Oct 192015

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.


Jun 302015

Today I am at the Connect More with Jisc in England (Leeds) event being held at Shine, a social enterprise in a big old school building – a lovely venue but very warm! Unfortunately it is also a bit patchy for wifi, hence this live blog being a wee bit late in the day.

Introduction from head of region – Will Allen, head of Jisc North

Thanks for coming to Leeds on this sunny day. This is the third Jisc Connect More event – there have been two, one in Scotland, one in NI. And there will be three more – one each in Bristol, London and Cardiff.

There are various parallel sessions today, do go along to those.

Feedback is central to Jisc North, we want your comments, engage with me, engage with my colleagues… I trust that you all share in Jisc’s vision “to make the uk the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world” – I suspect if you don’t share that vision you are in the wrong place!

I believe that Jisc makes a considerable difference to the education difference, but what matters is that we strive to make the best difference we can. But we have to do that in a way that is realistic in the current climate. And we want to engage with all of you. And I’d like all of you to think about what might your institution’s provision look like in 2020. I’ve done a lot of work in scenario planning and found that looking to the future, disrupts the present, so I urge you to look to the future!

Changing tack… What links these words? Goat; strut; kit; nurse; palm; north… They are part of a lexical set which allows socio-linguists to understand what part of England you are from…Try those out with the person next to you… I’m sure we have a real range in the room! But there is some method to this madness… I was a researcher and I worked in linguistics and language… I was an undergrad in York, a post grad in Newcastle University… And I did a lot of talking with 7-13 year olds just as they formed their identity… And that connection between language and society, language and identity, that work was underpinned by technology. In those days we had to store our sound recordings on DAT tape as we didn’t have the space to store them on servers.

And I then worked on a project using the Tyneside Linguistic Survey – a transformative and massively complicated transcription system. They used technology to try to analyse these – tying the transcription to a code for a punchcard computer. I was part of a project that digitised the old reel-to-reel tapes and made them available for the research community to use in their work… Today where socio-linguistics is, is all about corpora – massive datasets of recorded languages that can be processed with various tools and technologies, using massive machines, massive corpuses etc. There are lots of examples… But I wanted to mention one that isn’t quite linguistics, but is about bird songs, called Xenocanto, which is crowdsourcing those bird songs, then analysing them with computers.

Just to finish off on my story… The thing that stopped me being a researcher was that I had this passion for research, and society and technology… But it wasn’t all connected up. I didn’t want to be  a lonely researcher, I wanted to connect. And making connections is what today is all about. I truly thing we live in a networked era, and traditional organisations is being changed by the network effect. A guy called Harold Jardi is the person to look up about that, about the power of people and networks…

So, quickly, I just want to say more about what Jisc does… We have Network and Technology – years before broadband we had an undisputed high speed network. Through Digital Resources, Through Advice and Engagement, and through Research and Development. And we shape around your priorities. We are a more joined up organisation. I hope that we are trusted to give impartial advice… And we aim to work with you to be as effective as we can.

So here you can see the regions here. I am head of Jisc North, one of six regional teams. Across those teams you now have a number of account managers and various engagement officers. You now have one customer contact point, we are much more joined up…

So, Jisc North, we are about championing th voice of the customer, to deliver a fully managed relationship with Jisc. We have account managers, and we have a regional awareness, to understand the North of England and reflect that back to Jisc. And to be part of Community engagement.

I just want to touch on community engagement. Angela Harvey is our community engagement manager and she sis leading that work through events, networks, etc.

Here are the various account managers in the North – all competing in their image for the biggest smile! You’ll meet them today so do say hello.

Our venue today, Shine (a social enterprise) used to be a middle school, which means we have some interesting room names, like the headmasters room!

So, we have our first parallel sessions starting now…

Session two: connectivity: New digital learning content for the skills sector – Presenters: Ruth Hansford (Jisc), Roger Clegg (Oldham College), Belinda Turner (Stubbing Court Training) and Emily Armstrong (Hull College)

We will talk about some of the cross cutting employability themes across these projects.

So, a bit about the project, which was Jisc Interactive Learning Resources for Skills project (#ilrforskills), which was a project commissioning 22 training providers to create open educational resources for a range of vocational areas. This was partly about transferring experience from FE to Skills. Partly issues around books – not a big feature of Skills sector – and also Shibboleth access not really used there so not resources requiring that. And we asked the sector, who were keen to focus on resources that they create within the skills sector and the sharing of those.

So we commissioned these 22 projects, and these finished around the end of April. You can find all of the content that was commissioned, via https://ilrs.jiscinvolve.org/wp/, or in Jorum, the national repository for open education resources, which is being pensioned off about this time next year – but the content, or the good content, will be ported over to whatever platform that replaces Jorum, which they are working hard to put in place at the moment. So, if you do want to create content, inspired by this work, you can put it in Jorum – this massive bit of free storage!

Of those 22 projects a disproportionate quantity were in the North of England – there were none in Scotland or Wales, one in London, and a few in south east, but many in the north.

Belinda: I will be talking about horse training, but first… How many of you already do online learning? (about 1/3rd room), How many want to have online learning? (about 2/3rds). How many of you have to have online learning soon? (a few)

We wanted to create world class training available anywhere, anytime… We developed the online diploma, but we didn’t have anything for english, maths or grooming  and realised the costs of getting that online were high, but then the Jisc project came along. We knew we needed everything to be easy, usable, 3 clicks or fewer, all clearly tied to Diploma practice test, and to the portfolio.

Watching an introductory video on mathematics and horses – a rider talking about heights of jumps etc.

So, if you are an apprentice with us, or an employer, these are all world class people who have done apprenticeships with us.

What we learned in this process was planning. Making sure we had the top people who were engaging and would appeal to your students, and be authoritative. And it needs to engaging to teach. Always takes longer than it should…. Everything has to be quality assured, checked, proof read… We also did some filming in Spain, because it is sunny and attractive, and world class standard – as filmed at top level show. Rather than filming in Janary, in the rain!

Ruth: Because there were so many projects commissioned, we had several mentors – Elizabetta, David Roe, Juliette Green, and Juliet MacKenzie – who travelled the countries far and wide. We also had experts in intellectual property from Jisc Legal, and also a techie team to support the filming etc. That was part of the project set up…. But I think the projects

Julie: My project was on bricklaying in Oldham in about three foot of snow – looks a bit different! Our content is quite yellow… with background of their own workshops. They asked for that. That’s what they wanted. And bear in mind we work with Level 1 learners. We had them along at 9.30 in the morning to watch what was going on… We got the media studies students in to film… But planning was rather out of the window as various tutors moved job, were off sick… It was a bit like an action research for us – we hadn’t created content outside of Moodle before.

We used Articulate story here, which was a steep learning curve but we got there… We delivered the content on time, had feedback from students… Unlike powerpoints, which they usually get, these are interactive. Not all of our apprentices are full time, many are in only part time. And we also had common areas here with other projects – maths, employability skills. We originally aimed to do a few, but we expanded it on the request of the tutors…

The content is assessed as you go through it… We tend to use Moodle as repository of materials… But we are moving to more of this sort of content. The college is keen to do more of this – converting work books etc. And we also had to put lots of links in to health and safety, to government websites, etc. for when they are working online.

Ruth: That project cost £5k, no idea what cost would be on the open market. For Belinda we gave £30k, but they also subsidised by half as much again… Do not underestimate the costs of creating this stuff.

Ruth: Emily will talk about Hull projects, they had two – one was construction – we had a lot of construction applications for the projects – and one for hairdressing.

Emily, Hull – Our construction one is an app which I have here… For hairdressing we did apps and web materials. We used something calls app ski which made developing apps easy, we also used a tool for creating video from text.

So, an example here… We have content on The Colour Wheel, for hairdressers but also beauticians, and we hope this will be helpful for art and design… And we have lots of quizes, drag and drop… Keeping text to a minimum… We have used copyright cleared videos from YouTube as well…

Ruth: All of these resources have a “In partnership with Jisc” marking, but all will be creative commons licensed…

Emily: Looking at rights clearances was a big deal for us… A colleague got very excited about Google Sketch Up but he had to make some changes to ensure images were copyright cleared… We haven’t really built anything to go in the public domain before, so that was big. And workig with a subject specialist was also very important for us…

Ruth: We wanted to help trigger the creation of content, but we only had £400k to spend so it was only ever going to be a certain amount of content. But we also did it to learn… What came up were rights, issues around IPR clearance before you can make content Creative Commons licensed. The other thing was around metadata and discoverability… When the content that stays in your institution you can find it, but putting it on the web means explaining the content in ways others can understand… Newcastle did a food enterprise project… and after the final project meeting someone who had done a lot of work there to make that content available, found their content on the open web.

The other thing was about planning, and not underestimating what is involved. The other thing was the difference between elearning and learning.. having the technology doesn’t mean you are doing elearning yet.

There was also something interesting there about what is ok in house but may not be to others… for instance very strong regional accents were fine of course, but made the content slightly less reusable to others on the web.

We also found that breaking content into smaller chunks means you can remix that content, it can be reused in other places more easily.

You’ve heard already about some of the themes that are available… Can you all say that you think stand alone for employability…

Emily: One of our painting and decorating items is about how to calculate area – the context is an area, but applies to any area…

Julie: Also ratios to buckets, spades etc…

Ruth: Also some nice horticultural examples around area and volume of a circular bed, to calculate top spoil.

Belinda: Really good horses have treadmills, with a platform… that you can turn into a hill… So you can work out the mathematics of that angle, and how much work the horse is doing when they use that!

Ruth: What about English…

Belinda: We had a sports presenter explaining the importance of communication…

Ruth: Yours also had some negotiation… Also some on problem solving…

Belinda: We had the Olympic team coaches talking about problem solving…

Ruth: Another brick laying and construction course had Kevin, someone self employed, doing a role play over costs and issues with a difficult customer – real life stuff. And health and safety… Loads on PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), hazadous substances, insurance… And also some of the enterprise requirements – e.g. for a new food business. That one was interesting as well because almost everyone in the college had gotten involved in production!

We are always concerned that more than those who are funded benefit… So we have the website there, which lists all of the projects. We will soup this up a bit but you will find them all there… Manchester college were interesting – their material was from the offender learning programme. They spent a great deal more than we gave them… They did four areas – horticultural, catering, brick laying and english language. Their stuff is available on their Moodle platform, but they will also be going into their campus in prison.

Each of the projects has their own page/site that you can look at. For instance Accrington and Rossendale College have an open Google site… Not all of the sites look glamorous but they have great content in there…

The other way to find this content, and you want to use/reuse/remix this content, much of which is in SCORM format… So you can go into Jorum and download the content… Now this search results screen will look better than this in the future, but it is all there…

There are also QA and publishing checklists on that site, a metadata checklist, model release forms for students under 18 who might be in a video etc.  We also created an accessibility checklist – actually a hard one to crack, as some requirements would be hard to actually achieve, so we had an element of pragmatism.


Q) Would you go with making things open in the future?

A – Emily) We will continue doing this openly, because we want them to be open for reuse in our own college and by other colleges.

A – Belinda) It’s hard… For some things, where you have contacts you only have to pay a certain amount (e.g. the Olympic coaches)

A – Julie) I would absolutely. We all deliver similar curriculums so should be sharing… Wouldn’t necessarily use the same technology though, might use Moodle…

Comment – Ruth) I was told people wouldn’t share in Skills sector, but that just wasn’t true… I think that they know that time isn’t on their side… And if you trust each other, you’d be mad not to share it and use it really…

Q) Will there be a block on uploading to Jorum?

A – Ruth) Not for now, as Jorum being pensioned off… So upload as normal, and that info will follow for the new platform.

Q) How many learning objects or hours are there from that resource?

A – Ruth) There are 163 resources in Jorum… But some of those contents are one item that is a whole site being linked to… Others have maybe 40 items but they are smaller chunks… The average was about 5 or 6 items… How many is not that relevant. In terms of learning hours, there is a lot!

Q) Do you have learning technologists, elearning experts etc. in house?

A – Emily) We paired tutors with learning technologists.

A – Belinda) We brought in various experts to inform our work.

A – Julie) I was main learning technologist on this work, but pulled in experts and students from specialist courses etc.

Session one: capabilities: Meeting the FELTAG challenge 12 months on… one college’s journey – Presenter: David Scott (Kirklees College)

Why did Kirkless adopt 10% of all FT courses as blended learning by the start of or during academic year 2014/15? Well we wanted our students to develop the skills they need for university, for the workplace etc. And the sector is being squeezed… Although actually in the first year it was not less expensive, but there are efficiencies we may see in the future. We followed the Worcester (who did save 250k through online delivery recently) model – an hour lecture online, timetabled into the learning resource centre. And we did this via SOLA packs via the VLE.

We timetabled that into the learning resource centre – so all students had a focus on participating and a place to do that, but over the year learners gradually chose to participate from home, not always in the LRC.

We did this with 10% of all level 2 and 3 full time long courses. And that was a huge undertaking as we are a very large college, so that is about doing this for a lot of learners. To do this we undertook substantial planning… We ensured we added 140 PCs in the LRC, that staff there were trained in using these tools, and with “what if?” scenarios. We timetabled students – 170 groups in total per week – additional to what had come in previously. And we knew there would be many more people using the LRC than before, which meant we also did recruitment and timetabling of LRC staff to facilitate the blended learning, across our six centres. The principal mandated that English and Maths would be scheduled first, then blended learning, then everything else.

One of the biggest tasks was training 5000 tutors about what blended learning is…

Neil: Our VLE was kind of a filing cabinet before. Some staff were very keen, some really had a lot to learn… So we developed SOLA packs for self study on key features of the VLE such as assessment and monitoring usage – practising what we preach! We also created a training programme and rolled out to all staff over a 4 month period. And the ILT development unit developed and rolled specific training to over 30 SOLA coordinators – enthustiastic people. But it was a huge undertaking… We had people signing up but not attending… Eventually named and shamed to heads of departments to ensrure all were trined.

We also created SOLA Quality audits, although not all staff filled this out properly – left in defaults! But this documentation let SOLA coordinators carry out the audit termly and identify any further support or training requirements – they used the audit forms to identify fine, at risk, or problematic courses based on how ready and appropriately set up they were.

We decided to use the open badge system for these courses, already built into MOODLE, and you can set criteria to automatically reward badges. That’s allows us to pull out a report of which students have done what work – for reporting to funders etc. It has been quite effective and encouragingg for students… We were quite late issuing badges, so as staff built up SOLA packs throughout the year, we had less time to implement them. But if they are set up late, they will issue retrospective badges based on criteria achieved.

David: There are clearly other ways to undertake elearning and satisfy FELTAG requirements. But this worked well. Worcester have don this for two or three years, we have done it for a year at scale… If you are looking to get started, why reinvent the wheel? We support colleges in our area, and have been able to share back and forth with them. This isn’t the deficit way to do things, but it does work well…

So, what worked well in the first year?

Well, t was a whole cross-college approach to delivery – pretty much the whole college were part of this. And it was planned to perfection, so in September 2014 the infrastructure was in place, ILT/IT support was in place, timetabling was done, LRC staff had been recruited, trained and timetabled SOLA training had been rolled out across all curriculum areas. SOLA packs were prepared – but not all ready at the start of the year, some only came on board for January. Students arrived 1st September.

But there were challenges too. Staff time to develop the SOLA packs. Worcester have 12 staff on the ILT team – the model there is tutors prepare content, but ILT put it in place… Our model was different. We say preparation of content as part of tutor lesson planning, as part of tutor workload. But this was an issue of staff skill sets – we recruit many tutors from industry but they don’t necessarily have those sorts of skills, but we are feeding that into recruitment process. Staff also realise that the efficiencies of blended learning can cause tension with staff, with their engagement. So making it clear that this opens up staff time for new, innovative classes, european projects etc. We did take 5200 hours out of course curriculum so you do need to sell the benefits of that.

Student engagement wise we will have an induction programme, including a video about what blended learning is, so that they are prepared for what they see in the LRC – not all tutors shared the same amount of information this year. We also will have self-enrolment and enrolment keys…

Elona: For me I had 10% of teaching time ripped from my staff… We were not happy… But we had a lightbulb moment that we could make it work for us. So we had 4 months to train, and had 2 months to build everything. We grabbed all we good, and added in interactive elements, and borrowed some text from Health and Safety Act… (This is a health and safety section from a hair and beauty course). And we assess the knowledge and understanding through multiple choice questions, across week by week activities… Which means no marking! All my team do not mark… But that means that 10% time gives us time to do new innovative ideas… There was nothing out there for health and beauty really – because we had to make this in a panic… So we made content for one unit only, and did make use of a powerpoint we had used before. We’ve got a powerpoint that is already there, then a document from industry, a web link, and a quiz… So in that first task we tell them what we want them to do, what to engage with, and that they should then do the quiz.

So, for that video for instance we created our own content – avoiding Americanisms, licensing issues etc. My friend charlotte had a massage that we videoed as a demo for students. We will be videoing demonstrations from tutors in September. Students really engage with this demonstration video, in a way they don’t always do in person.

So, we structure content week by week along similar lines. And when students finish a unit, they get an badge. When learners have done the massage mock revision… When they are prepared with this, they go on and find the exam really easy.

And that free time means that I now have time to think about new ideas,,, And we find some of our adult learners were working ahead… So I now have an enrichment programme for those learners, which they will then be able to move onto in that LRC time. For instance on the Gender Pay Gap – which is really interesting in hair and beauty. With this growth… !

David: This is really embedded in what we do in Kirkless – so Careers are doing this too, our learning and resource staff have a resources page, its reaching every single department now… Everyone is becoming aware of what SOLA is and how it can be used.

Elona: I now have a progress bar in place to see how our students are progressing. There are a lot of quizzes in these SOLA packages and I can use that SOLA bar to see what they have/have not done, track progress, what time they are learning etc. Some are on at half eleven at night!

I also have an overall progress bar, that allows me to see how each tutor’s students are progressing – and they can also look in and check progress.

Because of all this content is there, I can ask students can study particular materials ahead of class, to prepare them for particular sessions etc.

But there are hiccoughs here… If students log in on their phone, they can do the test, get answers wrong… and then retake in the web version… But we are wise to that now… So we now do direct questioning in class to be sure they have understood that learning properly…

IT skills wise we are health and beauty, we aren’t huge fans of computers. We have found support from ILT necessary…

In that homepage for the course, there is also a link to our (VTCT) eportfolios – where badges appear!

I’m really proud of it, but getting staff on board was the challenge. We have exceeded the 10% now, with 30% online. If the government wanted 50% that might be challenging though – hair dressers do need to be able to cut hair!

David: When we started many of the SOLA stuff was in list form, but Elona and her team have created something more visually appealing here… I feel like we are light years ahead. The more colleges get involved, the more resources we have to share, the more our skills develop.

Elona: My team’s motivation has improved because they are no longer spending all of their time marking! And you see


Q) What version of Moodle?

A – Neil) 2.6 but moving to 2.8

Q) How big is college support team?

A – Neil) It’s about 5 people, two and a bit in terms of time etc. are supporting this.

A – David) We also have two teaching qualified LRC team members. You should go back to your principal and be clear that if you go this way, you have to be all in and support it…

Q) Sharing resources?

A – Elona) Sharing them on the system

A – David) All are available on Moodle

Q) How did you get staff on board?

A – David) I think it helped a lot that principal has strong supported and driven this.

Q) Any copyright issues?

A – Elona) We worked with LRC staff to help us, and then made some stuff ourselves

A – David) Use those expert staff… But second year of running is about quality. Good open stuff is out there, so do use it.

Q) How many students come in at a time? How does that work in the LRC?

A – David) We have a room in LRC with 70 machines, and a block of 50 tend to be working at a time, LRC support that…

Q) What happens with block bookings if students aren’t coming in in person – as you say happens

A – David) Software kicks user off if not logged in after 15 mins – so PC becomes available…

Q) How long does it take to develop an hour of teaching

A – Elona) Varies, but we have fully refreshed our content here.

Q) How about entry level courses and part time courses?

A – David) We are letting people explore. Level 1 come on board next year but in class. We are looking at access to HE courses moving this way at the moment…

Q) We have some enthusiasts, but some are resistant. How have you managed that sort of issue?

A – Elona) For me, I found that selling the lack of marking as a carrot here, to get them to move content online.

A – Neil) I think t’s just a case of supporting them whenever possible. Some people are quite scared of computers, but our IT team are approachable, and show them one step at a time an whenever possible.

Q) So you are there to support teaching staff, you aren’t doing the content?

A – Neil) No, we are not a big enough team to do that – Worcester does that though.

David: We do work with other colleges… Neil, myself and Elona are happy to come out and speak to your senior leadership team… Grab us at any time during today.

Session one: capabilities: Digital capabilities and leadership – Presenter: Lawrie Phipps (Jisc)

By show of hands the room is a mix of HE, Colleges and skills.

I will be talking about Digital capabilities and leadership. I’m from Jisc Futures – we do the research and development, and my area is specifically the student experience. But the work I’m doing at the moment is all about leadership.

I will talk about what we are doing, some examples, and then also I will talk about the jisc digital capabilities and leadership project. Everyone is aware of our digital literacy work? We have been doing this since 2010, identifying seven areas of digital literacy. We have managed to embed this into the curriculum, focusing on it being a student focused programme, without really meaning to. As this started to create outputs, I began working on a project called the Changing the Learning Landscape project, working with ALT, HEA, NUS, and the Leadership Foundation… We spoke to staff at universities from senior managers through to cleaners.

Through this work, across interviews at 58 universities, we identified massive variation in technology enhanced learning, across various thematic areas.

In terms of Strategy and Leadership… Many places were using a VLE, but often as a repository… And many places had these tools, and felt they should increase the scale of TEL. All identified mobile as something they should be aware of, and doing something about. But we couldn’t get people to identify what they wanted to do with mobile… When you asked they said “well students have phones” – that was as far as it went for some of them.

We also saw Open and Distance learning coming up as an issue, we didn’t hear much about efficiency from leaders. But students talked about a huge lack of consistency in their experience… at all levels of that experience. We did see more and more of students as partners in FE and HE. But we also see students wanting to leverage value from their learning. Students wanted to understand practical and efficiency benefits of why they should use a tool – they were always looking for a reason.

Talking to lecturers we saw huge amounts of varietyn again. Some were very honest about what they did… Some just put slides in, some had a discussion board… Most used it for repository of sides. And majority had the essential descriptions and timetabling, that was their main use. There were a range of barriers to use… Last week I worked with Reading College – they switched off Moodle in their institution and no-one noticed!

Anyway… Whilst we hear about digital literacies, many didn’t see how they could embed them in their programmes. They didn’t always see themselves as digitally literate.

And looking ahead we saw various things coming… questions about Maker cultures… More and more students coming through with coding skills. And early questions about Internet of Things… Also seeing open learning, open code, open publishing, becoming prominent. And seeing students co-creating their learning, especially in FE actually. And funding changes and organisational changes – e.g. funding announcements on FE next week. And we see the rise of KPIs, globalisation etc.

So, talking to the sector – HE, FE and Skills – showed that we really need to build the digital capabilities of our staff. So that is our priority, in my team, to develop that in the next 12 months, with the first stuff coming in over the next 3 months…

So we have this idea of Digital identity and wellbeing as a surrounding concept, with ICT proficiency at the centre, supported by Information, data and media literacies; digital creation, innovation and scholarship; communication, collaboration and participation; digital learning and self development.

  • ICT proficiency is core skills, from use of style sheets, to how to get onto Eduroam.
  • Information, Media and data literacy is about critical use of content
  • Cretion, scholarship and innovation – is about creative production in all areas of our work
  • COmmunication, collaboration and participation
  • Learning and self-development
  • Idetity and well-being – and safety online, and the safety of staff identity.

And we have developed a model for an envisioned #digitalcapability service. There will be a digital capability online course, and materials for digital leadership. And this resource will be aimed at staff at all levels. So, IT managers tend to implement systems without consulting staff on what is needed… e.g. on the choice of VLE or ePortfolios.. They tend to talk to vendors, rather than staff…

This modelis a pyramid of leadership development, online courses, digital capability framework, and diagnostic tools.

The leadership development will be a course, starting in October. It is aimed at leaders at any level, or those who aspire to leadership. So if you run a project for instance…

So we’ve mapped the digital capability framework to digital leadership. And this course will work across two priority areas:

Being an effective digital leader/manager (personal/professional development)

Leading/managing an effective digital organisation or part of an organisation (organisational development).

We will run this as a two day course, then webinar, then another two day course. That will be free for the first pilot and that first pilot will run once for HE and once for FE.

The core skills around ICT proficiencies around being an effective digital leader/manager would include adopt and adapt digital devices, services and applications to meet your professional needs, Use digital applications/services to manage time and tasks. Stay up to date with organisational systems. Know how to find work-arounds, switch devices/services/applications and recover from technical failures; model confident use of digital technologies to others.

In terms of the second leading etc. section: develop and communicate a strategy for digital technologies, policy, etc.

Again there are core aspects around information, media and data literacy; and around creation, scholarship and innovation. On that area of creative production we had many asking about making a risk tolerant innovative environment – particularly a concern at FE. We have traditionally been risk averse in some of these contexts…

I’m guessing most of this room are digitally literate but the communication, collaboration and participation aspect will be the idea of how we lead, influence and participate in online communities of practice related to your role, building personal networks, and having an authentic voice in this space.

In terms of learning and self-development thinking about, for instance, using online courses for staff development.

Digital identity and wellbeing… So for instance who has a Twitter account… who has two? I wonder why people do that, if they are splitting personal and professional presences… But we will look at that, to ensure people make choices in an informed way. And we talk about brand, but that’s also about having an authentic voice. When it comes to online staff capabilities work we are doing, there will be case studies for different roles, practice mapping that against professional association for CILIP, SEDA, HEA, and FELTAG. All of this is coming online, first course runs in October…

Let me just go back to staff capabilities – do these map to your expectations?

Comment: I am tremendously excited about this, much better than 7 elements that were there before…

Are there any gaps here?  This is still draft until this year.

Comment: Where does mobility factor here – learning away from physical learning space?

I would put mobile in collaboration perhaps, but also creation, collaboration and participation… But we will write examples of practice in colleges and universities, and then map where those might sit for professional development. And we are desperate to speak to people who have recently made changes that we can speak to.

And we welcome your comments and input on the blog: www.digitalcapability.jiscinvolve.org/ or email me: lawrie.phipps@jisc.ac.uk or on Twitter @Lawrie.


Q: What is the intention for the long term for this?

A: Right now the intention is for the online content to be available in chunks for you to download and use. The course will run once, be developed and rerun in Spring. Then, if successful, it will be handed over to the Jisc Customer Services team for them to look at options to role out.

Q: A few years ago you did work on digital literacies for schools. Our staff have gaps… But I don’t know the current status of students. Our staff report both very digitally literate, and other say not…

A: Are any of you aware of Dave ? Resident/Visitor thing, and Don, a US researcher has turned that into a tool to map digital literacies. And we are working with her to see how we can map that so that staff can map digital literacies of students, to capabilities and expectations of the students. To make sure that that maps to institutional strategy. So, for instance, you get answers about how students use content… download stuff in VLE, upload to Facebook and discuss, then upload to VLE… But in that institution they had mandated slides and discussion forum be used.. that was artificial to the set up… So we said you will save staff time and efficiency by changing environment. So Don’s tool will be available in October.

Parallel session: capabilities: “How to use social media effectively for student engagement – Presenter: Nicola Osborne” (EDINA)

That’s my session so you’ll be seeing no update here from me for this one!

Closing session: FELTAG – so what? – Presenter: Bob Harrison

In introducing the final session Will Allen is thanking us for surviving the sauna like conditions today! And he is also taking the opportunity to thank the Jisc North team, Jisc Events team and particularly to Gemma who has been organising this event. And now to Bob…

My good friend Martin is Periscoping this… So I will try not to be too offensive about Yorkshire, as a Lancastrian!

I was working in FE, but I decided to quit and go to work for Toshiba, with head teachers in the National College of School Leadership. And then I got a call in 2002 from the new head of the DFES standards invoices who had been asked to look at elearning… So for the next two years I worked with them – they paid on time but didn’t listen!

So FELTAG… Most of you know that this started with a tweet from MatthewHancockMP saying “Been following your tweets, read your articles – I agree with you. What can we do? There’s no money. Please come and see me ASAP.” He really got FE and Skills and when the civil service said they would set up a working party in six months, he said no. We should just get on with it…

His first meeting he said “we agree with all you’ve said” – and I’d been writing posts criticising the government, Jisc, BECTA, BIS, etc… He wanted to know what the problem is… The underlying problem isn’t money, it’s that our sector was built post industrial revolution, and based on a very factory, QA, put out there sort of process which is not fit for the digital world. You and I know that but unfortunately the ministers, the civil servants, the SFA, etc. their mindset is still in that industrial mindset. So, the key words about FELTAG here is… Agile and Evolution.

If we don’t evolve we die… But our ability to evolve to the changing environment. But we have been held back by OFQUAL and OFSTEAD etc… OFSTED reports for the College I chair talks about “Tutors making exceptionally good use of…interactive learning technologies and social media to help students learn…” And the key word there is Tutor.

So, that’s the past, so to the future… How many of you have watched Kes? I was a PE teacher in Barnsley… This is my Ken Loach bit… One of my grandkids comes home from school excited beyond belief at her first night away… She has a list of things she can take… Torch, ruck sack, toilet bag, sleeping bag… And if she wants to take pictures she can take one disposable camera…. And so Bob has us trying to explain a disposable camera to a kid… It’s hilarious but also serious here… Has pedagogy kept up with the potential of the technology? I would say not.

When I was a teacher two rooms of BBC micros had less computing power than the phone our kids carries around with her every day… Looking at a school room from a Victorian school, and one from last year… They are set up the same… There may be computers in the latter but they are the same – that classroom designer wants shooting!

We have to challenge decision makers to see the different paradigm… I’m not sure the new minister does sees that but Matthew Hancock did… We can look at the Sigmoid Curve (a biological concept) here… of Start Up, Growth, Maturity, and Decline… At the point of most success… at this point you need people who are paradigm pioneers to change the way currently being thought about, to do things better, more effectively, by using technology… Cue some silliness to ensure we are thinking about paradigm shift…

Now I’ve used a silly image here… To illustrate the fact that I think Digital Natives as an idea is bollocks… Marc Prensky wrote a nice article but children need teaching too… So here is an image of my grandson and my mum… who is teaching who? Well, they are both teaching each other!

Anyway… FELTAG themes are there. The most retweeted tweet I’ve ever had was that those FE providers that really embrace FELTAG will not only survive but thrive! Not to 10% or 20% but really embrace it, and don’t wait for targets and requirements.

In any of you think, like me, there is something wrong with the House of Lords – Digital Skills report… well have a read.

Two things have happened since Digifest read Alison Wolf’s Heading for the precipice, highlighting the need to refocus on resources that are and have been going to HE, to FE and Skills. The second thing is to see Skills minister Nick Boles AELP Annual Conference – if you want a laugh take a look at that. I went to to a school set up by contributions by miners to educate their kids, and them. I worked for a college in Nottingham erected by voluntary contributions to educate the working class forever… Forever… So no minister has any right to talk about a movement that has been going for hundreds of years, about self improvement, saying we need to reexamine the model…

So, folks… What is the opportunity cost of not embracing FELTAG and all it’s recommendations… If my grandkids leave school in 10-20 years they will be leaving schools used to gesture based computing, voice to text recognition, anytime and anywhere learning… And if you are wise you will pick the brains of these folks at Jisc to ensure that your FE provider is still there when they leave school!

And with that, back to Will with further thanks.


 June 30, 2015  Posted by at 2:43 pm Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Nov 072013

Today I am connected to one of a new series of JISC and ALT (Association for Learning Technology) Digital Literacy webinarsMultimodal Profusion in the Massive Open Online Course – Jeremy Knox, Sian Bayne. 

I will be taking notes throughout the session and hopefully catching many of the questions etc. As usual this is a liveblog so my notes may include the odd error or typo – please let me have your thoughts or corrections in the comments below!  

:: Update: the recording for this session is now available here ::

According to Lesley Gourley’s introduction these sessions are all being recorded and being made available online via the ALT website. These webinars are based on forthcoming papers in Research in Learning Technology – Special issue on Scholarships and Literacies in the Digital Age. Beyond practice and into greater overarching change. This will be out towards the end of the year.

Lesley is introducing Jeremy and Sian. Sian’s research interests are related to teaching and learning online, particularly around post humanism and multimodal academic literacies. Jeremy is working on a PhD on critical post humanism in open educational environments.

We are beginning with Sian: We will be building on work we have done in our E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC and looking at how we can theorise what we have encountered there.

The E-Learning adn Digital Cultures MOOC has just begun it’s second run. It initially ran in early 2013 with around 27,000 students and is running again, launched this week, with around 19,000 students. And we have tried to see this as going beyond the classic MOOC lectures. Instead we have curated open educational resources, web essays, etc. alongside theoretical work and educational thinking. And we then encourage participants to blog their thoughts. We have discussion forums but we also encourage them to use Twitter (#edcmooc), to blog their experience… influenced by the cMOOC design than by the conventional xMOOC design. And we saw before – and are seeing again – a real sense of community development. We see very active Facebook group (4500+, G+ group (3800+) etc.

Jeremy: For me one of the ways in which this sort of massive participation seemed to manifest was in the submission of final assignments to the EDCMOOC. We had over 1700 artefacts submitted. We asked them to create something that commented on one or all of the course themes, something creative designed to be experienced on the web. What was really interesting to me was that in that requirement to make the digital artefact public… we initially did that so that we could use peer assessment – using the peer assessment module – and in order for that to work, and to mirror the public open pedagoguey we were trying to use. But as a result this digital creativity began to be collected and curated on the web. So this image we see on the screen – a Padlet page of 330 artefacts – but you get this profusion of digital creative work. That’s significant because not only is assessment usually hidden, it is also usually private. But this is really open and collaborative as an experience.

And that really led to us thinking about this as “sociomaterial”. This is emerging in some educational research (Fenwick, Edwards and Sawchuk 2011) and encompasses ANT, Complexity Theory, Cultural Historical Activity Theory and Spatial Theory. So we wanted to think about this as a way of percieving relationships between humans (the social) and non-humans (the material). The relation is all important here as this perspective is about disregarding form before the relation, instead seeing the relation between these things as the key focus. I like the idea of Karen Berad who talks about “inter-action” but if we talk about “intra-action” we talk about those things without having to regard them as pure forms.

So why the sociomaterial? Well it counters what can be seen as an over-emphasis on human agency, particularly in digital literacy discourse. The idea that technology is just there to achieve educational goals – an approach that overlooks the role of technology and the change or influence it can have. And it also responds to the idea that online environments are “virtual” or somehow “immaterial” – we are moving to a place where the web is something real and tangible. And when we get to the idea of things being tangible we can get to a place where we see things as situatable to education events. And it offers an alternative way of understanding knowledge – what it is and how it comes about. This isn’t too philosophical but part of the day to day work of educators and the sociomaterial has some profound insights here. And it allows us to acknowledge ways that software and algorithms co-produce digital work (rather than being simple “tools” for human use).

Sian: At this point we thought it might be useful to say what we mean by digital artefacts, those created with a sort of sociomaterial literacy. So I thought I would show a few examples. Firstly “Twitterchat by cikgubrian” on YouTube which brought together and aggregate an assemblage of impressions of the EDC MOOC. Next up “My Scottish MOOC by Willa Ryerson” – another animation about the experience of the Scottish MOOC. Finally “Our #EDCMooc Experience: Class? Network? Something Else?” a “Haiku Deck” using images and text comments. Now Jeremy will do a more detailed reading of some of these artefacts.

Jeremy: I want to provide more of a detailed overview of how these might be looked at as sociomaterial objects. firstly “World Builder: a crowd-sourced tag heart” by John O’Neill. This was created with a tag cloud tool. What struck me was that this was submitted as a piece of work to be assessed for representing a theme of the course. It is put forward as a stable contained piece of work. But I want to look at the processes to produce it… which question it’s source and finality. It’s a sociomaterial reading that enables us to do this. So this text was produced in the responses to a video used in the course called “World Builder” about an idealised virtual world for someone apparently in a coma in hospital. So this text is from around 85 posts in a forum thread from about 75 identified participants. So it was this participant who took this text from the forum. A number of the responses addresses specific questions that we as a teaching team put forward, so our text not only informed that discussion as well. so the distributed elements were not just discursive but there were technological and algorithmic elements that shaped these texts. There are a number of automatic process that take place on this text. Several interesting variables come into play here. The scale of font to relative frequency is adjustable. The tightness regulate how tightly the words fit into a shape. But there are also factors that are automatic algorithmic changes – like removal of small words, combining of tenses, sometimes plurals. These are encoded into the software. And there is the heartshape as well… which determines location and proximity of words. So this seems to embody the symbolic from the material in this. It is a hybrid object, a continuity of matter and culture here. Social and material are not distinct. And as significant as the contesting and blurring of origins, also it’s stability and finality of the object is under question… it was submitted as a Flickr image, also in a Wallwisher, also on Tagxedo website. On the latter website each word is a hyperlink. That really blurs the status of the object as final for me.

And the second example is “E-Learning and Human 3.0” by Nick Hood, created by VideoScribe. It’s a presentation software using text and an animated hand. Once again this presentation has come about from some really interesting and layered process. So the user inputs text and positions it within a sort of whiteboard space. And select from some existing images. And you choose a sort of “preferred limb” for writing. This represents an archetypal black box of digital creation. A tension between software accessibility and usability – this software is clearly both accessible and usable – and on the other hand a kind of openness and user agency. The user doesn’t have fantastic control. That tension is also about absence and presence… the hand is a sense of presence, the spatial aspect of the classroom that draws on the idea of whiteboard. But the surface layer conceals non human agencies at play.

So firstly I wanted to touch on the idea of the image of the hand. So this is a screen capture of the video options – the limb or writing implement – you’d like to animate your presentation with. Most are arms, some are instruments, one is a foot. So you enact a teaching body different from the author – you are distributing the teaching body. And also the hand is animated with the software that preceeds the software. The teaching body is performed by this really complex assemblage of bodies codes, and texts. These are co-constituantly non symbolic. The teacherly body is human and non human at once.

The other thing is this straight forward way of simulating the classroom space. this was submitted via YouTube, where the video has algorithmically generated suggestions. And it will consider the viewer currently watching as well as other viewers of this video – and what they have looked at. This is complex and ongoing algorithm of human interaction that persistently changes that page and that video. Elements are rearranged, reordered, constantly reproduced by humans and algorithms. Human, body, algorithm and non human actor are all present and interacting.

Sian: so I guess we want to end with implications – what does this all mean? Jeremy picked on two of thousands of artefacts to think about how they fit into code, algorithms and agency. Some themes here:

Non-representationalism – seeing knowledge not as something re-produced or re-created outside of a situation (the human min) but instead knowledge is within and part of enacted relational process. Does the artefact convey the intentions of the author? It is about a more complex performance involving both the person and the alogorithmic elements. A new way to understanding that.

Anti-anthropocentrism – the decentreing of a human or human author as the authentic single author of a digital work, it is problematised, this idea of technology in our service… instead it is about decentring the subjtec allows to move beyond an instrumental view of technology and simplistic ideas of empowerment. It helps us interact criticism. So for instance that tool used by Nick presents all limb options as white, forcing us to think critically about that. So we have fundamental issues to consider here.

Both artefacts are i nteresting, we could have spoken about hundreds of examples. Our overarching point is to see digital literacy as something other than technical mastery, instead theoretical areas that decentre human intention.

Jeremy: So some conclusions to add to some of that. I find it interesting that in much digital literacy work you see this emphasis on skills training and future proofing. The idea of training, especially in schools, to enable students to be competant citizens for the futrue. Interesting to consider that in the context of anxiety and fear in relation to technology. Perhaps this may be a response to the loss of stability and authority in digital space.

We see the digital artefacts of the EDCMOOCs as a demonstration of complex, contingent, specific and relational sociomatierla practices.

The resulting knowledge might be considered a collective enactment of human and non-human agencies. Context matters here.

And this perspective gives us a new way to look at digital literacies. We see technology as having a role that expands further to the wider social, cultural and technological contingencies which shape work produced in educational contexts.


Q1) Are YouTube videos on any channels?

A1 – Sian) We can share a list of the videos included here. I can also send around some sites where MOOC students have tried to crowdsource and curate these.

Q2) Interesting interpretation: how close is your relational-sociomaterial stance to Siemens and Downes’ Connectivism

A2 – Jeremy) Siemens and Downes are doing good work updating the social constructivist view of MOOCs up to date. For me it’s about how technology is perceived. A lot of the connectivism work slips into an instrumentalist view of technology as there to inform connections. Sociomaterial perspectvies takes a more nuanced views. Siemens has talked about “non human devices” so there are some interesting cross overs. But the view of technology is where they don’t quite correlate.

A2 – Sian) Connectivism making some great work and shifts in terms of pedagogical design but yes, still about being anthrocentric, less focus on the materiality of those networks. That is the slight difference for me than the sociomaterial approach we’ve taken here.

Q3) Why Collaborate rather than Google+ Hangouts

A3 – Lesley) ALT’s preferred method due to numbers.

Q4 – Nick) Is there any aspect of your research that considers the teacher as assessor and how aligned the teachers digital literacy has to be with the student’s digital literacy. Some students submit work that could be challenging to assess in terms of what parts of that work are the students’ own work versus the choice of tool use, to be able to interpret what the students content is?

A4 – Sian) Such an important question. Partly about teachers knowledge and understanding. Partly about what the tool can do. But it also troubles the notion of assessment. And it troubles the frameworks of assessment in particular – those are grounded in textual history, but this is much more about interpretation and the interpretation of the teacher. We are as much taxing our interpretation as the students skills. It questions intentionality.

A4 – Jeremy) A great question. The sociomaterial reading really questions if we can really assess the skill of the author or the skill of the algorithm. The YouTube recommendation algorithm… we don’t need to work out exactly what it’s doing, not the point, but it’s about showing it as entangles and enmeshes, the algorithm isn’t a purely material form, you can’t separate out the intention of the author. And that really troubles identifying and assessing achievements. Interpretation is an interesting way to move that forward.

Q5)  What criteria do you use to assess the students artefacts or creations?

A5 – Jeremy) These were peer assessed. We defined some criteria within the course and asked students to peer assess each other’s work. Students submitted the URLs. the software allocated the URLs to three students for feedback and grading. We were really experimenting with peer assessments. We weren’t trying to impose a sociomaterial assessment, these are a response to that process.

A5 – Sian) We drew on experience of peer assessment from the MSc of eLearning. The criteria wasn’t sociomaterial exactly. There is another aspect of form here, ideally we would respond in the same form as the submitted artefact.

Q6) Is the Edinburgh MOOC a cMOOC? And I’m not clear on the difference!

A7 – Jeremy) A cMOOC is a connectivist MOOC, the likes of Siemens, Downes and Cormier who were experimenting with open content and assemment. They were the original courses called MOOCs. Later Coursera, EdX etc. created platforms called MOOCs, called xMOOCs to distinguish from cMOOCs. So cMOOCs more radical and distributed. xMOOCs hosted centrally, usually established universities, high profile. I’m not sure we were either. Not convinced either is a valid way to talk about MOOCs. When xMOOCs first emerged… the first wave contained video lectures and quizzes in the first wave but actually things are moving on – Sian has been doing some work on this – but we weren’t really either. We wanted to combine interest in experimentation with Coursera platform.

A7 – Sian) Myself and Jen Ross have been doing some work for the UK HEA about MOOC pedgogies. No-one really talking about xMOOCs or cMOOCs so much anymore. One message out of that is that in the UK only really hybrid pedagogies in the UK.

Q8) In terms of digital literacy… perhaps the issue is that we are not sure what literacy means in any context.

A8 – Jeremy) Robin Goodfellow has done some great work on what we mean when we say “digital literacy”. We were taking a slightly different approach and rethink the idea of the human at the centre. See Sue Thomas’ interesting work on the complexities of literacy, of transliteracies. The complexities and factors here. Again that work for us… that still has the idea of the tool as something separate from the person using it.

A8 – Sian) I’d agree that literacy is an increasingly problematic term – Robin has done good work here but we have terms like “emotional literacy” etc. Some real muddiness not for researchers

Q9 – from me) In terms of critiquing digital literacies how much of what you critique of the instrumental approach is actually grounded in pragmatic needs of policy makers, funders, etc? Whilst skills based approaches are problematic, they are actionable for those decision makers. How would more sociomaterial approaches be actionable in terms of policy, in terms of ensuring critically skilled students/individuals?

A9 – Sian) I think you are right, skills based approaches can be addressed by policies but they construct literacies as deficits, so it’s about rethinking about literacy as capacities. To think again about how technology plays an active partnership in the way meaning is constructed. Hard in terms of policies but lets us move away from the idea of deficits and competencies…

A9 – Jeremy) Great question. It makes me think about the issues of literacies as a driver for MOOCs, efficiency gains etc. For me that question is great because it points to much wider institutional and political factors at play and the wider discourse around elearning.

Q10) Will you run the same course again?

A10 – Sian) We intend to offer it three times. We have made small changes this time and possibly again… but after that… well MOOCs are moving so quickly. I’m sure we’ll want to ride whatever waves are coming next…

A10 – Jeremy) There was a particular MOOC moment and I feel priviledged to have been teaching in that moment. As a team we would be interested in working at the critical edge of what is happening, not sure MOOCs will be in the near future. To add to what Sian said we had a lot of feedback on teh first MOOC. Around 60% of the first wave students worked in education and we have used their feedback. We shall do that again. But we also like to surprise people so we look forward to the third MOOC!

Q11) Seeing how different and personal those artefacts are for each learner, is it possible to define any sort of ‘common’ digital literacy, or would it be different for each person?

A11 – Jeremy) Yes, I think it really questions that idea… that distribution of agency and creativity. So many people were involved in creating that word cloud, including us as teachers. Of course the author plays a significant role in that particular coming together. But yeah, it definitely questions that.

A11 – Sian) I’d agree with that. That’s whats exciting about these academic forms, that can’t be flattened like traditional academic forms. And questions what we do when we assess academic work.

Q12 – Nick) I was just wondering about the different knowledge that participants arrive with… the issue of literacies and how they change, it moves all the time

A12 – Sian) It does really move, really question assessible terms

A12 – Jeremy) That relates to the earlier question. It is so situationable. It is not assessable to generalisable criteria really. if we think about these as singularities it is tricky to see how you might understand them and how important the situation they come about through.

Q13 – Lesley) I’m interested in what you’ve been talking about in terms of representation, assemblages and how they may be critiqued. The loss of some sort of shared code. When we think of masters or postgraduate level works, how do you engage critically with say that heart shape word cloud.

A13 – Jeremy) for me the sociomaterial reading is a way to be critical about what happened in order to understand how that artefact came about. It is about recognising the author and the decentering of that author… not a flattening out of considering what’s important and powerful and not represented, just a way to think about what is important, what is powerful in that coming together.

A13 – Sian) I think lesley and others may be interested in the ESRC Seminar Series that Jeremy and I are involved in around code in educational practice.

And with that we draw to a close with thanks to the speakers and facilitators.

See also:


Aug 142013
Participants at the Royal Society of Edinburgh Digital Participation Inquiry event in Hawick earlier in 2013.

As we enter the last phase of the evidence gathering  process I wanted to draw your attention to the Royal Society of Edinburgh Spreading the Benefits of Digital Participation Inquiry that I am part of.

The Inquiry is looking into use, non-use and under-utilisation of the internet in Scotland. In particular we want to know why people do not use the internet and how usage of the internet can be maximised in beneficial ways. This also means that we are really interested in factors around this such as digital literacy, understanding barriers to participation, motivations, etc.

Although I have already mentioned the Inquiry to lots of you individually I thought this would be a good time to blog about the Inquiry as we have several specialist sector and interest-specific sessions lined up including an Education Round Table next week (22nd August) that I would encourage you to sign up and participate in.

You can view details on all of our forthcoming sessions here.

For those unable to attend in person – or outside of these sectors/interest areas – you still have a few more weeks to submit a response to the Inquiry. At this stage I think we are particularly keen to hear from those in SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), those with examples of successfully bringing new groups online or broadening use of the internet (hello all Social Media surgeons for instance!), and in speaking to those who are not online and who are willing to share their reasons and motivations for not using the internet.

You can respond online or you can submit your response by email or post – more information can be found on the RSE’s page for the Inquiry.

Participants at the Royal Society of Edinburgh Digital Participation Inquiry event in Hawick earlier in 2013.

Participants at the Royal Society of Edinburgh Digital Participation Inquiry event in Hawick earlier in 2013.