If you have a shortage of learning technologists about the place, you may need to grow your own in-house.
If you can find colleagues who have a lively interest in learning and teaching and excellent digital skills, just sprinkle with them with a nutritious training programme and try to equip them with the resilience for coping with a lot of crop.
Our excellent teams in LTW have come up with a new learning technologist training toolkit.
This toolkit provides learning design and digital skills development resources and training for those new to working with learning technology, whether they have just joined the University or have moved internally from another role. It can be used as part of an on-boarding plan, or more generally for skills development.
The toolkit aims to build a foundation level of knowledge across our pool of learning technologists, covering the core learning technologies used at the University alongside learning design practices. Details of school-specific tools and practices should be added locally.
Additionally, the toolkit aims to develop and maintain the University’s network of Learning Technologists through which you can meet others in similar roles, keep up to date with the fast-changing teaching landscape, share good practice and support each other.
The toolkit offers flexibility through providing a variety of guidance and training, which you can work through on a self-study basis. In recognition of the variety of roles that exist in this area, you should use the toolkit on a pick-and-mix basis identifying with your manager which areas are most relevant to your role.
When talking about the lack of women in digital technology, the focus tends to be on engaging the interest of girls and supporting women to become qualified in relevant areas. Without change within the industry itself, however, the women who pursue digital technology qualifications will still not remain in or be attracted to the sector.
The ‘leaky pipeline’ is definitely a thing so we must think about ways in which we can create a more inclusive and attractive work culture where women aspire to stay. Business-wise it make sense to retain valuable, experienced staff rather than having to train new staff.
Do we know what older women in the workplace want? do we ever ask them?
When we take an intersectional approach to recognising that people’s identities and social positions at work – particularly in the technology industry – are shaped by multiple and interconnected factors. We have to pay attention to how long people have been working and where they are in their careers.
We are a big recruiter, with a high turnover and a lot of innovation, so we need to attract and retain talent. We advertise placements and returnerships via Equate Scotland. We also need to explore how age and length of time in the organisation influence staff engagement.
RETAINING WOMEN IN WORK
In ISG we monitor the age profile of our staff, and because of course, we want to retain in our organisation, or in the sector as many women as we can, we invest in training and development including, personal development for women. We have a number of visible examples of Positive Action Measures which include:
Personal development programmes
We have coaching programmes and mentoring for women- we take part in the Aurora and Connections programmes and we run specific ‘Renew You’ and ‘Speak up‘ personal development programmes for women. The participants on these courses seem to find them valuable and so it seems like a good investment, but I don’t have any actual data for evaluating impact.
We have run sessions specifically about the impact that feminist mangers ( with Prof Fiona MacKay) can make and about how promotions and annual reviews work. We have data on who gets sent on leadership programmes.
Raising awareness and widening discussions
We organise events and discussion on topics which raise awareness of gender issues in the workplace such as gendered communications, inclusive language, shared parental leave and menopause. Menopause is an intersectional issue of gender, health and age and it is an important issue for managers and service teams. For many women it is experienced as a double or triple whammy, coming as it does just at the time when your children are teenagers, your parents are elderly and you have just made it back from a career break. We are figuring out how to promote a menopause -friendly workplace.
One of the first steps is to make sure everyone has access to fans to cool down. The aim is to normalise and destigmatise the use of fans- but it has to be said this is not such a great challenge as we work in one of the hottest buildings in Edinburgh!
The next step will be to gather some actual data about how many work days are lost because menopause symptoms go unreported and to think of ways to bring that number down.
We need to do more in really under-represented areas though, to think about how to involve more women in AV, VR, IoT and GIS.
Universal design in technology
There are moments in the workplace when you may suspect it has not been designed with you in mind. As a technology provider we can promote universal solutions ( such as how to wear a radio microphone pack with a dress) and disaggregate our data by gender and age where ever we can.
Recognise and rectify historical wrongs
Those of us who have been around for a while have heard the stories of historical wrongs. We can do things now to help our institutions to address some of that history , such as the degrees finally given to the Edinburgh Seven.
Professional and skills development
I have anecdotal information that middle-aged women are the group least likely to attend ( or be chosen for) new skills training in tech. We are very aware that we have a large group of women who have already chosen to work in information services, who could develop skills more specifically in data science, so 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 130 learners on course. It wasn’t targetted exclusively at women, but we managed to attract 65 % women to participate. 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. 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 pretty good flexible working arrangements and policies in ISG. It is not clear though whether they are consistently applied.
Developing male allies
We know that male allies are a big part of the success of any equality and diversity initiative. At ISG we have a Fathers Network which provides a space to discuss the experiences of the fathers in our teams who juggle work and family responsibilities. We are also working with CIPD to develop a new personal development course for men. This will focus on emotional intelligence at work and the challenges faced by men in managing workplace expectations in relation to their roles. It is important to acknowledge some important intersections, and where men can see that they also face intersections of identity which may influence the experience of other men, then that can carry over to understanding what that may be for women.
Offering students work experience in our STEM organisation is a no-brainer for me.
We get up to date ideas and creative thinking from them. They get real work experience and digital skills from us. The digital sector in Scotland is booming and students are hungry for work experience which will help them to succeed once they graduate. If you are not studying a STEM discipline the digital sector may be hard to enter, we need a pipeline for students to find their way into well paid jobs and new roles.
This is the fourth year I have hosted interns in LTW and the numbers keep getting bigger. This is credit to all the teams and managers who establish a range of really interesting summer projects and to the reputation we are gaining as a great place to work.
Our interns come to us via a variety of routes. We are happy to host 24 new student interns this summer (11 via Employ.ed, 10 as VLE support, 2 Napier Placements, 1 Equate Careerwise) , plus 2 returners from last year (Anirudh and Samuel ), 2 who have been with us for 3 years ( Dominique and Vicki), 6 student trainers and 10 media subtitling assistants.
While they are with us the interns write blogs and as they leave we ask them to reflect on what they have learned. Each team and project they are involved with benefits from their input. And yes, we pay them.
I’ve been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy for a long time. I’m also a Fellow of Kellogg College Oxford. Last month I became a third fellow as I have exhibited the professional competence and achievement sufficient to be elected Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals too.
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.
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.
This blog is another about some more institutionally provided technologies. #openblog19
At University of Edinburgh we know that our people are our strength. This is a place of knowledge creation, and a place of knowledge sharing. It is a place in which we invest in the digital skills of our staff and students. It is true in any job that there is a need for learning and development and when you work in the digital sector the need is even more urgent in a rapidly changing environment.
As Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services I am lucky to have responsibility not only for the institutionally provided learning technology, but also the institutionally provided digital skills training provision. You know me, I like to have a strategy or framework for such things.
Our strategic investment in Lynda.com has been a huge success. The digital skills training team are excellent and they have invested the kind of time and effort in managing this service for the institution which has brought us return in terms of take-up and impact which puts us at the forefront of the UK HE sector.
All staff and student at University of Edinburgh are offered an account with Lynda.com. We’ve seen a steady increase over 3 years to the current 15,000 users.
I am particularly pleased that uptake is highest in Information Services Group (87%), and is consistent across all three Colleges (23-28%). The service is most popular amongst taught postgraduate students with 47% having a Lynda.com account. Between 1,200 and 1,800 hours of video is viewed every month. ,
The vast majority of courses viewed are on digital skills topics. Programming courses are consistently the most popular (Programming Fundamentals, HTML, Python) but data skills courses have recently gained popularity.
Lynda.com has been heavily and proactively promoted by ISG. We appointed a dedicated Service Manager to get out and about around the university to encourage engagement. We have reached out to users across the campuses and to our 3,000 distance learning students. We use Lynda.com to to develop staff and student skills, to supplement curricular teaching and to increase operational efficiencies for the other training providers on campus.
Developing student skills
Providing extra-curricular learning to enhance the student experience, aligned to frameworks such as the Digital Skills Framework or the Researcher Development Framework.
Developing employability skills, both digital and business, through the Careers Service.
Increasing visibility of achievements by downloading course completion certificates or posting them to LinkedIn profiles.
Developing staff skills
Developing the digital skills and capabilities of our workforce, enabling staff to play an active role in digital transformation and keep up to date with new technology.
Helping managers to support staff development and reviews by signposting a broad range of Lynda.com courses for their staff through the Digital Skills Framework.
Encouraging career development by mapping courses to professional development frameworks.
Enhancing curricular teaching by supporting digital classroom technologies.
Use by training providers
Enabling training providers to offer resources across a wider subject range and provide an alternative to classroom-based delivery. Examples include the Effective Digital Communication (Web Publishing) course which was re-designed from a face-to-face to online course using Lynda.com materials; HR’s business skills toolkits (launched in summer 2018) and ISG’s digital skills toolkits (to launch in April 2019) both of which signpost Lynda.com resources.
Including links to Lynda.com resources in pre- and post- course emails on Digital Skills Programme courses for preparation and further skills development.
Providing immediate help to those on waiting lists
Assisting in software and systems rollouts including Office 365, Windows 10 and lecture recording.
Reducing spend on external training courses by offering a just-in-time online alternative.
Lynda.com will be upgraded to LinkedIn Learning in summer 2019 and will bring benefits of a more personalised learning experience, more courses, the facility to include University of Edinburgh resources, the power of worldwide member profiles for trend and market analysis, and improved learning analytics. As an organisation we can add our own learning content to LinkedIn such as guides, videos and links to University web pages and online resources for viewing by an internal audience. There is a new reporting dashboard providing more learning analytics and data on learner behaviour, including aggregated trend data from across the globe.
There’s no doubt that the resource has been a good investment in the staff and student experience at University of Edinburgh.
“This type of resource is critical in underpinning a number of projects, both Digital Skills and Capabilities and Digital Scholarship.”
“I wanted to let you know how helpful I have found Lynda.com. I have not used SPSS for 20 years! So going back to do statistics has been daunting. The SPSS videos have been brilliant and helped enormously with my thesis.”
“This year, in Residence Life as part of my annual training program, I made all 220 of our Resident Assistants sign up to Lynda and throughout the course of the year have assigned them all courses to complete; time management and developing your professional image as well as encouraging Line Managers to set annual review objectives relating to courses which has all been incredibly positive.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are working in a learning technology role the University of Edinburgh is committed to supporting your professional development. I am delighted to announce a new university wide scheme supporting CPD for staff working with learning technology. Our aim is to support colleagues working in schools, colleges and ISG to become CMALT accredited.
CMALT is Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology – you submit a portfolio describing and reflecting on your work and linking to relevant evidence. The training and support you can access via the CMALT programme will ensure that you stay up to date with best practice and maintain strong links for career progression.
If you join our scheme now you will be supported to complete CMALT by:
* discounted fees
* regular meetings of the CMALT applicants group
* mentoring and support as you put together your portfolio
* access to organised writing retreats
For more information contact Susan Greig in LTW now.