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Archive for April, 2014

Why I’m Looking Forward to the Cetis 2014 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 April 2014

About the CETIS 2014 Conference

Audrey Waters will speak at the Cetis conferenceThis year’s Cetis conference, Cetis 2014, will be held at the University of Bolton on 17-18 June. The theme of this year’s event is “Building the Digital Institution“. As described on the conference web site:

This year’s conference focuses on the digital institution and explores how technology innovation can support and develop every aspect of university and college life, for teachers and learners, researchers and developers, service directors and senior managers.

In this post I will summarise the reasons why I am looking forward to the conference.

The Keynote Talks

There will be two keynote presentations at the conference. Phil Richards, the Chief Innovation Officer at Jisc, will open the conference and the conference will close with a talk by Audrey Watters, Education and Technology Journalist.

If you’ve not come acriss either of these speakers before you may like to watch video recordings of the speakers.

A few days ago Phil Richards facilitated a workshop session on Digital approaches to smarter working  and in this video interview he summarises the workshop and shares some ideas generated about how Jisc could work with universities.

Audrey Watters is described as “a journalist, a high school dropout, and a PhD dropout — though she did complete a Master’s degree in Folklore. As a freelancer writing about educational technology, her stories have appeared on NPR/KQED’s MindShift blog, in O’Reilly Radar, on Inside Higher Ed, in The School Library Journal, on ReadWriteWeb, and in the Edutopia blog”.

Last November Audrey gave a keynote talk on the second day of the Open Education Conference. I have to admit that I’d not heard of Audrey before but when I came across a tweet from Dave Kernohan, Jisc in which he told us to “STOP EVERYTHING .. #CETIS14 @audreywaters is keynote” I was intrigued. I therefore watched the recording of her talk which is available on YouTube and is embedded below.

The Parallel Sessions

The keynote talks at the conference will be worth listening to. But, for me, the parallel session at Cetis conferences provide the opportunity for greater interaction and discussions. This year there will be two sets of parallel sessions. On  Tuesday 17th June from 13.20-16.50 there will be sessions on

The next day, Wednesday 18th June, the following sessions will run from 09.15-12.45:

Unfortunately as I’ve agree to be involved with sessions on both days (Open Knowledge: Wikipedia and Beyond and Building an Accessible Digital Institution) I won’t be able to attend any other sessions. On the first day I would have liked to attend the sessions on Developing a Learning Analytics Strategy for a HEI (in light of my involvement with the LACE project) and to have address the question Open Education: a New World Order?. The sessions on Web Services or Cloud, Open Source or outsourced? (“..how we revamp our IT procurement processes in an environment where “build vs buy” looks quaint and simplistic given the range of options we now have to weigh up“) and Open Education: from Open Practice to Open Policy  on the second day also look interesting.

The Old Man and Scythe

Ye Olde Man and Scythe.
Image from Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under a CC BY-SA licence.

Opportunities to Network

Having opportunities to develop and maintain one’s professional networks is always important at conferences. I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed going to pubs which serve real ale at previous Cetis conferences (such as the Sacks of Potatoes near Aston University).

For this year’s event my colleague David Sherlock has helpfully written a blog post on Cetis Conference 2014 – fringe activities in which he suggests that:

History fanatics and beer drinkers will want to check out the Ye Olde Man and Scythe which is one of the the 10 oldest pubs in Britain. The 7th Earl of  Derby was executed here during the civil war, his ghost has appeared in the book Bolton’s most haunted and plenty of YouTube videos

I hope to get to this pub at some point during the Cetis conference!

Note that the registration fee for the conference is of £120 (although an early bird registration fee of £100 may still be available). This includes the conference dinner, although accommodation has to be booked separately.


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Posted in Events | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Biggest Barrier to WebRTC Adoption is Lack of Awareness!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 April 2014

How Appear.in Led Me To WebRTC

The appear.in Tool Back in January 2014 in a guest post published on Sheila MacNeill’s How Sheila See IT blog I reported on our experiments with the appear.in tool. This service provides a lightweight video conferencing tool. As I described in the blog post “unlike Skype, no software needs to be installed and unlike Google Hangouts you do not need to sign up to the service“.

Although the blog post and subsequent discussion on Twitter generated some interest in the appear.in service of potentially much more significance is the emerging standard on which the service is based: WebRTC.

WebRTC: The ‘Most Exciting Technology for 2014′

On 30 December 2013 the ESNA Web site announced “WebRTC ‘Most Exciting Technology for 2014′“. The context for this was the view expressed by Davide Petramala that:

2013 was the year of democratizing video, driven by the momentum of WebRTC; Microsoft integrating Skype in its office portfolio; Google launching hangouts; and GVC and Cisco announcing Jabber C. We are finally seeing ubiquitous video across devices that is available to the masses and [we are] moving from consumer use cases (ex: calling family abroad) to business use cases (i.e. group meetings, virtual customer events and customer presentations).

This bog post aims to provide answers to the questions “What is WebRTC?“, “How well is it supported?” and, the big question, “Will it take off?“.

About the WebRTC Standard

The latest W3C’s WebRTC 1.0: Real-time Communication Between Browsers Working Draft was published in September 2013 although an editor’s draft was published 10 April 2014.

The WebRTC Web site states:

WebRTC is a free, open project that enables web browsers with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities via simple JavaScript APIs. The WebRTC components have been optimized to best serve this purpose.

and goes on to explain that the mission of the WebRTC organisation is:

To enable rich, high quality, RTC applications to be developed in the browser via simple JavaScript APIs and HTML5.

Support for the Emerging Standard

WebRTC architecture

Figure 1: WebRTC Architecture (from 

From the history of development of Web standards we have learnt that such standards need to have the support of mainstream browser vendors in order to gain market acceptance. In this case the WebRTC initiative is a project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera (clearly the lack of support from Microsoft is a significant omission).

Support for Developers

In order to enhance take-up of the standard Web RTC is providing a number of resources which are targetted at the developer community including:

As well as a number of discussion channels:

Note the architecture of WebRTC is shown in Figure 1 (taken from http://www.webrtc.org/reference/architecture).

WebRTC browser support

Browser support

WebRTC is supported in the following browsers on desktop PCs:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Opera

In addition these browsers also support WebRTC on the Android platform.

Commercial Interest in WebRTC

The WebRTC Global Summit was held in London on 1-2 April 2014.The summary for the event described:

Bringing together leading telcos, mobile operators, OTT/VoIP players, web developers, analysts, regulators and key enterprise players from across the world, WebRTC Global Summit will cover all the key issues in detail from a uniquely commercial and strategic perspective through a mix of incisive keynote presentations and debate. This standalone, single-stream, two-day event will also evaluate the technology’s impact on the industry, asking to what extent will WebRTC revolutionise the communications industry as we know it?

It should be noted that tickets for the event cost up to around £2,000 (although significant discounts were available).

Opportunities and Risks

WebRTC's barriers to adoption

Figure 2: Biggest Barriers to WebRTC Adoption

Since WebRTC is being developed and promoted by significant Web browser vendors (Google, Mozilla and Opera) and we are beginning to see an interest from the telecommunications sector there is evidence to suggest that this may be an important standard to monitor.

However one of the most significant risks appears to be the lack of involvement in the standardisation process from Microsoft and Apple (the WebRTC Outlook 2014 suggests that lack of awareness of WebRTC is the most significant barrier to adoption, followed by lack of support by Microsoft and Apple).

There are mixed messages regarding potential support for WebRTC in Internet Explorer and on the Apple platform.

An article published on Gigaom in August 2012 announced that Microsoft commits to WebRTC – just not Google’s version. As described in the article”Microsoft’s commitment to this kind of technology isa big deal for the future of Skype and other messaging applications“.

Meanwhile in November 2013 WebRTC World published an article with the reassuring title Don’t Worry; Apple Will Soon Support WebRTC which was based on the news that “Apple has started to attend W3C WebRTC Working Group meetings“.

More recently (February 2014) in “An Open WebRTC Letter to Satya Nadella and Microsoft” Phil Edholm, President & Founder, PKE Consulting encouraged the new Microsoft CEO to support WebRTC since “WebRTC is going to be as big as is being forecast (6.2B WebRTC devices by 2016), why risk giving users another reason to get Chrome or Firefox?“.

Conclusions

In the list of biggest barriers to adoption of WebRTC it was interesting to note that lack of standards or developers or limited features of the standard were not regarded as significant barriers. This article aims to address the lack of awareness barrier by ensuring that the higher education community is made aware of the emerging new standard. However the uncertainties of support by Microsoft and Apple are likely to inhibit take-up of the standard across not only the higher education community but the wider market place. Developments to WebRTC will continue to monitored and news of any significant changes in the current stances taken by Microsoft and Apple will be published on this blog.

In addition comments on WebRTC are welcomed. Is anybody currently using it?


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Posted in standards | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Capturing the Conference Buzz: #LILAC14 as an Example

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 April 2014

About the LILAC 2014 Conference

Storify summary of LILAC 2014 conference tweetsLast week I attended the LILAC 2014 conferenceLILAC is the Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference and this years event was held at Sheffield Hallam University.

This was the second time I’ve attended the event. Last year I gave a talk on “When Staff and Researchers Leave Their Host Institution“. This year I provided a poster on “Preparing our users for digital life beyond the institution” which described follow-up work based on a survey on institutional polices on support for Cloud services. However my main activity at the conference took place on the first day when I ran a has-on session on “Getting to Grips with Wikipedia” and helped support LILAC’s first edit-a-thon on “Improving the Information Literacy Entry on Wikipedia“.

What Did People Think of the Conference?

I enjoyed the conference but unfortunately had to leave early on the final day. However since there were enough people at the conference who were using Twitter to share their thoughts on the various sessions I was able to view the summaries on my train journey home.

I have found that Twitter can be a valuable tool for getting feedback when running workshop sessions. For example the tweets which were posted during a Wikipedia Editing Workshop session I facilitated last year at the SpotOn 2013 Conference were particularly useful as this was the first time I had led a Wikipedia editing session. I was able to view a Storify archive of the tweets after the event and, in particular, observe the timings when participants had created their Wikipedia profile page. Without that information I would not have known (or remembered) that participants were able to create their profile in 30 minutes.

In the case of the #LILAC14 tweets it seemed to me that it would be interesting to see the tweets which were posted by conference participants after the conference had finished and they were willing to share their reflections on the event.

I have therefore created a Storify summary of reflective tweets about the LILAC 2014 conference.

It was interesting to observe the comments made by people who had attended their first LILAC conference:

Still buzzing from attending . A great first time experience. Hope it won’t be my last. Copious notes and ideas. Thanks everyone

to see participants sharing the ‘conference buzz’:

Returning to work tomorrow after attending , buzzing with ideas on how to make Harvard referencing fun and improving IL college wide

and to read about the value of the professional networking:

Met some really lovely people at can’t wait to put some suggestions into practice. Looking forward to next year already :)

I would echo these comments and give my thanks to the conference organisers.

Who, if Anyone, Should Archive Event Tweets?

I occasionally here people question the value of event tweeting or archive of event tweets. However if sufficient number of people tweet at an event there can be value in an archive of the tweets, such as the evidence for event organisers in the participants’ thoughts on the event, as illustrated above.

It should also be noted that event tweets may also be read by people who aren’t attending an event but may be interested in attending similar events in the future, as suggested by this tweet:

Catching up on awesome tweets. I’ve been hoping to go to this conference for years. Will make it my mission for next year!

Eventifier archive of LILAC 2013 tweetsHowever it should be acknowledged that archiving event tweets may require an investment of time or money. Some Twitter archiving tools are licensed – for example, Eventifier, which was used for archiving 2,968 tweets and 105 photographs from the #LILAC12 conference, costs from $99 to archive a single event.

Other archiving tools, such as Storify, may be free but will require time to be spent in manually curating tweets (as I did for the Storify archived described above).

Some tools are free and will automatically archive tweets with minimal configuration needed. An example of this is Twubs which was used to archive #LILAC14 tweets.

It therefore seems to me that event organisers should take responsibility for ensuring that there is an automated archive of event tweets. In addition event organisers may find it beneficial to ensure that they keep a manually created archive which can provide feedback on the event itself.

But for events in which there are large numbers of tweets it may not be reasonable to expect busy event organisers to curate all tweets, especially tweets posted about parallel sessions. What can be done in such cases?

Looking at the results of a Google search for “lilac13 tweets” I was interested to note the following Storify archives:

It seems that there were two Storify archives of a session held at last year’s LILAC conference. Perhaps the answer to the question “Who, if Anyone, Should Archive Event Tweets?” should be “Conference organisers will provide an automated archive of all event tweets and will encourage participants to curate an archive of tweets on areas of interest to the participants“.

What do you think?


Note shortly after publishing this post was published I came across two Storify summaries were exemplified my proposal: Ned Potter (@theREALwikiman) (who didn’t attend the LILAC 2014 conference) published a summary of Susan Halfpenny’s talk on “The Contextagon”, a tool for identifying what you might need to consider for a literature review and Clare McCluskey (@librarygirl79) provided a comprehensive summary of the three days of the LILAC 2014 conference.


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Posted in Twitter | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Video is now a ‘must have’ in Higher Education – but what are the implications for accessibility?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 22 April 2014

” Video is now a ‘must have’ in Higher Education”

Video is a 'must have' in HEA recent  tweet from @OpenEduEU (described as ‘Open Education Europa portal is the gateway to European innovative learning’) caught my attention:

RT @RECall_LLP: Video now a ‘must have’ in Higher Education? Report by @Kaltura ow.ly/vQeFk #lecturecapture #elearning #edtech

The article was based on a survey which received 550 responses. The respondents were drawn from IT, digital media, instructional design, senior administration and faculty departments of K12 and HE worldwide who completed an online surveyed between January and March 2014.

Is seems that this is broad agreement that “video has a significantly positive impact on all aspects of the student lifecycle, from attracting and retaining students to enhancing learning, boosting learning outcomes and building stronger alumni relations“.

Note that the full report can be downloaded after completing a registration form.

It should be noted that the report has been published by a company called Kaltura which describes itself as “The leading video platform: video solutions, software and services for video publishing, management, syndication and monetization“. A cynic might suggest that the company has a vested interest in commissioning a survey which show significant interest in use of video in higher education. I feel that the implications of the survey findings are worth considering but it would be helpful to have evidence of the popularity of video usage in the UK higher education sector.

YouTube Use in Selected UK Higher Education Institutions

Back in October 2010 in a post entitled How is the UK HE Sector Using YouTube? I explained how “It can be useful for the higher education sector to be able to identify institutional adoption of new services at an early stage so that institutions across the sector are aware of trends and can develop plans to exploit new dissemination channels once the benefits have been demonstrated“.

The post provided benchmark details on YouTube usage statistics for what appeared to be 15 official UK institutional YouTube channels which were easily identifiable at the time, together with details for the University of Bath and the Open University.

A comparison of the usage statistics recorded in the initial survey with the current findings is given in Table 1.

Table 1: Growth of YouTube Usage Across Selected Official UK Universities from October 2010 to April 2014
Institution Total Nos. of Views No. of Subscribers
Oct 2010 Apr 2014 %age
change
Oct
2010
Apr
2014
%age
change
1 Adam Smith College  25,606 1,063,820  4,055% 39 1,758 4,408%
2 Cambridge University 1,189,778 7,200,870  505%  6,921  37,030  435%
3 Coventry University 1,039,817  2,904,121  179%  1,147  3,668 220%
4 Cranfield School of Management      20,607  459,196  2,128%      82  1,502  1,732%
5 Edinburgh University    236,884 1,759,174  643%  1,280  9,338 630%
6 Imperial College    353,355 2,682,861  659%     859  8,131  847%
7 LSBF (London School of
Business and Finance)
     96,212  676,297  603%     244  2,778  1,039%
8 Leeds Metropolitan University    589,659 1,675,534  184%     512  2,465  381%
9 Nottingham University    284,820 2,151,187  655%     596  7,038  1,081%
10 The Open University    392,720    872,706  122%  2,944  16,562  463%
11 Said Business School,
University of Oxford
   660,541  1,545,331  134%  1,808  6,598 265%
 12 St George’s, University of London    338,276  1,209,538   258%     825  2,650      221%
 13 UCL    287,198 1,491,114  419%     810  5,718  606%
 14 University of Derby    117,906  758,874  544%     106  1,144 979%
15 University of Warwick     90,608 439,492   385%     276  1,520 451%
TOTALS  5,722,987 26,890,115    370%  18,449  107,900 485%

The survey carried out in October 2010 also provided statistics for additional UK University YouTube accounts which were found. A comparison with the current findings is given in Table 2.

Table 2: Growth of YouTube Usage Across Selected UK Universities from October 2010 to April 2014
Institution Total Nos. of Views No. of Subscribers
Oct 2010 Apr 2014 %age
change
Oct
2010
Apr
2014
%age
change
1 University of Bristol     18,171     56,651     212%     27      83     207%
2 Coventry University (CovStudent) 1,036,671 2,904,121     181% 1,139 3,668     222%
3 RHULLibrary       3,847      8,000     108%     10      27    170%
4 Aston University      (89,080)      -  -  (132)  -   -
5 UoL International Programmes 74,017 1,522,574  1,957% 499 5,640 1,030%
6 University of Greenwich          9,254     388,501   4,098%      19    712   3,647%
7 Northumbriauni          6,226     389,268   6,104%      23    412   1,691%
8 Huddersfield University International study 24,195 76,373     216% 22 111 405%
9 The University of Leicester 246,986 2,304,959 833% 320 5,019 1,468%
10 University of Kent 26,996 178,207 560% 102 935 817%
11 Canterbury Christ Church University 25,439 60,755 139% 36 244 578%
 12 Open University     391,625    872,706   139% 2,936 16,557      464%
 13 University of Bath 252,850 675,769   167% 93 1,196 1,186%
TOTALS 2,116,277 9,438,244  346%  5,226  34,604 562%

Note that the channel for Aston University from the initial survey no longer exists. In order to provide comparable statistics the data from the initial survey has been omitted. Also note that the data in the tables was collected on 7 October 2010 and 20 April 2014.

Reflections

The tables provide evidence of the, perhaps unsurprising, popularity of video usage in the UK higher education sector.

It should be pointed out that this information is based solely on use of YouTube. Institutions are likely to make use of a number of other video delivery services (the University of Leeds, for example, has an official YouTube channel which has 246,989 views and 949 subscribers and also a Lutube video service which currently hosts 3,447 public videos, although no download statistics appear to be available). Based on the sample evidence it would appear that we can agree with the statement “Video is now a ‘must have’ in Higher Education“.

This will have many implications for the sector including the question of what video management and delivery tools should be used. But in this post I wish to focus on the accessibility implications of greater use of video resources.

Accessibility Considerations

Institutional Accessibility Policy Statements

In a recent webinar on ‘MOOCs and Inclusive Practice’  I gave a brief presentation on Accessibility, Inclusivity and MOOCs: What Can BS 8878 Offer?.

University accessibility statementIn the presentation I suggested that institutional accessibility policy statements were likely to be based on WCAG conformance. A quick search for accessibility policies available at http:///foo.ac.uk/accessibility helped me to identify two ways in which WCAG policies are used:

  1. The University is committed to ensuring the all web pages are compliant with WCAG guidelines
  2. The University will seek to ensure the all web pages are compliant with WCAG guidelines

But are policy statements such as (1) achievable in an environment in which significant use is made of video resources? Will all video resources used on institutional web sites be captioned? In light of the greater use of video resources, it would appear to be timely to revisit accessibility statements – it should be noted, for example, that according to the Internet Archive the policy statement shown above is unchanged since at least September 2009.

But would a policy statement of the type shown in (2) be appropriate? Such statement do appear to be very vague. Are there not alternatives between these two extremes?

The Potential for BS 8878

In  my presentation on Accessibility, Inclusivity and MOOCs: What Can BS 8878 Offer? (which is available on Slideshare and embedded below) I suggested that the sector should explore the relevance of BS 8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice, a British Standard which provides a framework in which appropriate policies can be determined for use in the development and deployment of Web products.

Due to the lack of time during the webinar it was not possible to discuss the details of how BS 8878 could be used in an elearning context. However at the Cetis 2014 conference on Building the Digital Institution I will be co-facilitating with Andy Heath  a session which will address the challenge of Building an Accessible Digital Institution. In this session we will “explore how the BS 8878 Web Accessibility Code of practice may address limitations of the WAI approach and see how BS 8878 may be applied in a learning context” and go on to “explore emerging emerging models of accessibility and developing architectures and technical standards“.

Note that the early bird rate (£100 for the 2-day event) for the conference is available until 1 May. I hope that those who have an interest in accessibility for elearning, as well as in the broad range of learning issues which will be addressed at the conference, will consider attending the event.  In the meantime I’d be interested to hear what your current policies and practices are for the accessibility of your elearning resources and, in particular, whether your practices reflect the policies. Feel free to leave a comment on this post.


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Posted in Accessibility, Evidence | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Supporting Use of Wikipedia in the UK Higher Education and Library Sectors

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 April 2014

Accredited Wikimedia Trainer

Accredited Wikimedia trainer certificateYesterday I received a certificate which confirms that I am now an accredited Wikipedia trainer, after participating in the Training the Trainer workshop held in Cardiff on 1-2 February 2014. I am now a “Full Wikimedia Trainer” which, according to the Training the Trainers/Accreditation page, means that I am “Able to write and or deliver, Wikimedia training modules to a high standard“.

This level of accreditation covers support for ‘institutions’ which covers:

  • Bringing in contributors with specific professional expertise, often via events in their own workplace. This is a broad category, covering librarians, scientists, JISC programme managers and others.
  • Experienced Wikimedians with the necessary background knowledge of institutions and academic bodies
  • ‘Institutions’ covers specialist experience of working in or with GLAMS, schools, commercial companies or other specific institutions
  • Trainers will have specialist experience of specific strands of various ‘Institutions’
  • This accreditation will normally be in addition to ‘Technical’ training
  • Separate strands of ‘Institutions’ will probably evolve over time.

and ‘Wikimedia UK member development’ which covers:

  • Bringing in contributors with specific professional expertise, often via events in their own workplace. This is a broad category, covering librarians, scientists, JISC programme managers and others.
  • Experienced Wikimedians with the necessary background knowledge of institutions and academic bodies
  • ‘Institutions’ covers specialist experience of working in or with GLAMS, schools, commercial companies or other specific institutions
  • Trainers will have specialist experience of specific strands of various ‘Institutions’
  • This accreditation will normally be in addition to ‘Technical’ training
  • Separate strands of ‘Institutions’ will probably evolve over time.

As summarised below I am pleased that I will be able to make use of my Wikipedia knowledge and expertise in promoting its use within the higher education and library sectors over the next few months.

Forthcoming Events

Wikipedia Sessions at LILAC 2014

The LILAC 2014 conference takes place at Sheffield Hallam University next week, from 23-25 April. I will be running a session on Getting to Grips with Wikipedia: a Practical Session which will help the information literacy librarians attending the session to register for a Wikipedia account and learn about basic Wikimedia markup by creating or modifying their user profile. After this I am supporting a session on Improving the Information Literacy Entry on Wikipedia: LILAC’s First Edit-a-thon!

Talk on Wikipedia at the CILIP Wales 2014 Conference

Since I feel that librarians have an important role in encouraging use of Wikipedia and supporting users who wish to create and update Wikipedia content and not simply consume it I am pleased to have been invited to give a plenary talk on “Editing Wikipedia: Why You Should and How You Can Support Your Users” at the CILIP Cymru Wales Conference 2014 on “Making a Difference: Libraries and their Communities”.

Wikipedia Session at the Cetis 2014 Conference

Further downstream on 17-18 June 2014 at the Cetis 2014 Conference: Building the Digital Institution I will be facilitating a session on Open Knowledge: Wikipedia and Beyond. I’m particularly looking forward to this session as it will be my first tie at a Cetis conference as a Cetis employee. I’m also looking forward to work with my colleague Simon Grant for the first time. As described in the abstract for our session

The session presenters’ view of the challenges includes a skewed demographic of editors, and a culture that can too easily descend into edit wars, and conflict between “inclusionists” and “deletionists”. Can we envisage changes to make Wikipedia better, or that could seed a better alternative? Could aspiring editors be required to learn and prove their understanding of the governance principles before being allowed to edit? Can consensus process be trained? And would different approaches such as those taken by GitHub, the P2P Foundation, etc. help to improve the culture?

The session will raise awareness of the key issues with Wikipedia, and prepare participants for more effective use of Wikipedia as consumer and author, and perhaps even as reformer.

I hope these sessions will be of interest. Let me know if you’re planning on attending.


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Posted in Wikipedia | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

LILAC 2014: Preparing Our Users for Digital Life Beyond the Institution

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 April 2014

Preparing Our Users for Digital Life Beyond the Institution

Jenny Evans, Maths and Physics Librarian, Imperial College London and myself have had a poster presentation accepted for the LILAC 2014 conference which will be held at Sheffield Hallam University on 23-25 April 2014. The title of the poster is “Are institutions preparing staff for digital life beyond the institution?” We had originally submitted a proposal for a symposium which would be based on a survey of institutional policies on digital literacy related to use of Cloud services and invite LILAC 2014 participants to discuss the survey and the implications of the findings. However the reviewers accepted the proposal as a poster which would focus on the survey findings. This blog post summarises the background to this work, outlines the findings of the survey and poses questions on the role of university libraries for preparing staff and researchers for use of networked technologies to support their professional interests once they have left their host institution.

Background

The background to this work was the presentation I gave at the LILAC 2013 conference entitled “When Staff and Researchers Leave Their Host Institution“. The short summary for the presentation provided the context for the talk:

In this talk Brian Kelly describes the challenges to be faced when, due to withdrawal of funding, one is faced with the challenge of continuing one’s professional interests when a local institutional IT infrastructure is no longer available.

The presentation was prepared whilst I was preparing for redundancy, following the announcement of the cessation of Jisc funding for UKOLN, my host organisation. As can be seen from the slides (which are hosted on Slideshare) I gave a personal account of the challenges to be faced when the IT infrastructure, the support services, the email addresses and the means for authenticated with Cloud services is about to be lost. However since I was an early adopter of a wide range of Cloud services I found myself in the fortunate position that I was not over-reliant on institutional IT services. I also had the time to migrate content and services so that I did not lose the ability to continue my work once I had left my institution. I should also add that since most of my content is licensed under a CC-BY Creative Commons licence there should not have been licensing barriers to my continued use of content I created. When I gave the presentation I asked if my comments on the importance of preparing members of staff and researchers with the skills and confidence to make use of Cloud services when they leave their current institution especially if, for example, they are being made redundant or their funding finishes and they wish to continue to make use of their professional skills. There seemed to be agreement that information literacy (or digital literacy) should encompass this area. Howe er there was also a recognition that none of the institutions represented in the session a year ago were addressing this area.

Surveying the Community

In light of last year’s presentation it was felt that it would be useful to provide a more comprehensive survey across the sector to determine the extent to which institutions’ informal literacy policies and practices address use of Cloud services and whether support is given for staff and researchers when they are about to leave their host institution. Jenny Evans, Maths and Physics Librarian at Imperial College London agreed to submit a proposal for the LILAC 2014 conference based on this work. We submitted a proposal for an hour-long symposium with the intention of using the findings to stimulate discussion and debate. However the proposal was accepted as a poster display so it will not be possible to address the implication of our work in a formal context at the conference. This blog post summarises the survey and the findings. Comments and feedback are welcomed.

The Survey

The survey was carried out using SurveyMonkey. An initial prototype was set up and modified in light of the feedback. The survey was launched on 3 March 2014 when it was announced on a number of mailing lists, both in the UK (the lis-infoliteracy and lis-link lists) and in the US and Australia. We are grateful to Michael Stephens who publicised the survey on his Tame the Web blog. The survey was also announced on this blog and was also mentioned in the CILIP Update magazine. The survey was closed on 17 March, having been open for a period of 2 weeks. The survey provided the following background information:

This survey aims to identify institutional policies and practices to support use of Cloud services by staff and researchers. Cloud services can be defined as ‘web-based software’ hosted in ‘the cloud’ (on web servers outside your institution). This survey is being carried out by Jenny Evans (Imperial College London) and Brian Kelly (Cetis, University of Bolton) to support a contribution for the LILAC 2014 information literacy conference. The aim is to identify current institutional policies and practices for staff and researchers before they leave their host institution (e.g. due to redundancy, retirement or to take up a new post) who wish to continue to make use of IT services and digital resources. The findings will be published in a poster on “Preparing our Users for Digital Life Beyond the Institution” to presented at the LILAC 2014 conference. Note: this does not cover use of cloud services by taught course students.

The Findings

We received 89 responses during the 2 week period. A poster has been prepared based on the findings which is illustrated (and is available from Slideshare). This post provides additional information. The majority of responses (54 or 63.5%) were from the UK with 20 (23.5%) from Australia, 11 (13%) from the USA and Canada and 3 from other countries. [85 responses; 4 respondents did not answer this question]. The vast majority of responses (80, 96.4%) were from staff based in libraries with 2 responses from researchers, 1 from IT Services staff and 6 from other departments. [83 responses; 6 respondents did not answer this question]. In response to the question “What forms of support are provided to staff and researchers in the use of Cloud services?” it seems a diversity of approaches are taken as shown in Table 1. [58 responses; 31 respondents did not answer this question].

Table 1: What forms of support are provided to staff and researchers in the use of Cloud services?
Ref. No. Options Count
1 Formal face to face training courses 12
2 Formal online training courses 5
3 Documentation 10
4 Other online resources 11
5 User support (in case of queries) 23
6 Integration of Cloud services with in-house services 13
7 None 31
8 Other 11

We went on to ask “Who provides formal training and support for members of staff and researchers in the use of Cloud services?“. From the results given in Table 3 the most interesting observation is that the vast majority (66%) of respondents report that no formal training or training is provided. [56 responses; 33 respondents did not answer this question].

Table 2: Who provides formal training and support for members of staff and researchers in the use of Cloud services?
Ref. No. Options Count
1 Staff Development Unit courses  0
2 Library courses 10
3 IT Services courses  8
4 Training from other providers?  2
5 Provision of documentation  9
6 Online support 12
 7 No formal training or support provided 37
8 Other (Further Information)  8

We sought a context to these questions when we asked “Does your institution have a formal information/digital literacy policy?” The findings are given in Table 3.

Table 3: Does your institution have a formal information/digital literacy policy?
Ref. No. Options Count
1 Yes 19
2 No 24
3 Not sure 15

Since only 19 of the 89 responses (21%) have a (or are aware of) their institutional formal information/digital literacy policy the answers for the following questions will only be relevant to a minority of the respondents. We asked “If you have an institutional information/digital literacy policy, does it cover use of Cloud services?” and “If information/digital literacy policy, does it address the needs of staff and researchers who wish to continue using IT services when they leave the institution?“. The findings are given in Tables 4 and 5.

Table 4: If you have an institutional information/digital literacy policy, does it cover use of Cloud services?
Ref. No. Options Count
1 Yes  6
2 No 18
3 Not sure 16
4 Further information   4

 

Table 5: If you have an institutional information/digital literacy policy, does it address the needs of staff and researchers who wish to continue using IT services when they leave the institution?
Ref. No. Options Count
1 Yes  2
2 No 20
3 Not sure 17
4 Further information  4

We were interested in the extent to which institutions had institutional licences for Cloud services such as Google Apps for Education, Microsoft Live and Dropbox. The findings are given in Table 6.

Table 6: Does your institution have a formal institutional licence for Cloud services for use by your user community?
Ref. No. Options Count
1 Yes – Google Apps for Education   7
2 Yes – Microsoft Live   2
3 Yes – Dropbox   1
4 No 19
5 Not sure 19
6 Other   3

The context for this questions was the potential danger that content hosted in a Cloud service managed by the institution may not continue to be available to the content owner after they leave their host institution. From the findings given in Table 7 it seems that content will not be accessible in this situation or the status regarding continued access is uncertain.

Table 7: Will access to content held on Cloud services continue to be available when staff leave the institution?
Ref. No. Options Count
1 Yes, as access is available to their personal account  2
2 No, as access is coupled to an institutional account 18
3 Not sure 22
4 Other  7

Use of Cloud servicesThe survey provided an opportunity to understand current policies and practices taken regarding use of Cloud services. As can by seen from the findings in Table 8 and illustrated in the accompanying diagram there appears to be no consensus across the sector on policies and practices.

Table 8: Use of the Cloud services (if any) mentioned in Table 7
Ref. No. Options Count
1 Encouraged where such use is appropriate? 10
2 Supported, with help and advice provided?  9
3 Discouraged due to concerns regarding privacy, sustainability, etc. 13
4 No formal policy provided? 15
5 Policies devolved (e.g. IT and Library may have different approaches)?  1
6 Other  6

 

Table 9: When staff/researchers leave your institution do you provide any formal training/support?
Ref. No. Options Count
1 Yes   2
2 No 36
3 Not sure   7

Reasons forlack of formal training/support?What are the reasons given for the lack of formal training or support to prepare staff and researchers for digital life beyond their current institution. When asking the general question why new areas of work are not being addressed there are a number of responses which might be expected including a lack of time; a lack of staff resources; a lack of relevant expertise or “it’s not our responsibility”. As can be seen from Table 10 and the accompanying image, in this case providing formal training in use of Cloud services for staff and researchers who are about to leave the institution is not the responsibility of the Library.

Table 10: If you do not provide any formal training/support, why not?
Ref. No. Options Count
1 Time   4
2 Staffing   5
3 Lack of expertise   4
4 Not our responsibility 28
5 Further information   9

 

Conclusions

The survey findings include additional responses which have not been mentioned in this blog post but which may provide further insights into institutional approaches to support for Cloud services, especially to support the life-long learning needs of staff and researchers. However for this post I will conclude by inviting responses to the following questions:

  • Do the findings reflect the policies and practices for your institution?
  • Would you agree that it is not the responsibility of library staff to provide such support and training?
  • If it is not the responsibility of the library, then who, if anyone, should provide such support?

If you have an interest in this subject and are attending the LILAC 2014 conference to be held at Sheffield Hallam University on 23-25 April 2014 I will be providing a poster display about would during the poster exhibition which will take place from 11.00-11.45 on Thursday 24 April. I’d be happy to chat.


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IWMW 2014: Programme Launch

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 April 2014

IWMW 2014

IWMW 2014 home pageI am pleased to announce the launch of the IWMW 2014 Web site.

The year’s event takes place at Northumbria University on 16-18 July. As has been the case for the majority of the previous 17 IWMW events, this year’s event will last for 3 days.

The price for attendance at this year’s event is unchanged from recent years: £350 which includes two nights’ accommodation or £300 with no accommodation.

The event this year is being provided by myself, Jisc Netskills and Cetis.

IWMW 2.014: Rebooting the Web

The official title of this year’s event is “IWMW 2.014: Rebooting the Web“. The idea for the title came from a suggestion made during the feedback we received at IWMW 2013, when we asked participants for their thoughts on whether the event should continue in light of the cessation of Jisc core funding for UKOLN. The answer was unanimous: there should be a IWMW 2014 event but perhaps the event could benefit from a ‘reboot’.

Organisational changes, in particular the large-scale redundancies at UKOLN following from the cuts in funding, necessitated rethinking for how the event was to be organised.

Due to the Jisc financial support for the event in previous years we sought to ensure that the event provided an opportunity for Jisc services and development programmes were able to describe their activities. Although these sessions have been useful the funding changes provided an opportunity to ensure that the talks and the sessions were more directly aligned with the needs of those responsible for providing and managing large-scale institutional Web services.

A Summary of the IWMW 2014 Programme

Perspectives from Outside

We had been told that the event would benefit from talks by charismatic speakers with a proven track record of delivering talks at prestigious national and international events. Since it had also been suggested that we should look for insights from outside the higher educational sector the opening session, Perspectives from Outside, provides the opportunity to hear the opening talk from Tracy Playle, founder of HE Comms, an online social network for Higher Education communications and marketing professionals who regularly speaks at conferences and seminars in the UK, mainland Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Tracy will share her reasons “Why you don’t need a social media plan and how to create one anyway”.

The other plenary talks on the opening day are provided by two regular speakers at IWMW who, based on the feedback we’re received, are always successful in stimulating discussion and debate.

Paul Boag has been working with the web since 1994. He is now co-founder of the digital agency Headscape, where he works closely with clients to establish their web strategy. Paul also speaks extensively on various aspects of web design both at conferences across the world and on his award winning web design podcast boagworld. Paul will give a plenary talk on “Digital Adaptation: Time to Untie Your Hands“.

Ranjit Sidhu (or Sid) is founder of statistics into Decisions (also known as SiD!).  Ranjit has worked at several Internet based companies, but has found his niche in analysis and helping clients understand what is going on in the internet ether and how to use that information to improve what they do. Ranjit, who is currently working with 15 UK universities, will give a plenary talk on “‘You are ALL so weird!’ University sector analysis and trends”.

I’m particularly pleased that IWMW 2014 will feature three speakers who not only have spoken at conferences around the world but also have a good knowledge of the higher education sector.

Institutional Case Studies

IWMW 2014 programmeHowever if high profile speakers form outside the sector are valuable in getting the event off to a good start, provide challenging insights and stimulating discussions, the main focus of the event is in providing an environment for sharing institutional practices. Therefore this year  there will be two plenary sessions on Institutional Case Studies which will feature presentations from institutional Web managers on “Building cost-effective, flexible and scalable education resources using Google Cloud Platform”, “Using the start-up playbook to reboot a big university website”, “Marketing is dead, long live UX”, “Adding Analytics to the University Portal” and “Allocating Work: Providing Tools for Academics”.

Technical Perspectives

No IWMW event would be complete, however, without sessions which explore the opportunities which technical developments can provide for the provision of institutional Web sites. This year the session on Looking To The Future features two plenary talks on  “Hyper-connectEd: Filling the vacuum by switching from blow to suck” and  “What Does The Data Tell Us About UK University Web Sites”.

Workshops and Birds-of-a-Feather Sessions

When the name “IWMW” was first used for the Institution Web Management Workshop series the final “W” was meant to signify the importance of participative sessions. Although the plenary talks provide a shared experience which enables all participants to hear about and learn from institutional case students and practices, technical developments and perspectives form outside the sector,  the parallel workshop sessions provide an opportunity for more active involvement and group discussions. This year’s workshop sessions cover a range of areas including the usability (“Making Personas Work”), content (“Reframing Content Strategy” and  “Learning to COPE – Create, Once, Publish Everywhere”), metrics (“Google Analytics For Beginners”) and technical sessions on “Rapid Development: Analytics reporting powered by Google Apps Scripts”, “Working with data.ac.uk: Creating your Institution’s OPD (Organisational Profile Document)”,  “WordPress as a CMS” and  “How to Buy Free Software”.

As well as these workshop sessions we will also be providing an opportunity for participants to organise their own birds-of-a-feather sessions.

Providing Value for Money

We are very aware of reductions in staff development budgets which institutions may now be facing. The feedback received at last year’s event showed that participants were very aware that the event did provide value-for-money, with a recognition that if the cessation of Jisc funding necessitated an increase in the cost of attendance this would be understandable.

However I am pleased to say that we have been able to keep the cost of attendance at the event down to the same price as last year. Indeed as shown in Table 1 we have kept that price at the same level over the past five years, with the exception of 2011 when the event was reduced to a 2-day event.

Table 1: Attendance costs at IWMW 2010-2014
Year 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
Cost
(including accommodation)
£350 £350 £350 £250 £350
Length 3 days 3 days 3 days 2 days 3 days

We are able to keep the prices down to a very affordable level due to a combination of the support of the event sponsors  and the willingness of the event speakers and facilitators to provide their sessions for free, in order to support the community.

We do still have opportunities for additional sponsors who would like to be associated with a successful event which is now in its 18th year. For further information please get in touch.

I hope to see you in Newcastle in July.

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ILI 2014: Call for Submissions Close on 11 April 2014

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7 April 2014

About ILI

ILI 2014 logoILI, the Internet Librarian International conference, is my favourite library conference. I’ve attended (and indeed spoken at) all but one of the conferences since it was launched in 2000. In recent years I’ve also shared my thoughts on aspects of the conference on this blog including posts since 2011 on Twitter Archives for the #ILI2013 ConferenceILI 2013: The Future Technologies and Their Applications WorkshopSharing (or Over-Sharing?) at #ILI2012“Making Sense of the Future” – A Talk at #ILI2012What Twitter Told Us About ILI 2011Learning Analytics and New Scholarship: Now on the Technology Horizon and ILI 2011 and the ‘New Normal’.

I should also add that for several years I have been on the ILI advisory group. I am also one of the ILI blog supporters.

ILI 2014

ILI 2014 will take place at the Olympia Conference Centre, London 21-22 October 2014 with a series of pre-conference workshops taking place on 20 October. The theme this year is “Positive Change: Creating Real Impact“.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 11 April 2014. As described on the conference Web site:

This year, Internet Librarian International will present an exciting selection of session formats so that delegates can make the most of all the learning opportunities on offer. We are looking for speakers who can share their experiences in one of several formats:

  • 30-minute scene-setting themed papers
  • 15-minute case study presentations (as part of a themed session)
  • Teachmeet/unconference contributors
  • Workshop leaders
  • Panellists

The Call for Speakers has four main categories:

  1. Transforming library and information services and roles
  2. Innovation in content
  3. Innovative technologies
  4. Innovation in search and discovery

I intend to submit a proposal related to my work as Innovation Advocate at Cetis, possibly on my work with Wikipedia or perhaps on the implications of technological developments for librarians. But when I noticed the invitations for panel sessions I wondered whether a panel session might provide a useful mechanism for airing a diverse range of views. Back in 2005 I gave a talk on Folksonomies – The Sceptics View in a panel session on “Folksonomies: Community Metadata?” which provided an opportunity to raise concerns about the possible pitfalls and limitations of folksonomies.

When I took part in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC last year I felt there was an uncritical acceptance of the role of social networks in a library context. I therefore wrote a series of blog post which challenged the consensus positive view on the library of the future: The library of the future (part 1): a privatised future; The library of the future (part 2): services for the self-motivated middle classes?The library of the future (part 3): because we’re right!The library of the future (part 4): a dystopian future? and The library of the future (part 5): everyone’s a librarian!.

As described in the initial post on The library of the future (part 1): a privatised future a YouTube video used in the MOOC entitled “Library of the Future in Plain English” could be interpretted as a right-wing vision of the future of libraries, with a significant deterioration in the pay and working conditions for librarians (see the accompanying table which was included in the blog post).

As Ian Clarke commented on the post:

The video clip employs much of the kind of language we have come to expect. As always, it paints things in a way that, on the surface at least, seems agreeable and non-controversial. Of course, once you read between the lines it is clear that it is not necessarily a benign vision.

Would anybody be interested in taking part in a panel session which sought to explore the diverse visions of the future of the library in an Internet environment? If so, feel free to get in touch.


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