Mar 032016
Jisc Digifest conference pass.

Today I am in Birmingham for day two of Jisc Digifest 2016 (catch up on Day One 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. 

At the moment my expected schedule for day one (this will be updated throughout the day) is:

9.00 – 10.00 Plenaries – the power of digital for teaching and learning

The chair for this session is Sarah Davies, head of change implementation support – education/student, Jisc.

Heather MacDonald, principal, Loughborough College

I have missed the beginning of Heather’s talk, so catching up as she addresses the issue of Area Reviews in FE… Heather is talking about the uncertainty of mergers, and of needing to be confident going forward, ready to embrace a technology led future.

Technology, however, is also a real and substantial job threat. But this intelligence is only artificial – until recently it took huge amounts of computation to recognise an image of a cat. We need to get out there and teach to create the next generation of creative and innovative future employees. We need to address the needs of this changing world through chnging pedagogies, through empowering students – perhaps to organise and teach themselves. But what would Ofsted say about that? Well, it matters, a good Ofsted report is very important for FE Colleges, but I would rather have creative and innovative teaching methods. That means we have to, as Tim Marshall said last night, bring the regulators up to speed more rapidly. We should be looking for solutions through the digital lens of technology

Professor John Traxler, professor of mobile learning, Institute of Education, University of Wolverhampton 

Prior to today some of what I will say has been pre-trailed on the blog. I was quoted as saying that “mobile learning” has stalled… But I essentially want to raise the issue of “mobile learning” and just the regular matter of learning with the tools that we have. I was making that distinction around a couple of issues… One is that the money had run out, and that money and that will had fuelled the rhetoric of what we did with innovation in the first decade of this century; the second is the developments and changes in mobile technology itself. About 15 years ago mobile was delicate, fragile, expensive, scarce, something for institutions, and to promulgate their solutions. But the money ran out. And we also focused too much on what we were building, less on who we were building it for… But meanwhile mobile has made the transition to cheap, robust, easy, universal, personal. It’s hardly notable anymore. And whatever constitutes mobile learning now is not driven from the top, but by our students. And the technology moves fast but social practices and behaviours moves even faster, and that’s the harder thing to keep up with. People share, disrupt, discuss… That happens outside the institution…Or inside the institution but on an individual basis.

This technology is part of this fluet, transient, flexible, partial world. It enables people to help each other to learn. And web access is significantly moving to mobile devices rather than desktop machines. But what does that do for the roles of educational designers, teachers, etc. What people call “phone space” is very different to cyber space. Cyber space is a permitted space, back to the world. Whereas phone space is multimodal, you are having conversations, doing other things, crossing roads, travelling… And this is a very different learning space from a student sat at a computer.

Now, looking back I’d consider “mobile learning” rather backward looking, something of the last decade. I think that we, as professional educators, need to look outwards and forwards… And think about how we deal with this issue of abundance – how do we develop the criticality in our students to manage that. And we should question why they still come to us for face to face experiences, and to think about what that mean. Hence, I’m not that bothered if mobile learning actually is dead.

Ian Dolphin, executive director of the Apereo Foundation

We are a registered not for profit in the US, we have been described as an Apache Foundation for Education – that’s not quite right but gives an idea of what we do. We provide software including SAKAI, Xerte, and OpenCast (capturing and managing media at significant scale). But enough about us…

Next generation digital learning environment… Lots to say there but I will be focusing on a conversation that has opened up in the United States, and the relationship of that conversation to developing the discussion around Learning Analytics.

That conversation was started by Educause, which looked at the VLE – the benefits but also the drawbacks of being inflexible, of being very course or teacher-centred. And that work highlighted what a new VLE might want to look like – flexibility for different types of courses, that it should support collaboration across and between institutions, that it should support analytics for advising, and that this new environment should be a much more personal environment than what has gone before.

The analogy here perhaps is of Groundhog day. These are issues we have heard before over the last 10 years. But why do I think the environment is different now? Well, we are are more mature in our technology. We have gotten smarter and better at lightly working tools in and out of different environments. We are pragmatic about bringing functionality in pragmatically. And, lastly, we are starting to learn and develop a practical use of big data and learning analytics as a potential tool for personalisation.

I just want to pause to talk about academic analytics – about institutional trends, problems, etc. versus learner analytics – which are specific and personal, about interventions, retention etc. And we are already seeing some significant evidence about the effectiveness of learning analytics (see recent Bricks and Clicks report), with examples from the UK and US here. If one looks at the ends of the continuum here we are starting from prediction for retention intervention, but moving towards predictions for personalised learning.

There are several approaches to learning analytics at the moment. One is to buy in a system. We are taking a very different approach, developing a platform that uses various flexible components. That helps ensure data can move between systems, and that’s an issue Jisc has been raising – a national and international issue. And I think yesterday’s opening session was absolutely right about the importance of focusing on people, on humans. And if you look at the work Jisc has done, on ethical issues and informed consent, that is having an impact nationally and internationally.

We work with the society of analytics research. And there is a Solar analytics maturity framework. We have partnered with Solar and Jisc on our work and, to finish, I’d like to make a shameless plug for our Solar colleagues for LAK’16 which takes place in Edinburgh this summer.

Chrissi Nerantzi, principal lecturer in academic CPD, Manchester Metropolitan University

I asked all of you, and those online, to help me to design the cover for “Wandering While Wondering” and I want to thank you all for that. We are doing a speed chat on Twitter and I’d invite you to participate there.

My background is in languages, and in being a translator. But mostly in the world of books… I felt privileged when authors of books I was translating were alive, and available to talk to – but usually asking for help wasn’t possible. Reference books are still important for me… But the world of web 2.0 has changed how we can ask for help, the resources we have to hand. And I stopped working in translation when the world of digital became much more exciting. I’m now a learning developer working with colleagues to do exciting things with technology.

I’ve been asked about my work on playful learning… technology shouldn’t be driving but we should be able to play with new things – like Google Cardboard – and discover how to use these things in teaching! But not everyone feels playful… And sometimes people’s wings are cut by the culture, by experience… Sometimes we have to remember that we are physical beings, with room to play and discover (Chrissi is throwing balloons around the room and walking the auditorium at this point).

We are very lucky in my university to have real support for creativity… We have a creative module, where teachers and learners work and learn together, locally and globally on projects. We can be tempted to put our learners and academics in boxes, but we have to get out of our silos, put our egos aside, and work for the common good. We all want to do it but often the fear is there, colleagues play it safe because they don’t know what is going to happen (by genuine coincidence one of the circulating balloons pops at this point!). Being silly, being playful, gives us that freedom to get out of our boxes, to engage, to empower, to educate.

Sarah: How do you give staff the space and encouragement and permission to play, in such a time-pressured environment.

Chrissi: We need to make that space by getting rid of stuff, to encourage experimentation. We stuff the curriculum with stuff… But that space to play is essential, we need space to play, to experiment, to think of new ideas…

Heather: I fully agree with that. You need to understand what happens in your organisation, and highlighting and encouraging good practice. Build models of DNA, rather than studying them. Go outside, rather than doing everything in the lab…

Chrissi: That is really important, that need to use the space creatively. We have outside spaces we can use… Even a change of scenery can refresh our minds. We have to have that openness.

Ian: I tihnk this is also true in digital space. One of the problems for staff in digital spaces is that you need to make business cases to the IT department, get approval, and then you can do something… I think moving to something like the App Store for educational technologies, where you can experiment more.

John: I’m nervous that for students being on campus endorses their identity as students – being a distance learner or part time learner is a very different identity – and play might not do that for them. Students can have more serious conceptions of learning. But I’m also nervous of play as prescriptive practice – our students come from a huge range of cultural backgrounds and in some of those contexts play is seen as frivolous, we have to be aware of that and not go in too fast and miss the opportunity to engage.


Q1 from David on Twitter) You haven’t talked much about the purpose of education, can you say a bit more about this.

A1 – John) If we are merely serving the economy in our work with students, we have to be aware of that, what that means etc. And that’s a concern about VLE – they won’t use those spaces as soon as they graduate. And that’s also part of criticality – our students have to have the skills to adapt and develop, to manage their

A1 – Sarah) They say that we can expect to have

Q2 from John Kirrimuir on Twitter) When the evidence for a technology is scant, how do we manage the risk of playing with it.

A2 – Heather) Use your nouse, but it is about risk taking.

A2 – John) We had a lot of small or limited experiments without evidence bases… But you do create that in those experiments…

A2 – Sarah) And it’s weighing up what you want to do in your teaching and learning.

Q3) I work in academic development around criticality and digital literacy skills, and this is very much about teaching students how to learn. That goes ok. But how about dealing with CAVEs: Colleagues Averse to Virtually Everything… those who don’t want to learn.

A3 – Chrissi) I think we need to immerse colleagues into these possibilities, being part of that community, not just modelling practice. If it’s something we look at rather than trying and engaging, then it doesn’t work. It’s hard to do but  if we work together we can change everything. There are habits, including bad habits, but it takes time and can happen.

A3 – Heather) It’s also about providing a safe environment to experiment and take risks. A number of institutions have created “learning laboratories” to trial ideas, to film or share those… A safe space which can work well. There is also quite a bit of student pressure, in FE at least, as they are getting something different down the hall.

A3 – Ian) I think that criticality and willingness to fail is absolutely essential for creativity, for many forms of learning… That has to permeate the institution.

A3 – John) I’m nervous that we are too introspective, deciding what learning is or is not… that we should not define this.

Comment, Sarah) In that context where learners have so many tools and opportunities in their own hands, what is the role of the university?

A4 – John) Well we can give them a degree, a crude generalisation but still true.

And, with that slightly controversial comment, we are done for this session. 

New directions in open research

Chairing this session is Neil Jacobs, head of scholarly communications support, Jisc.

Neil: We have a very distinguished panel for this session on new directions for open research: Tom Crick, Ross Mounce, and Cameron Neylon. We’ll have all three talks and then opportunity for discussion and questions.

Cameron Neylon, professor of research communications, Curtin University, Australia

I’ve been involved in open research practices for a long time now but I think things have really started to change. Open data was fringe, maybe 5 years ago, now mainstream. Open research is increasingly of interest. And we are starting to think more about open source software, to deeper engagement. We started with people outside the standard practice, and it has now moved into the mainstream of what the institutions we work within do. Institutions are academic institutions, but also funders, also institutions in terms of the way that we communication what we do.

We have seen a move towards institutionalising these practices, primarily towards Open Access. And I’m sure many of you have faced your institutions trying to institutionalise those processes of open access… And as we do that it’s important to think about what we want these institutions to be in the future, what that should look like. We’ve been retrofitting this stuff into institutions, what they do, mechanisms for recognition and reward. What does it mean to institutionalise these things? What happens when we haven’t thought about the unexpected consequences of this. And I’m as guilty of this as anyone… Maybe those mandates haven’t played out how we’d expect in how researchers do their work.

I have moved from being at a publisher and back to being a researcher. And I’m now a researcher in a cultural studies department rather than my original research area in the sciences. And seeing the world through that cultural lens changes things. I can see the ways in which we see things as “cultural challenges” in particular disciplinary communities… In doing this… Well we say it’s cultural… Maybe it’s digital… But  I think we’ve also used that as an excuse not to probe too deeply what’s going on. To ask about the culture of the research administrators in our community… These staff are familiar with traditional platforms, and publishers, and mechanisms… As we institutionalise open access practices, what does that mean about the cultures are, and how they can change. How do we move beyond “this is a cultural clash” to asking the question of how different cultures are in play, and how they might (and might not) change.

Ross Mounce, postdoctoral research associate, University of Cambridge

I’m going to talk about some of the tools and facilities already available for open practice. And I’ve been part of setting up the Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) Journal (, so I’m going to show you a promotional video for this. (The video is highlighting that the platform publishes research proposals, but also supports openness throughout the process of research. Whilst this plays I’m also going to note that I’m delighted to see that Ross is sporting a Software Sustainability Institute T-shirt today. Find out more about SSI’s brilliant work on openness and open software here, and through the JORS journal).

So, 90% of research proposals are never funded. And even those that are funded you see only a small part of that – maybe an abstract. As a researcher that makes it hard to see what is going on, to avoid repetition, and to collaborate. So RIO has been set up to share research proposals, as well as data, traditional papers etc. We aren’t the only ones – there is also F1000 Research and ThinkLab. And to find out more I’d recommend Mietchen 2014 (The Transformative Nature of Transparency in Research Funding).

Tom Crick, professor of computer science and public policy, Cardiff Metropolitan University

That was a really good framing from Cameron and Ross on the larger institutional stuff. We know that there are bigger funding and sustainability issues. But I wanted to come at this from a more personal perspective… As an academic and researcher I’ve always cared about openness and cross-fertilisation, at a personal level but also on a bigger governance and policy level. Openness promotes excellent research and science. How do we make sure that we know… There are clear economic levers, and broader economic and societal levers… So how do we ensure this approach is both top down and bottom up, and that that all works.

My job combines this odd combination of computer science and public policy, working with Welsh Government, with NESTA on data-driven policy making, particularly in Wales… Looking at how governments can do much more bespoke and evidence based policy making. Wales are keen to be a more agile economy, but how to do that. We have looked at available data sets – real time effective data for public policy making – and that is very hard. There’s a lot of “Open” out there, but having skills, tools, infrastructure and ability to use this effectively is harder. There is a UK Government push to openness, there is a big Welsh Government push to openness… And this work was only possible because there is so much open data out there… That’s a great way to look, to find structures and infrastructures that have impacts on us as academics but how do we really promote interdisciplinary practice, to have that funded without having to shape specific angles for funding from specific research councils.

We need to think about funding, reward, recognition, and governance structures that really can promote open research. Ross is actually wearing a t-shirt for the SSI, who I was going to mention, and they are supporting the research base, the openness of software. How can we embed a culture of openness throughout academia? I look forward to your questions and comments?


Q1 – Amber Thomas, Warwick) I have questions about drivers for openness. In sciences you talked about reproducability, in social sciences it’s about data literacy perhaps, in Humanities it’s much more about collaboration… How do you see this playing out?

A1 – Cameron) I think that thing of cultures, and of social as well as disciplinary and community drivers. I think we need to think about the stories that researchers are telling themselves. As someone new to humanities research I find discourse analysis really powerful, getting those things to align will get us towards progress.

A1 – Tom) A month ago I was chairing a panel at a Jisc/AHRC Digging Into Data workshop, that’s a clear interdisciplinary initiative. We had a data scientist, a poet, and a German Central Banker, all talking about projects funding under the DiD call… But there were some issues of common language or understanding but there was a commonality of what they wanted to find out. When you find cross cutting things – and data can be a great focus for that – you can find alignments of culture, a common aim to solve common real world problems. Maybe one of the things we can pitch openness as is for the greater good, but that doesn’t always work… But open can mean new possibilities and opportunities and solution.

A1 – Cameron) It can be tempted to talk about the objects, but actually we need to talk about who we want to talk to, why, what the research is… less about data etc.

A1 – Ross) Disciplinary boundaries really don’t matter that much, they are quite artificial. Some of the most creative and brilliant academics I know are totally interdisciplinary. I’m an SSI fellows, I can talk to other fellows who are historians, or are in totally different areas, but we find common interests and concerns.

A1 -Tom) Universities try to pump prime this stuff with early career researchers, but there has to be more fostering of that across the board, at other levels.

Q2 – Adrian Stevenson, Jisc) You gave examples of research, but I wonder if you have good examples of research being done in different ways because of the open agenda.

A2 – Ross) Yeah, there’s Timothy Gowers Polymath project, who put out his questions, did the work with the community, and entirely bipassed traditional examples.

A2 – Cameron) A classic example was the e-coli outbreak where raw data was released to GitHub, and all started working collectively on that. Similar has happened for Ebola and Zika. But those have been “turning on the open thing” as needed. But the real examples are often from open source software which have been built that way to avoid a lack of funding for anyone else to do it. If you take that radically open approach you can find you are outside the traditional reward and recognition structures. I know people in this room have been frustrated by people publishing on things which have already been shared/blogged before but not noted in the same way for being in that format. So that is a challenge.

A2 – Tom) As Cameron said, we can get too focused on data/DOI etc. when actually you need that big challenge, that big goal, that research that you are working towards. It’s not just to tick a box on a form. Whether that scales up and down, looking at standard research models that’s more challenging, but if you can start to tackle this super-nationally and nationally that gets things moving… Need that shift before we see things as out there, as radical.

A2 – Cameron) I am part of a project called the Open Collaborative Science in Development project, where we do research, we go to communities to find the needs. But when we say “open” we have to think about “to whom” and “to do what”. And that matters as openness can hit local political agendas at odds with the research agenda – for instance over water quality. But there are increasing numbers of examples, in different ways.

Q3 – Daniela, Jisc) Cameron, you were talking about institutionalising practices, and I was wondering if you could say more about your vision for what this is, and the better practices that could be institutionalised.

A3 – Cameron) Let me start with something that hasn’t worked as well as it should have, the RCUK open data requirements. The mandate there was ahead of where the institutional support and resources were in place. We can’t always build platforms to respond to change rapidly enough. Framing things as compliance issues created a compliance culture, and that doesn’t engage researchers to actually engage and change things. So, what could we do or should we do? We have to build institutions better. Our institutions were build for mid century needs and they need to change in terms of governance and structures. I think we have to look very closely at the way that institutions administratively engage with researchers. We need more research to actually understand what is happening there. I see a culture of researchers, administrators, and funders that are seemingly at odds, even though they don’t want to be… We have to dig into that before we can improve structures. But that’s a hard problem. Within the frameworks we have, what can we do to ensure researchers and administrators both meet each others needs, and can understand those needs. Administrators have to engage in compliance, standards etc. Researchers have a different set of concerns. How can we align, and do that at scale, to find how we can collaboratively work to solve these problems… Rather than fight based on misunderstandings and misconceptions. More collaborative practice would be really powerful, and that really changes the way that senior university administrators see their role – away from CEO type roles towards Community Leaders.

A3 – Tom) I can give an institutional profile. I am half time academic, and half time working on our university’s commercialisation and enterprise work. I have access to some of the levers. A lot of this working is about promoting the benefits of collaborative research, research tools… Understanding that collaborative models lead to funding, that there are easy workflows and infrastructures – I write all of my papers on GitHub with other people… Once you make it easy to do this, you can promote that and cascade it down as well. We care about compliance, but also try to be proactive in changing research culture across the institution and disciplines.

A3 – Ross) Collaboration is easier when you share research easier – the proposal, RDM plan, the data… Right now research proposals are really quite closed, and researchers want to keep it that way for competitive reasons. But actually sharing early helps with compliance.

A3 – Cameron) Compliance is a useful lever… But researchers tick the boxes and then forget about them… In the case of DMPs, how do we make those collaborative between the researcher, funder, and institution, so that they are part of the record of what is expected, what happens, part of the manifest of data at the end of the project. So, this stuff depends on local context but also DMPs can be dead ends now, we need to make them a real living breathing part of the conversation.

A3 – Ross) DMPs aren’t open, and that’s the issue… I am a data parasite, I use other people’s data… I’m a bioinformaticist. And if I see that data is being generated, and will be released… I will look for that data, I’m contributing to that compliance data and I’ll report that if the data isn’t available. We really have to open up DMPs.

Q4 – Rob Johnson, Research Consulting) Tom, I was really interested in your enterprise director role… And in my own work I speak to different communities but opening up data and research opens up lots of enterprise  opportunities.

A4 – Tom) Actually I’m deputy enterprise director. Now enterprise can look like consultancy – which many academics don’t feel interested in that – or in commercialisation which can seem far from their research and teaching. But it’s about not being bogged down in terminology, but understanding the challenge you want to solve, the people you want to talk to… But not badging that in ways that may put people off. It’s hard though. I got involved through research data management… That’s tricky but means you can kick interesting projects together.

Q5 – Paul Stokes, Jisc) We’ve heard a lot about enterprise, economics… But ultimately someone has to pay for all this. Do you have examples of direct economic benefits of open work that helps make the business case.

A5 – Cameron) I can give small scale examples. I left PLoS a year ago and have become a consultant half time, that’s very

Public Genome Project – massive economic activity from that. But we keep missing the big things… GeneBank, PubMed etc. as they are so big and important, forgetting that they had to be fought for. And it can be hard to look at smaller stuff, and to account for that impact. But I also want to push back a bit about the economic impact for each part of the research, perhaps we should make the case that some infrastructure is not about a clear financial return – greater participation in democracy has an economic impact but not a clear financial one. So we should think beyond the financial ROI. But, that said, there are big examples, there are big platforms, there are great REF Case studies… But we have to be wary of focusing on financial ROI.

A5 – Tom) Thinking about open data in government, and in Wales we have projects around innovation in public services. If thinking of open data as financial ROI for private sector, that’s tricky and requires finesse. But there is public infrastructure that others can build upon… It’s a non zero cost but it doesn’t have to revenue generating, or producing financial ROI.

Q6 – Dashia, Cambridge) I am a PhD student and there seems to be a trend for publishing papers into social media – what does that mean for openness… Rather than repositories. People want research visible, not as clear if open.

A6 – Ross) ResearchGate and are not open and not the same as a repository… Many researchers don’t understand that difference between free and open. And they are indicative of a failure from institutions to present repositories in easy to use, beautiful looking ways…

A6 – Cameron) It’s symptomatic of failures of institutions and join up in institutions. There is a kind of Napster for research at the moment which is similarly emerging from disruption from an unmet demand. There are opportunities around that demand, and that could be met by the community at low cost… But we often miss that opportunity and that’s where those commercial platforms set up. The outreach director at Mendeley says “Academia is unwilling to invest in anything until it’s so important they can’t afford it”! And that usability etc. is part of that. What do we need to do to invest properly, particularly to move away from direct immediate financial ROI as the requirement.

A6 – Tom) Social media is another way to facilitate and enable openness in a general sense. For my discipline we have preprints in ArXiv. It seems crazy to write a paper collaboratively and openly and not put it there. But I use Twitter, I blog as an academic – good practice myself – but five years ago that was generally seen as a waste of time. Now we’ve seen a step change of the perception of the researcher. Social media is being promoted in institutions through courses etc. But those tools connect you to networks, to those beyond your discipline, and it makes your work visible.

Introducing the UK research data discovery service

Christopher Brown, senior co-design manager, Jisc

The context for data discovery here is that there is CKAN, but also an Australian national data discovery service. So, in this project we looked at what else was out there, and we selected CKAN as the solution. The aim was for a UK data discovery service to meet Jisc customer requirements. And this is a project of Jisc, the Digital Curation Centre and the UK Data Archive and their UK data centres.

We have 9 HEIs (including University of Edinburgh) and six data centres engaged in this project. And we have a governance structure and a researcher group advising us to ensure our solution meets researcher needs. Why do this? Well to make data more visible and transparent, to promote the HEI or Data Centre research, to encourage re-use and sharing of data, to validate research, but also to support various mandates on the sharing of data. And this sharing creates the potentiall for greater cross-disciplinary and cross-institution collaboration.

So, we gathered user stories through workshops, for instance around the researcher, the project manager, the machine (as user of M2M services), the data repository, the system manager, the funder. So, this accommodates a range of use cases, for instance discovering data or a lack of data as a researcher, to inform the shape of future research.

In order to make this happen we are aggregating metadata around a core schema that maps individual data repositories to the UK National Repository Discovery Service. We engaged with participants in workshops and online meetings, gathered those stories, selected CKAN software (used for CKAN and ANDS) and created a statement of requirements. And we now have a publicly abailable alpha site:

There are a number of issues, including the quality of data, the completeness of the service – as you want a service like this to be as complete as possible. There are issues around open access, licensing, copyright. There are copyright issues around some metadata too. Access to external data may require a log in. And we need to ensure functionality meets requirements.

So, we have an alpha site, and we are using a rapid development cycle towards a Beta. To ensure we don’t leave system testing until the end, and to ensure our system meets user requirements. It’s all open and acceptable. There is an open metadata schema document ( and you can also see the scope of the datasets in a shared document.

The timeline here is that we will be working on the business case and Beta site in Spring, before possibly going into production.

And now, for the demo. And, as I say, this is clearly an alpha site.

Chris: I’m Chris, developer for this project. We decided to use CKAN… The landing page presents a search of datasets, you can also explore by organisation – which shows all of those involved, including universities, research centres, data centres. You can search the data sets by keywords, and filter those by various things – institution, license, tag or format. When we look at a particular example we can see a description, the associated resources, the tags for that data, and then you have the additional information here. In a future version we’ll add four more metadata fields as well.

If we take an example document, you can either preview or download the data. The preview uses a plugin to let you take a quick look at the data, as well as a description of the data. And then, if you want to download the data you can download the file(s).

Christopher B: We don’t store the data, we just aggregate the metadata, the download link will take you to the data in the host data repository – whether at an HEI or data centre.

Chris: Some of the data we have has geospatial coordinates and you can use a map to select a region to explore/filter the search results to a particular area.

On the site, in addition to the pages shown, we also have About and FAQ sections.

Christopher B: That FAQ section is being populated as we go, with questions about the data, the metadata, etc.


Q1) How are licenses handled?

A1 – Chris) We are looking to have a standardised list to filter by.

A1 – Christopher B) We are working with existing data and that creates challenges – as there are different versions of the same licenses, and different licenses all in place. So we are trying to encourage standardisation.

Q2) Is the widget that previews files limited to specific files?

A2 – Chris) Yes, limited to PDF, excel and CSV files right now. There are other plugins that could be brought in for other formats potentially. I’m working on a visual search, using thumbnails – the VADS data set will support that. When we preview that there will be images.

A2 – Christopher B) Again, that’s about available metadata – VADS has that, but not all services do. Have to balance what we can do for some data with what can be done across all data sets.

Q3) Could you explain what needs to happen technically for an organisation to take part in this?

A3 – Christopher B) Mostly OAI-PMH.

A3 – Chris) Mainly harvested by CSW – Catalogue Service for the Web. Also supports OAI-PMH – a common standard for harvesting metadata, that supports a range of common metadata schemas including Dublin Core. And we set up periodic parses of data. Large data sets are checked every week, smaller data sets are updated every day. The metadata shown is what we can work with from organisations involved, and working with organisations to standardise.

A3 – Christopher B) There will be requirements for organisations of what is needed to supply data – like the European Data portal – but that guidance isn’t there yet. Coming soon though. There will also be the ability to search for any metadata field from the advanced search feature – coming soon.

Q4) Is it intended to be entirely open access to search?

A4 – Christopher B) Interesting question. Lots of additional functionality that could be solved by institutional login. But yes, right now, it’s open to use and search. But for the data download you will need to login.

Chris: I should say that there are different levels of production of metadata, depending on the institution. Is there anything else that people would like to see. That complex search functionality for instance?

This is available online already so do use it, test it, and give us feedback. And understand that it is in alpha. But it’s all open – CKAN is in GitHub, our schema is open, and as it develops we’ll be publicising the service more.

Q5) Do you have any way to check that the data archives being harvested are actually live an online?

A5 – Chris) That’s a great question. I do check the output from the harvest and any issues are automatically emailed to the admins at the appropriate organisation.

A5 – Christopher B) We are also producing reports, for instance of duplicate titles. And again the reports are being emailed back to the appropriate organisation responsible for that metadata. Also, one last thing… People have asked if you can save search results and you can do that through the URLs for those search results.

A5 – Chris) The reports are in development at the moment. I can show you a preview of these… These include duplicate titles – no good having the same data titles several times – so this flags all data of the same name, and can work with institution to resolve that. And other reports include view reports for the service.

Q6) Is there anything that indicates that data is open access before I download it?

A6 – Christopher B) Yes, you can filter by that, like you would on Flickr. But that will be in a later version as we need that data from the various contributing organisations.

Do keep an eye on the project as it develops and thank you all for coming!

13.30 – 14.30 Plenaries: the power of data

What can data mining the web tell us about our research?

This session is chaired by Dr Paul Feldman, chief executive, Jisc.

Euan Adie, CEO, Altmetric 

I’m going to be talking about the power of data, specifically data that can support the research process. I work for a company called Altmetrics (which around half the room indicates they’ve head of).

Data can help us capture several aspects of research:

  • Quality – is this good research? Is it well researched? Is it reproducable?
  • Engagement – is this research reaching it’s audience, the people it should reach.
  • Impact – what do the audience do with that research once they encounter it.

These three things are different… They are related but not all one thing. You can have a great piece of work that gets no attention, that’s valid, that happens. And you can have a terrible piece of work that gets lots of attention – happens particularly in mainstream media coverage of science.

Today, I won’t talk about quality but will instead focus on engagement and impact. What I will say is that quality is often best assessed by someone who knows.

Impact is hard to define… It’s a bit like obscenity… You know it when you see it! And impact has different meanings for different people. For researchers it can be about reaching peers, for funders it is often about reaching out more widely thoug. As a very broad definition, impact is about showing that your work makes some kind of difference. And that matters in the REF because people want to know what has happened as a result in funding and investing in research. We have a responsibility in the academic and research community to show how our work has impact.

So, how do we know if our work has impact? Well it has impact if it is cited in Science or Nature of PNAS. But citations are just one measure of impact, that doesn’t account for wider practical applications of our work. So if I publish in Nature, I’ll get picked up by all kinds of citation tools. But what if my research is published in a document like the World Health Organisation Guidelines for the treatment of Malaria? It’s research based work, developed by a panel of experts. Why should you get credit for a journal article, but not a policy document?

Maybe you publish in humanities or social scientists… What if your work becomes a book like “Thinking, fast and slow” or “Freakonomics”? If my work is cited, is a chapter etc. why does that not count? What about patents? Shouldn’t I get credit for that impact? So, all of this data can be collected, as can Social Media and discussion of work there… There are traces that act as an indicator that can be presented to individuals for them to make a decision on what matters.

Now, I left social media until last because people often think of Altmetrics as being about tweeting and blogging and so on. It’s a very high volume source, but not always the most important for impact (more so for engagement perhaps). But there is value there too – tweets about a research paper by Greenpeace and Barak Obama shows real impact for that publication.

The data is online, there’s a lot of it to draw upon. But it’s not always immediately useful. The right tools, plus human context, moves us towards something useful and important. And so, we come back to altmetrics and the altmetrics manifesto… This document was written in 2010 by several people, including Jason Preen, Cameron Neylon, and was about these tracks and traces, it talks about recommendations and discovery and understanding that too. And various people are looking at this… Altmetric (that’s me), Impact Story, PLOS, and Plum Analytics.

The Altmetric journal is now on about 6000 journals and will let you explore the usage of the academic work… That brings together newspapers, magazines, tweets, blogs, etc. For example, we can look at the Gravitational Waves article that came out recently.

Now, I should talk about numbers. The score isn’t so important, it is the pooling of the data which you can then look at and explore in more detail. Only you know what impact you are really looking for.

Another solid example was on UAVs and drones, and in Altmetrics they found that their work was being cited in a government document. That’s impact and engagement and useful to know about.

Now, I’ve said this is all good but you have to be cautious about quality. Knowing the Altmetrics is just a starting point… The data needs critical engagement. And these measures are complimentary to the traditional measures – if peer review is the bread and butter, Altmetrics is the jam. And Alt suggests alternative… but it’s complementary. Metrics suggests quantitative as the focus but that’s not right either.

And when we talk about Altmetrics we need to be cautious of not making the same mistakes others have made before… With Bibliometrics we can all things of examples where they have been used poorly, but also good usage too. The Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics was a Comment piece in Nature that I recommend reading and engaging with, it talks about what you should (and should not) focus on.

You’ve heard me talking, but the best way to understand this stuff is to try it for yourself – look up your work or that of your researchers. Look at And if you are a librarian you can access a bigger tool, free for libraries,

The fourth paradigm: Data-intensive Scientific Discovery and Open Science – Tony Hey, chief data scientist, Science and Technology Facilities Council

Nice to be back at a Jisc event, 10 years ago I used to chair a Jisc Committee on research. Jisc have done some great work in supporting research – this conference is more on teaching and learning but they still play an important role in research.

Research is increasingly moving towards data intensive research, and in fact about 10 years back the UK had the eScience initiative which put us ahead for being part of this. Much of science is now Data-Intensive. The Higgs Boson researchers, your Bio Informatics folks are intense data users, with petabytes of data. But we have a long tail of science and many use off the shelf tools with discreet data sets. But in those data intensive space we see not only scale but variety, combining of data from different sources and specialists. We also have data from sensors. And we have volume but also velocity of data accumulating.

Probably one of the easiest ways to start is to talk about the Sloane Digital Sky Survey, which kicked off in 1992 and “finished” in 2008. That project took surveys of more than 1/4 of the night sky, producing 200 GB of data per night. It was two surveys in one – images and spectra. There were nearly 2m astronomical objects captured. But astronomers haven’t the time to look at all of that…. And that data had “absolutely no commercial value” so the data was published openly on the web and was published before the research was really done.

This project led Jim Grey from that project to consider an idea like eScience (but not). And I’d talk about this as the Fourth Paradigm. We started in science with Experimental Science, describing natural phenomena; then we had Theoretical Science – Newton’s Law, Maxwell’s Law etc; Computational Sciene emerged in the last few decades accommodating simulation of complex phenomena. Now we have Data-Intensive Science. That started at the beginning of the 2000s and is about scientists dealing with data from instruments, networks, sensors…

So, for instance… Genomics and personalised medicine. You can use genetic markers (e.g. SNPs) to understand causes of disease. My old team at Microsoft Research looked at SNPs working on Wellcome Trust data for second complex diseases… And analysis with state of the art machine learning enabled some valuable insights into causes and patterns of disease.

Another example… I live in Seattle, which is on the edge of an earthquake zone. There is an electro-optical cable on the sea bed which captures data from a network of sensors etc. The issue is no longer too little data, but so many sources that it is hard to know what to analyse and explore in more detail. And researchers like John Delaney do work on oceans, volcanos, and the ecosystem that exist around that. That data is transforming ocean sciences.

Latestly, and this is where I work, we have CEDA: the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis, which pools data from different sources. And there we have the JASMIN infrastructure, which puts petabyte data storage next to petabyte flop processing.

If you want to know more, this book, The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery, is (as far as I know) the only book by Microsoft published under a Creative Commons license.

So, that’s data intensive science. But we are moving to a more open world too…

My colleague Jim Grey works with the National Institute of Health in the US. They mandated that you should deposit the data from your research in the US National Library of Medicine. When that was a recommendation they had about 25% of data, when it became law it went up to nearer 60-70%. Now they withold the next grant on condition of data deposit and that is driving deposit more and more each month. So data is increasingly being openly shared.

Now there are problems… Amgen identified 53 landmark publications in bioinformatics and tried to reproduce them. Only 7 could be replicated with similar findings, the rest could not. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just that it can’t be reproduced. So that’s kind of an existential crisis.

Now, in February 2013 there was a US White House Memo on increased public access to the results of federally-funded research. This was a directive requiring that federally funded research had to be publicly available, and that the data also has to be publicly available.

Meanwhile the EPSRC has high expectations for Data Preservation. There the requirement is that research data is securely preserved for at least 10 years after it has been shared. Also the Digital Curation Centre, established 2004, was set up to give guidance and advice, and they are key to some of Jisc’s work in research data management, and will remain important.

There is also an issue with the maintenance of data links. We need sustainable links which endure. Research from early 2000s, according to a specific piece of research, was in 44% of cases already unreachable due to broken links. And we see tools like ORCID helping you find specific work, identified consistently and clearly.

Last year I presented at IDCC and Jim Frew, who was presenting there, talked about progress in data curation in the last 10 years. He said the biggest change is funding agency mandate, there are better curated databases and metadata now – but not sure that the quality fraction is increasing. Frews laws of metadata: First law: scientists don’t write metadta; Second Law: scientsts can be forced to write bad metadata! I would say that physicists are a bit ahead of the game here… But still much to do.

So, I hear a lot about libraries. I personally think they should be central to the university. But as Dean of engineering my students hardly went there (other than to study and have coffee), so what is the function of the library? I’m going to talk about their role a bit… I think they need to be central to provision to teaching and research as much as possible. In research I believe the library should be ensuring they keep a copy of the research output (another Jisc example, OpenDOAR).

So, what are we lacking? Is it true that the UK is world leading? Having spent 10 years in the US… Well when I went to Caltech for my PhD, they barely knew about the US, let alone Oxford where I had previously been. So we have to be cautious of statements of world leading.

So, in the US the NSF Task Force on “Campus Bridging” (2011) have been establishing a vision to ensure there is speed in the network as if the data and the processing were next door to each other. This is Science DMZ architecture is a network design pattern, improving the baseline end-to-end performance through ongoing global adoption. That connects universities across the States, but I haven’t seen that done here. There has been an attempt to implement Science DMZ approach, but there is a need for universities to support that too.

Also in the US there is a Pacific Research Platform which is developing infrastructure to achieve data transfer speeds comparable to being located in the same place.

So, moving into the final part of my talk… What is a data scientist? Well there are at least three skills that make up at that role (not that all data scientists have to have all of these) but we need scientist career paths, for data scientists not just PhDs and PostDocs… The final vision, like the National Library of Medicine and PubMed Central (the version adopted in the UK), is that of Jim Gray who has the vision for All Scientific Data Online, that allows reuse of data, and use across disciplines and increase scientific velocity. I see Jisc doing good work there, but I am concerned about that end to end aspect.

Paul Feldman

Over the last two days we have been looking at the power of digital. I have been in awe of the innovation and passion I’ve seen over the last two days. Digital is disruptive, but education hasn’t seen that disruption in quite the same way. Only 15% of businesses turn to UK universities for support and training in digital skills. There are huge opportunities – are you ready? It’s imperative to understand the opportunities for digital transformation across the organisation in all aspects of the organisation in teaching, learning, research but also operational aspects. With the right leadership we can be great, perhaps the best in the world. Now either we can grab that opportunity or it will be lost. So, how do we win it:

  1. Digital Learning
  2. Data
  3. Digital Content

World class research can’t flourish without the Janet Network – we believe it’s already world class but also investment to get to that full vision (as is the case in the US). We are investing in higher bandwidth, in reimagining the network. But there are opportunities to make the best of data, skills, and to ensure use and reuse across disciplines and boundaries.

Digital Learning is transforming everything we do… Have you heard of Colin Hegarty, a maths teacher at Preston Manor school in London. He is in the running for a million dollar prize for his YouTube videos teaching maths to secondary school kids. The sector needs to develop this kind of process so it is not limited to pockets of best practice.

Our learning spaces have to be fit for purpose… Learning spaces must blur boundaries between learning, working, and leisure. Connectivity and wifi is keen – that’s especially a challenge in the workplace. So, can we make Eduroam ubiquitous outside academia, so it’s there in coffee shops, in apprentice employers.

We are at risk in not investing enough in learning and skills. We are paying special attention to FE, for FELTAG, but also have to focus on HE and Research. But back to Apprenticeships. Digital Learning is key to delivering the ambitious apprenticeships the government wants to establish by 2020. Apprentices can feel quite lonely on placement, so we’ve been working to develop a social network for apprentices to help them feel supported and connected.

Turning to data we need to engage with learning analytics – the UK can’t afford to overlook this. We are setting up – a world first – a UK National Learning Analytics service and framework for HE and FE. Wouldn’t it be great if all organisations in HE and FE took part in this, so that we can understand pathways and their role especially for widening participation.

Finally securing access to the best Digital Content is key. You will have heard from my colleagues this week on negotiations around journals, and working with SCONUL on the UK National Digital Library. We are on a real cusp of something here… The future of Digital is in your hands. Digital changes lives. Technology enables students like Alex (featured in a video yesterday) find it life changing for what it enables him to do and participate in. We have huge opportunity and we have to make use of it.

And with that we finish with another view of the new Jisc video, More Power to You. 

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Responsible metrics for research

Chairing this session is Catherine Grout, head of change – research, Jisc.

Catherine: My role is to deliver innovative and smooth services for research data. Before our speakers I’m just going to give you a brief overview of the importance of metrics. Using metrics in an appropriate and responsible way, underpins the research process, grant applications, resource allocation, research assessment, research impact etc.

Advances in technology enable us to use other types of data – sometimes under the heading of altmetrics. But there are potential pitfalls. The HEFCE Metric tide report: was really important in setting out a future where traditional peer review could sit alongside new metrics. It made recommendations about how metrics which might be deployed more effectively. But there are many challenges and pitfalls along the way…

Stephen Curry, professor of structural biology, Imperial College

I was part of the steering group for that HEFCE Metric tide report, which I’d encourage you all to read if you haven’t already. That report certainly reinforces that metrics are here to stay. Quantitative measures are part of all we do, including research.

We did, in working on the report, questioned even using the word metrics. Metric suggests you know what you are measuring. I personally prefer indicator. But “metric” was the brief given to us by the minister.

If we do need to use metrics they must not stand alone. Metrics are informative but must sit alongside peer review. And institutions need to be transparent about use. That means being transparent and properly engaging staff in metrics. They must clearly state principles for assessment. They must not delegate measures of excellence to league tables or journals. And metrics must be put in place with staff. Data should be transparant – one of the biggest isues of league tables etc. And it must build on DORA and the Leiden Manifesto, about the principles for the responsible use of research metrics.

So, this was a great document that I was proud to be part of this. But words are just words. And we have a deep cultural issue with metrics. Despite the REF not intending to force researchers towards high impact journals, our researchers certainly feel that pressure. There are difficulties to be resolved. And the best way to do this is to clobber people with the evidence to make your case. The impact factor number is something simple to mask something complex. Data on Nature Materials citation performance shows how variable impact really is. 50% of citations came from a very small number of journals – it’s a long tail… And that happens across journals. ALL journals publish papers with high citation counts, ALL journals publish papers with low citation counts. Citation distribution data should be shared for all publications – I’m very pleased to see the Royal Society doing this, others are following, all should.

We also need to understand that the correlation between JIF (Journal Impact Factor) and article citations for individual scientists are poor (Seglen 1997, BMJ, 314, 498-502). That paper is 20 years old but it isn’t known and we have to ensure that is known. We don’t want to reinforce the unintended and bad effects of metrics. This isn’t the fault of those who publish metrics’ fault but we have to reimagine what we do in academia.

We should be working towards high quality research that is highly reproducible, not just novel or shaped for high JIF journals. I’d like to see open publishing and efficient publishing at all stages of the process. And I’d like to see mentoring and citizenship recognised – e.g. contributions to peer review. I take Ron Vale’s cue that

“as stewards of our profession, academic scientists have a collective responsibility to consider how to disseminate knowledge through publications and how to advance (careers)…”

Cameron Neylon, professor at the Centre for Culture and Technology, Curtin University, Western Australia

I guess we should check our metrics for this session in the form of social media sharing… Or maybe even email sent (a negative measure).

Now, I’m going to disagree somewhat with my learned colleague here. We know that metrics are very flawed. The data we have are largely meaningless.. They don’t tell us what we say we need to know about, or indeed what we do know about. As scientists we are supposed to be testing what is known. So two words for you… Excellence and Quality… Try and define them in your head without using either of them… I think you’ll find that difficult.

Everyone wants to be Excellent… But at the root of this is not just numbers that are inaccurate or unhelpful, but it’s also about a system of research and research funders who don’t know what we’re talking about. In Ewan’s talk earlier he referenced Justice Potter’s comment of not knowing what pornography is, but he knows it when he sees it. And Excellence and Quality are assessed in a similar way. Researchers either know Excellence or Quality when they see it, or can point to those who can identify that. That’s ok in a small community. But that’s a problem and loses meaning when we try to communicate that more widely to funders, to policy makers etc. Applying those ideas to all research is just nonsense… But we’ve internalised this very deeply. Stephen said this is a cultural issue…. A very deep cultural issue…

So, again, think… Can you rank two universities? Two researchers? Two papers? Two grants? You probably said “no” at first… But actually for grants it must be true as we do that. Imagine a world where that is not true. Where proposals are purely about allocating funding to all, not competing in these ways. The idea of ranking is so deeply felt but actually when you pick that apart it just isn’t true. We believe it because we think we have limited resources… I’m not even sure that’s true… The assumption that we only fund the best best is political but deeply embedded.

Lets go back to Justice Potter… He said something that was actually a bit different from the well known quote. He says “It is not possible to explicitly define something as obscene, as there are too many things that might be obscene” but that “for a certain set of agreed principles advanced, I can assess that this doesn’t meet any of them”. So he actually said, he can see when he doesn’t see it.

Now in research we are great at knowing what should not be funded, but we are terrible at knowing what should be funded. We have different priorities. We have to think in terms of qualities, not quality… But that is challenging… That’s about changing research funding, the shape of careers… And that’s pretty impossible. But what can we do?

Well we can move – using my new humanities view on the world – from people to peoples, from quality to qualities… Pluralising changes how we think about the sentences we use – try it! It changes the way we think, The stories we tell ourselves, our narratives, the way we think… that changes… So changing the words is the start to change the culture… Supported by evidence, supported by analytics.

And we have to ask ourselves again and again what we are measuring as performance. The idea of being good researchers and good scholars.

Semantometrics – Dr Petr Knoth, research fellow, Knowledge Media Institute (KMi), The Open University

I would like to talk about an idea we had at the Open University about two years ago, which came out of frustration at current research metrics. We wanted to gamify this a bit. We wanted to find a way to do this in a way that wouldn’t change their work. The metrics should adapt for different behaviours in which we work. One way to do this is to use the full text but I’ll get to that in a moment…

At the moment we have many metrics, but the main advantages of these is that they are very explicit and easy to calculate… But there is insufficient evidence that they measure quality at all. They all developed in an axiomatic way… No one queries the way they are calculated and we need to… We need to move to more data driven model.

So, I just want to show you the rejection rates for peer reviewed journals (n=570) with impact factors. This shows no correlation between rejection and impact factor. And one of the challenges of peer review is that in ranking papers the reviewer cannot read absolutely everything – as Cameron said it’s easy to reject the poor quality work but much harder to understand good quality work.

Metrics are also difficult because there is a time delay. The REF takes publications only from the last 5 years. Citation based metrics are almost impossible to use well for, say, the work published in the last year. Altmetrics are useful but they are measuring popularity, for understanding interest, but is that appropriate for decisions on career progression?

The problem with all these metrics is that they measure interactions (in different ways), without qualifying how important the interactions are. They are very limited. So the idea of Semantometrics is to judge the full work – we are asking them to be good communicators rather than good researchers. So, we can take full text and use NLP to detect good research practices followed, we can detect paper types, we can analyse citation contexts – tracking the progression of facts. We can detect the sentiment of citations. We can normalise by the size of the community who will access the research.

So we have developed an approach for Semantometrics… Each publication builds on prior knowledge and by analysing text we can measure the link to the discussions in the past and those going forward. The higher the distance from previous work, the more impactful the publication. This can be measured, and is natural – it doesn’t distort science. You can find out more at our website

To finish I want to talk about what I think we need to do with research metrics. We need to take a data driven approach, where we see how we can test impact metrics on data sets. In data retrival there is the concept of the “golden set” or “ground truth” and we need that to take this approach. But there are also human judgements to be made here. And then there are many factors to take into account – financial impact, etc. as well.

On a related note we did work on the WSDM Cup which was work on new research metrics based on the Microsoft Academic Graph (>120m papers). There is no full text there but the judging of that prize was online through Bing search engine, and through human judgement. This type of model for advancing research metrics seems like a good approach.

So, to summarise, full-text is necessary for research evaluation. Semantometrics are a new class of methods. We are studying on method to generate new metrics, but there isn’t only one solution so we need to explore further.


Q1 – Neil Jacobs, Jisc) Really interesting to hear the different perspectives today… So how do we have this conversation, do we have shared vocabulary even?

A1 – Cameron) It’s the same class of problem as any interdisciplinary approach. It’s actually worse than you suggested: we have some common vocabulary but we mean different things by it! We need deep questions: why do we use public funds for research? What do we expect to get out of that? And how do we assess our performance against that to enable us to do better in the future? We need to have the fights and create new ways to do this… In my head I hear my inner-researcher say “this is interesting, we need to do more research” and that doesn’t seem right either.

A1 – Stephen) Cameron’s point on quality over quantity is well made. It’s so hard to compare work across disciplines… You can’t choose but actually we have to… Right now our society chooses to spend a lot of money on biomedical research, reflecting society’s values. There is a wider public conversation to be had about what we do fund. That conversation has to include historians, it has to involve the public… Part of that process has to include numerical evaluations, and I think that’s ok as long as it’s only part of the criteria.

A1 – Petr) In terms of shared vocabulary, I particularly think thats about impact, rigour, etc. We don’t know what we value at the moment. We have to understand that researchers – especially early career researchers – don’t always choose their work, they are often assigned to it or taking the available role. And they are rewarded based on that. Maybe we should reward quality for their actual work instead. We have to break impact down into what we actually value, and how we will use them for specific purposes.

A1 – Cameron) Stephen, those of us in this space though that the Metric Tide report was excellent, but presumably you had that conversation on vocabularies…

A1 – Stephen) We did and there was disagreement. In natural sciences there was some sympathy for citation counts, but in the humanities you can be looking at an artistic performance where citation count simply isn’t relevant. In Australia they used metrics for sciences, not for other things… But we saw that two-tier approach that can value one side of research more than another as being quite dangerous. The impact element of the REF has been interesting first time around, and good for the sector… But we could see no consistent pattern that could be pulled out as metrics to use consistently in the future. But it’s good that there are so many potential types of impact that can come out from research.

Q2 – Catherine, Jisc) In that Metrics Tide report the findings are quite wide ranging. How do you feel about the next steps? What are the most important recommendations with highest priority to take forward now?

A2 – Stephen) We have 20 recommendations in total. Some of them are cultural. We did aim to draw a line in the sand about where we are and where we want to be for best practice. Some are straightforward and technical – data formats, encouraging all to sign up to ORCHID etc. But we didn’t see an easy alternative to REF peer review panels. Some of the other recommendations around transparency and conversations within universities, those can start right away. At Imperial these conversations have already begun – triggered by the unfortunate suicide of Professor Graham. We have talked about what should be incentivised, where we wish to see contribution. So we are having those conversations and want to take those forward, and I hope other universities do that too.

A2 – Cameron) I think the report did all it could in terms of recognising and pushing those cultural shifts. But an aspect that is needed is the data structures and infrastructure, how things have been calculated, and ensuring that data is available for access for the full range of scholarly criticism and engagement – to apply the same standards to our metrics as we should do for any other scholarly data set.

A2 – Petr) I think that this shows that impact is not just economical, but has real impact on people’s lives. The other thing is transparency. I have experience of comparing just citations. We did work comparing Google and Microsoft citation data and they were totally different, so the transparency is the critical bit. If people are judged on data that is incomplete that is hugely problematic. And if you do research on data sets, you are often not cited (the data set is instead) and that also needs to be taken into account. The ability to go back and recalculate values is important. So I support the infrastructure issue too.

Q3 – Catherine, Jisc) I wanted to ask about “snowball metrics”, which weren’t recommended in the report. I was wondering what your view of snowball metrics are, and it’s place in this sort of area. If there is scope for that.

A3 – Stephen) I don’t know a lot about snowball metrics. We had a submission from John Green, who heads up that approach for a collaboration of universities and Elsevier. We didn’t want to back any single approach but this one has a degree of openness, so healthy to that degree. But it is a project pushing the line that just adding up the numbers tell you all you need to, to shape the strategy of the university etc. And this is where I really encourage universities to have those sorts of discussion of what this means.

A3 – Cameron) There is some underlying issues here. It comes back to public infrastructures for information too. The good thing is that it is a set of recipes – analytical recipes for normalising citations to the income of the university, etc. I have to be honest that the measures available there aren’t that useful for strategic decisions. I’m sure the snowball people would suggest that I create those recipe. What concerns me is that that is a collaboration between universities and a single data provider, so it relies on a specific data structure (Scopus). It is different than Thomson Reuters. And this is no use of public data yet. We need that data to be publicly owned and available and we need to be able to scrutinise that.

A3 – Petr) I’m not familiar with that project as much, but I would say that when I compare data from Scopus and Mendeley – different data sets from the same supplier – they do not match up or agree. And that is one supplier. So what happens when we compare data from different sources?

And with that, and a closing thank you from Catherine, Digifest is a wrap for 2016. Thanks to all at Jisc for organising and to all the lovely speakers, fellow delegates, etc. that I had the pleasure of seeing/meeting/catching up with this week!

 March 3, 2016  Posted by at 8:17 am Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
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:

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 (

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:

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.


Jun 302015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, we have our first parallel sessions starting now…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julie: Also ratios to buckets, spades etc…

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

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

Ruth: What about English…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A – Emily) We paired tutors with learning technologists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what worked well in the first year?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Q) What version of Moodle?

A – Neil) 2.6 but moving to 2.8

Q) How big is college support team?

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

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

Q) Sharing resources?

A – Elona) Sharing them on the system

A – David) All are available on Moodle

Q) How did you get staff on board?

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

Q) Any copyright issues?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we welcome your comments and input on the blog: or email me: or on Twitter @Lawrie.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And with that, back to Will with further thanks.


 June 30, 2015  Posted by at 2:43 pm Events Attended, LiveBlogs Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 042015

Today I am at the Connect More with Jisc in Scotland, at Napier University, where I’ll be liveblogging but also presenting so this will be a partial capture of the day. As usual any comments or corrections are welcomed.

Introduction – Jason Miles Campbell, Head of Jisc Scotland and Jisc Northern Ireland

I am the head of Jisc Scotland. We have moved to a new model for support recently, but we’ll be saying more about that during the day.

During the day there will be a range of parallel sessions taking place across three strands of Capabilities, Connectivity, and Student experience. We hope you will come and speak to us and ask us questions. We have also had the announcement of the Herald Higher Education Innovation Technology Excellence Award shortlist today, with four Scottish institutions represented there which shows the quality of innovative technology work in Scotland.

I’ve got to remind you of why we are here as Jisc today. Our vision is “To make the UK (and today, Scotland) the most digitally advance education and research nation in the world”, and for that to also reach out beyond the UK. And in Scotland we have the highest number of top 100 research institutions per head of population in the world, and that is something that we don’t shout enough about.

Our Mission is “To enable people in higher education and further education to perform at the forefront of international practice by exploiting fully the possibilities of modern digital empowerment, content and connectivity”. But technology doesn’t do anything by itself, it’s about the people using and supporting it. And hopefully today’s sessions will help you think about things you may want to do in the days, weeks and months ahead.

I really enjoy my job and this is partly because when I was at University technology really wasn’t up to much. I’m a lawyer by training originally… I had the fun of using the early version of Lexus, which required a dial phone, and a physical key for security. But using that technology gave me a real advantage – I won a case by being able to cite a judgement made the day before a case using that technology! But over the last 10 years I have been the head of Jisc Legal. We have seen huge change in that time but we still have more to do to ensure that every student, every staff member, across the board makes the best very deal from technology. I want to do that and to help you to do that to. And it is also about making the best difference.. We have limited resources so we have to concentrate on those things that will truly make the biggest difference to teaching, learning and research. We also have limited time, so we have to best focus what we have to make the best possible. But we also have to also be realistic about the time and resources that you have available.

We are prioritising engagement. We need to work with you. There is no point Jisc deciding what you need, we are here to serve you, we are owned by you, so we need to work based on your priorities.

And we also want you to think about what your institutions provision will look like in 2020. What will the physical space look like, will degree programmes still be there… What will that provision be like?

Historically Jisc was operating lots of sub contractors. We have moved on from that with a much more coherant structure as one organisation with one purpose: to support you. We provide trusted advice for your benefit, scales to meet your needs, working in partnership with you, and hopefully efficiently. We also want to save a lot of money for institutions through economies of scale, and we save you around £200 million per year.

Jisc does essentially four things: Network & Technology – including Janey and security and technical support. That network is only for education and uncontended; Digital Resources – some we negotiate, some we broker, some we buy and some we advise on – all on your behalf; Advice & Engagement – as well as having those resources we need to understand the pedagogies behind their use and we are grateful to our speakers today from the community; Research & Development – we aim to take risks and innovate, and to do that on your behalf.

So what does Jisc Scotland do? We used to have a Regional Support Centre, but rather than being advisors we are now your interface to Jisc, to a whole lot of advice. Jisc is an organisation with a whole lot of things in it to benefit you. Jisc had a lot available but you had to seek them out, but now we will be that conduit for you, find the websites, projects, services for you. And every University and College will have an account manager to do that for you. And also to feed your views into Jisc about what you will need in the future. Well we are about championing the customer, it is about a fully managed relationship with Jisc. We handle account management – we have 3 account managers. We also have Scottish subject specialists, but beyond that there are 20-odd subject specialists also serving Scotland, as well as the rest of the UK, and further expertise to tap into.

I want to say a bit about Community Engagement. We have a range of physical and online opportunities to have shared conversations with one-another and Jisc on issues that matter, focusing on: Network and IT services; Digital resources; Student experience (including learning, teaching and assessment). We will continue to engage in local partnerships seeking to collaborate with key stakeholders for the benefit of the sectors as a whole. We have to focus on where that really makes a difference though, what has an impact. Jisc has less funding than it did so we really want to make a difference and focus on what has real impact.

Some of your questions:

– Where did the RSC go?

Well it is now part of a better structure, and a model that recognises your priorities and meets those. Regional support is still there, Support is still there.

– How can we bid for Jisc funds?

Well Jisc used to put out invitations to tender. Some organisations were good at bidding. Some projects did not have a good impact across the sector, sometimes for the organisation that had the funds. So instead we are moving to a model of co-design, that should much better benefit the sector.

– Can we get someone from Jisc to visit us?

Your account manager is there for you, and there will be events as well. It would be great if we could all visit you across the year, but that isn’t possible. But that direct engagement is still there.

– How do I contact Jisc now?

Well there are a number of ways – lots of information on that available here. Before there used to be a plethora of helpdesks and they were each good but didn’t join up all the expertise of Jisc, so now it is for us to connect you to that expertise so you only have to go to one place.

So now… To today’s first parallel sessions.

Parallel Sessions 1

I am presenting on Jisc MediaHub as part of a joint session with my colleague Anne Robertson, who is talking about Digimap for Colleges. So light blog post updating likely in this session!

Digimap for Colleges – Anne Robertson

I will be talking about Digimap for Colleges today, but also touching on other Digimap services as well. Digimap for Colleges is a new service so this is a chance to get an overview of this.

You may well have heard of Digimap, it’s been around for 15 years and has been available to HE and Colleges in that time. It is a functionally rich service which allows you to access mapping tools online, but also download that data for use in desktop GIS. There are Ordnance Survey, historic, geology and marine data sets from a range of data providers. More recently we created Digimap for Schools, which includes Ordnance Survey and historic online mapping for schools with Key Stage 1-4 and Curriculum for Excellence curriculum materials. But in launching that service we became aware that there was a gap for colleges, for more vocational courses. And that is why we created Digimap for Colleges. It is a simpler service to use, along the Digimap for Schools model. And it provides OS online mapping for colleges for GCSE and A level curriculum and vocational course support. It does not included data download but as a college you can have both Digimap and Digimap for Colleges if you would like.

The mapping available in Digimap for Colleges is Ordnance Survey including digital map projects for all of Great Britain, and includes MasterMap which has fantastic details, which is superb and is one of the reasons this mapping offers so much more than what is available through Google Maps. You can annotate maps with text, markers, areas, photos, graphs to the maps. You can also undertake quite sophisticated map analysis techniques, such as measuring distance, areas, buffer points and lines, but all in an easy to use interface. You can save annotations, and you can also create maps as pdf and jpg for printing and linking.

This is not a service just for geographers, it is useful across the curriculum, a great starting point for presentation of many types of information and use of ICT in learning. And it is all browser based so there is no software installations to do, no data management. It works with all up to date browsers: Chrome, IE, Safari, FireFox. We have curriculum materials. We also have both written and video help and support resources. The videos are much easier to use than verbose instructions so we offer a wide range of these. The interface has a simple start button to begin with, the annotation tool is straightforward and easy to use, and you can see that the annotations you can make allow you to look at landuse, route planning, etc. And you can click a selected area to measure the size, which allows you to think about population density etc. Using the buffer tool you can select but also set up concentric circles around areas of interest – simple but very useful. And you can upload images, and information.

And you can use Digimap for Colleges for College use too – when hosting an event, sharing information etc. The licence allows you to create your own maps and publish these too.

We have some very happy users already, showing that once you have raised awareness, students and staff find it simple to use. But I did also want to talk about a specific example as, at Jisc Digifest earlier this year I was presenting with David Scott of Kirklees College, and he talked about how it had been useful for construction students to look at the orientation of buildings relative to North South facing. And there is a reasonably high drop out rate for these courses, but Digimap for Colleges really engaged them. At Kirklees they used Digimap for Colleges quite strategically, they focused on where it would be most useful and identified construction as important, though they also hope to roll it out to other courses. It also helps contribute to FELTAG.

For your students coming through colleges and university understanding spatial information, how to present data and information on the map, is hugely important across many different industries including transport, planning, industry, renewables, etc. It is not just about geography, and these spatial skills are increasingly important across the workforce.

It is easy to get set up for Digimap for Colleges. There is a simple subscription process for instance campus access. You subscribe via the Jisc Collections Catalogue. You’ll receive email from EDINA helpdesk once set up. And you can always add Digimap later as you start to want some of those additional richer features. And we already have 189 subscribed colleges, including 11 in Scotland.

And next was my presentation. I’ll share a link to the slides for that very shortly.

Parallel Sessions 2: 2015 – A year to remember in TEL – Suzanne Scott, Borders College

Mark Owen, Jisc Scotland Account Manager, is introducing this presentation on the lessons learned from embedding the TEL team at Borders College. For the last three years Suzanne has been embedding TEL at Borders College.

Suzanne opens with a slide asking us the connection between Alice in Wonderland, fish fingers, Elvis, mobile phones… Well they are all celebrating anniversaries this year… But all of these things got me thinking about what we have been doing at Borders College, as it has been a momentous year for us. I’m going to talk about what I have been doing, and what our future plans are.

We have come a huge way since our first elearning project at Borders College in 2011, which was called Transform. That was about working with local SMEs to identify training needs and consider an online solution. It started us thinking more deeply about what we were doing within the college. It was quite an externally facing project but it got us reflecting on what we did internally, and how we could support our staff and students.

We then moved to BOLT, a Jisc funded project to create a toolkit to enable the college and other organisations to embed e-learning as core. We received £113k for this work and for a college that is a huge amount enabling a major and ambitious project. Initially it was about a better online provision. We’d had Moodle since 2009 but how could we make it more than just a repository of teaching documents? That was about changing the culture. We grew the team supporting the system, so now 6 (and soon 7) staff members bringing together technology enhance learning specialist, audio video production staff – enabling us to create our own materials rather than having to deal with copyright issues, developer roles, etc. There were so many tools and options… so we went through the pain of finding out what was needed. In FE we felt like it was useful for us to answer those questions and producing a toolkit to support that to benefit the wider sector. As a result of that we established the new Technology Enhanced Learning Unit, just at the end of the project.

Now that we are embedded we have had a lot of things to work out. We have had to identify our own remit. We have had to work out our relationships with others – for instance we didn’t expect to be working with Marketing but we do. We had to restructure some job descriptions. The way we are funded is that the college funds half our salary, and the other half has to come in through commercial activities. That is a huge pressure but what we actually do is 100% curriculum, and 75% commercial activities. A lot of my role is sourcing funding, looking for new projects… but that also means being part of projects we might never have been involved in. So for instance we worked with a partner who wanted to set up a media training unit – we set up a mobile bus set up as a library/archive and with training provided etc.

We have also been really involved in FELTAG. In England and Wales FELTAG is the be all and end all. That report requires 10% of content to be delivered online. That’s huge. And it means there is a lot of up-skilling to do, and funding to do that. And as a result a MOOC has been set up on FutureLearn with a consortium of colleges involved. The aim is for it to reach the staff, it’s a great opportunity and we are designing the curriculum for it. That’s an opportunity that arose from BOLT. We are constantly involved in being out and about, working with others, looking for the new big opportunity.

But we have also had real challenges in terms of technologies. As a team we have been making requirements for internet connections, wifi, softwares. And just last week there has been an announcement of restructuring that will see closer links between the library and ICT and that further highlights the role of TEL as core to the college.

And we are also now working on open badges, and the first video resources around that will be live soon.

This year we have seen a real growth in resources, with a graphic designer and instructional designer as well as in-classroom technology support office joining us. We have our own digital asset management system – to manage

And I’ve just established the Scottish Learning Technology Network, with representation from most colleges and some of the universities, to identify common concerns, share best practice, etc. So Open Badges for instance is an area we have been looking to collectively raise awareness, standardise our approach. And basically getting a lot done through short intense workshops to achieve a new solution etc.

And we have become part of the Fujitsu Ambassador programme, which is about the classroom of the future. And we want to deal with the skills gap around technology enhanced learning, but also to properly rethink what the classroom should look like, to query why we teach in such traditional spaces, with students in rows… etc.

We are always pushing boundaries, and looking at new opportunities. We are also thinking about ambitious ideas around having a day of remote learning next year [more details to follow as this is still being confirmed, I’m not scooping Suzanne!] to act as a focal point for staff skills and teaching materials being ready. To support that we are introducing a Digipals scheme to encourage students to come in and support staff with implementation of mobile learning. We have a huge amount to learn from our students.

We are also considering areas such as adaptive learning system development and increased use of learning analytics, to identify struggling students etc. And we are talking to Jisc about this and whether it could be a college wide system. We are also working with SQA to look at a Mahara template project. We are looking at open badges across the curriculum. And also thinking about Modern Apprenticeships in Learning Technologies. I think there need to be a clearer idea of the role, of what it could be, and a clear progression path. And that obviously feeds into the FE MOOC work as well.

We were a small college but anyone can do this stuff. We are all short on funding and time and face challenges around culture and infrastructure, but these can be overcome.

In terms of lessons learned one of the most important is that you have to have senior management buy in to drive things forward. You need to identify small and easy wins. You need to work with champions to share good practice and raise profile. And you have to engage students. But you can also never underestimate the importance of good ICT infrastructure.

You have to work smarter not harder with the funding that you have. You have to be clever about things. For us that commercial income requirement is really useful in giving us flexibility, new opportunities, and then chances to reinvest in the team. In terms of resourcing secondment opportunities can be hugely beneficial, as can shared services. In terms of time you have to get TEL on the timetables, which means that you have to secure CPD time and attention. Culturally you have to identify influencers, recruitment and key skills are crucial, and we also have to incentivise good practice. One of my concerns about the MOOC is about availability of time, so that learning technologists can actually participate and learn.

Internally it is important to have a strong TEL team with clear roles and responsibilities. On a recent away day we came up with our own team rules. There needs to be continuous CPD. The team is core.

More importantly, why do we do this? Well because we owe it to ourselves and to our students. Our students need to have a digital experience that is worthy of what they deserve, so that when they go into the workplace they are digitally literate, they deserve that.

One thing to do today… Some ideas to take away:

  • Ensure the TEL team has a clear remit – produce a service offering
  • Establish a process for new TEL related projects – links to policies and procedures are important
  • Create opportunities for staff engagement – with multiple channels of communication to keep them abreast of TEL work
  • And do join us in the Scottish Learning Development Network

And as we look further into the future we have to thinking about evangelising, collaborating and being more joined up across education at all levels, we also need to future proof what we do – keep up to date but be critical too. And we need to keep trying with an ongoing programme of improvements.


Q1) Thinking about your day of virtual learning, will all the students be equipped with the right technologies to take part?

A1) Many will but the university would be open to enable them to use central resources as needed.

Q2) Its a shame that it is hard to recruit learning technologists but there is also the issue of what the skills to be a learning technologist is – since there are social, technical, and all sorts of other skills required including being personable and persuasive. I am also interested in the Digipals scheme…

A2) We are excited about our Digipals scheme, and also thinking that they may eventually become our learning technologies modern apprentices in time. But the curriculum for that programme will have to cover a huge range of materials. At the moment it is so much about technologies but it also needs to be about negotiating, managing relationships, and all of that stuff beyond the technologies.

Q2) If the technologists are looking at pedagogies, people and technologies… what role does the academic hold?

A2) I would love to see more academics being learning technologists but it can too often be seen as a backwards step and we need to change that. But they have to understand the why of doing this, of using technologies.

Q3) That last comment is so important. I’m an academic working with academics and they are trained to query, and to be critical. And saying this is 21st century teaching, that our students are demanding it, those aren’t enough… So I wondered if you had any ideas about the why? and how to answer that.

A3) It is really difficult to do. Champions are great but you need to move the masses forward. I don’t like force from above for “you must” but sometimes with learning technology that’s the only way to do it – and that’s the idea of something like our Virtual Day, which states the importance and vision of the College. But the student voice is really powerful.

Q3) Maybe the classroom of the future work is part of the way to do that as well…

A3) It is exciting… but also scary. Taking chairs and PCs out of the classroom is challenging. Aberdeen have set up 2 very different rooms. Some staff love it, but others are confused by it. But you have to keep trying.

Comment) I think it’s really interesting what you say about the voice of the institution… For those of us who do want to teach with digital technology, there can be a disconnect about what we want to do and what we can do with the available technologies, feeling held back by the idea that we aren’t all there yet.

A) I think we also have to properly recognise where good things happen. “Champions” are a great thing but… I tried to set up a scheme where students would award a badge to staff to recognise effective use of learning technology. That proved very controversial. But you see academics doing great projects doing action research, but they are not that different from their learning technologist colleagues.

And we close this session with a reminder that the new Borders railway opens soon – so there’ll be a scenic route to visit Borders College direct from Edinburgh!

Parallel Sessions 3

I am presenting on Social Media and Managing your digital footprints, so again no blog post updating.

Parallel Sessions 4: Starting App: literacy development from iPhone to Youtube – Willie McGuire, University of Glasgow

I teach at the University of Glasgow and I want to talk to you a bit about a company who develop apps which we had specifically asked to look at literacy teaching. I’ve been thinking that digital technology is something that we need to look at in a lot more detail.

The recently appointed Scottish Minister for education, Angela Constance, described the literacy results of the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numberacy as “not as good as they should be”. Looking back further there are regularly written SQA Principal Assessor reports on national examinations, and I did some work looking over the last decade to identify recurring issues. These included technical errors around Grammar(ghhhhh!). I call it that because they really are perennial issues, I’m going to test you in a minute but when I’ve done this with post graduates and even examiners most get some of these grammatical issues wrong. Now issues like muddling I/me, We/were/There/their/Gone/went/Who/whom and so on… They don’t matter individually but when these are recurrent issues having over and over again, that is an issue. These are long running issues and difficult to solve.

I had been looking at these issues for a very long time. And a few years back we decided to make an app (back when fewer than half a million apps in the App Store). And we wanted to create literacy apps for secondary students that tackle the perennial issues. In the state schools though there is a huge resistance to paying for this stuff, and they are not free to make. You see a different attitude in the private sector but in state schools it’s almost in the blood that you shouldn’t pay for these sorts of schools. So there were some challenges here… Technically it is challenging, not only the coding but how to make this grammar stuff small, simple, workable on a phone.

Producing the apps (Appscool) was bloody murder: costly, difficult… So we thought lets ask the students about this, to look at other available tools and technologies… And we wanted a simple retro look… because something all complex and shiny isn’t what seems to be needed… So we will work through some examples here… And we use a sort of binary system: everything is right or wrong. These are horrifically complex grammatical issues… So our first example “It’s between John and me” – should that be “I” and “Me”… Actually to know why it is correct goes back to the Latin and nominative and accusative case. But we handle these in a very simple binary way.

Let me know you one other thing here… When you give explanations you can’t make reference to extraneous grammatical point, you have to explain through examples and simple explanations. And it has to be clear on this small screen.

Let me show you another app here… This is about “tricky words”.  And in this case It’s or Its… The uncertainty in this room also happens when you try this with postgrads too…  But actually asking the question means you start to see students figure out the rules and work this stuff out…

So, things that we learnt… Creating an app when you’re over 50 isn’t easy! It was really time consuming to do. We were kind of playing tricks using that binary approach… grammatical explanations are very complex and only cover one grammatical point, and overcomplicates itself all the time. But this approach hits the key issues, the common recurrent problems.

And why did we do that? It was partly to see if we could and because we thought it was important. We wanted to stimulate interest from younger audiences, and to try engaging those audiences. Trying to get into those minds and focus in a kind of fun way on grammar matters. The thing about grammar in the past is that it is painful and public… But actually an app is actually very private, that is something the students have picked up so student teachers understand to present the app in that way, to meet those concerns of students who don’t want to expose their errors. We also wanted to encourage the students to be creative when dealing with this difficult topic…

But we also wanted to think about how we could repurpose the app content in a different way, so we wanted to create videos for YouTube. They can’t use YouTube in the classroom but they can at home – like homework but not nearly as offputting! It’s a really well known format, accessible, “young” and it obliges the creators to think in terms of simple solutions to complex problems. It is about making difficult concepts accessible. See the PGDE English Glasgow channel on YouTube. For example, a video on lonely verbs… And another on using venn diagrams to understand analogy.


Q1) Is there a game mechanic in the app, or do you just move through.

A1) We thought about it. The quick answer is no. Partly it is tricky to code… but it is also distracting… the music on that video can distract you away from the focus. This is kind of a prototype of a game… It’s very old fashioned and I appreciate that… But you can’t move too far away from written script when you do this sort of thing… But then it looks traditional.

Q2) I like it like that… There are so many apps for primary schools now… all bright and shiny

A2) These days you’ll find thousands of primary school apps if you search for literacy apps… But so little for secondary. Difficult to prevent and manage those issues. It is quite a hard grammatical function, and they have to focus on that.

Q3) Are they available for Android?

A3) For iPhone, iPad and iPod only. Not Android. But you can go and buy

Q4) Have you trialled these with the students they are aimed at – you mentioned trainee teachers – and I was particularly wondering about the equality of access associated with internet access at home, and access to mobile devices.

A4) This was really a proof of concept thing… We were trying it out… It is difficult to do because of costs and timing. So probably funding up front and then making available free would be OK. But Glasgow City Council will not fund you to do that, say, because the App Store sells all over the place, it’s not just for their authority. The platform is tricky… And we also had a communication from Apple at one point requiring a fax. A fax! That issue of equality of access is always an issue… I am well aware of the digitally dispossessed… All you can do is try to make it available to students to try. My own background means I’m very aware of that…

Closing Session – Jason Miles Campbell, Jisc

I’ll be quick here and have brought out the voting gadgets to liven it up!

So I want to talk a bit about what we are working on at the moment. We are connecting with you and your institution – we have, as account manager, been reading your institutions corporate plans, strategies, etc. to ensure we are appropriately placed to help you meet those aims. We are also making sure that you’re getting the most of Jisc to meet your priorities – indeed also identifying free or already paid for resources where you may not yet be taking best advantage. We also want to identify those making great use so we can show you examples of best practice.

We are also translating our activity for the Scottish context. So you will have seen the FELTAG recommendations and how we ensure we meet that can be translated elsewhere, and in Scotland. We will also be delivering an online community of practice on young workforce development, and if you have anyone in your organisation working on that area we will be holding a webinar on that, and possibly other events too. We are also looking at other UK-wide subjects. We are ensuring we’re working best with other agencies, we have our offices (or at least hot desk) in Stirling, including the Scottish Funding Council.

So, some questions for you now…

Have you found at least one thing to implement in your institution out of today? (voting pads at the ready!). 85% say “yes”, 15% say they are “unsure” (or very polite). 0% say “no”. I would recommend that you schedule an email to yourself for the future with some of those good ideas!

What is your main barrier to realising digital opportunities at your organisation? 58% say “time”, 25% say “buy-in”, 17% say “other” (and no-one says “no barriers).

How would you describe your own (personal) engagement with Jisc up until now? 30% each say “occasional/sporadic” or “rare”, 10% each say “useful but could do more” or “fully engaged”, 20% say “none”.

Where do you think Jisc could have most future impact in your institution? 55% say “enhancement of teaching and learning”, 27% say “digital resources and content” and 18% say “network and infrastructure”.

To wrap up… Do keep in touch. You can reach us via Twitter, Jisc Scotland Jiscmail lists (we are reviewing the right cross section of those so that we don’t have too many), our website, email, telephone etc.

Finally, huge thanks who have been contributing and organising for today. And a huge thank you to all of you for attending – there have been some great conversations!

 June 4, 2015  Posted by at 11:00 am Events Attended, Jisc MediaHub, LiveBlogs Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Mar 092015

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

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

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

Professor Martyn Harrow, Jisc Chief Executive

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome and keynote speech – Simon Nelson, Futurelearn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mobile learning in practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panel Discussion and Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q3: To all:

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

A3 – Lewisham: Engage your students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angela levins, Stroud College in Somerset 

Angela is joining us for Q&A

Carol: How long have you had ClickView

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

Carol: Why was there a need for this?

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

Carol: And are they seeing the potential?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: How about usage of video they have made themselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

One should.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, resources here include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiona Harvey with Anne and Rebekah iChamps, University of Southampton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q1: How does this work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiona: the “3D Students”

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

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

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

Q1: How does student union fit in?

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

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

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

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

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

Eli: Like student safety

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

Q2: How do you envision funding the scheme

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

And with that it’s back to the room….

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

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

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

Keynote from Bob Harrison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mar 102014
Jisc Digital Festival - watch live (inspired by ©Jisc and Matt Lincoln (

A brief post to let you know that on Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th March myself and various EDINA colleagues will be taking part in the Jisc Digital Festival 2014.

I will be livetweeting throughout the event – you can view all the tweets on #digifest14 and you can also view a stream from the event via the Jisc website. There will also be materials shared on that site following the event – including my own (see also below).

I will also be running a social media surgery on Wednesday 12th March (9.30am in the Chill Out Lounge) – if you have questions you’d like answered then do come along or tweet them to me. Even if you are not along in person, I’ll do my best to tweet back an answer ASAP!

The full programme of EDINA participation in the event is:

 Tuesday 11th March 2014
11:30-12:15 Increasing the offer to FE Surgery (Chill Out Lounge) Speakers include: Anne Robertson and Conor G. Smyth, EDINA
All Afternoon Going beyond Google (1): content-rich mapping for the classroom and the field Tech demo (Hall 3 Gallery, Demo Pod 3) Addy Pope, EDINA
All Afternoon Going beyond Google (2): using the right media Tech demo (Hall 3 Gallery, Demo Pod 3) Andrew Bevan, EDINA
14:30 – 15:15 Location aware apps: design patterns and solutions surgery Surgery (Executive room 2) Ben Butchart, EDINA
Wednesday 12th March 2014
09:30-10:15 Increasing the offer to FE Surgery (Executive room 2) Speakers include: Anne Robertson and Conor G. Smyth, EDINA
09:30-10:15 Social media best practice surgery Surgery (Chill Out Lounge) Nicola Osborne, EDINA
9.30am and 10.30am Fill your repository from around the world: Repository Junction Broker (RJB) and its potential to increase open access content in your institutional repository Tech demo (Demo Pod 2) Muriel Mewissen, EDINA
9.30am and 10.30am Going beyond Google (1): content-rich mapping for the classroom and the field Tech demo (Demo Pod 3) Addy Pope, EDINA
10am and 11am Going beyond Google (2): using the right media Tech demo (Demo Pod 3) Andrew Bevan, EDINA
11:00 – 11:30 The strategic developer: a new role for HE? Expert speakers (Hall 10a) Paul Walk, EDINA
14:45-15:30 Stronger together: community initiatives in e-journal management Panels Speakers include: Peter Burnhill, and Adam Rusbridge, EDINA


Materials from the Social Media Best Practice Surgery

My session was a surgery so I based the format on an open discussion and question and answer session. There was no central presentation as such, but I did create a brief prezi as a jumping off place for discussing topics in more depth. The prezi links to other presentations and materials and can be found here:

I also produced a resource lists which you can download as either a PDF or a .doc. I am happy for anyone who wishes to edit/update and reuse at their own institution to do so if they would like.

 March 10, 2014  Posted by at 11:23 pm Events Attended, Social Media at EDINA, Week In the Life Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Nov 072013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Q1) Are YouTube videos on any channels?

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

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

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

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

Q3) Why Collaborate rather than Google+ Hangouts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q10) Will you run the same course again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also:


Jan 262011

Today I am live blogging again. The talking so far today has been very fast so there will be a lot of typos today and much fixing later…

Ben Showers, one of the Programme Managers at JISC is introducing day 2

Report on library management horizon picked up on open source as one of the potential areas for development, a peripheral interest at the time but the report made clear that we should keep an eye on this. The report led to JISC commissioning some projects on library management systems – some on the user experience and interface, and two smaller themes on electronic resource management and the other on open source – there was only one project in each of those strands. Ironically those two projects are the ones that have snowballed and we are doing work with SCONUL looking at requirement for shared electronic resource management system and we’re also now starting to look more at Open Source work and projects, tools like Koha etc.

Ben Showers introducing Day 2

So it seemed important to tap into the community that already exists and is interested in open source and the mashed library community seemed like a key group. SO that was not just about yesterday, the mashed library element, but about today – to look at what we might do. Library systems are not as mature as it liked to think it is – it’s a little bit like a teenager – it can be annoying but it can also give you a glimpse of the future and of potential.

We will be tight on time this morning so speakers will be getting hurried along if needed.

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