what not to do with lecture recordings

lecture recording guidelines
Excellent guide by Emily Nordmann et al

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

what we are doing about digital accessibility

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

What with the new digital accessibility legislation coming into place, I am gathering together a list of things/projects/initiatives and services we offer in Learning Teaching and Web Services to support accessibility online. We have a support service in ISG which provides practical testing and advice on meeting the requirements of legislation. At a strategic level we take a broad view on accessibility and inclusive learning.

We will be presenting the  University of Edinburgh experience as an institutional case study at UCISA.

A working knowledge of accessibility is a key knowledge set for learning technologists and web developers and I’m very proud of how well we do in this area. I am often asked to support colleagues when they are writing up their CMALT portfolios and describing the policy environment in which they work, it is important that we reflect on what is quite a nuanced area of work.

I wrote my initial CMALT application in 2008 about the policies which shaped the context of my work. At that time those were: The new HEA UKPSF framework, the University of Leeds strategy and vision towards 2015, the HEFCE e-learning strategy, SENDA legislation on accessibility, copyright and emerging Creative Commons and CETIS -led technology standards. Back in 2004 I employed one of the first institutional web accessibility officers at University of Leeds. The second edition of our book about designing accessible learning is due out any day now…

Website accessibility

University of Edinburgh has a huge corporate web estate so, as a central team, we are taking what we believe to be the most pragmatic and effective way forward toward improving accessibility, and thus reducing overall risk.

University Website, MyEd, Web Search and our content support widgets have all accessibility statements published reflecting on our capabilities and access to support and report inaccessible content etc. What really helped was the use of EdGEL consistently across our services.

We will proceed with our ‘Future Web Services’ project, in conjunction with a migration to Drupal 8. We will take a stringent approach to accessibility throughout design, development and testing, considering both the end users’ experience and accessibility needs. We will proceed with a content audit with a view to decommissioning and archiving portions of the estate as appropriate and rationalising the remainder, redeveloping content as needed and with accessibility in mind. We will target agree key user journeys giving us a prioritised backlog for more in-depth accessibility assessment.   Our web teams will develop, adopt and communicate policy, standards and guidelines around accessibility as part of our continuing development of our digital governance.

We attend every year, the UK webmasters conference the event typically covers a wide range of topics or relevance to this sector including digital transformation, website/digital governance, university strategy, digital strategy, UX, accessibility, design, development, user-journeys and tasks, team management, leadership, content, measurement and analytics, change management, student recruitment and retention, tools, technologies and communications.

Accessible VLEs and platforms

Our VLE and media platform teams have been battling to get our accessibility statements and roadmaps straight. Karen’s team have been working with colleagues across the sector to gather best practice guidance for Learn. Some of our platforms are cloud hosted and vendor supplied which makes things challenging.

Accessible course design of our VLE

Our EDE teams offer advice on how to deliver inclusive and accessible technology enhanced learning. We are currently working with six Schools and a Deanery to implement a new site structures in Learn.   The new site structure is being rolled out to Schools with the support of a team of student interns during the summer break to create consistent courses within Learn in preparation for the start of the 19/20 academic year. The aim is to create a new site structure that will provide a consistent student experience by making course specific materials easy to find as well as supporting staff in delivering rich, online courses.  It will ensure courses are more accessible and inclusive and the terminology used relating to learning and teaching is more consistent.  We are finding a huge range of lefthand menu options being used, as many as 400+ in one school.

Digital accessibility is a particularly strong example of the universal benefits of inclusive practice. Students enjoy more usable and flexible learning resources, listening to lecture recordings or podcasts while traveling on the bus, or using heading styles to go straight to the important part of the course handbook. An inclusive approach allows all students to learn in ways that suit them best. If we can respond effectively to these regulations, all students will benefit from a better experience.

Accessible content in the VLE

The student interns are working over the summer to complete accessibility audits of course areas  with a view to reporting back to heads of schools.  They are sampling  course materials and producing  accessibility scores.  This work is gaining a lot of interest from VLE support teams in other Universities. If you are interested in talking to the project team or looking to find out more information regarding the project contact the Learn Foundations team and we are presenting about it at ALT Conference in early September.

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

Library Website Improvements

A workstream in our Digital Library Programme is looking at making improvements in particular to Collections, but also, some changes to DiscoverEd, with the focus being on improving search for collections.ed but also accessibility and usability where possible. We offer a huge range of digital resources  and we are part of the IIIF consortium on digital imaging standards

Service level descriptions

In LTW we publish service level descriptions for all our services which include a statement on accessibility, and we publish Equality Impact Assessments for any new or changed services.

For example, here is the accessibility statement from our digital skills training service SLD

Accessibility and equality compliance:
Links to relevant documentation
Written resources are available in alternative format on request, as indicated on each resource. Resources are all available online.

Slides and visuals used on our learning events are designed with accessibility in mind.

Training rooms in Argyle House are installed with hearing loops and have a height-adjustable desk in each room.

All videos developed in house can be viewed at different sizes and have captions.

An Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) has been carried out on Lynda.com.

Promoting universal design

We have specialists in our LTW teams who promote and train in universal design, whether that is design of digital materials, web sites, communications, rooms, spaces, signage or  AV kit.  Neil’s team have led the development of the  new look for MyEd designed for mobile first, making it easier to use on any device, wherever you are. The menu-based navigation makes it easier to find content, and avoids the need to load content-heavy tabs, making it faster to get to the content that you need.

Accessible communications

Our LTW graphic design teams offer expert advice on  accessibility in print and design. With design for print, we always do our best to comply with University standards and where we need to, we will add the accessibility strapline to printed materials. Design for print often requires a balance of aesthetics with accessibility and Sonia’s teams have to carefully consider the purpose of the thing that we are producing. Finding that compromise is always a challenge that we do our best to make as a design team. We endeavour at all times to ensure that we are following best practice in terms of accessibility. This may be through looking at the following guidelines or consulting directly with experts from the very start of the project at the initial design consultation. Here are some of the links we may refer to for our information.

ISG: https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/help-consultancy/accessibility/creating-materials EdGel: https://gel.ed.ac.uk And other guidelines such as the Government: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inclusive-communication/accessible-communication-formats

We also ensure that our newsletters and graphics are available in a variety of accessible formats. We make sure to check that our LTW comms officers understand about accessible and inclusive communications.

Accessible blogging

When writing a blog, it is easy to forget that some visitors have vision impairments and disabilities that can come in the way of their reading experience.   It is our responsibility to make our websites as accessible as possible so we don’t discriminate against any of our users.   Anne-Marie’s teams offer advice on how to write an accessible blog on our WordPress service
Accessible data
Through our wikidata projects we are sharing data sets online and making them accessible to the world to use, adapt and interrogate in creative ways.

Conversational interfaces

Increasingly users interact with internet content via voice interfaces such as Siri and Alexa and text based chat bots. In LTW we are  leading in the development of conversational interfaces for student support. We are running training sessions for students and staff.

AV in teaching spaces

Our teaching space development projects contribute to providing an Improved and more consistent user experience​, supporting the accessibility and inclusion objectives of the new Learning and Teaching Spaces Strategy and the Estates strategic goal of creating a world class accessible estate. Lesley’s teams offer training on how to use AV and IT equipment in centrally managed teaching spaces.

Media subtitling

The Subtitling for Media Pilot was established to investigate the feasibility, viability and cost of a student-led transcription service, alongside improving the digital skills of staff and promoting a culture change in our approach to delivering accessible content. The team subtitled public-facing audio and video content within Media Hopper Create, with a focus on content that was embedded in the main University website. Automated subtitling services are notoriously inaccurate and require checking before publication.  In the pilot, subtitles were automatically generated and the student team acted as human mediators, checking and correcting the subtitles and drawing on their own knowledge and expertise of Edinburgh and University life.  As a result of the pilot more media content is open and accessible to all users and new training courses  are available for staff and students on DIY subtitling, aiming to move to a position where subtitling of media is standard practice at the point of creation as far as possible. Following the pilot, we’ll be establishing this as a service in 19/20. In the pilot service, subtitles were automatically generated and the student team acted as human mediators, checking and correcting the subtitles, drawing on their own knowledge and expertise of the HE sector in the process.  Automation is effective at quickly processing large amounts of content; people are good at ensuring the right meaning is conveyed and that accurate sectorspecific terminology is used.  

In this project we subtitled 228 media [a total of 53 hours, 07 minutes play time] during the 12-week pilot. We established average times to subtitle, and identified things that will impact the time taken (accents, technical/scientific words, sound quality) and shared these finding with the sector. We produced a style guide that can be used as a subtitling aid for staff and ran four 2-hour workshops to develop University staff skills in subtitling, developing a successful format for ongoing training provision.We published two videos and five blogs to disseminate information about the pilot .

Accessible work experience and workplace

In designing our projects we think carefully about how we employ students. We are interested in whether digital work is the kind of work that might be attractive to students, specifically those who need some flexibility in hours and location of work. We are aware that this kind of work might offer opportunity for employment for students with caring responsibilities, who have disabilities, or who prefer solo working, and so we make sure to design these job opportunities with this in mind.

We have a number of staff in LTW who have visible and invisible disabilities and we listen to their feedback on how to ensure we have an inclusive workplace.

Professional Development  and training for colleagues

We offer role-based training of staff, including webmasters, developers, designers, content creators, instructional designers.

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

Our course on Effective Digital Content (Writing for the Web) is mandatory if you need access to  edit EdWeb. Bruce is our expert in web accessibility. It is open to all staff and students and available online or in person. This editorial training course covers good practice in writing and structuring information for the web. Nurturing a community of practice can help build leadership in and commitment to IT accessibility. That community of practice can and should reaches across unit and campus boundaries. Institutional challenges require institutional responses and our trainng includes guidance on data protection, freedom of information issues and improving performance in search engine results.

Things 5&6 in our ’23 Things’ course are diversity and accessibility and our collection of online digital skills courses offers dozens of courses on accessibility and these are available for free to students and staff including ‘Accessibility: Creating Accessible Documents in Microsoft Office’ and ‘Creating Accessible PDFs’. We run 2-hour workshops to develop University staff skills in subtitling and a range of courses in creating accessible media and learning content.

We work closely with Institute of Academic Development and our course design service offers clear accessibility advice to colleagues making courses in our VLE.

Lecture recording

We’ve fitted some rooms with lecture recording facilities . We hope that lecture recordings can support a wide range of accessibility and inclusivity needs including those:

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

We offer training  guides on how to make your presentations accessible, and also provides links to useful resources and services within the University and online to help you with this process. We are well aware that in some of our largest lecture theatres the distance from the front to the back of the room is significant. The chalkboard recording facility with Replay allows “zooming in” when playing back, and offers an improved experience for students who might have been at the back of the lecture theatre. We are presenting about it at ALT Conference in early September, and we have podcasts explaining how lecture recording supports inclusive learning for Edinburgh students.

Microphone usage

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

 Accessible online courses

Our distance learning and MOOC platforms have very clear and rigorous rules about the ways in which content is presented. We recognise that some of our learners will have particular needs and circumstances and we will strive to identify and respond to barriers to participation in our courses so that these can be reduced or removed. We view the diversity of our learners as a resource that enhances their learning experience and the experience of other learners.

We work with FutureLearn, Edx and Coursera to make sure our learning content is accessible as it can be for our learners. We provide advice to staff making elearning materials accessible and on licensing which makes making alternative versions permissable.

Policy review

The University of Edinburgh University Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy is due for a review, not least to reflect the technology environment on campus which has changed significantly in the past 6 years and to include the fact that we have online courses and students to whom the policy would also apply.  Much of the technology referred to in the policy is owned by LTW and since the policy is out of date it no longer reflects the technology  we provide.  Policy development meetings are well underway with contributions from web, AV, online learning and digital library teams.

Teaching excellence exemplars

We are working closely with the assistant principals responsible for reviewing the promotions criteria for academic teaching and developing exemplars of excellence to include digital and accessible teaching.

 

 

 

 

how to wear a radio mic with a dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So my last tip is:

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

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

 

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

what do older women want?

*work in progress*

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

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

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

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

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

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

RETAINING WOMEN IN WORK

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

  • Personal development programmes

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

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

  • Raising awareness and widening discussions

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

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

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

  • High profile events  which make women visible

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

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

  • Universal design in technology

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

  • Recognise and rectify historical wrongs

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

  • Professional  and skills development

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

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

  • Flexible working

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

  • Developing male allies

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

 

What else should we be doing?

 

 

 

summer podcasts, summer not

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

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

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

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

data driven

Just some of the roles we recruit to.

The Data Driven Innovation initiative programme led by the University of Edinburgh aims to expand on our existing expertise to grow data based projects, products, and services in the public, private, and third sectors. To do so in a way which is socially inclusive, we must tackle both implicit and explicit biases within the technology communities and industries, and data structures themselves. What can be done to support gender equality in data science at the University of Edinburgh?

Diversity programmes and women in STEM programmes are notoriously hard to implement and evaluate and there needs to be a strong management commitment to make a shift happen. The work we do in ISG to support gender equality in data science at the University of Edinburgh has been planned, sustained, reported and evaluated and is an example of best practice amongst the sector- the Scottish IT sector and in the Universities IT sector.

Information Services Group  aims to be a best practice employer with regard to tackling the gender gap in technology, information science and data science. We are one of the largest employers in the city and we compete with the big banks and famous tech companies in the city to attract and retain female staff.

GENDER EQUALITY IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS

The more diversity we can find in our teams, the more we can be sure that our services and products meet the needs of the diverse student and staff in the university and the more creativity we can support the more innovation and transformation we can deliver. It is vital that we position ourselves in the market as an inclusive employer.

ENGAGING WITH OUR OWN DATA AND STRUCTURAL INEQUALITY

We have delivered on a number of workplace initiatives. Over the last 3 years we have:

  • Improved all our EDI reporting across the organisation.
  • Produced a SMART plan of strategic management actions for 1,3 and 5 years to get us to a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
  • Addressed gender bias in promotion, reward, review processes.
  • Demystified the experience, criteria and competencies for management roles.

Based on decisions that generated by data, our senior managers chose to implement policies that support and benefit all staff. This allows us to have the most inclusive workplace we possibly can.  In 3 years the profile of women across grades has changed significantly with significantly more women now in senior roles at Grades 9 ( up 30%) and 10 ( up 300%) and our recruitment efforts routinely attract a more diverse set of candidates than ever before.

We have worked with third sector organisations such as Fathers Network Scotland, Equate Scotland, Age Scotland, Girl Geek Scotland and Wikimedia Scotland to create new opportunities for staff to engage with practical actions and the celebration of role models and mentors.

PROMOTING VISIBLE ROLE MODELS

We have transformed our ‘working for ISG’ web pages to include information and case studies about the flexible working and family –friendly aspects of our workplace. We have also:

  • Created an employer profile on Linked in and keep it updated with a steady flow of stories about what it is like to work here.
  • Highlighted and showcased on Linkedin some of the women in ISG and their varied digital roles, backgrounds and careers.
  • Engaged with our own history, libraries and collections to discover, highlight and celebrate diversity from our past.
  • Tackled directly women’s lack of engagement and representation with major technology areas such as AV tech, flying drones, media production, creating open source software, and software development for edtech.

CREATING AN ATTRACTIVE WORK CULTURE

When talking about the lack of women in digital technology, the focus tends to be on engaging the interest of girls and supporting women to become qualified in relevant areas. Without change within the industry itself, however, the women who pursue digital technology qualifications will still not remain in or be attracted to the sector. So we think about ways in which the digital technology industry can create a more inclusive and attractive work culture where women aspire to work and remain across their careers. Our activities include:

  • Creating an inclusive environment with a highly visible equality and diversity training programme – Called the Playfair Steps designed to highlight all the ways in which our workplace is experienced.
  • We take an intersectional approach to recognise that people’s identities and social positions at work – particularly in the technology industry – are shaped by multiple and interconnected factors.
  • We have developed a range of activities exploring how a person’s age, disability status, race and ethnicity, gender, gender identity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, and parent status contribute towards their specific experiences.
  • Between October 2016 and February 2018, we surpassed our short-term goal and that 60% of staff have participated in some form of equality and diversity training.
  • High profile events and support for Ada Lovelace day, International Women’s day and naming our training rooms  and systems after inspirational women.

ATTRACTING WOMEN TO THE SECTOR

We are a big recruiter, with a high turnover and a lot of innovation, so we need to attract and retain talent. It became clear that our recruitment effort and language needed to be overhauled. This is still ongoing, with some parts of ISG engaging more than others. We have run several training sessions for recruiting managers on Checking Language, Overcoming Recruitment Bias, and widening Recruitment Searches. We also directly support the female student pipeline by hosting 20-30 student interns every year and offering female-only placements (Scottish Witches Data intern) and women returner-ships ( Data skills training and development) – we do this by working with Equate Scotland

RETAINING WOMEN IN WORK

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

  • Coaching and mentoring for women
  • Events and discussion on topics which raise awareness of gender issues in the workplace such as gendered communications, inclusive language, shared parental leave and menopause.
  • Continuing Professional Development opportunities (such as editathons and data skills training) targeted at women.

We are very aware that we have a large group pf women who have already chosen to work in Information services, who could develop skills more specifically in data science, so we have been running ‘Developing Your Data Skills’ Programme for staff and students at University of Edinburgh this year. The programme has been very successful and we have now had more than 100 learners complete.

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

GAINING EXTERNAL RECOGNITION

This initiative at Edinburgh has already won a number of awards and recognition in the sector.

  • In 2018 we won Universities HR Excellence Award for Equality and Diversity and were finalists in the ‘Employer of the Year’ category in the Scotland Women in Technology Awards and ‘Diversity Project of The Year’ in the Women in IT Excellence Awards.
  • Our case study was highlighted in the Equality Challenge Unit’s briefing on ‘Intersectional Approaches to Equality and Diversity and
  • we were awarded the Scottish Union of Supported Employment (SUSE) Inclusive Workplace award in 2017.
  • Our student pipeline -women students into IT roles as summer interns providing paid work and industry experience winning the Student Employer of the Year (SEOTY) award in 2018.

The work we do  in ISG to support gender equality in data science at the University of Edinburgh has been planned, sustained, reported and evaluated and is an example of best practice. This is what can be done to support gender equality in data science at the University of Edinburgh.

supporting student employability

A picture of some of our interns. Picture not taken by me. Original at: http://www.teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk/mini-series-turning-internships-into-blog-posts-and-friendship-into-teamwork/

Offering students work experience in our STEM organisation is a no-brainer for me.

We get up to date ideas and creative thinking from them. They get real work experience and digital skills from us. The digital sector in Scotland is booming and students are hungry for work experience which will help them to succeed once they graduate. If you are not studying a STEM discipline the digital sector may be hard to enter, we need a pipeline for students to find their way into well paid jobs and new roles.

This is the fourth year I have hosted interns in LTW and the numbers keep getting bigger.  This is credit to all the teams and managers who establish a range of really interesting summer projects and to the reputation we are gaining as a great place to work.

Our interns come to us via a variety of routes. We are happy to host 24 new student interns this summer (11 via Employ.ed, 10 as VLE support, 2 Napier Placements, 1 Equate Careerwise) , plus 2 returners from last year (Anirudh and Samuel ), 2 who have been with us for 3 years ( Dominique and Vicki), 6 student trainers and 10 media subtitling assistants.

While they are with us the interns write blogs and as they leave we ask them to reflect on what they have learned. Each team and project they are involved with benefits from their input. And yes, we pay them.

Read interns’ blogs: https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/isintern/

leading institutions to change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The team delivered transformational aspects of lecture recording by:

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

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

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

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

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

developing data skills for all

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

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

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

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

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

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