There is a lot going on. Priorities are changing all across the University.
For me, one priority has been to get some of my learning technology service teams on to contracts which are more secure. I have some amazingly talented and highly skilled professional in my teams.
That done, my next step was to ensure that we maintain our commitment to our student internships and sandwich placements. I’m pleased to say we are recruiting dozens of students to help us with our digital shift to blended, flexible and inclusive learning in semester 1, and we are offering placement years to computing students from Napier University.
If you know anyone interested: ‘Working closely with colleagues across the University, you will bring a strong customer focus, an enthusiasm for problem-solving, a methodical and efficient management of your workload as well as a desire to learn new skills and gain expertise in new areas. We value your communication and digital skills, knowledge and experience of working with learners and teachers’.
At Edinburgh Learning Technology Support Officers may specialise in a particular area of technology to provide expert guidance and support. We are interested to hear from people who might specialise in video, AR/VR, remote teaching, skills training, digital humanities or computational notebooks as these are growing areas of demand.
Every Friday I write a message to my teams in LTW. Reassuringly, in the University we are getting a steady stream of high-level communications from HR and ‘the very top’. In my messages I try to focus on achievements and successes.
I’ll keep them here to look back upon when we come out the other side. They already serve to be an impressive list of what the teams have been doing.
Friday 20th March
Well done all, for making it through what must be one of the craziest weeks at work, ever.
Thank you for all your work in getting set up to work from home, for looking after each other, and for taking care to be safe and well.
Thank you also for all the extraordinary measures you have taken to ensure that the University is successful in continuing learn, teach and web.
Gavin has asked me to pass on his thanks for ‘The wonderful and immense response from LTW to the challenge of moving to remote teaching. Please give my thanks to everyone involved’.
I realise that we still have a lot to sort out about how we keep working, in our homes and with our families and pets who need us. This situation is unprecedented, but I trust that we will try hard and make it work.
Best wishes, enjoy your weekend.
Friday 27th March
I hope you are all ok at home. I am so impressed by how well our teams and services are responding to this situation. We are seeing increased use of all our learning technology systems and receiving great, positive feedback on the support, training and expertise we are providing.
In LTW, we are all part of this. We are currently:
• helping to open up content on MediaHopper to be used by NHS Lothian staff,
• helping MSc Critical Care to open up a Learn course to thousands of clinicians and creating a new MOOC.
• helping Usher Institute to create a web database of evidence based research on COVID-19 that can be accessed by policy-makers and clinicians seeking up-to-date and reliable answers to key questions.
• adapting the graphic design in chapters from the Adult Medical Emergencies Handbook to be put online.
This is important work and the university appreciates the contribution we are making.
Well done for making it through another week. If you are unsure, or short of something to do, please let me know.
Best wishes, enjoy your weekend.
Friday 3rd April
Another week has passed and I hope you are all still doing ok at home. The pace of activity in LTW does not seem to have slowed at all, many of you must be exhausted. The Principal has given us two days of leave in recognition of the fact that everybody needs a rest from work sometimes.
I am very pleased to see how well you are managing to shift your teams, events, board meetings, steering groups and community activities online. I know that there are online teaching and training sessions going on every day.
Amongst our many achievements:
• The Web Team ran our first ever Web Publishers’ Community online via Collaborate.
• Catherine Koppe was nominated for a Sustainability award for providing an electronic workbook service within the ISG training suites. The judges were impressed by the amount of paper this has saved, and direct cost savings as a result, they offered heartfelt thanks and congratulations for the fantastic work she is doing.
• Amanda Scully has been elected by University of Edinburgh students as Students’ Association VP for Community next year. Congratulations!
• You attended and spoke at virtual conferences to virtual audiences.
• You launched a new MOOC at short notice and high speed and shifted big courses from platform to platform as demand changes. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/covid-19-critical-care-education-resource/1 This resource will help frontline healthcare workers in this high-stress, high-risk environment.
• Stewart Cromar and Jon Wilson are supporting ISG comms to make changes on the ISG website.
• You are progressing with recruitment and on-boarding where that makes sense.
• There is much blogging, podcasting and sharing of pictures of pets.
• Ewan McAndrew launched our new publication about using Wikipedia in Education. https://oer20.oerconf.org/wikimedia-in-education-online-launch/ It’s a beautifully designed book of case studies about curriculum innovation, with many examples from Edinburgh. The event was supposed to be in London for 200 people, but it shifted to online for 1,000 people.
You will have seen that Gavin is keen to advertise work opportunities for staff who are short of things to do. This will be very interesting for us in LTW as we may have colleagues from other directorates who join us to work in areas supporting Learn Foundations and media subtitling.
Well done for making it through another week. If you are unsure, or short of something to do, please let me (or your line manager) know.
Best wishes, enjoy your weekend. Stay safe. Thank you.
Friday 10th April
The University gave us along weekend Friday and Monday holiday
Friday 17th April
I hope you are all ok at home. It sounds like this lockdown will continue for a while, so please pace yourself for the long haul.
You will have noticed that Gavin has got the hang of Media Hopper Create and is doing regular video messages. He is also very impressed with the success of the COVID MOOC and the future thinking from Learn Foundations. Similarly popular is our course ‘An Edinburgh Model for Teaching Online’. We have 150 staff signed up and 100+ more on the waiting list. Its great to see so many colleagues eager to find out how to do it!
I am getting a very strong sense that we will need to provide a lot more learning technology support to the College and Schools in the coming months, and perhaps for longer, so can I ask you each perhaps to have a think about people you know around the university ( or IRL) who you think would be assets to our teams (and might be on precarious contracts now)? Staff or students. We will particularly need people who may have used our tech, built websites, taught or designed MOOCs, with good knowledge of accessibility and UX and a passion for teaching and learning. Let me know.
Well done for making it through another busy week.
Best wishes, enjoy your weekend.
Friday 24th April
Well done for making it through another busy week.
Stuart has attracted 400 academic staff to his training programme. Jon has 31,000 on his MOOC and Gavin now believes we can make MOOCs in a week. Lauren and Emma’s marketing efforts have brought more than 900 sign ups for the online learning open day. Ewan got 14 editors, 18 new articles and 80 articles improved as a result of his Earthday Editathon.
You will be aware that concrete plans for semester 1 are still elusive. Time constraints over the summer mean that it will not be possible to redesign all on-campus courses to be taught ‘fully online’, nor to develop a fully ‘hybrid’ model. I expect that we will use best efforts and the good thinking that has been already done in the Learn Foundations project to repurposed a scalable solution for moving all on-campus courses (particularly those for returning students in 2nd, 3rd and 4th years) into a state where simplified remote teaching can take place, continuing students can be held close and we can maintain community to sustain continuation of studies.
Another thing we learned this week is that the email announcing you have a voucher reward looks a lot like spam, so be careful if you get one not to just bin it!
Well done for making it through another busy week.
Students have been doing their first week of online and open book exams, and we’ve been supporting them as best we can.
We have been moving our classroom-based training programme online. We now have online delivery options for most of our classroom courses and Developing Your Data Skills Programme. These include webinars, videos, LinkedIn Learning courses, resources, guides. Digital Skills Programme webinars have been delivered to another 250 staff and students.
We are seeking to systematically improve our estate as is, starting with audits of content and accessibility. We are underway with a major programme to develop a new suite of common tools, services and technologies – including a modern, cloud-based publishing platform as a replacement for EdWeb – designed to offer our web community what they need to deliver a world-class experience for their users for years to come. We are also hoping that the university will sign up to the W3C ‘contract for the web’ https://contractfortheweb.org/ but it has to go through half a dozen committees first.
You have also been supporting Usher Institute in developing their ‘UNCOVER’ site full of evidence based reviews of COVID 19 https://www.ed.ac.uk/usher/uncover and publishing new guidance for students on how to stay safe online.https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/help-consultancy/is-skills/digital-safety-and-citizenship It is important to remember that just as ‘home’ may not be a safe place for everyone, the internet is a toxic place for many too, and we need to take care of each other.
You’ll have heard much talk about the dire impact the situation is having on the university. Your managers are working hard to try to ensure that contracts get renewed and jobs are secure. You will also hear much about furloughing, and economic recovery. This week Nicola Sturgeon launched a skills gateway online which links thorough to the MOOC platform where we have many of our online courses. https://www.myworldofwork.co.uk/learn-and-train/find-free-online-courses
Our ISG teams in UCreate Makerspace have been working hard to develop PPE for anyone who needs it. They have shared the design of the 3D stackable visor model they have been developing at uCreateStudio. The model has been uploaded by the OER team to Sketchfab so it can be downloaded under open licence. This makes the design available to anyone to make, re-use and adapt further as they wish.
Best wishes, enjoy your weekend.
Friday 8th May
Well done for making it through another busy week.
This week we launched a new MOOC on blended learning. 1700 people signed up for the online learning open day. We have welcomed new colleagues and we have colleagues joining us from other directorates to help with Learn Foundations and subtitling. We have also moved some LTW colleagues into furlough if it hasn’t been possible for them to keep working. Colleagues on furlough are still able to undertake training, so there is no escape from updating your digital skills.
We are working with Schools to provide support for two different types of exam alternatives – open book exams with a 2 day turnaround, and shorter closed book exams with a 2-3 hour turnaround (plus an hour for digital submission, many of these are hand-written). Exam period is the 27th of April until the 29th of May, so still a while to go. There are 483 exams in total, with 17K sittings. There are quite a few at the weekend and cover is being provided for any issues that occur on those days too. Assessment continuity support: https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/more/assessment-continuity
This week we also began planning for Welcome Week in September. Leaflets and handouts will be a no-no, we will need to think creatively about our merchandising and inductions this time.
You may have seen discussion of a ‘hybrid’ model for teaching next year. It is still a bit hard to get ones head around how social distancing will work on campus with each person needing a certain amount of space around them, our lecture theatres and seminar rooms will be very different from how they were before. It its important to the University to advertise that this hybrid model is NOT an online-only model, and this is a strategic distinction for the University. We know that many international students remain extremely nervous about the recognition of online only programmes. So ‘hybrid’ delivery does not assume either a fundamentally on-campus or fundamentally online model but is designed for easy student transition between the two. I’m sure it will become more clear, eventually.
Well done for making it through another week. Today is national #workFromHomeDay. 15th of May, in case you have lost track.
The University has launched a stream of recovery, renewal and adaptation projects. There are several streams with different names and subgroups. If you are invited to join one please do, but also please let me know.
I know you are all busy. A training programme for remote teaching is running every week, as is a whole raft of digital skills training for staff and students. Our copyright teams have added new guidance for copyright in remote teaching. Our graphic designers are discussing ways to make posters, stickers and signage for a socially distanced campus.
We are continuing to get regular updates from Gavin and all-staff emails from the Principal. On 26th May I’ve organised for VP Colm Harmon to meet with the university learning technology community to share his thinking about the way forward for semester 1. If you consider yourself to be a learning technologist and would like to join the meeting you are most welcome, Laura will be sending out a meeting invitation soon.
You all know that there is online training in health and safety, bribery and corruption, bullying and harassment, equality and diversity for you to do. If you still haven’t done your mandatory training and you have teenagers at home, why not get them to work through it with you and use it as a home-schooling teachable moment about what its like to work in a behemoth.
Best wishes, stay safe.
Friday 22nd May
Well done for surviving another week at home. Nice to see you keeping busy:
Callum tells us about the work involved in UNCOVER:
Even in lockdown, LTW is still winning: <secret until it is announced> on Friday, June 5, 2020, so don’t tell anyone until then.
We told the students we were recruiting interns and more than 100 of them applied to work with Learn Foundations one the summer. This is an amazing response and an exiting opportunity to show how we can work with students to co-create this new hybrid offering of (h)ours.
We told the world about our online programmes and applications to PG OL degrees are up 21% on same time last year.
We told our academic colleagues about teaching online and another 400 of them are going to start to learn more in June.
We told our academic colleagues about making video and they told us they need an additional six media production studios around the campus!
We want to tell our new students everything we can about how to be successful as hybrid leaners so we are making courses to support them in 4 broad areas:
Getting started including intro to the Universities digital spaces/environments and interacting online
Digital Study skills
Digital Literacy and the online libraries
Digital Wellbeing and support
All told, not a bad week.
It was Mental Health Awareness Week this week, I am sure you are aware. Be kind to yourselves.
Best wishes, stay safe.
Friday 29th May
Well done for making it through another week at home. Today is the last day of the semester. Thank you to all of you for adapting well and working so hard to ensure that students can complete their studies.
As the easing of the first lockdown begins, discussions about how and when the campus will reopen are happening across the University. It is hard to imagine what the new normal will be.
In the meantime, we must wave goodbye to 6 of our student digital skills trainers who leave us to spend their summers and future careers in new and exciting ways. The Digital Skills Team are working with the Careers Service to think about what online support can be offered to graduates seeking work and attending interviews online.
On Monday we welcome 20 new student interns to help deliver the Learn Foundations project. They will be part of an important project to work alongside our returning students to shape the reality of how the hybrid model of teaching will work in September. Thank you to those of you who were able to join me on Tuesday to hear Colm Harmon, VP Students talk about his hopes for the coming semester, I think it was clear from what he said that he understands how vital our services are to delivering that.
The range of activities in LTW continues to be as impressive as ever.
The findings and recommendations from our ISG Equality and Diversity survey will finally be presented to Directors next week. It has been bumped several times. Additionally, Lilinaz is beginning a thematic analysis of the feedback and questions which come in from ISG staff during Gavin’s All-Staff meeting. You will have seen our LTW all-staff meeting diary date in June going into your diaries. Any thoughts on what we should do at that meeting happily received.
Have a lovely weekend, stay safe and don’t forget to wear sunscreen.
Friday 5th June
Well done for making it through another week when the world is going crazy.
Welcome to our new colleagues. In addition to our 20 Learn Foundations interns in LTW, I am pleased to say Kevin has persuaded each of the 3 Colleges to take a bunch of interns each to work on Learn support directly in the Schools. This is important because the more we can support students by offering paid employment opportunities at the moment, the better and the more we involve students in co-creating their learning environments, the better.
You’ve been busy purchasing, testing and recommending remote desktop filming kit to standardise quality of media outputs. You have been presenting at online conferences and winning international awards. You are supporting the operational setup of new temporary media studios across campuses along with establishing the workflows and staffing for these new resources. Guidance videos and materials are being created to support staff to prepare and film remotely. You are reviewing the edtech landscape to find new solutions for online assessment. You are supporting homeworking and making sure everyone has the kit they need for the long haul. You are updating your skills and learning to become Edweb editors. Use of our LinkedIn Learning service has increased significantly since lockdown began. You have run 3 ABC ‘train the trainer’ workshops this week, with 46 attendees who are learning technologists and course leads from across the institution. The Final Assessment for the Predictive Analytics MicroMasters has now started and the Business School Chatbot has now been fully signed off and ready to go in August.
You continue to blog about work, working from home and what’s going on for you:
My mission to attract more people into careers as learning technologists continues, and we have another LTW alumna success, as Daisy Mickleson has finished her time as an intern with the Digital Skills team and secured a job as a learning technologist in School of Literature, Languages and Culture.
Applications to online PG degrees are up 30% as of 1 June (compared to 1 June 2019) and the alumni 20% discount has been confirmed for all years of study ,which is good. Our website is now updated. The discount applies to online and campus PG degrees. Tell all your friends.
Best wishes, stay safe, take care, be a lert and wear a face covering as appropriate.
Friday 12th June
Well done for making it through another week.
Our annual VLE rollover is underway, you’ve been working on mechanisms for deleting old course sites and long-gone users to ensure we are compliant with data protection regulations. We are moving Learn to Blackboard’s Continuous Delivery Option (CDO). This will provide monthly updates to Learn meaning that bug fixes will be available more quickly and these updates will not require any downtime. We’ve seen a 65% increase in active users of our PebblePad eportfolios and we have 20 Schools/Deaneries signed up as part of our Learn Foundations project. We have seven ISG colleagues on ‘learning assignments’ working on the accessibility review of content and another seven doing subtitling, for around 80 hours per week. 100 people from around the World attended Ewan’s online event about using Wikipedia in teaching.
New services are being launched across ISG. The EdWeb and MyEd teams worked to support the launch of ‘EdHelp’ and keep your eyes peeled for new services for ‘online events’, ‘zoom parties’ and ‘apps everywhere’.
You’ve done yet another really impressive piece of work to establish a co-ordinated learning design service to support hybrid courses in Learn. I’ve always suspected that learning design was key to delivering learning technologies at this institution, I’m glad we have such an excellent team across LTW and the Schools, and that people are able to give time, even when everything is so busy. Thank you to Jon, Ryan, Tracey, Neil, Brendan, Meredith, Lizzie, Graeme, Alison and Lorraine. https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/learning-design/abc/course-design-for-uncertain-times
Our Blackboard Catalyst Award for Student Experience win got a mention in Gavin’s CIO update and Gavin has called out for contributions to the next ISG newsletter with an equality, diversity and inclusion theme, please do send him your ideas.
Vicki and Lilinaz started pulling together an anti-racist reading list. Reading lists are complex things in themselves, particularly when works of fiction get mixed in with books on politics, policy and history. If you have suggestions about books which you think should be on a reading list for ISG, perhaps with an EDI /tech or learning angle, please let them know.
Members of our LTW team have been attending and presenting at Open Apereo #openapereo and University of Edinburgh Learning and Teaching Conference #uoeltconf20 Please do share with your colleagues what you learned.
If you have watched everything on Netflix and Amazon don’t forget we also have:
Well done for making it through another week working from home. There is light at the end of the tunnel, as the campus seems to be slowly opening back up. Just in time for an institution-wide ‘working from home experience survey’.
As the buildings start to re-open keep your eye out for messages from Gavin about the return to a new normality and get ready to return those library books. There are 53,000 of our books trapped in people’s homes and we need them back. All fines are forgiven.
Thank you to all our brief colleagues who joined LTW during lockdown to help with subtitling and Learn and now must return to their main jobs on the front line in the libraries and receptions.
Thank you to all of you who prepared posters for the Learning and Teaching Conference, you can see them here:
and thank you in advance to those who are preparing presentations for our LTW all-staff meeting, we are a friendly audience looking forward to trying out the logistics of a big group meeting in Teams.
If you missed our staff reading group on online shaming, I won’t name you here, but please do join us for the next group meeting in July to discuss anti-racism and the intersections between race and technology.
Some letters have arrived on my virtual desk for those of you who have been awarded lump sums in the annual round of reward and recognition. If you get a letter, thank you again for your hard work and don’t spend it all at once.
Friday 2nd July
Well done for making it through another week working from home. It was great to see so many of you at the LTW all-staff meeting on Tuesday.
In a spare moment please do help Mary by completing her user survey to gather all good data which feeds directly into the design of the MyEd interface. It’s a quick and easy task, and should take no more than 10 minutes. To take part, click the link and follow the instructions: https://edin.ac/2YGuYCQ
If you haven’t done it yet please also complete the working from home survey. https://edinburgh.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/uoe-working-from-home-experience-survey We are particularly interested to know how the experience has been different for different types of people, young and old, parents and carers etc and it will help with planning how we organise our teams and services for the future.
Some of our services have been even busier and more critical than usual. You have been writing new code to make tasks easier for Schools, helping with higher-levels of enquiries and calls than normal, and keeping the services up-and-running. We are planning lots of work over the coming months to keep the Schools happy. If you are a School rep, your role is more important than ever.
If you are preparing to come back on to campus to staff our frontline services, please be reassured that we are taking this seriously and your line managers will have discussions with you about heath and safety.
Some other things that have been keeping you busy:
Following the huge shift to online exams at the end of last semester Myles has been delving into the murky world of online proctoring services
We have confirmation that 2 new Napier students will join our web teams in July to start their placement year in industry.
When I wrote this presentation originally, I thought the shift in pace and place I would be talking about would be the new online microcredentials – Micromasters ™ – courses we have been piloting this year.
Little did I know that we would, as a sector, experience a seismic shift to remote learning online in little more than a week. At University of Edinburgh we have all shifted place- we are now working from home or are stranded and trapped. We have all shifted pace. Things which we thought would take months and years to do suddenly gained urgency and we ‘flipped’ or ‘pivoted’ to remote learning and working outwith the university at very short notice.
I can tell you about what we have been doing at Edinburgh in online distance learning, because it is this previous work which has given us the capacity, capability and vision to respond quickly now.
We know that distance is a positive principle, not a deficit. It can generate meaningful learning opportunities and a positive student experience; it can build community; and it can advance a values-led and professionalising position of teaching, one that does not downgrade teaching into (mere) facilitation.
New futures? who knows what will happen next? I won an EduFuturists Award recently for an individual ‘who embodies a vision of where education could be 20 years from now’ , and suddenly it seems like I should come up with this vision pretty fast. This is a new era and a paradigm shift for ‘business continuity’. In the past i warned my colleagues to ‘expect locusts‘. I wanted them to think big. I asked them to think about what happens if for some reason we can’t operate as usual. I admit, I thought the challenges would be strikes, snow or rogue volcanos, but I like a bit of Biblical scale…..
Some of my emerging thoughts for possible futures:
After this current ‘panic pivot’ to teach out the current academic year. Universities will quickly start to think about semester 1 next year. Will university campuses re-open or will we teach semester 1 online?
The online learning landscape
A rush to online delivery by many universities will see skillful course design for accessibility, quality and learning communities become key.
Even if the on-campus learners return, this is not a one-off, they will need reassurance that they can go home, if called home and still complete their studies.
The undergraduate online market in the UK will be transformed. Things we thought impossible will become pragmatic.
Some universities will collaborate with peer institutions to develop courses and deliver together. Some will not.
Interoperability, licensing, IP, technical standards and open development will be as important for sharing, interchange, reuse, local adaptation of materials as they always have been. Expertise in this area will be prized.
Learning technologists who know about staff development, course design and open educational resources will realise they can work from home and work for any institution in the world. Their salaries will increase, and the work will be more flexible, more compatible with family life.
The (already) global market for academic colleagues who teach well online will thrive.
On campus service such as counselling, wellbeing, welfare, disability support, finance, careers will need to find new elements of quality in delivery online.
Students will want to watch their lectures online.
Traditional face to face exams will become antiquated, and the purpose and methods of assessment will become increasingly diverse.
‘Halls of residence’ will be forever known as ‘petri dishes’.
The global platforms ( Coursera, Edx, Futurelearn, Linkedin Learning) will finally see return on their business model and they will own all the student data.
Home-based learners will sacrifice privacy and personal data in the rush to use Zoom and Houseparty et al.
Vendors and suppliers will try to renegotiate the costs of VLEs, streaming video and virtual classroom tools.
Libraries will finally invest properly in digitisation and digital collections and no-one will believe publishers’ protests that they cannot offer open access any more.
I am so impressed by how well our teams and services are responding to this situation. We are seeing increased use of all our learning technology systems and receiving great, positive feedback on the support, training and expertise we are providing.
We have trained 800 staff to support remote teaching and offered online training in how to work from home.
The result has been:
1200 Media Hopper Create uploads in Week3 March in comparison to 400 in the same week last year.
Support calls for Media Hopper Create down on last year show that the training and guidance is good quality.
16-18th March 800 Collaborate sessions per day. 23rd March, 1400 sessions involving 6000 users
Learn Logins steady each day at 4,000 logins but this is fewer than an average day when everyone is on campus. We would usually see nearer 5,000 per day.
Our academic colleagues are working hard to play their part in tackling the Corona Virus. This is one of the very good things about working in a research university. We are providing services which support research and teaching and knowledge creation and dissemination.
I am delighted to say that the PlayFair Steps equality and diversity initiatives in Information Services Group at University of Edinburgh have been recognised as excellent by the judges at the recent Universities Human Resources awards.
Many organisations are now choosing to recognise Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) expertise as a significant area of valuable knowledge which contributes to the business advantage and has a direct and significant positive impact on reputation. After two years this work is now able to show positive impact and report on metrics for improvement and use data driven decision-making for management practice. The work brings us ‘diversity advantage’. Diversity advantage can be seen as the positive consequences which accrue to a business through diversity and inclusivity practices in the workplace.
Increasingly EDI work in organisations can be seen as having a focus on:
improve the use of data in driving future developments
a greater priority on communications
more effective evaluation of policies and interventions
a focus on ‘what works’ underpinned by a robust and systematic use of the evidence.
My work in ISG EDI is seen through leadership in innovative practice to recruit staff, develop colleagues’ understanding of intersectionality and embed EDI into student employability programmes. I proactively recognise and reward staff with EDI expertise in my own teams. As well as identifying key people within the organisation to lead events in specific areas there are now 3 university of Edinburgh PhD students working as interns in ISG with specific remit to bring their academic expertise in gender studies and inclusion to contribute to our work. We have a Gender Equality Intern ( Dominique) and Digital Marketing and Recruitment intern ( Vicki) and an Equality Images Intern ( Francesca) These interns join my growing team (including our Wikimedian in Residence) to ensure that EDI in ISG is visible and celebrated. The three interns work on EDI plans and programmes, innovative digital marketing for recruitment and within the University archives and collections to find quality equality images which can be digitised and used to promote stories from our University history and to be used in presentations and publications. I have also agreed to sponsor a year’s sabbatical for another of our team ( Jo) to pursue a Masters by Research to properly surface the real story of The Edinburgh Seven.
The PlayFair Steps has been successful in that it allows staff to look at diversity and equality in various ways and from various points of view, all of which contribute to improving ISG. The work began as an initiative around gender equality and has expanded to recognise that people’s identities and social positions at work – particularly in the technology industry – are shaped by multiple and interconnected factors. I 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 in and perspectives of our workplace. Using the local expertise of our academic colleagues and students, I seek to move beyond anecdote and create a more inclusive workplace with support from senior management for both top-down and bottom-up change.
Our IT practice now benefits from a more nuanced understanding of the structural issues which lead to workplace improvement. It is not enough to just ‘add women and stir’. The PlayFair Steps programme (which draws its name for the idea of ‘fair play’ at work) focusses on ensuring that barriers and bias are addressed and a more inclusive workplace is experienced by all. The PlayFair Steps is an initiative which improves our reputation and is of interest to central IT departments at other universities. The work is also being disseminated at relevant sector-wide conferences and recognised through being shortlisted by various national awards. Fingers crossed for more success and recognition of the value of this work in the future.
I am delighted, but somewhat surprised to find I am on the list of Edtech50 . The Edtech50 is a celebration of the people, products and projects shaping this dynamic and growing sector across the UK. The awards recognise products and projects demonstrating effective use of Edtech in the UK, along with individuals who have played a leading role in developing this area of work. Am grateful to lovely colleagues who added my name. I didn’t attend the launch celebration in London as I was, as you know, on strike.
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.
Jisc had gathered a community of learning technologists and IT specialists and asked us to think about how we might find an evidence base for TEL.
But I do wonder: Should we even try?
There is a real risk to the universities in having the people who are best placed to build and develop excellent new services spending too much of their time of fruitless tasks. I think knowing what kinds of evidence is relevant for which decisions is a leadership skill, and leadership in learning technology is what its all about.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t make evidence-based decisions, or decisions based on data. We need to know the difference between evidence and data. But I think ‘technology enhanced learning‘ might be a red herring. Or possibly a hens tooth. Or may be both.
Even before the Trump era of post-fact and post-truth there were already many people, with strong convictions will not be persuaded by evidence, however well it is presented.
Some times I suspect that people ask for evidence not because they want to make a decision, but because they already have.
Sometimes I suspect that the request for more evidence, and more detail is a stalling or blocking tactic. It is just one approach to resistance. No amount of detail will ever be enough and you’ll spend a long time looking for it.
The evidence-base is not the same as the business-case.
So, In summary: Should we spend more time assembling an evidence base for technology enhanced learning?
I vote No. The opportunity cost is too great. It would have to be so broad, yet so detailed to convince university lecturers it would be quickly unstainable. It would be backward looking and the data unreproducable. It would have little useful link to the real, real-time decisions being made for investment for the future. We should not waste that time, we have more urgent things to do.
I am impressed that ALT have found my CMALT portfolio in their archives. I will share it as an example with colleagues engaging with our new CMALT programme.
When I wrote my initial CMALT application in 2008 I was just about to leave University of Leeds to embark on a new adventure in a new role as Head of Learning Technologies at University of Oxford. At that time there were so few CMALT persons in each university that the status of ‘University with the largest number of CMALT’ shifted from Leeds to Oxford when I moved. I stayed in that role at Oxford for 6 years, becoming Director of Academic IT as I expanded the teams, projects, scope and services.
Looking back at my portfolio submission from the time I am reminded of my commitment even then to blogging, learning design, VLEs, OER and my specialist subject: learning technology leadership.
In order to renew my CMALT portflio I am asked to reflect on how my career has developed over the past 3 years and how this relates to my work with learning technology.
I’ve been at Edinburgh for 2 years now. I know this because I’ve just attended my third elearning@ed forum. It’s been a vertiginous learning curve, and I’ve had to make some serious changes in the leadership of the Division. Grace Hopper said ‘ the most dangerous phrase in the English language is ‘We’ve always done it this way’. I think that is *especially* dangerous for anyone in an industry like learning technology which requires, demands innovation.
As a woman who arrives from somewhere else to take over the management of a department, I hear it a lot.
The investment of time and effort is paying off though, Senior Vice Principal Charlie Jeffrey described us as ‘gripped in the throws of innovation’. Which is good, I think. I’ve also just been appointed Assistant Principal for Online Learning.
Having an Assistant Principal as part of the senior management team in ISG will ensure that we can align even more closely the activities of ISG to the mission of the University. This will contribute to the success of our service excellence and digital transformation programmes as well as planning for learning and teaching technology. My new role will bring added complexity for me as I manage the challenge of keeping my teams on track with these innovations while also giving a renewed focus myself to online and distance learning. Exciting times.