Some of us are on strike. (I may have mentioned this before). Academic colleagues are holding ‘teach outs’. What kind of activity would be the learning technology version of a ‘teach out’? I’m thinking ‘making OER ‘and ‘wikimedia editathons’.
I’ve asked a guru and been told that a ‘teach-out’ takes place outside the walls, has an informal curriculum, is activist focused and free!
Open education and OER is all about ‘beyond walls’, it is about sharing, releasing openly, deliberately, resources which can be re-used by others for free. There are whole conferences about how this is informal, disruptive, beyond the curriculum and underpinned by activism for social change in HE. There are even Declarations about it. Wikimedia is the largest online open educational resources platform in the world. Wikimedia is an activist organisation whose members support and campaign for changes in copyright, access, freedoms and disruption of traditional knowledge publishing models. There is also a well known issue with gender bias in the content.
They show students that their teachers aren’t just putting their feet up. We care about students’ education and are willing to educate unpaid — just not to do the kind of educating we’re normally paid for.
We only go on strike when bad things are happening, but promoting the teach-out allows us to focus conversations on a positive activity. Attending allows students (and anyone else!) to show support for the strike.
The teach-outs also give members a communal, productive activity to do on strike days that builds ideas, capacity, and community — and reminds us what higher education is really all about.
Not all members are willing or able to be involved in picketing, but are happy to participate in teach-outs, broadening the possibilities for activism on a strike day.
Organising teach-outs is very easy! Almost everyone in UCU organises conferences, open days, meetings and talks professionally. Moreover, it’s in the nature of teach-outs that they’re ad hoc, a bit improvised, even carnivalesque. So basically, it’s about doing what we’re good at, yet no-one minds if it goes wrong “
This is exactly the kind of thing we encourage through our OER activities and wikimedia editathon events. It is #openeducationweek as well as #internationalwomensday and #ussstrikes. The best thing you can do is join a ‘tech-out’. You don’t have to cross a picketline, Wikipedia is definitely outside our walls, but conveniently adjacent, and differently owned, like a local pub or community hall. You can learn how to do OER from our handy guides. You can join our wikimedia editathon remotely with our helpful videos.
If you want a communal, productive activity to do on strike days that builds ideas, capacity and community, and reminds us what higher education is really all about, Comrades, join me in Open Education.
Will I be on strike for International Women’s Day? Well yes, I’ll have to if the UCU action carries on as planned.
But I have some questions. The UCU strikes are on chosen days. How and why were these chosen? We don’t strike on Friday, but we do on Thursday. International Women’s Day is not, presumably, a surprise to UCU. Why not chose that as a non-strike day so that we can attend our events? IWD has its origins in the women’s labour movement, but to commemorate it at our university events this year is to ‘betray it’? I wish my union had not put me in this situation.
A nearby ancient institution has already got itself in a tangle by linking E&D initiatives with the pensions strike * . I fear this is why we can’t have nice things.
For me IWD is part of a bigger picture, I understand that women are disproportionately hit by pension changes, but lets use this day to talk about that and the many other inequalities. I am pleased that my University supports IWD and that there are events to raise its profile for staff and students and I want to be part of it.
I am told that there are ‘lots’ of IWD events being held by academics off-campus so I can go to those (please send more details). Or I can go to the UCU march.
I would encourage staff who are not on strike to organise, attend and enjoy the University IWD events. It’s a great way to show your support for IWD and a healthy attendance will help to ensure that we get to do them again next year.
Here’s the post I was going to post for International Women’s Day:
The Red Thread
Did you know that IWD began with a strike by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU)? It was originally called “International Working Women’s Day“, its purpose was to give laboring women a focusing point in their struggle for fair working conditions and pay. This year International Women’s Day 2018 themes is #PressforProgress.
My great grandma Sadie was a member of ILGWU. A Jewish woman working in dangerous factory conditions as a garment worker in New York. My grandfather Stanley often complained later that he had missed out on jobs because his mother-in-law was ‘a communist’**. Occasionally I find ILGWU labels inside my vintage dresses. They are always well made. Here’s a picture of Sadie, and a picture of the ILGWU label in my dress today.
**Family lore is that she wasn’t actually a member of the Communist Party, but she voted for one, and that was enough to get her and her children on a list.
Sometimes, people look to me for advice and wisdom.
My advice today, to anyone who works in a role similar to mine is: try to avoid being in an institution-wide consultation about an opt-out lecture recording policy at a time of national industrial action.
We are consulting on a draft new policy at Edinburgh. It’s a good policy. It’s better than previous policies and it’s been developed over many months with input from across the University.
I am a strong believer that if you are a member of a union you should remain a member of that union even when you become senior management. The reason for this is that I believe you get better decision making when there is diversity around the board table, and union members are part of that diversity of thinking. Having some managers in the room who are union members means you get better management which is more inclusive and considerate of a range of staff views. The hope, is that with this better-informed thinking, comes fewer staff-management stand-offs.
Because of this, I have ensured that the campus unions have been part of the policy consultation since the start. A UCU rep has been part of our task group.
What have learned:
‘We can just use recorded lectures‘ is the knee-jerk go-to response of university management when threatened by an academic walk-out, but that really isn’t what this is all about. The University believes that having more lectures recorded and offering a consistent staff and student experience around that service, benefits us all in the longer term. That is why they have invested.
For colleagues at Edinburgh University, please let me assure you: The new policy is predicated on the idea that we are all in this together.
The new policy clearly states the essential purpose and aims to address a number of concerns. In the Policy Point 1. The statement of the “essential purpose” in the policy is to reassure lecturers that the intention of the service is the provision of recordings for students to review, and that this is limited to the students on the Course for which the lecture is delivered i.e. those who were entitled and expected to be present at the original lecture.
In 1.5 it clearly states that to use the lecture for business continuity , such as a volcanic eruption leaving everyone in the wrong place around the world*, or loss of a major teaching building, or absence of a major teaching person, the university can use the recording ‘if the lecturer and other participants agree, and as specified within business continuity plans relevant to the School. ‘ People on strike would presumably not agree. That is the reassurance we have been giving colleagues.
The essential purpose referred to within this policy is to allow the students undertaking a taught Course to review recordings of lectures given as part of that Course. The policy also permits a lecturer to re-use recordings of their lectures for other relevant and appropriate purposes, if all the participants in the recording agree to this.
Use of recordings
1 The University will provide recordings of lectures to students on taught Courses, where possible, to aid their learning through review and reflection. These recordings are not, other than in very exceptional circumstances, a replacement for lecture attendance or other contact hours.
1.1 The Lecture Recording Policy Privacy Statement details how the University will use and share personal data in relation to the lecture recording service.
1.2 Recording of sensitive personal data as defined in current legislation shall not take place without the explicit written consent of the person(s) to whom the data relate.
1.3 The University will provide lecture recordings to students on the Course(s) to which the lecture relates. By default, it will also provide access to the staff associated with the Course(s) in the Virtual Learning Environment. The lecturer may restrict staff access to a recording further if required.
1.4 The University encourages teaching innovation, sharing and re-use of recorded lectures where relevant and appropriate. A lecturer may publish a recording of their lecture as an open educational resource, with appropriate modifications and safeguards, including an appropriate attribution, licence and having obtained any permissions required from other participants or third parties whose intellectual property resides within the recording. Guidance on this is contained within the Open Educational Resources Policy and Website Accessibility Policy. Staff and students may otherwise only publish or share restricted-access lecture recordings with the permission of the School that owns the Course and of the lecturer and any other participants in the recording.
1.5 A School may use a past recording held within the lecture recording service in exceptional situations to provide continuity, if the lecturer and other participants agree, and as specified within business continuity plans relevant to the School.
1.6 The recordings and any associated metadata will not be used by the University for staff performance review or disciplinary processes except in the case of alleged gross misconduct. A lecturer may however choose to use recordings of their own lectures for these purposes or to allow peer observation of their teaching.
1.7 Learning Analytics from the lecture recording service may be used in accordance with the Learning Analytics policy.
* I was first convinced of the value of lecture recording ( and video conferencing) when that Icelandic volcano stranded the staff and students of my university all around the world. There were no flights in and out of Europe and, as an international research institution, we were all widely scattered. The impact on teaching, and the research activities and conferences for those few weeks was considerable.
It is the oldest purpose built student union building in the world and it is stunning. It was designed to be fit for purpose, politics, power and community: ‘And with a house furnished as our Union is, our fellow-students may rest assured that they have much in their power to promote their own welfare.’
If you have ever tried to navigate your way around inside Teviot you might wonder what the original architect* imagined would be going on in there, and there is something of Hogwarts about its staircases, turrets and towers**.
It is a slightly disconcerting space and it takes you a few tries to get where you are going. But if you persist there are rich environments, private spaces and favourite nooks to be found.
My memories of Teviot stem from my time as a student here, but also from the many summers it served as the Fringe Club during the Edinburgh Festivals. In recent years I have been lucky to spend time in there again as a trustee on the EUSA Board.
‘It remains with the students themselves to make the Union what it ought to be, and if they join it as they ought they will be the gainers from it.The want is now supplied, and we shall look with interest on the progress of the new factor in our University life.’
The funding for the building was generated through an early ‘crowdsourcing-initiative’ 1 from amongst the students themselves. It would be fascinating to see if there is any record of that in the archives.
There was a book written for the 100th anniversary, it’s probably in the Library, called ‘No spirits and precious few women‘, a reference to the fact that neither spirits nor women were included in Teviot until the early 1970s, which makes it sound like a rather dull place to me. Nowadays, however, it is lively and buzzing with student councils, ceilidhs and tasty snacks.