Jun 152016

Today I’m at the University of Edinburgh Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme Forum 2016: Rethinking Learning and Teaching Together, an event that brings together teaching staff, learning technologists and education researchers to share experience and be inspired to try new things and to embed best practice in their teaching activities.

I’m here partly as my colleague Louise Connelly (Vet School, formerly of IAD) will be presenting our PTAS-funded Managing Your Digital Footprint project this afternoon. We’ll be reporting back on the research, on the campaign, and on upcoming Digital Foorprints work including our forthcoming Digital Footprint MOOC (more information to follow) and our recently funded (again by PTAS) project: “A Live Pulse: YikYak for Understanding Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Edinburgh.

As usual, this is a liveblog so corrections, comments, etc. welcome. 

Velda McCune, Deputy Director of the IAD who heads up the learning and teaching team, is introducing today:

Welcome, it’s great to see you all here today. Many of you will already know about the Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme. We have funding of around £100k from the Development fund every year, since 2007, in order to look at teaching and learning – changing behaviours, understanding how students learn, investigating new education tools and technologies. We are very lucky to have this funding available. We have had over 300 members of staff involved and, increasingly, we have students as partners in PTAS projects. If you haven’t already put a bid in we have rounds coming up in September and March. And we try to encourage people, and will give you feedback and support and you can resubmit after that too. We also have small PTAS grants as well for those who haven’t applied before and want to try it out.

I am very excited to welcome our opening keynote, Paul Ashwin of Lancaster University, to kick off what I think will be a really interesting day!

Why would going to university change anyone? The challenges of capturing the transformative power of undergraduate degrees in comparisons of quality  – Professor Paul Ashwin

What I’m going to talk about is this idea of undergraduate degrees being transformative, and how as we move towards greater analytics, how we might measure that. And whilst metrics are flawed, we can’t just ignore these. This presentation is heavily informed by Lee Schumers work on Pedagogical Content Knowledge, which always sees teaching in context, and in the context of particular students and settings.

People often talk about the transformative nature of what their students experience. David Watson was, for a long time, the President for the Society of Higher Education (?) and in his presidential lectures he would talk about the need to be as hard on ourselves as we would be on others, on policy makers, on decision makers… He said that if we are talking about education as educational, we have to ask ourselves how and why this transformation takes place; whether it is a planned transformation; whether higher education is a nesseccary and/or sufficient condition for such transformations; whether all forms of higher education result in this transformation. We all think of transformation as important… But I haven’t really evidenced that view…

The Yerevan Communique: May 2015 talks about wanting to achieve, by 2020, a European Higher Education area where there are common goals, where there is automatic recognition of qualifictions and students and graduates can move easily through – what I would characterise is where Bologna begins. The Communique talks about higher education contributing effectively to build inclusive societies, found on democratic values and human rights where educational opportunities are part of European Citizenship. And ending in a statement that should be a “wow!” moment, valuing teaching and learning. But for me there is a tension: the comparability of undergraduate degrees is in conflict with the idea of transformational potential of undergraduate degrees…

Now, critique is too easy, we have to suggest alternative ways to approach these things. We need to suggest alternatives, to explain the importance of transformation – if that’s what we value – and I’ll be talking a bit about what I think is important.

Working with colleagues at Bath and Nottingham I have been working on a project, the Pedagogic Quality and Inequality Project, looking at Sociology students and the idea of transformation at 2 top ranked (for sociology) and 2 bottom ranked (for sociology) universities and gathered data and information on the students experience and change. We found that league tables told you nothing about the actual quality of experience. We found that the transformational nature of undergraduate degrees lies in changes in students sense of self through their engagement with discplinary knowledge. Students relating their personal projects to their disciplines and the world and seeing themselves implicated in knowledge. But it doesn’t always happen – it requires students to be intellectually engaged with their courses to be transformed by it.

To quote a student: “There is no destination with this discipline… There is always something further and there is no point where you can stop and say “I understaood, I am a sociologist”… The thing is sociology makes you aware of every decision you make: how that would impact on my life and everything else…” And we found the students all reflecting that this idea of transformation was complex – there were gains but also losses. Now you could say that this is just the nature of sociology…

We looked at a range of disciplines, studies of them, and also how we would define that in several ways: the least inclusive account; the “watershed” account – the institutional type of view; and the most inclusive account. Mathematics has the most rich studies in this area (Wood et al 2012) where the least inclusive account is “Numbers”, watershed is “Models”, most inclusive is “approach to life”. Similarly Accountancy moves from routine work to moral work; Law from content to extension of self; Music from instrument to communicating; Geograpy is from general world to interactions; Geoscience is from composition of earth – the earth, to relations earth and society. Clearly these are not all the same direction, but they are accents and flavours of the same time. We are going to do a comparison next year on chemistry and chemical engineering, in the UK and South Africa, and actually this work points at what is particular to Higher Education being about engaging with a system of knowledge. Now, my colleague Monica McLean would ask why that’s limited to Higher Education, couldn’t it apply to all education? And that’s valid but I’m going to ignore it just for now!

Another students comments on transformation of all types, for example from wearing a tracksuit to lectures, to not beginning to present themselves this way. Now that has nothing to do with the curriculum, this is about other areas of life. This student almost dropped out but the Afro Carribean society supported and enabled her to continue and progress through her degree. I have worked in HE and FE and the way students talk about that transformation is pretty similar.

So, why would going to university change anyone? It’s about exposure to a system of knowledge changing your view of self, and of the world. Many years ago an academic asked what the point of going to university was, given that much information they learn will be out of date. And the counter argument there is that engagement with seeing different perspectives, to see the world as a sociologist, to see the world as a geographer, etc.

So, to come back to this tension around the comparability of undergraduate degrees, and the transformational potential of undergraduate degrees. If we are about transformation, how do we measure it? What are the metrics for this? I’m not suggesting those will particularly be helpful… But we can’t leave metrics to what is easy to gather, we have to also look at what is important.

So if we think of the first area of compatibility we tend to use rankings. National and international higher education rankings are a dominant way of comparing institutions’ contributions to student success. All universities have a set of figures that do them well. They have huge power as they travel across a number of contexts and audiences – vice chancellors, students, departmental staff. It moves context, it’s portable and durable. It’s nonsense but the strength of these metrics is hard to combat. They tend to involved unrelated and incomparable measures. Their stability reinforces privilege – higher status institutions tend to enrol a much greated proportion of privileged students. You can have some unexpected outcomes but you have to have Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, UCL, Imperial all near the top then your league table is rubbish… Because we already know they are the good universities… Or at least those rankings reinforce the privilege that already exists, the expectations that are set. They tell us nothing about transformation of students. But are skillful performances shaped by generic skills or students understanding of a particular task and their interactions with other people and things?

Now the OECD has put together a ranking concept on graduate outcomes, the AHELO, which uses tests for e.g. physics and engineering – not surprising choices as they have quite international consistency, they are measurable. And they then look at generic tests – e.g a deformed fish is found in a lake, using various press releases and science reports write a memo for policy makers. Is that generic? In what way? Students doing these tests are volunteers, which may not be at all representative. Are the skills generic? Education is about applying a way of thinking in an unstructured space, in a space without context. Now, the students are given context in these texts so it’s not a generic test. But we must be careful about what we measure as what we measure can become an index of quality or success, whether or not that is actually what we’d want to mark up as success. We have strategic students who want to know what counts… And that’s ok as long as the assessment is appropriately designed and set up… The same is true of measures of success and metrics of quality and teaching and learning. That is why I am concerned by AHELO but it keeps coming back again…

Now, I have no issue with the legitimate need for comparison, but I also have a need to understand what comparisons represent, how they distort. Are there ways to take account of students’ transformation in higher education?

I’ve been working, with Rachel Sweetman at University of Oslo, on some key characteristics of valid metrics of teaching quality. For us reliability is much much more important than availability. So, we need ways to assess teaching quality that:

  • are measures of the quality of teaching offered by institutions rather than measures of institutional prestige (e.g. entry grades)
  • require improvements in teaching practices in order to improve performance on the measures
  • as a whole form a coherent set of metrics rather than a set of disparate measures
  • are based on established research evidence about high quality teaching and learning in higher education
  • reflect the purposes of higher education.

We have to be very aware of Goodhearts’ rule that we must be wary of any measure that becomes a performance indicator.

I am not someone with a big issue with the National Student Survey – it is grounded in the right things but the issue is that it is run each year, and the data is used in unhelpful distorted ways – rather than acknowledging and working on feedback it is distorting. Universities feel the need to label engagement as “feedback moments” as they assume a less good score means students just don’t understand when they have that feedback moment.

Now, in England we have the prospect of the Teaching Excellence Framework English White Paper and Technical Consultation. I don’t think it’s that bad as a prospect. It will include students views of teaching, assessment and academic support from the National Student Survey, non completion rates, measures over three years etc. It’s not bad. Some of these measures are about quality, and there is some coherence. But this work is not based on established research evidence… There was great work here at Edinburgh on students learning experiences in UK HE, none of that work is reflected in TEF. If you were being cynical you could think they have looked at available evidence and just selected the more robust metrics.

My big issue with Year 2 TEF metrics are how and why these metrics have been selected. You need a proper consultation on measures, rather than using the White Paper and Technical Consultation to do that. The Office for National Statistics looked at measures and found them robust but noted that the differences between institutions scores on the selected metrics tend to be small and not significant. Not robust enough to inform future work according to the ONS. It seems likely that peer review will end up being how we differentiate between institution.

And there are real issues with TEF Future Metrics… This comes from a place of technical optimism that if you just had the right measures you’d know… This measure ties learner information to tax records for “Longitudinal Education Outcomes data set” and “teaching intensity”. Teaching intensity is essentially contact hours… that’s game-able… And how on earth is that about transformation, it’s not a useful measure of that. Unused office hours aren’t useful, optional seminars aren’t useful…  Keith Chigwell told me about a lecturer he knew who lectured a subject, each week fewer and fewer students came along. The last three lectures had no students there… He still gave them… That’s contact hours that count on paper but isn’t useful. That sort of measure seems to come more from ministerial dinner parties than from evidence.

But there are things that do matter… There is no mechanism outlines for a sector-wide discussion of the development of future metrics. What about expert teaching? What about students relations to knowledge? What about the first year experience – we know that that is crucial for student outcomes? Now the measures may not be easy, but they matter. And what we also see is the Learning Gains project, but they decided to work generically, but that also means you don’t understand students particular engagement with knowledge and engagement. In generic tests the description of what you can do ends up more important than what you actually do. You are asking for claims for what they can do, rather than performing those things. You can see why it is attractive, but it’s meaningless, it’s not a good measure of what Higher Education can do.

So, to finish, I’ve tried to put teaching at the centre of what we do. Teaching is a local achievement – it always shifts according to who the students are , what the setting is, and what the knowledge is. But that also always makes it hard to capture and measure. So what you probably need is a lot of different imperfect measures that can be compared and understood as a whole. However, if we don’t try we allow distorting measures, which reinforce inequalities, to dominate. Sometimes the only thing worse than not being listened to by policy makers, is being listened to them. That’s when we see a Frankenstein’s Monster emerge, and that’s why we need to recognise the issues, to ensure we are part of the debate. If we don’t try to develop alternative measures we leave it open to others to define.


Q1) I thought that was really interesting. In your discussion of transformation of undergraduate students I was wondering how that relates to less traditional students, particularly mature students, even those who’ve taken a year out, where those transitions into adulthood are going to be in a different place and perhaps where critical thinking etc. skills may be more developed/different.

A1) One of the studies I talked about was London Metropolitan University has a large percentage of mature students… And actually there the interactions with knowledge really did prove transformative… Often students lived at home with family whether young or mature students. That transformation was very high. And it was unrelated to achievements. So some came in who had quite profound challenges and they had transformation there. But you have to be really careful about not suggesting different measures for different students… That’s dangerous… But that transformation was there. There is lots of research that’s out there… But how do we transform that into something that has purchase… recognising there will be flaws and compromises, but ensuring that voice in the debate. That it isn’t politicians owning that debate, that transformations of students and the real meaning of education is part of that.

Q2) I found the idea of transformation that you started with really interesting. I work in African studies and we work a lot on decolonial issues, and of the need to transform academia to be more representative. And I was concerned about the idea of transformation as a decolonial type issue, of being like us, of dressing like that… As much as we want to challenge students we also need to take on and be aware of the biases inherent in our own ways of doing things as British or Global academics.

A2) I think that’s a really important question. My position is that students come into Higher Education for something. Students in South Africa – and I have several projects there – who have nowhere to live, have very little, who come into Higher Education to gain powerful knowledge. If we don’t have access to a body of knowledge, that we can help students gain access to and to gain further knowledge, then why are we there? Why would students waste time talking to me if I don’t have knowledge. The world exceeds our ability to know it, we have to simplify the world. What we offer undergraduates is powerful simplifications, to enable them to do things. That’s why they come to us and why they see value. They bring their own biographies, contexts, settings. The project I talked about is based in the work of Basil Bernstein who argues that the knowledge we produce in primary research… But when we design curriculum it isn’t that – we engage with colleagues, with peers, with industry… It is transformed, changed… And students also transform that knowledge, they relate it to their situation, to their own work. But we are only a valid part of that process if we have something to offer. And for us I would argue it’s the access to body of knowledge. I think if we only offer process, we are empty.

Q3) You talked about learning analytics, and the issues of AHELO, and the idea of if you see the analytics, you understand it all… And that concept not being true. But I would argue that when we look at teaching quality, and a focus on content and content giving, that positions us as gatekeepers and that is problematic.

A3) I don’t see knowledge as content. It is about ways of thinking… But it always has an object. One of the issues with the debate on teaching and learning in higher education is the loss of the idea of content and context. You don’t foreground the content, but you have to remember it is there, it is the vehicle through which students gain access to powerful ways of thinking.

Q4) I really enjoyed that and I think you may have answered my question.. But coming back to metrics you’ve very much stayed in the discipline-based silos and I just wondered how we can support students to move beyond those silos, how we measure that, and how to make that work.

A4) I’m more course than discipline focused. With the first year of TEF the idea of assessing quality across a whole institution is very problematic, it’s programme level we need to look at. inter-professional, interdisciplinary work is key… But one of the issues here is that it can be implied that that gives you more… I would argue that that gives you differently… It’s another new way of seeing things. But I am nervous of institutions, funders etc. who want to see interdisciplinary work as key. Sometimes it is the right approach, but it depends on the problem at hand. All approaches are limited and flawed, we need to find the one that works for a given context. So, I sort of agree but worry about the evangelical position that can be taken on interdisciplinary work which is often actually multidisciplinary in nature – working with others not genuinely working in an interdisciplinary way.

Q5) I think to date we focus on objective academic ideas of what is needed, without asking students what they need. You have also focused on the undergraduate sector, but how applicable to the post graduate sector?

A5) I would entirely agree with your comment. That’s why pedagogic content matters so much. You have to understand your students first, as well as then also understanding this body of knowledge. It isn’t about being student-centered but understanding students and context and that body of knowledge. In terms of your question I think there is a lot of applicability for PGT. For PhD students things are very different – you don’t have a body of knowledge to share in the same way, that is much more about process. Our department is all PhD only and there process is central. That process is quite different at that level… It’s about contributing in an original way to that body of knowledge as its core purpose. That doesn’t mean students at other levels can’t contribute, it just isn’t the core purpose in the same way.

Parallel Sessions from PTAS projects: Social Media – Enhancing Teaching & Building Community? – Sara Dorman, Gareth James, Luke March

Gareth: It was mentioned earlier that there is a difference between the smaller and larger projects funded under this scheme – and this was one of the smaller projects. Our project was looking at whether we could use social media to enhance teaching and community in our programmes but in wider areas. And we particularly wanted to look at the use of Twitter and Facebook, to engage them in course material but also to strengthen relationships. So we decided to compare the use of Facebook used by Luke March in Russian Politics courses, with the use of Twitter and Facebook  in African Politics courses that Sara and I run.

So, why were we interested in this project? Social media is becoming a normal area of life for students, in academic practice and increasingly in teaching (Blair 2013; Graham 2014). Twitter increasingly used, Facebook well established. It isn’t clear what the lasting impact of social media would be but Twitter especially is heavily used by politicians, celebrities, by influential people in our fields. 2014 data shows 90% of 18-24 year olds regularly using social media. For lecturers social media can be an easy way to share a link as Twitter is a normal part of academic practice (e.g. the @EdinburghPIR channel is well used), keeping staff and students informed of events, discussion points, etc. Students have also expressed interest in more community, more engagement with the subject area. The NSS also shows some overall student dissatisfaction, particularly within politics. So social media may be a way to build community, but also to engage with the wider subject. And students have expressed preference for social media – such as Facebook groups – compared to formal spaces like Blackboard Learn discussion boards. So, for instance, we have a hashtag #APTD – the name of one of our courses – which staff and students can use to share and explore content, including (when you search through) articles, documents etc. shared since 2013.

So, what questions did we ask? Well we wanted to know:

  • Does social media facilitate student learning and enhance the learning experience?
  • Does social media enable students to stay informaed?
  • Does it facilitate participation in debates?
  • Do they feel more included and valued as part of the suject area?
  • Is social media complementary to VLEs like Learn?
  • Which medium works best?
  • And what disadvantages might there be around using these tools? \

We collected data through a short questionnaire about awareness, usage, usefulness. We designed just a few questions that were part of student evaluation forms. Students had quite a lot to say on these different areas.

So, our findings… Students all said they were aware of these tools. There was slightly higher levels of awareness among Facebook users, e.g. Russian Politics for both UG and PG students. Overall 80% said they were aware to some extent. When we looked at usage – meaning access of this space rather than necessarily meaningful engagement – we felt that usage of course materials on Twitter and Facebook does not equal engagement. Other studies have found students lurking more than posting/engaging directly. But, at least amongst our students (n=69), 70% used resources at least once. Daily usage was higher amongst Facebook users, i.e. Russian Politics. Twitter more than twice as likely to have never been used.

We asked students how useful they found these spaces. Facebook was seen as more useful than Twitter. 60% found Facebook “very” or “somewhat useful”. Only a third described Twitter as “somewhat useful” and none said “very useful”. But there were clear differences between UG and PG students. UG students were generally more positive than PG students. They noted that it was useful and interesting to keep up with news and events, but not always easy to tie that back to the curriculum. Students claimed it “interesting” a lot – for instance comparing historical to current events. More mixed responses included that there was plenty of material on Learn, so didn’t use FB or Twitter. Another commented they wanted everything on Learn, in one place. One commented they don’t use Twitter so don’t want to follow the course there, would prefer Facebook or Learn. Some commented that too many posts were shared, information overload. Students thought some articles were random, couldn’t tell what was good and what was not.

A lot of these issues were also raised in focus group discussions. Students do appreciate sharing resources and staying informed, but don’t always see the connection to the course. They recognise potential for debate and discussion but often it doesn’t happen, but when it does they find it intimidating for that to be in a space with real academics and others, indeed they prefer discussion away from tutors and academics on the course too. Students found Facebook better for network building but also found social vs academic distinction difficult. Learn was seen as academic and safe, but also too clunky to navigate and engage in discussions. Students were concerned others might feel excluded. Some also commented that not liking or commenting could be hurtful to some. One student comments “it was kind of more like the icing than the cake” – which I think really sums it up.

Students commented that there was too much noise to pick through. And “I didn’t quite have the know-how to get something out of”. “I felt a bit intimidated and wasn’t sure if I should join in”. others commented only using social media for social purpose – that it would be inappropriate to engage with academics there.  Some saw Twitter as a professional, Facebook as social.

So, some conclusions…

It seems that Facebook is more popoular with students than Twitter, seen as better for building community. Some differences between UG and PG students, with UG more interested. Generally less enthusiasm than anticiapted. Students were interested in nd aware of benefits of joining in discussions but also wary of commenting too much in “public”. This suggests that we need to “build community” in order for the “community building” tools to really works.

There is also an issue of lack of integration between FB, Twitter and Learn. Many of our findings reflect others, for instance Matt Graham in Dundee – who saw potential for HE humanities students. Facebook was particularly popular for their students than Twitter. He looked more at engagement and saw some students engaging more deeply with the wider African knowledge. But one outcome was that student engagement did not occur or engage sustainably without some structure – particular tasks and small nudges, connected to Learning Outcomes, flagging clear benefits at beginning, and that students should take a lead in creating groups – which came out of our work too – also suggested.

There are challenges here: inappropriate use, friending between staff and students for instance. Alastair Blair notes in an article that the utility of Twitter, despite the challenge, cannot be ignored. For academics thinking about impact it is important, but also for students it is important for alignment with wider subject area that moves beyond the classroom.

Our findings suggest that there is no need to rush into social media. But at the same time Sara and I still see benefits for areas like African Studies which is fast moving and poorly covered in the mainstream media. But the idea of students wanting to be engaged in the real world was clearly not carried through. Maybe more support and encouragement is needed for students – and maybe for staff too. And it would be quite interesting to see if and how students experiences of different politics and events – #indyref, #euref, etc. differ. Colleagues are considering using social media in a course on the US presidential election, might work out differently as students may be more confident to discuss these. The department has also moved forward with more presences for staff and students, also alumni.

Closing words from Matt Graham that encouraging students to question and engage more broadly with their subject is a key skill.


Q1) What sort of support was in place, or guidelines, around that personla/academic identity thing?

A1) Actually none. We didn’t really realise this would happen. We know students don’t always engage in Learn. We didn’t really fully appreciate how intimidating students really found this. I don’t think we felt the need to give guidelines…

A1 – SD) We kind of had those channels before the course… It was organic rather than pedagogic…

Q1) We spoke to students who wanted more guidance especially for use in teaching and learning.

A1 – SD) We did put Twitter on the Learn page… to follow up… Maybe as academics we are the worst people to understand what students would do… We thought they would engage…

Q1) Will you develop guidelines for other courses…

A1) And a clearer explanation might encourage students to engage a bit more… Could be utility in doing some of that. University/institution wise there is cautious adoption and you see guidance issued for staff on using these things… But wouldn’t want overbearing guidance there.

Q1) We have some guidance under CC licence that you can use, available from Digital Footprints space.

Q2) Could you have a safer filtered space for students to engage. We do writing courses with international PG students and thought that might be useful to have social media available there… But maybe it will confuse them.

A2) There was a preference for a closed “safer” environment, talking only to students in their own cohort and class. I think Facebook is more suited to that sort of thing, Twitter is an open space. You can create a private Facebook group… One problem with Russian Politics was that they have a closed group… But had previous cohorts and friends of staff…

A2 – SD) We were trying to include students in real academia… Real tensions there over purpose and what students get out of it… The sense of not knowing… Some students might have security concerns but think it was insecurity in academic knowledge. They didn’t see themselves as co-producers. That needs addressing…

A2) Students being reluctant to engage isn’t new, but we thought we might have more engagement in social media. Now this was the negative side but actually there was positive things here – that wider awareness, even if one directional.

Q3) I just wanted to ask more about the confidence to participate and those comments that suggested that was a bigger issue – not just in social media – for these students, similarly information seeking behaviour

A3) There is work taking place in SPS around study skills, approaching your studies. Might be some room to introduce this stuff earlier on in school wide or subject wide courses… Especially if we are to use these schools. I completely agree that by the end of these studies you should have these skills – how to write properly, how to look for information… The other thing that comes to mind having heard our keynote this morning is the issue of transformative process. It’s good to have high expectations of UG students, and they seem to rise to the occasion… But I think that we maybe need to understand the difference between UG and PG students… And in PG years they take that further more fully.

A3 – SD) UG are really big courses – which may be part of the issue. In PG they are much smaller… Some students are from Africa and may know more, some come in knowing very little… That may also play in…

Q4) On the UG/PG thing these spaces move quickly! Which tools you use will change quickly. And actually the type of thing you post really matters – sharing a news article is great, but how you discuss and create follow up afterwards – did you see that, the follow up, the creation, the response…

A4 – SD) Students did sometimes interact… But the people who would have done that with email/Learn were the same that used social media in that way.

A4) Facebook and Twitter are new technologies still… So perhaps students will be increasingly more engaged and informed and up for engaging in these space. I’m still getting to grips with the etiquette of Twitter. There was more discussion on Facebook Groups than on Twitter… But also can be very surface level learning… It complements what we are doing but there are challenges to overcoming them… And we have to think about whether that is worthwhile. Some real positives and real challenges.

Parallel Sessions from PTAS projects: Managing Your Digital Footprint (Research Strand) – Dr Louise Connelly 

This was one of the larger PTAS-funded projects. This is the “Research Strand” is because it ran in parallel to the campaign which was separately funded.

There is so much I could cover in this presentation so I’ve picked out some areas I think will be practical and applicable to your research. I’m going to start by explaining what we mean by “Digital Footprint” and then talk more about our approach and the impact of the work. Throughout the project and campaign we asked students for quotes and comments that we could share as part of the campaign – you’ll see these throughout the presentation but you can also use these yourself as they are all CC-BY.

The project wouldn’t have been possible without an amazing research team. I was PI for this project – based at IAD but I’m now at the Vet School. We also had Nicola Osborne (EDINA), Professor Sian Bayne (School of Education). We also had two research students – Phil Sheail in Semester 1 and Clare Sowton in Semester 2. But we also had a huge range of people across the Colleges and support services who were involved in the project.

So, I thought I’d show you a short video we made to introduce the project:

YouTube Preview Image

The idea of the video was to explain what we meant by a digital foorprint. We clearly defined what we meant as we wanted to emphasis to students and staff – though students were the focus – was that your footprint is not just what you do but also what other people post about you, or leave behind about you. That can be quite scary to some so we wanted to address how you can have some control about that.

We ran a campaign with lots of resources and materials. You can find loads of materials on the website. That campaign is now a service based in the Institute for Academic Development. But I will be focusing on the research in this presentation. This all fitted together in a strategy. The campaig was to raise awareness and provide practical guidance, the research sought to gain an in-depth understanding of student’s usage and produce resources for schools. Then to feed into learning and teaching on an ongoing basis. Key to the resaerch was a survey we ran during the campaign, which was analysed by the research team..

In terms of the gap and scope of the campaign I’d like to take you back to the Number 8 bus… It was an idea that came out of myself and Nicola – and others – being asked regularly for advice and support. There was a real need here, but also a real digital skills gap. We also saw staff wanting to embed social media in the curriculum and needing support. The brainwave was that social media wasn’t the campaign that was needed, it was about digital footprint and the wider issues. We also wanted to connect to current research. boyd (2014) who works on networked teens talks about the benefits as well as the risks… as it is unclear how students are engaging with social/digital media and how they are curating their online profiles. We also wanted to look at the idea of eprofessionalism (Chester et al 2013), particularly in courses where students are treated as paraprofessionals – a student nurse, for instance, could be struck off before graduating because of social media behaviours so there is a very real need to support ad raise awareness amongst students.

Our overall research aim was to: work with students across current delivery modes (UG, PGT, ODL, PhD) in order to better understand how they 

In terms of our research objectives we wanted to: conduct research which generates a rich understanding; to develop a workshop template – and ran 35 workshops for over 1000 students in that one year; to critically analyse social media guidelines – it was quite interesting that a lot of it was about why students shouldn’t engage, little on the benefits; to work in partnership with EUSA – important to engage around e.g. campaign days; to contribute to the wider research agenda; and to effectively disseminate project findings – we engaged with support services, e.g. we worked with Careers about their LinkedIn workshops which weren’t well attended despite students wanting professional presence help and just rebranding the sessions was valuable. We asked students where they would seek support – many said the Advice Place rather than e.g. IS, so we spoke to them. We spoke to the Councelling service too about cyberbullying, revenge porn, sexting etc.

So we ran two surveys with a total of 1,457 responses. Nicola and I ran two lab-based focus groups. I interviewed 6 individuals over a range of interviews with ethnographic tracing. And we gathered documentary analysis of e.g. social media guidelines. We used mixed methods as we wanted this to be really robust.

Sian and Adam really informed our research methods but Nicola and I really led the publications around this work. We have had various publications and presentations including presentations at the European Conference on Social Media, for the Social Media for Higher Education Teaching and Learning conference. Also working on a Twitter paper. We have other papers coming. Workshops with staff and students have happened and are ongoing, and the Digital Ambassador award (Careers and IS) includes Digital Footprint as a strand. We also created a lot of CC-BY resources – e.g. guidelines and images. Those are available for UoE colleagues, but also for national and international community who have fed into and helped us develop those resources.

I’m going to focus on some of the findings…

The survey was on Bristol Online Survey. It was sent to around 1/3rd of all students, across all cohorts. The central surveys team did the ethics approval and issuing of surveys. Timing had to fit around other surveys – e.g. NSS etc. And we we had relatively similar cohorts in both surveys, the second had more responses but that was after the campaign had been running for a while.

So, two key messages from the surveys: (1) Ensure informed consent – crucial for students (also important for staff) – students need to understand the positive and negative implications of using these non traditional non university social media spaces. In terms of what that means – well guidance, some of the digital skills gap support etc. Also (2) Don’t assume what students are using and how they are using it. Our data showed age differences in what was used, cohort differences (UG, PGT, ODL, PhD), lack of awareness e.g. T&Cs, benefits – some lovely anecdotal evidence, e.g. UG informatics student approached by employers after sharing code on GitHub. Also the important of not making assumptions around personal/educational/professional environments – especially came out of interviews, and generally the implications of Digital Footprint. One student commented on being made to have a Twitter account for a course and not being happy about not having a choice in that (e.g. through embedding of tweets in Learn for instance).

Thinking about platforms…

Facebook is used by all cohorts but ODL less so (perhaps a geographic issue in part). Most were using it as a “personal space” and for study groups. Challenges included privacy management. Also issues of isolation if not all students were on Facebook.

Twitter is used mainly by PGT and PhD students, and most actively by 31-50 year olds. Lots of talk about how to use this effectively.

One of the surprises for us was that we thought most courses using social media would have guidelines in place for the use of social media in programme handbooks. But students reported them not being there, or not being aware of it. So we created example guidance which is on the website (CC-BY) and also an eprofessionalism guide (CC-BY) which you can also use in your own programme handbooks.

There were also tools we weren’t aware were in usage and that has led to a new YikYak research project which has just been funded by PTAS and will go ahead over the next year with Sian Bayne leading, myself, Nicola and Informatics. The ethnographic tracing and interviews gave us a much richer understanding of the survey data.

So, what next? We have been working with researchers in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand… EDINA has had some funding to develop an external facing consultancy service, providing training and support for NHS, schools, etc. We have the PTAS funded YikYak project. We have the Digital Footprint MOOC coming in August. The survey will be issued again in October. Lots going on, more to come!

We’ve done a lot and we’ve had loads of support and collaboration. We are really open to that collaboration and work in partnership. We will be continuing this project into the next year. I realise this is the tip of the iceberg but it should be food for thought.


Q1) We were interested in the staff capabilities

A1 – LC) We have run a lot of workshops for staff and research students, done a series at vet. Theres a digital skills issue, research, and learning and teaching, and personal strands here.

A1 – NO) There were sessions and training for staff before… And much of the research into social media and digital footprint has been very small cohorts in very specific areas,

Comment) I do sessions for academic staff in SPS, but I didn’t know about this project so I’ll certainly work that in.

A1 – LC) We did do a session for fourth year SPS students. I know business school are all over this as part of “Brand You”.

Q2) My background was in medicine and when working in a hospital and a scary colleague told junior doctors to delete their Facebook profiles! She was googling them. I saw an article in the Sun that badly misrepresented doctors – of doctors living the “high life” because there was something sunny.

A2 – LC) You need to be aware people may Google you… And be confident of your privacy and settings. And your professional body guidelines about what you have there. But there are grey areas there… We wanted to emphasise informed choice. You have the Right to be Forgotten law for instance. Many nursing students already knew restrictions but felt Facebook restrictions unfair… A recent article says there are 3.5 degrees of separation on Facebook – that can be risky… In teaching and learning this raises issues of who friends who, what you report… etc. The culture is we do use social media, and in many ways that’s positive.

A2 – NO) Medical bodies have very clear guidance… But just knowing that e.g. Profile pictures are always public on Facebook, you can control settings elsewhere… Knowing that means you can make informed decisions.

Q3) What is “Brand You”?

A3) Essentially it’s about thinking of yourself as a brand, how your presences are uses… And what is consistent, how you use your name, your profile images. And how you do that effectively if you do that. There is a book called “Brand You” which is about effective online presence.

Closing Keynote : Helen Walker, GreyBox Consulting and Bright Tribe Trust

I’m doing my Masters in Digital Education with University of Edinburgh, but my role is around edtech, and technology in schools, so I am going to share some of that work with you. So, to set the scene a wee video: Kids React to Technology: Old Computers:

YouTube Preview Image

Watching the kids try to turn on the machine it is clear that many of us are old enough to remember how to work late 1970s/early 1980s computers and their less than intuitive user experience.

So the gaps are maybe not that wide anymore… But there are still gaps. The gaps for instance between what students experience at home, and what they can do at home – and that can be huge. There is also a real gap between EdTech promises and delivery – there are many practitioners who are enervated about new technologies, and have high expectations. We also have to be aware of the reality of skills – and be very cautious of Prensky’s (2001) idea of the “digital native” – and how intoxicating and inaccurate that can be.

There is also a real gap between industry and education. There is so much investment in technology, and promises of technology. Meanwhile we also see perspectives of some that computers do not benefit pupils. Worse, in September 2015 the OECD reported, and it was widely re-reported that computers do not improve pupil results, and may in fact disbenefit. That risks going back before technology, or technology being the icing on the cake… And then you read the report:

“Technology can amplify great teaching but great technology cannot replace poor teaching.”

Well of course. Technology has to be pedagogically justified. And that report also encourages students as co-creators. Now if you go to big education technology shows like BETT and SETT you see very big rich technology companies offering expensive technology solutions to quite poor schools.

That reflects Education Endowment Fund Report 2012 found that “it’s the pedagogy, not technology” and the technology is a catalyst for change. Glynis Cousins says that technology has to work dynamically with pedagogy.

Now, you have fabulous physical and digital resources here. There is the issue here of what schools have. Schools often have machines that are 9-10 years old, but students have much more sophisticated devices and equipment at home – even in poor homes. Their school experience of using old kit to type essays jars with that. And you do see schools trying to innovate with technology – iPads and such in particular… They brought them, they invest thousands.. But they don’t always use them because the boring crucial wifi and infrastructure isn’t there. It’s boring and expensive but it’s imperative. You need that all in order to use these shiny things…

And with that… Helen guides us to gogopp.com and the web app to ask us why a monkey with its hand in a jar with a coin… We all respond… The adage is that if you wanted to catch a monkey you had to put an orange or some nuts in a jar, and wouldn’t let go, so a hunter could just capture the monkey. I deal with a lot of monkeys… A lot of what I work towards is convincing them that letting go of that coin, or nut, or orange, or windows 7 to move on and change and learn.

Another question for us… What does a shot of baseball players in a field have to do with edtech… Well yes, “if you build it, they will come”. A lot of people believe this is how you deal with edtech… Now although a scheme funding technology for schools in England has come to an end, a lot of Free Schools now have this idea. That if you build something, magic will happen…

BTW this gogopp tool is a nice fun free tool – great for small groups…

So, I do a lot of “change management consultation” – it’s not a great phrase but a lot of what it’s about is pretty straightforward. Many schools don’t know what they’ve got – we audit the kit, the software, the skills. We work on a strategy, then a plan, then a budget. And then we look at changes that make sense… Small scale, pathfinder projects, student led work – with students in positions of responsibility, we have a lot of TeachMeet sessions – a forum of 45 mins or so and staff who’ve worked on pathfinder projects have 2 or max 5 mins can share their experience – a way to drop golden nuggets into the day (much more effective than inset days!), and I do a lot of work with departmental heads to ensure software and hardware aligns with needs.

When there is the right strategy and the right pedagogical approach, brilliant things can happen. For instance…

Abdul Chohan, now principal of Bolton Academy, transformed his school with iPads – giving them out and asking them what to do with them. He works with Apple now…

David Mitchell (no, not that one), Deputy Headteacher in the Northwest, started a project called QuadBlogging for his 6th year students (year 7 in Scotland) whereby there are four organisations involved – 2 schools and 2 other institutions, like MIT, like the Government – big organisations. Students get real life, real world feedback in writing. They saw significant increases in their writing quality. That is a great benefit of educational technology – your audience can be as big or small as you want. It’s a nice safe contained forum for children’s writing.

Simon Blower, had an idea called “Lend me your writing”, crowdfunded Pobble – a site where teachers can share examples of student work.

So those are three examples of pedagogically-driven technology projects and changes.

And now we are going to enter Kahoot.it…

The first question is about a free VLE – Edmodo… It’s free except for analytics which is a paid for option.

Next up… This is a free behaviour management tool. The “Class Story” fundtion has recently been added… That’s Class Dojo.

Next… A wealth of free online courses, primarily aimed at science, math and computing… Khan Academy. A really famous resource now. Came about as Salmon Khan who asked for maths homework help… Made YouTube videos… Very popular and now a global company with a real range of videos from teachers. No adverts. Again free…

And next… an adapting learning platform with origins in the “School of One” in NYC. That’s Knewton. School of One is an interesting school which has done away with traditional classroom one to many systems… They use Knewton, which suggests the next class, module, task, etc. This is an “Intelligent Tutoring System” which I am skeptical of but there is a lot of interest from publishers etc. All around personalised learning… But that is all data driven… I have issues with thinking of kids as data producing units.

Next question… Office 365 tool allows for the creation of individual and class digital notebooks – OneNote. It’s a killer app that Microsoft invest in a lot.

And Patrick is our Kahoot winner (I’m second!)! Now, I use Kahoot I training sessions… It’s fun once… Unless everyone uses it through the day. It’s important that students don’t just experience the same thing again and again, that you work as a learning community to make sure that you are using tools in a way that stays interesting, that varies, etc.

So, what’s happening now in schools?

  • Mobility: BYOD, contribution, cross-platform agility
  • Office365/Google/iCloud
  • VLE/LMS – PLE/PLN – for staff and students
  • Data and tracking

So with mobility we see a growth in Bring Your Own Device… That brings a whole range of issues around esafety, around infrastructure. It’s not just your own devices, but also increasingly a kind of hire-purchase scheme for students and parents. That’s a financial pressure – schools are financially pressured and this is just a practical issue. One issue that is repeatedly coming up is the issue of cross-platform agility – phones, tablets, laptops. And discussion of bringing in keyboards, mice, and traditional set ups… Keyboard skills are being seen as important again in the primary sector. The benefit of mobile devices is collaboration, the idea of the main screen allowing everyone to be part of the classroom… You don’t need expensive software, can use e.g. cheap Reflector mirroring software. Apps… Some are brilliant, some are dreadful… Management of apps and mobile device management has become a huge industry… Working with technicians to support getting apps onto devices… How you do volume purchasing? And a lot of apps… One of two hit propositions… You don’t want the same app every week for one task… You need the trade off of what is useful versus getting the app in place/stafftime. We also have the issue of the student journey. Tools like socrative and nearpod lets you push information to devices. But we are going to look at/try now Plickers… What that does is has one device – the teachers mobile app – and I can make up printed codes (we’ve all been given one today) that can be laminated, handed out at the beginning of the year… So we then hold up a card with the appropriate answer at the top… And the teacher’s device is walked around to scan the room for the answers – a nice job for a student to do… So you can then see the responses… And the answer… I can see who got it wrong, and who got it right. I can see the graph of that….

We have a few easy questions to test this: 2+2 = (pick your answer); and how did you get here today? (mostly on foot!).

The idea is it’s a way to get higher order questioning into a session, otherwise you just hear from the kids that put their hands up all the time. So that’s Plicker… Yes, they all have silly names. I used to live in Iceland where a committee meets to agree new names – the word for computer means “witchcraft machine”.

So, thinking about Office365/Google/iCloud… We are seeing a video about a school where pupils helps promote, manage, coding, supporting use of Office365 in the school. And how that’s a way to get people into technology. These are students at Wyndham High in Norfolk – all real students. That school has adopted Office365. Both Office365 and Google offer educational environments. One of the reasons that schools err towards Office365 is because of the five free copies that students get – which covers the several locations and machines they may use at home.

OneNote is great – you can drag and drop documents… you can annotate… I use it with readings, with feedback from tutors. Why it’s useful for students is the facility to create Class Notebooks where you add classes and add notebooks. You can set up a content library – that students can access and use. You can also view all of the students notebooks in real time. In schools I work in we no longer have planners, instead have a shared class notebook – then colleagues can see and understand planning.

Other new functionality is “Classroom” where you can assign classes, assignments… It’s a new thing that brings some VLE functionality but limited in terms of grades being 0-100. And you can set up forms as well – again in preview right now but coming. Feedback goes into a CSV file in excel.

The other thing that is new is Planner – a project planning tool to assign tasks, share documents, set up groups.

So, Office 365 is certainly the tool most secondary schools I work with use.

The other thing that is happening in schools right now is the increasing use of data dashboards and tracking tools – especially in secondary schools – and that is concerning as it’s fairly uncritical. There is a tool called Office Mix which lets you create tracked content in Powerpoint… Not sure if you have access here, but you can use it at home.

Other data in schools tools include Power BI… Schools are using these for e.g. attainment outcomes. There is a free schools version of this tool (used to be too expensive). My concern is that it is not looking at what has impact in terms of teaching and learning. It’s focused on the summative, not the actual teaching and learning, not on students reporting back to teachers on their own learning. Hattie and self-reported grades tells us that students set expectations, goals, and understand rubrics for self-assessment. There is rich and interesting work to be done on using data in rich and meaningful ways.

In terms of what’s coming… This was supposed to be by 2025, then 2020, maybe sooner… Education Technology Action Group suggest online learning is an entitlement, better measures of performance, new emerging teaching and learning, wearables, etc.

Emerging EdTech includes Augmented Reality. It’s a big thing I do… It’s easy but it excites students… It’s a digital overlay on reality… So my two year old goddaughter is colouring in book that is augmented reality – you can then see a 3D virtual dinosaur coloured as per your image. And she asked her dad to send me a picture of her with a dinosaur. Other fun stuff… But where is the learning outcome here? Well there is a tool called Aurasma… Another free tool… You create a new Aura trigger image – can be anything – and you can choose your overlay… So I said I wanted to change the words on th epaper converted into French. It’s dead easy! We get small kids into this and can put loads of hidden AR content around the classroom, you can do it on t-shirts – to show inner working of the body for instance. We’ve had Year 11’s bring Year 7 textbooks to life for them – learning at both ends of the spectrum.

Last thing I want to talk about is micro:bit. This is about coding. In England and Wales coding is compulsory part of English now. All students are being issued a micro:bit and students are now doing all sorts of creative things. Young Rewired State project runs every summer and come to London to have code assessed – the winners were 5 and 6 year olds. So they will come to you with knowledge of coding – but they aren’t digital natives no matter what anyone tells you!


Q1 – Me) I wanted to ask about equality of access… How do you ensure students have the devices or internet access at home that they need to participate in these activities and tools – like the Office365 usage at home for instance. In the RSE Digital Participation Inquiry we found that the reality of internet connectivity in homes really didn’t match up to what students will self-report about their own access to technology or internet connections, there is such baggage associated with not having internet access to access to the latest technologies and tools… So I was wondering how you deal with that, or if you have any comments on that.

A1) With the contribution schemes that schools have for devices… Parents contribute what they can, school covers the rest… So that can be 50p or £1 per month, it doesn’t need to be a lot. Also pupil premium money can be used for this. But, yes, parental engagement is important… Many students have 3G access not fixed internet for instance and that has cost implications… some can use dongles supplied by schools but just supporting students like this can cost 15k/yr to support for a small to medium sized cohort. There is some interesting stuff taking place in new build schools though… So for instance Gaia in Wales are a technology company doing a lot of the new build hardware/software set up… In many of those schools there is community wifi access… a way around that issue of connectivity… But that’s a hard thing to solve.

Q1 – Me) There was a proposal some years ago from Gordon Brown’s government, for all school aged children to have government supported internet access at home but that has long since been dropped.

Q2) I fear with technologies is that if I learn it, it’s already out of date. And also learners who are not motivated to engage with these tools they haven’t used before… I enjoyed these tools, their natty…

A2) Those are my “sweet shop” tools… Actually Office365/Google or things like Moodle are the bread and butter tools. These are fun one-off apps… They are pick up and go stuff… but its getting big tools working well that matter. Ignore the sweets if you need or want… The big stuff matters.

And with that Velda is closing with great thanks to our speakers today, to colleagues in IAD, and to Daphne Loads and colleagues. Please do share your feedback and ideas, especially for the next forum!

Mar 022016
The stage at Jisc Digifest 2016

Today and tomorrow I am in Birmingham for Jisc Digifest 2016 which I’ll be liveblogging here. I’m particularly hear wearing my Jisc’s 50 most influential higher education (HE) professionals using social media hat, helping to share the event with the wider sector who aren’t able to be at the ICC.

There is also an online programme so, if you aren’t here in person, you can not only follow the tweets on #digifest16 and the various blogs, you can also view special online content here.

As usual, this is a liveblog so all corrections, additions, comments, etc. are very welcome. 

Plenaries: the power of digital for change

Dr Paul Feldman, chief executive, Jisc

Good morning and warm welcome from me and the whole Jisc team to Digifest 16. A warm welcome to those, like me, here for the first time. Digifest is all about the power of digital in education. That video of More Power to You is all about a subtext coming from Jisc over the next few months about people and technologies.

Now I’ve been in post only a few months and in that time I’ve been finding out about how you are using digital. And Digifest 16 is all about seeing the power of digital in practice. You, as well as others not able to be here today, and our online audience will do just that. Some of those articles we shared ahead of today have already had 800 views, and we want to carry that conversation on after today.

Before I hand over to our Jisc Chair I also want to thank our sponsors and partners for Digifest: Pervasive, Danny Boyle, ITR, Optix, Saville AV.

And with that, I will hand over to David Maguire, Chair of Jisc, to talk a bit more about Jisc and what we do.

Professor David Maguire, chair, Jisc

Welcome from me, and from all members of the board to Jisc Digifest. I will be talking about the power of digital, and that you have to have vision as well as pragmatism.

So, Jisc, the body for further and higher education which represents all things digital. We represent shared digital infrastructure, services, advice and expertise. We work with around 1000 organisations around the country. We have a national network infrastructure with about 18 million users in any given year. That is well known. It is perhaps less well known that over 50% of all UK library spend on e-resources comes through Jisc. And we save the sector around £203M annually – about twice what Jisc actually spends to do that.

Jisc is of the sector, for the sector. We do three main things for you. We run shared digital infrastructure and services – including the Janey network but also things like learning analytics, research data management. We provide Sector Wide deals with IT vendors and commercial publishers – examples here include Microsoft 365, Amazon Web Services, Prevent web filtering. And we provide expertise and advice.

One of the challenges we face is the huge growth in interest – a six-fold growth in traffic in the use of Janet since 2010. That growth means we also need to invest in the infrastructure, to ensure that we update our infrastructure to keep it suitable to meet those needs.

I also want to talk about University digital challenges.

Right now there is lots going on – a Digital Wild West. We have BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) – easy to desire but hard to deliver well, Wikipedia Scholars – everybody can find out everything now, limited IP respect – and as custodians we have responsibilities to the IPO, to copyright holders, for things that happen on our network.

We see students moving faster than university policies/systems/practices/staff. The answer isn’t to slow students down, but to be ready to do that.

We have to keep up with demand – building industrial strength solutions. We’ve all heard of academics building something in a weekend, but it takes a huge amount of work to take an idea and turn it into a robust and flexible solution. That’s a challenge across MOOCs, VLEs, student systems, Learning Analytics.

Breadth vs Depth are also challenges for us to address. How do we cater to specialists and generalists at the same time?

Now, the education sector is rather a small technology sector for vendors to create appropriate robust solutions for. We need common information systems to reduce the cost of building systems that meet the sectors requirements.

So, Jisc is working on some ideas and solutions to address those challenges. Right now there is a Janet mid-term upgrade to ensure we can continue to meet that rising demand on the network. We are looking at Learning Analytics. We are also working on more technology and content agreements – to reduce the cost of delivering the same services to you. We are looking at Open Access – currently costing more to access content in Open Access journals than in old proprietary systems. We have FE area reviews. Big push on research data management in readiness for the next REF. And Paul and I are keen to ensure Jisc remains at the heart of Technology-enhanced learning.

Paul Feldman: On technology-enhanced learning there is no point doing that unless you think about the context and the spaces that that learning takes place in. Which takes us to our next speaker…

Professor Andrew Harrison, professor of practice at University of Wales Trinity St David and director, Spaces That Work Ltd

I’m delighted to be here to talk about the interaction of space and pedagoguey. I’m a psychologist by training but I’ve been working in education for the last 20 years. The internet has changes notions of place, time and space. What excites me particularly is I see more blurring between learning, and working, and leisure, blending in new ways.

Now, some people are predicting that these changes make physical campuses unsustainable – there is a famous quote from Peter Drucker on this. Now I don’t believe that but I think that traditional categories of space are becoming less meaningful as space becomes less specialised. I could give you a 30 minute talk on the importance of corridors! The meaning and function of spaces are being challenged. We are under more pressure to use spaces more effectively. And we are really bad at utilising spaces. The typical space usage in HE is 25-30% so we need to try and use space more intensively, and to make that space flexible for less specialised use. So we need some specialised learning spaces, but more generic learning spaces and also more informal learning spaces.

So, how can space support learning and teaching? Ideas about learning and teaching are changing, so what sort of space do we need to create to support interaction and active participation? How do we make spaces integrated, multidisciplinary? How do we support distributed learning that can take place anywhere, any time. And how does that physical space relate to our digital spaces? We need to create spaces that support the pedagaguey – thinking spaces, designing spaces, creative spaces, etc.

But, where I get really excited is your world. Where digital is not just equipped by technology but informed by it. Virtual and physical are not opposites – they are part of the same thing. Even when you are in a virtual space you are still situated. And we have to acknowledge that and respect the continuing usefulness of face to face experiences. My own work particularly looks at spaces that support blended learning. Universities regularly have to reshape campuses to support these types of activities – typically spaces are bigger, with better lighting, acoustics, technology. In HE shared learning spaces tend to be boring – they seem to be thought of as a neutral rather than telling stories, rather than being designed and that’s an integral part of the space.

Now this image (three images of classrooms) is here to scared University Estates teams. A traditional didactic learning set up means rows and rows of students – very efficient. More participative spaces maybe enable pair working. But a more active pedagoguey means a room that seats fewer people in clusters. As we move to this type of teaching and learning we may need fewer spaces, but larger spaces. And this shows the importance of estates and teaching staff working together to design learning spaces.

Some of my favourite examples of great spaces are the Melbourne University Learning Lab – a flexible, adaptable space, and the IED Blended learning classroom in Karachi. At the moment I’m working on the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea. We have an amazing opportunity there to entirely redevelop a quarter of the city. Part of that relates to understanding the UWTSD library offer, and a VLE that enables on campus and off campus experiences that are comparable. And Wales is leading the world in moving to a single VLE so that all universities and libraries will be connected.

When we talk abot the creatoin of learning-centred communities we can see different levels and types of learners as very different, but I’m excited to think about hybrid spaces blending schools and museums together. There are huge opportunities to explore what that mean.

To summarise I think the future learning experience is much more layered. It is about flexible activity zones to support learning, living and working. And it is about users choosing appropriate settings and technology for the tasks they want to achieve (a study by a US chair supplier years back found students sitting on the tables more than the chairs!). Needs for spaces change throughout the day. Those needs also change depending on the learners context, background, mode.

So, successful digital learning spaces are about:Space; Place; Process; Experience – including those moments before and after class, how do we create a student journey that celebrates learning and its place within wider society.

Paul: This takes us to our next speaker Donna Lanclos – it’s her third Digifest and she is here to provoke us, as I’m sure she will!

Professor Donna Lanclos, associate professor for anthropological research,UNC Charlotte

I was really interested in what Andrew said. We today, just like our students, are here benefiting from being face to face as well as the digital being available. That digital possibility doesn’t take away from that shared experience.

We do need to think about digital as a space. Society-wide we have to think about what does it mean to do the things that we do face to face, when things can be done online. What does it mean for teaching and learning when we can take those spaces around in our pocket. Teachers can worry about attention… But that misses the point, it’s about where people are, what they are doing. That concern about attention is the outcome of a flawed system of handing out tools and telling people to use it. Instead we have to understand what these different experiences means.

What does it mean for those without access to these digital places? When really important stuff happens in those spaces, but not everyone can have access to. It’s not the “digital divide”, it’s segregation. We have to deal with that. We have to move the conversation away from tools and practice. We have to talk about place and experience. Lets talk about people… They can be present, they can be online… they can be engaging multimodally. What does the existance of these digital spaces mean for engagement. What is happening in this room is more than you just sitting there. How does what you do on your life make you more here? That’s something we can leverage, and use. We have to not be afraid of that… Asking students to switch off devices is the modern equivelent of “look me in the eye young man” – and that never worked either!

The theme over the next few days is about leveraging the digital for change. And I’d ask you to question why change, for whom are we changing. When I run a workshop we often end up talking about tools – people are comfortable about talking about that. But at some point the conversation moves from the tools, to the people being engaged through those talks. And we don’t signal that, it just happens. It naturally falls out of that chat, and we quickly turn to ideas of presence and community. So, think about who you engage with in digital spaces… And that will vary hugely depending on your experience (as is the case for engagement in any space).

We have to think about, if we want to change the nature of engagement, then we need to think less about what you have to do, and more about with whom you have to speak. If you don’t want to change, then that is valid and you have to make that case. Likewise, if you want to change things, make that case. Ensure you have moments of reflection to think about that. More than that we need to think carefully about the roles of leaders to make space for that kind of reflection and change, and for there to be safety around the risks of change. Change happens because you are willing to take risks and see what comes next. Predicting the future locks us into something, blocks off other possibilities.

We were asked to to say what we thought you could do to get the most from Digifest. So, I recommend the mapping sessions, as I love those. But make sure you engage with human beings. I’d encourage you not to get out there to talk to people who hand you a tool and tell you how to do it, instead engage with those people asking you what you need to do, who you need to connect to. I would like these sorts of events to be about intention and purpose. You can go to any trade show, you, the online participants, this is the core of Digifest. I would frame this event in terms of the human experience that you can engage with, and not digital as a tool.

So, eventually technology will come into the conversation… But not starting with that gives you a much more interesting conversation to have.


Q1) About the flexible spaces, and the need to include technology… Actually that’s difficult in terms of challenges around power. Moveable flexible furniture makes power hard to manage.

A1 – Andrew) Power is an issue. Battery life helps, tablets help. We also have trolleys for device charging as well, and floor boxes can help. But not all sessions need technology… You can have technology zones around the edge, and flexible space in the middle.

A1 – Donna) Ideally you’d be supported to develop a pedagoguey that works whether or not the power comes up… I spoke with someone who hit a power issue and noted a colleague “taught anyway, without a powerpoint” as if that was extraordinary. We have to manage the untethered spaces… And reassure colleagues who are nervous of failure. No matter what happens you still teach and your students still learn.

Q2) I’m just having difficult visualising students you are talking about. You seem quite generic about different students you are talking about… Thinking about FE and HE I don’t hear cultural inclusion in any of your talks. We have such a variety of competencies and confidence… Can you give me a dimension of different types of students… You all seem to be talking about young students.

A2 – Andrew) I agree completely. The average age of students here is over 21, in New Zealand (where I’m from) it’s 25. The reality is that we have a much more complex set of students, expectations, skills that the institution needs to embrace.

A2 – Donna) My institution has a very diverse student body. Institutions have responsibility to have intentions around what they want their students to achieve. Of course they come in with a wide variety of preparations and experiences, but that shouldn’t mean we don’t have expectations for them. Funding can of course limit the degree to which we can target our work. We have a responsibility to teach the students that show up – not just providing technology support but also teaching and learning support. We should be less driven by student expectations coming in, and be more driven by our intention and ambitions.

A2 – David) I’m not aware of any technology that asks the user what age they are. Technology is neutral in this. And there are real opportunities for all kinds of students here.

Q2) We are seeing grants for disabled people coming in in September, and it would be really interesting to see how we can do more to assist them.

A2 – Paul) Absolutely and Jisc have a real role in promoting inclusion, including accessibility technologies. You’ll have seen in the video an example of inspiring use of technology to widen participation. One of the things that worries me about social inclusion. The first place I visited in this role was Sheffield University. I was incredibly impressed with the quality of technology kit that students had. One of the things we included in our submission to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, is the need to ensure that we are socially inclusive and that it is not just well off middle class kids who have access to great kit.

Q3 – Dave Starkey, Portsmouth) You talked about collaborative learning spaces and that they take up more space. We have some flexible spaces at Portsmouth and they don’t seem to take up more space.

A3 – Andrew) Yes, on a student number basis they do take up more space – just to have desks, to have space between groups for group working. That’s less densely packed than rows of chairs with flip desks. The way Universities handle this is to timetable more intensively but having fewer bigger spaces. We are planning on 2.7m per student in teaching studios like this, rather than the typical 1.8m per student in traditional classrooms.

Q3) For us we do see some aoustic blend across groups, but that can be beneficial as they learn from each other…

A3 – Donna) We are seeing a huge demand for these types of rooms – asking to teach at 8.30 in the morning to get into the rooms. Making these active spaces available has huge impact. I mean, in what universe did we think densely packed spaces were a good ideas.

Q4 – Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus) Based on those presentations I’m not sure what this event is selling, the talk of a single infrastructure… 20 years ago we had a focus on national provision…

A4 – Paul) Yes, we have national provision to an extent, but we are here to help you do this stuff.

A4 – David) Yes, we provide infrastructure nationally. And there are some economies of scale. But we are very much about promoting best practice and opportunities. We don’t have an agenda here, other than what you as a community tell us.

A4 – Paul) Generally Jisc is moving away from big services. Janet is really important but generally we are focusing on best practice, on tools and expertise that you couldn’t afford as individual institutions, but which you can take and adapt and embed in your organisation. We want to know the spaces you want, the investments we can make to support you to teach your students, whether in HE or FE. Helping us understand what we can do to help you, for you to employ locally in your organisation, is what we want to understand.

Q5 – David White) To what extent do you think digital can make people better teachers or researchers?

A5 – Donna) It can’t.

A5 – Andrew) I think I agree. It can enable and enhance things.

A5 – Donna) Digital doesn’t do anything. It’s people that do things.

A5 – David) I basically agree but for some people digital can capture the imagination and motivate teachers and learners. It can in that sense make people better teachers. If we think the solution to all known problems is digital, that’s not the point. You still need good pedagogies, good learning objectives, etc.

A5 – Donna) I think technology can’t be seen as the solution, and we shouldn’t think of teaching and learning as a problem. It’s a process.

A5 – Paul) I think I would disagree to an extent. The student experience was so much about capturing information when I was a student. Now there is such availability of information that there is that space for discussion, for participation. You need great inspiring lecturers and teachers. But technology enables even less good lecturers and teachers to do a better for their students.

Q6) You’ve talked about the learning experience. But digital is transforming the research experience. There is such increasing availability of data. Digital is transforming the way we do research and that wasn’t reflected in those talks.

A6 – David) Absolutely. I touched on data access and research data management – where Jisc is hugely active. We are looking at informing the next REF and how we can play a role in that. Some of the things going on in Janet are focused on support for big data, for CERN, shared data centres for High Performance Computing, for the Crick centre, etc.

A6 – Andrew) From a space point of view research spaces are changing just as radically. The interdisciplinary drive is a big part of that too.

A6 – Donna) There are absolutely parallels between teaching and research staff. Again that issue of dealing with people through digital places to do the work they need to do with their research, but those motivations are still the same, even as technologies change.

Q7) The best practice you are advocating goes against the government’s practice to fit students in like sardines, to save money per head.

A7 – Paul) I’m not sure I’d agree that that is the agenda…

A7 – Andrew) All the universities I work with are trying to do more for less. But there is also a rebalancing of use of space… And reimagining or reinventing existing spaces to deal with larger numbers, to improve occupancy. But financially that is challenging too. The fee structures coming in does seem to have really changed the importance of the estate to attract good students and staff. Space is getting more attention at all levels.

A7 – Donna) I hate that particular government agenda. In fact I’m a bit “from the future” in that respect as we’ve had that in the US for longer. I would like to see more support and advocacy from Jisc for the sector for better teaching and research spaces and practices. There is a role for advocacey… So that collectively we don’t agree to do more with less, but to leverage shared agendas to push back on that. Or at least to call governments on their claims that they care about education.

A7 – David) It was ever thus. We have always asked for more. I would say that technology can be beneficial helper here, to reduce costs of delivery, to be more effective in what we do. Operating in the virtual world is more cost effective than a physical space. We can bring in wider audiences, and we can reach more people digitally.

A7 – Paul) My view, having come from the commercial world, is that the government is trying to apply the values of the commercial world on the education sector. But I would ask you to put pressure on your own organisational decision makers as they have a lot more power to make opportunities and to show leadership within that agenda.

Paul: And on that controversial question we are done here. So, go out and use our 30 minute break to engage with people!

Improving digital technology skills in FE: the CPD serviceAdvice and practical assistance  – Sarah Dunne, senior co-design manager, Jisc; Clare Killen, consultant; Peter Chatterton, consultant; Georgia Hemings, co-design support officer, Jisc

After an introduction from Sarah, Claire is kicking off the session with feedback from students at college who are keen to make better and more effective use of technology. Teachers are looking to engage learners, to do that wherever they learn – whether classroom or home. But teachers are always short on time. For some traditional teaching modes are still their focus.

The sector is also facing challenges: FELTAG suggests the sector moves 10% of guided learning hours online – but who will create the content. There has to be motivation and support for staff in moving to  a blended model. We also need to make space for elearning development, providing flexible training. In house access to training and support varies. Lots of content is available but there are challenges about making that work.

Peter: We are keen to hear your views, starting with the question: What are your biggest challenges in developing digital capabilities and opportunities?

Comments from the audience include: an abundance of strategies but not necessarily the time and resources to make that happen. And the challenge when things dont work all for 100% of the time – ensuring confidence and trust aren’t negatively impacted by that. 

Peter: What about content?

Comment: Theres information out there… but you cant just take that and put it up on the VLE. So you have to make it c;ear what can be used, how to make that easy, and what you have to do to use this sort of content. 

Sarah: Im going to talk about what we are planning to do, this is ore aspirational at this stage as this session is part of our planning process.

So, FELTAG is informing our work – it isn’t the sole driver but it is useful, particularly the findings on digital capabilities. Indeed Jisc has been doing work already in this area, underpinned by our framework for capabilities, which breaks this area into six key aspects.

So, to address some of these needs we will have a discover tool which enables you to assess your own digital capabilities, to understand which resources will be of most relevance, where there is scope to develop your skills. And this will helppeople access advice and support.

Second, we will have a Learn area, directing you to resources, with community ratings and reviews. This will be frames around specific digital capabilities and themes.

And we will have Build activities – an online activity builder app – a tool to assist with embedding digital approaches to learning and lesson planning. This will be later in the year, but will let you upload content, choose materials by level, etc.

And we are supporting Meet opportunities so that you can review and rate apps and learning resources, to develop your knowledge base and contribute resources, providing opportunities for collaboration and sharing of experience.

And finally, we are very conscious of the need to Find and Reuse a route directly through to learning objects and instruction on how to repurpose and reuse objects on various platforms – and we are currently working with organisations to identify those resources.

And with that Sarah hands over for questions, and Im switching sessions as the sound levels in Hall 3 are making it hard to hear this session – especially audience comments. 

Showcasing research data tools

I have snuck into the Showcasing Digital Research Tools demo session as there are a number of interesting speakers lined up here. At the moment John Casey is talking about the Clipper project. As I’ve recently blogged a workshop on this project I recommend reading that post for the background. 

John Casey is now doing a live demo – you can explore the demo site at: http://reachwill.co.uk/clipper2.1/clipper-editor/.

The Clipper tool uses APIs from major video platforms such as YouTube. I can search for a video, select it, and make it part of my project. I can choose to select a clip from that video – based on time markers. And I can title and annotate that clip. And because you access the player from the site these videos come from, you can use only videos you have appropriate access rights to. So, for instance, I’ve tried this with Jisc MediaHub and it works as playing a video in Clipper will direct you to login then view the content.

Giving researchers credit for their data – Neil Jeffries, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford University

This is a project aiming to encourage researchers to deposit their data in repositories, but also to get more value out of their data and other shared data. We have several partners in this work, including organisations focused on sharing methodologies rather than the research data itself, and those working with publishers.

The idea is that this tool is a “carrot” for data deposit. There is a “submit data” button in the repository – this means that repositories get more data deposits and better metadata. And the researcher gets an additional publication/citation possibility – and preservation of that data. Publishers working with this syetsm get more data paper submissions, etc. And we know that connecting that deposit to publishing can be a powerful motivator for researchers.

So, to make this happen we have various connectors built (or planned) to tools where data will be coming from. Within the repositories a deposit generates a page, QR code, links to data etc. And we have a “Data Paper Companion” space. When a researcher submits data we connect that to their Orchid ID, their data is viewable and explorable by journal, project, etc. For any data set supporting licenses, declaration of interests, metadata, etc. is shown on the page, along with a summary of data. As a user you can elect to download a sample or the full data. When you find a data paper (e.g. The Elton Archive) you can find the data associated with that, you can also find the information on publications etc.

As the publisher of that data you can also edit the record, add new associated data sets, etc. And, once everything is organised you can choose to submit your data paper to a journal such as F1000 Research. If you choose to do that your data and details are pulled through to their submission system, where you can make edits, add content, etc. but all of your data assets have been brought through for you making this quick and easy.

So, the idea is to encourage greater deposit of data, and the

We have various data sharing and publicatoin platforms…  Mendeley, FigShare, DSpace repositories, etc. on board.


Q1) Is that Bodleian project live yet?

A1 – Neil) No, we aren’t scheduled to be done with phase 3 for another 6 months but we should have an update then. The idea that this is a route through to publishers though. We have made our source code available already, though we still have some work to do on connectors – Sword connectors will be build by the appropriate module owners though. And I know that Jisc is looking at a centrally provided service to enable this.

The Jisc project manager in the Pod also notes that there will be a showcase for this work, and you can follow #dataspring for further updates on all the projects.

Having had a chance to chat with the lovely folk at Guidebook (info, etc. on their website if you are curious) I’ve headed to a slightly different session, on open citation. 

Introducing the open citation experiment – Drahomira Herrmannova, doctoral researcher, Knowledge Media Institute (KMI), The Open UniversityVerena Weigert, senior co-design manager, Jisc

Verena: I’m here to introduce Drahomira who has been designing the open citation experiment, to test a new approach that evaluates the full text – the meaning of the citation. The idea is to overcome draw backs of conventional citation metrics, and takes advantage of the availability of full text.

This project was the first large scale analysis of this new type of metrics, based on over 1 million articles. Drahomira will say a bit more about the approach taken, and show a demonstrator website.

Drahomira: Thank you for the introduction. This experiment uses full text methods to understand research metrics – using Semantometrics.

So, what are Semantometrics? They are a new class of metrics for evaluating research. This is different from research metrics and altmetrics, both of which measure engagement. Whilst those counts have been widely used and adopted, despite criticism, but technology and the availability of full text make different metrics possible, that look at the full text rather than just the usage/engagement from outside sources.

So Semantometic contribution measures are based on the idea of measuring the progress of scholarly discussion. The hypothesis states that the added value of publication p can be estimated based on the semantic distance from the publications cited by p to the publications citing p. So this measure traces development and bridging of ideas and concepts (http://semantometrics.org/).

This work with Jisc was a comparative study with analysis carried out to investigate the properties of the contribution measure. The experiment were carries out on a dataset obtained by merging data from the Connecting Repositories (CORE), the Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG) and Mendeley. After merging the datasets there are 1.6 million publications (though 12 million starting data set).

So, I will now show you the demonstrator website – already online and public. We’ll also share our research around the project on the same site. What I’m going to show you is the visualisation made possible through semantometrics. So, we can, for instance, look at network diagrams showing nodes and networks across publications. And in this model the mode important paper is the one which bridges two different communities or areas of thought. We measure the distance of publications cited by a specific publication, and we look for the contribution value to a particular domain, and more broadly. We look at specifics of groups or clusters of publications, and the distribution between them.

So, papers in both sets may be dispersed… and that isn’t necessarily impactful. But a paper with a very narrow range of citations that opens ideas up to a much wider range of papers and communities may be very impactful.

I prepared some examples on some publications, with visualisations that put the paper at the core, then show linkages out to papers… And distance is semantic distance between ideas. Those visualisations show the links between papers, but also indicate the field itself – the diversity of the areas in which the publication sits.

I selected examples which generate interesting graphs… But there is more detail in the report, which is available on the website. Two of these graphs address contribution and citation count. These show a big difference… Very few papers have high citation counts but many papers have high contribution. We were looking at correlations between the datasets… We were interested in looking at readership – using Mendeley data. Citation count and readership have a high correlation – not surprising. On the average values we see that above a certain value of citations, publications receive always above average contribution scores. That confirms what we might imagine to be true – that impactful papers are cited more. But it also reflects that lower citation scores may represent smaller more specialist research communities.


Q1) Have you factored in negative citations – citing papers that are being critiqued or argued against?

A1) No, but that is citation sentiment and that is a research area that we know about and are interested in.

Q2) Do you factor in the age of a citation?

A2) No, not at the moment, but again something to consider.

Q3) An observation. I’m glad you’ve done this observation on an open data set, as Thomson Reuters impact scores for REF are hopeless, as they are closed and proprietary. Your work finally opens that up, and that’s great. There is some discussion on the REF, and the cost of running that. And discussion of whether there is a light touch REF – with more metrics and less human time. What impact could you see this work having in a lighter touch REF?

A3) One of our motivations here was to see how metrics could be use. A big advantage here for REF. Whilst there are issues – like negative citations etc. It can be hard to compare publications. But we need to better understand what exactly research metrics capture, whether metrics are stable – whether recently after publication is representative or not. We can develop new metrics that takes account of time. Lots of promise… But we really have to understand what the metrics tells you. On the openness I agree with you. What really helped us was that… Originally we missed the citation network so I have to say Microsoft really helped. But Mendeley is very managed by people, Microsoft is very noisy data.

Q3) At the moment we have to take publishers word for it..

A3) Sure, but we have to be aware of the downsides of public data sets.

Q4) I’m assuming this was a global corpus – how did you account for language as that can be so difficult to do with semantic processing and analysis?

A4) That would be really interesting. My colleague is an expert in this area and we hope to do more work on that.

Q5) What do you see as important next around the stability of the metrics?

A5) We are looking at the stability of the metrics at the moment. But we believe they should be more stable for citations, but contribution we think that that will change more over time. One of the other challenges here is how one handles uncited publications… The advantage of semantics is that the data is there from the moment of publication, so in terms of understanding contribution that’s immediately available. I think this can be used to distinguish key papers, and to understand distance between publications. We can place a value on each citation already.

Verena: We have arranged a workshop in March with domain experts, and a report will be coming out at the end of March. And we’ll tweet some of those links.

Jisc’s investment in digital content for humanities: understanding the impact on research outcomes – Paola Marchionni, head of digital resources for teaching, learning and research, Jisc; Peter Findlay, digital portfolio manager, Jisc; Professor Eric T Meyer, senior research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute; Dr Kathryn Eccles, research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute.

Paola: Welcome to this session. We will hear first from Eric Meyer at OxII at some work on Early English Books Online and House of Commons Parliamentary papers which really shows the impact of those resources. Then we’ll hear from my colleague Peter Findlay on the portfolio of services, and how things are changing going forward, and hwo we are looking for new ways of teaming up, and we’d love your feedback on that.

Eric Meyer: The project I’ll be talking about was funded by Jisc and ProQuest but I just wanted to start with a bit of background on our work. So in 2008 – but updated since – we created a toolset called TIDSR, supported by Jisc, to understand the impact that various digitised resources were having. Jisc had digitised a whole series of collections and wanted to understand the impact they were having. I won’t go into details but this includes quantitative and qualitative methods for assessing impact. This isn’t a downloadable thing, it’s instructions to do these things no matter how much experience you have (or don’t have) in doing this. You can see case studies there and explore those citing and using the toolsets.

So, back to the current study. The thing about measuring impact is that the size of the audience isn’t the only thing you want to look at, a small audience that is the right audience might be big impact. It is not easy to compare the impact of different resources for some of these reasons. In this work we looked at Early English Books Online and House of Commons Parliamentary papers, and we’ve looked at these collections before in different ways. These are quite different collections in lots of ways and we wanted to see what kind of impact they were both having on teaching, learning and research.

So, the first highlight may be obvious but is worth stating: the context of the use of digital resources is changing but these changes are incremental and have a long development cycle prior to the realisation of impact. But one of the interesting things about digital resources for humanities is that they seem quite familiar. So a scanned page is similar to physical page in many ways. It’s not like in the social sciences where an analysis, a network diagram, etc. might be something quite different. It’s also worth noting that EEBO enables studies that wouldn’t be available in the same ways before. So, if you were an undergraduate humanities student you might not be able to access special collections, to private materials at all – possibly not until well into a PhD – but now these digitised copies do give you that access.

We also saw that, whilst the serendipity of the previous space didn’t happen, new types of serendipity occur digitally. And having these resources available allow people to wander beyond their direct focus and explore related areas for new possibilities and directions to look in.

So, we also found that usage of both EEBO and HCPP has been increasing over the past decade. But HCPP has seen a less steep incline – and that is because it seems to have found it’s audience more quickly, whereas EEBO has only found it’s audience gradually. EEBO released full text relatively recently – that will be a factor – but has also been used more creatively, which we will come to later.

While researchers at top universities are most likely to use EEBO and HCPP, less research-intensive HE institutions also benefit from both collections. We knew that usage was high (particularly for EEBO) in research intensive organisations and we wanted to explore if that was just the “rich getting richer” or if those benefits were more widely spread. In fact the resources are used across HE and, to an extent, FE. One of the interesting aspects was that the ordering of (anonymised) institutions varied between the two services, this isn’t just about departments but also because of the type of usage.

One of our case studies is Open University and they are very high HCPP users but are not high EEBO users. And my colleague Katherine spoke to them and we found that HCPP materials were invested into other courses – around information literacy for instance – which made a significant difference to their use. We also saw usage from less expected subject areas of these collections, for instance literary heritage, conservation, preservation etc. courses also using materials in EEBO.

Researchers rely heavily on specific digital collections that they return to regularly, which is resulting in incremental changes in scholarly behaviour. Now Google was important but specific databases and collections was ranked much higher than any other way of finding resources. Users of HCPP and especially EEBO gave us lots of feedback on what the resource could and couldn’t do, and what they liked about them. Lots to learn from how you embed these tools in universities.

Resource use in the humanities is extremely diverse, and this makes providing access to needed resources and tools particularly challenging – we asked researchers to list some of these and there were so many resources there. The thing about EEBO is that it’s something that stakeholders in particular areas that have come to rely upon it. By contrast HCPP is an important secondary resource for many people who use it in a really different way.

The citation evidence that is available shows a growing literature that mentions using EEBO or HCPP, and these publications in turn are reasonably well-cited. Now we looked across lots of publications and citation data here, but these databases take a while to be updated. We see spikes of citations – outliers – but generally there has been an upwards direction of publications etc. But humanities publications have a long gestation period – it can be 8 years for history for example – but the number and growth look pretty good across both resources.

The number and range of disciplines that refer to EEB and HCPP is much more diverse than expected. We have visualisations here that help illustrate the spread. The ideas move beyond core humanities disciplines – for instance HCPP publications in medical and medical history areas for instance.

Researchers are more concerned with the content and functionality of the digital collections than in who provides access. That’s a challenge. The library is invisible for many students and researchers… They say they don’t use the library and then when you highlight subscription collections they aren’t aware these come from the library – they think it’s Google. So, that’s a problem as that isn’t transparent until users lose access, change organisation etc.

The UK is unusual for providing national-level access across institutions through Jisc’s national purchasing. Now we know that the UK punches above its weight in terms of academic impact. This obviously isn’t down just to this set up, but that national purchasing agreement and access to resources does contribute to the UK’s global prominence. And they have potential democratising effects – you may see some institutions, some FE institutions too using these resources less, but still using them. And there is opportunity to encourage greater use of resourcing in teaching.

Shifts to humanities data science and data-driven research are of growing interest to scholars, although there is still plenty of room for growth in this focus on digital humanities, particularly in teaching. For EEBO that usage increase really reflected that opening up of xml texts, the hack events and social media presences around that change which really encouraged use – projects such as Trading Consequences.

Digital collections have become fundamental to modern scholarship – for the summary and full report see: http://microsites.oii.ox.ac.uk/tidsr/case-study/2016-idc.

Please do take a look at the full report, give us your comments and questions. Do read the report and feedback.


Q1) We did a digitisation project of Newton’s notebooks and they were being used but the citations are citing the paper copies as if they’ve seen them physically – which they haven’t – rather than digitally, so how do you deal with that.

A1) That is really a big issue. There are scholars on both sides here… Some claim they wouldn’t cite the library they used for a book… And MLA’s advice to cite “online” not URLs isn’t helping any. We did a previous report of splashes and ripples suggested human readable, easy URI’s as mattering. But this idea of there being something dirty about digital is still there… There is less bias maybe but the confusion remains. Some resources give helpful suggested citations with URIs, but not all by any means.

Q2) How do you compare the kind of data mining impacts and the other direct impacts of resources? I was involved with the Trading Consequences project and I know those data mining projects use a lot of data and look quite different, but how does that compare with more direct impact.

A2) Direct and qualitative projects aren’t really comparable. So it’s about individual resources demonstrating what they can do. We did some work on a very niche resource a few years ago, with very low usage, but for teachers this resource on how dancers built a portfolio was invaluable. So it’s being able to assemble a bunch of different kinds of imapcts a resource can have, and demonstrate to funders etc.

Comment) That matters when looking at subscriptions and the value of those.

A2) We have built this toolkit and over the years people almost without exception come back and say how fun it is to use the toolkit, to find out more about their users, to think about how they use these things, to reflect their usage and interest. So this is an opportunity to reflect. The other quote I remember from years ago from a humanties scholar was that “this is the first time I’ve studied anyone who could talk back to me” as she was used to working on dead people, so she found this really exciting.

Comment) The other aspect of EEBO was, when we got the service, it saves time and money. This researcher was absolutely thrilled by it.

A2) The speed and volume of these things was the initial easy sell of these things, then we’ve tried to layer additional things beyond that.

Q3) We are looking at impact of our resources, are you still working on this?

A3) We have done lots of work before, hope to do more. One of the reasons I hired Kathryn back in 2007 was that she was a proper academic historian but she was new to this online world and her impact has been absolutely vital to this sort of work.

Q4) How about aggregated search points… Sometimes when staff and students search for resources they often get multiple materials, they find other ways in… How do you tae account of this.

A4) This is the stuff we tend to get from interviews. In a previous study we found that people were often arriving relatively deep in their website – coming through discovery tools – so we did work with them to help ensure users understood what to do next, to make their site more sticky by changing the page set up so you were signposted to the next issue, the context, the stuff to carry on exploring. We often think of people arriving at a website front door, but often they find a much less expected way in.

Q5) I work for a publisher like ProQuest and today someone asked me about the Return On Investment of our services… Is that something you have looked at?

A5) We’ve tended to shy away from that as you’d have to make so many assumptions. Maybe if we had an economist on board… We have looked at some to see how income related to impact but that’s the nearest to that idea.

Paola: The nearest thing that we have seen is to try to represent how much it would cost to visit physical resources, travel etc.. But of course if that was the requirement they might not access them at all.

A5) We also have services where two resources from across the world are compared side by side – that’s not something you can do any other way.

Q6) I wanted to ask a question about creative digital reads, by artistic rather than academic communities – particularly thinking of CC licensed and public domain resources. I work with the BL finding out how people use public domain collections in innovative ways. People sometimes thing that having the freedom to do things makes them concerned they might be doing something wrong… But we are really interested in creative use.

A6) You could compare images to see usage.

Q6) Peter Balnam(?) has been doing something like that.

A6) We do ask people in our surveys whether they have reused or repurposed resources… But there is lots of scope for that though – hence that EEBO hack event etc.

Q6) At British Libary Labs we expected lots of academic engagement and we have unexpectedly had a big response from artists and creative professionals.

A6) And i think that’s a thing you can think about… Hack events, Wikipedia editathons, etc. can also show real impact on the greater world.

Peter Findlay: Showing the impact of digitisation Jisc has funded over the years has always been a big challenge… When we had proposals in for this sort of work we did’t know what would happen… So this is all really exciting. We are now in a position where we can see this kind of impact but with the current changing public sector funding, the ability to do this has become a real challenge. The overarching question for us is about the future business models for digital resources.

The focus of institutions is also shifting. Even when value is demonstrated it can be hard to get that message across to decision makers in those institutions. And I’d like to explore with you how important it is to have access to these kinds of collections. These resources are part of people’s work every day… To make this happen again we have to work more closely together, in terms of what we do and in terms of how we fund it.

We’ve also been thinking about what kind of models we might contemplate. We’ve been thinking of a sort of Kick Starter for digital content – with Jisc as negotiator for collections. So, less about digitisation, more about collectively purchasing and finding mechanisms to select and identify content together so that they can be purchased. Not just a purchasing consortium, we are also interested in tools for analysis of content. So Jisc Historic Text is a platform for instance where we’d like to put more content.

A slight adjustment for that would be Jisc seeking core funding to kick that off. We could go to charities, foundations, etc. Essentially we are talking about us together purchasing content or, if you have it, distributing content. We have also been thinking of Jisc as publishers – for institutions together as a collective to enable reduction of costs, a bit like the open platform for the humanities ideas. AGain, this would focus on platform, development, and ongoing support through, say, some form of subscription (for want of a better word). We’d also need to think about cost recovery for any platfrom that is set up, so that it can be sustained

Our third model is Jisc becoming more a supporting institution for the development of tools around the analysis of content, lab activities, mechanisms for small initiatives that can be followed up afterwards.

We’ve been having some great discussions, I’m just nothing the feedback to the rest of the room. 

Group 1: If digital collections were not available, nothing comparable would be available – they enable courses and work not otherwise available. For the BL where impact is hard to demonstrate in general, can be easier for some specific resources though. Impact of individual services is possible, and works – as per Eric and Katherine’s work. Humanities researchers often aren’t aware that resources cost money, they don’t think about costs often. Archives do get switched off and disappear. Legacy resources sometimes get ported to institutions who when they can no longer resources – opportunity there. There are resources available, and they can be marketed to students, but they aren’t always what is wanted. Cambridge commented that the impact stimulates funding. Preservation can be a motivation for sustainability – so others preserving content takes burden off institution. Crowd funding good but may mean small voices and needs may get crowded out. Concern from institutions about content on others’ platforms. Idea that institutions could support platforms… They digitise then share centrally would be one model – making things more effective for institutions, easier to promote, and brings platforms and content together, enabling publishers to put content on platforms too.

Group 2: We thought about current models… For my institution – we just had one or two of us from libraries. In a library, for us, buying a one-off is better than an ongoing subscription in hard economic times. That way you can keep it, rather than adding to yearly subscription burden. Pitching at the end of the financial year might be best, as that is when budget may be available. Over 90% of budgets year on year is committed to journals, databases, ebooks, we have very limited funds for new stuff. And we are keen for more materials to be online, for teaching and learning as well as research. We were quite keen on Kickstarter model… Mixed opinions on whether you need finance directors on board to make that work – although library directors have some autonomy. So, if you had a Kickstarter type website were libraries could show interest in new resources, but also offer a way to suggest ideas, capture gaps in provision etc. Also thought about ad hoc models… Pay per view being one option. Also talked about car leasing – lease then option to buy… Trying to borrow ideas from different sectors.

Group 3: Not a huge amount of library experience on our table either. Talked a bit about how we use wishlists (collections development request list) for new things to buy. So many new things appear and we always need to prioritise wishes. Jisc Colletions is crucial to a lot of what we do – the NESTE2 agreement for purchasing for example. We are also part of other consortiums for purchasing as well. We thought one way to think about material for digitisation might be to share wish lists, in an anonymised way to help deal with competitive drivers that can make collaboration more tricky. Also larger scale digitisation projects as a possibility here. Going back to wish lists those could also come out of a collective gap analysis, rather than looking at products already on the market. And demand is key to securing funding for any kind of digisation project, and we need to think of sustainable business models, and the ability for institutions to articulate what is important to us.

Peter: That was very interesting. Thank you very much for those insights, and we will continue to have those conversations with you. Thanks to all of our speakers and to ProQuest for co-funding this work.


The case for learning analytics – Phil Richards, chief innovation officer, Jisc; Michael Webb, director of technology and analytics, Jisc; Niall Sclater, learning analytics consultant

Phil: I’m chief innovation officer for Jisc and we are here to talk about the case for Learning Analytics… To start with I want to talk about what we mean by learning analytics. Google and Facebook track our actions, our interactions, etc,, using that to attract advertisers etc. as they are hugely revealing. Learning analytics is a bit like that, it’s about patterns and understanding data from our interactions with VLEs, library accesses, etc.

Michael: We really are talking about using the kind of big data that Phil was describing. We are looking, in our project, at areas such as improving retention but we also want to move towards adaptive learning.

Predictive learning analytics are statistical analysis of historical and current data derived from the learning process to create models that allow for predictions that can be used to improve learning outcomes. Models are developed by mining large datasets and seeking patterns of behaviour. That’s quite different from the “have they logged into the VLE in a week” type approach.

So, just a moment on retention. We have a huge number of students dropping out at various stages of their education and that recruitment and loss of students is expensive and problematic. 70% of students reporting a parent with HE qualifications achieved an upper degree against 64% if students reporting no parent with HE qualifications for instance. But we can address some of those issues.

I wanted to talk about some US examples that have inspired us. Marist College in the US, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, undertook work supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They investigated how use of academic early alert systems impact on final course grades and content mastery. The outcome was interesting… Analysis showed positive impact on final course grades. But they also found that any intervention that alerted students they were at risk was effective.

The New York Institute of Technology also found a successful way to predict students at risk. And there has been the building of a Predictive Analysis model built for US universities which seems to have a high level of identification of at risk students. At Purdue University the signals project, based on performance, background, etc. was effective but that work has been critiqued. University of Maryland found that students being able to compare VLE activity with that of other students were 1.92 times more likely to be awarded grade C or higher compared to students who did not use it.

So, there is clear evidence of the usefulness of predictive models and their potential benefits for student outcome. And Jisc have a learning analytics project which has three core strands: Learning analytics architecture and service; Toolkit; Community – we have a mailing list and blog you can follow. The toolkit includes two main activities: the code of practice and the discovery phase. The Code of Practice was one of our most successful early pieces of work for this project. Failed learning analytics projects tended not to be down to technical issues but for ethical issues. And that code of practice has had great reception, including from the NUS.

We have done some research, which was in the Times Higher, that shows that students are happy to share data for learning analytics. We have a good reason for doing this, a clear code of practice and that means students will buy in.

So, what are we doing? Well we are building a national architecture, defining standards and models and implementing a core service. Why do that? Standards mean that models, visualisations and so on can be shared; lower cost per institutions through shared infrastructure; and this lowers the barrier to innovation, as there is consistency.

Our architecture is built around dashboards; but also alert and intervention system – we’ve defined an API that ensures interventions are captured and feed into the data store; we have student consent app – for how their data is used, preferences etc; and a student app. Then, at the centre we have a learning records warehouse – cloud based system built on open standards – and the learning analytics processor that sits on top of that. The kinds of data we are collecting includes self-declared student data; student information system; VLE; Library; and other things that may be useful (“???”).

To do this work we are partnering with the commercial sector, and our partners are Unicon (on open source stuff), Marist, Blackboard, Tribal, TherapyBox, HT2 (cloud solution provider). And that partnership has led to some really useful things already, including Blackboard making data more available.

So, the service includes dashboards – visual tools to allow lecturers, module leaders, senior staff and support staff to view. This includes student engagement, cohort comparisons, etc. Based on other commercial tools from Tribal and Marist. The student app is bespoke development by Therapy Box, and this interface is very much based around fitness apps. The first version will include overall engagement, comparisons to others including other high achieving students, self-declared data – including student-defined goals, consent management. We are inspired by gaming too – you get trophies for cool stuff!

The Service alert and intervention system, based on open source tools from Unicon/Marist (Student Success Plan) allows management of interactions around alerts.

The data collection falls into two types… Relatively static student record data, and the big ever changing activity data. We’ve taken slightly different approaches to those two data sets. So we have information on the student (ETL) based on HESA and FLR(?) in FE space and consistent with HEDIIP, and you can see our work on there on GitHub. For the activity data we are collecting via TinCan (xAPI) which lets you get quite detailed data. We’ve commissioned a Blackboard module, have supported a Moodle plugin etc.

Now the idea of an xAPI “recipe” is a shared way of describing activities. So the data from accessing a course is the same whether Moodle or Blackboard is used. So, same holds true for “borrows a book” etc.

We have had 72 expressions of interest from the sector. We have 26 organisations, across a diversity of organisation types are engaged in the activity. We have over 1 million records collected in real-time. We needed historic data for this project so we’ve also working on historical data collation from Moodle and Blackboard to enable those predictive models that require data to work on.

Across different stakeholders there are different priorities. For Russell group universities it may be about widening participation and support for students achieving 2.1 or better. For a teaching lead organisation it may be about focusing on interventions in teaching and learning, to improve retention.

Phil: Every year universities have to make around 7000 different measures reporting to HEDIIP. And this project can help aggregate that data, and to give back analytics to the individual institutions based on the architecture we have come up with. And this is the first project to create something like this which provides access to all the information needed for a HEDIIP return. One of the concerns about HEDIIP future reporting is that it may become more frequent… Currently that’s annual. If automated these returns could be quarterly or more regularly. Now learning analytics is a great reason to upload data more regularly for HESA and other agencies, and to benefit from learning analytics as part of that.

The way we’ve set this project up is very similar to the way UCAS has used Amazon Web Services. Until a few years back their website spiked dramatically on A-Level results day and the cloud scaling makes that possible without issues on their server.

Part of making this work is about keeping data private and carefully managed. They want to benchmark and compare. The way we have addressed this is by having users declare that they are happy to share their data if aggregated and anonymised into pools of, say, 10. But we need to have data in place to do that. We need to build up number of contributors.

Now you can look at this for interventions for individual students, or explore by cohort or background etc. Maybe there is potential for new metrics like this to feed into the new proposed TEF.

Some interesting potential in the medium term. Just to talk more about unified data definitions… Our basic standard for that more general data is the HESA model. And we’ve done some work with HESA on the national HE business intelligence service – a fully live production service that has been available from Autumn 2015.

The government is scrutinising subscription organisations like Jisc, like HESA, ever more so, and there are some real opportunities here. We took part in a HEFCE learning gain call in May 2015, which was around standardised tests, etc. and we have work to do there at the moment.

A quick move to genomics…

In Iceland everyone knows their ancestry and the Iceland government has gathered all the genomic data into deCODE and Iceland’s genetic data bank. This system uses reference data, undertakes analytics number crunching and outcomes include understanding the pathways and outcomes.

So, just to borrow that model… Maybe our learning analytics warehouse can be our DNA bank for higher e-learning. The background data would include demographics, early learning and employment outcomes. The analytics and number crunching, towards deeper understanding of elearning, metrics for engagement learning gain, personalised next generation e-learning.

In a recent report with pro Vice Chancellors said that HE was getting more global, more digital, more competitive. But none claimed the UK was taking a lead here. In universities we still use tools we have been using for decades, but the rest of social sciences have moved leaps and bounds ahead… Why not do this with our data?

So, Micheal talked earlier about personalised learning. So, right now we do capture data on how we learn, how your brain works, etc. And maybe sharing that earlier enables a truly personalised next generation elearning that helps you determine the pathways you need to take – for instance a student with low social capital wanting to study architecture might see what the different paths might be… That could really improve social mobility and close some gaps.

In the short term we’ve seen that interventions for not dropping out… seem to really help at risk students who are particularly likely to be widening participation students, which could really help bridge some of those gaps. Maybe this is the kind of work that can put the UK out there as leaders in this field.

I hope that’s given you a good case for why we are doing this work now. Where it might lead in 2 years, and where it might lead in 5 years.


Q1) Why has Jisc decided to do learning analytics from ground up, rather than work with an existing provider. And I was disappointed not to see UK examples in that mix – we have good examples, some better than US examples shown there.

A1 – Micheal) We aren’t building from ground up, we are combining existing tools and components. We are putting architecture together to make things work better.

A1 – Phil) We have put together an open architecture, but we have worked with providers… Those were selected through a public sector procurement process (as we are duty bound to do, at least until the referendum) and these are the companies that came out. And some companies have approached us wanting to take part, and we will open up the project to more commercial companies later this year. We want to help you avoid vendor lock in but to work with as many providers as possible. Why are we doing that? It’s what over 1000 people we spoke to in the scoping process ranked most highly.

A1 – Michael) Why US examples – just wanted to use some different examples and I’ve shown the UK ones before – you’ll find them on the website.

Q2) I work at a learning analytics start ups, really great to hear what Jisc are doing, and great to hear about that focus on widening participation. I’m really interested in what the big barriers are: is it cultural, ethical, technical?

A2 – Micheal) It’s a mix of all those things. Some can be solved relatively easily – getting data in and out. Student records systems still tricky but will get easier. Senior staff buy in really matters, a key part of our discovery phase was getting buy in and understanding their system. The pattern is that there is no pattern…

Q3) A follow up question… You spoke about Russell Group universities and the possibility of a positive effect on widening participation, can you say more about that?

A3) We ran a scoping process and one of the use cases presented by this type of organisation was specifically about widening participation and also narrowing that gap between those achieving 2.2 versus 2.1.

Q4) You mentioned models elsewhere being mappable to here… library data and VLE data. What about other types of explicit engagement like citations etc.

A4 – Micheal) Yes, want to do that. But actually assessment data is an important early start there.

A4 – Phil) Some commercial companies aren’t interested in shared or common metrics but we saw evidence in the States that it can work, and enable benchmarking. We think that has real value and that that doesn’t preclude commercial vendors from also providing more granular and bespoke solutions.

And, with that, day one at Jisc is done. I’ll be tweeting to #digifest16 for the remainder of the evening for the dinner etc. I will be back on the blog again tomorrow.


Jul 102015

Today I am at the European Conference on Social Media 2015, in Porto, Portugal (where I presented on the University of Edinburgh’s Managing Your Digital Footprint campaign and research work yesterday – see Day 1 LiveBlog).

As this is a live blog so corrections, comments etc. are welcomed – and please be aware there may be errors and typos though I’ll tidy those as they are spotted!

After last night’s lovely dinner we are now all gathered back together for day 2 of ECSM2015 and are kicking off with another keynote:

Dr João Batista, Institute of Accounting and Administration, University of Aveiro, Portugal
Social Media in Higher Education: Issues and Challenges

My main research interests are focused on communication technologies in higher education, and some issues and challenges will be discussed. And I’m going to start with the mission of University (Ortega y Gasset 1940, 2003) which talks about the changing role of university, and the shift after the second world war towards three main functions:

  • Culture transmission, and the transmission of ideas.
  • Teaching professions – society needs doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. and the university is to train them.
  • Scientific research and the education of scientific people – needed for innovation and development.

But that was a utopian view. Sigmund Bauman (2007) say that we are living in liquid times and that we are now living in short time perspectives, we are “forgetting of outdated information and fast ageing habits” and we expected to be “free choosers” and flexibility. Do we feel we have long term security, do we expect to be in the same place, doing the same things for the long term? The future that claims to suit the future best is not about structure and rules, but about flexibility. Bauman (2011) also talks about Pointilist time – where we jump from place to place, to interest to interest. We discard data and information that is not useful anymore, replace with new information to remain up to date and useful to the market. But that gives a sense of huge uncertainty.

It is also true that we are now in a very connected world. Boundaries are blurred. Old communication processes are changing – when big events/news breaks we hear it first through social media rather than traditional media. We communicate more, and have a greater need to remain connected digitally at all times. And the way in which we are connected also encourages pointilism. Our contacts, data, etc. all connect together with our lives a network of connections and points, and we also have to have the power to discard these from time to time. We are more and more individualistic. Are we really connected? Yes, we are getting to be all connected.

The very last “Internet Yellow Pages”, and the ironic comments on it, speak to the swiftness of change we have seen in terms of information availability… When you first arrive at a conference, what is the first thing you do? You want the password for the internet! Sometimes we connect less with those in the room. But we are connected: almost half of the world’s internet population are active internet users (Global digital snapshot 2014), and there are over 3 billion unique mobile users…

So, what does this mean in teaching and learning? Diane Laurillard (2007) talks about teaching and learning using technologies to maintain our practices, rather than to change them.  Research (Batista 2011) found that learning management systems were mainly used for distributing lecture notes/materials. Email mainly used to answer questions. Our practice is the same, the technology is changed.

Looking at teacher training (Batista 2011) we see that teachers are getting technical training (50%) but they are less convinced about the pedagogies around technologies – only 36% felt that their training equipped them in that way. Meanwhile we are also seeing a growth in connected devices in higher education… Why do we mind students using connected devices to do something other than listen? How many of you are doing this now? Why should it be different for our students?

Think about 10 or 20 years ago. Studying involved library books, photocopies… we sometimes had financial, time or access barriers to the information we needed. The connections to find the right information are crucial. Siemens et al (2009) talks about connectivism being about knowledge and cognition being distributed across networks of people and technology and learning is about harnessing those connections.

An example of connectivism, Pablo Boixeda, won a top mathematics student prize, but when he describes his day he talks about attending class, studying… this is important, hard work is still what makes for a success.

Some issues of using social media in higher education include privacy and security, including issues of preservation and privacy of materials for assessment (e.g. a blog), and how the institutions accesses/has a role if material hosted elsewhere; institutional frontiers; copyright and authoring – if learning materials are open, how do you retain copyright. And if students submit work, how do we ensure that is original?

Another issue here are MOOCs – the first MOOC ran in 2008 by Siemans et al, and they are proponents of connectivism. At the end of 2014 (Shah) there are 400+ universities, running 2400+ courses, for 16-18 million students. There are issues around these including drop out rates (very high, often around 90%), when students are engaged the drop out rate falls.These courses are free to take, but they take huge resources to put together. Assessment and certification is also interesting here – how do you know who the student is, if it is them submitting the work. Less of an issues if students do not want a certification that is not so much of an issue, but where there is demand we are seeing authorisation systems etc.

Nonetheless MOOCs are having a significant impact, and some employers are recognising them, particularly from prestigious institutions [cue a video on Udacity on computer science MOOCs]. In this video the student, Kelly, mentions a MOOC she took, and then the full course she undertook via Udacity (Full Stack Web Developer Nanodegree) – this is not for free, but is $200 per month, for 6-9 months. Students are expected to work 10 hours per week and receive feedback within 24 hours. This is a course designed by industry. This is not unheard of, but is unusual in a MOOC, and shows that university is keen to be part of these scenarios. We can see that institutional frontiers continue to be more fluid…

The changes now taking place enable more people to access university, particularly via MOOCs [although our speaker is not noting the trend in MOOCs for students to already be unusually highly qualified]. In some research in MOOCs (Reich 2015) sees engagement translating into learning. This is an opportunity to research learning processes. To study the effectiveness of learning and teaching approaches it is also necessary to compare individual courses – the data to allow researchers to cross courses is needed, in order to make comparisons of instructional approaches. But closed systems and privacy policies are a barrier to this approach.

So, to revisit the mission of the university… Everything is now more blurred and uncertain. It is hard to see a common set of shared values, and more likelihood of flexibility in terms of employment location and culture making it hard to focus on a particular set of bales. So culture transmission is complex. Teaching professions is about preparing students to be open-minded, flexible, short-time competencies. MOOCs are important here, as that video makes clear. Scientific research and education of scientists does remain important.

And with that I close my presentation and ask you for questions.


Q1) I was wondering about different subjects, different fields of studies. When we talk about high tech subjects, the MOOCs are OK and are needed – the knowledge in high tech areas grow very fast. On the other hand universities have another kind of subject. I am from Psychology and there the knowledge does not change that quickly, and in the humanities that is broadly the case… What do you think the role of MOOCs is there – is it different? When the presence is importance to get some skills, what do you think?

A1) An interesting question. The wide range of subjects taught in universities… represent different challenges to distance learning in general, and in the MOOCs. But in MOOCs the humanities are well represented. Some very successful MOOCs are in this area. If you search for what are available you find many in arts, creativity and so on. I’m not sure about psychology, but I’m not convinced that distance is a problem for humanities subjects even if people from technology are also more keen to use technology… But then we are all keen to use technology nowadays…

Q2) An interesting presentation but I would like to hear your opinion on some of the changes taking place. In the US many universities are being forced to change in person courses into online courses. They have to compete with online and MOOC platform. Online courses see faster sign up than in person courses. When an academic was asked about using open courses, stated that MIT does these things to reach everyone, but in the knowledge that people will sign up for classes, will get students, because of the value and camradarie in-person. That was controversial in the US. Do you think MOOCs etc. mean we are depriving students of that social interaction they get in in-person courses.

A2) I think some trends are not unstoppable… But the availability of courses online is part of visibility, that is unstoppable. But not sure about the other side of that, of students not coming for online courses. I’m not sure how to stop that… We are now communicating with people 2m away digitally, even in conferences where there is a huge trend for applying for a conference at distance… I haven’t an answer for that trend of students not coming to classes. Maybe universities have to reinvent their approaches… I think that pedagogical preparation is crucial, because when students have interesting teachers, they go to classes. In Portugal the only level you don’t need qualification to teach, is higher education and that is a problem. But on the universities the concentration is on research, papers published etc… Why worry about pedagogical training etc… That is an issue that directors and politicians have to solve.

From me (not our speakers): given some of the discussion of MOOCs here, I think you might be interested in my colleagues’ Bayne and Ross (2014) HEA report on the Pedagogy of the MOOC for a UK perspective and a critical take on the phenomenon. I had questions for our opening keynote as I think to talk about some of those shifts without referencing the cost of Higher Education, particularly in the US context, is to miss some of the important factors that are very different to social media or changes in how we connect/engage with information. For those interested in a different take on the role of in-person vs online education I also recommend the University of Edinburgh’s Manifesto for Online Learning, which provides provocations and recommendations for treating online teaching and learning as a beneficial and positive model, with beneficial affordances and opportunities, when it is done thoughtfully and well.

And to finish this section of the morning, we have just seen a short video on ECSM2016, to be held in France. And we are now moving onto posters – we’ll be browsing those until 11am so expect more updates here after that.

We are back for parallel sessions, and I have headed to: The Rise of the Networked Citizen (chaired by Hedhir Hasno). 

Digital Anthropology and Youth Culture in Favela Areas: Digital Activation in Cantagio, Pavão and Pavãozinho, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – Monica Machado, University College London / Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

This work had several aims, to gain knowledge about youth media behaviour, about their use of digital media, to understand the time and quality of digital networking for young people, and to identify socio-cutural values spread on social media activation in favela’s context. This work was all with the higher level aim of enabling the Favela museum to improve their own digital presence and effectiveness.

My theoretical perspective has been through digital anthropology as a an anthropology sub discipline (Miller and Horst, 2013). Ethnographers studies show that digital culture is basically dialectic with symbolic exchanges are processes that democratise social relation and produce negative effects as surveillance and social control. Another concern here is around authenticity. Miller and Sinanan (2014) coined the term “theory of attainment” and in this they argue that the principles of mediation is an intrinsic condition of human being. Many authors conceive of social media as a post human space, but anthropology emphasises that this is a human being process, not a post human or post post human space. So, for that reason we think digital media maintains social barriers found elsewhere.

So Rio is a very beautiful city and the favelas here are very close to the homes of the rich, they are very closely located. The main areas I was looking at Pavão-Pavãozinho has a population of 5,567 and Cantagio has a population of 4,771 residents. These are very poor areas but as a country there are a certain amount of benefits and as a result they almost all have mobile phones, paying monthly subscriptions by credit card to enable access. The population in this area are very young – they are up a hill which is part of the reason for that!

My team for this project include PhD and Masters students as well as young people from the favela. I spent 3 years developing ethnographic approach, observations, understanding the community. My main approach has been about ethnography. But in Brazil we have a lot of problems with statistics, especially in poor areas, so I felt it was very important to do a survey as well… This included 400 personal interviews, distributed to fit known demographic data.

We asked them about access to internet in everyday life: 76% said yes, and most of these (42%) said personal computer but 34% said mobile phones. They also indicated Lan House – a version of an internet cafe whose use has decreased since the rise in mobile phones. When asked about when they access the internet around half said at night, around a quater said all day / all the time.  And they are online for a lot of the day – most for 2hrs (25%) or 3hrs (27%).

We also asked about social media sites used – Facebook at 99% – but WhatsApp etc. also very popular, and the range of sites were wide (see slides for full information). We also asked about preference for type of information – text and images much more popular than email. Pictures (and video) also formed the majority of what these participants were sharing on Facebook, WhatsApp was similar but with added emoticons. We asked about political views, but these were not shared very much.  Specifically looking at WhatsApp we asked about how many groups participants engaged in, and over a quarter were part of more than 25 groups – showing how they use these spaces for sociability and connection.

In our ethnography experience, after understanding quantitative data too, we can see that they use social media in favela in Brazil in four particular areas/processes: For social life, relationships and families; for citizens issues including Favela claims – topics such as marginality and the sense of community; for a sense of spirituality; and for sense of humour – and a lot of memes and jokes!

So, in conclusion, We can understand that Facebook and WhatsApp are both about sociobility, and these types of spaces reinforce cultural ties that are present in the genesis of the identity of Rio’s slums. The sense of citizenship is seen in the sharing of community and messages about favela’s lifestyle. Spirituality wise there are a huge range and spread of views shared, they are complimentary but they are very diffused. It is an interesting way that Brazil works – we have influence from Catholic, from African religions, from Judaism, and favela’s observe all of these influences and we see that mix develop in favelas.

Playfulness and humour are very present in social media and reinforce favela’s traditional values – often bizarre, playful and pleasurable testimonials alongside those memes and jokes.

The social media interaction, as in Miller and Sinanan, is a movement of various cosmologies, plural and diachronic, rather than synchronous.

In the Favela’s that activity is about representing and overcoming stigmatisation in these communities.


Q1) I was just reading that WhatsApp along with IM and SnapChat may be banned in the UK because of the use of encryption. Is that a concern in Brazil?

A1) Yes. Sometimes they use the social media to reinforce… We have an interesting moment in Brazil. The middle class are very separate from the policies, the policies are very directed towards the lower classes. In Brazil the protests are the middle classes! The lower classes are not involved in that movement. The Middle class use social media in Brazil a lot to spread messages against the government. The poor people are reacting against mainstream media – the Brazilian equivelent of BBC for instance – who talk about favela’s as spaces for violence, marginality. They like policy, they get benefit and subsidy, they like the government. They object and react to media.

Q2) I am from Chile where there are huge literacy problems, especially in the favelas. I noticed in your data that Skype isn’t used much. If literacy is poor, texting must be an issue. But I see image are shared… Can you say more about that?

A2) I made this survey last year. Platforms change all the time… And last year we had huge issues with 3G last year, when I was running this, which made videos/video sharing and calling very difficult. But sharing of images is what happens instead. The new generation use SnapChat, exchange of videos too. But last year with this 3G and technology issue had a big impact, 4G is just starting in Brazil though… When the people who live in the favela, when they didn’t have access to mobile phones, just personal computers, that was really difficult for literacy, that caused problems. But mobile and 3G have enabled richer usage. But things change all the time..

[A special mention here for Monica’s assistant – her young daughter provided expert slide changes!]

What are Iranians doing in global social media and why? – Mortaze Kokabi, Shaheed Chamran University, Ahwaz, Iran.

Iranians seems to be particularly fond of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, instagram, WhatsApp, SMS and new tools (all the time). Youth are largest user group of these social media but they are used more widely, including elder Iranians. That is despite issues with connectivity – with speed and access – to the internet. And Iranian government concerns about social media’s use, and the filtering of the internet in Iran.

There is a lot of literature around Iran’s use of social media on individualism/activism in particular. Zeynep Tefekci and Christopher Wilson (2012) wrote about Egypt’s Tahrir Square protests and in particular the role of social media, in that case Facebook, as a route to protest and participation in political movements. There are also authors writing about the Green Movement in Iran, and the use of social media against government, some concluding that social media does not play the role it is often assumed to half. The aftermath of elections in Iran suggests that social media is changing the nature of political discourse in the world. By contrast the idea of social media enabling the overturn of government should be questioned, particularly in the context of Iran.

Gerbaudo (2012) in “Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism” compared the Arab Spring to the “indignados” protests in Spain, and to Occupy movememts. He argues that Twitter and Facebook isn’t used as a separated cyberspace, detached from reality, and instead argues that this is part of reappropriation of public space.

I have translated the news, into English, so let me present this news from Iran for you. Alexa center (2015) has explained that Iranians constitute the largest group of Viber audience in the world and in other words, the largest group in Viber members in Iranians. Alexa also indicates that some 5 million Iranians are WhatsApp users.

The Annenberg Center (2015) found that 8 out of 10 Iranian Facebook users access the network via a VPN. And one third of them are aware of the insecurity of filter breaks. A study of 188 Iranian Facebook users found that majority of 30-39 year old users held at least a bachelors degree. Most accessed the site from personal computers, about a third via cell phones. Most use social networks at their homes, 42 percent in their workplace. The researchers found heavy use of Facebook, despite the challenges of access.

So, I will skip to conclusions here… We know that social media have some characteristics that make them very popular. Social Media is based on modern technology… It facilitates conversation, and it is also prestigious in a way. Iranians are wide adopters of smart phones – older phones rarely seen. But SMS is used as a verb in Iran, so widely used it is. In Farsi “payomac”, meaning small message, is used instead of SMS is used by authorities, they have to use it, but that is not what people use.

Sharing photos, jokes, friendly messages are the currency in social media… Iranians also email proposals, papers, etc. Almost all serious scientific journals in Iran take digital submissions. There are pushes to more and more digital media usage. The Iranian government also prefer digital transactions to traditional transactions, as do companies by their charging models/perks for using these channels.

The Iranian government seems to both like and dislike digital technology. The government dislikes social media as they are much less controllable than other channels. Publishing and journals are published less often, so social media and digital exchange enables the sharing of ideas and information more quickly too. The Language used in social media is less sophisticated than mainstream media, because used by wider society. Less educated people are also able to use these spaces. And we see youth using “Fenglish” – a blend of Farsi and English – using non English keys to share English message. It is cheaper to send messages in Farsi, that is the model… But instead youth use Fenglish despite that.

But Iranian government like social media because these spaces expose networks. People focus on their tablets, phones, communications all the time… Banking is digital in Iran too, avoiding other issues of non digital banking in the countries.


Q1) I’m interested in the filter breaks – who does that?

A1) It is believed that filter breaks are usually provided by revolutionary party, in order to control the messages… The filter break is software enables working around the government filters. The revolutionary party opens breaks to control the message. We don’t advertise that filter breaks are in use… But at the same time filter breaks are in wide use. Filter breaks change all the time, the government will shut down one break, another one will open up. There is a desire for information that doesn’t stop, so adapts.

Responsibilities and Norms of Behaviour of Networked Citizens – Ustimenko Maria Helena Guimaraes, ISCAP, Instituto Politenico du Porto, Portugal.

I have been looking at how social media is shaping life, identity, and people’s way of thinking. As well as determining some norms of citizens using these tools.

I will start by talking about the ways in which networked citizens construct their identities. For instance sometimes young people, using SNS too much, they try to reinvent themselves and live up to an image they wish to present of themselves (see Martin’s The Insanity of Normality). It is normal to use networks, but the effect on the minds of young people can be quite destructive if they are not equipped to manage that. But then every identity of a person, is very linked to the nation, to the country – all have an impact on personal identity. The globalisation and dislocation of boundaries mean that people are a little bit confused about who they really are, and/or who they are supposed to be.

In order to construct ourself, we have to construct and understand the otherness (see Martin). So we have awareness of our self as much as we are aware of the other.

The other question is now people are responding to the increasing importance and visibility of social networks. I will see how the social network is not interfering with the construction of the identity but it is important that this gives us more power… We have the idea of decentralisation of power when we use the internet, but we see measures that actually reflect that the opposite may be the case.

And finally I will talk about the ways in which people are being induced to identify with dominant social identities through the internet.

So, firstly to that Media Culture and the construction of identity. There is a reconfiguration of the social and cultural patterns that mediate the activities of self-constitution. We see global citizenships, education and global networks; new possibilities for political and social participation – connection between Citizens and Government, and the notion of the “Digital Citizen” who is involved in global problems, local issues, and active partition in the community and institutions; building communities’ values and practices; building civic engagement and individual empowerment – perhaps ecological programmes for instance, but that increased engagement also gives some ownership in the citizen’s community; consciousness of cultural and social otherness.

These ideas are great theoretically, but many young people, at least in Portugal, are much more passive. They are less politically interested than this model would suggest.

Now, in terms of visibility of social networks… digital tools in general are ubiquitous, and they are different from other formats as there is a permanence of information shared via social media – once it is out there it is hard to take back, or to unpublish. That means a degree of openness. There are challenges here, youth socialisation into society is tough as they are resistant to requests to engage, we are raising quite a passive society. But at the same time a young person on the internet can access what they want and engage with who they want. We are seeing new pedagogies, new processes and construction and diffusion of scientific and other knowledges.

Turning to the dominant social and political ideologies and representations, we see participation in the deliberative processes of government concerning issues of local and global concern, but we also see alternative transnationalisation (movements, political uprising etc). We see influential contacts and influencers – individuals may think they take a free decision, but may be strongly influenced by these people. Technology becomes, often, a means of domination, control and exploitation. We also see a displacement of boundaries… and that is a reality beyond Europe.

In terms of responsibilities and norms of behaviour we need to develop alternative solutions for the problems of economic and social growth, we need to avoid new forms of illiteracy, to protect from fraud, attack, etc.

What are the downsides here? We see that educationally there is disinvestment in university, we see a high degree of uncertainty about the purpose of learning, and the next steps in terms of where young people will work. We also see issues with retention of information. Politically we see concentration of power – we saw a change towards democratisation before, but I think it is now in another period of change and in fact reducing. We have destruction of the state and the role of nation state, and of the importance of geographical boundaries, which I think makes us all feel unsafe. And socially the automatic selection of what one should read, watch of listen to has issues, but the wide availability of information also reduces the space for stillness, for creativity. We have informational and cognitive biases – seen in newspapers, TV, etc.

Conclusions here… interconnectiveness is important for prosperous economies, and vigorous research communities.


Q1) Are young people really passive? Or is a lack of response a reaction against the way they are being asked to take part, or are they being critical or methods of engagement and the structures they are asked to engage with?

A1) No. They are passive. When they are asked to research something they do that, they present, that’s all fine… But they don’t retain that, they don’t understand…

Comment) But isn’t that a much wider switch, to what they need when they needed it…

Comment) When I was a student you memorised information you needed to know but that doesn’t seem to happen now, it has changed.

A1) Yes, and from secondary school the students are not developing the skills to look at things critically…

Comment) That could be about the method of transmission – a teacher transmitting information does not encourage critical engagement, that’s cultural and has nothing

Q2) Did you consider the technical innovations and their role on passivity? You concentrate on relationships between people, but there is another actor – the socio-technical system.

A2) I believe they waste too much time constructing an image of what they want to be, and don’t understand what they are. Often they are much richer than the aspects they share on Facebook. What I can say of Facebook, which I used to have a profile in, when I wanted to finish that profile it was hard to close entirely. I renamed my avatar for a Portuguese writer… to give the idea that I am everyone and nobody. My lessons are very interactive… The idea I have is that because of insecurity when they are in Facebook they think they have a lot of people, but if they have a real problem they have nobody… 500 friends but who are they when they are in need? It is difficult to find somebody. That is why sometimes I don’t see much use… Facebook is too much fun, chat… Nothing profound.

Comment) But any beginning of a relationship or discussion can be profound!

A2) I’m not at all criticising… I know people who use Facebook and they really manage that.

Technology-Push and Need-Pull of Online Social network Citizen Engagement on Instagram Crowdsourcing – Hedhir Hasno, Universiti Sains Malaysia. 

I am going to start by talking about crowd sourcing, and that is about individuals participating en masse. Howe defined it in 2006, theoretically it really develops in Estelles-Arolas and Gonzalez-Ladron-de-Guevara, 2012, who define it as “undertaking of the task of variable complexity and modularity in which the crowd participate in bringing together knowledge and experience entails mutual benefit”.  And, following on from this. I want to talk about crowdsourcing as a way to values, who adds values, who generates value.

Moving onto consumer engagement, it is very interesting for a company to understand the customer perspective on that product. Word of mouth is much more powerful than marketing and engaging consumers is therefore valuable and important to brands (see: Bolton and Saxena-Iyer, 2009). Brody (2011) talked about engagement specifically in the context of consumer-brand dynamics, engagement specifically around consumerism. Engagement adds real value, and also raises questions of organisational alignment between the brand and the customer – how a product or service works, how it is supposed to benefit them. And if the engagement is write, that can work to great benefit for the financial benefit of the brands.

So, why did we choose Instagram for this work? Well there is a general assumption that users of all social media will obey the laws of privacy, ethics, rules of using those spaces and apps. Anyway we have these three elements: crowdsourcing; consumer engagement; social media (instagram) jointly combine to the concept of the online social network citizen. The notion of being a good citizen on social media is about sharing, and what you share. And these citizens spend significant amount of time on online social network activities, contribute on the online social network content and participate actively in major online social network sites…. And when can the content and value citizens create be coopted or used to others – thinking here, for instance, of the example of the artist selling versions of other people’s Instagram profile pictures for $20,000 and the backlash against that.

So this brings us to Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch, 1974, who talk about the idea of technology-pull and need-pull. And her we apply this to the social media context.

So, again, why did we choose instagram? Well this is because of the huge and rapid growth of Instagram. We see that users are posting pictures from Instragram to other networks too… Our work is not along the Instagram artist controversy kind, but is about collaborative participation. So an example here would be Lego Ideas – that is a progressive form of crowdsourcing which collaborates with fans, and provides encouragement and financial incentives for successful ideas. Coca Cola also have a progressive campaign around opening other people’s bottles for them – based around the consumers and meeting their interests and desires in order to sell their products.

So our research questions are on the motivations behind participative behaviour on Instagram, and on what the pull and push forces are of instragram that motivates crowdsourcing engagement. So, we want to explain and understanding the citizen and how and why they engage in crowdsourcing on Instagram.

This is based on literature around crowd sourcing from Berners-Lee, Hendler and Lassila (2001) work on the evolution of web 1 to semantic technologies (web 3.0) to Fuches et al (2010) on intelligent agents. We also looked at research on social media: Jang, Han, Shih and Lee (2015), McNely (2012) – on brand advantage around sharing, as seen in Nutella, Oreos etc – people invent new ways to consume these products via Instagram; Katz et al (1974) on media uses and graitification – consuming media motivates their desire to gratify a range of needs; Zolkepli and Kamarulzaman (2015) – talks about media uses and gratification in social media.

And we looked in more detail at work on Instagram and the citizen. When a brand releases a product, a brand, that is coopted, reinvented, and the value created by the perceptions of the consumers. The value can be recomposed by consumers – e.g. the raising of status of Levi jeans.

Our theoretical background was Users and Gratification Theory (Katz, 1974) which looks at psychological motivations underlying behaviours of media users. The choices users make gratify their own range of needs. So that relates to that individuals personal context, including media context that presents problems and solutions, so that brands are perceived as solutions to problems. And also our theoretical underpinning is the idea of Push and Pull (Sean? 1976) which conceptualises push as motivational factors or needs rinsing from disequilibrium of tension in the motivational system, whilst pull forces, in contrast, are about feature-related factors that create attractions towards certain motivation. So is Technology-push or Need-pull the more dominant factor for adopting new methods?

So, we have taken a quantitative approach and developed a concept model looking at two factors: H1 – the higher the technology-push forces perceived towards Instagram, the greater the possibility of participative behaviour of crowdsourcing; H2 – The greater the need pull by the Instagram, the higher the participation behaviour in crowdsourcing. We are proposing a a three layered approach to explore a range of variables to understand the role of variables in behaviour of crowdsourcing; to gain knowledge in strengthening brand value and understand consumers; so we hope to develop further our model for the citizen in this social media context.


Q1) How do you define push and pull in your model?

A1) Well we have a long list of variables. Push to me is about when the technology is forced onto you – peer pressure for instance. Pull is where you realise you have a need, that you want to use a tool. [cue a charming discussion on whether Push or Pull drove our audience and speakers original use of Facebook]

Q2) Have you looked at crowd funding here, and how that fits into this type of model?

A2) We are not looking at crowd funding in our work because it is interesting, but it does not result in user generated content which is what we are focusing on. Crowd funding is a different area for research.

Q3) So for you, if you are drawn to a project or a crowd funded project – I work with an NGO – how do you find this? What motivates you?

A3) To take the example of a film I have supported, that is based on interest and existing knowledge. For crowd funding, as in crowd sourcing you have to decide whether to create the value, or whether you let the crowd determine the value for you.

Q4) How did you come up with the Push Pull?
A4) It is an established theory, but our work is specifically looking at the application in the context of social media, and the context of Instagram specifically.

Q5) You mentioned web 2.0 and web 3.0, what is the difference?

A5) Web 2.0 is about facebook, interaction. For me web 3.0 extends beyond the online world into the physical world…

Comment) That change from HTML – a presentation format – to Linked Data which enabled you to understand who someone is, the roles, the connections etc.

Q6) How did you identify the variables?

A6) We have adapted these from the existing literature, but we are open to suggestions and feedback. This is concept work at present, but we want it to really work.

Q7) Is this approach tested?

A7) We have tested it with SPSS to ensure the concept model is appropriate.

And with that we have lunch. Blogging will kick off again with our final keynote at 1.45. And after a brief lunch – and some singers from the university! – we are back for our final keynote.

Dr Marco Lamas, Oporto Polytechnic Institute ESEIG, Porto, Portugal – Social Media: To be or not to be In the entrepreneurial XXI century

I am going to be talking about the role of social media in an entrepreneurial age, and I think there is a lot to talk about. We start with aquestions about an image [which I apparently win! €5 for me!] which represents fast movement and very rapid change. We see today everyone in an era of uncertainty, greater local and global competitiveness. We see birth rates falling in developed world, an aging population, changes in the environment, and no jobs for life but also no career for life anymore. And of course we see rapid technological development. That is what we have right now.

So, what happens online in 60 seconds? Well a huge amount looking at data of what is posted to each social media channel every minute. And interestingly we can look at sites and think about growth – Facebook is huge but not growing rapidly. Today we talk Facebook, Twitter, Instagram but tomorrow we might be talking about entirely different tools. The important thing is how we use these spaces. If we want to work well, to be successful, we have to adapt our contact and communication to the customer, to their needs, and we have a lot to do to get there.

If you speak about the current customers we have to talk about millennials – children born 1992-2002 – there are 81m children in this group, man already in college and university. Some in this room perhaps! We all are millennials in here anyway – we act in many ways like them. When I prepared this presentation I spoke with my son, he is 16… I talked with him. I was looking at characteristics of a millennial, my son has all of those… This generation will replace the baby boomers as they progress. We must adapt what we do to their needs and expectations. To serve tham better universities, colleges, business firms are having to change how they do their business. So, lets focus on the customer, on the client. Everyone says they will do that, but few do. This group are very different – the first generation to be exposed to technology and the internet since they were babies. They are the most casual citizens, they expect change, to be mobile (in terms of jobs and attitudes, not just technology), to be citizens of the world and are attracted to diverse environments.

Looking at some (Goldmann Sachs) qualities of millennials we can see that 34% use their online network when making purchasing sdecisions – looking at advice, comments, experiences, etc. Studies looking at what would be worst for this generation – is the sensation of being offline. Being offline for 1 hour, 2 hours is upsetting for a millennial – and in that way I am not a millennial. We are always online, this generation is always online… That’s to shop, to plan but most of all to talk to another person who has had the experience of the thing that are interested in. Everything is done online here.

This group are (according to Goldmann Sachs again) are the “first digital natives” and their use of social media is significant [although seeing the percentage of use of social media Gen X is only a few percentage points behind, Baby Boomers further behind them]. We have to watch by our customers, our consumers side, to see their perspective. In business we have to understand our business in that way, the great error is to only see your business from your own point of view. I have created 6 businesses in my time, and that experience taught me that building is a business you should not do for you, for your needs, it has to be for your customer, for their needs, their interests, their way of finding information.

We also see higher use of internet and smartphones by the Millennials than other groups. Huge uptake of smartphones in this group (data this time from eMarketeer). Social media is a strong pull for communication in business. So, for example, we see Yanis Varoufakis on Twitter – social media being used for communication, for engagement in business, in politics. Why do this? To share a message faster and to more people than by any other channel before. Unfortunately we have another example… ISIS uses social media as a weapon by this group. Social media is a tool, but it can be used by everyone and that is a benefit and a threat.

But whilst communications are rapid, our business approaches can lag behind by 10, 20 years, so we have to change our business and the way we do things. We have a lot of social media – which you use is unimportant, it is the usage. By now the question in my title… well to be present in social media isn’t enough, you have to know why you are using these tools, what you want, what your plan is… Once you know you have to find what you need to get there. It can be bad to be present without that plan, without that understanding.

There are also failures you can make in social media… These include: not having a social media policy; treating all social media sites as if they are the same; using social media as a megaphone’ focusing on quantity of followers instead of quantity. They are present but they are not making taking advantage of it, they lack strategy.

So, what do we need? Well we need practices and tools adapted to the reality and specificity of each business, a plan, a strategy… And we need to think about social media as a set of tools that have to be integrated in our much broader plans to communicate, to market, to achieve our goals. For me the key of our focus has to be on humanization – this is a key aspect for millennials. It is about socialisation, about experiences, about authenticity. When someone speaks to me I want it to be personalised, to understand the persons, how we must speak to them.

Segmentation gives us a way to address these needs, but nowawadays we can do much more than that, we can move into personalisation. Here in Portugal we saw a ballooning in surfing after an area began to reach 30m. But we see a real consistency across surfers – similar clothes, language etc. There is segmentation that can be seen. But we can get mor epersonalised to the level of the individual now.  It is a difference to speak to a surfer versus a cultural tourist for instance.

Creativity and innovation is key here, why should our customers choose us rather than another brand? For instance Milka’s main innovation is just the purple packaging – which marks their brand uniquely. We have to think outside of the box, but we live in routines so it is easy to get stuck in routines… we have to work beyond that. Working across disciplines can help with that, to get different people working on the same problem. We must practice and work hard to be creative. We have to do things in a different ways… You can’t do things better, its not enough, we have to think differently.

But we also have to stay focused… I am trying to upgrade my own personal memory – of my brain – theres a great opportunity there for someone! We may work, study, learn all of our lives but we cannot be great at everything. We have to focus on a few things that we can do best.

How many of you have done Rubicks cubes? Successfully? Many times? Fast? There are very fast world records for this but to get there you have to try things. fail, fail again… And business models for social media look a bit like that – failures again and again to find what works. Many of you may be aware of the Business Model Canvas model… This looks like a puzzle and thats a good way to think about this problem. There are 9 pieces here… but you have to get everyone right to find a suitable business model, a solution to this model.

On the right side of this model is the value proposition, thats what we can do differently, what we can offer our customers. And the most important piece in this section is the customers – what they want, what they are willing to pay… social media helps but we have to do this puzzle over and over again as things change. We have to get our customers to love us. We don’t want business/customer college/student relationship, we want more than that, we want a real relationship. It isn’t about networks on social media, but the relationships social media enables. And making a relationship work is hard, it takes work.

So we have planification, analysis, formulation, organisation and implementation. vision and mission. Social media is important but it is not a proposal in itself. We need a plan before we do it. And we also have to keep it simple (KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid). We have to think who am I talking to? And tomorrow? Will we have Facebook, linked in, Instagram? We don’t know. When I watch economic and policy discussion on TV, the change is so fast we can’t be sure… we need magic to solve that… Which means doing all that planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluating and then adapt adapt adapt…

Some research found that entrepreneurship occurs where there is happiness, and happiness where we are being entrepreneurial.

So, I would like to ask you to watch a short video… “Pig and cookies” [very cute!] – this is a real entrepreneur:

YouTube Preview Image

The pig gets there in the sense, but “If he had used social media he could have asked someone how to solve th eproblem!”

And with that we move onwards to the final parallel sessions… I’m headed to Personal Infomation Online – Dianne Forbes.

Investigating the Reasons of Hiding Personal Relationships in SNS – JianJun (Jacob) Li, Hong Kong Baptist University, China

My work stems from the use of social networks by criminals, using them to conduct crimes. Identity theft but also corruption/intervention can disclose and expose relationships. Most of the research in the past has focused personal information disclosure (e.g. Dwyer) rather than nondisclosure relationships.

I have developed a model to bring together various factors, but I want to also talk about some associated areas. Impression management – people want to give a good impression to others, especially in social media which provide many ways to control your image, your representation, what you share and how can see your message/content. So some users may hide some sensitive relationships in social media. There is also a lot of self-monitoring here that enables them to present the best/most appropriate face to others [Jacob is using some Bill Plympton-ish drawings here that seem to draw on Goffman’s (1954) idea of representation of self, of wearing different masks etc].

Risk perception is important here… higher risk perception may make them more likely to hide some social relationships. And people are increasingly concerned about privacy – the risks posed by hackers, but also research on internet users using Google to conceal search history, and the hiding of particular posts. Privacy concerns are connected to risk perception…

We also have the issue of control over information. Facebook provides a lot of controls for users to decide what their friends can see. Some users can therefore choose to have some concealed behaviour on social network. And those with some history of criminal offence have more reason/more likely to conceal some of their relationships, of their connections. And finally we have the issue of social network credibility – if a user trusts the network, they may be more likely to share more openly; and if they do not trust the SNS they are perhaps more likely to conceal relationships/activity.

So for research collection I set up a survey online (n=77). Most of those who took part had used social networks for over a year, and had more than 100 friends. I then did factor analysis around different constructs that include SNS credibility, guilty of criminal offence, impression management, privacy concerns, self-monitoring, control over information, risk perception, nondisclosure relationships. Almost all of these factors seem to be significant (using Cronbach’s Alpha/CR/AWE). Using correlation analysis between constructs we can see that impression management is the most important factor having very close relationships to risk management, and privacy concerns.

Undertaking multiple regression for predictors of nondisclosure relationship allowed me to add values to my research model for nondisclosure relationships. Here risk perception, privacy concerns; impression management and self-monitoring were all significant, whilst other factors were less so.


Q1) When you devise the sample did you look at different demographic factors?

A1) Yes, but the original idea was I wanted to try other factors, rather than demographic factors.

Q2) Who were your participants and what were their demographics?

A2) Most are university students, probably staff as well. Would like more data, perhaps from social networks… But my questions were too long.

Q2) The model looked very interesting but maybe too complex, so perhaps you can focus in more – so find a psychological model of risk perception so you can understand the impact. So that rather than having a lot of factors, focus on some of these. My students are doing research on self disclosure on Facebook, so this is really interesting though.

A2) Initially I tried a lot of variables to find what is and is not significant. I selected 8 of many… I want to carry on and develop this research model.

Comment) A qualitative angle would be an interesting thing to have, to have the rationale behind the numbers – to understand what people are thinking about. You could invite your respondents to be part of interviews – to get some quotes and stories to provide some narrative for those behaviours and predictors.

Personal Information Disclosure and Perceptions about Data Usage by Facebook – Soczka Leonor, ISEG University of Lisbon, Portugal

This is based on my masters thesis, but this is just a small part of the data we collected. Our work focused on user perceptions about how their personal information is used and its impact on disclosure, specifically the use of personal information for marketing purposes.

So, looking at the literature we came across the concept of privacy calculus of Personal Information Disclosure (PID). We also can see different aspects in understanding self-disclosure: the perceived benefit; trust in a company; control mechanisms, perceived risks – the possible negative consequences within a particular probability, global privacy concern – tendency for general concern around informational privacy; and past experience (involving privacy disclosure).

Facebook’s business model rests on the disclosure of personal information so we added some additional factors here: valuing targeted advertising; usage frequency – as an indicator of trust in the platform; data usage perceptions; demographic variables.

We had nine hypothesis around connections to personal information disclosure and the relationships between different factors.  Based on this we constructed a model for our research. We undertook that research through a survey (n=519). Of our respondents 41 was the average age, 84% were intensive users. Only 15% valued targeted advertising. Their perceptions varies – 16.8% had incorrect perceptions, 41% correctly identified how Facebook uses personal data, and the remaining ~40% did not know how facebook uses personal information. We did regression analysis and most of the hypotheses were confirmed. The model explained by 22% the variation on the decision to disclose personal information.

Comparing those who did not know how facebook use data (vs those who knew) tended to be less intensive users, with fewer concerns. Those perceiving that all information can be used in marketing perceived more risks, have less trust in facebook, and share less data on Facebook.

Those who do not know how Facebook use data were positively influenced by perceived benefits, intensive usage and audience filter usage. Those where some information is used positively linked to perceived benefits, audience filter usage, intensive usage and negatively by discomfort with information age.

In terms of our conclusions, the confirmation of our hypotheses indicates that perceived benefit, trust in facebook, usage frequency, control mechanisms, and valuing targeted advertising are all positively associated with PID. [and other conclusions – my typing couldn’t capture it all!]

So the consequences here are that business success of companies like facebook depend on perceptions users have on how their information is used for marketing purposes, specially if they consider their information is not used at all. Our recommendations for companies like Facebook is to reduce risk perception, and provide control mechanisms for users.

Some limitations here – convenience sample and possible cultural limitation of the sample. There was also a smaller group in the “no information is used” group, which may have impacted validity.


Q1) What age group responded to your survey?

A1) The majority were between 35 and 50 years old. About 32% were under 30, and 32% were over 50.

Q1) Eric Schmidt said several years ago that most people under 30 did not care about privacy, about terms and conditions… Millennials do not care about privacy at all… How many of us here have read Facebook agreement? Very few even here… There is a perception of what that should be… so does this study matter?

A1) I am starting with data we have collected – we have split the sample into two groups regarding age – along “digital natives” ad “digital immigrants” groups, as a different way to split the data. There was a correlation there between age and disclosure – the older they are the less information they share. But it is not clear that that is about age/generation or whether that is about life stage, so we have to evaluate and monitor that through time.

Comment) I would add to that that when young I was much more reckless in terms of risk etc. so I totally understand your point that it is not age related, but life stage related. So trends may not be generational but about life stage. My gut feeling is that surveying the same generation in 10-20 years you might find similar results…

Q2) How do perceptions of sharing something online connect to risk?

Comment, chair) A lot of what is is being suggested here cover a lot of different hypotheses. There is some research that suggests young people are much more risk aware, they learn from personal experience, and are savvy and adapting. We should be cautious about assuming that young people will be like us when they grow up, they will have their own cautions and fears.

Q1 again) I have asked 20 year olds to study as a group to find what they knew, whether they were aware of what could be found about themselves. I give them a questionnaire afterwards – asking if they would change their practice and NONE of them would change. That’s what concerns me. My daughter works at BuzzFeed tells me “you have too much information online” – because she knows what they do with data. Understanding how data is used, probably does change perception. But that is a good point that knowing more will change how they think about this.

A) People do share, they do use, even if they think Facebook uses everything. But it changes how much they shared.

Summary of the issues raised during the conference and presentation of the Best PhD Paper – Led by Anabela Mesquita

This event brought together around 100 participants from across the world – all five continents – and we tried to provide a platform for researchers to connect and exchange ideas. Yesterday we found that social media is safe for businesses to use social media, although the struggle between good and evil in terms of use of media continue. There is huge value to be derived from social media but also challenges too. We are moving from an information society to a networked society, where networks are a site of exchange between individuals and organisations.

How do we retain value and freedom, and how can we recognise sovereignty and identity in this changing world? We witness a change from the analogue to a digital world. Nowaways we see networks emerging that connect complex systems. They enable scale, flexibility and adaptability, without a single central entity. And we see fast changes. We see distance less of an issue than change. Society is constantly changing and we have to act in local and global competitiveness. Social media changes, as are we, and we must reflect on our usage, and how we adapt our own processes to these new changes. Millennials live online. We need to focus on customer perceptions. Organisation and strategy are at the core of productive and succesful use, along with monitoring, analysis, and learning from experience. We also considered specific aspects of connected world in higher education.

We bring to a close three busy days now, and thank all of my colleagues for their support in the organisation and assistance especially with PhD and Masters papers. I want to thank my colleagues here, including my colleagues behind the scenes who enabled all of this to take place. A huge thanks to Sue for all of her work bringing this all together. And finally thank you to all of you for attending, participating, presenting.

Sue: Before you go we have some presentations for students – for best PhD and best Masters presentations. The prize for masters students is fairly new but I have had good feedback about it. I am pretty sure our masters winner has had to leave – it goes to Romy Van Scharlin (sp?) and her colleagues – on crisis communications with police by Twitter. I know the decision on best PhD papers was hard fought but they have a decision and that was Anand Sheombar for his paper on simulating NGO use of social media.

The poster prize was interesting as we had a tie for second place, and a clear winner. The second prizes go to Elaine Garcia, Plymouth, for her “applying the wild west…” poster, and Elvira Terras and colleagues from Nottingham for their poster [on mental health, ethics and social media I think – will check]. Finally the clear winner was Christophe Capaz with his poster on video virality and brands.

We will send certificates to all of our winners!

And with that, we are done! See you at ECSM2016 perhaps?

 July 10, 2015  Posted by at 9:08 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: ,  Comments Off on European Conference on Social Media – Day Two LiveBlog