Tag: run

european community engagement

Me at ScotlandEuropa
Me at ScotlandEuropa

I spoke in Brussels this week about University of Edinburgh’s leading role in developing and delivering innovation in higher education. The LERU league of European research institutions is an unashamedly closed club of 21, but occasionally they have open-ish meetings and this one was packed, so it was an interesting and interactive session. This particular meeting was at Scotland House, so I felt like I was representing up.

The meeting was focussed around the briefing paper which was written while I was working at Oxford, so it was fun to respond to it on behalf of Edinburgh now that I work here.

I spoke mostly about the unique positions held by the research institutions in engagement with their communities near and far and about the channels for translating research with social relevance.

Earlier in the meeting there had been much conservative concern and warnings (from those not doing MOOCs) that doing MOOCs was not worthwhile. The presentations from Leiden and Edinburgh about our MOOC success and mission relevance perked everyone up again.

I spoke about how involvement in the emerging area of MOOCs is inline with our three- part core mission: teaching, research and innovation. Our teaching in our MOOCs is strongly influenced by research we do about our MOOCs, is innovative, and the platforms we work with are informed by knowledge transfer in educational technology development.

We are motivated to inspire the citizens and leaders of tomorrow to be curious, driven, responsible and capable of academic thinking. I spoke about the U21 Critical Thinking in Global Challenges shared online course (SOC) which builds upon and runs parallel to, our MOOC of the same name. We are taking the opportunity to strategically extend our online learning opportunities to learners or co-enquirers outside our university. Universitas 21 also has 21 members, and some of them are the same as the LERU 21 members, but many are not. Nice to see colleagues from Amsterdam and Lund.

I talked about how we strategically work collaboratively with other institutions, and with commercial partners in the delivery of online learning. I mentioned our increasing strategic closeness with SRUC and their contributions to our growing stable (or barnyard) of horse, animal and chicken MOOCs*.  I mentioned our partnership work with national museums, the Scottish Government and the Edinburgh Festivals.

What struck me though, was that the hype is fading around MOOCs and the idea that this is going to transform the business of higher education  by opening it up to all has passed. It increasingly becomes attractive to those big brands who are getting the strategic benefit of these international platforms to  discourage other from getting into the same space.  Colleagues from Leiden agreed.

Doing MOOCs well is very difficult and very expensive. Unless you have excellent teams, which we do, it won’t be a success.

In fact, if you work at any of the other LERU institutions you should certainly heed all the advice in the LERU paper and not rush into it.


*Leiden have chosen Sharia law and international terrorism as their MOOC topics. That makes ours look actually rather tame.

designing to deliver education for 2025

University of Edinburgh  Education for 2025
University of Edinburgh Education for 2025

Vice Principal Professor Jeff Haywood delivered a keynote adress at recent ALT conference. In it he outlined a vision for the University of Edinburgh’s education in 2025.  The vision includes digital education, lifelong learning,  open educational resources (OER) and a significant  growth in online delivery to on- and off-campus students.

To support such a transformational shift we will need to build on recent success, draw upon our values and mission as an institution to find ‘the Edinburgh way’, and plan for investment to support sustainable, scalable growth.

This week the LTW service managers in the  many  IS academic IT teams  will meet as a group to begin to plan a roadmap of serious experiments, projects, support, staff development and infrastructure needed to make this vision a reality. We are looking closely at the many ‘flavours of openness’ in educational practice around the institution and discussing the investment needed in digital skills for teaching, learning and research. In his keynote Jeff stressed the need for the ‘serious experiments’ to be supported, evaluated and evidence based.  The reactions from the audience at ALT ( an international association of learning technologists in higher and further education) was that bold moves were needed at institutional and policy level to support a university like ours to adapt, change and maintain our position on the world stage.

If you would like to be part of ongoing discussions and consultations with Learning, Teaching and Web Services about the digital strategy, please contact  me.  Jeff’s keynote adress at ALT conference can be viewed online in full.

better together

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

Our new Learning, Teaching and Web Division was formally created on August 1 2014, which seems like a good date to begin a new blog.

Edinburgh has a great reputation for digital innovation, it’s an exciting place to be at an exciting time. There’s a lot of talent here, and an appetite to take risks and innovate with bold moves.

It is important that the institution gets good support from central services. Learning, Teaching and Web Services (LTW) is bringing together the services in Information Services that directly support learning and teaching. This gives us the opportunity to innovate, enhance or expand services to support an improved digital student experience and public engagement. The academic technologies such as Learn and MyEd are absolutely key to the experience of our students, as are digital education,  distance learning courses, online media, the university website and the technology which enhances our teaching spaces. We work closely with colleagues in the IS Skills teams and support for research data management to ensure that academic colleagues and students have the skills they need to make the most of the technologies on offer.