Nov 212016
 
The band Cassia play at TEDxYouth@Manchester 2016.

Last Wednesday, I had the absolute pleasure of being part of the TEDxYouth@Manchester 2016, which had the theme of “Identity. I had been invited along to speak about our Managing Your Digital Footprint work, and my #CODI2016 Fringe show, If I Googled You, What Would I Find? The event was quite extraordinary and I wanted to share some thoughts on the day itself, as well as some reflections on my experience of preparing a TEDx talk.

TEDxYouth@Manchester is in it’s 8th year, and is based at Fallibroome Academy, a secondary school with a specialism in performing arts (see, for instance, their elaborate and impressive trailer video for the school). And Fallibroome was apparently the first school in the world to host a TEDxYouth event. Like other TEDx events the schedule mixes invited talks, talks from youth speakers, and recorded items – in today’s case that included a TED talk, a range of short films, music videos and a quite amazing set of videos of primary school kids responding to questions on identity (beautifully edited by the Fallibroome team and featuring children from schools in the area).

In my own talk – the second of the day – I asked the audience to consider the question of what their digital footprints say about them. And what they want them to say about them. My intention was to trigger reflection and thought, to make the audience in the room – and on the livestream – think about what they share, what they share about others and,hopefully, what else they do online – their privacy settings, their choices..

My fellow invited speakers were a lovely and diverse bunch:

Kat Arney, a geneticist, science writer, musician, and author. She was there to talk about identity from a genetic perspective, drawing on her fantastic new book “Herding Hemingway’s Cats” (my bedtime reading this week). Kat’s main message – a really important one – is that genes don’t predetermine your identity, and that any understanding of there being a “Gene for… x”, i.e. the “Gene for Cancer”, a “Gay Gene”, a gene for whatever… is misleading at best. Things are much more complicated and unpredictable than that. As part of her talk she spoke about gene “wobbles” – a new concept to me – which describes the unexpected and rule-defying behaviour of genes in the real world vs our expectations based on the theory, drawing on work on nematode worms. It was a really interesting start to the day and I highly recommend checking out both Kat’s book, and the The Naked Scientists’ Naked Gentics podcast.

Ben Smith, spoke about his own very personal story and how that led to the 401 Challenge, in which he ran 401 marathons in 401 days. Ben spoke brilliantly and bravely on his experience of bullying, of struggling with his sexuality, and the personal crises and suicide attempts that led to him finding his own sense of self and identity, and happiness, through his passion for running in his late 20s/early 30s. Ben’s talk was even more powerful as it was preceded by an extraordinary video (see below) of the poem “To This Day” by performance poet Shane Koyczan on the impact of bullying and the strength in overcoming it.

VV Brown, singer, songwriter, producer and ethical fashion entrepreneur, gave a lovely presentation on identity and black hair. She gave a personal and serious take on issues of identity and appropriation which have been explored (from another angle) in Chris Rock’s Good Hair (2009). As well as the rich culture of black hairdressing and hugely problematic nature of hair relaxants, weaves, and hair care regimes (including some extreme acids) that are focused on pressuring black women to meet an unobtainable and undesirable white hair ideal. She also spoke from her experience of the modelling industry and it’s incapability of dealing with black hair, whilst simultaneously happily engaging in cultural appropriation, braiding corn rows into white celebrities hair. V.V. followed up her talk with a live performance, of “Shift” (see video below), a song which she explained was inspired by the gay rights movement, and particularly black gay men in New York expressing themselves and their sexuality.

The final invited speaker was Ben Garrod, a Teaching Fellow in evolutionary biology at Anglia Ruskin University as well as a science communicator and broadcaster who has worked with David Attenborough and is on the Board of Trustees for the Jane Goodall Institute. Ben spoke about the power of the individual in a community, bringing in the idea of identity amongst animals, that the uniqueness of the chimps he worked with as part of Jane Goodall’s team. He also had us all join in a Pant-hoot – an escalating group chimp call, to illustrate the power of both the individual and the community.

In amongst the speakers were a range of videos – lovely selections that I gather (and believe) a student team spent months selecting from a huge amount of TED content. However, the main strand of the programme were a group of student presentations and performances which were quite extraordinary.

Highlights for me included Imogen Walsh, who spoke about the fluidity of gender and explained the importance of choice, the many forms of non-binary or genderqueer identity, the use of pronouns like they and Mx and the importance of not singling people out, or questioning them, for buying non gender-conforming, their choice of bathroom, etc. Because, well, why is it anyone else’s business?

Sophie Baxter talked about being a gay teen witnessing the global response to the Pulse nightclub shooting and the fear and reassurance that wider public response to this had provided. She also highlighted the importance of having an LGBT community since for most LGBT young people their own immediate biological/adoptive family may not, no matter how supportive, have a shared experience to draw upon, to understand challenges or concerns faced.

Maddie Travers and Nina Holland-Jones described a visit to Auschwitz (they had actually landed the night before the event) reflecting on what that experience of visiting the site had meant to them, and what it said about identity. They particularly focused on the pain and horror of stripping individual identity, treating camp prisoners (and victims) as a group that denied their individuality at the same time as privileging some individuals for special skills and contributions that extended their life and made them useful to the Nazi regime.

Sam Amey, Nicola Smith and Ellena Wilson talked about attending the London International Youth Science Festival student science conference, of seeing inspiring new science and the excitement of that – watching as a real geek and science fan it was lovely to see their enthusiasm and to hear them state that they “identify as scientists” (that phrasing a recurrent theme and seems to be the 2016 way for youth to define themselves I think).

Meanwhile performances included an absolutely haunting violin piece, Nigun by Bloch, performed by Ewan Kilpatrick (see a video of his playing here). As brilliant as Ewan’s playing was, musically the show was stolen by two precocious young composers, both of whom had the confidence of successful 40 year olds at the peak of their career, backed up by musical skills that made that confidence seem entirely appropriately founded. Ignacio Mana Mesas described his composition process and showed some of his film score (and acting) work, before playing a piece of his own composition; Tammas Slater (you can hear his prize winning work in this BBC Radio 3 clip) meanwhile showed some unexpected comic sparkle, showing off his skills before creating a composition in real time! And the event finished with a lively and charming set of tracks performed by school alumnae and up and coming band Cassia.

All of the youth contributions were incredible. The enthusiasm, competence and confidence of these kids – and of their peers who respectfully engaged and listened throughout the day – was heartening. The future seems pretty safe if this is what the future is looking like – a very lovely thing to be reminded in these strange political times.

Preparing a TEDx talk – a rather different speaking proposition

For me the invitation to give a TEDx talk was really exciting. I have mixed feelings about the brilliantly engaging but often too slick TED format, at the same time as recognising the power that the brand and reputation for the high quality speakers can have.

I regularly give talks and presentations, but distilling ideas of digital identity into 14 minutes whilst keeping them clear, engaging, meeting the speaker rules felt challenging. Doing that in a way that would have some sort of longevity seemed like a tougher ask as things move quickly in internet research, in social media, and in social practices online, so I wanted to make sure my talk focused on those aspects of our work that are solid and long-lived concepts – ideas that would have usefulness even if Facebook disappeared tomorrow (who knows, fake news may just make that a possibility), or SnapChat immediately lost all interest, or some new game-changing space appears tomorrow. This issue of being timely but not immediately out of date is also something we face in creating Digital Footprint MOOC content at the moment.

As an intellectual challenge developing my TEDx talk was useful for finding another way to think about my own presentation and writing skills, in much the same way that taking on the 8 minute format of Bright Club has been, or the 50 ish minute format of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, or indeed teaching 2+ hour seminars for the MSc in Science Communication & Public Engagement for the three years I led a module on that programme. It is always useful to rethink your topic, to think about fitting a totally different dynamic or house style, and to imagine a different audience and their needs and interests. In this case the audience was 16-18 year olds, who are a little younger than my usual audience, but who I felt sure would have lots of interest in my topic, and plenty of questions to ask (as there were in the separate panel event later in the day at Fallibroome).

There are some particular curiosities about the TED/TEDx format versus other speaking and presentations and I thought I’d share some key things I spent time thinking about. You never know, if you find yourself invited to do a TEDx (or if you are very high flying, a TED) these should help a wee bit:

  1. Managing the format

Because I have mixed feelings about the TED format, since it can be brilliant, but also too easy to parody (as in this brilliant faux talk), I was very aware of wanting to live up to the invitation and the expectations for this event, without giving a talk that wouldn’t meet my own personal speaking style or presentation tastes. I think I did manage that in the end but it required some watching of former videos to get my head around what I both did and did not want to do. That included looking back at previous TEDxYouth@Manchester events (to get a sense of space, scale, speaker set up and local expectations), as well as wider TED videos.

I did read the TED/TEDx speaker guidance and largely followed it although, since I do a lot of talks and know what works for me, I chose to write and create slides in parallel with the visuals helping me develop my story (rather than writing first, then doing slides as the guidance suggests). I also didn’t practice my talk nearly as often as either the TED instructions or the local organisers suggest – not out of arrogance but knowing that practicing a few times to myself works well, practising a lot gets me bored of the content and sets up unhelpful memorisations of errors, developing ideas, etc.

I do hugely appreciate that TED/TEDx insist on copyright cleared images. My slides were mostly images I had taken myself but I found a lovely image of yarn under CC-BY on Flickr which was included (and credited) too. Although as I began work on the talk I did start by thinking hard about whether or not to use slides… TED is a format associated with innovative slides (they were the original cheerleaders for Prezi), but at the same time the fact that talks are videoed means much of the power comes from close ups of the speaker, of capturing the connection between speaker and the live audience, and of building connection with the livestream and video audience. With all of that in mind I wanted to keep my slides simple, lively, and rather stylish. I think I managed that but see what you think of my slides [PDF].

  1. Which audience?

Normally when I write a talk, presentation, workshop, etc. I think about tailoring the content to the context and to my audience. I find that is a key part of ensuring I meet my audience’s needs, but it also makes the talk looks, well, kind of cute and clever. Tailoring a talk for a particular moment in time, a specific event or day, and a particular audience means you can make timely and specific references, you can connect to talks and content elsewhere in the day, you can adapt and adlib to meet the interests and mood that you see, and you can show you have understood the context of your audience. Essentially all that tailoring helps you connect more immediately and builds a real bond.

But for TEDx is the audience the 500+ people in the room? Our audience on Wednesday were mainly between 16 and 18, but there were other audience members who had been invited or just signed up to attend (you can find all upcoming TEDx events on their website and most offer tickets for those that are interested). It was a packed venue, but they are probably the smallest audience who will see my performance…

The video being during the event captured goes on the TEDxYouth@Manchester 2016 Playlist on the TEDxYouth YouTube channel and on the TEDx YouTube channel. All of the videos are also submitted to TED so, if your video looks great to the folk  there you could also end up featured on the core TED website, with much wider visibility. Now, I certainly wouldn’t suggest I am counting on having a huge global audience, but those channels all attract a much wider audience than was sitting in the hall. So, where do you pitch the talk?

For my talk I decided to strike a balance between issues that are most pertinent to developing identity, to managing challenges that we know from our research are particularly relevant and difficult for young people – ad which these students may face now or when they go to university. But I also pitched the talk to have relevance more widely, focusing less on cyber bullying, or teen dynamics, and more about changing contexts and the control one can choose to take of ones own digital footprint and social media content, something particularly pertinent to young people but relevant to us all.

  1. When Is it for?

Just as streaming distorts your sense of audience, it also challenges time. The livestream is watching on the day – that’s easy. But the recorded video could stick around for years, and will have a lifespan long beyond the day. With my fast moving area that was a challenge – do I make my talk timely or do I make it general? What points of connection and moments of humour are potentially missed by giving that talk a longer lifespan? I was giving a talk just after Trump’s election and in the midst of the social media bubble discussion – there are easy jokes there, things to bring my audience on board – but they might distance viewers at another time, and date rapidly. And maybe those references wouldn’t be universal enough for a wider audience beyond the UK…

In the end I tried to again balance general and specific advice. But I did that knowing that many of those in the physical audience would also be attending a separate panel event later in the day which would allow many more opportunities to talk about very contemporary questions, and to address sensitive questions that might (and did) arise. In fact in that panel session we took questions on mental health, about how parental postings and video (including some of those made for this event) might impact on their child’s digital footprint, and on whether not being on social media was a disadvantage in life. Those at the panel session also weren’t being streamed or captured in any way, which allowed for frank discussion building on an intense and complex day.

  1. What’s the main take away?

The thing that took me the longest time was thinking about the “take away” I wanted to leave the audience with. That was partly because I wanted my talk to have impact, to feel energising and hopefully somewhat inspiring, but also because the whole idea of TED is “Ideas worth sharing”, which means a TED(x) talk has to have at its core a real idea, something specific and memorable to take from those 14 minutes, something that has impact.

I did have to think of a title far in advance of the event and settled on “What do you digital footprints say about you?”. I picked that as it brought together some of my #CODI16 show’s ideas, and some of the questions I knew I wanted to raise in my talk. But what would I do with that idea? I could have taken the Digital Footprint thing in a more specific direction – something I might do in a longer workshop or training session – picking on particularly poor or good practices and zoning in on good or bad posts. But that isn’t big picture stuff. I had to think about analogy, about examples, about getting the audience to understand the longevity of impact a social media post might have…

After a lot of thinking, testing out of ideas in conversation with my partner and some of my colleagues, I had some vague concepts and then I found my best ideas came – contrary to the TED guidance – from trying to select images to help me form my narrative. An image I had taken at Edinburgh’s Hidden Door Festival earlier this year of an artwork created from a web of strung yarn proved the perfect visual analogy for the complexity involved in taking back an unintended, regretted, or ill-thought-through social media post. It’s an idea I have explained before but actually trying to think about getting the idea across quickly in 1 minute of my 14 minute talk really helped me identify that image as vivid effective shorthand. And from that I found my preceding image and, from that, the flow and the look and feel of the story I wanted to tell. It’s not always the obvious (or simple) things that get you to a place of simplicity and clarity.

Finally I went back to my title and thought about whether my talk did speak to that idea, what else I should raise, and how I would really get my audience to feel engaged and ready to listen, and to really reflect on their own practice, quickly. In the end I settled on a single slide with that title, that question, at it’s heart. I made that the first stepping stone on my path through the talk, building in a pause that was intended to get the audience listening and thinking about their own digital identity. You’d have to ask the audience whether that worked or not but the quality of questions and comments later in the day certainly suggested they had taken in some of what I said and asked.

  1. Logistics

As a speaker there are some logistical aspects that are easy to deal with once you’ve done it a first time: travel, accommodation, etc. There are venue details that you either ask about – filming, photography, mics, etc. or you can find out in advance. Looking at previous years’ videos helped a lot: I would get a screen behind me for slides, there would be a set (build by students no less) and clear speaker zone on stage (the infamous red carpet/dot), I’d have a head mic (a first for me, but essentially a glamorous radio mic, which I am used to) and there would be a remote for my slides. It also looked likely I’d have a clock counting down although, in the end, that wasn’t working during my talk (a reminder, again, that I need a new watch with classic stand up comedy/speaker-friendly vibrating alarm). On the day there was a sound check (very helpful) and also an extremely professional and exceptionally helpful team of technicians – staff, students and Siemens interns – to get us wired up and recorded. The organisers also gave us plenty of advance notice of filming and photography.

I have been on the periphery of TEDx events before: Edinburgh University has held several events and I know how much work has gone into these; I attended a TEDxGlasgow hosted by STV a few years back and, again, was struck buy the organisation required. For TEDxYouth@Manchester I was invited to speak earlier in the year – late August/early September – so I had several months to prepare. The organisers tell me that sometimes they invite speakers as much as 6 to 12 months ahead of the event – as soon as the event finishes their team begin their search for next years’s invitees…

As the organising team spend all year planning a slick event – and Fallibroome Academy really did do an incredibly well organised and slick job – they expect slick and well organised speakers. I think all of us invited speakers, each of us with a lot of experience of talks and performance, experienced more coordination, more contact and more clarity on expectation, format, etc. than at any previous speaking event.

That level of detail is always useful as a a speaker but it can also be intimidating – although that is useful for focusing your thoughts too. There were conference calls in September and October to share developing presentation thoughts, to finalise titles, and to hear a little about each others talks. That last aspect was very helpful – I knew little of the detail of the other talks until the event itself, but I had a broad idea of the topic and angle of each speaker which meant I could ensure minimal overlap, and maximum impact as I understood how my talk fitted in to the wider context.

All credit to Peter Rubery and the Fallibroome team for their work here. They curated a brilliant selection of videos and some phenomenal live performances and short talks from students to create a coherent programme with appropriate and clever segues that added to the power of the presentations, the talks, and took us on something of a powerful emotional rollercoaster. All of us invited speakers felt it was a speaking engagement like we’d never had before and it really was an intense and impactful day. And, as Ben G said, for some students the talks they gave today will be life changing, sharing something very personally on a pretty high profile stage, owning their personal experience and reflections in a really empowering way.

In conclusion then, this was really a wonderful experience and a usefully challenging format to work in. I will update this post or add a new post with the videos of the talks as soon as they are available – you can then judge for yourself how I did. However, if you get the chance to take part in a TEDx event, particularly a TEDxYouth event I would recommend it. I would also encourage you to keep an eye on the TEDxYouth@Manchester YouTube channel for those exceptional student presentations!

Aug 102016
 
Nicola Osborne presenting the Digital Footprint poster at ECSM2016

It has been a while since I’ve posted something other than a liveblog here but it has been a busy summer so it seems like a good time to share some updates…

A Growing Digital Footprint

Last September I was awarded some University of Edinburgh IS Innovation Fund support to develop a pilot training and consultancy service to build upon the approaches and findings of our recent PTAS-funded Managing Your Digital Footprint research project.

During that University of Edinburgh-wide research and parallel awareness-raising campaign we (my colleague – and Digital Footprint research project PI – Louise Connelly of IAD/Vet School, myself, and colleagues across the University) sought to inform students of the importance of digital tracks and traces in general, particularly around employment and “eProfessionalism”. This included best practice advice around use of social media, personal safety and information security choices, and thoughtful approaches to digital identity and online presences. Throughout the project we were approached by organisations outside of the University for similar training, advice, and consulting around social media best practices and that is how the idea for this pilot service began to take shape.

Over the last few months I have been busy developing the pilot, which has involved getting out and about delivering social media training sessions for clients including NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (with Jennifer Jones); for the British HIV Association (BHIVA) with the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) (also with Jennifer Jones); developing a “Making an Impact with your Blog” Know How session for the lovely members of Culture Republic; leading a public engagement session for the very international gang at EuroStemCell, and an “Engaging with the Real World” session for the inspiring postgrads attending the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science Summer School 2016. I have also been commissioned by colleagues in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to create an Impact of Social Media session and accompanying resources (the latter of which will continue to develop over time). You can find resources and information from most of these sessions over on my presentations and publications page.

These have been really interesting opportunities and I’m excited to see how this work progresses. If you do have an interest in social media best practice, including advice for your organisation’s social media practice, developing your online profile, or managing your digital footprint, please do get in touch and/or pass on my contact details. I am in the process of writing up the pilot and looking at ways myself and my colleagues can share our expertise and advice in this area.

Adventures in MOOCs and Yik Yak

So, what next?

Well, the Managing Your Digital Footprint team have joined up with colleagues in the Language Technology Group in the School of Informatics for a new project looking at Yik Yak. You can read more about the project, “A Live Pulse: Yik Yak for Understanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Edinburgh“, on the Digital Education Research Centre website. We are really excited to explore Yik Yak’s use in more depth as it is one of a range of “anonymous” social networking spaces that appear to be emerging as important alternative spaces for discussion as mainstream social media spaces lose favour/become too well inhabited by extended families, older contacts, etc.

Our core Managing Your Digital Footprint research also continues… I presented a paper, co-written with Louise Connelly, at the European Conference on Social Media 2016 this July on “Students’ Digital Footprints: curation of online presences, privacy and peer support”. This summer we also hosted visiting scholar Rachel Buchanan of University of Newcastle, Australia who has been leading some very interesting work into digital footprints across Australia. We are very much looking forward to collaborating with Rachel in the future – watch this space!

And, more exciting news: my lovely colleague Louise Connelly (University of Edinburgh Vet School) and I have been developing a Digital Footprint MOOC which will go live later this year. The MOOC will complement our ongoing University of Edinburgh service (run by IAD) and external consultancy word (led by us in EDINA) and You can find out much more about that in this poster, presented at the European Conference on Social Media 2016, earlier this month…

Preview of Digital Footprint MOOC Poster

Alternatively, you could join me for my Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas 2016 show….

Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas 2016 - If I Googled You, What Would I Find? Poster

The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas runs throughout the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but every performance is different! Each day academics and researchers share their work by proposing a dangerous idea, a provocative question, or a challenge, and the audience are invited to respond, discuss, ask difficult questions, etc. It’s a really fun show to see and to be part of – I’ve now been fortunate enough to be involved each year since it started in 2013. You can see a short video on #codi2016 here:

In this year’s show I’ll be talking about some of those core ideas around managing your digital footprint, understanding your online tracks and traces, and reflecting on the type of identity you want to portray online. You can find out more about my show, If I Googled You What Would I Find, in my recent “25 Days of CODI” blog post:

25 Days of CoDI: Day 18

You’ll also find a short promo film for the series of data, identity, and surveillance shows at #codi2016 here:

So… A very busy summer of social media, digital footprints, and exciting new opportunities. Do look out for more news on the MOOC, the YikYak work and the Digital Footprint Training and Consultancy service over the coming weeks and months. And, if you are in Edinburgh this summer, I hope to see you on the 21st at the Stand in the Square!

 

Oct 202015
 
Digital Footprint campaign logo

I am involved in organising, and very much looking forward to, two events this week which I think will be of interest to Edinburgh-based readers of this blog. Both are taking place on Thursday and I’ll try to either liveblog or summarise them here.

If you are are based at Edinburgh University do consider booking these events or sharing the details with your colleagues or contacts at the University. If you are based further afield you might still be interested in taking a look at these and following up some of the links etc.

Firstly we have the fourth seminar of the new(ish) University of Edinburgh Crowd Sourcing and Citizen Science network:

Citizen Science and the Mass Media

Thursday, 22nd October 2015, 12 – 1.30 pm, Paterson’s Land 1.21, Old Moray House, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh.

“This session will be an opportunity to look at how media and communications can be used to promote a CSCS project and to engage and develop the community around a project.

The kinds of issues that we hope will be covered will include aspects such as understanding the purpose and audience for your project; gaining exposure from a project; communicating these types of projects effectively; engaging the press; expectation management;  practical issues such as timing, use of interviewees and quotes, etc.

We will have two guest presenters, Dave Kilbey from Natural Apptitude Ltd, and Ally Tibbitt from STV, followed by plenty of time for questions and discussion. The session will be chaired by Nicola Osborne (EDINA), drawing on her experience working on the COBWEB project.”

I am really excited about this session as both Dave and Ally have really interesting backgrounds: Dave runs his own app company and has worked on a range of high profile projects so has some great insights into what makes a project appealing to the media, what makes the difference to that project’s success, etc; Ally works as STV and has a background in journalism but also in community engagement, particularly around social and environmental projects. I think the combination will make for an excellent lunchtime session. UoE staff and students can register for the event via Eventbright, here.

On the same day we have our Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme seminar for the Managing Your Digital Footprints project:

Social media, students and digital footprints (PTAS research findings)

Thursday, 22nd October 2015, 2 – 3.30pm, IAD Resources Room, 7 Bristo Square, George Square, Edinburgh.

“This short information and interactive session will present findings from the PTAS Digital Footprint research http://edin.ac/1d1qY4K

In order to understand how students are curating their digital presence, key findings from two student surveys (1457 responses) as well as data from 16 in-depth interviews with six students will be presented. This unique dataset provides an opportunity for us to critically reflect on the changing internet landscape and take stock of how students are currently using social media; how they are presenting themselves online; and what challenges they face, such as cyberbullying, viewing inappropriate content or whether they have the digital skills to successfully navigate in online spaces.

The session will also introduce the next phase of the Digital Footprint research: social media in a learning & teaching context.  There will be an opportunity to discuss e-professionalism and social media guidelines for inclusion in handbooks/VLEs, as well as other areas.”

I am also really excited about this event, at which Louise Connelly, Sian Bayne, and I will be talking about the early findings from our Managing Your Digital Footprints project, and some of the outputs from the research and campaign (find these at: www.ed.ac.uk/iad/digitalfootprint).

Although this event is open to University staff and students only (register via the Online Bookings system, here), we are disseminating this work at a variety of events, publications etc. Our recent ECSM 2015 paper is the best overview of the work to date but expect to see more here in the near future about how we are taking forward this work. Do also get in touch with Louise or I if you have any questions about the project or would be interested in hearing more about the project, some of the associated training, or the research findings as they emerge.

Oct 062015
 
Jisc's #jisc50social branding

Today I am delighted to share the news that I have been included in Jisc’s 50 most influential higher education (HE) professionals using social media! I am also very pleased to see others on this list whose work I follow and admire, including Jennifer Jones and Sue Beckingham.

The list of 50 influencers forms a really useful array of snapshots of practice and mini case studies of how social media is being used across UK Higher Education and I’d recommend taking a look for inspiration and ideas. It would be lovely to also get more great people and social media best practice shared, so I would recommend sharing your own additions and tips to the hashtag, #jisc50social, as there is such a rich variety of use that a list of 50 people cannot, of course, capture that is taking place in the sector.

My write up in the Jisc list of influencers particularly talks about the Managing Your Digital Footprint work, which is progressing well. If you missed my posts from the European Conference on Social Media you can get a good sense of how the project is developing from my paper with project lead Louise Connelly, “Managing your digital footprint: possible implications for teaching and learning“. We are in an exciting phase of the project so do look out for new resources appearing on the project website very soon, and further research publications in the months to follow.

Finally, as the individuals who nominated me for this list did let me know that they would be putting me forward I would like to share my thanks to them for their support and enthusiasm. I feel honoured to have been regarded so highly by colleagues from the University of Edinburgh who are engaged in their own wonderful, creative, critical and playful use of social media in their day to day practice.

#codi15 update

Finally, and on a somewhat unrelated note, you may remember that I blogged earlier this summer about writing our Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas show, Back to the Statistical Future. The show took place on 26th August and I’m delighted to say that both a follow up blog post and a video recording of the full show are now available so, if you have an hour spare, do have a watch and let us know what you thought of it!

 

Aug 162015
 
Image of Nicola Osborne and Helen Aiton from Fringe 2015 brochure

What is it like to write a show for the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas (#codi15)? Well, as I make the final preparations for my own show, Back to the Statistical Future (26th August, Stand in the Square, 3pm, just £8 per ticket!), I thought I would share some reflections on the process of developing a show for the Edinburgh Fringe that is based on academic and research areas, but is accessible to a wider audience. And also on the nerve-jangling experience that is selling real tickets to real punters – and using social and other media to help with that!

So, firstly a wee bit of background.

Back in 2013 Beltane Public Engagement Network – of whom I am a long term fan/member/participant/event junkie – decided to create a new show for the Fringe. It was to be a light hearted academic and research led strand of one-off events for smart audiences. And this “Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas“, was to be a co-production with the lovely experienced production company Fair Pley and the unstoppable ball of energy and obscure facts that is Susan Morrison (stand up, Bright Club compere and enthusiast, and Director of the Previously… History festival). You can hear the original pitch, filmed outside that first venue, here:

YouTube Preview Image

That first year was an experiment (read more about our EDINA show at CODI13 here) that led to an amazing CODI (as it became known to insiders/Twitter) run in 2014. Having rushed through prep for our first CODI show, we were keen to be better prepared and planned for our 2014 show, What Skeletons Are in Your Closet?. Looking across the EDINA activities we were keen to highlight and thought would be of interest to Fringe audiences we decided that the Statistical Accounts of Scotland were an ideal candidate.  The show sold well, got some lovely comments and attention, and was great fun, and so for 2015 we are going Back to the Statistical Future, and here’s how we are doing it…

Where do you start?

The whole idea of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas is to actually have a “dangerous idea” – something challenging or provocative. Last year we – myself and my lovely co-host and Statistical Accounts of Scotland editorial board corresponding member Helen Aiton – focused a lot on the forgotten members of society, and the ways in which the Statistical Accounts capture and share their lives. This year we wanted to do something a wee bit different, but we also wanted to be able to build on the best bits of the 2014 show, things like the background to the accounts including, as Susan calls it “the world longest letter” – our enormous physical list of all the questions that had generated the Accounts in the first place (indeed we discovered 6 additional questions last year when researching the show!).

"The World's Longest Letter" being shown off at CODI 2014 (image copyright Edinburgh Beltane Network)

“The World’s Longest Letter” being shown off at CODI 2014 (image copyright Edinburgh Beltane Network).

 

So there we were, in autumn 2014, trying to think about what might make for a good show… because planning for a Fringe show really has to start about a year ahead to make the various deadlines. At this point we knew the Scottish Referendum result but we also knew that there would be a general election before the Fringe and that the Fringe programme deadline would pass before we knew the impact of that. Now, why would that matter for a show about 18th or 19th Century Scotland? Well, for our ideas to be dangerous and engaging they also needed to be timely and that meant making some sort of connection to the current context.

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

One of the brilliant things about CODI is that the production team have set a lot of early deadlines to make sure those terrifying Fringe form deadlines start to look easily achievable! This year pitches for show were due in person by the end of November or by video in early December. That means you need to know roughly what you want to talk about and roughly how you plan to do that 9 to 10 months ahead of your show. It means much of the hard work is done long before you officially start writing.

So, in November Helen and I started thinking about ideas and decided to take a wee risk. We decided that such was the focus on austerity and cuts that, no matter what the election outcome, there would be a great social policy angle tying the historical picture in the Accounts to modern day Scotland.

But then we needed a name…

Thankfully all of the buzz around the upcoming anniversary of Back to the Future inspired us. The film had been interesting partly because 50s fashions and mid-80s tailoring actually has a lot in common, which meant that whilst social attitudes and pop music provided fun contrasts, a lot of what makes that film great is the familiar being re-experienced in an unfamiliar context. With what we had found in the Second Statistical Accounts on part time librarians, pressures to pay to school your children, gentrification, increasing scrutiny of those receiving poor relief and the help of the parish, we knew we had some parallels and a perfect simple title: Back to the Statistical Future!

The next stage was to get all of our expression of interest paperwork together for the CODI producers and, once our show was selected/accepted (yay!) we needed to ensure we had all our details for the Fringe programme. Because the Fringe deadlines are very early – the final deadline for totally finalized copy, images, URLs etc. for the programme and website hits as early in January – we also had to make sure we had everything finalized. That included the modest funding to cover registering our show in the guide, in key programmes, on posters in St Andrews Square, etc. The CODI producers, being fabulous, bundle this all together into a very affordable fee that doesn’t even pretend to cover all their serious hard work supporting the shows and working to get potential audiences, as well as University press offices and local and national press aware of the strand.

So, we had a show title and basic idea… And an official listing imminently going live… What next?

Northern Exposure

Never mind writing the show itself, the next priority is actually writing the stuff to promote the show: news items for websites, tweets, blog posts, emailing contacts or nudging the press. Because if there is an audience all booked in, we not only need to have the show written but there’s a good chance it will go well. If there is no audience the best written show in the world won’t be nearly as fun.

Tickets for CODI have been priced this year at £8. That is a marker of the confidence the CODI producers have in us lot – the writers and performers – but it is also something of a challenge. If I can go see Bridget Christie for only a few more pounds, or something at the book festival for a similar price, my expectations as an audience member are set high. But I’m also really invested in what I’m about to see or be part of. Psychologically paying for stuff makes us value it more than free stuff. There is a whole free fringe, and there are also quite a lot of free events led by academics and researchers, which are frequently excellent.

A Yurt full of CODI attendees watching last years show.

Motivation to do a good job: a yurt full of expectant CODI attendees watching our show last year (image copyright Edinburgh Beltane Network).

There are other reasons to charge £8. Our venue this year and last has been a yurt in St Andrews Square, part of the Stand in the Square, one of the offshoot venues from legendary comedy club The Stand. So there are promotion costs, the venue costs (hire of space, yurt, power etc), and the costs of having an (excellent) technician keeping our mics and music working as expected – and those apply to every show no matter how famous you are.

Thus, as August draws closer you find yourself logging in daily, checking ticket sales, panicking, and working out how to make your show better, how to let people know about it in a new way, how to tell all of your friends that really, they are better booking early. Every ticket sale is a victory as well as a reminder that your show really really better be good… And so…

Writing the show itself

So, as I post this it is mid August and our show, taking place on 26th is coming together but isn’t finished yet.

Back in November, when we were preparing our pitch Helen and I both scoured the Statistical Accounts for what we call our “snippits” file – highlights, quotes, interesting leads, stories and statistics that we think might make a show. Once we had that clearer idea of what to focus on we started looking for more, digging deeper into some of our key topics: libraries; schools; literacy; public housing; disability and poor relief.

Notes from the writing process - snippets, leads, and nineteenth century finances...

Notes from the writing process – snippets, leads, and nineteenth century finances…

There were also Boot Camps to help us along – CODI gatherings in which all participants are encouraged to come along and share advice and in-progress show ideas. Some of these are in the Stand, which comes with the bonus of letting you tread the hallowed 4 feet of plywood that is their tiny stage. And for the last of these, in June, we were expected to give our 3 minute presentation outlining not just the topic, but also the structure of our show. Which means you have to have one. And even if that structure is only finalized late the night before the bootcamp, it’s still awfully useful to have. Because with that title, description, structure and a slowly booking audience all in place you have at least a full skeleton of your show, and plenty of time to flesh it out properly.

With CODI now in it’s third year there are some golden rules about what makes a CODI show too. It isn’t a presentation; it’s about interacting with the audience and engaging them. It isn’t about being the cleverest person in the room but it is about sharing and enlightening the audience with what you know. You need to be prepared but you can also count on Susan, now the compere for all CODI shows, to manage anything really challenging for you. As a bonus she’ll also dress as a minion, or a penguin, or a hurricane, or, for our show, impersonate a judgmental 19th century Minister of the Church of Scotland.

So the final stage is writing that script down. Which doing Bright Club has taught me is always worth doing for a performance where timing and wording will matter (so this is not always the case for presentations elsewhere). And that structure will get rejigged, and new data may need gathering – for instance in the last week Helen has been gathering data on average pay in 1835, whilst I’ve been scrutinizing the finances of an Edinburgh workhouse. As Helen and I are in different geographical locations emails and google docs and Skype calls have been happening to check in. And finally, as I am currently doing, it will all get into a finalized script, then read through and changed and made funnier. Then we’ll need to think “is that clear enough” and “can I back that up”…

And then, on 26th August, we will go into a wonderful and hopefully full yurt, and anything could happen… we may forget half of the content, we probably will be taken in whole new directions by the audience, why not join us and find out?

May 202015
 
ScreenShot of job ad

I am very excited to announce that the advert for our new EDINA Social Media Officer job (full time, 2 year fixed term) has just gone live on the University of Edinburgh jobs site! Read the full ad, and apply, here.

As some of you will be aware I moved into a new role at EDINA, as Jisc MediaHub Service Manager and Digital Education Manager, back in February (a role that I share with my lovely new colleague Lorna Campbell). I am still passionate about social media and communication of course, but I have officially handed on the Social Media Officer baton ready for someone new…

So, what can I say to encourage you to apply?

Well firstly, EDINA is a lovely place to work – we are a friendly bunch and the organisation is big enough to include a diverse range of people with super skills and expertise, but it’s still small enough to get to know everyone, find out what we’re all working on, etc. As an organisation we work on some fantastic online services and really innovative projects, which means that there are loads of great opportunities to communicate and engage using both mainstream and emerging social media channels.

As EDINA is based at the University of Edinburgh we also benefit from the wisdom and opportunities across Information Services, and the wider organisation. Although you’ll see more on pay, terms, and holiday entitlement in the job ad I should add that EDINA also benefits from some excellent in-house baking as part of an ongoing charity bake sale!

The Social Media Officer role was created back in 2009 and I have to say that I hugely enjoyed my time in the role so heartily recommend it! My colleagues have always been enthusiastic about exploring new technologies and ways to communicate, and are a skilled and experienced bunch so, whilst the job has evolved reflecting the maturity of social media tools, and their use as core communications channels, it remains an exciting post with lots of interesting opportunities. And the role sits in our User Support team, a very welcoming crew genuinely committed to providing the best experience for our users, including thousands of students, staff and researchers across (and sometimes beyond) the UK HE and FE sectors.

As you’ll see from the ad, our new Social Media Officer will have a particular focus on communicating our EU FP7-funded COBWEB: Citizen Observatory Web project, which means engaging with citizen science and local communities across several UNESCO Biosphere pilot locations in Wales, Greece and Germany. That also means working with a wider range of communications channels and approaches, and working with colleagues in an excellent group of partner organisations across Europe – and that means there’s likely to be a wee bit of travel too!

So, please do take a look at the job ad, see if it might be right for you (or someone you know), and get applying!

Edit: Please note that applications close at 5pm on Tuesday 9th June 2015. Links below have also been updated to resolve an issue. If you have any trouble clicking through to the further details and application site, go to: https://www.vacancies.ed.ac.uk/ and search for the Vacancy Reference 033250.

All those important links… 

Mar 092015
 

Today and tomorrow I am in busy Birmingham for Jisc Digifest 2015. As I am speaking in two sessions this year I decided not to offer my tweeting services to the fabulous Jisc live coverage team, but I will be live blogging as the opportunity arises. Do keep an eye on those tweets though – all sessions will be covered on the #digifest15 hashtag. There is also some live streaming here. For those attending the event you can find me presenting in the following slots (both in Hall 3):

When not presenting I’ll be updating this blog with notes from keynotes and break out sessions. As usual this comes with the caveats that I welcome corrections and additions since this is genuinely live updating and that can mean occasional errors etc.

And we are off! Tim Kidd, Executive Director of Jisc Technologies is introducing us to the second Jisc Digifest: This year’s theme is “connect more” so please do, with each other, on Twitter, via the event app, etc. Now to formally open the proceedings I will hand over to Martyn Harrow.

Professor Martyn Harrow, Jisc Chief Executive

Welcome all, both in the room and online, to Jisc Digifest 15. But why are we all here? Well we have serious work to do together. Unprecedented challenges face UK Higher Education, Further Education and Skills, and digital technologies are some of the best tools to enhance human efficiency. And we are here to explore the potential for digital tools for higher, further education and skills.

Jisc is funded by higher and further education, overseen by the Jisc board. We are of the sectors, by the sectors, for the sectors. Jisc is dedicated to playing our part to help you achieve your success, including better exploiting existing Jisc services and support – already saving over £1/4 billion per year, but also on ground breaking innnovation. You told us you wanted more chance to do this and that is part of the reason for this event, and also why we have a new “architecture” for customer engagement. We also have a new account manager systems – for the first time every higher and further education organisation will have a dedicated account manager, there to support you, ensure you get the best out of Jisc services and activities, but also to ensure you have a voice in shaping what we do, in new activities.

We have many partners, including many strategic partners. I would like to acknowledge these relationships which are so important in what we are trying to achieve. In particular I would like to thank today’s sponsors (AM, CrossRef, Talis), supporters (Epson, Rapid Education, ?) and our media partner the THES.

Connected is the theme of our conference, we have the power to do much more for our sector, for our universities and colleges… And what we want to achieve over the next few days. That’s what we want to achieve over the next few days: a new level of ambition.

And, following a wee new Jisc video, we are getting an introduction to Simon Nelson, who aside from being the FutureLearn lead is also the man behind BBC 6Music, notes Tim Kidd. 

Welcome and keynote speech – Simon Nelson, Futurelearn

I am in some ways quite intimidated by speaking to this group, you have been navigating the difficult digital waters for over 15 years. I will be talking today about FutureLearn though, what we want to achieve, and where we are going. But I will start by looking back to my BBC days… here is a clip (of Toby Anstis on CBBC) which we think is the first BBC mention of a website. [which is wonderful! And includes an enormous URL!]. This takes me back to the days of trying to get BBC Radio announcers to mention websites – much chaos reading out those long URLs.

But I joined the BBC in 1997. And there was much discussion of whether the web would mean the end of radio. We didn’t believe that, so we spent the next ten years actually putting radio in a stronger place than when we started, launching 5 new digital channels, we made BBC radio available on demand – something that seemed difficult when first envisioned in 2002, but became a reality in 2004. And that made memorable moments of radio, like this, available for all [cue Charlotte Green corpsing live on air].

I then moved onto BBC Two and their digital offerings in 2007. At that time we again heard of the death of the medium, this time from YouTube (with NetFlix not far behind). We weren’t going to sit back and let that happen. iPlayer was, in many ways, even more important than radio on demand. And we made sure all of our brands had a clear online presence.

And now, I find myself in an industry looking at the role of digital. In part concerns here come from the idea of the MOOC, Massive Open Online Courses. In some ways this is an exampe of Amara’s Law – overestimating impact based on short term impact rather than long term changes. So for me this is much more than MOOCs, it’s much more about the internet and the role of the internet in education. Institutions can adapt and become stronger by adapting to the threats and opportunities of the internet. But so much is unknown that the best we can hope for is “informed bewilderment”.

So, the best I can do is to apply the same sorts of frameworks I used in previous roles, and my current FutureLearn role to outline the opportunities I see.

So, first of all, we can open up access – in new ways, to new audiences, on new platforms. At FutureLearn we want to work with partners that provide depth and experience across a range of curriculum areas, and skills associated with them. We want to update the old elearning experiences, to bring the concept up to date. We’ve built FutureLearn from scratch, making it easier and more attractive to use for the user. And we need to think about our audience as global… looking beyond institution walls. Global reach changes the social contract of the university.

I want to look at one FutureLearn example, a course on Ebola from a leading scientist working on the disease [now viewing a clip from that course]. The impact of this course has already been profound. Over 20k people took the course, and it saw some of the highest participation rates of any of our courses. Indeed FutureLearn received word from the Medicins Sans Frontiers Bo-Ebola Treatment Centre in Sierra Leone – where they had used downloaded course videos to enable staff and volunteers in the centre to take the course together.

Discovery. FutureLearn now has 19 universities around the world, and we have another 9 joining us which we are announcing today (Basel, Bergen, De Los Andes, Paris Diderot, Pompeu Fabra, etc.). We now have Korean universities, from two Dutch universities… [we are now watching a video on learning dutch]. The creativity being adopted by our partners, is one of the most exciting parts of running this company. [cue a diversion into the Steve McLaren adopt the accent language technique]. One of the most interesting aspects of these free open courses for the universities is the opportunity to attract new students. So we are developing our approach to optimising the free courses by enabling them to register interest in full courses offered by our partners.

We also want to move beyond our partners thinking about courses, we want them to share content openly on the web. And we’ve started that by opening up some of our step pages on the web, so that they are more findable in Google… We have great resources here, we want content in the courses to be found, to direct people into those courses and the expertise of those organisations.

Third is the importance of the opportunities afforded by Social learning. The opportunity for learners to work together around these MOOCs is one of the most important things. So, within FutureLearn, we have embedded discussion, social interaction facilities. We ensure all learners have their own profile page – they can like each others comments, they can follow other learners and the educators… That helps them turn the huge scale of conversation, into something more manageable. We are trying to build a social network that makes the learning more enjoyable and more effective. We know we are only at the start of what we could do here…

At the BBC we build the most amazing web resources, but trying to add social in was far less successful as it has to built into the foundations. So watch FutureLearn over the coming years, how that social interaction works in the site. Do look at our courses, and see the discussions. Our biggest course is Exploring English. There is something magic about asking learners where they are learning at a particular moment… This British Council uses existing resources but allows learners to develop their skills, and work together on those skills. There are great interactions here – one student says he wants to learn English in case he ever met Mick Jagger – and he did! (by befriending a bouncer in Singapore).

On a more serious note, we had a brilliant course from the University of Bath called Inside Council(?)… We had feedback from one of our educators for that course that this was one of the most rewarding teaching experiences of his career – because there were learners, there were professionals, there were patients all engaging together.

Fourthly, Engagement. We work with our course creators to take advantage of the potential to reinvent learning. These new skills are essential for all organisations to have in the modern digital era. So, we work with the best story tellers too – with the BBC on four WWI course, with the British Library around their Propaganda exhibition… We aim for a delightful user experience, and we facilitate invite only blended learning opportunities on campus.

With those other aspects in place there is so much potential for Extension. All these learners have lifelong learning interests, including skills for the workplace, courses for professional learners – changing jobs/sectors (Simon notes he started his career managing in a wig and hairpiece company!). The changes in work lives goes so far beyond standard undergraduate or postgraduate courses. And then there are so many personal reasons and motivations to learn [cue Pointless clip with contestent taking a course on Moons]. This wide range of motivations means we are trying to set up a variety of different revenue models. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Open University. We want to repay that investment. Anyone completing a course can receive a statement to that effect (£29) and those are far more popular than we anticipated. And we are looking at other possibilities, other revenue models… to recognise and create new pathways from free courses into employability opportunities.

So, finally, is a recognition that the recipient is more than a passive consumer, they are involved in Creation. Learners create their own games, they code, they take photographs, and we encourage those learners to share what they have made… But we are just at the beginning of what is possible here.

So, we are not at the end of the university. We have an amazing opportunity for them to reinvent their role in society.

There has been a break here as I was giving my MediaHub session (delightfully we had standing room only, and lots of good questions and comments!). And then some lunch… 

Mobile learning in practice

This is a workshop session so my notes may not be that detailed… however it’s a fantastic turn out so should be some very interesting discussion.

Steve Hall (speaking) and Tracey Duffy from Jisc are leading the session on Jisc Digital Media Infokits. Specifically we are talking about the Mobile Learning Infokit, which has been around a little while but have been substantially retooled and updated. The format for today will be that we have four sets of four tables, four sets of presenters… so each presenter will tell you about their work in just 10 minutes… and then they will rotate clockwise to the next table so you should hear from all of our presenters. And then we’ll have a panel session at the end.

Tracey: We wanted to add to our current infokit on app based learning. We put out a call for video case studies to HE and FE community. 30 proposals were submitted, 20 submissions then. The institutions created these case studies themselves, with support from the digital media team, and we hugely appreciate the work that those institutions put into those case studies, and we know that many of their staff and students gained new skills and enjoyed that process. So, I’ll show you a taster but first I can say that the infokits are live. jisc.ac.uk/guides/mobile-learning. [watching Newcastle uni video – on their use of campus apps]. Now I’d like to hand over to our co-presenters…

Reflection: Tarsin, University of Birmingham – Social Work Social Media App

I am based in the social work and social care department, and we are finding that students come in and we want to engage them with ethical issues about use o fthe internet and social media…. So I created an app for students to use before lectures… I am both a social worker and a programmer and so I learnt how to programme this app. So I created an app where they take the role of a team manager, and it raises a number of ethical issues… Allowing students to relate their learning to real life practice… So these are realistic scenarios. I’ve used a comic book and games based approach here. If the outcomes are not appropriate, the user has to go back and try again. The student really has to think through the process… The students get competitive and share their experiences which is great, it gets them thinking and talking about those decisions…

So, you’ll get a choice of options – these are relatively vague verbal answers, they require the student to think realistically about what they would do… If they do make a poor choice, they get an alternative argument – a branching approach… some more arguments get put forward…. So they see a range of potential outcomes… They can be complex scenarios… For instance about foster children using the internet and how carers might be supported to ensure that risks are minimised. So the students can use the app before the classroom session, and then that is not a lecture/transmission format, instead students come in, they can work in groups and discuss those scenarios… Demonstrating potential outcomes from decision making processes can be so useful here.

[Q about app building] I was given a grant of £5k by my university and I used Flash ? which enabled me to develop once for both Apple and Android. The only other option would have been xcode.

Assessment, Feedback and Submission: Lewisham and Southwark College – iMovie and Socrative

Socrative (two versions, Student and Teacher) is an app is used for checking, understanding and feedback…. As a teacher you sign up, you get an id that you use – and students use that id to log into the app. Normally I’d login, and also reflect that on a display/screen… You can ask a question to your students, and gather answers back in… You can share or collaborate on quizzes etc – with colleagues etc. So you can explore questions and info etc. And as a teacher I can see the results coming in live… I can download that data to use again later on… You can use the Teacher App, you can also use Space Race – where you can put people into team… This is web based so you don’t need the app if you don’t want to download it. So we are showcasing this app (we didn’t develop it).

Content Creation: University of Nottingham – E-Lecture Producer App

We’ve used the idea of the e-lectures since 2008 but we were using huge amounts of bandwidth for our students in other countries… video was too excessive, so now we have slides with audio… And we use an app to produce e-lectures like this. Teaching staff record in a recording studio, or in their lecture theatre… You can easily cut the audio to match the slides – a nice interface to do that, to ensure you use your best recordings. Also it means that when you update your lecture for the next year… Sometime you just change a few slides… And you can focus on just those few slides, record the new sound and you are fine. This is a web based systems so you can use on Windows based server or Unix server. We used it, via links, in WebCT and more recently in Moodle. Prior to 2008 we did manual editing… We developed the app in 2010… We always need to invite some business contacts etc. for guest lectures and the app is particularly useful for that, since they are very busy, often can’t make it to campus etc. When they export their file they can upload or share it anywhere – and can send to us via Dropbox, OneDrive etc. And it is very flexible for making web casts/presentations. And those files can be played in the browser (no need to use an app to open/access). And to bring your slides in you import from PPT or PDF etc.

Assessment, Feedback and Submission: Perth College UHI – Hairdressing App

This app was actually the output of a research project… Thiswas a research project on the use of tablets in FE contexts, which we thought there would be. The outcome of that project was published in the ALT Journal for Learning Technology last year (Google “use of tablets in further education sector” to find that). So to look at this we looked at hairdressing mobile apps, also looked at apps for those with social and educational learning needs – using multimedia they tended to use the apps for eportfolio systems which seemed to work well. We looked at modern languages, again using multimedia in those contexts… We also brought proprietary apps for language practice, etc. So, quite a range of activity. So in terms of the hair apps we needed a framework for evaluation, how to understand the added value. We looked at the Salmon model – four main quadrants for that… The app automated feedback, put in triggers around errors – the student gets automatic feedback, keeps them ranked without too much more traditional teacher input. Android devices were more popular than Android devices… We went for Android devices because they were cheaper, and also it’s easier to deploy an Android app than an Apple app. In terms of BYOD that was something possible for students and staff. Also an element of the flipped classroom – students encouraged to prepare for F2F session. Students were generally more engaged… Student feedback was positive. They liked using tablets – but an element of novelty there. But they liked the app, particularly the feedback. There were some issues around privacy…. if accounts were left logged in on devices etc.

Panel Discussion and Q&A

Q1: The apps and how they were made – was there any reason that students weren’t involved in the making of these apps?

A1 – Birmingham Uni: They were involved in mine. I beta tested with students… that helped with the interface, and also the content and feedback.

A1 – Tracey: And there are other case studies in the Infokit

Q2: All of you have used native apps, is that more preferential in terms of user experience, but can also exclude some people. Should we be building web apps with more complexity or native apps?

A2: Perth: Absolutely. We went Android but I think we’d go HTML5 for all devices/traditional computer access would work

A2 – Birmingham Uni: Things have changed over the last 12 months. Responsive apps have become much easier to display well on all devices and that seems to be where things are going.

Q3: To all:

A3 – Birmingham: Something encouraging debate and discussion rather than traditional transmission

A3 – Lewisham: Engage your students

A3 – Perth: Try to ensure that you genuinely engage your students

A3 – Nottingham: I think being increasingly multimodal is the trend.

Integrating TV programmes into your learning environment – Carol Parish, ClickView & Angela

ClickView gives educational establishments access to thousands (2300) of educational videos which are designed for secondary schools and FE colleges. The videos cover a whole range of subjects. And those familiar with Classroom Video, who made loads of materials, have just been brought by ClickView, and we have other publishers content joining us soon. Any content put into ClickView can be put into our BYOD video platform. And with our tool you can embrace multimedia by building up libraries of content… We expose iFrames and URLs that let you embed content in VLEs, and use those videos on any device and any computer.

So, the focus of this session is our television recording function in ClickView. We are digital video solutions for educations. We use  high quality educational videos and TV recording to help teachers create engaging lessons and improve learning outcomes… We are trying to solve the issue of bandwidth by using local cacheing etc. The idea is to build a video archive using TV recorded content, your own content and ClickView content.

So we’ll look at trends from ClickView 24-7 Cloud… Top news programmes, top current affairs, top documentaries, top feature films and series. As a teacher (in my former role) I wanted to just show the small relevant clip of video in my classroom, rather than play the whole thing. Sites like YouTube can take longer in terms of time to find content, to ensure that you find relevant engaging content… So we’ll look at searching and saving time by finding relevant content… You can search every word spoken on TV in the past 2 weeks across all the major channels – you can find it, store it, edit it, embed it in your virtual learning environment. So teaching staff are able to access, edit and store content, make playlists, to share those, to make and build an archive. And when you search, you get to search all of the materials – can bridge to Eclipse, Heritage, etc.

So this is the interface for ClickView: http://www.clickview.co.uk/ [Carol moving to live demo]. So ClickView is a cloud video tool, which allows you to have a local cache – and local publishing point – to help deal with the realities of bandwidth. If you are not on campus then you use the Azure Cloud that we run our cloud services from. And you can use your library and media store asset manager here to manage your own content. Each user of ClickView have their own work space assigned. You can assign that space (I’d suggest between 15-100GB at max). The idea of ClickView is you can push content to your library so that content is held centrally for all of your users to have access to. The idea is that you build up a media library for your establishment, and allow students to have their own autonomy through their own space…

So Cloud 24/7 ClickView lets you access any free to air channels. We have an English and Scottish (which goes back 3 rather than 2 weeks) data centres. You can go to England or Scotland regions. We don’t yet have enough users in Wales to support that region – but it will happen… We have Radio 4 across both data centres but will have more radio… The difference with iPlayer is that you can save and permanently keep the materials you want. Typically ClickView runs 1 hour behind real time. And of course you can edit that content – taking those clips is probably the most powerful part of what is on offer, so you can use the most relevant part of what is on offer.

ClickView is a lot about community. We have the ClickView Exchange which other universities and colleges have collected resources, over 11,000 programmes there. Just to say though that this service is legal because of the ERA licence – which enables access to recordings of tv and radio as long as that’s for educational use on campus or online with login/password access.

ClickView has an analytics function which enables you to see who is watching what. You can take a programme, save it, make a playlist, and/or add to my establishment media library. Now, for any programme, ClickView captures 5 minute buffers at either end of a programme to ensure it isn’t missed. We offer videos at 240p or 720p (HD quality UK TV) – you can choose according to your access/device at the time. And if you want to upload your own content, we support a variety of resolutions up to 1080p, and a wide range of formats.

So, looking at the ClickView Exchange we have over 400 feature films, because of them airing on free to view television and covered by ERA licence. You will also find lots of content for media studies, etc. This area is populated by our customers. So you could select a programme, add it to the exchange for universities and colleges across the UK to access. Probably the most powerful way to access the exchange is to run a keyword search of that. I can then explore the results, play them, push to the Library Server at my establishment, add to playlists, share that playlists etc. And that sharing can have a privacy level to pick from. ClickView works closely with Moodle, Blackboard, SharePoint – we have plugins to make this stuff easier to do. So for Moodle you can use a plugin rather than use iframe or URL. So here the plugin allows you to pick ClickView video as a resource, then you can explore anything from your workspace to add that content in… And save that video to bring it into Moodle. Its a quick easy way to get content from television into Moodle.

The app in ClickView also allows you to create videos from your mobile devices into ClickView, and make available for assessment, for students to share work from a mobile device etc.

[response to audience Q about ERA]: Most universities and colleges in the UK have an ERA licence. That allows you to record anything from free to view television, and that includes Open University courses. You can use any free to air television for education purposes, you can edit them, you can use them in the classroom, in the VLE, and the extended learning environment. However your students need to be based in the UK/be accessing that material from the UK. If you are putting your own content in, that’s your own copyright. TED talks might be OK – because of their copyright status. But a DVD, say, would require you to have permission from the copyright holder as you would be changing the format. Similarly YouTube videos you’d need permissions.

So… Looking at today’s TV… one of the stories was about the amount of Asbestos in our schools… Just by seeing the sentence in which that word appears (in the search results) tells us a lot about what the content is… You can find a lot out here… The reason this works is because of the subtitles on programmes… But in the UK we broadcast subtitles as a picture, we need to OCR that to be able to search through those subtitles…

Angela levins, Stroud College in Somerset 

Angela is joining us for Q&A

Carol: How long have you had ClickView

Angela: About a year, we needed some tech set up and it took a while to get up and running with our super users first, but just had a huge training session to reach a far wider range of staff.

Carol: Why was there a need for this?

Angela: We had staff expecting programmes but not telling us they needed it recorded – they asked if we can it from iPlayer and we had to explain that for copyright reasons that isn’t OK. So ClickView is really useful for that.

Carol: And are they seeing the potential?

Angela: We have staff helping each other out, recording stuff for each others… And being able to clip that video to just the bit they need has huge potential – so they are motivated to use the editor and seem to be finding it easy to use.

Carol: In terms of getting staff to understand the vision, we ran a training session for all users last week – that’s part of the package

Angela: Yes, we will then be running advanced one to one sessions.

Q: Do you anticipate greater uses in some courses/areas

Angela: It seems to be across the whole college. Obviously media and film are keen, but hospitality for instance very keen. I think because there is so much stuff on the TV that can be helpful – even Maths staff have been engaging with us.

Q: How about usage of video they have made themselves

Carol: That’s actually the next stage for this organisation… That training is yet to happen for Angela but we’ll get to that.

Q: If you want a programme from 3 years ago, and not in Exchange, how do you do that? And how much does it cost to set up local infrastructure

Carol: We have a Yammer group, we have in-person 3 times per year forums. Between those spaces, it tends to be that we can find a university that does have it… Then that person can upload to the exchange. In most cases that works. In terms of infrastructure… ClickView4 is about to come out – that can run entirely as a cloud based system. With ClickView at the moment, for the folder structure, you need to be able to publish those – requiring either Server 2008/12 or a Windows 7 computer/s. Local cache is helpful for many organisations.

So, just to show you an example of edits here… I can quickly find the  bits of the programme I want…. And select the areas I’m interested in. I can use chapter breaks as appropriate – and you can name/label these. You can add or delete chapters. Teachers can do this from any machine, including from home. And once you’ve made those edits it will be in your work space, ready for use, in about a minute, and available in plugins in about 2 minutes.

To return to the issue of uploading your own content… You can upload to your workspace from your own machine… You can add a title, description and age rating… then Save.

Q: Do you have to apply for the copyright for that content of what you are uploading?

One should.

I will mention “Albert” – a curriculum mapping expert who helps save teachers time. This is mapped to the English National Curriculum. So we have built ito Albert – a crowdsourced tool – all the National Curriculum content. Albert will look at your content, Exchange content, and also in “Media Store” – where suppliers can provide their own materials. So Albert finds videos quickly in line with objectives for National Curriculum. You can also search by key words. An easier way to find videos than trawling through YouTube etc.

If you do want to go forward from ClickView I’d say you need engagement from someone on the curriculum side, someone from IT/Infrastructure and someone from library and learning resources. Then you’d have a visit followed by a one month trial

What the learners say: FE learners’ expectations and experiences of technology – Sarah Knight; John Webber; Ellen Lessner; Chris Fuller, Jodran Holder, Tyler Bond, and Nikolas Melo

This session is opening with the Jisc “Supporting learners with their use of technology” video… 

Sarah: I thought it was so important to include some student voices to open our sessions, and that student voice and engagement is so important to what we do. We have a number of these videos. This work began as both an FE and HE excercise – two parallel strands here but we’ll focus on FE. We had a comment of “I look forward to the findings. Too often we try and guess what our student expectations will be and often get this wrong.” and certainly we found that there is no one student experience or expectation of technology.

So this project – the FE Digital Student project – aims to support colleagues in FE to (a) decide how and how often to monitor changing learner experiences and (b) ?

We started a study last year, doing an initial review of where learner views on technology was at. There was very little post 2009. So the real difficulties were around actual learner views – lots from teachers and the sector but much much less on learners themselves.

Ellen: We has 12 focus groups with 220 learners. Last week in Edinburgh at a consultation event we heard that staff wanted research evidence for their decision makers. This was done as research, we took specific subjects, looked at 1st year and 2nd year students. Within a subject area within year 1 or year 2 there weren’t huge differences, but between subjects there was a lot of variance. So we selected five subject areas here including childcare and IT.

But how do we do research in FE? So many levels are supported here… We had a learner profile – this was done by the tutor and could support students filling that out if needed. We then came in, had rooms set up with round tables, and we had a standard protocol to ensure these sessions were comparable. And we did a card sort exercise. Doing research in FE means needing to have staff who understand FE undertaking that research.

Sarah: One of the other things we’ve done is put together a blog post on running this sort of research – see digitalstudent.jisc.org for this and also the resources from the card sort activity. We also had feedback from staff that this was a useful process for them too.

So, what have we found from the literature, focus groups, and the consultation events (4 of the 6 have happened now). Probably not too surprising perhaps:

  • Their learning to be enhanced by the colleges use of technologuy ef VE, online submission and assessment
  • To have anywhere anytime any device access to coure materials
  • To have acces sto both formal and informal (e.g. social media) supports on and off campus
  • To learn at college how technology is used in the workplace
  • To be asked aout their views and for them to make a difference

And that latter point certainly has relevance for thinking about elearning strategy and development. But I hope these are areas of work that you are involved in, and developing. But our research should be useful evidence for you to use in that, in working with decision making.

We have created a model from this work. FE is very complex, there are so many different requirements, levels, and backgrounds our learners have. So there was a model was put together by Chris Davis at Becta – segmenting into “Unconnected and vulnerable”, “mainstream pragmatists”, and “Intensive and Specialist enthusiasts”, and that helped us to look at a framework for supporting learners with technology. Pragmatic mainstream learners seek support from tutors, so pedagogy-led experiences of technology are substantial. For the unconnected and vulnerable access-led experiences of digital environments are key. And at the enthusiast end of the spectrum we see learner-led and technology-led experiences.

Importantly from the focus group work we found 7 key themes for our FE learners:

1. Don’t assume we are digitally literate – hence the importance of tutors and teachers, particularly for using technology for learning and skills

2. We need ongoing development – and want to understand more about digital tools

3. We expect the same (or better…) services as in school – including having technology they need

4. We expect colleges to provide what we need –  including access at home

5. We expect modern learing resources that are easy to find and use – and consistency there.

6. We want to work with lecturers… – recognising teachers knowledge and expertise but also students understanding and ideas of how technology can support their needs.

7. Ask us what we need… – much more than surveys, they want a real voice here.

John: I used to manage technology for a site with 1000+ staff. Recently refocued on learning technology innovation. This work was informed by my work in the wider context of teaching and learning…

So, student voice is something OFSTED requires us, along with others, to do this… It’s where this stuff starts, but, regretably also often stop. We ask students questions at the start of each year… We’ve been moving further to escape the trap of just asking students to talk about quality of teachers with closed ended questions… Limited opportunity to unpack students comments and criticisms…

So, we adopted a process of Funded Action Research Projects, that are clear about what impact we seek to achieve, and how we will measure that… And part of that is involving students from the start, getting their views, eliciting their views throughout. Myself and a colleague has a chance to go in as an observer for their views on digital technology. Engaging students early on elicits some very informed and informative views. Having an idea of what you want to achieve is useful anyway, even if your focus in on the intervention of technology. And seeing students as partners help them understand that they are not passive in this process…

One of the things here has been the use of Flipped learning. We asked students to help us think about what they saw at various stages in the process. One student said that initially they thought “What? Homework”… And then they discriminated between homework and flipped learning.. because flipped learning was more useful (slightly sad to hear but…).  And students said “Set and maintain clear expectations”, and they also said “don’t repeat yourself” – don’t accommodate those who have not prepared, it punishes those who have prepared. Instead there was an ipad at the back of the room – and that became “the ipad of shame!”.

Students liked being able to pause the videos, to take better notes – some tutors recommend the Cornell Note Taking process, a sophisticated mechanism that really supports learning. And students reported getting much more out of class. Students also enjoyed being able to do their work outside the college day, when commuting, to catch up if off sick. Students talked about it levelling the playing field – those who picked things up quickly had space to do that, those who picked it up more slowly had space to learn and catch up so all started class at a similar point. All this from 5 minute videos with slides…

But we are moving from asking students to be our evaluators, to encourage their agency in this process… To encourage a digital leadership team of students. To help us find new opportunities that are available. And our students here didn’t wait to be asked…. they came to us!

Student 1: We live 30 miles from college… We travel 90 minutes a week, for a 1 hour session. We asked our tutor if we could Skype into class, and that means we can attend when we might otherwise be challenged to get there. This college is a really open college – Chris and I have attended 3 colleges before and others would have never been open to this. And that is a real issue, we could end up behind but these technologies mean that we’ve stayed up to date.

Student 2: Skype can be an issue – can lose connection to our teacher… Had to find online resources, ways around the tutor. So all three of us use Collabator, to share our code and work together, resolve issues without our teacher.

John: And these students are at least as up to speed as those working in class.

Chris: We still see our lecturer, Kev, twice a week… And we work together – can chat when the teacher is talking, work through an idea, figure it out. Then we can confirm with Kev later on that we have gotten the right idea. It’s more flexible and it works better.

Student 3: Was introduced to flipped learning at the beginning of AS years… So by the time I come to class I have a basic understanding of what the teacher will be talking about… It flips the idea that you learn in class, revise at home. Instead you learn at home, and revise and discuss in class… It’s like having a 24/7 home tutor – can just go back to YouTube and rewatch. My grades in classes using flipped classrooms have skyrocketed versus other subjects. And for instance my psychology tutor has summarised our textbook so that you can find your way through so much easier. She also has a blog sumarising each week’s lesson. Flipped learning has taught me a lot… You learn at home, revise in lesson, and catch up again at home if you still aren’t sure.

Student 1: Learning in a home environment has worked really well for us. At home we can find ourselves ahead of the class… we work together, we learn from each other and how each other learn. We’ve had lots of group projects – and we’ve really come to realise where our skills lie. We are a friendship group, not sure any group of 16 year olds would work. We were friends beforehand and that does help. But learning at home in a comfortable environment helped us, it gives us confidence… and then when you hit class I think you feel much more receptive and able to learn.

Chris: Often at home we’ve found things we want to learn, that aren’t covered in the lesson… we look something up… and a few weeks later that will come up in class… that really strengthens our understanding.

Student 2: Also for me using my own computer really matters. College computers aren’t that good. We have been working on Unity, and we have 2GB limit, so doing this stuff on my own computer can be a really big benefit as well…

Sarah: I think that gives us some really really valuable insights into our own expectations…

Chris, Woolwich 6th Form College: Would you guys who work at home a lot – would you be harder working normally… or

Chris: We did 2 years at sixth form, weren’t doing subjects we were passionate about. Dedication comes from that, and not something from every student perhaps.

Student 1: We are all very lazy basically… I put same effort at home as in class. One of the reasons we put in effort at home is that essentially is a day off and we could lose that easily if we weren’t putting the work in.

Chris questionnner: I think you are all university students, without knowing it… Have you had any issues with people not doing the work?

Student 3: Our teacher makes students do that walk of shame to the ipad if they don’t prepare, that helps!

John: I sat in on a class last monday that had been experimenting with flipped learning. A full class of 25 were there, not just enthusiasts. I asked if they all did that, and they said “of course, it would be so stupid not to”. It takes about 2 weeks to establish that sense that you don’t come to class if you don’t do the work. But students tell us they have to be firm..

Q: If this was functional skills, English and Maths, would it work the same?

Student 1: I would say there is still a big stigma that students don’t want to learn. Students are more passionate about subjects they pick. But students really want to learn… If students don’t want to be there, don’t make them. For English and Maths it’s so important, but those essential skills are less appealing… but there is still that idea that teachers are at the top, students are at the bottom… Students do want to learn so that has to be recognised.

Student 2: I think that working from home for functional skills… well if the students weren’t passionate it would show quickly – it would show really fast if we didn’t do the work.

Student 3: There is evidence that digital media can help people to develop English skills, across any subject area… So useful for subjects like English and Maths too!

Q: What do your parents think? And have their heating and food bills gone up?

Student 1: I think they didn’t quite believe we could do that… We have had some wifi issues… But we have also used CollabEdit and RealTimeBoard to get round any difficulties we do have – on our own.

Student 2: We have a genuine need, so we find a way around this…

Gary, Stroud College in Somerset: You are obviously doing a course you enjoy, in an environment you enjoy. What happens when you hit the world of work?

Student 1: Our Skype day is our least favourite of the week… We do do stuff that we don’t like, because there are courses we don’t like but we know are important to getting that A-level that will enable us to access that world of work.

Chris: The reason for Skype here was that the long travel times limited our amount of time to do work, to find part time work. The whole thing was to save us money… We wouldn’t have come to Skype without that need.

Student 2: To put a number on this… If we went into that 1hr20 minute lesson, travel would take over 5 hours out of our day.

John: How many know that PISA now measures collaborative problem solving… They snuck it under the radar! One of the reasons I was so interested in this group of students is that they have evidenced very high level collaborative problem solving. We’d have struggled to come up with scenarios to test that so realistically.

Sarah: I’d just like to thank John. And that comment that you are already university students, without knowing it. That reflection and understanding of your own learning is certainly applaudable.

Before we finish I wanted to share some resources that may be useful to you… [and we have a postcard to complete, which I will be filling in momentarily!]

So, resources here include:

  • 50 institutional exemplars (based around 7 challenge areas)
  • “Digital students are different” posters – those are in the room today but also available for download, to act as a trigger for discussion.
  • “Enhancing the digital experience for students” cards – to enable more detailed discussion on taking stuff forward, enhancements that add value and make a difference for your learners
  • FE Learner voices videos
  • “Enhancing the student digital experience: a strategic approach” guide – jisc.ac.uk/guides/enhancing-the-student-digital-experience

So I hope we have provided you with some inspiration and food for thought. If this has enticed you to find out more… our next session at 4.30, in Hall 7, will focus on university student experience.

Staff-student partnership working to effect institutional change – chaired by Peter Chatterton with Sarah Knight (Jisc)

Sarah:  a very warm welcome to all of you today. It is such a privilege to showcase institutions who are working with students. We have three fantastic examples of that working in practice. I will start with a brief introduction to the change network, but we will mainly focus on our learners and their experiences.

  • Fiona Harvey with Anne and Rebekah iChamps, University of Southampton
  • Deborah Millar, with Kirsty and Student Digipal Cai Rourke from Blackburn College
  • Tim Lowe, VP Education with Dr Stuart Sims, research fellows (student engagement), Eli Nixon-Davingoff, student fellow at University of Winchester

The vision for The Student engagement partnership, running over the last few years, has been about establishing principles for institutions to use to guide their engagement with students – and the importance and benefits of that. There was a 2014 NUS Report on “Radical interventions in teaching and learning” talks about the importance of students being active and engaged agents of change.

So, what is the change agents network (CAN)? It is a network to support students working as change agendes, digital pioneers, student fellows, and students working in partnership with staff on technology related change projects. The network facilitates the sharing of best practice through Face to face networking events, CAN monthly webinar series, CAN case studies. And we have a student partnership toolkit, for organisations looking to embed student partnerships in their practice. (see http://can.jiscinvolve.org/ or @CANagogy).

We have set up a SEDA accredited Jisc Institutional Change Leader Award, to recognise and showcase work in this area. We are also about to launch our first issue of the new Jisc Journal of Educational Innovation Partnership and Change – a peer-reviewed online journal welcoming articules case studies, and opinion pieces. Do get in touch as we have the next  issue being planned at the moment!

So, we will now have 3 quick pitches for today’s session… then you can choose 2 of the 3 sessions to hear more about.

Fiona Harvey with Anne and Rebekah iChamps, University of Southampton

We have iChamps at Southampton, Innovation and Digital Literacy champions. These sit alongside other student champions – around feedback, accessibility etc. We have a placement scheme with our careers service – they fund half of the time of the students over summer/easter etc. Our champs are in Music, Biological Sciences, Social Sciences, etc. They are there specifically to support the development of skills of staff and students. It’s about showing academics how to make a website, say, rather than doing it for them. All of the iChamps and champions have great online presences, great digital literacy skills, etc. What’s in it for them? Skills, expereince, profiles, etc. And the university benefits too – not just academics but those who work with and support them. We based this on digital literacy model (e.g. Future Lab structure). They start with a Digital competancies quiz to establish what their skills are, where development is needed. We have iPad coffee clubs to talk and try… We give them tools. We give them iPads (if they don’t have one) so that they can actually show this stuff off, demo or review apps in discipline specific areas. The champs get monthly support sessions – on new tools, on their online presence. And additionally I can be accessed via WhatsApp, SnapChat, Facebook etc. And they ahve a blog as well. And we have an iChamp badge – a group of three badges, as they work with academics they gain badges for their LinkedIn presence, etc.

Deborah Millar, Head of eLearning with Kirsty and Student Digipal Cai Rourke from Blackburn College

I’m Deborah from Blackburn College, to introduce the Digipals (#Digipals)… We use digipals as drivers of change, digital leaders, trainers, collaborators, creators… 12 members of staff looking for digipals to work with them. We have interventions to see how to make things more fit for purpose, more technology enhanced, etc. So we have an A-team style video to introduce the team to staff and students across the college… Fun and silly… So, what are our drivers for using technology? We look at it from a learner’s perspective – we want joy and playfulness in education, to be inspired to learn inside and outside the college… And we want staff to create more stimulating and interactive lessons, should provide further opportunities for collaboration on a global leel… And as a college we want to enable us to deliver deeper, more effective and cheaper learning. We have three questions for our learners – do you use technology in your learning, what is it, and how does that benefit your learning.

We have staff digipals, and we have student digipals… I want staff and students to be working collaboratively, to be treated equally… and I want employers and schools to come in… And the student voice informs our strategy and vision. We do research with our students… we have surveys about expectations and experiances, to help demonstrate to staff, and to college, that these opportunities really matter, that they expect that technology as part of their learning…

Tim Lowe, VP Education with Dr Stuart Sims, research fellows (student engagement), Eli Nixon-Davingoff, student fellow at University of Winchester

Tim: We had technology based research fellows in the learning and teaching section, as a proof of concept in 2012/13. We had student reps across the university (over 400) providing student voice. But they only did 10-12 hours per year. And there are lots of barriers to learning, loads of technologies to look at… We needed students to commit more time, to engage more strongly. So we set up a bursary to support 100 hours of student time. We won’t pay students hourly – changes relationships – hence bursary. So we recruited 60 student fellows… We had a really big mix of students – mature students, commuting students, some that were just annoyed at the university and wanted to make a change. Students can benefit themselves but also benefit their department by their impact. And those lessons learned have been shared across those student fellows…

Stuart: We have 60 students cross 53 projects. We had four key themes across those. The projects are identified by students or by staff or by support staff, and students then do research and exploration. The themes are technology, design and innovation, etc. Of these projects 53.8% benefited students, 69% improved their programmes. The second year is now in progress, have funding secured for next year, and it is increasingly embedded in the organisation.

Eli: My project was about an issue of students not making the most of contact time. We are expected to have 36 hours of contact time for a module across a semester… In the form of 3 hour session per week.  I applied to be a student fellow, I was able to work with staff in our department (sociology) and co-created an online questionnaire, went into lectures and asked students to fill in surveys on their phone. I had 76 responses from 1st, 2nd and 3rd students and generated data that will be used in future committee meetings on departmental timetabling decisions etc. Obviously that stuff could be applied to any subject later on as well.

I get to pick sections… I’m starting with Southampton

Q1: How does this work?

A1 – Fiona: The staff member has a question to explore, or area to think about… usually a student that they already know… And then I help them get trained up, support them to do that role… There is only one of me and our students understand the module, they are taking that course, and they influence the time. The iChamps do meet to discuss and share experiences, but f2f can be hard. We have a facebook group… and we will have a conference for all of the champions – not just the iChamps, to share and discuss….

Sophie: So we have specialist iChamps in sustainability, accessibility but there are core skills – photography, portfolios, how to write a blog etc. are areas we train all of them in.

Fiona: And actually we had this eportfolio tool, showed it in an authentic context, the use of that by iChamps has really demonstrated the value. And they can have several different types of eportfolios, and the badges system means they can create an eportfolio for each badge area. Our sabbaticals use eportfolio. And our medics use it in a very different way, to show the courses they have taken.

Sophie: I have portfolios for my role now, for my former experience as president of Winchester University Students, for my role as a classical singer… A great way to show off those skills and experiences.

Fiona: We had a wishlist for functionality… and students use it but also encouraging staff to use it too. Students want to show employers that they have their LinkedIn profile, links to portfolios. We got students to evaluate it…

Rebekah: With employers in the corporate sector, they have all told me they are sick of A4 PDF CVs and applications, they are boring. They much prefer a video of that experience, say, linked from a CV, but these online resources can see these things, they can see you, they can see you doing things that are enjoyable to you… and that these are real rounded people…

Fiona: the “3D Students”

Rebekah: And employers expect us to know how to use this stuff – Twitter, Facebook, social media etc.

Fiona: One last thing: It’s not easy though!

And now moving to the Winchester one… which is more of a round table session/discussion

Q1: How does student union fit in?

A1 Tim: We have a very small student union, very commercially orientated. We have lots of representatives… we had staff willing to work with students, but few students can volunteer that amount of time… If they can financially afford to do it, the enrichment is worth it, but that bursary bridges that gap. But the driver was from our executive team. We knew this stuff mattered… We spend 5 hours a week empowering 60 students to do something. The finances isn’t the main thing but the students also get the social research training. And these students are being change agents. We wanted the idea of “fellow” to reflect their relationship/similarity from staff fellows. So, our main motivation, which was from the student union, was to use this programme to focus on so many things. And Eli’s project won’t just benefit her courses, but out into other courses, all 7000 students there.

Stuart: Now that I can  empower Eli to do this sort of work…

Sarah: That impact of Eli’s work across the institution. Research can often be local to one department and not shared across the organisation. And you have that strategic support of the whole organisation.

Tim: We went to all of the deans of the colleges and spoke to them before the project, and we kept the university managers informed as well. We can update on all the projects but you need more. So we have an annual conference for the student fellows, these are staff development opportunities. And stuart speaks to more school sub committees as well. It is a partnership… It is students, but also staff too, that partnership matters.

Stuart: That initial funding from Jisc was so important. We trialled the methodology, mainly in Law, and can apply that elsewhere and look at themes across the university

Eli: Like student safety

Stuart: We had a student present to the vice principal, who is now looking at change based on that.

Q2: How do you envision funding the scheme

A2: We had money from Jisc to pilot, then the first year we co-funded between the student union and the university. We demonstrated the concept, the university now pays, but the co-directorship by the union and the university is still there. But that sharing across different areas of the university, sharing with the student representatives, and we’ve also now got more reporting to support that and ask students to create abstracts/outlines for their projects to share.

And with that it’s back to the room….

Comment: The confidence and drive and vision and fun of these people leading these projects is brilliant, and the whole sector should thank them for that.

Sarah: What we wanted to try and get you to do was to get a taste of practice taking place across the sector. To have three different examples, start to help us evidence the importance of working with students. It has been so important to have students with us in the room today as well, and we really appreciate that.

We are looking to gather together discussion across people interested in this area, and we have a newsletter with information relevant to the CAN network. All three organisations here today are also case studies in our digital student site (digitalstudent.jiscinvolve.org). If you want more information do get in touch, join our mailing list, etc. We have an exciting 2 day event here in Birmingham coming up in the next few weeks.

Keynote from Bob Harrison

Robert Haymon-Collins, Jisc Executive director customer experience is introducing the closing keynote for this first day – and a thank you to our online participants and also to our wonderful sign language interpretors. Bob is someone who tweets a lot and I find so much of my best stuff comes from him! He has a huge variety and role in FE and skills and without further ado I’m handing over to Bob Harrison [with a brief stop for Bob  to take a selfie for his wife!].

Bob is starting with a straw poll here of FE organisations (lots), Adult and Community (low), Prisoner and Offender (none), other skills (few), and HE (a fair chunk). 

So, why FELTAG… FELTAG started with a tweet. I’d been criticising Jisc, alongside just about any quango that had anything to do with technology in education. I tweeted that. I found I had a tweet direct from the Minister – he said “dear Bob, I agree, I have no money. Lets meet and chat”. So we did… We have people in the sector keen to use technology, but issues of the sector and infrastructure don’t allow that. Now I’m passionate about FE and Skills. One of the colleges I worked at was funded by a penny tax from miners, choosing to educate their children. And my thesis is that our industry has it’s origins in this post industrial revolution culture. And that’s not where we need to be.

What is FELTAG? The last report we have, from 2012, showed less than 30% of FE and Skills were making effective use of technology. So the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group have a mission statement to aim to best support the agile evolution of the use of technology in FE and Skills.

And now, a cautionary note on research… with a tall tail of lions and zebras… how long and how you observe makes a big difference…

Sorry I’m a bit croaky btw, I had to come down today to support Jisc in what they are doing… And the great work Martyn has been doing to refocus what they do to really include FE and skills.

The Northern College for Residential Adult Education, set up by money from slavery… and an aside that recent funding cuts to adult education have been less than helpful here… however… What gives me greatest happiness is when you find, say, a 55 year old miners wife about to go off to Sheffield University, thats great!

OFSTED have reported tutors making good use of innovative learning and technlogy… But that’s the past… this is the future, my grandkids. The eldest came home all excited about going on a school trip overnight… She’s excited and keen! My daughter rings me, and she’s going through the list of what Millie has to take with her… halfway down it says sleeping bag, toilet bag, etc… If Millie wants to take photographs she’s allowed to take one disposable camera… She doesn’t know what that is! How do we take a system – schools as well as FE – that’s designed on an industrial, Taylor-based, type system whose assets are in land and buildings… And reinvest those assets in what will be fit for a digital future – from chalkboard to Millie’s iPhone (which she’s banned from using, of course).

The music industry has moved on a long way… You look at pictures from the nineteenth century versus a modern college.. looks the same, the only difference is a PC on the desk (in rows). So what is taking us so long? Well Prof Diana Laurillad talk about the barriers to change in the sector. I work at a technology company, Toshiba, and have done for a long time… Whilst technology doesn’t change learning outcomes…. But there is a correlation between organisations using digital technologies and improved learning outcomes… If we think about the Sigmoid Curve… and at Blockbuster, Woolworths, Kodak… there is  a paradigm shift required to change thinking, to keep up with technology. And that requires input at leadership, governance, etc, where FELTAG focuses and where Jisc needs to focus. FELTAG is about paradigm shift. But paradigm shift is hard…

Now, I think we need to sell physical buildings and assets… When you see colleges, with huge investment, they are empty for months on end… and not fully occupied when in use. We need to move funding further up Bloom’s taxonomy. The key principles are about realising assets we have, and making use of them, and reinvesting them… We had a six month report on FELTAG, from BIS….  We also have the House of Lords Digital Skills report. It’s not about new technology, it’s about new thinking…

Returning to our tall tale on research, Bob finishes the story saying that we can’t wait for research, to start doing what we need to be doing… 

So… we have a new ALT group with great people on board… But what happens if FELTAG doesn’t happen? Well these future learners will leave school with no books, no papers, no pens… no printers except 3D printers… They will be want to go to an FE college that can provide them with all the digital tools and technologies they need and expect to have. And only you, only you, can make that happen!

And with that we draw to a close… I will be at Digifeast later so if you corrections and comments on the blog, want to ask me about Jisc MediaHub, digital footprints, digital education, or just say hello, do keep an eye out!

 

Oct 282014
 
Screenshot of Page 65 of latest University Business magazine

Last month I had a request through for an interview on social media for University Business magazine, which focuses on (as the title suggests), the business and administration side of universities. That request proved to be a really good opportunity to look back and reflect on what has been happening with social media across the last 5-10 years, including some awesome innovative activities at the University of Edinburgh, many of which – such as social media guidance and advise – EDINA have been part of.

Front cover image of University Business Magazine.

The front cover of the latest issue (81) of University Business magazine.

I’m really pleased to see that some of my comments on the use of social media at Edinburgh and in the wider HE sector have made it into the latest issue (Issue 81, pp 65-8). And I’m particularly glad to see that the Managing Your Digital Footprint campaign is part of those comments as it is a really ambitious project that will hopefully have findings of use for the much wider sector.

You can read the full article – which looks at social media at a number of institutions – online here (pages 65-68).

 October 28, 2014  Posted by at 12:20 pm Social Media at EDINA, Week In the Life Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Oct 032014
 
Found a foot

This Monday (29th September 2014) the Managing Your Digital Footprint project launched across the University of Edinburgh.  I’m hugely excited about this project as it is a truly cross-University initiative that has been organised by a combination of academic departments, support services and the student association all working together, indeed huge thanks and respect are due to Louise Connelly at IAD for bringing this ambitious project together.

I am representing EDINA across both of the project’s strands: a digital footprint awareness-raising campaign for all students (UG, PGT, ODL, PhD) which is led by the Institute for Academic Development (IAD) in collaboration with EDINA, the Careers Service, EUSA, Information Services, and other University departments; and a research project, a collaboration between IAD, the School of Education, EDINA and EUSA, which will examine how students are managing their digital footprints, where such management is lacking, and what this might mean for future institutional planning to build student competence in this area.

Before saying more about the project it is useful to define what a “digital footprint” might be. The best way to start that is with this brilliant wee video made specially for the campaign:

YouTube Preview Image

Digital footprints, or the tracks and traces you leave across the internet, are a topic that frequently comes up in my day to day role as social media officer, and is also the focus of a guest week I provide for the MSc in Digital Education’s IDEL (Introduction to Digital Environments for Learning) module. Understanding how your privacy and personal data (including images, tags, geo locations) are used is central to making the most appropriate, effective, and safe use of social media, or any other professional or personal presences online. Indeed if you look to danah boyd’s work on teens on Facebook, or Violet Blue’s writings on real name policies on Google+ you begin to get a sense of the importance of understanding the rules of engagement, and the complexities that can arise from a failure to engage, or from misunderstanding and/or a desire to subvert the rules and expectations of these spaces. What you put online, no matter how casually, can have a long-term impact on the traces, the “footprints” that you leave behind long after you have moved on from the site/update/image/etc.

When I give talks or training sessions on social media I always try to emphasize the importance of doing fewer things well, and of providing accurate and up to date bios, ensuring your privacy settings are as you expect them to be, and (though it can be a painful process) properly understanding the terms and conditions to sites that you are signing up for, particularly for professional presences. Sometimes I need to help those afraid to share information to understand how to do so more knowledgeably and safely, sometimes it is about helping very enthusiastic web/social media users to reflect on how best to manage and review their presences. These are all elements of understanding your own digital footprints – though there are many non-social media related examples as well. And it is clear that, whilst this particular project is centered on the University of Edinburgh, there is huge potential here for the guidance, resources, reflections and research findings from the Managing Your Digital Footprint project to inform best practice in teaching, support and advice, and policy making across the HE sectors.

So, look out for more on my contributions to the Managing Your Digital Footprint campaign – there should be something specifically looking at issues around settings very soon. In the meantime  anyone reading this who teaches/supports or who is a student at the University of Edinburgh should note that there will also be various competitions, activities, workshops, resources and advice throughout 2014-2015, which will focus on how to create and manage a positive online presence (digital footprint), and which should support students in their: professional networking; finding the right job; collaborating with others; keeping safe online; managing your privacy and the privacy of others; how to set up effective social media profiles; using social media for research and impact.

Digital Footprint campaign logo

The Digital Footprint project logo – anyone based at the University of Edinburgh will be seeing a lot of this over the coming months!

The research strand of the project is also underway but don’t expect anything more about that for a wee while – there will be a lot of data collection, analysis and writing up to do before we are ready to share findings. I’ll make sure to share appropriate updates and links here as appropriate. And, of course, questions and comments are welcome – just add yours to this post.

Find out more

Jul 282014
 
The Official Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme listing for our show.

I am delighted to report that once again I will be part of an EDINA show for Edinburgh Beltane and Fairpley‘s excellent Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, an Edinburgh Festival Fringe show in which academics and researchers spend an hour sharing “dangerous” and challenging ideas.

::: Update ::: view our new trailer for the show:

YouTube Preview Image

Last year my colleagues and I spoke about FieldTrip GB and the concept of crowdsourcing your neighbourhood – and what challenge or disruption might be possible in that process. It was great fun and we learned a lot in the process of putting the show together, there was even a tie up to another Fringe show through an amazing wee music video made for us by the lovely Eccentronic.

This year my colleague, Helen Aiton, and I will be returning with a very different show based on the Statistical Accounts of Scotland which we are calling “What Skeletons Are in Your Closet?“, and I wanted to tell you a bit more about it in the hope that you might just be able to join us, in The Stand in the Square‘s Yurt in St Andrew’s Square, on Tuesday 19th August!

Image of the listing for the What Skeletons Are in Your Closet show.

Our listing on the CODI 2014 site, see also Page 279 of the Fringe Guide.

So, why are we talking about the Statistical Accounts of Scotland? Well firstly because they are fascinating resources. The two Statistical Accounts of Scotland, covering the 1790s and the 1830s, represent some of the best contemporary reports of life during the agricultural and industrial revolutions in Europe. The first Account was the personal initiative of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, a Scottish Baronet and Member of the Union Parliament at Westminster. He used Westminster money to carry out a survey of 166 questions put to ministers of the Kirk in each of the 938 parishes of Scotland (subscribers can view the full list in the Related Resources section of the Online Service)

Sir John’s vision was to cover the whole of Scotland with an overall, consistent, description to “meliorate the condition of the people” (read  more about Sir John’s vision here) and to form an account of the “quantum of happiness” of the communities of Scotland. It was a hugely ambitious idea and, as you might imagine, not all ministers provided the same levels of details – some contemplate detailed daily life, folk lore, and provide far more detail than required, whilst others keep their responses curt and factual. Regardless of length the ministers also each brought their own personalities to their returns with their own personal interests, with many sharing their thoughts on the moral state of their parishioners and their activities. 

An extract from the Dumries report for 1791-99

An extract from the Dumries report for 1791-99 highlights that, despite “dramming”, there hasn’t been a fight worth mentioning for 11 years… the minister commends the women for ensuring this orderly behaviour.

EDINA runs the Statistical Accounts of Scotland Online Service and that means we are immersed in the Accounts from their wonderful insight into life in Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries, to their weirder and more amusing stories, gossip and boasts. We have been looking for weird and interesting nuggets from the Accounts, and sharing these via Twitter and Facebook, for a while now but we wanted to do something different with this show…

The Accounts capture the lives of all of those in the parish and that means they provide a rich account of the lives of those beyond the traditional history books – the lives of women for instance – but also life on the edges of society, including those living in poverty, those with disabilities, migrant populations, etc. So, in this show our focus is going to be on these people, these overlooked communities, these lives on the edge, but we will also wonder how our own accounts of daily life overlook those on the margins… indeed some of those on the margins in the 18th and 19th century remain on the margins of our own records of daily life now, even in a world with social media and ready access to the means to capture your own daily life.

So, we will be looking back at those outsiders but also posing some questions. We want those coming along and participating in the event to think about what we might do if we wanted to create a new Statistical Account: What would we want to capture in order to assess the “quantum of happiness” of the people of Scotland in 2014? Who would we need to represent to go beyond the statistics that are, these days, widely collected on the Scottish Population? What’s missing and who is missing from those accounts? How could we move beyond the numbers to something nearer Sir John’s vision for that rich account of life across the nation?

Of course I’d also welcome your thoughts, both on these questions and any thoughts or experience of these outsider pasts as captured in the Statistical Accounts, here in the comments section. We’ve already heard – via Twitter – about a brilliant piece by Ella Smith for Deaf History Journal’s Summer 2014 issue (see the British Deaf History Society website for more on this publication), which looks at how the lives of deaf people are captured by the Statistical Accounts. Ella delves into the first and second Accounts to find both numeric and descriptive accounts of deaf people in Scotland and I’d definitely recommend a read of her article if you can find a copy of DHJ in your local library (or when it becomes available to purchase online).

So, please do join us on the 19th, join in the discussion here on the blog, or help us spread the word about the event. And whilst you are booking a ticket for  What Skeletons Are in Your Closet?” you might also want to look at some of the other #codi14 shows, I gather that “I know what you ate last summer” – taking a critical view of store cards and personal data tracks and traces – and the lovely Dr Felicity Mehendale’s “Are we wasting your data” – on finding the right balance between useful health data and patient privacy – are both in the same “Our Privacy” strand.

I’d also recommend you take a look at “The Internet – A Human Right?”, a show relating to the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Spreading the Benefits of Digital Participation Inquiry which I was involved in earlier this year. It will be a tricky topic if discussions during and launching the Inquiry are anything to go by so I recommend coming along and adding your voice to the mix! I’ll be along at this one too!

Related links:

You can also find out a wee bit more about the Statistical Accounts in this video of Helen talking the Accounts and the Online Service:

YouTube Preview Image