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Archive for July, 2014

Life, A Year After Redundancy and Leaving UKOLN

Posted by Brian Kelly on 31 July 2014

Looking Back

A year ago today was my final day at UKOLN after the cessation of Jisc funding led to large-scale redundancies. During my final week I posted a series of posts on my Reflections on 16 years at UKOLN. In my final post on Life After UKOLN: Looking For New Opportunities I explained how I was looking for new opportunities to continue working in the higher education sector. A year on it is now timely to review my activities over the past year.

A Summer Break

My home officeThe redundancy provided an opportunity for a 3 month break. After a few weeks off and a holiday in the north east (North Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland) I took the opportunity to refresh my professional skills which including participating (and completing!) a MOOC: the Hyperlinked Library MOOC.

During the summer break I carried out some consultancy work and applied for a job at the ODI. But the biggest development was the building work to my house, which included installing network points in most of the rooms and converting one of the bedrooms to my office. As I described in a post on Marieke Guy’s Ramblings of a Remote Worker blog I was all set up to be a home worker.

Innovation Advocate at Cetis

I had decided that I was looking for a job which would allow me to continue to work in higher education and would build on my strengths, interests, areas of expertise and the professional connections I had, but would also provide some flexibility to pursue other interests. I was therefore pleased to be offered the post of Innovation Advocate at Cetis, working four days a week.

I have now been in post for nine months and have enjoyed my new role. My man areas of work have been:

Open practices: I have continued to seek to work in an open fashion, in particular using this blog and Twitter to share my thoughts, ideas and opinions. I also facilitated a webinar on “Open Educational Practices (OEP): What They Mean For Me and How I Use Them” which addressed moves towards openness and the implications for open educational practices.

Promoting use of Wikipedia in education: A year ago I became a member of WMUK (WikiMedia UK). I have promoted use of Wikipedia as an open educational practice. My work has included talks on “Wikipedia, Wikimedia UK and Higher Education: Developments in the UK” at the Wikimedia Serbia Eduwiki conference; a workshop session on “Getting to Grips with Wikipedia: a Practical Session” at the LILAC 2014 conference; an invited plenary talk on “Editing Wikipedia: Why You Should and How You Can Support Your Users” at the CILIP Wales 2014 conference and a workshop session on “Open Knowledge: Wikipedia and Beyond” at the Cetis 2014 conference. In addition I was a co-author of a feature article on “Wikipedia and Information Literacy” which was published in CILIP Update.

Information literacy and life-long learning: I presented a poster on “Preparing our Users for Digital Life Beyond the Institution” at the LILAC 2014 conference.

Use of emerging standards: Together with Cetis colleagues I have contributed to reports on developments to standards for the Jisc and have been the editor and lead author on a landscape report on standards also for the Jisc.

Learning analytics: I am leading the outreach and user engagement work for the EU-funded LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project.

Web accessibility: I am continuing my long-established work in Web accessibility, which includes raising the visibility of BS 8878. I gave an invited online talk which argued that “Accessibility is Primarily about People and Processes, Not Digital Resources!” at the OZeWAI 2013 conference; gave a talk on “Accessibility, Inclusivity and MOOCs: What Can BS 8878 Offer?” for an ILSIG Webinar on ‘MOOCs and Inclusive Practice’ abnd faciliated a workshop on “Building an Accessible Digital Institution” at the Cetis 2014 conference.

Social media for researchers: This year has been unusual in that I have not written any peer-reviewed papers or invited conference papers – this is the first time since 1997 that I have failed to do this (although I still have a few months to remedy this!). However I have continued to promote ways in which social media can be used by researchers, including giving the final plenary talk on “Open Practices for Researchers” at the University of Bolton;s Research and Innovation Conference 2014 together with talks on “How Social Media Can Enhance Your Research Activities” at the IRISS Research Unbound conference and “Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research Activities” at the annual DAAD conference for young academics from Germany working at UK Universities. Interestingly when I updated my talk for the Research and Innovation Conference 2014 at the University of Bolton I found that not only have I continued to have the largest number of downloads of any researcher at the University of Bath but my former colleagues Alex Ball, Ann Chapman and Emma Tonkin are also listed in the top ten researchers having the largest number of downloads. Despite three of us having left UKOLN a year ago, we are still finding that our research and project outputs are very visible!

Preparing for the future: I was particularly pleased to be able to continue to develop joint work which UKOLN and Cetis had been involved with in the past. This work, which was initially carried out as part of the Jisc Observatory, was summarised by myself and Paul Hollins, the Cetis director, in a paper on “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow“. Institutions continue to have an interest in methodologies for identifying and making plans for technological trends. I have further developed the methodologies, which was helped by my involvement this year with the forthcoming NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition (the final report is scheduled for publication on 16 August). I have facilitated workshop sessions based on the methodologies at the SAOIM 2014 and ELAG 2014 conferences, which were aimed at those working in the library sector, and at Brighton University for those working in a merged Library/ IT service department.

IWMW 2014: I have heard the IWMW event and the Ariadne ejournal described as “UKOLN’s crown jewels”. I was pleased to see a new issue of Ariadne published earlier this year. And last month we held IWMW 2014, the 18th in the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop series.

What Of The Future?

It has been a busy year. But what of the future? I feel that we will continue to see uncertainty across the higher education sector, with ongoing political and sectoral discussions about the nature of funding. Closer to home it seems that the announcement on the Jisc blog that “we are changing the current host grant agreements as of 31 December 2014” conceals further redundancies in the Jisc world which the closure of the RSCs and advisory services will entail. Although the Jisc future may continue to be uncertain we do know that Jisc are now focussing their work on a small number of areas which are agreed with the Jisc co-design partners (RLUK, RUGIT, SCONUL and UCISA). In addition Jisc are now a ‘solutions provider’ rather than a funder so that the solutions which they develop will subsequently be sold back to the sector. [Note this is my understanding of the new approaches which Jisc are taking, based on the opening plenary talk given by Phil Richards at the Ceis 2014 conference. However I’d welcome comments if I’ve misinterpreted what was said.]

In this changing environment I feel that there will continue to be opportunities for organisations such as Cetis to work with institutions and other players in the sector since I think we can predict that higher educational institutions will continue to exists for a number of years. The Cetis web site lists a number of areas in which we provide consultancy. We should probably extend this list to include additional areas in which we can support and advise institutions. I hope to continue my work with Cetis. In the short term, I’ll be away on holiday next week but feel free to get in touch if there are areas of interest to your institution which I might be able to address.

 

 

Posted in General, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

UK Government Mandates Open Document Format! A Brave or Foolhardy Decision?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 July 2014

UK Government Policy Announcement on Office Standards

UK Goverment policy on ODF

Image from Computer Weekly (http://www.computerworlduk.com/)

Back in October 2012 in a post entitled Good News From the UK Government: Launch of the Open Standards Principles which described how the UK government had published a series of document which outlined the government’s plans for use of open standards across government departments.

Last week the government made its first significant policy decision about one standards area: as described in a Computer Weekly article: UK government adopts ODF as standard document format.

Further Details

On 22 July 2014 in a blog post entitled Making things open, making things better posted on the UK’s Government Data Service blog Mike Bracken announced the UK Government’s policy on open standards for document formats. As described in a document entitled Viewing government documents the open standards mandated for viewing Government documents are:

  • HTML5 (either the HTML or XML formulation) must be used for all new services that produce documents for viewing online through a browser
  • PDF/A must be used for static versions of documents produced for download and archiving that are not intended for editing.

Where editable information is required the approach must be as set out in the sharing and collaborating on government documents standards profile which mandates ODF 1.2 as the standards which must be used.

A document on Open formats for documents: what publishers to GOV.UK need to know summarises the policies:

Documents for ‘viewing’ must be available in one or both of the following formats:

  • HTML5
  • PDF/AA separate set of standards applies to documents that users will want to edit. This type of document must be published in Open Document Format (ODF). The most common examples of this are:

For documents designed for sharing or collaborating:

A separate set of standards applies to documents that users will want to edit. This type of document must be published in Open Document Format (ODF). The most common examples of this are:

  • .odt (OpenDocument Text) for word-processing (text) documents
  • .ods (OpenDocument Spreadsheet) for spreadsheets
  • .odp (OpenDocument Presentation) for presentations. Once open publishing standards are adopted in full by your organisation, no documents should be published in proprietary formats.

The document goes on to explicitly state that:

Where editable information is required the approach must be as set out in the sharing and collaborating on government documents standards profile which mandates ODF 1.2 as the standards which must be used.

Discussion

Initial Skirmishes

It seems the initial battles regarding the government’s approaches to open standards took place in 2012. I commented on the initial skirmishes in May 2012 in a post on Oh What A Lovely War! and followed this in October 2012 in a post “Standards are voluntarily adopted and success is determined by the market” which described the approaches being taken by Open Stand: “five leading global organizations jointly signed an agreement to affirm and adhere to a set of Principles in support of The Modern Paradigm for Standards; an open and collectively empowering model that will help radically improve the way people around the world develop new technologies and innovate for humanity“.

The signatories affirmed that:

We embrace a modern paradigm for standards where the economics of global markets, fueled by technological advancements, drive global deployment of standards regardless of their formal status.

In this paradigm, standards support interoperability, foster global competition, are developed through an open participatory process, and are voluntarily adopted globally. These voluntary standards serve as building blocks for products and services targeted at meeting the needs of the market and consumer, thereby driving innovation. Innovation in turn contributes to the creation of new markets and the growth and expansion of existing markets.

It should be noted that the five leading global organizations which were supporting “the economics of global markets” were not IT companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google but IETF, Internet Society, IAB, W3C and IETF.

The Government Rejects Microsoft’s Lobbying!

The Computer Weekly article entitled UK government adopts ODF as standard document format had a sub-heading “Cabinet Office resists extensive lobbying by Microsoft to adopt open standards“.

I must admit that following the Open Stand announcement I had expected those formulating national policies in the western world to take a similar approach in supporting “the economics of global markets“. The UK Government’s decision to reject Microsoft’s call for inclusion of OOXML (Open Office XML), which is an ISO standard,  appears surprising. But perhaps this provides an unusual opportunity to praise the government!

Challenges to be Faced

In making a bold decision it should be expected that there will be challenges to be faced in implementing the decision.  In this case some of the challenges to be faced may include:

Implications for use of OOXML: The document on Open formats for documents: what publishers to GOV.UK need to know states that “Once open publishing standards are adopted in full by your organisation, no documents should be published in proprietary formats“. But a government department which makes extensive use of Microsoft tool could legitimately point out that it uses OOXML, an ISO standard. There will be a need to clarify that the policy decision is concerned with specific open standards rather than open versus proprietary standards.  It may be more appropriate to say that the government is mandating particular open standards for which open source tools which provide rich support are readily available.

Financial implications: The policy decision will be seen as a move from Microsoft Office to Open Office software which will bring significant financial savings due to the licence costs of Microsoft software. But what of the costs in migrating to new office tools and new workflow processes? It might be argued that there is a need to make a change at some point and there is no point in continuing to defer such a change (indeed, it can be argued that the Labour government should have made this decision which there was more money available). But since the Government seems to be prioritising financial issues in policy decisions there will be a need for the costs of this change to be monitored.

Implications for users: The policy decisions will be seen as a move from Microsoft Office to Open Office software which will bring significant financial savings due to the licence costs of Microsoft software. But what of the

Exporting to ODF: It should be noted that the decision appears to relate to document formats when these are to be shared with others. Will be see existing Microsoft Office tools continue to be used but files exported in ODF format?

Scope of the policy: This policy would appear to apply to central government services. I would be interested to hear if its scope will go beyond this and apply to local government and, of particular interest to me, the higher and further education sectors and associated educational funding bodies and agencies. Will, for example, documents submitted by educational institutions to government departments, funding agencies, etc. be expected to be in ODF format?

Use of Cloud services: We are seeing moves to Cloud services for office applications including but not limited to Google Docs and Office 365. It seems that documents hosted on Google Drive can be exported to ODF format, although I am unclear as to whether similar functionality is available for Office 365 [Note as described in a comment, Office 365 does allow ODT documents to be created].  However if government bodies have chosen to migrate their office environment to the Cloud it will be interesting to see how this will be affected by the policy on file formats. It should be noted that there does not appear to be a mature Cloud environment which is tightly coupled with Open Office.

Your Thoughts

I suspect that many readers for this blog would feel that the UK coalition government does not have a good track record of making evidence-based policy decisions which have been widely acknowledged to have provided benefits to those living in the UK.

But might this be a decision which should be welcomed? Are the challenges I’ve listed (and there will be others I haven’t described) simply issues which will be addressed, whilst the benefits of the decision will quickly become apparent?

I’d welcome your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment or respond to the poll.


View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – [bit.ly]

 

 

Posted in standards | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Reflections on #IWMW14

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 July 2014

IWMW 2.014: Rebooting the Web

IWMW 2014, the 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, took place last week, from 16-20 July, at Northumbria University. The theme of this year’s event was “rebooting the web“: an idea which came from a participant at last year’s event who felt that, although he felt there was a continued need for an event focussed on the needs of those involved in providing institutional Web services, the event would benefit from ‘rebooting’.

The cessation of Jisc funding for UKOLN meant that the event would change its focus in any case. When the event benefitted rom Jisc funding we tried to ensure that we provided a forum for Jisc-funded work, including Jisc services and Jisc-funded projects, which were involved in web-related activities.

This year the content was very focussed on sharing of institutional case studies. In addition this year future-gazing was informed by observing work of early adopters, with advocacy on the benefits of new ways of working being based on organisational issues rather than technological developments.

The Key Themes

Perspectives from Outside

The event began with three talks which provided Perspectives from Outside.

tweet-about Tracy Playle's talkTracy Playle, Picklejar Communications, opened the event with a talk on “Why you don’t need a social media plan and how to create one anyway“. Tracy argued that you shouldn’t create a social media plan in isolation from other activities, including real world engagement activities. A second point which Tracy made was picked up by David Aldred:  “good social content has to be able to have balls – use humour and cross lines. Difficult if committees involved!” This is also true of talks at events – and it was pleasing that many of the speakers were willing to make controversial points or make their pointes in controversial ways which, I suspect, would not go down well with the institution’s marketing team! Perhaps the lack of live video streaming at the event for the first time in several years resulted in more honest and open talks.

christinamcg's tweet about Paul BoagThe need to challenge mainstream orthodoxies in providing institutional Web service was continued by Paul Boag in his talk on “Digital Adaptation: Time to Untie Your Hands “. Paul argued that there was a clear need for changes in the approaches to the provision of Web services which have been taken in the past and of the need to circumvent institutional bureaucracies. He recommended the establishment of a ‘digital transformation team’ to replace the existing Web team as a recognition of the importance of transforming current business processes in light of the impact of today’s digital environment. Christina McGuire (@christinamcg) provided a value service during the event in her comprehensive tweets about the plenary talks. She tweeted a summary of one of Paul’s key recommendationscreate a Digital Transformation Team – name = crucial. Digital = more than a website…transformation = communicates not service“.

The final talk in the session from speakers who were invited to give their perspectives from outside the institutional Web management perspective was given by Martin Hawksey. His talk had an intriguing title “Hyper-connectEd: Filling the vacuum by switching from blow to suck”  Martin’s talk sought to provide a big picture, going beyond institutional Web management issues and addressing the nature of education in higher education in a networked environment. Martin drew parallels with centralised, decentralised and distributed networks and the changing nature of education, and provided some examples of moves towards distributed approaches to leaning. Martin also helpfully published a blog post shortly before he gave his talk in which he explained that “The main idea I want to convey is that in a world which is benefiting from being digitally distributed, networked and increasing crowd driven the IWMW audience is in the prime position to support their institutions creating opportunities for learning aligned to this“.

Institutional Case Studies

Kevin Mears sketch note for Ross Ferguson's talk.The opening day provided inspirational and provocative talks which argued the need for significant changes to the ways we go about providing Web services in higher education. The second and third days provided an opportunity to hear case studies about how institutions have been delivering a variety of services, ranging from use of the Google Cloud Platform for providing the infrastructure for delivering services; ensuring that the importance of the user  experience (UX) is being addressed; rebooting an institutional portal; developing web applications to support work allocation and adopting startup approaches to support the rapid delivery of institutional services.

The talk which seems to generate the most interest and discussion was given by Ross Ferguson, Head of Digital at the University of Bath. His talk on “Using the start-up playbook to reboot a big university website” echoed the point made by Tracy Playle on the opening day on what she referred to as “benign violation“: as can be seen from Kevin Mears’ sketch note of the talk, Ross’s slides had not been approved by the marketing team, with his passion for use of startup methodologies in a university context being presented in a forthright fashion which violated conference norms!

Ross’s description of the approaches which are being taken by the Digital team at the University of Bath also reflect Paul Boag’s suggestions, including the name of the team: “Digital Marketing and Communications” and Ross’s job title of “head of digital”.

Looking To The Future

In addition to the first part of the institutional case studies the second day also provided two talks which provided data-driven insights into the web environment which may help to shape future developments.

Ranjit Sidhu opened the session on Looking To The Future in a talk on “You are ALL so weird!” University sector analysis and trends“. One comment Ranjit made which I found of particular interest was the apparent lack of interest in gathering data related to research. As Luca Macis commented:

Business values every single bit of publicity and data. Universities don’t do this. Especially with Research. We undervalue research

Christina McGuire's tweetPerhaps gathering usage data related to research activities tends to be of concern to library staff and research support units rather than institutional web teams. But Ranjit’s comment that we are seeing a decline in traffic to university home pages will be very relevant. This is a trend I first observed in 2011 and described in a post which asked Are University Web Sites in Decline? At the time I concluded:

the evidence is suggesting that we are seeing a slight decrease in the amount of traffic to institutional Web sites for Russell Group Universities

It will be interesting to see the trend over the past three years and invite discussions on the implications.

The final plenary talk I will comment on also described approaches in gathering data not only for use in national services, such as equipment.data.ac.uk, but also in providing answers to the question “What Does The Data Tell Us About UK University Web Sites?“. In his presentation Chris Gutteridge provided background details of the data.ac.uk service  and encouraged participants to create an institutional Organisational Profile Document (OPD).

Finding Out More

Lanyrd page for iwmw 2014A year ago, after the end of the IWMW 2013 event, I described how The Job’s Not Over Till The Paperwork’s Complete. This year is no different. Links are being added to the IWMW 2014 web site. But the most useful resource is the IWMW 2014 Lanyrd entry since this allows others to add links to relevant resources.

The Lanyrd page will provide links to resources which are directly associated with individual talks as well as to generic resources. For example the Lanyrd page for Martin Hawksey’s talk contains links to his slides, the accompanying blog post,  Kevin Mears’ sketch notes of his talk and a Storify summary of tweets made during the talk (and other talks held on the same day).

Generic resources which are linked to from the Lanyrd coverage page include Flickr photographs taken by the Netskills team, other Flickr photos with the IWMW14 tag, Storify Twitter archives for day 1, day 2 and day 3, the Eventifier Twitter archive, a location map of those who tweeted with the event hashtag and Martin Hawksey’s TAGS Twitter archive and the TAGSExplorer visualisation of Twitter conversations.

Additional resources, including blog posts about the event, will be added when I become aware of them.

IWMW 2015: Digital Transformation

I will shortly be reviewing the comments provided by IWMW 2014 delegates on the event evaluation form. However the feedback I received during the event was very positive and there seemed to be broad agreement that the event should continue.

The major challenge in planning for a similar event next year will be managing the financial outlay in, for example, paying deposits on room bookings and accommodation – and the associated risks if things go wrong. This year’s event was organised by myself, Netskills and Cetis, with Cetis providing support for outreach and marketing but the financial outgoings were made by myself and Netskills. I will be looking at new models for organising the event next year – to avoid the worries I had this year when the numbers of bookings were low a month before the event took place.

There will also be a need to reflect on the talks given at this year’s event and the discussions which they generated. In the final panel session at the event Stephen Emmott, Michael Nolan, Mike McConnell and Tracey Milnes led an open discussion on “What is our vision for the institutional web and can we implement that vision?” There seemed to be broad agreement on the need to recognise the diversity of approaches which are being taken across the sector. There also seemed to be agreement that the words ‘institutional’ and ‘web’  are now longer as relevant as they were in the past for the Institutional Web Management event.

In light of this feedback I wonder whether IWMW should not longer be regarded as an abbreviation, but is simple used as a term to describe the event. And perhaps for next year them theme should be “digital transformation”. What do you think?

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

Facebook Usage for Russell Group Universities, July 2014

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 July 2014

Facebook Usage for Russell Group Universities

In order to gather evidence of use of Facebook in the higher education sector periodic surveys of usage of official institutional Facebook pages have been carried out for the Russell Group universities since January 2011. The last survey was carried out 0n 31 July 2012, the day before the number of Russell Group universities grew from 20 to 24.

The aim of the surveys is to provide factual evidence which can be used to inform policy decisions on institutional use of social media and corresponding operational practices and stimulate debate.

The latest survey has just been carried out. It is intended that the survey will help inform discussions at the IWMW 2014 event, which starts on Wednesday.

Note that the data provided in the following table is also available as a Google Spreadsheet.

Ref. No. Institution and Web site link
Facebook name and link
Nos. of Likes
(Jan 2011)
Nos. of Likes
(Sep 2011)
Nos. of Likes
(May 2012)
Nos. of Likes
(Jul 2012)
Nos. of Likes
(Jul 2014)
% increase
since Aug 2012
 1 InstitutionUniversity of Birmingham
Fb nameunibirmingham
8,558  14,182  18,611   20,756   88,694    327%
 2 InstitutionUniversity of Bristol
Fb nameUniversity-of-Bristol/108242009204639
2,186   7,913  11,480  12,357   27,071    219%
 3 InstitutionUniversity of Cambridge
Fb namecambridge.university
58,392 105,645 153,000 168,000  787,347    369%
 4 InstitutionCardiff University
Fb namecardiffuni
20,035  25,945   30,648  31,989   51,108      60%
 5 InstitutionDurham University
Fb nameDurham-University/109600695725424
N.A.  N.A.   N.A.  10,843   31,153   187%
 6 InstitutionUniversity of Exeter
Fb nameexeteruni
N.A.  N.A.   N.A. 15,387    29,054    89%
 7 InstitutionUniversity of Edinburgh
Fb nameUniversityOfEdinburgh
(Page URL changed since first survey)
-  12,053   24,507   27,574    70,667  156%
 8 InstitutionUniversity of Glasgow
Fb Name: glasgowuniversity
-   1,860   27,149  29,840    68,667  130%
 9 InstitutionImperial College
Fb nameimperialcollegelondon
5,490  10,257  16,444  19,020    68,347   259%
10 InstitutionKing’s College London
Fb nameKings-College-London/54237866946
2,047   3,587   5,384   7,534   37,370   396%
11 InstitutionUniversity of Leeds
Fb nameuniversityofleeds
-    899   2,143    3,091   20,722    570%
12 InstitutionUniversity of Liverpool
Fb name: livuni University-of-Liverpool/103803892992025
(Page URL changes since survey in May and August 2012)
2,811  3,742   4,410   5,239    63,790   1,118%
13 InstitutionLSE
Fb name: lseps 
22,798  32,290 43,716   50,287  134,799     168%
14 InstitutionUniversity of Manchester
Fb nameUniversity-Of-Manchester/365078871967  – TheUniversityOfManchester   (Page URL changed for this survey)
1,978   4,734   9,356   13,751  51,659    278%
15 InstitutionNewcastle University
Fb namenewcastleuniversity
-     115      693    1,084    34,975   3,126%
16 InstitutionUniversity of Nottingham
Fb nameTheUniofNottingham
3,588    9,991  14,692   17,133   119,444      597%
17 InstitutionUniversity of Oxford
Fb namethe.university.of.oxford
137,395 293,010 541,000 628,000 1,564,871     149%
18 InstitutionQueen Mary, University of London
Fb nameQueen-Mary-University-of-London/107998909223423 - QMLNews (Page URL changed for this survey)
N.A.  N.A.  N.A.  13,362    55,545     316%
19 InstitutionQueen’s University Belfast
Fb name: QueensUniversityBelfast
- 5,211   10,063   16,989    19,783       16%
20 InstitutionUniversity of Sheffield
Fb nametheuniversityofsheffield
6,646 12,412  19,308   22,746    67,472     197%
21 InstitutionUniversity of Southampton
Fb nameunisouthampton
3,328 6,387  18,062   19,790   49,876    152%
22 InstitutionUniversity College London
Fb nameUCLOfficial
977 4,346  33,853  37,493    91,152   143%
23 InstitutionUniversity of Warwick
Fb namewarwickuniversity
8,535 12,112 14,472   15,103    47,204     212%
24 InstitutionUniversity of York
Fb nameuniversityofyork
N.A.  N.A.   N.A.    11,212  19,256      73%
TOTAL 287,767 566,691 998,991 1,116,077   3,600,2652    208%

Note

Summary

Overall Facebook Usage over time: 2011-2014

Figure 1: Overall number of Facebook ‘likes’ for Russell Group universities from January 2011 – July 2014

As can be seen from Figure 1 which shows the growth in the overall number of Facebook ‘likes’ for Russell Group universities from January 2011 – July 2014 there has been a significant growth since the last survey. However please note the following caveats:

  • There has been a gap of two years before the latest survey.
  • There are now 24 Russell Group universities as opposed to the 20 covered in the initial set of surveys.

It should also be noted that comparisons of the numbers of ‘likes’ across individual institutions are probably not very meaningful due to the differing numbers of staff and students across the institutions. However the trends may be more meaningful. especially the trends across the aggregation of the institutions.

The survey published on 2 August 2012 reported that the number of Facebook ‘likes’ for the 24 Russell Group Universities had exceeded 1 million for the first time. However as shown in Figure 2 over half of these likes were for the University of Oxford with the University of Cambridge being the next most popular: these two institutions represent 67% of the total. As can be seen from Figure 3 these two institutions have maintained their positions and now represent 65%.

Figure 2: Facebook ‘Likes’ for Russell Group universities in August 2012

Implications

When Facebook was first launched access was restricted to approved institutions (which the University of Cambridge being the first in the UK to provide accounts for its students). In may 2007 John Kirriemuir felt that Something IS Going On With Facebook! after spotting weak signals of its potential importance. We then saw doubts expressed regarding its relevance for institutions characterised, perhaps, by the statement “stay out of my space“). However the popularity of the service led to suggestions that there was a need for an open alternative – but Diaspora was felt to have the potential to provide an open alternative, but as the post on Whatever Happened to Facebook-Killer Diaspora? concluded the answer was “nothing“.

Now, it would appear, institutional use of Facebook is no longer a policy issue (should we have an account) but rather raises a number of operational issues to be addressed: How should we manage it? How much effort should we allocate to it? and what metrics should we measure to demonstrate the value we get from the service?

Perhaps these are questions which will be asked at IWMW 2014 later this week.

Posted in Evidence, Facebook | 3 Comments »

Wikipedia and Information Literacy Article in CILIP Update

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 July 2014

Wikipedia and Information Literacy

Wikipedia article in CILIP UpdateThe current issue of CILIP Update (access restricted to CILIP members and subscribers) features a two-page article entitled “Wikipedia and Information Literacy“. The article, which was written by myself, Nancy Graham and Andrew Gray is based on the Wikipedia workshop sessions and talks which we gave at the LILAC 2014 conference in Sheffield in April 2014.

The article is aimed at librarians, especially those with interests in information literacy.  As we described in order to address the pressures to do more in the time available for learning information literacy:

It is a good idea to consider use of resources and methods which are: a) already in widespread use; b) with which readers already have a positive relationship; and c) which can be used to demonstrate multiple aspects of information literacy within a single context.

The article goes on to point out that:

One such resource is the ubiquitous and popular – if often contested – Wikipedia. The ways in which Wikipedia is constructed and operates allows it to highlight many aspects of information literacy, while its high profile and broad subject base mean that users are likely to have some familiarity with it. In effect, we can take the information literacy question to where our readers are already going!

Wikipedia Sessions at LILAC 2014

The sessions we facilitated at the LILAC 2014 conference began with a presentation by Nancy and Andrew on “Wikipedia: it’s not the evil elephant in the library reading room” (see the slides on Slideshare which are embedded at the bottom of this post).

We then facilitated two workshops sessions: a practical session in which participants could signup for a Wikipedia account and familiarise themelevs with basic Wikipedia markup and the Wikipedia culture followed by an edit-a-thon in which participants looked at ways in which the existing Information Literacy Wikipedia article could be updated.

What Next?

Rather than updating the existing Information Literacy article we decided to create a new page which addresses information literacy from a UK perspective.  The fledgling page is available but, as can be seen, this is a work in progress. We urge librarians with an interest in information literacy to sign up to Wikipedia and contribute to this section.

The slides on Wikipedia: it’s not the evil elephant in the library reading room are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

 

Posted in Wikipedia | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Predicting the Future: Reality or Myth?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 July 2014

Two International Conferences: SAOIM 2014 and ELAG 2014

Let's predict the future In June I gave talks and facilitated workshop sessions at two international conferences: SAOIM 2014, the 12th Biennial Southern African Online Information Meeting which was held in Pretoria on 3-6 June and ELAG 2014, the annual European Library Automation Group Conference which was held at the University of Bath on 10-13 June.

Predicting and Planning for the Future

The theme of the SAOIM 2014 conference was “Predicting the Future: Reality or Myth?“. This theme reflected my participation at the two events: at the SAOIM conference I gave a plenary talk on “Understanding the Past; Being Honest about the Present; Planning for the Future” and facilitated a half-day workshop on “Let’s Predict the Future!” and at the ELAG conference I facilitated a workshop on “Preparing For The Future” which was split into two 90 minute sessions held on two days.

The sessions were based on my involvement in the Jisc Observatory and the papers on “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow” and “What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future” which summarised the approaches developed by Cetis and UKOLN. Following the cessation of Jisc funding for this work the methodology is being shared with organisations who wish to make use of systematic approaches to help detect technological developments of importance to organisational planning processes.

The workshop has been refined since it was delivered at the ILI 2013 conference last October, at a staff development session at the University of York in July 2013 and at the UKSG 2013 conference in April 2013. In the updated version of the workshop once ‘Delphi’ processes for identifying technological developments have been used workshop participants then make use of an ‘action brief statement’ and a risk and opportunities framework for proposing ways in which the organisation may wish to further investigate the technological developments which have been identified. The action brief statement was developed by Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones for the Hyperlinked Library MOOC and the risk and opportunities framework was first described in a paper on “Library 2.0: Balancing the Risks and Benefits to Maximise the Dividends” and subsequently further developed to address legal risks in a paper on “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web“.

Reflections on SAOIM 2014

The SAOIM conference theme of “Predicting the Future: Reality or Myth?” was addressed by invited plenary talks and workshop sessions delivered by myself and Joe Murphy (@libraryfuture), Director of Library Futures and librarian and technology trend analyst at Innovative Interfaces. Joe gave the opening keynote talk at the conference on “Technical Analysis & Inspiration Points for Library Futures” and facilitated a workshop session on “Directions and destinations“.

Our sessions complemented each other nicely, with Joe providing exercises in getting the 60+ libraries attended his half-day workshop session to be willing to consider the implications of technological developments, including developments such as the jet pack! Although Joe was not proposing this as a likely development, it provided a useful means of getting the participants to think beyond the current technical environment.

In my session I asked the 60+ workshop participants to work in groups to identify technological developments which they feel will be important in the short term and medium term. A Google Doc containing a summary of their conclusions is available. In the workshop I then went on to provide a methodology for making a business case fro investigating the technological developments further.

Other Sessions at SAOIM 2014

"Consent that must be obtained"The programme for the SAOIM 2014 conference is available (in PDF format) and many of the slides are also available. The talk which I found of particular interest was on Online Privacy and Data Protection (see slides in MS Powerpint format).

It seems that South Africa will shortly be introducing a Protection Of Personal Information (PPI and also known as POPI) Bill which is based on the privacy requirements which EU countries have enshrined in legislation. The bill is based on eight main principles. Of particular interest was the slide which described consent which must be obtained:

žConsent that must be obtained

Before the data controller will be entitled to collect, use or process any personal information, it must obtain the prior written consent from the data subject to do so

  • Consent requirement = key feature of PPI Bill
  • Without consent no data that might have been collected may be used in any manner
  • Unlawful usage can result in huge fines & possibility of imprisonment

Although such legal requirements may not seem unreasonable the speaker went on to provide examples of the implications of the legislation:

  • You wish to provide a personalised recommendation service based on books library patrons have borrowed. You can’t until you have received written consent to do this!
  • You wish to send an email to a library patron whose books are overdue and is accruing fines.  You can’t until you have received written consent to do this!

Based on the interpretation of the law provided by the speaker it would appear that the legislation could make it difficult for services such as academic libraries to carry out existing services and develop new services unless, perhaps, they update their terms and conditions to allow them to make use of personal data. In light of the uncertainties of the implications and how organisations should respond there may well be new consultancy opportunities for the South African legal profession!

I found this session of particular interest as it highlighted potential legal barriers to the development of useful services for users and the need to understand ways in which such barriers can be addressed, whether in ensuring that terms and conditions provide sufficient flexibility to cater for a changing legal environment or, alternatively, for organisations to be willing to take risks. In the case of the PPI legislation since the person who feels their personal information is being used without their consent has to make a complaint to the appropriate authorities it seems to me that the student will the overdue books who receives a reminder will be unlikely to make a complain that they haven’t given explicit permission to receive such alerts!

Next Steps in Supporting Organisations in Predicting and Planning for the Future

The feedback from the two workshops was very positive. In light of this we will be looking to include further workshops as part of the Cetis consultancy offering. If you have an interest in this please get in touch.

 

Posted in Events, jiscobs | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Building an Accessible Digital Institution: the Next Steps

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 July 2014

Building an Accessible Digital Institution

A few weeks ago at the Cetis 2014 conference on Building the Digital Institution I facilitated a workshop session on Building an Accessible Digital Institution. The abstract for the session described how:

A digital institution should ensure that it supports the needs of students with disabilities. But how should we go about building an accessible digital institution? This session will review the strengths and weaknesses of internationally agreed approaches such as WAI’s WCAG guidelines, 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.

However the numbers attending the session were low. What is the reason for the apparent lack of interest in accessibility of digital resources?

What is the reason for the apparent lack of interest in accessibility of digital resources?

It may be that universities feel they’ve ‘solved’ accessibility by asking their staff to ensure that content conforms with WCAG guidelines. However, a quick look at the accessibility of many university’s websites is sufficient to indicate that this ‘solution’ hasn’t had the desired effect, which is why I feel it’s important to consider how the BS 8878 code of practice can help to document achievable and realistic ways of enhancing the accessibility of institutional web resources.

And perhaps, since the threat of legal action and fines for organisations whose Web content is not accessible seems to have disappeared, there is less of an interest in this area.

If that is the case, a new driver is about to arrive, which is likely to result in institutions needing to change their approaches to accessibility – the proposed cuts next year to the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).

Cuts to the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)

As described by Sarah Lewthwaite in a recent Guardian article entitled “Cuts to grant funding for disabled students will put their studies at risk” the proposed cuts to the Disabled Students’ Allowances in 2015 “may lead to higher drop-out rates, lower grades and students struggling without support“. The article goes on to describe how:

Under the banner of modernisation, David Willetts has announced measures to cut Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) from September 2015 – grants offered to disabled students to support their studies. Without this funding – a vital support mechanism in recruitment – higher education will no longer be viable for some. For others, cuts will mean persevering without necessary support, leading to higher drop-out rates,dissatisfaction and lower educational attainment.

The article also asks Is disability in higher education being redefined? and points out that:

Proposed changes to DSA funding may fundamentally redefine disability in higher education. Students with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADD/ADHD, have been singled out for the largest cuts, and there is a real danger that their needs become invisible.

Shortly after the announcement of the cuts was made there was an announcement of a campaign urging all UK political parties to add digital accessibility pledges to their 2015 election manifestos. The petition begins:

We, the signatories of this petition, hereby urge every UK political party to show commitment to building an inclusive society in which all persons can participate without loss of dignity, including older persons, and persons regarded as having disabilities of any kind, independently of ability or skill, creed, race, gender, sexuality or other characteristic or preference.

A follow-up article, Funding cuts to disabled students will hit some universities hard, provides evidence of the likely impact of the cuts:

These cuts, estimated at nearly 70% of the total DSAs budget, will put the studies of disabled students at risk. DSAs currently support 53,000 disabled students, paying for assistive technologies, non-medical assistance and other costs incurred by studying with a disability.

It may be that we will see renewed interest in accessibility issues. But beyond signing a petition what else can be done?

Next Steps

BS 8878

Image from Hassell Inclusion blog – see http://www.hassellinclusion.com/bs8878/

At the IWMW 2013 event held at the University of Bath a year ago Jonathan Hassell gave a plenary talk entitled “Stop Trying to Avoid Losing and Start Winning: How BS 8878 Reframes the Accessibility Question“. At the end of the talk a show of hands showed that there was significant interest in a dedicated event which explored how BS 8878 could be applied in a university context, in particular how it could be used not only to support the provision of accessible informal resources but also in teaching and learning and research contexts.

The announcement to the cuts in the DSA is likely to result in renewed interest in institutional approaches to the provision of accessible web services. Although the numbers attending the Cetis accessibility workshop were low I did receive encouragement to revive Cetis’s work in this area, which had previously been addressed by the Cetis Accessibility SIG. I’m also pleased to say that following discussions with Sarah Lewthwaite (a disability researcher based in London) and Jonathan Hassell (lead author of the BS 8878 code of practice) we have agreed to explore the possibility of further work in this area including running an event of the applicability of BS 8878 in an educational context.

If you’re interested in how the forthcoming DSA changes may impact you, and would like to know how you can respond to the changes in a strategic way, please get in touch and we’ll send you information as it becomes available.

 

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