Hopper Replay – a new integration you added to accommodate hybrid teaching.

Thank you to all the LST teams supporting the hybrid meetings and teaching. Lesley and Lucas get special mention for some hybrid hand-holding of VIPs in the Raeburn Room.

Thank you to those who continue to spend time on recruiting new colleagues. We are gathering a  shared document of feedback on P&M processes, so if you have feedback in safe-for-work language please pass those to your nearest member of LTW SMT.

Stay safe and warm,


Director, LTW

Friday 29th October

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

Great to see so many activities online in support for COP 26.  We  have a call for content stories of online learning students and academics, thank you to Ari, as well as a social media shout about our short courses related to sustainability.

After a week of rain you have to admire the optimism of the organisers of the Samhuinn fire festival.

Last week we waved goodbye to Dave and we continue to seek new colleagues as elearning systems developers, communication leads and project managers. CAHSS is also seeking a new  Grade 9 Head of IT if you know anyone interested.

The UCU are balloting members for a strike before Christmas but the Scotrail train drivers have called off theirs.  

It is pleasing to see that the university has found some money to restart reward and recognition for professional staff next year in response to our sustained excellence.  

Speaking of sustained excellence,  you’ve won yet another award: this time the  Open Policy Award for adoption creation and implementation of an open policy mandate with a clear impact of public investment in the development of open knowledge through the efficient use and reuse of resources for the public good.   2021 Open Practices Awards + Open Resilience Award Winners – OE Awards for Excellence (oeglobal.org)
I hope you have all secured your place at our festive lunch. I am pleased we are able to subsidise this again to make it  more affordable.  I’m looking forward to celebrating successes and achievements with you all again. If you are planning a lot of festive shopping , make sure you check out the retail shopping discounts you get as part of your staff benefits. 

 You’ll remember from Lilinaz’s research  that 89% of University of Edinburgh staff would like hybrid working in the future. I am very pleased that in LTW we are very close to that number. If you don’t currently have a hybrid working arrangement in place, please chat with your manager. Those of you who sent me requests to be kitted out with winter woollies, thank you, the vouchers are being knitted for you now.Remember to get your flu jab if you can find one. Collect the set.

Best wishes for pumpkins and galoshes,


Director, LTW

Friday 5th November

Dear All,

Well done for another week. I am glad you are enjoying the new Teams Rooms tech.

The hoodie makers over at the university shop have been flat out filling our orders and you have been flat out interviewing communications managers, learning technology managers, project managers, digital marketing interns and data analyst interns. We are overwhelmed with responses from students who would like to work with us on student development projects too.

Jenni’s team are all over the new L&D functionality of P&M and LinkedIn Learning now has access to your outlook diary to pop in the training it thinks you should be doing based on what it hears you typing in chat.

Good to see the Web team have won a shiny new award from Open UK. It will look lovely in the trophy cabinet and replace our ancient Webby from 2013. Thank you to Jon, Rachael, Lizzy and Nicky who are going to venture down to Manchester ( North of England, south of Scotland), for the Smarter Working awards dinner.

It was nice to see so many mentions of ISG projects in the Bulletin and interesting to see so many mentions of ISG leadership in UCU updates.

I will warn you now that on my annual leave I have been reading Richard Thaler’s book about Nudges, so I will soon be asking you to explain to me how we are using choice architecture in our LTW projects.

Top Hat have been wrestled into submission and have finally managed to sign our DPA.

Please make sure your Christmas card lists are up to date – pass names to Lorraine.

Happy Diwali.
Keep your #isgpets indoors tonight and remember to check your bonfires for hedgehogs.


Director,  LTW

Friday 12th November

overflowing with good data

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

Great to see LTW dominating the pumpkin-carving competition in all categories.

Thank you to Ryan and Callum for supporting COP events over the weekend. Events were livestreaming over EdWeb to Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Spain, Botswana, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, United States, India, Brazil, France, Greece, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Brazil, Poland, Switzerland, and Sri Lanka.

If you would like to achieve similar audiences for your presentations, ALT are looking for people to run CPD workshops:  http://go.alt.ac.uk/HostACPDWebinar

Remember you can use our institutional membership of EDUCAUSE to get first sight of the trends they predict for 2022 2022 Higher Education Trend Watch | EDUCAUSE

You may have spotted that the UCU  Edinburgh voted to strike. Winter is coming and we may see shivering pickets again.  If the strikes ( or action short of a strike ‘ASOS’) go ahead it is worth having  a think about how this might impact your work or your projects. During industrial action it is harder to persuade colleagues to attend project steering groups etc for things that they feel are additional to their core role. The publicity around the strike will centre on the academic colleagues withdrawing their labour from delivering teaching or doing marking, but the UCU is a union for various types of people working in higher education so IT, Library and other professional services staff are also part of that union.  It is not impossible that the putting up or taking down of digital learning materials, or catching up on meetings missed by watching recordings,  becomes a bone of contention.

If you are not part of the union yet and if the gender pay gap doesn’t worry you, the gender pension gap should. I have started a handy info page on the topic:  Gender pension gap – Wikipedia

Pressure from unions sometimes prompts the university to action old promises, so the Staff Experience Committee have signed off a project plan to develop the university People Strategy and another all-staff engagement survey may appear in 2022. There will also be encouragement to staff to update your protected characteristics in People and Money.  Please consider yourselves encouraged.

Enjoy the festive lights switch on at Teviot this evening Edinburgh students celebrate Teviot Christmas light switch on with free festive party – Edinburgh Live

Best wishes, stay safe and warm,


Director, LTW

Friday19th November

Things to be thankful for
Things to be thankful for

Dear All,

Well done for another week.

Happy International Men’s Day.  If you would like to sponsor Maz for Movember again Movember – Home  Catch him this week.

Congratulations to Stuart and all the ‘Edinburgh Model’ team for another excellent finalist award in The Global Academic Development Awards and thank you for your kind nomination for my leadership award.  Luckily for me leadership is made easier by having award-winning teams.   In these  Global Open Education Awards 2021  we have won in 5 categories:  for OER Implementers, Collections Curators, OER Policy, Individual Leadership and Student Leadership. It has been such a boost to know your work is world-class and it is credit to the work you do to ensure Edinburgh is leading in this area.

October saw 4,080 captures in Media Hopper Replay, these are on-campus lectures being recorded from teaching spaces. This is shows how colleagues are getting back into recording and streaming their lectures using equipment which was already available in rooms. Of these, 563  sessions were live streamed so that students not in the room could access synchronously. This includes 485 Zoom recordings that have been processed and published as part of the Zoom/Echo360 integration showing the value of that work in integrating virtual classrooms with Learn and  lecture recording for hybrid delivery.  Colleagues are also still continuing to record sessions from home/office and we have continued to see high levels of engagement with content on the Media Hopper Create service, with over 2.5 million player impressions and nearly 1 million content plays in the month of October 2021.

Excellent progress is being made also in the user experience work for the new web platform, and in the planning for the upgrade to Learn Ultra. These are 2 big service improvement projects which will probably involve all of you in some way , sooner or later.

Please be ready with your start of term activities for the new students who arrive/join in January.

I can report that the senior management are starting the processes for ‘The Planning Round’ in December and so you should be working with your managers to  construct and polish your blue tables, or at least reading the instructions, because we will be hammering them together in the new year.

In the wake of COP 26 I’m occasionally getting questions about the environmental impact and sustainability of our services. We have already shown off the alignment of our services to the UNSDGs, have  a think about anything we should be saying about the airmiles, energy use or planting trees.

Speaking of trees, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Old College is on Thanksgiving, Thursday 25 November 2021. You are all invited, register your place for this event Christmas Tree Lighting Tickets, Thu 25 Nov 2021 at 16:45 | Eventbrite

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Friday 10th December

Hybrid ceilidh at the Castle

Dear All,

Thank you for another week. You will have seen my message yesterday regarding working on campus over the winter period.

Thank you to those who contributed to our discussions about hybrid working at the LTW staff meeting on Thursday and I know many of you are attending IT Futures today. Remember to give Craig your support as he is presenting in the late afternoon slot. Thank you to so many of you who continue to champion our services and technology choices.

We are waving goodbye to more longstanding colleagues this week: Karen Beggs, Lorraine Spalding, Maz Nathoo and Eddy O’Hare are all finishing up soon and I’m sure you will join me in wishing them all the best for the future. Our door is always open.

Thank you to all who fill in the forms, assess the applications and sit on the panels for the new colleagues we will need to recruit. If you have friends, family or contacts who you think might enjoy working in LTW keep an eye out for our adverts.

Many of you will be attending and presenting at the ALT winter conference next week Programme : ALT Winter Conference 2021  incorporating the Learning Technologist of the Year Awards which we have won in the past.

You may also have spotted that EDINA Notable was a finalist in the Digital Education Awards for STEAM product of the year  Categories 2021 | Digital Education Awards and Edina Digimap is a featured product in the Edtech 50 Awards Yearbook 2021 Edtech 50 Awards 2021/22 — EdtechUK

For those of you who joined the festive lunch here’s the festive quiz rankings:

  • Team Frosty Happy-star (49/68)
  • Team Cookie Candy-snowball (43/68)
  • Team Twinkle Glitter-snowball (42/68)
  • Team Wet Ears (41/68)
  • Team Jingle Winter-sparkles (25/68)

Questions and answers for checking and reuse are attached below.  If you can prove you were in the winning team, let me know.

Best wishes, stay safe,


Director, LTW

Friday 17th December 2021

Dear All,

Thank you for your work for another week.  You have been busy supporting online exams and fending off major cyber-attacks. Official advice regarding covid behaviours keep changing, so please stay tuned to your email if you are working. The Christmas Change Freeze is now underway. Our library and study spaces will be open as usual over Christmas and New Year Festive Holidays | The University of Edinburgh

We are already getting alerts for things to look forward to in the new year.  Learning and Teaching conference abstracts should be in by February Learning and Teaching Conference 2022 | The University Of Edinburgh (eventscase.com)

International Women’s Day in March will have  theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” International Women’s Day 2022: “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” | UN Women

Blackboard World is at  the Disney Swan and Dolphin Park in Orlando in July. This news may attract some sun worshippers, dolphin fans and Ultra early adopters. Save the Date | Anthology Together

Sadly missing out of that conference will be Steph, who after many years wrestling Blackboard data is off to manage some different services with conferences elsewhere. Thank you for your many years of service. Congratulations to Delia and Candice who have both secured good jobs in DLAM, I am very pleased we are able to keep you with us. We will welcome more new colleagues in the first week of January.

Lorraine has sent her final LTW communication ‘ I would like to thank you for the lovely leaving messages, this means such a lot to me.  I have enjoyed my time working in LTW and will miss you all very much.  Take care and wishing you a very happy festive break.’ And Ari has been busy making more  promotional assets https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/1_bk08h62i

Great to see so many LTW achievements made it into the ISG round up video. Well done all.

If you are finishing up for a festive break, please remember your many colleagues who do work over the break providing essential cover and out of hours support. We couldn’t be the organisation we are without them.

Best wishes,


Director, LTW

Starting a new page for 2022