Tag: digital literacy

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.

herald success

Delighted that we are finalists 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.

And we hope we will win. Obv.

 

Adulting

The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford

I am honoured to have been invited to join the Centenary Commission on Adult Education. The membership of the Commission is as follows:

  • Dame Helen Ghosh DCB (Chair)- Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Previously Chief Executive, The National Trust; Permanent Secretary, Home Office; Permanent Secretary, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
  • Sir Alan Tuckett OBE (Vice Chair) -Professor, University of Wolverhampton. Previously Chief Executive, National Institute of Adult Continuing Education; President, International Council for Adult Education.
  • Melissa Benn- Author, novelist, journalist, broadcaster. Chair, Comprehensive Future; Council member, New Visions for Education Group; founder member, Local Schools Network; Advisory Board member, Oxford Women in the Humanities.
  • Lord (Karan) Bilimoria CBE – Co-founder & Chairman, Cobra Beer; Chancellor, University of Birmingham.
  • Dr Sharon Clancy-Chair, Raymond Williams Foundation. Previously Head of Community Partnerships, University of Nottingham; Chief Executive, Mansfield Council for Voluntary Service.
  • Uzo Iwobi OBE -Chief Executive Officer, Race Council Cymru. Previously Principal Equality Officer, South Wales Police; member of the Commission for Racial Equality.
  • Melissa Highton -Assistant Principal, Online Learning and Director of Learning, Teaching & Web Services, University of Edinburgh.
  • Roger McKenzie-Assistant General Secretary, Unison. Previously Vice Chair, West Midlands Assembly; Midlands Regional Secretary, TUC; Race Equality Officer, TUC.
  • Sir Ken Olisa OBE -Chairman, Shaw Trust; Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London; founder & Chairman, Restoration Partners; Deputy Master, Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.
  • Sue Pember OBE- Director, Holex (professional body for Adult Community Education and Learning). Previously lead Director for FE, Dept for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Dept for Education & Skills (DfES); Principal, Canterbury College of F&HE.
  • Paul Roberts -Chief Executive Officer, Aspire, Oxford.
  • Dr Cilla Ross- Vice Principal, Co-operative College, Manchester.
  • Sir Peter Scott -Emeritus Professor of Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education. Previously Vice Chancellor, Kingston University, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Professor of Education, University of Leeds; Editor, The Times Higher Education Supplement.
  • Ruth Spellman OBE -General Secretary, Workers’ Educational Association. Previously Chief Executive of Chartered Management Institute, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and Investors in People UK.

The whole thing is being facilitated by Jonathan Michie, President of Kellogg College.

We hope to provide authoritative, evidence-based, recommendations on how ‘lifewide’ adult education – i.e., for all aspects and stages of people’s lives, and not just for work – should develop over the decades ahead. Our remit is the same as proposed for the 1919 committee: “To consider the provision for, and possibilities of, Adult Education in Great Britain, and to make recommendations.”

The Commission’s report will, attempt to cover the following:

  1. The need for lifewide adult education. Globalisation, technology and the changing world of work; threats to democracy and social cohesion; new social movements; demographic changes.
  2. The state of British adult education today. Who provides; who takes part; who does not provide; who does not take part. What types of provision are made (subjects, approaches, locations, media, etc.), and what are not. The relative importance of different types of provision for different social groups.
  3. The British contribution to adult education. A brief discussion of approaches developed historically in Britain, and of new practices developing today, and their contribution to democracy, civil society and personal growth.
  4. What we can learn from international experience. From UNESCO to the OECD; key reports; the impact of the current ‘output and measurement’ craze; international research.
  5. The structures, institutions and systems we need. Types of provision. Priorities for government: legislation, regulation, fees, public spending. What non-governmental agencies might do: local government, voluntary organisations, FE and HE, schools, private companies, etc. Meeting the needs of communities and social groups. Strengthening democracy in teaching and curriculum development.
  6. Implementing the changes. How can the changes be brought about: overcoming the forces in government, media and society that have inhibited the development of lifewide adult education over recent decades.

That’ll keep us busy!

 

bags of blogs

Image from University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections

Blogging? I’ve never been a fan, as you know. Nonetheless, we are launching a new service for all our staff and students.

The Academic Blogging service directly underpins the “Influential Voices” theme within our Web Strategy 2018-2021. This theme aims to: “Give our staff and students an online presence to publish and promote their work, and exchange ideas with organisations and communities globally”.

The  service will give our staff and students the tools and support that they need to publish online effectively, to develop a digital identity, and make more visible a range of authentic voices from across our academic community that are identifiably connected to our institution.

Our staff and students will be able to link their academic blogs into their profiles on social media or academic networking sites, improving the profile and visibility of the University across online channels. Staff and PGR students will also be able to link to their official University profile on EdWeb. Selections of blogs can be presented on our web pages to represent the range of learning, teaching or research activities that take place in a particular area. Content from blogs can be syndicated by ourselves, or by our partners or external organisations to create curated selections of content, reflecting the richness of our institutional activity.

 

If you want one, let us know.

co-curricular teaching for digital skills

I’m very pleased to say we now have more than 10,000 lynda.com subscribers  at the University of Edinburgh. Digital skills are in considerable demand as we know from the news and are also key to the capability within the institution for staff to be effective in their roles.
There’s only a small team in LTW but we augment that with a pool of 50 tutors from across ISG. This makes it possible to offer a broad programme drawing from experts in particular packages and technology areas. Because of this we are one of the largest training providers on campus, and key to ensuring that the University delivers on one of the elements of the people strategy: to ensure that staff and students have the digital skills that they need.
For students, the digital skills programme is co-curricular – it runs alongside the formal curriculum delivered in schools, and for many people it is an important part of the student experience- they can learn additional skills alongside and to help them with the subjects they study.
For staff it is available to all as centrally provided staff development  and we offer specialist schemes such as 23Things and  CMALT for particular key groups of professional staff.
We deliver a wide range of teaching  and learning and development,  Jenni and her team have been doing a lot this year to map our training on to the JISC digital skills framework  and to bring all the various skill training across ISG into one comprehensive programme. They have also delivered a huge training programme for the rollout of lecture recording.
Jenni has also been making plans to expand the programme by bringing students as tutors  into the team and developing a job description for  part time student trainers. For those students the job will provide an opportunity to get real work experience and teaching practice. The digital skills programme could not run without the contribution that colleagues make- it is a contribution to the staff and student experience, and a contribution of ISG in terms of the excellent services we provide. It’s also an important professional and personal development activity.
Being a good teacher is a skill- not everyone can do it and not everyone should. But for those who are good at it and do enjoy it is an opportunity to learn your subject inside out- to understand users, to engage with learners and to develop confident communication skills. If you feel you have something to contribute to the ISG Digital Skills programme, let me know.

wasted on the young

Trinity College Dublin, Jedi Archive. Picture taken by me. No rights reserved by me.

After swearing for years I would never sit another exam, I have finally bit the bullet and became a student again.

I am conscious that my development as a researcher will require me to think in new ways, but also that I will bring much of my own experience and previous knowledge to the task. As an experienced professional I have been successful in using those things which I ‘just know to be true’ as the basis for my professional practice without much reflection on how this knowing has been arrived at. I am well aware that particularly with regard to workplace issues of equality and diversity many of my colleagues do not think as I do, so it is not a position which can be assumed as shared. It will be challenging to go back to basics and understand why I think the way I think and make a clear justification for the approaches I choose. It will also be interesting to gain new understanding of the ‘researcher language’ of ethics, ontologies, epistemologies and the various ‘isms’. In the course of writing my first asssignment I have found myself referring to dictionaries and encyclopaedia in a way I have not done for a while. I have also had occasion to reach into my dusty book piles for Wenger’s community of practice , Schon’s reflective practitioner, Kolb’s learning cycle , Handy’s  organizations  and Lewin’s action researcher. It is nice to see these old friends again.

In the classroom it was interesting to become a student again. I did my masters more than 15 years ago. It was fun to see how a room full of successful professionals cope with being challenged to identify the sheer scale of stuff that they do not know when faced with the daunting writing task.  As well as researcher-thinking skills I will need to develop new digital skills. I’m fairly confident in searching the internet and library catalogues, and I think/hope I am ok at evaluating sources for credibility. Taking a critical researcher view again will be different. I will also have to learn to use Endnote and wrangle a large (document) piece of writing much longer than the reports and projects plans I write day-to-day.

 

host a wikimedian: you can’t afford not to

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]This week I spoke at a Wikimedia Edu conference. I spoke about the value of wikimedians in residence (WiR) for higher education (HE).  Some people have told me they can’t afford to host a wikimedian. I would argue you can’t afford not to.

There are 3 main reasons why you can’t afford not to. They are:

  1. Universities must invest in digital skills.
  2. Gender inequality in science and technology is a real thing.
  3. Wikimedians will save us from Wikimedians.

Universities must invest in the development of digital skills for staff and for students. The senior managers in your institutions will be well aware of the recent HEPI report and numerous other reports. Which urge universities to pay attention to digital skills. It is widely recognised that digital capabilities are a key component of graduate employability. To stay competitive globally, ‘the UK must ensure it has the necessary pool of (highly) digitally skilled graduates to support and drive research and innovation throughout the  economy.’

Universities do invest- some more than others. Some employ IT skills trainers, information literacy librarians, study skill tutors, they buy a site-wide license for Lynda.com. For staff they invest in staff development units, learning and development teams. They choose writing for the web training, social media training,  data management skills,  public engagement training, they choose coding for all.

If you are in a university, go look how much those digital skills trainers are paid, that is what you should be paying your wikimedian. If you have a wikimedian hiding in your library, it’s time to come out from behind the stacks and engage with the real business of teaching and learning.

We can’t afford not to develop graduates’ digital capabilities; universities need digitally-skilled staff with digitally-enabled experience.

The formal recognition of students’ digital capabilities is also important. Technology can make it easier to develop authentic learning experiences that are relevant to the labour market and help  students demonstrate their skills to employers.

If you put your wikimedian alongside your digital skill trainers and learning technologists.  Their impact can be significant.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]And it’s not just about editing skills, it’s about open data, replicability, re-use, understanding sources, spotting fake news, understanding analytics, understanding copyright, being part of communities on line. Writing in different styles. Understanding how robot editors and human editors work together- all that new ‘digital labour’.

With HE students and staff wikipedia leads to discussions about privilige and geographies of knowledge, transparency, bias, and if there is ever a ‘neutral’ point of view.  If our staff and students choose to participate in developing new tools, they are developing tools as part of a world-wide  open-source software development project, which is  a significant authentic opportunity.

Gender inequality in science and technology is a real thing, and that is the second reason why you can’t afford not to have a wikimedian in residence.

Your institutions will all be participating in Athena Swan initiatives to some extent.  To achieve Athena Swan awards departments must show how their workplaces and practices tackle the structural barriers for women working in academia, specifically in the STEM disciplines. The Athena Swan assessors like to see evidence of networks and activities, highlighting achievements, and role models and  visibility.

One of our early editathons at Edinburgh – focusing on the Edinburgh 7– the first women to study medicine,  was cited as an example of good practice by the institution in preparing our submission for silver award. Edinburgh was the first of the Scottish institutions to gain that award. The challenges of overcoming structural inequalities which mitigate against  women’s contributions  is an endeavor higher education shares with Wikipedia. It is not enough to say women don’t participate because they don’t have time or technical skills. It is not enough to say that if women learned to behave more like men they would be able to fit in or join in. It is not enough to say that the world of Wikipedia- and science in general- is ‘neutral and fact driven’ and thus free from bias.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]The first step maybe to target articles about women, and recruit new female editors, but  as soon as you go a step beyond that, and apply some kind of Wikipedia Bechdel test –does an article about a woman scientist draw upon a credible source written by a woman? Do those credible sources about women scientists exist, if not why not?  You quickly come up against a wider structural issue about womens participation in academia and scholarship, and promotion, and publication.*

So I suppose my point here is that if you are making a business case for a WiR and you can’t get the funding straight away from the digital skills budget holder, you might be able reference your own institution’s Athena Swan activity and show how the kind of work activities a WiR would do would deliver successful, measurable outcomes for gender equality initiatives.

Which brings me to the third reason why you need a Wikimedian in Residence- is because dealing with Wikimedia is a job in itself.

Wikimedia has developed, in quite a short time,  a particular culture amongst its community. Also it’s tools , toys and projects are growing at a rate of knots.  It’s hard to keep up unless you are immersed.

Sprawling bureaucracy and policy labyrinth is very familiar to those in HE- particularly those in ancient institutions. We also know about exclusive language and communities of practice. There is some irony in the fact that Wikipedia cannot explain itself clearly. Its policies, its processes, its rules and community.

What I have learned from hosting a WiR to develop curriculum activities for students is that is it just not that simple. I was lucky to get one who is already a teacher, because he has had to do a lot of work to ‘translate’ Wkimedia’s policies and processes into ways we can engage.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]Editing as an individual is a different activity than editing as a group or class. Classroom activities – learning and teaching activities- need to be carefully designed and structured and although this can be done successfully it takes a bit of work and that’s what we need a resident to help us with. So if Wikipedia can meet educators halfway and explain its process simply & effectively (e.g. a detailed lesson plans, a robust Visual Editor, easy to follow video tutorials etc) that would really help teachers and trainers in their workplace.

We can’t expect learners and teachers to bend themselves completely out-of-shape to accommodate Wikipedia when there are things we can do quite simply to which would bridge the gap: highlighting its rubrics, assessment criteria, word count tools, plagiarism & copyright detectors and past course assignments & materials etc. Modelling good practice and sharing exemplars will lead to takeup in courses.

Students come to classes and staff come to staff development sessions to learn in groups and that group work activity requires time, effort and resources before during and after. We are working towards that at Edinburgh, creating and sharing re-usable lesson plans and models for classroom activities, but it is that ‘translation’ role between the technology and the teachers which is missing.

‘Twas ever thus in learning technology. This is not new, this is what learning technologists do. It is timely for Wikipedia now.

And in return, we  will enrich content with our collections and expand the range of knowledge covered. We will contribute not only our research to Wikipedia but do research with and about Wikipedia. We will use the data sets being shared and study how the work of knowledge sharing and gathering is conducted.

And hopefully we will all end up pulling in the same direction.

 

  • Please read
    Heather Ford and  Judy Wajcman
    ‘Anyone can edit’, not everyone does: Wikipedia’s infrastructure and the gender gap’
    Article in Social Studies of Science, May 2017

 

busy bees

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

You may be interested to know what the LTW teams have been doing to support you in the last 6 months.

To support the development of digital skills since January 2016, the Digital Skills Programme has delivered 136 face-to-face courses, to c.1400 attendees, across all Colleges and Support Groups, using 40 tutors from across ISG.

To support capacity building for online learning 25 staff across the University have signed up for the recently launched CMALT programme for learning technologists.

To support online learning at scale we have delivered 8 pilot Learning Design workshops with 21 programmes interested in holding workshops in the future.

To support sharing and use of video MediaHopper now holds more than 5,000 video items uploaded by staff and students. Around 10% using a creative commons license (OER). 200 people have been trained to use the new media tools.

To ensure that users can understand and engage with our University we have published 51,000 published pages on Edweb.

To ensure that our students can gain work experience alongside their studies we’ve employed more than 20 student interns.

To make you more comfortable we’ve upgraded 300 open access PCs  and refurbished 52 rooms and spaces.

To make the world a safer place we have launched MyLungsMyLife and Self-Help for Stroke web projects  at the Scottish Parliament.

And that’s all on top of maintaining, running, patching and upgrading all the major systems and services you use for teaching and learning every day.

Microsoft has bought Linkedin and Lynda. So have we!

lynda_com_logo
Lynda.com brand logo. Fully copyrighted and trademarked. Many rights reserved by them.

We are soft-launching the Lynda.com service this week, providing the University with access to an extensive library of high quality video courses in technology, creative and business skills.

This exciting and versatile new resource can be used in many ways to develop staff and student skills, support curricular teaching, assist in software and systems rollouts and enable our training providers to expand their subject range and online provision. It supports the strategic plans of the University and Information Services, and will make a key contribution to digital transformation by increasing our capacity for digital skills development, helping to develop a digital culture and supporting staff and students to improve their skills for work, study and life.

Today’s soft launch provides access for staff and students on a largely self-service basis and will allow early adopters to immediately start using Lynda.com and begin to explore the possibilities it affords. The full launch in September will offer access to visitors, integration with Learn, engagement events and more comprehensive support resources. Care has been, and is being taken to consider where your data goes and how it is used, but if you do have questions, do ask.

To create and access your account, follow the instructions at www.ed.ac.uk/is/lynda

be our Wikimedian in Residence

IMG_2147 copyDo you have an eye for detail and a love of facts? Are you an experienced Wikimedian with experience working with the Wikimedia community? What would you do to engage our staff and students in editing, contributing and sharing open knowledge? We are recruiting a Wikimedian in Residence to work in Information Services alongside our learning technologists, archivists, librarians and information literacy teams. Following our first successful editathon events we now need your help to establish a network of Wikimedians on campus and to embed digital skills and open knowledge activities in learning and teaching across the University.

Media coverage:

The Student Newspaper

Edinburgh Evening News

The post is offered on a fixed-term (12 months), part-time basis (17.5 hours per week).

Closing date: Thursday 29 October 2015 at 5pm