Tag: time and space

time to update our timeline

picture taken by me at Gartner conf. No rights reserved by me.

Inspired by a conversation with Lauren today, and some recent announcements,  I am updating our timeline of learning technology developments at University of Edinburgh. Are there other things I should include?

learning technology time

picture taken by me at Gartner conf. No rights reserved by me.

As Professor Sir Tim O’Shea is retiring  I am putting together a timeline of learning technology developments at University of Edinburgh. Are there other things I should include?

time for an evidence base for technology enhanced learning?

Red herring
Red Herring By misocrazy from New York, NY (Cropped from Kipper) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I spoke at JISC Digifest 2017. It was lovely to see so many colleagues old and new there.

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.

What I am sure is true is that different kinds of evidence persuades different kinds of people in different kinds of decision-making and we need to be smart with that. The  kinds of evidence that persuades users to use the tools, is very different from evidence budget-holders need to make decisions on spend and buy the tools in the first place.

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.

 

revisiting Woolf in Virginia

The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England & The Summer Isles © The University of Edinburgh http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/vh1rqf
The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England & The Summer Isles © The University of Edinburgh http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/vh1rqf

Virginia Woolf wrote ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’*.  A room of ones own is a luxury which few could afford at the time without help from husband or family.

As a woman who values enormously the space I have from which to write my blog, I am particularly keen to do what I can to lower the barriers and restrictions which stop any individual or group writing openly.

I was in Virginia this week to hear more about the ‘Domain of One’s Own’ project at the University of Mary Washington. The project provides all incoming freshmen with their own domain names and Web space.  Students have the freedom to create subdomains, install any LAMP-compatible software, setup databases and email addresses, and carve out their own space on the web that they own and control.  The University picks up the cost of paying for the domain as long as the student is a student. When they stop being a UMW student, they can choose to take over paying for the hosting or let it lapse. In the meantime they have learned valuable digital literacy skills and contributed web-based user-created content to all or any of their courses and activities. The university is not afraid of what the students might do in the space.

It seems to me that this approach is very much in line with University of Edinburgh’s recent ‘Digital Footprint’ campaign, and if we chose to follow it, would build on our commitment to developing the student experience. It is certainly one of the more interesting ways to link student use of the web to their time as part of the university community.

Not cheap though, for 30,000 students.

 

*A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf is available as OER e-bookvia Project Gutenberg of Australia.

time travellers

(c) The University of Edinburgh Fine Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) The University of Edinburgh Fine Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

There is a steampunk science public engagement event  in Edinburgh on Friday* and it is the birthday of HG Wells today.  It seems appropriate in that context to let you know that I have discovered a time traveller in the University of Edinburgh Fine Art collection.

I am in the enviable position of being able to choose art from the collection to hang on the walls in my office. It’s a tough gig; choosing between a Blackadder and a Bellany, a Redpath and a Rodger, but I struggled through.  It has to be said that much of the fine art collection comprises portraits of dead white men with excellent facial hair, and there’s not many women artists in there.

My favourite picture in the collection is already exhibited ( quite rightly) in the school of Scottish Studies: Women Singing at a Table (Waulking the Cloth) by Keith Henderson is a stunning piece. I was offered  a naked Sean Connery from his time as a life model.

The first piece I have chosen however, is this painting by AE Borthwick. It is entitled ‘A Rocky Landscape’ and clearly shows a young woman recklessly using her laptop for virtual fieldwork while perched on a rock by a river. The artist died in 1955.

 

*Attendees are invited to dress in ‘your finest corsets, spats and gasmasks’.