Tag: women

MOOC disruption

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

Do you remember when we used to dream that MOOCs would disrupt traditional higher education? Bringing new ways of thinking, learning and interacting?

Today I sat for hours at a Futurelearn partnership event in a hot room balancing my laptop on my knee while a bunch of men presented from the front and ran over time. The group discussion slots were cut short and when a woman did finally speak from the front, her Q&A was cancelled completely.

I pointed out the notable lack of women on the programme to a couple of people. They looked surprised.

media hopper

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper 1942.jpg
“Nighthawks by Edward Hopper 1942” by Edward Hopper Licensed under Public Domain via Commons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942.jpg

When people ask me why the new media asset management system at University of Edinburgh will be called Media Hopper I reply:

because it will gather together all the mixed up multitude of video material from all over the University; bring it into one place; channel it into our VLEs, websites, portals and courses; apply standards and metadata ; and be very cool’.

You will know the following definitions of hopper:

hopper ( agric) :  a container for a loose bulk material.

hopper ( minecraft ):  a block that can be used to catch item entities, or to transfer items into and out of other containers.

channel-hopper( tv) : quickly changing from one channel to another to find something you want to watch.

Grace Hopper ( rolemodel) : an inspirational computer scientist. She developed the implementation of standards for testing computer systems and components and coined the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches when she removed a moth from her computer.

Dennis Hopper (role model):  just cool.

space hopper ( toy ):  just orange and bouncy.

Handling your hopper
We plan to launch Media Hopper in pilot form before Christmas. In practical terms this means that whilst the service will be available for everyone to use, there will only be a basic set of help materials available, and no supporting training courses.  We realise that there are a number of staff around the institution who are very experienced users of media and we want to make the service available to this early adopter community as quickly as possible. If you are a less experienced user of media, we invite you to take a look and send us your feedback, but if you plan to use it for core teaching and learning activities, we would advise you to wait until more support is available.

The project team will continue to work on the service over early 2016, expanding support materials, developing training courses and finessing the service based on early adopter feedback. The full Media Hopper service will be available from May 2016.

Over the next 2 weeks, we have scheduled open sessions across the University. We’re very excited about the new service, and we’d like to share more info about the rollout plans, as well as demo the basic service and hear your feedback. Don’t worry if you can’t make it along though – this is the first of many opportunities and we will be scheduling more in the New Year.

Search for Media Hopper in MyEd Events Booking (https://www.myed.ed.ac.uk) for details of a session near you.

We are currently targeting the week beginning 14 December 2015 for the Media Hopper pilot launch.

all in the name of Lovelace

Picture taken by me. Copyright on LEGO Ada belongs to Stewart Cromar.

Ada Lovelace Day at University of Edinburgh was a great success this year. The LTW, USD and L&UC teams outdid themselves. We had a lifesize Lego Ada in the Main Library, and the complete Ada and Baggage Lego set in Hugh Robson Building.  We taught students and colleagues how to code music, edit wikipedia, build lego rasperry-pi cases, add metadata, colour-in and celebrate women in tech, all in the name of Lovelace.

Votes for Lego Women
Stewart Cromar’s on going campaign to get his Ada lego set on to the shelves of stores worldwide was embraced by #adalovelaceday enthusiasts.  LEGO Ada has now passed the 4.5K vote mark and is currently the #1 project on the Ideas homepage.

Open educational resources
In celebration of Ada and just because it’s a good thing to do we released several open educational resources for you to enjoy. These include the instructions for our workshops, how to make your own raspberry pi case and a super on-trend grown-up colouring in sheet designed by Jackie Aim.

Picture taken by me. Copyright on LEGO Ada belongs to Stewart Cromar

Social Media Reaction
Our Ada Lovelace Day website took over a 1K page views in the week, with the OER content being particularly popular. In addition to the many tweets from participants using the #ALD15eduni hashtag we had several official Tweets and RTs from both Raspberry Pi and Sonic Pi and messages of support from similar events at other universities.

On Tour

Stewart and I will both be giving papers in Oxford in December as part of the Ada Lovelace bicentennial celebrations hosted by the Bodleian and Somerville College.

set in stone

Slide01Two weeks ago I presented the story of our Women in Science and Scottish History editathon at the Wikipedia Science conference in London at the Wellcome Trust*.

This week Surgeon’s Hall unveiled a plaque to commemorate the Edinburgh Seven and the Surgeon’s Hall riot. I am very pleased to be able to draw a direct line from the fun we had  on the web at our wikipedia editahon to the fixing of a permanent plaque. it’s nice when the physical and the virtual keep up with each other.

The Wikipedia Science conference was a good place to discuss the contribution of women to the telling of science stories and disseminating research. Peter Murray-Rust described Wikipedia as our greatest achievement in the 21st Century. I reminded the audience that less that 15% of the people who edit Wikipedia are women and we discussed whether or not this was a problem.  One delegate suggested that women aren’t interested in facts and another that women have ‘other’ things to do. We wondered how Wikipedia would be different, and Wikipedia science would be different, if more women contributed. We wondered what might be done to find out.

Slide02The Edinburgh Seven had a tough time when they tried to break into the male world of university medicine, but they were working within historical, established structures. Surely Wikipedia is designed from the start to be more open, more democratic, more participatory? Wikipedia is only 15 years old. It seems like it is work worth doing to try to recruit more editors and a good place to start would be amongst information professionals and women in tech.

It seems to me that the kinds of initiative we may need to get more women using wikipedia for science, are very much in the same vein as those more generally for women in STEM workplaces. We need women to want to join, and want to stay.

The presentation I gave described the research I am involved in with the Open University to identify the workplace learning outcomes for university staff and students in developing digital skills, information literacy skills and understanding of copyright in an open knowledge environment.  The research team have surveyed and interviewed.  Interviewees describe rich learning experiences, learning a range of skills and knowledge, for example:

  • technical knowledge (how to create a Wikipedia page, how to edit, how to cite other sources etc),
  • factual knowledge around the topic (names, dates, locations of historical events),
  • relational knowledge (how to interact with archivists and materials, how and where to source information, how to plan work with others),
  • socio-cultural knowledge (how to operate within a network of people with a common purpose).

Slide08Which all seem like good skills worth investing in. I am particularly interested in how editathons, if run well, can develop not just tech knowledge but also workplace cultural capital and networks. These are the things women need in STEM workplaces.

Watch this space for further research results, and for the next Edinburgh editathon.

The hashtag for the conference was #wikisci . I recommend the conference as a top value for money event. Less than 30 quid for access to the most up to date thinking in wikiscience.


*great venue


It’s not ok

Martha Lane Fox
Martha Lane Fox By The Cabinet Office [OGL (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/1/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Baroness Martha Lane-Fox delivered the 39th annual Dimbleby Lecture from London’s Science Museum on March 30, 2015. I delivered a short welcome speech at Elearing@ed forum at Edinburgh University on April 23.  I took the opportunity to quote her.

In her lecture she quoted Aaron Swartz  “It’s not ok not to understand the Internet anymore.”*

I talked about Creative Commons.

Creative Commons has changed the way the Internet works in higher education.

Therefore, it is not ok not to understand Creative Commons anymore.


As it happens, the day before , on April 22, I saw Baroness Oona King of Bow speak.  Baroness Lane Fox name-checked Ada Lovelace, who was of course, Countess King in her own day, but I think that is just co-incidence.


*She also said “get more women involved in technology.”




we can [edit], yes we can

IMG_2147 copy
We can edit and we can eat cake. Picture taken by me, no rights reserved, and no leftovers.

The Women, Science and Scottish History editathon‘ series of events in Innovative Learning Week at University of Edinburgh was a great success. We ran sessions on 4 days, had plenty of new students, staff and friends join us, edited more than 30 articles and trained dozens of novice wikipedia editors.

Each day, the one-hour introduction to editing Wikipedia focused on offering tips and insight into different approaches as well as practical training. Participants were welcome to  attend as many days as they would like: everyday we  added something new. Our Wikimedia trainers (principally Ally, the Wikimedian in Residence at the National Library of Scotland)  was on hand  to provide assistance, and our librarians ( Marshall, Gavin and Grant)  provided specialised materials focusing on the subjects covered.

Knowledge was shared openly. Articles  were created or improved. Networks of connections were made and  shared topics of interest explored.   Copious cake and cookies were eaten, and a fun time was had by all. We plan to do further events and some research to maintain and sustain momentum and support our fledgling crowd community. In December, at  the EduWiki conf  Ally reported that she had not seen much engagement  from University of Edinburgh in Wikipedia projects . At least that’s changed.


The hashtag was #ILWeditathon. Read Our story in a storify

Articles improved

Articles created