Nov 172017
 

Today I am at the Scottish Government for the Digital and Information Literacy Forum 2017.

Introduction from Jenny Foreman, Scottish Government: Co-chair of community of practice with Cleo Jones (who couldn’t be here today). Welcome to the 2017 Digital and Information Literacy Forum!

Scottish Government Digital Strategy – Cat Macaulay, Head of User Research and Service Design, Scottish Government

I am really excited to speak to you today. For me libraries have never just been about books, but about information and bringing people together. At high school our library was split between 3rd and 4th year section and a 5th and 6th year section, and from the moment I got there I was desperate to get into the 5th and 6th year section! It was about place and people and knowledge. My PhD later on was on interaction design and soundscapes, but in the context of the library and seeking information… And that morphed into a project on how journalists yse information at The Scotsman – and the role of the library and the librarian in their clippings library. In Goffman terms it was this backstage space for journalists to rehearse their performances. There was talk of the clippings library shutting down and I argued against that as it was more than just those clippings.

So, that’s the personal bit, but I’ll turn to the more formal bit here… I am looking forward to discussions later, particularly the panel on Fake News. Information is crucial to allowing people to meaningfully, equally and truly participate in democracy, and to be part of designing that. So, the imporatnce of digital literacy is crucial to participation in democracy. And for us in the digital directorate, it is a real priority – for reaching citizens and for librarians and information professionals to support that access to information and participation.

We first set out a digital strategy in 2011, but we have been refreshing our strategy and about putting digital at the heart of what we do. Digital is not about technology, it’s a cultural issue. We moved before from agrarian to industrial society, and we are now in the process of moving from an industrial to a digital society. Aiming to deliver inclusive economic growth, reform public services, tackle inequalities and empower communities, and prepare people for the future workplace. Digital and information literacy are core skills for understanding the world and the future.

So our first theme is the Digital Economy. We need to stimulate innovation and investment, we need to support digital technologies industr, and we need to increase digital maturity of all businesses. Scotland is so dependent on small businesses and SMEs that we need our librarians and information professionals to be able to support that maturity of all businesses.

Our second theme is Data and Innovation. For data we need to increase public trust in holding data securely and using/sharing appropriately. I have a long term medical issue and the time it takes to get appointments set up, to share information between people so geographically close to each other – across the corridor. That lack of trust is core to why we still rely on letters and faxes in these contexts.

In terms of innovation, CivTech brings together the public sector teams and tech start-ups to develeop solutions to real problems, and to grow and expand services. We want to innovate and learn from the wider tech and social media context.

The third theme is Digital Public Services, the potential to simplify and standardise ways of working. Finding common technologies/platforms build and procured once. And design services with citizens to meet their needs. Information literacy skills and critical questioning are at the heart of this. You have to have that literacy to really understand the problems, and to begin to be looking at addressing that, and co-designing.

The fourth theme is Connectivity. Improving superfast broadband, improving coverage in rural areas, increasing the 4G coverage.

The fifth theme is Skills. We need to build a digitally skilled nation. I spent many years in academia – no matter how “digital native” we might assume them, actually we’ve assumed essentially that because someone can drive a car, they can build a car. We ALL need support for finding information, how to judge it and how to use it. We all need to learn and keep on learning. We also need to promote diversity – ensuring we have more disabled people, more BAME people, more women, working in these areas, building these solutions… We need to promote and enhance that, to ensure everyone’s needs are reflected. Friends working in the third sector in Dundee frequently talk about the importance of libraries to their service users, libraries are crucial to supporting people with differing needs.

The sixth theme is Participation. We need to enable everybody to share in the social, economic and democractic opportunities of digital. We need to promote inclusion and participation. That means everyone participating.

And our final theme (seven) is Cyber Security. That is about the global reputation for Scotland as a secure place to work, learn and do business. That’s about security, but it is also about trust and addressing some of those issues I talked about earlier.

So, in conclusion, this is a strategy for Scotland, not just Scottish Government. We want to be a country that uses digital to maximum effect, to enable inclusion, to build the economy, to positively deliver for society. It is a living document and can grow and develop. Collective action is needed to ensure nobody is left behind; we all remain safe, secure and confident about the future. We all need to promote that information and digital literacy.

Q&A
Q1) I have been involved in information literacy in schools – and I know in schools and colleges that there can be real inconsistency about how things are labeled as “information literacy”, “digital literacy”, and “digital skills”. I’m slightly concerned there is only one strand there – that digital skills can be about technology skills, not information literacy.

A1) I echo what you’ve just said. I spent a year in a Life Sciences lab in a Post Doc role studying their practice. We were working on a microscopy tool… And I found that the meaning of the word “image” was understood differently by Life Scientists and Data Scientists. Common terminology really matter. And indeed semantic technologies enable us to do that in new ways. But it absolutely matters.

Q2, Kate SVCO) We are using a digital skills framework developed that I think is also really useful to frame that.

A2) I’m familiar with that work and I’d agree. Stripping away complexity and agree on common terms and approaches is a core focus of what we are doing.

Q3) We have been developing a digital skills framework for colleges and for the student lifecycle. I have been looking at the comprehensive strategy for schools and colleges by Welsh Government’s… Are there plans for similar?

A3) I know there has been work taking place but I will take that back.

Q4) I thought that the “Participation” element was most interesting here. Information literacy is key to enabling participation… Say what you like about Donald Trump but he has made the role of information literacy in democracy very vital and visible. Scotland is in a good place to support information literacy – there are many in this room have done great work in this area – but it needs resourcing to support it.

A4) My team focuses on how we design digital tools and technologies so that people can use them. And we absolutely need to look at how best to support those that struggle. But is not just about how you access digital services… How we describe these things, how we reach out to people… I remember being on a bus in Dundee and hearing a guy saying “Oh, I’ve got a Fairer Scotland Consultation leaflet… What the fuck is a Consultation?!”. I’ve had some awkward conversations with my teenage boys about Donald Trump, and Fake News. I will follow up with you afterwards – I really welcome a conversation about these issues. At the moment we are designing a whole new Social Security framework right now – not a thing most other governments have had to do – and so we really have to understand how to make that clear.

Health Literacy Action Plan Update – Blythe Robertson, Policy Lead, Scottish Government

The skills, confidence, knowledge and understanding to interact with the health system and maintain good health is essentially what we mean in Health Literacy. Right now there is a huge focus in health policy on “the conversation”. And that’s the conversation between policy makers and practitioners and people receiving health care. There is a model of health and care delivery called “More than Medicine” – this is a memorable house-shaped visual model that brings together organisational processes and arrangements, health and care professionals, etc. At the moment though the patient has to do at least as much as the medical professional, with hoops to jump through – as Cat talked about before…

Instructions can seem easy… But then we can all end up at different places [not blogged: an exercise with paper, folding, eyes closed].

Back when computers first emerged you needed to understand a lot more about computer languages, you had to understand how it worked… It was complex, there was training… What happened? Well rather than trianing everyone, instead they simplified access – with the emergence of the iPad for instance.

So, this is why we’ve been trying to address this with Making it easy: A health literacy action plan for Scotland. And there’s a lot of text… But really we have two images to sum this up… The first (a woman looking at a hurdle… We’ve tried to address this by creating a nation of hurdlers… But we think we should really let people walk through/remove those hurdles.

Some statistics for you: 43% of English working age adults will struggle to understand instructions to calculate a childhood paracetamol dose. There is lot bound up here… Childhood health literacy is important. Another stat/fact: Half of what a person is told is forgotten. And half of what is remembered is incorrect. [sources: several cited health studies which will be on Blythe’s slides]. At the heart of issue is that a lot of information is transmitted… then you ask “Do you understand?” and of course you say “yes”, even if you don’t. So, instead, you need to check information… That can be as simple as rephrasing a question to e.g. “Just so I can check I’ve explained things clearly can you tell me what you’ve understood” or similar.

We did a demonstrator programme in NHS Tayside to test these ideas… So, for instance, if you wander into Nine Wells hospital you’ll see a huge board of signs… That board is blue and white text… There is one section with yellow and blue… That’s for Visual Impairment, because that contrast is easier to see. We have the solution but… People with visual impairment come to other areas of the hospitals. So why isn’t that sign all done in the same way with high contrast lettering on the whole board? We have the solution, why don’t we just provide it across the board. That same hospital send out some appointment letters asking them to comment and tell them about any confusion… And there were many points that that happened. For instance if you need the children’s ward… You need to know to follow signs for Paediatrics first… There isn’t a consistency of naming… Or a consistency of colour. So, for instance Maternity Triage is a sign in red… It looks scary! Colours have different implications, so that really matters. You will be anxious being in hospital – consistency can help reduce the levels of anxiety.

Letters are also confusing… They are long. Some instructions are in bold, some are small notes at the bottom… That can mean a clinic running 20 minutes late… Changing what you emphasise has a huge impact. It allows the health care provision to run more smoothly and effectively. We workshopped an example/mock up letter with the Scottish Conference for Learning Disability. They came up with clear information and images. So very clear to see what is happening, includes an image of where the appointment is taking place to help you navigate – with full address. The time is presented in several forms, including a clock face. And always offer support, even if some will not need it. Always offer that… Filling in forms and applications is scary… For all of us… There has to be contact information so hat people can tell you things – when you look at people not turning up to appointments was that they didn’t know how to contact people, they didn’t know that they could change the appointment, that they wanted to contact them but they didn’t want to make a phone call, or even that because they were already in for treatment they didn’t think they needed to explain why they weren’t at their outpatients appointment.

So, a new action plan is coming called “Making it easier”. That is about sharing the learning from Making it Easy across Scotland. To embed ways to improve health literacy in policy and practice. To develop more health literacy responsive organisations and communities. Design supports and services to better meet people’s health literacy levels. And that latter point is about making services more responsive and easier to understand – frankly I’d like to put myself out of a job!

So, one area I’d like to focus on is the idea of “Connectors” – the role of the human information intermediary, is fundamental. So how can we take those competancies and roll them out across the system… In ways that people can understand… Put people in contact with digital skills, the digital skills framework… Promoting understanding. We need to signpost with confidence, and to have a sense that people can use this kind of information. Looking at librarians as a key source of information that can helps support people’s confidence.

In terms of implementation… We have at (1) a product design and at (3) “Scaled up”. But what is at step (2)? How do we get there… Instead we need to think about the process differently… Starting with (1) a need identified, then a planned structured resources and co-developed for success, and then having it embedded in the system… I want to take the barriers out of the system.

And I’m going to finish with a poem: This is bad enough by Elspeth Murray, from the launch of the cancer information reference group of the South East Scotland Cancer Network 20 January 2016.

Q&A

Q1) I’m from Strathclyde, but also work with older people and was wondering how much health literacy is part of the health and social care integration?

A1) I think ultimately that integration will help, but with all that change it is challenging to signpost things clearly… But there is good commitment to work with that…

Q2) You talked about improving the information – the letters for instance – but is there work more fundamentally questioning the kind of information that goes out? It seems archaic and expensive that appointments are done through posted physical letters… Surely better to have an appointment that is in your diary, that includes the travel information/map….

A2) Absolutely, NHS Lothian are leading on some trial work in this area right now, but we are also improving those letters in the interim… It’s really about doing both things…

Cat) And we are certainly looking at online bookings, and making these processes easier, but we are working with older systems sometimes, and issues of trust as well, so there are multiple aspects to addressing that.

Q3) Some of those issues would be practically identical for educators… Teachers or lecturers, etc…

A3) I think that’s right. Research from University of Maastrict mapped out the 21 areas across Public and Private sectors in which these skills should be embedded… And i Think those three areas of work can be applied across those area… Have to look at design around benefits, we have some hooks around there.

Cat) Absolutely part of that design of future benefits for Scotland.

Panel Discussion – Fake News (Gillian Daly – chair; Lindsay McKrell (Strathclyde); Sean McNamara (CILIPS); Allan Lindsay (Young Scott))

Sean: CILIPS supports the library and information science community in Scotland, including professional development, skills and ethics. Some years ago “information literacy” would have been more about university libraries, but now it’s across the board an issue for librarians. Librarians are less gatekeepers of information, and more about enabling those using their libraries to seek and understand information online, how to understand information and fake news, how to understand the information they find even if they are digitally confident in using the tools they use to access that information.

Allan: Young Scot is Scotland’s natural charity for information literacy. We work closely with young people to help them grow and develop, and influence us in this area. Fake News crops up a lot. A big piece of work we are involved in is he 5 Rights projects, which is about rights online – that isn’t just for young people but significantly about their needs. Digital literacy is key to that. We’ve also worked on digital skills – recently with the Carnegie Trust and the Prince’s Trust. As an information agency we reach people through our website – and we ensure young people are part of creating content in that space.

Lindsay: I’d like to talk about digital literacy as well as Fake News. Digital literacy is absolutely fundamental to supporting citizens to be all that they can be. Accessing information without censorship, and a range of news, research, citizenship test information… That is all part of public libraries service delivery and we need to promote that more. Public libraries are navigators for a huge and growing information resource, and we work with partners in government, in third sector, etc. And our libraries reach outside of working hours and remote areas (e.g. through mobile levels) so we have unique value for policy makers through that range and volume of users. Libraries are also well placed to get people online – still around 20% of people are not online – and public libraries have the skills to support people to go online, gain access, and develop their digital literacy as well. We can help people find various source of information, select between them, to interpret information and compare information. We can grow that with our reading strategies, through study skills and after school sessions. Some libraries have run sessions on fake news, but I’m not sure how well supported thse have been. We are used to displaying interesting books… But why aren’t our information resources similarly well designed and displayed – local filterable resources for instance… Maybe we should do some of this at national level,  not just at local council level. SLIC have done some great work, what we need now is digital information with a twist that will really empower citizens and their information literacy…

Gillian Daly: I was wondering, Allan, how do you tackle the idea of the “Digital Native”? This idea of inate skills of young people?

Allan: It comes up all the time… This presumption that young people can just do things digitally… Some are great but many young people don’t have all the skills they need… There are misconceptions from young people themselves about what they can and cannot do… They are on social media, they have phones… But do they have an understanding of how to behave, how to respond when things go wrong… There is a lot of responsibility for all of us that just because young people use these things, doesn’t mean they understand them all. Those misconceptions apply across the board though… Adults don’t always have this stuff sorted either. It’s dangerous to make assumptions about this stuff… Much as it’s dangerous to assume that those from lower income communities are less well informed about these things, which is often not correct at all.

Lindsay: Yes, we find the same… For instance… Young people are confident with social media… But can’t attach a document for instance…

Comment from HE org: Actually there can be learning in both directions at University. Young people come in with a totally different landscape to us… We have to have a dialogue of learning there…

Gillian: Dialogue is absolutely important… How is that being tackled here…

Sean: With school libraries, those skills to transfer from schools to higher education is crucial… But schools are lacking librarians and information professionals and that can be a barrier there… Not just about Fake News but wider misinformation about social media… It’s important that young people have those skills…

Comment: Fake News doesn’t happen by accident… It’s important to engage with IFLA guide to spot that… But I think we have to get into the territory of why Fake News is there, why it’s being done… And the idea of Media and Information Literacy – UNESCO brought those ideas together a few years ago. There is a vibrant GATNO organisation, which would benefit from more Scottish participation.

Allan: We run a Digital Modern Apprenticeship at Young Scot. We do work with apprentices to build skills, discernment and resiliance to understand issues of fake news and origins. A few weeks back a young person commented on something they had seen on social media… At school for me “Media Studies” was derided… I think we are eating our words now… If people had those skills and were equipped to understand that media and creation process. The wider media issues… Fake News isn’t in some box… We have to be able to discern mainstream news as well as “Fake News”. Those skills, confidence, and ability to ask difficult questions to navigate through these issues…

Gillian: I read a very interesting piece by a journalist recently, looking to analyse Fake News and the background to it, the context of media working practice, etc. Really interesting.

Cat: To follow that up… I distinctly remember in 1994 in The Scotsman about the number of times journalists requested clippings that were actually wrong… Once something goes wrong and gets published, it stay there and repopulates… Misquotations happen that way for instance. That sophisticated understanding isn’t about right and wrong and more about the truthfulness of information. In some ways Trump is doing a favour here, and my kids are much more attuned to accuracy now…

Gillian: I think one of the scariest things is that once the myth is out, it is so hard to dispel or get rid of that…

Comment: Glasgow University has a Glasgow Media Group and they’ve looked at these things for years… One thing they published years ago, “Bad News”, looked at for instance the misrepresentation of Trade Unionists in news sources, for a multitude of complex reasons.

Sean: At a recent event we ran we had The Ferret present – those fact checking organisations, those journalists in those roles to reflect that.

Jenny: The Ferret has fact checking on a wonderful scale to reflect the level of fakeness…

Gillian: Maybe we need to recruit some journalists to the Digital and Information Literacy Forum.

And on that, with many nods of agreement, we are breaking for lunch.

Information Literacy & Syrian New Scots – Dr Konstantina Martzoukou, Postgraduate Programme Leader, Robert Gordon University

This project was supposed to be a scoping study of Syrian New Scots – Syrian Refugees coming to Scotland. The background to this is the Syrian Civil War since 2011, which has led to an enormous amount of refugees, mainly in the near region. Most research has been on Asylum seekers in the camps near Syria on basic survival and human rights, on their needs and how to respond to them. The aim of this project was different: a scoping study to examine the information related experiences and information literacy practices of Syrian new Scots during their resettlement and integration. So this is quite different as the context is relatively settled, and is about that resettlement process.

In September 2015 the Prime Minister announced an expansion of the refugee programme to take up to 2000 Syrian Refugees. And the first place Syrian Refugees came was Glasgow. Now, there have been a lot of changes since then but there is the intent to resettle 2000 Syrian Refugees by 2020.

Primary research was done with 3 refugee resettement officers, as well as focus groupd with Syrian new Scots. These groups were in both urban (1 group) and rural (2 groups), and included 38 people from across Syria, having been in camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq and Jordan. I didn’t know what to expect – these people had seen the worst horrors of war. In reality the focus groups were sometimes loud and animated, sometimes quiet and sad. And in this group they came from a huge range of professional backgrounds, though most of the women did not work.

So, our work looked at included English language and community integration; Information provisions, cultural differences and previous experiences; Financial security. Today I want to focus on libraries and the role of libraries.

One of the most crucial aspects were language barriers and sociocultural. The refugees were given ESOL classes; a welcome pack with key information for finding the resources in their neighbourhood; a 24 hour Arabic hotline, set up with the mosque for emergencies so that families could receive help outside core working hours; In-house translation services. But one of the challenges across the support given was literacy as a whole – not all of the refugees could read and write in any language. But it was also about understanding interchangable words – “doctor” has a meaning but “GP” not so much. There was also a perception that learning English would be really difficult.

The refugees wanted to know how to learn English, and they were anxious about that. The support officers had different approaches. The ESOL classes were there, but some officers were really proactive, taking refugees to the train station, having mock job interviews… That was really really valuable. But some groups, even a year after arriving, weren’t speaking English. But sometimes that was about the families… Some were confident and really well travelled, but some had lived in one place, and not travelled, and found communication and networking much more difficult. So the language learning was very tied to socio-cultural background.

Many of these families have complex health needs – they were hand picked to come here often because of this – and that causes it’s own challenge. Some had no experience of recycling and of how to correctly put their bins out. Someone felt the open plan kitchen was difficult – that her child was burned because of it. One reported a neighbour telling him not to play with his son outside – the boundaries of danger and expectations of childhood was rather different from their new neighbours. Doctors appointments were confusing. Making bus change was expensive – buying something unneeded because the buses don’t give change. Many wanted family reunion information and support.

Technology is used, but technology is not the key source of information. They used mobile phones with pasy as you go sim cards. They used WhatsApp and were sharing quite traumatic memories and news in this way.

The library is there… But actually they are perceived as being for books and many refugees don’t go there. Community classes, meals etc. may be better. Computer classes can be useful, especially when refugees can participate in a meaningful way. And there are real challenges here – computer classes in the library didn’t work for this group as there were too few computers and the internet connections were too small.

For me the key thing is that we need to position the library as a key place for communication, learning and support for the families.

Q&A
Q1) Alamal(?) is running events in our libraries – we have an event with films and telling their story – and we have had huge interest in that.

A1) We really want to show case that to the wider community. There are some great examples from England, from other EU countries, but we want more Scottish examples so do please get in touch.

A User Study Investigating the Information Literacy of Scotland Teenagers – David Brazier, Research Assistant, Northumbria University

This is an ILG funded project looking at the Information Literacy of Scottish Teenagers. I’ll introduce the concepts, going through some related works, and then some of the methodology we’d like to implement. So, information literacy is about the ability to seek, understand, assess information. They are crucial to integrating with society as a whole, and is crucial to our modern society. We need to empower students to learn, so they can integrate themselves into modern society.

As the panel talked about earlier, the idea of the “Digital Native” is misleading. Young people have a poor understanding of their information needs. That leads to young people taking the top ranked documents/sites or cite that. And that needs to be counteracted early in their learning so that it doesn’t carry through and right into University (Rowlands 2008). In recent research (Brazier and Harvey 2017) ESOL post graduates were unable to perceive their performance correctly, often judging high performance when the opposite was true. In the “Not Without Me” report this inability to assess their own skills was also highlighted in the wider range of young people. These groups are highly educated, so they should be able to be more reflective on their own practice.

So, in our research, we are using a Mixed Methods approach to do a quantitative analysis of secondary school-aged children’s information gathering behaviour. Triangulated with qualitative assessments of the participants own assessment. It is around a simulated work task.

The search system is based on the TREC AQUAINT collection – large set of over a million documents from three large news agencies collected between 196 and 2000. Pre-defined search topics associated with the project. The initial 15 topics were reduced down to 4 topics selected by school representatives (librarian and 2 teachers from Gracemount High School in Edinburgh).

So, we start with a pre-task questionnaire. The search task is “Tropical strms: What tropical storms (hurricanes and typhoons) have caused significant property damage and loss of life?”. They can then search through a Google-style search of the documents. They click on those sources that seem relevant. And then they get a questionnaire to reflect on what they’ve done.

A pilot was conducted in December 2016. Tasks were randomly selected, using a Latin Square design to ensure no 2 students had the same two tasks. In total 19 students were involved, from S3 (13-14 years old). The study was on PCs rather than handheld devices. No other demographic data was collected. The school representative did provide a (new) unique id to match the task and the questionnaires. The id was known only to the school rep. No further personal data was taken.

We could then look at the queries each student submitted, and were able to ask why they did that and why they selected the article they did.

This is a work in progress… We are interested in how they engage with the study as a whole. We have used the findings of the pilot to adapt the study design and interface, including a task description relocated to a more prominent location; and an instruction sheet (physical) i.e. browser page, interpret interface.

The main study takes place next week, with 100 students (none of whom were part of the pilot). From this we want to get recommendations and guidelines for IL teaching; to inform professional practice; feedback to participants (pamphlet) for reflective purposes; academic publications in the field of information literacy, information retrieval, education and pedagogy.

Q&A

Q1) Why such a controlled space was selected – presumably students would normally use other places to search, to ask friends etc. So I wondered why you selected such a controlled space like this.

A1) In the previous study we allowed students to look anywhere on the web… But it is much harder to judge relevance in that… These have already been judged for relevance… It’s a wide arc… It adds complexity to the whole process… And someone has to transcribe and mark that footage… For my study there were 29 students and it took 7 months. For 100 students that’s just too large. Test collection is also standardised and replicatable.

The Digital Footprint MOOC – Nicola Osborne, Digital Education Manager, EDINA

This was me… No notes but slides to follow. 

Wikipedia & Information Literacy: the importance of reliable sources – Sara Thomas, Wikimedian in Residence, SLIC

Hi, I’m Wikimedian in Residence at SLIC. The role of a Wikimedian in residence is to work with cultural heritage organisations and Wikimedia and bring the two together. In this role we are working with three local libraries right now but we will be expanding it to a wider Scottish context.

I am passionate about open knowledge and open data. Open data and open knowledge leads to better society, it allows us to make better decisions – I am sick of us being asked to make big decisions about big issues without appropriate information.

Now, I want to introduce you to Bassel Khartabil who was an open source software developer and advocate for open data and knowledge. Knowledge is power… He was detained by the Syrian government and, before he was killed by the government, he wrote very movingly about the impact of open knowledge, that it is so important and a matter of life and death in some contexts.

I want to talk about production of knowledge and what that can teach us about information literacy. Jim Groom at #OER16, said “Wikipedia is the single greatest Open Education Resource the world has ever known”, and he’s not wrong. Wikipedia is more accurate than you may think. There are groups who just edit and work on improving the quality of articles. Women in Red is a group dedicated to having more women’s biographies on Wikipedia. 17% of biographies are women now, that’s 2% more than was the case 2 years ago – and they also work on bringing those biographies up to “featured article” quality.

Quality and ratings scale. Vandalism is picked up quickly – by bots and by people. Wikipedia is neutral in it’s point of view. Nature, in 2005, found that Wikipedia was nearly as accurate as Britannica (2.92 errors per article compared to 3.86 on Wikipedia). The Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2010, found Wikipedia as accurate as Physician Data Query (a premium database). The medical information there is huge – 80% of medical students will use it; ~50% of GPs will use it as a first point in their search. It is the most popular health resource on the web.

Wikipedia is generally the seventh most popular site on the internet. And we have a basic Notability guidance that means an article must be notable, there must be a reason for it being there. The information but be verifiable – the information must come from credible checkable verifiable sources. And we have to use reliable third party publiches sources with a reputation for fact checking and accuracy.

On the subject of media literacy… The Daily Mail didn’t like that Wikipedia doesn’t treat it as reliable – there is no ban but you will get a trigger to ask you if that’s the right source. Brilliantly, they got loads of errors in their own outraged article.

Manipulation is really obvious… The community spots when people are trying to whitewash their own biographies, to promote their company, to try to remove claims of misconduct. And Wikipedia gets it – there is an article on “Wikipedia is not a credible source” – we get it. We are a starting point, a jumping off and discovery point. And in fact we have Wiki Ed (https://wikiedu.org/) which works to combat fake news, to support information literacy. If you want to teach information literacy, wiki can help you. We have a Wiki Education Dashboard – mainly in the US, but lots in the UK. Our guides include: Instructor Basics and Case Studies for using Wikipedia in teaching. Some lovely projects here…

I did some work with Chris Harlow, at University of Edinburgh, a few years ago… He found a medical term that wasn’t in Wikipedia, gave them guidance on how to create a Wikipedia page, taught them how to use a medical database, and sent them away to write a section in simple language… Then we show them how to edit an article. It’s really really easy to edit an article now… The students write their section, put it in… And write a page, it goes live… Five minutes later it’s on the front page of Google. It is gratifying to find work so immediately valued and used and useful.

Translation studies at UoE also use Wikipedia in the classroom. Queen Mary’s University of London use Wikipedia in their film classes. They trialled it, it’s now a compulsory part of the programme. It’s a way to teach digital skills, information synthetis. Imperial College London are working to engage undergraduate students involved in synthesising and sharing university. Greg Singh in Sterling University who uses WikiBooks… Which is a project that seeks to create collaboratively produced text books… To produce a text book, a chapter, on what they’ve been doing… It’s about developing collaboration, track that, instill that within a student…

So I have a vide here of Aine Kavanagh from Reproductive Biology at the University of Edinburgh, who authored an article that has been read 20,000 times in the last year. Aine was looking for some extra work, and she wanted to develop her skills. She asked Chris (Harlow) what she could do… She wrote about one of the most common sorts of cancers which there was very little information about. To be able to see the value of that, the impact of that work, that this has been hugely gratifying to do.

To conclude: open knowledge is important, open knowledge gives us a better society, not just being able to find this information but also be able to produce that knowledge is hugely powerful. And Wikipedia is more accurate than you think!

Closing

Gillian: I just want to thank all of our speakers, to thank all of you for coming, and to thank the Scottish Government for hosting us.

Apr 092017
 
Digital Footprint MOOC logo

Last Monday we launched the new Digital Footprint MOOC, a free three week online course (running on Coursera) led by myself and Louise Connelly (Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies). The course builds upon our work on the Managing Your Digital Footprints research project, campaign and also draws on some of the work I’ve been doing in piloting a Digital Footprint training and consultancy service at EDINA.

It has been a really interesting and demanding process working with the University of Edinburgh MOOCs team to create this course, particularly focusing in on the most essential parts of our Digital Footprints work. Our intention for this MOOC is to provide an introduction to the issues and equip participants with appropriate skills and understanding to manage their own digital tracks and traces. Most of all we wanted to provide a space for reflection and for participants to think deeply about what their digital footprint means to them and how they want to manage it in the future. We don’t have a prescriptive stance – Louise and I manage our own digital footprints quite differently but both of us see huge value in public online presence – but we do think that understanding and considering your online presence and the meaning of the traces you leave behind online is an essential modern life skill and want to contribute something to that wider understanding and debate.

Since MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – are courses which people tend to take in their own time for pleasure and interest but also as part of their CPD and personal development so that fit of format and digital footprint skills and reflection seemed like a good fit, along with some of the theory and emerging trends from our research work. We also think the course has potential to be used in supporting digital literacy programmes and activities, and those looking for skills for transitioning into and out of education, and in developing their careers. On that note we were delighted to see the All Aboard: Digital Skills in Higher Education‘s 2017 event programme running last week – their website, created to support digital skills in Ireland, is a great complementary resource to our course which we made a (small) contribution to during their development phase.

Over the last week it has been wonderful to see our participants engaging with the Digital Footprint course, sharing their reflections on the #DFMOOC hashtag, and really starting to think about what their digital footprint means for them. From the discussion so far the concept of the “Uncontainable Self” (Barbour & Marshall 2012) seems to have struck a particular chord for many of our participants, which is perhaps not surprising given the degree to which our digital tracks and traces can propagate through others posts, tags, listings, etc. whether or not we are sharing content ourselves.

When we were building the MOOC we were keen to reflect the fact that our own work sits in a context of, and benefits from, the work of many researchers and social media experts both in our own local context and the wider field. We were delighted to be able to include guest contributors including Karen Gregory (University of Edinburgh), Rachel Buchanan (University of Newcastle, Australia), Lilian Edwards (Strathclyde University), Ben Marder (University of Edinburgh), and David Brake (author of Sharing Our Lives Online).

The usefulness of making these connections across disciplines and across the wider debate on digital identity seems particularly pertinent given recent developments that emphasise how fast things are changing around us, and how our own agency in managing our digital footprints and digital identities is being challenged by policy, commercial and social factors. Those notable recent developments include…

On 28th March the US Government voted to remove restrictions on the sale of data by ISPs (Internet Service Providers), potentially allowing them to sell an incredibly rich picture of browsing, search, behavioural and intimate details without further consultation (you can read the full measure here). This came as the UK Government mooted the banning of encryption technologies – essential for private messaging, financial transactions, access management and authentication – claiming that terror threats justified such a wide ranging loss of privacy. Whilst that does not seem likely to come to fruition given the economic and practical implications of such a measure, we do already have the  Investigatory Powers Act 2016 in place which requires web and communications companies to retain full records of activity for 12 months and allows police and security forces significant powers to access and collect personal communications data and records in bulk.

On 30th March, a group of influential privacy researchers, including danah boyd and Kate Crawford, published Ten simple rules for responsible big data research in PLoSOne. The article/manifesto is an accessible and well argued guide to the core issues in responsible big data research. In many ways it summarises the core issues highlight in the excellent (but much more academic and comprehensive) AoIR ethics guidance. The PLoSOne article is notably directed to academia as well as industry and government, since big data research is at least as much a part of commercial activity (particularly social media and data driven start ups, see e.g. Uber’s recent attention for profiling and manipulating drivers) as traditional academic research contexts. Whilst academic research does usually build ethical approval processes (albeit conducted with varying degrees of digital savvy) and peer review into research processes, industry is not typically structured in that way and often not held to the same standards particularly around privacy and boundary crossing (see, e.g. Michael Zimmers work on both academic and commercial use of Facebook data).

The Ten simple rules… are also particularly timely given the current discussion of Cambridge Analytica and it’s role in the 2016 US Election, and the UK’s EU Referendum. An article published in Das Magazin in December 2016, and a subsequent English language version published on Vice’s Motherboard have been widely circulated on social media over recent weeks. These articles suggest that the company’s large scale psychometrics analysis of social media data essentially handed victory to Trump and the Leave/Brexit campaigns, which naturally raises personal data and privacy concerns as well as influence, regulation and governance issues. There remains some skepticism about just how influential this work was… I tend to agree with Aleks Krotoski (social psychologist and host of BBC’s The Digital Human) who – speaking with Pat Kane at an Edinburgh Science Festival event last night on digital identity and authenticity – commented that she thought the Cambridge Analytica work was probably a mix of significant hyperbole but also some genuine impact.

These developments focus attention on access, use and reuse of personal data and personal tracks and traces, and that is something we we hope our MOOC participants will have opportunity to pause and reflect on as they think about what they leave behind online when they share, tag, delete, and particularly when they consider terms and conditions, privacy settings and how they curate what is available and to whom.

So, the Digital Footprint course is launched and open to anyone in the world to join for free (although Coursera will also prompt you with the – very optional – possibility of paying a small fee for a certificate), and we are just starting to get a sense of how our videos and content are being received. We’ll be sharing more highlights from the course, retweeting interesting comments, etc. throughout this run (which began on Monday 3rd April), but also future runs since this is an “on demand” MOOC which will run regularly every four weeks. If you do decide to take a look then I would love to hear your comments and feedback – join the conversation on #DFMOOC, or leave a comment here or email me.

And if you’d like to find out more about our digital footprint consultancy, or would be interested in working with the digital footprints research team on future work, do also get in touch. Although I’ve been working in this space for a while this whole area of privacy, identity and our social spaces seems to continue to grow in interest, relevance, and importance in our day to day (digital) lives.

 

Oct 192015
 
YourDigitalEdge-promo

I am delighted to see that my University of Edinburgh colleagues in Learning, Teaching and Web Services, working in collaboration with the Careers Service and the Institute for Academic Development, are piloting a new “Edinburgh Award (Digital Ambassadors“, to encourage and recognise the digital best practices of students at the University.

The Edinburgh Award, which recognises student excellence in activities beyond the core curriculum, is part of a University-wide employability initiative. The Awards were piloted back in 2011/12 and are now a mainstream concept at the University, with students able to gain awards for their contribution across a wide variety of activities, from volunteering and student societies through to peer support and mentoring. The new Digital Ambassadors award being piloted this winter will specifically be addressing excellence in digital literacy and practice through evidence of hands on contribution and activities – across areas such as social media, coding, etc., participation in personal development sessions and short form reflective writing on their experience.

I am really excited to see how this pilot goes since the Award builds upon, and works with, Managing Your Digital Footprint (now mainstream across the University). It also addresses a real growing need for broader graduate skills around digital literacy, and the need to evidence those skills properly. As someone who has been involved in recruiting staff I know that it can be complex assessing what a candidate has taken from, e.g. running their own blog: for some people it may be a matter of developing content strategy, monitoring progress towards appropriate goals, developing their writing style, etc., but for others it may be a very basic understanding of how to edit and share a post. The Digital Ambassador Edinburgh Award requires students to present a portfolio evidencing “the student’s contribution to online and technology excellence” which has taken place during the Award process which will, I think, prove to be an invaluable asset to the students themselves when it comes to presenting their skills and experience to employers.

You can find out much more about the award, the work involved, and how contribution is assessed over on the Your Digital Edge: Edinburgh Award page. Current University of Edinburgh students at all levels, whether online distance learners or campus-based for their courses, are invited to register their interest by 3rd November 2015.

The Edinburgh Award is part of the “Your Digital Edge” offering to students: an online hub and community supporting opportunities for, and participation in, digital literacy activities and for academic outcomes, employability and lifelong learning. Lots more on this initiative on the Your Digital Edge website, or you can follow @DigitalEduni on Twitter or Facebook.