We are finalist in 2 categories: Best Place to Work in Digital – Large Organisations and we are winners of 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.
‘Our programme has created over 300 digital student internships. We work hard to attract the brightest students and take care to train and support them by creating an environment where they grow and thrive. The student workers in our organisation transform the culture, bring new viewpoints, ideas and diversity to our teams. They provide unique perspectives on our services. Increasing the number of students who work in our organisation is our strategic ambition and a vital part of enabling the University effectively to meet future digital challenges’.
We have actually 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.
This year, more than ever, our new and returning students need to know we care about their learning. Edinburgh is in a strong position to respond to the challenges ahead whilst maintaining a quality learning experience.
We have recruited dozens of students to work with us over the summer, and did I mention that our VLE teams just won another award?
The Learn Foundations team has won the 2020 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Student Experience.
The award recognises those institutions whose educational and administrative innovations have markedly improved the total learner experience.
The Learn Foundations project is transforming the online learning space at Edinburgh by providing students with everything they need simply, quickly and efficiently to minimise time spent searching and maximise time spent learning.
By redesigning Learn, our biggest Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), we are providing our 40,000 students with easy access to lecture recordings, online reading lists and all their course related materials. And for those students who study across courses, these improvements are being implemented institution-wide to ensure consistency of student experience.
The BSHS Ayrton prize recognises outstanding web projects and digital engagement in the history of science, technology and medicine (HSTM). The prize name was chosen to recognize the major contributions of Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923) to numerous scientific fields, especially electrical engineering and mathematics, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The prize is awarded once every two years.
Given the remarkable strength of the field, they decided to supplement the main Prize with a Highly Commended category, to be awarded to two further projects.
I’m delighted to say that our University of Edinburgh Wikipedia project “Changing the ways the stories are told” is one of the two Highly Commended projects! The judging panel were particularly impressed with the initiative’s track record of contributions to the infrastructure of knowledge on which research and public engagement in the history of science depend.
‘Changing the ways the stories are told’: Engaging staff and students in improving the Wikipedia content about women in the history of science, technology and medicine in Scotland.
This project began 5 years ago and has been delivering more and more each year with wider reach, large engagement numbers and considerable impact in terms of public engagement and media coverage. This project is supported by University of Edinburgh and we work in partnership with science, engineering and heritage organisations in Edinburgh to run events to edit and improve Wikipedia content of topics specifically related to the history of women in science.
Our mission is to work with staff, students and members of the public to support them in developing the digital skills they need to engage in writing and publishing new articles on Wikipedia. We have a specific focus on the history of women in science and medicine. Our first ‘edit-a-thon’ in 2015 was based on ‘The Edinburgh Seven’- the first women to study medicine and our most recent was in conjunction with Young Academy Scotland at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. This work towards getting all students and staff in the university to be active contributors is unique in the sector.
The audience for our content includes any members of the public who look at HSTM articles on Wikipedia. The audience for our skills development training are staff and students who learn about how historical information can be brought out of the university (and other) archives to illustrate, enhance and improve the stories of historic development of science, technology and medicine. We work closely with librarians, archivists and academic researchers to bring their hidden content into the most modern digital platforms and give it new relevance for the public today.
Edinburgh staff and students have created 476 new articles, in a variety of languages on a huge range of topics and significantly improved or translated 1950 more. These articles have been consumed by millions of readers. All editors are supported to understand the impact and reach of their work, to find the analytics and reports which show how their contribution is immediately useful to a wide range of audiences.
By working closely with HSTM scholars, digital librarians and archivists we ensure that our staff and students learn the best practice in using digital platforms for public engagement. We ensure that information is accessible and navigable and make best use of both the archives and the new technology. Images released from our archive collections and added to Wikipedia as part of this project have now been viewed 28,755,106 times.
As well as learning the skills of editing, referencing and science communication, we are ensuring that many more of our staff and students learn about how information is created, shared and contested online. We work specifically to address gaps in coverage and improve information where it is poor.
We address the gender gap amongst Wikipedia editors by training large numbers of female students and staff and empower them to edit on whatever topics they choose and thus engaging in the use of digital platforms for their own study and work.
The University of Edinburgh is the first UK university to engage a Wikimedian in Residence to focus entirely on developing student and staff skills. The project fits with our missions for teaching, research and public engagement as well as the embedding of technology in our activities to engage in digital citizenship and crowd-sourced sharing.
The most innovative part of the project has been to work closely with academic colleagues to embed Wikimedia tasks in the curriculum so that students work on topics which have direct relevance to their studies. One example where we work with the students on the MSc Reproductive Biomedicine is now in its fourth year. The students are assessed and gain credit for the work they do in improving content of Wikipedia.
Five years on from our original work in changing the way the story of the Edinburgh Seven is told, the University gave posthumous degrees to the women who had struggled as pioneers in this area. The degree ceremony in 2019 marked 150 years since the Surgeons Hall riots and this new, updated history of women in science and medicine gained considerable media coverage and impact in Scotland and beyond.
We ensure the sustainability of this project by making it part of the ongoing digital skills and digital literacy training programme delivered to staff and students in the University of Edinburgh and we hold public engagement events alongside our partners in library, heritage and science organisations in the city.
The Wikipedia platform is maintained by the Wikimedia UK foundation and our contributions to improving the public facing content on that platform is part of ensuring that it is a sustainable, growing, open, relevant and useful resource for everyone. Working directly with the Wikipedia platform to add content ensures that we do not take on the long term costs of hosting such a platform for our selves, thus the work of training editors and contributing content can continue as long as the platform is an appropriate place to do it.
Last year this work won a Herald Higher Education Award for innovation in technology and we are expanding our skills training team in the coming year to ensure that we can meet the demand from academic colleagues and students to be trained as editors and as contributors to Wikidata and similar sister projects.
This project represents a clear statement by the University that we want to enable our staff and students to engage in becoming active citizens in the digital world.
We are delighted to win the Scottish HR Network Magazine Attraction & Resourcing Award of the Year 2019
The University of Edinburgh is committed to providing employment opportunities for Edinburgh students. The student workers in our organisation transform the culture, bring new viewpoints and diversity to our teams and provide unique student perspectives on our services to help us improve. Increasing the number of students who work in our organisation is part of our strategic ambitions and a vital part of enabling the University effectively to meet future challenges.
For the last 4 years we have had specific programmes in place to recruit and support students into our data, digital and IT jobs as interns over the summer and as part time workers throughout the year. Students work in our organisation in a wide range of roles including: as web developers, IT trainers, media producers, project support officers, help desk staff, graphic designers, AV fit-out technicians, data analysts and learning technologists. We aim to develop a strong and vibrant community of young staff who are supported, valued, developed and engaged.
Students are also the main consumers of our services. By employing them to work on projects that affect them we benefit from a rich source of productivity and innovation to help shape and improve these services.
The work on this initiative is ongoing and growing. Team managers are finding opportunities to attract and work with students across more and more projects. They say:
“It started with a single summer internship analysing some data from our MOOC courses. Since then we’ve had summer interns developing media migration tools, capturing case studies on how media is used, assessing chat bots and where they could fit into our work, and helping with the roll out of lecture recording. This year we also had a team of around 30 students working with us over the start of term to support lecture recording use in large teaching spaces.”
“Personally I loved the experience of working with students again, and in a brand new area of IT support. I find their enthusiasm for the role and energy is infectious and I’m always looking for ways to challenge them and help them grow in the role”’
The work we have done at Edinburgh University is easily transferable to other institutions and there is a sector imperative now to build and grow talent in organisations. The competition for new graduates is fierce and the investment in students now yields return for the future. Students bring a new diversity to our workforce and contribute to a change in workplace culture enhancing our ways of working across intergenerational teams.
Our CIO has set a target within the Strategic Plan to employ at least 500 students over the course of each academic year.
Evidence of a particular recruitment project that has impacted positively on the organisation including evidence of the planning, delivery, evaluation and return on investment
University of Edinburgh HR colleagues have planned and delivered more than 300 employment opportunities so far this year as part of this project. Because we are responsible for all the digital services across libraries, IT, learning technologies and study spaces in the university we are in a perfect position to offer flexible, 21st Century skills employment to our students.
The impact on our organisation can be seen several ways:
The experience we are gaining in developing our scheme in response to feedback from our student workers has led to improvement in practice. We have a staff network for interns and managers to share experiences and learning.
Our projects and services improve as a result of the skills, creativity, input and ideas brought by the students.
Our understanding of our users is improved by the perspective that our students bring to the workplace. Their outside perspective is useful in terms of challenging and broadening our thinking.
Our student workers are now a growing group of ‘Alumni’ who have worked with us and may promote or choose our organisation in the future.
Some of our student workers are now returners who return to work with us each year in different roles.
Demonstrate the positive outcomes in planning for future skills and abilities being assessed and delivered
Positive outcomes can be seen in the work being done to generate a sustainable pipeline of talent. Giving individuals the platform they need to excel is critical to our long-term success and also helps us make a vital contribution to our community. Providing work experience and supporting employability empowers our students, which we hope we may benefit from in the future.
We support a positive employment experience for our student workers and encourage them to create LinkedIn profiles to evidence their skills and to engage with their peers through promotional videos and blogging about their work experience. Every student who works with us should leave able to describe an experience of working in a professional environment, on a meaningful project, with real responsibilities, and have a good non-academic referee to add to their CV.
Students can also complete an ‘Edinburgh Award’ – a wrap-around reflective learning framework that helps students to articulate their work experience. We can measure the impact of our student employment initiatives through the ways in which the students reflect on the value of their experience.
The cohort have also become a loyal group of workers who identify us as their employer of choice.
Evidence that the recruitment & selection process contributes to overall effectiveness of the talent strategy
The University is one of the largest local employers, covering multiple sectors and job roles. The University of Edinburgh has a Youth and Student Employment Strategy 2017–2021, which presents our whole-institution approach to employability skills.
The University is committed to long-term goals in creating, promoting and delivering opportunities that enhance the employability of our students. The University recognises the shortage of highly skilled data, digital and IT workers and is therefore safeguarding for the future and building a sustainable talent pipeline, which addresses current and future skills requirements. In addition, this gives our students the platform they need to excel, which is critical to our long-term success, our competitive advantage and also helps us make a vital contribution to our community. This is particularly important for sectors with national skills shortages such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and this is an opportunity to ‘grow our own’ in these areas.
The National Student Survey (NSS) and Edinburgh Student Experience Survey (ESES) results have highlighted areas for improvement in recent years. Developing more student employment opportunities is one way to improve the student experience and expands the employment prospects of our graduates.
Evidence of the organisations commitment to diversity and assessment of skills to ensure organisation performance and culture fit
Universities are well placed to employ students in flexible ways, but often we assume that these will be in fairly low skill jobs in our shops, bars and residences. In exploring digital, library and IT opportunities we have opened up a variety of roles and reaped the benefit of a vibrant new group of staff with new ideas for our organisation. Our students are amongst the best and brightest in the world. We are lucky to have a pool of such talent and creativity available to us.
As an employer within a university we are afforded unique opportunities to engage our student body, including delivering learning technologies used in curriculum, improving their study spaces and access to research.
Students are sensitive to image and want to work for organisations that wear their ‘inclusivity-heart’ on their sleeve, so we have promoted a cultures of equality and diversity, as part of our change agenda, to ensure that our reps on campus reflect these values.
By empowering our students they become champions and ambassadors for our work, which brings business benefits as we strive to roll-out new technologies and the cultural changes associated with these different ways of working.
Evidence of effective interview techniques and the role of induction offered to new employees
To identify and attract the best candidates and provide a positive experience for both interviewers and interviewees, ISG supports and promotes best practice in our recruitment processes. We think about how we can:
Be targeted: writing tailored questions for different audiences is time-consuming, but really effective.
Be distinctive: with so many opportunities out there, be clear about what makes your organisation different.
Be aware: of your own non-verbal communication and unconscious bias.
We want each student to get the most out of their employment experience with us, so as part of our induction process, we have collaborated with our Careers Service and HR colleagues to create a ‘digital student guidebook’.
To help line managers and staff support these groups, we’ve developed ISG ‘student experience’ resources, as well as collated a list of useful tools and platforms to enhance professional development and support students balancing employment alongside their studies.
In addition, we run ‘career insight’ sessions, to get staff talking about their career/role (what a typical ‘day in the life of’ looks like, how they got here etc.) with the objective that it will provide new employees with an understanding of the diverse range of careers available and create a space for them to ask questions.
The winner in the Team Awards is the University of Edinburgh Lecture Recording Team. Congratulating the team on the win, the panel described why the entry was chosen thus: although lecture capture is an area of interest to many universities, what was most impressive about this entry was that it provides an exemplar for the implementation of any learning technology. The careful consideration of the perspectives of educators and students, coupled with a practical and responsive implementation makes for an effective model. The open ethos and sharing approach of the project for the benefit of the wider sector is also excellent practice.
We are currently in the running for 2 more awards:
The University of Edinburgh Lecture Recording Team has been shortlisted for the ALT Community Choice Award. Check out our submission video and vote for us here: (link: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2019/awardsvoting/) #LTA6 The awards are generously sponsored by EDINA and will be given at The Association of Learning Technologists Conference in Edinburgh in September. Every vote counts!
Also, Jeanette, Laura and Kevin have made it to the shortlist in the Scottish HR Network awards 2019 for our employing of students in the ‘Attraction and Resourcing’ category. Attracting around 800 HR and people professionals and regarded as ‘the’ event in the HR calendar. The event is in November.
In July I was runner up in the 2019 EdFuturists Awards as an individual ‘who embodies a vision of where education could be 20 years from now’. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Delighted that we won in the 2019 Herald Higher Education Awards!
This nomination for innovative use of technology focuses of the development of digital literacy skills at University of Edinburgh through our partnership with Wikimedia UK. Project achievements have gone far beyond what might have been expected and has shown impact and reach which is unique and well worth celebrating. This work involves staff and student across the entire university and reaches out to members of the public, local community and researchers as active participants in this new area of reputation, reach, digital and data literacy and knowledge sharing.
Wikipedia is simply one of the largest websites in the world. It is visited by tens of millions of people every day as a source of information. The quality and reliability of the information in Wikipedia relies on volunteers putting information there to be discovered and used. As the site grows, so the demand for contributions grows and the need for that community of editors to be one of knowledgeable, critical experts in their field increases. We have transformed 600 students, 400 staff and 250members of the public from being passive readers and consumers of Wikipedia information to being active, engaged contributors. The result of this is that our community is more engaged with knowledge creation online and readers all over the world benefit from our research, teaching and collections.
At every turn the mention of Wikipedia has been met with scepticism. Nonetheless the digital skill team have persisted in helping all of us see how contributing to sharing information can bring benefits for the university in terms of discovery, education, equality, outreach and excellence. We have run more than 50 skills training events each year. The skills needed by those contributing to Wikipedia are the same student digital literacy skills which a degree at University of Edinburgh is designed to develop: Those of critical reading, summarising, paraphrasing, original writing, referencing, citing, publishing, data handing, reviewing and understanding your audience. In this era of fake news it has never been more important that our students understand how information is published, shared, fact-checked and contested online.
This work towards getting all students and staff in the university to be active contributors is unique in the sector. Edinburgh staff and students have created 476 new articles, in a variety of languages on a huge range of topics and significantly improved or translated 1950 more. These articles have been consumed by millions of readers. Images released from our archive collections and added to Wikipedia have now been viewed 28,755,106 times. All editors are supported to understand the impact and reach of their work, to find the analytics and reports which show how their contribution is immediately useful to a wide range of audiences.
This project represents a clear statement by the University that we want to enable our staff and students to engage in becoming active citizens in the digital world:
Curriculum development: We have been working with academic colleagues to embed data literacy tasks into the curriculum. Courses which now include a Wikipedia assignment include: World Christianity MSc, Translation Studies MSc, History MSc (Online), Global Health MSc, Digital Sociology MSc, Data Science for Design MSc, Language Teaching MSc, Psychology in Action MSc, Digital Education MSc, Public Health MSc and Reproductive Biology Honours. Each of these activities bring benefits to the students who learn new skills and have immediate public impact. For example:
Global Health students add 180-200 words to a Global Health related article. 31 student editors added 7,500 words to 18 articles. Their edits to the Wikipedia page on obesity are viewed on average 3,000 times per day.
A Reproductive Biology student’s new article on high-grade serous carcinoma, one of the most common forms of ovarian cancer includes 60 references and diagrams and has been viewed over 60,000 times since September 2016.
MSc in Translation Studies students translate 4,000 words on a topic of their own choosing. 30 students each year translate articles from English to Arabic, Chinese, French, Greek, Turkish, Japanese and from Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Norwegian into English. They wrote with a potential global audience in mind and Wikipedia editors all over the world scrutinise their work.
Community engagement, equality and inclusion: We work with students to target areas of inclusion. The Wellcome Kings and UnCoverEd groups have added biographies of notable LGBT+ and BAME individuals missing from Wikipedia and we organise high profile events for Black History Month, Ada Lovelace Day and International Women’s Day. An event focusing on cultural representations of mental health during Student Wellbeing Week 2018 saw 33 articles updated to ensure that when students and the public search for information about mental health the information they find will be of a higher equality than it was before.
Wikipedia is one of the world’s largest information and knowledge sharing websites, and University of Edinburgh is now the university with the highest level of contribution and engagement to that endeavour. We hope that this project can be seen as a model for other universities to follow as a way to share the knowledge we create in universities via the most public and open of platforms.
We nominated Dominique for this award and she won.
Dominique Green is a PhD student at University of Edinburgh. She is a data scientist and a tutor in quantitative methods. She also works one day per week as Equality and Diversity Intern in the University’s Information Services. Over three years Dominique has made an amazing impact on the institution. Her expertise has helped us to address the challenges we face as a large tech employer, to support women in our workplace and to change and develop policy. Her work has developed our organisation, improved and celebrated the experience of women in STEM and contributed to a cultural shift towards ‘openness to diversity’. Her own passion for the topic and expertise in theory grounded in data inspired us to adopt an intersectional approach to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in our workplace and has pushed us to go beyond anecdote and use data-based decision making to really address some entrenched structural issues.
Since the beginning of her internship Dominique has helped us to understand the link between diversity in our workplace and improved services for staff and students. She has also helped us to understand the data we have about our organisation and the management decisions we can make as a result. After analysing the data from our 2015 gender equality survey, Dominique produced a SMART plan of strategic management actions for 1,3 and 5 years to get us to a more diverse and inclusive workplace (plan attached below).
Her recommendations were accepted by senior management and integrated into departmental plans and reporting dashboards. She has organised an innovative programme of activities to engage staff across the organisation ( c500 staff have attended these events). She has liaised with academic experts, third sector groups, charities and consultants to put together a staff development programme of 20 training and discussion events which enables colleagues to engage with new ideas and thinking about how we experience our workplace and how we design our services. She has also become to go-to expert for advice on how to ensure that our work has real impact.
Dominique’s work in partnership with University of Edinburgh Information Services has had short and long-term impact on the Edinburgh University student population and for the wider community of university staff. She has ensured that we are accountable and transparent in the ways in which we consider diversity in the organisation and understand the experience of women in STEM. The profile of women across grades has changed significantly with significantly more women now in roles at UoE Grades 9 and 10. She has pushed our services consider equality and diversity in their design and encouraged us to welcome students from all across the university as change agents in our organisation. More than 50% of staff have undertaken equality and diversity training. We now employ more than 100 students with us as interns, placements and apprentices. As a student herself Dominique has been uniquely placed to help us understand how to be an inclusive STEM workplace, and the value of this partnership working between institution and student has been seen across the organisation.
This year has been quite a one for my work with the PlayFair Steps. The PlayFair Steps is the name I have given to the programme of activities in University of Edinburgh Information Services Group which are designed to deliver an improved experience for all our staff by tackling equality and diversity issues in our workplace. I began this initiative in 2015 and it is part of a wider change programme across the whole of the organisation.
After 3 years we are seeing impact and progress towards our goals. We have also been successful in winning a number of awards.
When looking at equality and diversity drivers for change in organisations, there is some literature which suggests that external accountability , the impression the public have about your organisation, is a consideration that may influence senior management. So if you can show that your activities have gained external recognition, won awards or been celebrated by your peers, more investment by senior management may follow. It’s not an exact science but as employers we are all very aware that the tech industry has a bad reputation for diversity and inclusion.
Students of organisational development will be well aware of the importance of context, culture and ‘climate’ in enabling the success of workplace diversity programmes. With this in mind I worked with my teams to write applications for various employer awards last year in the hope that we would be nominated and shortlisted.
Winning this award in the HE sector boosted my confidence to try for 2 more awards in the wider tech sector. Alongside rapid growth a new and urgent interest in diversity can be seen by the appearance of industry awards and celebrations. Targeted trade sector and community events such as awards provide the opportunity for HR practitioners in organisations to gain external acknowledgement and assessment of their organisational efforts and commitment to diversity .But its a hotly contested area. Organisations which promote diversity may benefit by being more attractive to women and ethnic minorities and those employers may be able to recruit from a larger talent pool, so the big recruiters are keen not to miss out and are pulling out all the stops.
In October and December we were finalists in the ‘Employer of the Year’ category in the Scotland Women in Technology Awards in Glasgow and for ‘Diversity Project of The Year’ in the Women in IT Excellence Awards in London. At both events I was very pleased to be able to host a table at the awards dinner and to invite colleagues and friends to join our celebrations. In Glasgow each of the 4 female University of Edinburgh Directors of IT invited as our guests women in our organisations who we identify as rising stars for the future. In London we were joined by friends from ALT, WikimediaUK, Open University, EDINA, Ordnance Survey and Wellcome Library. A lovely, sparkly time was had by all and it was exciting to be part of such celebratory events. In both cases however, we were pipped at the post by big recruiters such as JPMorgan and Empiric, both of whom have huge recruitment and marketing efforts targeted at women in IT.
The awards create a climate in which organisations compete to showcase themselves as diversity-aware recruiters and attractive employers for a range of groups. While such awards may also be dismissed as window dressing or worse, validation of insidious work practices, the investment being made by some large tech industry employers is undeniable. The rise of business awards which bring external recognition and validation to organisations’ visible efforts towards diversity is framed in the language of inclusive growth, improved competitive performance and better targeted services. It may be time for university IT departments to up our game if we are going to be able to attract the best talent to improve our services.
Perhaps we should work together as a sector to do this. One way we could do this would be to return again to the knotty problem of what IT careers look like in HE, and indeed what learning technologists look like. We should ask ourselves: ‘If you as an employer, had to take a bunch of recruitment materials to a recruitment fair what would you say to attract the best, brightest and most diverse talent to join our professional teams?’.
*Dominique and I will be showcasing our award-winning programme next in London on 28th February. The event is hosted by UHR and is an opportunity to hear from other HE organisations about how their teams have improved practice, contributed to business efficiency, and enhanced organisational effectiveness and staff engagement. Book your place now.