My presentation is called ‘Open with Care: contents may have shifted during flight’. Emma Smith’s is called ‘Free Willy’. Last year Josie brought the dolphins, this year Emma brings the orca. A whale of a time will be had.
It is a source of great pleasure for me that in recent years the celebrations of International Women’s Day have co-incided nicely with Open Education Week. This makes it easy for me to find authentic and useful things to do as my contribution.
This time last year I was visiting a number of tech partners in California and the theme was #makingithappen This year the theme is #pledgeforparity and I’ve stayed at home.
I don’t find it difficult to see connections between feminism and open education movements. Both seek to give equality of access, challenge traditional structures and ways of doing things; and involve a diverse community of people in thinking about the greater good. Both also have outspoken advocates with strong opinions and sometimes end up arguing amongst themselves. Nonethless it’s been a fun week.
Saturday: A lovely day doing pleasant writing tasks at the Modern Scottish Women wikipedia editathon #artandfeminism. Working towards parity of coverage and parity of esteem with Jo, Gill, Sara and Mary.
Monday: I ate retro sweets with Charlie and Susie near our #OpenEducationWk display stand and attended the launch of Jo and Peta’s Dangerous Women Project to which I have contributed a blog post to be published later in the year.
Tuesday: On IWD2016 I spent some enjoyable time searching the digital archive of Spare Rib at the British Library to find images to use in my OER16 keynote. I was surprised to find that Spare Rib itself is not particularly well described in Wikipedia, so I spent some time on that too. I added a section on design to continue the #artandfeminism theme.
It seems to me that the big libraries are missing a trick if they are spending time making digitised collections open to the public and not taking a moment more to get a good article on the topic in Wikipedia. They probably need a Wikimedian in Residence.
Wednesday: While my teams were launching our new University of Edinburgh Open Educational Resources policy to #OEPS in Stirling, I was presenting online in Croatia for Sandra. Our policy is largely based on one crafted by Rebecca for Leeds.
Thursday: I worked with Dominique, our ISG gender equality intern to refine once more our ISG gender equality plan and with Sonia, Yujia, Susan and Lauren to edit the ’embracing openness’ double page spread for our upcoming BITS magazine.
Friday: Today I am working from home, fortified by jam by Anne-Marie and coffee warmed by Maggie’s bespoke knitwear. I see that all but one of the women artists we were editing on Saturday now have their own wikipedia page, and Lorna, Viv and Catherine are giving it a bit of welly in an ALT OER-SIG webinar to promote our April conference.
A good week’s work all.
Our Wikimedian in Residence (WiR) partnership is a result of a long term engagement and also a credit to the quality of the UK Wikimedians and their ability to support, impress and influence senior managers, who in turn, shape institutional strategies and investment.
I have been repeatedly impressed by the quality of the Wikimedians and the generosity of their host organisations to help at events. It seems to me only fair that University of Edinburgh which has benefitted so much from our local WiRs should now host a WiR to continue a sustained involvement with the scheme and the Wikimedia UK community. Once Edinburgh has shown the way I hope the other Scottish universities will follow suit to ensure that there is always at least one WiR for the nation.
When I was Director of Academic IT at University of Oxford my teams attended the editathon organised by JISC (June 2012) to improve articles on the Great War . Oxford holds an elegant collection of crowd-sourced and expert-curated content in the Great War Archive and we were keen to ensure, in advance of the centenary, that our collection of open educational resources (OER) could support public engagement and school teaching on the topic. Martin Poulter was WiR at JISC at the time.
In 2013 we hosted an editathon at Oxford for Ada Lovelace Day. Martin provided training for the event and brought several other wikimedians to help. Liz McCarthy and Kate Lindsay worked with Martin to make the whole event a great success and I was entirely sold on the idea.
Oxford hosted another editathon for Ada Lovelace Day 2014, but by that time I had moved job to become Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services at University of Edinburgh. There had not yet been any wikipedia editathons at Edinburgh so I brought my new colleagues to the EduWiki conference to find out more. Ally Crockford spoke at the event and she highlighted the WiR scheme. I met with Gill Hamilton at National Library of Scotland (NLS) to learn about the job descriptions, support and work plans which would be successful for a WiR partnership.
Edinburgh University runs an annual Innovative Learning Week designed to enable staff and students to attend day long, or week long events outside of normal timetabling patterns. The first Edinburgh editathon ran during ILW 2015. Ally and Sara Thomas came to help. Ally was very bold and went for an event spanning the full 4 days.
We certainly couldn’t have done it without Ally and Sara but the striking thing for me was how quickly colleagues within the University took to the idea and began supporting each other in developing their skills and sharing knowledge amongst a multi-professional group. This inspired me to commission Allison Littlejohn and her team to do some academic research to look at the connections and networking amongst the participants and to explore whether editathons were a good investment in developing workplace digital skills.
This is the research I presented at Martin’s Wikipedia Science Conference which underpinned my business case for establishing a WiR at University of Edinburgh with focus on skills development as part of the University’s commitment to open knowledge.
This year University of Edinburgh is hosting an international conference on open educational resources : OER16. I am delighted to see so many papers accepted from wikimedia projects. We will also run an editathon alongside the event and hopefully convert even more OER practitioners to the joys of Wikipedia editing. Three of the keynote speakers at the event are from organisations with WiR: John Scally for NLS, Emma Smith for Oxford and me for Edinburgh. Each of these organisations are making big public commitments to open knowledge, sharing and public engagement. Partnership projects with Wikimedia UK is part of the way we do that.
WiR at University of Edinburgh
Ewan McAndrew has been appointed The University of Edinburgh’s Wikimedian-in-Residence.
His year-long residency will run from January 2016 to January 2017 and involves facilitating a sustainable relationship between the university and Wikimedia UK to the mutual benefit of both communities.
To do this, he will be an advocate of open knowledge and deliver training events and workshops which will further both the quantity and quality of open knowledge and the university’s commitment to digital literacy.
More practically, this will involve arranging and delivering skills-training sessions which will fit in with and, importantly enhance, the learning and teaching within the curriculum. He will also stage events outside the curriculum which will draw on the university’s, and Edinburgh’s, rich history and knowledge.
Wikipedia Edit-a-thons will be a large part of this; however, there are numerous ways staff and students can get involved and directly contribute their knowledge and expertise to develop Wikimedia UK’s diverse range of projects.
Ewan is based in the Learning, Teaching & Web Services Division within the Hugh Robson Link Building. You can keep up to date with the residency through Twitter, the WiR blog and through the Wikipedia Project page.
To contact Ewan McAndrew, to discuss collaborating together or just to find out more, email: Ewan.McAndrew@ed.ac.uk
Booking is now open for #OER16 . More than 100 papers accepted, some fine looking speakers, and some of the funnest people with whom you could ever care to discuss the minutae of copyright law.
Looking forward to it.
In this week we will also be launching our new Edinburgh University OER showcase website Open.ed, and celebrating the ratification of our OER policy by University of Edinburgh Learning and Teaching Committee.
Next year in April 2016 University of Edinburgh will host 3 major digital education conferences back to back. The city will provide a stunning back-drop for leading educators, policy makers and learning technologists to meet, share ideas and present their research. The calls for papers for each of the conferences is open now and the lists of keynote speakers and themes offer a tempting menu for anyone interested in open educational resources, learning analytics or the challenges of learning at scale.
The conferences are: the 7th Open Educational Resources: Open Culture. OER16 https://oer16.oerconf.org/, the 6th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) Conference. LAK16 http://lak16.solaresearch.org/ and the 3rd annual meeting of the ACM Conference on Learning at Scale L@S http://learningatscale.acm.org/las2016/
Where else would you want be?
Quote usually attributed to Grace Hopper.
You may or may not be aware that ISG is pumping money into innovation projects designed to improve the services and offerings we make to the University.
We issued a call out to our staff for ideas- below are the winning projects I have funded from LTW.
All these projects are due to complete by August ’16, so if you see the name of an LTW person you know, or an idea you like, please do get in touch so that we can let you know what we are working on. The outputs of all these projects will be licenced CC-BY ( as far as practicable).
A comparative study between a low-cost capture agent and mobile devices -Marc Jennings
Augmented Reality and Learning (Microsoft Holo Lens) -Myles Blaney
Beacons of Knowledge: working with students to co-create geolocated virtual campus tours-Jo Spiller
Build a 3d Printer -Anne- Marie Scott
Developing student digital skills in the community -Amy Woodgate
Diversifying the curriculum with student-led remix and reuse OER- Jo Spiller
Drones: innovative media production -Amy Woodgate
Evaluating frameworks and toolkits for leading Learning Design Practice at University of Edinburgh -Fiona Hale
Exploring accessible Photogrammetry and 3D scanning -Stuart Nicol
Feedback on Feedback -Robert Chmeileswki
Learning Dashboards for professional development- Jenni Houston
Live Interactive Point of View Video -Euan Murray
Self-directed learning resources for spatial literacy -Gavin Inglis
Twitterbot – Pilot Service – Martin Morrey
Virtual Edinburgh Maker Platform Proof of Concept- Martin Morrey
Do 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.
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
Lots of discussions this week about the student digital experience and how our services support students. As you know, the name of the Student Information System at University of Edinburgh is EUCLID. As time goes by it needs looking at again.
We also have some elements of euclid in our library.
In this version of Euclid elements held in the university research collections coloured diagrams and shapes are used instead of letters for the greater EASE of learners. Its all about the interface.
If you are in to interfaces, we are recruiting a web interfaces service manager for our team right now:
Could you lead and develop our university web portal? Are you a creative enthusiast for interface design? Do you understand what learners and teachers want? It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
We are looking for an experienced web manager to join us and contribute to our digital student experience. You will have proven skills in interface design, web and mobile technologies, and user experience.
You will lead a small team delivering a mixture of central and consulting services including responsibility for managing the University’s web portal, MyEd, and overseeing a bespoke website development service. You will understand the need for continuous improvement for services and be confident in delivering IT projects with high quality solutions that meet both strategic objectives and customer requirements.
Full time, open-ended contract. Apply today: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/ALN479/web-interfaces-team-manager/
It’s a crazy world. Anything can happen.
Our staff and students experience our physical estate and our digital estate. In the city of Edinburgh much of the housing stock is flats. Flats in a common stair. Some of these flats are large, grand and very elegant. Nevertheless they have equal shares and responsibility in common.
The experience of communal living in a shared common stair relies on a shared commitment to hygiene: knowing when and where to put out your rubbish and taking turns to wash and clean the common. Taking the time makes the place better for all. Each year, all across the city- notably in Marchmont and the southside- new households of students move into flats and the permanent residents begin again educating them on the mores of communal living.
Universities have large transient populations: new students and new staff each year. If it weren’t for the local community taking care of each other the whole place would fall into disrepair.
I expect you can see where I am going with this…. <whispers> it’s abit like that with OER.
Three weeks ago, while preparing my presentation for e-learningforum@ed conference I was musing on the similarities between ‘technical debt’ and what one might call ‘ copyright debt’.
I was thinking about institutional risks of not being open. Institutional risks are sometimes legal, sometimes reputational, sometimes financial. Mostly, at IT directors’ meetings we talk about the need to mitigate risks early on, and avoid risks in the future.
Generally, the risks of not engaging with open practice are reputational: Other institutions are doing it; we might miss out on this good thing; we should be seen to be bold in digital education and leading edge in our open research. There is a risk to our reputation if colleagues do not seem to be up to-date-on licensing and refer to online materials or data as ‘open’ when they are not. But most of those risks are easily hidden under a smear of open-washing and a vagueness about the definition of open in different contexts.
These are not risks which will ever convince a VP Finance and Resources to invest.
If you want to convince an IT director or a CIO to invest in systems which have built-in open-licensing workflows, protecting the institution against the risk of expensive copyright debt may be the way forward.
My definition of ‘copyright debt’ is based on my understanding of ‘technical debt’. Technical debt is a metaphor often used in IT to explain why it costs so much to replace IT systems. I use it to explain why rather than spending my budget on new exciting learning and teaching functionality, I am having to spend it to replace something we thought we already had.
You can ready about technical debt on Wikipedia. It’s the cost of not doing something properly in the first place. From the moment you build a system poorly, without due attention to software code rigour and process, you begin to accrue debt and then interest on that debt. From the moment you don’t fix, patch and maintain the code, the same thing happens. At some point you are going to have to go back and fix it, and the longer you leave it the more expensive it will be*.
From the moment a colleague tells you that they don’t have time, or don’t care about the copyright licensing and metadata on their teaching materials and load them up into a VLE, online course environment, departmental website, online course-pack, lecture power-point slides, whatever, you start to accrue ‘copyright debt’.
Someone will have to go back to those materials at some point to check them, figure out who made them and when and check for 3rd party content. The longer time passes (or staff change) between the original materials being uploaded in to the VLE the harder it will be to find the original source.
The cost will hit at the moment that you migrate from one VLE to another, or from one website to another, or from one media asset management system to another. At that point lecturers and departmental administrators will be asked to confirm that they have copyright permission for the materials they are migrating, and they will say ‘ I have no idea, in fact I don’t even remember/know where all the bits came from’.
They will suggest that someone in a central service (usually the library) should do the checking, and that is where the cost hits. No-one in the library is super-human enough ( unless you pay them a lot) to check all the hundreds of teaching and learning materials in your VLE, so most of it will just be binned and colleagues will be outraged that they have to make it all again.
I’d suggest the common causes of copyright debt include (a combination of):
- Business pressures, where the business considers getting something released sooner before all of the necessary copyright searches are complete.
- Lack of process or understanding, where the businesse is blind to the concept of copyright debt, and make decisions without considering the implications.
- Lack of flexible components, where materials are not openly licensed, the re-use permissions are not flexible enough to adapt to changes in course content.
- Lack of time, which encourages colleagues to do quick google searches and take materials they find without checking the license.
- Lack of metadata, where content is created without necessary supporting metadata. That work to create the supporting metadata represents a debt that must be paid.
- Lack of collaboration, where knowledge of open practice isn’t shared around the organization and business efficiency suffers, or junior learning technologists are not properly mentored.
- Parallel development at the same time on two or more VLEs can cause the build up of copyright debt because of the work that will eventually be required to move content from one to another. The more content developed in isolation without clear licensing , the more debt that is piled up.
- Delayed reformatting – the formats which were used for creating learning objects quickly becomes obsolete. Without clear permission to make adaptations it is hard for older TEL materials to be converted to new formats. The longer that reformatting is delayed, and the more content is written to use the older format, the more debt that piles up that must be paid at the time the conversion is finally done.
- Lack of alignment to standards, where industry standard features, frameworks, open technologies are ignored. Eventually, integration with standards will come, doing it sooner will cost less.
- Lack of knowledge, when the content creator simply doesn’t know how or why to use open materials.
The challenge in all this of course, is that the individual academics making the materials don’t care about the longer term cost to the central services of this debt. This argument won’t persuade them to take the time to change their practice, so we must build rigour for open practice into the workflows of our enterprise-wide systems and services as soon as we possibly can, making it easy for colleagues to make positive choices.
Or else we risk a whole heap of copyright debt.
*Basically it is the software equivalent of ‘ a stitch in time saves nine’.
(While I was doing this thinking, I bumped into a session at #OER15 called ‘the cost of not going open‘ by Viv Rolfe which also looked to quantify costs. Viv’s approach is to look at costs and savings around academic time spent creating materials, which complements my thinking rather nicely.)