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NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries: Emphasis on Mobile (Anytme, Anyplace, Anywhere)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 November 2014

The NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries

NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of LibrariesYesterday I took part in the NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries. I was invited to be a panel member following my participation in the group which took part in the development of the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition.

The half-day symposium provided an opportunity for “library professionals, educators, and thought leaders will explore four major themes from the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition”:

  1. Emphasis on Mobile
  2. Increasing Access and Discovery Opportunities
  3. Content Management and Technical Infrastructure
  4. Rethinking the Roles and Relationships of Librarians

Together with Alex Freeman (NMC), Joan Lippincott (Coalition for Networked Information), Geneva Henry (George Washington University) and Gary Price I took part in the opening session on Emphasis on Mobile.

The virtual symposium was hosted on Google Hangouts and attracted about 100 registered participants.

Emphasis on Mobile

NMC Horizon symposiumThe NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition (which is available in PDF format) highlights mobile apps as one of the two most important technological developments for  academic and research libraries in the short term. The importance of mobile content and delivery is being driven by its prioritization as a key trend which is driving technology adoption in academic and research libraries over the next one to two years.

I won’t attempt to summarize the session as I was concentrating on my contribution, ensuring the technology work and monitoring the backchannels (the Twitter feed and the discussion on Google Hangout) and thus was not able to keep notes on the points made by my fellow panelists. However I used Storify to create a summary of the #NMCHz tweets about the session. In addition, as mentioned below, I also created a Lanyrd entry for the event which can be used by those who attended the event to provide links to reports on the event.

However it is fair to say that the panelists all felt that the mobile environment is important for the future and provides valuable opportunities for librarians.

Anytime, Anyplace Anywhere

The panelists were asked to respond to the question “Do you have a mobile use scenario that you think is particularly innovative?“.  To paraphrase my response:

Think about the world we are now in. We each have (or can have) the equivalent of a supercomputer in our hand. And just as James T Kirk on Star Trek could ask questions of the Enterprise’s computer, so we can make use of tools such as Google and Wikipedia to address out informational queries and social media tools to interact with our social and professional networks. For me, therefore, I wouldn’t like to mention a specific innovative technology. Rather it’s about the scale of use of technologies which we possess. “The future is here and may now be evenly distributed – and it’s in our hands!“. I think this is the exciting future. And surprising for some, use of mobile devices in bed might be important for many of our users.

My comment about use of mobile devices in bed was based on the responses to a question I asked the audience “Have you ever used a mobile device for work-related purposes in bed?“. The responses on the Twitter channel suggested that some felt somewhat apprehensive about admitting to this:

  •  uh, yes I do use my device to do work while I am abed. :)
  • Regularly use my smartphone in bed to reply in the evening and to check email in the morning.

whilst others seemed more unapologetic:

  •  i have used my smartphone daily while still laying in bed
  • Me too. Every morning. RT @MULkatie: Checked my work email before I got out of bed this morning
  • @briankelly yes I have done this many times
  • I’d miss too much of general interest if I only checked when at work. How times have changed since I started at IA in 1998!

However some never use mobile devices for work-related purposes in bed:

  • I have never done that in bed.

I first asked this question back in 2012 and summarised the responses in a post on which described how “Twitterers Do It In Bed!“. Since then I have asked the question at a number of events and found, fairly consistently, that the responses are split between those who feel confident about this type of behaviour, those who seem reluctant to admit to it and those who do not use mobile devices in bed, with some being horrified at the idea.

Clearly taking one’s work to bed is a personal decision and taking work to bed which is accessed on a mobile device (rather than on dead trees!) should not be something to be done without the agreement of one’s partner. However asking this question is useful, I feel, as it provides indications of changing patterns of behaviour.

Privacy Implications of Mobile Devices

In the symposium  much of the discussion focussed on the potential benefits of mobile devices to support teaching, learning and research activities in higher education. Due to lack of time (the session only lasted for 45 minutes) it was not possible to address barriers to their use. There was some discussion about DRM barriers to accessing content but, in the conclusions, I highlighted privacy issues as a particularly complex area which needs to be acknowledged. In the presentations we heard speakers describe the importance of content shared on social media and the value of, for example, archiving Twitter streams for subsequent analysis.

I agree with these comments. Indeed in this post I have made use of the Storify archive of yesterday’s tweets which I created and cited some of the tweets in this post. Although in the past people have suggested that it is inappropriate to cite tweets (and may infringe copyright unless permission has been given). I should also note that although use of an event hashtag (“#NMCHz” in this case) may be regarded by some as an implied licence to permit reuse, in this case some of the tweets were public messages to me and did not include the hashtag.

Additional comments were made on the Google Hangout chat tool. I have not included relevant comments in this post, mainly because of technical barriers (I could not archive the content) but also because I feel that the Google Hangout was more of a private area than a public tweet.  But is this an appropriate distinction?

I concluded my summary by mentioning the recent release of the Samaritan’s Radar app which monitored Twitter feeds and the subsequent backlash which led to the withdrawal of the app. As described by the BBC News:

An app made by the Samaritans that was supposed to detect when people on Twitter appeared to be suicidal has been pulled due to “serious” concerns.

Might we find that our current scholarly interests in analysis of social media is meant with a similar backlash?  A topic I will revisit in a subsequent post,  but I’d welcome your thoughts.

Further Information

NMC-Horizon-Symposium-on-the-Future-of-LibrariesIn addition to the NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries a Lanyrd entry for the event is also available. Since Lanyrd provides a wiki-style approach to content creation and updates I hope that participants at the virtual symposium will add links to trip reports and other resources relevant to the seminar.

 


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What Do You Think Are The Major Technology Trends Which Will Impact Library Services?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 October 2014

Technology Innovation and Impact Strand at ILI 2014

ILI 2014 conferenceOn Tuesday 21 October 2014 I am giving a talk at the ILI 2014 conference which will address the question What are the major technology trends that will impact library services and their users? This talk takes place on the morning of Tuesday 21 October 2014, the opening day of the conference and is the first talk in Track B, the Technology Innovation and Impact strand, one of the three conference tracks.

The NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition

The talk will be based on the approaches taken by the NMC Horizon team in the development of the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition, a 50-page report which “examines key trends, significant challenges, and emerging technologies for their potential impact on academic and research libraries worldwide“.

I was pleased to have been invited to participate in the expert panel which took part in the NMC’s process for identifying the key emerging technologies and the significant trends which are driving their adoption and the challenges which may impede their take-up.

The report describes 18 topics which the expert panel identified as very likely to impact technology planning and decision-making: six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in technology.

In my 30 minute talk I will review two technologies which the panel feel to be significant ion the short term (less than a year to adoption), two trends driving technology adoption in the medium term (3 to 5 years) and two difficult challenges which may impede technology adoption in academic and research libraries.

Since the report is freely available online (in PDF format) I do not feel that simply summarising details form the report will be the most effective use of the session at ILI 2014. Instead I will describe the ‘Delphi; approaches used by the panel in identifying and then ranking the key trends, challenges and technological developments. I intend to then invite the audience to participate in a mini-Delphi process, whereby they can add their thoughts on technological developments of importance in the short term, trends driving technology adoption in the medium term and difficult challenges which may impede technology adoption in academic and research libraries which may have not been prioritised in the NMC Horizon report.

I intend to gather the suggestions during the talk, using a combination of asking the audience for their suggestions and inviting suggestions on Twitter. This will be followed by a quick vote to identify the responses which the audience feel are most important.

Attempting to reduce the Delphi process for which “over the course of three months in the spring of 2014, the 2014 Horizon Project Library Expert Panel came to a consensus about the topics that would appear here in the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition” will be a challenge and we shouldn’t attempt to read too much into the findings. However the purpose of this approach, rather than taking the safer route of simply summarizing the report, is to make the point that one should not simply accept the findings of a report on technological developments which experts feel will have an impact on the sector. Instead I feel that institutions should use the report to inform institutional planning which should be complemented by identification of developments which are of particular relevance in the context of the host institution’s local context, including local political, economic, social and technological factors.

What Do You Think Is Missing?

Since soliciting user responses in a large conference auditorium may prove challenging I would like to invite contributions to this post, in advance of this talk.

I will report on the technological trends which the NMC Horizon report feels will be important in the short term (less than a year to adoption). These are (with a  summary taken from the 2 page report for each area being provided):

  • Electronic publishing: Electronic publishing is creating a sea change in how people consume media, research, news and stories. Digital assets such as video, images, and audio can be easily deployed in a variety of media formats — a notion that has huge implications for expanding the reach of a library’s content and the dissemination of academic research. Libraries are poised to be major players in the digital revolution as academic electronic publishing becomes more sophisticated. While the PDF format (now an open ISO standard) has long been supported in libraries, closed systems, such as Apple’s iBook and Amazon e-books, are posing challenges to their existing publishing workflows. EPUB 3, a new standard for interactive and media-enhanced e-books, offers many opportunities for electronic publishing and new library content services,207 but there are still no user-friendly tools available for library professionals to aid the process. The emergence of open access policies from government agencies, coupled with unsustainable costs of print and citation cycles, has led to a shift in how education institutions publish. There is now motivation for libraries to take resources that are generated locally, including university research outputs, learning objects, and material digitized by faculty, and turn them into teaching materials as new publications. Among the chief considerations for libraries establishing such e-publishing workflows are storage capacity, comprehensive concepts for linking the scientific working process of text and scientific data, software tools that integrate and visualize complex data, copyright issues, bibliometric tools, and content hosting coordination.
  • Mobile apps: With the advent of mobile apps, the way we think about software itself is changing, and whole industries are adjusting to a new world in which sophisticated but
    simple tools routinely sell for 99 cents or are completely free. In contrast with the model for desktop applications that stack feature upon feature in a one-size-fits-all
    approach, mobile apps are small, simple, and elegant. They generally do one thing, or a small list of tightly related things, extraordinarily well. They cost so little, trial versions are unnecessary, and it is simple to outfit a tablet or mobile phone with exactly the feature set one wants for far less than one would pay for typical desktop software.

I will also describe the trends driving technology adoption in the medium term (3-5 years):

  • The evolving nature of the scholarly record: With the advent of mobile apps, the way we think about software itself is changing, and whole industries are adjusting to a new world in which sophisticated but simple tools routinely sell for 99 cents or are completely free. In contrast with the model for desktop applications that stack feature upon feature in a one-size-fits-all approach, mobile apps are small, simple, and elegant. They generally do one thing, or a small list of tightly related things, extraordinarily well. They cost so little, trial versions are unnecessary, and it is simple to outfit a tablet or mobile phone with exactly the feature set one wants for far less than one would pay for typical desktop software.
  • The increasing accessibility of research content: Academic and research libraries are gradually embracing the movement toward openness as the Internet has opened the floodgates of information and scientific knowledge. The open access movement has been an influential element of this trend, and it has a significant following in the library community among those who believe in removing financial and intellectual barriers for scholarly work. Major funding entities such as the UK’s Research Excellence Framework, the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health have implemented guidelines requiring researchers to include dissemination plans for their data along with their outputs, expanding access to encompass all scientific outputs. A number of libraries are opening up their institutional repositories, allowing the general public to access their research. Several journal publishers are meeting institutions halfway by developing novel payment schemes that are based on region or quantity of outputs. More collaboration is taking place between institutions as they work co-operatively to lower costs within the publication process.

My talk will conclude by mentioning the difficult challenges which have been identified (note that the challenges have been categorised as (1) solvable challenges: those that we understand and know how to solve ; (2) difficult challenges: those that we understand but for which solutions are elusive and (3) wicked challenges: those that are complex to even define, much less address):

  • Capturing and archiving the digital outputs of research as collection material: One of the essential purposes of academic and research libraries has been to collect the outputs of academic research. Traditionally this has consisted of collecting textual, audio, video, and image-based outputs. With the introduction of new digitally-generated materials and processes, research outputs are growing in variety and types of format. It is important for these new digital data sets to be preserved alongside the research derived from them for future use and in longitudinal studies, but this presents a perpetual challenge for library acquisition and archiving practices as formats continue to evolve. The shift to new materials and processes has not only affected how material is
    captured and archived, but also how it is accessed and retrieved by other researchers and the general public.
  • Competition from alternative avenues of discovery: Before the rise of the Internet, libraries were widely perceived as the ultimate gateways to
    knowledge. However according to a faculty survey conducted by Ithaka S+R, the information gateway function of the library is declining. Wikipedia, contains nearly five million content articles and over 33 million pages and although sceptics caution that Wikipedia is not a credible resource for academic research and writing projects the sheer number of registered users (21.5 million) indicates a shift in where people are going for information, for convenience and ease of use. Online environments such as Google Scholar and the Web of Knowledge curate data from multiple sources. Academic and research libraries are in the difficult position of having to compete with these channels. However rather than regarding such trends as a concerns for libraries, some library organisations are using the changing environment as an opportunity to adapt and even partner with these platforms.

I’d welcome your thoughts on technological trends which will be important for libraries in the short term; trends driving technology adoption in the medium term and the difficult challenges which impede technology adoption.

Or course if you’d like to make other comments, ask questions or would like to suggest, and perhaps even provide answers, for the wicked challenges facing libraries, feel free to make them!

Note that the slides to be used at the talk are available on Slideshare and embedded below.


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Why Don’t We Share More Multimedia Support Materials?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 October 2014

“Why do so few organisations live-stream their events?”

John Popham's Facebook postI came across two interesting posts in my Facebook stream earlier today. In the first post John Popham, a digital storyteller posed the questionwhy do so few organisations live-stream their events?” As illustrated, John provided an accompanying image which illustrated how live-streaming can nowadays be carried out using a smartphone which many of us will now carry.

Back in March 2011 I asked a similar question. In a post about a Seminar on “Mobile Technologies: Why Library Staff Should be Interested” which I published shortly after giving the seminar to University of Bath library staff I explained how:

As well as describing how I use mobile devices (in particular the iPod Touch) the seminar also provided an ideal opportunity to demonstrate various uses of mobile technologies. This included:

I received the following feedback on the live video stream:

  • 11:26  anonymous: Hi Brian!  Bir jerky on the video, audio is fine. :)
  • 11:26  working pretty well brian: Yeah a bit jerky now
  • 11:27  itsme: video jerky audio good
  • 11:27  lescarr: Quality of video & audio very good. It does halt sometimes.
  • 11:27  mhawksey: audio is great, vid a bit jerky cam keeps refocusing
  • 11:29  Jo Alcock: Audio OK – video a bit jerky (but my connection isn’t very good here)
  • 11:30  Jo Alcock: Started watching it on iPad (through Twitter app), works well but moved to desktop now to enable chat
  • 11:30  Nicola: As tweeted: Audio good, video patchy at first but now pretty good – bit blurry but very much what you’d expect from a phone and v. acceptable #bathlib
  • 11:33  working pretty well brian: Video fairly patchy – Mahendra, Audio ok

In addition Ann Priestly (@annindk) an information professional currently working in Denmark) commented:

Watched yr seminar over lunch – thanks! Quality just fine, thinking ROI must be good for these quick sessions

It was interesting to note how Ann had picked up on the return on investment benefits which can be gained from such informal approaches to sharing talks with a wider audience, beyond those who are physically present. Such recordings of talks will enable local staff who weren’t able to be present to be able to view talks which have been recorded using simple mobile technologies. In addition, there are typically no additional costs for sharing such recordings with others.  A great ROI, especially for those who wish to promote open educational practices. And as academic librarians are likely to be involved in promoting the benefits of use of open access research publications it would seem to be a natural extension to promote the benefits of other aspects of openness.

What about sharing screencasts?

Guus van den Brekel's Facebook postI mentioned that I came across two interesting updates in my Facebook stream this morning. The second Guus van den Brekel provided “A few useful tips on the use of Google Scholar for work or study in a short video” with a link to an accompanying video recording hosted on YouTube. The video was a screencast lasting 3 minutes 44 seconds which showed Guus demonstrating some of the benefits of Google Scholar. Although I make use of Google Scholar I admit that I learnt something from this, so I am grateful for Guus sharing this not only with staff and students at his host institution, the University Medical Center Groningen, but for making it freely available to everyone and, specifically, sharing it with his Facebook friends. In addition to viewing the video on YouTube, it is also embedded below.

What are the barriers?

What are the answers to the question John Popham posed: “why do so few organisations live-stream their events?” And to broaden the questions slightly: “why don’t more institutions provide screencasts about use of popular services which are freely available to everyone?

Some possible reasons include:

  •  The costs of providing live streaming, video recordings and screencasts.
  • Concerns over the legal implications of publishing multimedia resources (e.g. privacy, data protection, etc.)
  • Concerns over potential copyright infringements (i.e. including of copyrighted user interfaces)
  • Concerns over being seen to make mistakes, which may be accepted in real-life presentations.
  • A belief that institutions should be making money from their intellectual activities.
  • A feeling that there are others who could make better multimedia resources.
  • A concern that multimedia resources which are created may not be used.
  • It’s not our job!

What other barriers may there be? Feel free to add a comment  to this post or participate in the poll given at the bottom of this post.

Is ILI providing opportunities for sharing multimedia resources?

Coincidentally I have just received an email related to next week’s ILI 2014 conference. The email describes the ‘ILI App – Your conference app with your conference content’. The email goes on to invite ILI participants to submit multimedia summaries of work which is relevant to the ILI conference:

Just send or bring along some information you think would be relevant to any of the ILI 2014 conference tracks. This may take the form of something you have written, an image or two, or perhaps a short video or audio file which relates to your work. Email it to us or visit us at the ‘ILI app’ tabletop in the Sponsor Showcase. If you give us a title and a brief description of what you did and the impact it had (100-150 words max), plus whatever visual or audio content you want to share – we will add it into the app. Once we have uploaded it, your contribution and that of all your peers, will be shared in real time to the app.

Perhaps this may provide an opportunity to create a multimedia resource. And, if you’re not attending ILI 2014, why not share it with your peers, as an open resource for other librarians?


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New Developments for ILI 2014

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 October 2014

ILI – the Internet Librarian International conference series

Some time ago I was asked if I would be a ‘blog partner’ for the ILI (Internet Librarian International) conference.  I was happy to do that last year and again this year for ILI 2014.

In a report on last year’s event I described ILI as my favourite library conference. I am attending the event again this year – and it seems the conference organisers are not resting on their laurels but are implementing a number of new features for the event this year, as highlighted in the screenshot.

Developments at ILI 2014As described by the event organisers these innovations include “Internet Librarian International’s X Track,
a brand new collaborative space for meeting, co-creating, learning
and problem-solving in a buzzing, fun and hands-on environment“. As illustrated the page goes on to add that “ X Track promises a new and different experience, comprising discussion, get-togethers and hands-on trials, alongside access to experts to help you resolve issues within your own professional environment“.

The X Track sessions include the ILI Unconference, five’sharing sessions‘ (short, informal presentations with a chance to chat to the presenters), the ‘ILI conference App‘ (which is described as a ‘co-created conference experience’), the ‘ILI selfie booth‘ (take selfies with fellow delegates and post on social media) and the  ‘Borrow an Expert sessions‘ (in which participants can spend 15 minutes with an expert through a ‘borrowing’ scheme which provides opportunity for a one-to-one meeting with a library and information specialist).

I am taking part in the ‘Borrow an Expert’ sessions which include:

  • Ask Phil Bradley about social media tools and search techniques.
  • Meet Sindy Grewal, an expert career coach and knowledge management expert.
  • Talk to conference co-chair Marydee Ojala about search.
  • Ask Jan Holmquist about community engagement, gamification, communities and collaboration.
  • Learn how Donna Saxby nurtured the career of style icon and reading champion @realbatgirl.
  • Find out from Brian Kelly how librarians can engage with Wikipedia, including how to update – and even create – articles.

These X Track sessions take place across the two days of the ILI conference, which runs on 21-22 October 2014. In addition to the X Track there are a wide range of more conventional sessions on Tuesday 21 October and Wednesday 22 October.

I hope to see some of you there. And if you are attending, do you fancy taking a selfie with me – there’s a prize for the best photo uploaded to social media!


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An Exemplar Use of Lanyrd (and a Proposal for Creating Lanyrd Entries)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 October 2014

Looking Back at Lanyrd

Back in November 2010 I wrote a post on Developments to the Lanyrd Service two months after the service had been launched. I described how commentators had described the Lanyrd “uses Twitter to tell you which conferences, workshops and such your friends are attending or speaking at. You can add and track events” and highlighted some planned developments: “ soon you’ll be able to export your events as iCal or into your Google calendar … Soon, too, you’ll be able to add sessions, slides, and videos“.

The following week after my initial experimentation I gave some Further Thoughts on Lanyrd. I cited Graham Attwell’s comments that “The site is very open. Anyone is free to add and edit on the wikipedia shared knowledge principle.

Such openness can lead to risks: the wiki approach taken by Lanyrd which allows anyone to create and update Lanyrd entries would appear to be prone to misuse and vandalism. In the post I described how information [is available] on Lanyrd about the forthcoming Online Information 2010 conference – and looking at that entry today it seems clear that the entry has not suffered from vandalism.

In May 20012 I asked Why Would You Not Use #Lanyrd For Your Event? and three months later described how Lanyrd Gets Even Better … following the announcement that:

We’re now inviting event organisers to claim their event listings on Lanyrd. Claiming an event is free and claimed events gain access to useful additional features including event descriptions, advanced schedule editing and the ability to embed schedule and speaker information on another website.

My post did add a caveat, though as it went on to ask But Can It Provide The Main Event Web Site? and asked questions about the financial viability of the company. A few hours after publishing the post I received a response from Simon Willison, who established the company:

Our company is actually up to seven people now – we’ve spent much of the past year growing our team and building out important parts of the service such as our mobile apps (for iPhone and Mobile Web). We haven’t come close to spending the money we’ve raised though – expect to hear a lot more from us soon on the revenue side of things.

I share your concern about the longevity of conference data – that was actually one of the things that inspired us to create Lanyrd in the first place: we were frustrated that so many conference websites vanished 6 months after the event. We have no intention of contributing to that problem ourselves, and it’s an issue that has a strong effect on our decision making.

That response reassured me. The news on 3 September 20013 that Lanyrd [had] acquired by Eventbrite also seemed positive as the acquisition by an online event management company appeared to nicely complement Lanyrd’s role. I have continued to make use of Lanyrd and would encourage others to use it.

1:AM: the First Altmetrics Conference as an Exemplar Use of Lanyrd

Annotated Lanyrd entry for 1AM conferenceIn a post I published on Monday on #1amconf, Altmetrics and Raising the Visibility of One’s Research I highlighted a number of aspects of the 1:AM Altmetrics conference which were of particular interest to me and mentioned the event’s Lanyrd entry as a way of finding further information about the conference including links to reports, video recordings of talks and access to speakers’ slides which may still be being added to.

I was pleased with the way on which Lanyrd page has developed since I created it, a day or so before the conference started.

My contribution to the entry was primarily to create the page, add event details which were provided on the main conference web site, create the schedule for the two days, using the session names and times provided on the schedule page on the conference web site and add the speaker IDs, where that could be easily found.

The Lanyrd entry was announced on Twitter during the event and may also have been mentioned in the concluding session.

Over the weekend additional links to coverage for the event were added by others, which included speakers’ slides (typically hosted on Slideshare), video recordings of the talks (typically hosted on YouTube), reports on the various talks and links to Twitter archives. There are also links to photos from the conference, which is currently based on a Google image search for the conference hashtag. The photos also includes an image of the poster I displayed at the conference.

What Benefits Does This Provide?

Since a conference web site already exists for the conference it might be asked “What benefits does a Lanyrd entry provide?

I think having a Lanyrd entry for an event can provide a number of benefits:

  • Marketing: Hosting information about an event on a popular service provides additional marketing opportunities for the event.
  • Access on mobile devices: Lanyrd is mobile-friendly so having the event’s timetable available on Lanyrd will allow participants to easily read the timetable on their mobile device, even if the main event web site is not optimised for mobile use.
  • Ease of content creation: Lanyrd’s wiki-style approach to adding relevant links can avoid the content maintenance bottleneck which may be encountered when only conference organisers can update the event web site.
  • Raising visibility of speakers: Profile pages for speakers can help to raise their visibility.
  • Providing historical information for events: It is possible to create Lanyrd entries for previous events, thus providing a historical context and potentially enabling trends to more easily detected. For example Lanyrd entries are available for all 18 of the IWMW events with detailed information available since IWMW 2006. Such historical information might also be useful in enhancing the preservation of digital resources for events and the event’s collective memory.
  • Aggregation of related events: Related events can be aggregated in a Lanyrd guide, thus providing those with an interest in a particular area with a simple way of accessing relevant events. For example see the guides for learning analytics and UCISA conferences as well as the IWMW guide mentioned previously.

There are, however, also risks in making use of Lanyrd. Such risks include:

  • Views of the event organiser: Event organisers may feel that they own the information about an event and would not want the information to be reused by others.
  • Duplication of resources: A reason for not wanting a Lanyrd page to be created is that resources (such as details of talks) may be replicated.
  • Changes to content: Replication of content may be of particular concern if the content changes, such as speakers cancelled, timings of talks changed. changes to the location, etc.
  • Private or invitation-only events: It may also be felt to be inappropriate to create a Lanyrd entry for a private event or one for which only invited participants may attend.
  • Content ‘hijacking’: In addition to concerns regarded appropriate use of Lanyrd, event organisers may also have concerns regarding inappropriate use, such as deliberately incorrect or misleading information being provided for vexatious reasons.

In a way such concerns are not new – there have been concerns in the past regarding creating of web sites, Facebook pages, etc. by third parties. In addition Wikipedia articles are expected to be created and maintained by those who have a neutral point of view.

A Proposed Approach for Creating Lanyrd Entries for Events

There are dangers that the concerns could lead to inaction, leading to a failure to reap the benefits which use of Lanyrd can provide. In order to avoid this risk the following approach for creating Lanyrd entries for events is proposed.

Be bold! image (from Wikipedia)

Be bold! image (from Wikipedia)

Key principle: Be bold! This approach is taken from Wikipedia, which states that “The Wikipedia community encourages users to be bold when updating the encyclopedia. Wikis like ours develop faster when everybody helps to fix problems, correct grammar, add facts, make sure wording is accurate, etc. We would like everyone to be bold and help make Wikipedia a better encyclopedia.

Create information for Lanyrd entries at an ‘appropriate’ level of detail: It can be useful to create entries for each session at an event and provide the title, abstract, time and location. However simply creating the entry with a title and time is normally sufficient as this is all that is needed if you wish to be able to associate reports, tweets, photos, etc. for a particular session. Such an approach also minimises the risks of changes to the times and locations.

Be willing to share ownership to others: Lanyrd entries can be ‘claimed’ and, once claimed, others can be granted administrative permissions to the entry.

Be prepared to write-off work: This is also taking from the Wikipedia advice: “Don’t get upset if your bold edits get reverted“. In the case of Lanyrd entries, if event organisers complain about an entry which has been created you may need to be prepared to delete the entry

Encourage event participants to add their details and add links

Ensure that Lanyrd users are aware of ways they can be alerted to other events of interest and ways in which these alerts can be managed.

These suggestions relate to the creation of Lanyrd entries for events organised by others.

Encourage event organisers to create Lanyrd entries for their events: The benefits which Lanyrd can provide to the various stakeholders (event organisers, speakers, participants and others with an interest in the event) can be more easily achieved if event organisers are pro-active in creating a Lanyrd entry.

Encourage event participants to add their content (photos, trip reports, etc) to the Lanyrd entry: Event participants may not be aware that Lanyrd can provide an environment in which user content related to an event can be easily provided and thus discovered.

Encourage event speakers and participants to add their details to the Lanyrd event entry: Adding an identify (normally Twitter) can enable event participants to more easily discover each other and grow their professional network. In addition providing information about the events you attend will enable you to receive personalised alerts about relevant events based on your interests and events you attend together with the events your peers attend

Lanyrd email notificationsEncourage Lanyrd users to understand how they can configure their account to maximise the benefits: Encourage Lanyrd users to understand how email notifications can be managed or disabled (as illustrated) if they are concerned about information overload.

Your Thoughts?

Is this an appropriate approach for encouraging greater use of the Lanyrd service? I’d welcome your thoughts.


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Posted in Events | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

#1amconf, Altmetrics and Raising the Visibility of One’s Research

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 September 2014

1:AM, the First Altmetrics Conference

Lanyrd entry for 1:AM altmetrics -conferenceAs described in a post entitled , the 1:AM conference, the first dedicated altmetrics conference took place in London last week.

This was a fascinating conference, with lively discussion taking place at the conference and on the #1amconf Twitter back channel.

The conference embraced event amplification technologies, with a number of remote speakers giving their talks using Google Hangouts and all of the plenary talks being live-streamed and made available on the conference’s YouTube channel.

With so much discussion taking place across a range of channels I created a Lanyrd entry for the conference and publicised it on the final day of the conference.

I’m pleased to say that many of the participants and event organisers used the Lanyrd page to provide access to the various reports on the sessions, access to slides used by the speakers and video recordings of the talks, photos of the event and archives of the discussions and arguments which took place on Twitter: at the time of writing links have been added to 35 separate resources.

Altmetrics as an Indicator of Quality or of Interest?

On the first morning of opening day of the conference in particular there were lively discussions on the value of altmetrics with Professor David Colquhoun (@David_Colquhoun) in particular being scathing in his criticisms:

To show that trivialises and corrupts science is to look at high scoring papers

The blog post on Why you should ignore altmetrics and other bibliometric nightmares mentioned in this tweet generated much discussion on the blog and elsewhere. For those with an interest in this area I recommend reading the post and the follow-up comments, such as this response from Euan Adie, founder of the Altmetric.com company:

Hi David. Thanks for writing the post! I founded Altmetric.com. I think you and Andrew have some fair points, but wanted to clear up the odd bit of confusion.

I think your underlying point about metrics is fair enough (I am happy to disagree quietly!). You’re conflating metrics, altmetrics and attention though.

Before anything else, to be absolutely, completely clear: I don’t believe that you can tell the quality of a paper from numbers (or tweets). The best way to determine the quality of a paper is to read it. I also happen to agree about post publication review and that too much hype harms science. 

Euan concluded his comment by providing a link to his post which suggested that those with interests in the impact of scientific research to Broaden your horizons: impact doesn’t need to be all about academic citations.

The consensus at the conference seemed to be that the view (perhaps based on misunderstandings)  that altmetrics would provide an alternative to citation analysis to determine the quality of research and should determine how research should be funding is no longer widely accepted; instead altmetrics are regarded as being complementary to citation data and can provide a broader picture, especially of how research is being discussed and debated.

Raising the Visibility of One’s Research: Kudos

In discussions with other participants I heard how the view that researchers (and funders of research) had responsibilities for raising the visibility of their research is becoming accepted: the view that only one’s peers need be interested in the research was felt to be no longer relevant. “We need to be seen to be able to justify funding for research“was one comment I heard.

Back in March 2012 in a post on Marketing for Scientists Martin Fenner made a similar point:

Scientists may feel uncomfortable about marketing their work, but we all are doing it already. We know that giving a presentation at a key meeting can be a boost for our career, and we know about the importance of maintaining an academic homepage listing our research interests and publications. And people reading this blog will understand that a science blog can be a powerful marketing tool.

But if researchers are now accepted the need to raise the visibility of their research, the question then is what tools can they use to support this goal?

The Kudos dashboardThe session on Altmetrics in the last year and what’s on the roadmap provided brief summaries about altmetrics application including talks about  Altmetric, Plum Analytics, Impactstory, PLOS, Mendeley, Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association and Kudos.

Kudos was the one tool which was new to me. A recent post which describes how Kudos Integrates Altmetric Data to Help Researchers see Online Dissemination of Articles summarised the aim of the service:

Kudos is a new service designed to help scholars and their institutions increase the impact of their published research articles. Altmetric tracks and collates mentions of research articles on social media, blogs, news outlets and other online sources. This integration means mentions are now incorporated on the Kudos metrics pages for individual authors, and accompanied by a short summary which further details the number of mentions per source. Each article is assigned a score based on the amount of attention it has received to date, and authors are able to click through to see a sample of the original mentions of their article.

I have created an account on Kudos. I was able to quickly claim many of my research papers. As can be seen from the screenshot of the dashboard  a number of my papers already have an Altmetric score, which is defined as “a reflection of the amount of interest your publication has attracted across news outlets and social media“.

Altmetric score for paper on "Accessibility 2.0: Next Steps for Web Accessibility"My paper on Accessibility 2.0: Next Steps for Web Accessibility, for example, has an Altmetrics score of 6. If I wanted to raise the visibility and impact of the paper the Kudos tool allows me to:

Explain: Explain your work and tell readers what it’s about and why it’s important.

Enrich: Enrich your publication by adding links to related materials.

Share: Share a link to your publication by email and social media.

Measure: Measure the impact on your publication performance.

Raising the Visibility of One’s Research: Wikipedia

Wikimedia and Metrics posterIn a recent post entitled Wikimedia and Metrics: A Poster for the 1:AM Altmetrics Conference I described the metrics for Wikipedia articles which may provide indications of the effectiveness of the outreach of the article. The post summarised a poster which was displayed at the conference and which is shown in this post.

As may be shown by usage metrics, Wikipedia can provide a mechanism for raising the visibility of topics described in Wikipedia articles, which can include articles based on research work.

It would appear that Kudos and Wikipedia both provide mechanisms for enhancing interest in research work. But these two tools provide contrasting approaches to the way they support such dissemination work.

With Kudos, authors of research papers are expected to provide summaries of their work. by (a) adding a short title to the publication to help make it easier to find and can help increase citations; (b) adding a simple, non-technical explanation of your publication will make it easier to find, and more accessible to a broader audience and (c) adding an explanation of what is most unique and/or timely about your work, and the difference it might make, will help increase readership.

In contrast, content added to Wikipedia should be provided based on the fundamental principles of Wikipedia , known as the five pillars. In brief:

  1. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia: It combines many features of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers. Wikipedia is not a soapbox, an advertising platform, a vanity press, an experiment in anarchy or democracy, an indiscriminate collection of information, or a web directory.
  2. Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view: We strive for articles that document and explain the major points of view, giving due weight with respect to their prominence in an impartial tone. We avoid advocacy and we characterize information and issues rather than debate them.
  3. Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute: Since all editors freely license their work to the public, no editor owns an article and any contributions can and will be mercilessly edited and redistributed. Respect copyright laws, and never plagiarize from sources.
  4. Editors should treat each other with respect and civility: Respect your fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree. Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and don’t engage in personal attacks. Seek consensus, avoid edit wars, and never disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point.
  5. Wikipedia has no firm rules: Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, but they are not carved in stone; their content and interpretation can evolve over time. Their principles and spirit matter more than their literal wording, and sometimes improving Wikipedia requires making an exception.

The second of these principles,  which expects Wikipedia articles to be written from a neutral point of view, will be the most challenging for researchers who would like to use Wikipedia to raise the visibility of their research to a wider audience. One of three core content policies for Wikipedia articles is that, content should be provided from a neutral point of view – and it will be difficult to do this if you wish to publish or cite content based on one’s own research. Another challenge for researchers is a second core content policy  which states that Wikipedia articles must not contain original research.

What Is To Be Done?

Perhaps a simple approach which could be made by open researchers who are willing to share their experiences openly would be ensure that initial desktop research  which typically may be used as a literature review is used to support existing articles.

However the bigger challenge is to address the tensions between the funders’ requirement to ensure that research they fund is widely disseminated and exploited by others and Wikipedia’s requirement for neutrality.

In a recent post on Links From Wikipedia to Russell Group University Repositories I highlighted similar challenges for universities which may be tempted to seek to exploit the SEO benefits which links from Wikipedia to instituional web pages may provide.

In the blog post I cited an article from the PR community who had recognised the dangers that PR companies can be easily tempted to provide links to clients’ web sites for similar reasons. In response to concerns raised by the Wikipedia community Top PR Firms Promise[d] They Won’t Edit Clients’ Wikipedia Entries on the Sly. The article,which is hosted on Wikipedia, describes the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms . The following statement was issued in 10 June 2014:

On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge thattheprior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationshipwiththe community of Wikipedia editors.Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfill its mission of developing anaccurate andobjective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:

  • To seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • To act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to “conflict of interest.”
  • To abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.
  • To the extent we become aware of potential violations of Wikipedia policies by our respective firms, to investigate the matter and seek corrective action, as appropriate and consistent with our policies.
  • Beyond our own firms, to take steps to publicize our views and counsel our clients and peers to conduct themselves accordingly.

We also seek opportunities for a productive and transparent dialogue with Wikipedia editors, inasmuch as we can provide accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable information that helps Wikipedia better achieve its goals.

A significant improvement in relations between our two communities may not occur quickly or easily, but it is our intention to do what we can to create a long-term positive change and contribute toward Wikipedia’s continued success.

Might research councils and other funders of research find it useful to embrace similar principles? And is there a role for research librarians and others with responsibilities for supporting members of the research community in developing similar guidelines which will help ensure that researchers make use of Wikipedia in a way which supports the Wikipedia principles which have helped to ensure that the encyclopedia is regarded as a valuable source of information?


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Analytics Events: For Learning and For Research

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 September 2014

Moves Towards Analysis of Data

I suspect I am not alone in finding that my interests and activities in my professional life no longer focus primarily on digital content but now encompass data. There are two events taking place over then next four weeks which may be of interest to those with interests in the analysis of data to support learning and research.

The SoLAR Flare Event

The EU-funded LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project is organised a one-day event which will be held at the Open University on 24 October 2014.

As described on the event booking web site:

SoLAR Flare eventThis is a networking gathering for everyone interested in learning analytics. Under the auspices of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) and organized by Europe’s Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE), this event forms part of an international series. SoLAR Flares provide opportunities to learn what’s going in learning analytics research and practice, to share resources and experience, and to forge valuable new connections.

SoLAR defines learning analytics as ‘the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs’. The LACE project is working to promote knowledge exchange and increase the evidence base in this field, so that analytics can be used effectively in a wide range of educational settings, including schools, higher education, workplace learning and within MOOCs.
We therefore invite technology specialists, teachers, researchers, educators, ICT purchasing decision-makers, senior leaders, business intelligence analysts, policy makers, funders, students, and companies to join us in Milton Keynes.

 The event is free to attend, so I suggest that you sign up quickly in order to guarantee a place.

1:AM: The First Altmetrics Conference

On Thursday and Friday of this week 1:AM London, the first altmetrics conference is taking place at the Welcome Collection, London.

1:am ALtmetris conferenceAlthough the conference is fully-subscribed the conference organisers are seeking to maximise engagement through event amplification. As described on the event blog:

Can’t make the conference in person, or missed out on a delegate place? Fear not! Along with a blog write up of each session, we’ll be live-tweeting on the #1amconf hashtag, and live streaming on our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/altmetricsconference

Note that a Twubs archive for the event hashtag is available.

As illustrated in the screenshot the conference progamme begins with a review of recent altmetrics activities followed by a session on how people are currently using altmetrics. Further sessions on the first day cover research communications, ethical implications of research involving social media, impact assessment in the funding sector: the role of altmetrics and uses of metrics within institutions.

The sessions on the second day cover altmetrics and publishers, lessons learnt, tracking other research outputs, update on standards and a group workshop session to review activity around altmetrics to date, and to propose ideas for future development.

I will be representing Wikimedia UK at the conference and will present a poster on Wikimedia and Metrics.

Are You Attending?

In a recent post I summarised the benefits of Using Twitter to Meet New People on the Way to Conferences. If you are attending either of these events and would be interested in making contact with others you may find the Lanyrd entry for these events of interest. Simply go to the Learning Analytics SoLAR Flare Event in UK or the 1:AM London Lanyrd entries and either track the events of interest or register yourself as a participant or speaker.

As I’ve found with the IWMW event series, the details for the 40 speakers, 59 attendees and 15 people who tracked the IWMW 2013 event can help to identify key members of a community of practice with shared interests. Use of Lanyrd may help, I feel, to support the community of open practitioners who have interests in learning analytics and altmetrics.


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Guest Post: Reflections on IWMW 2014 from the University of Edinburgh

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 September 2014

In a recent guest post on this blog Mike McConnell described how the IWMW event  “is much loved by its community and reflects a collegiate and resolutely non-commercial mindset that was once taken for granted in HE” and went on to explain how the key theme for the IWMW 2014 event  was “The Year It Went From Web To Digital” and describe how there was “an unapologetic focus of the user as customer and repeated references to ‘product’ and the user experience“.

Mike was not the only participant to find this year’s event a stimulating experience which provided new insights into institutional developments.  Neil Allison, a speaker at this year’s event, attended along with a number of his colleagues from Edinburgh University. In his report on the event Neil described how “my big takeaway was the need for organisational change and executive-level buy-in to truly bring about digital transformation“. Neil, together with his colleagues Aldona GosnellMartin MorreySteven RossStratos Filalithis  and Bruce Darby have summarised their reflections on the event on the University of Edinburgh’s University Website Programme  blog. They have kindly agreed that a slightly modified version of the post can be republished here.


Higher ed web managers conference write up – Neil Allison

Last month a small group of colleagues from across the University of Edinburgh attended IWMW 2014,  the annual web managers conference held, this year, in Newcastle. I asked everyone to answer three quick questions to give you a snapshot of what they thought of the event.

The Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) has been running for nearly 20 years now and I’ve been attending (most years) since joining the University Website Programme in 2006. This is probably the largest turnout by Edinburgh staff (apart possibly from 2012 when we hosted) and definitely the highest number of contributors with myself and Martin Morrey giving plenary talks, while Bruce Darby ran a workshop.

Blog posts on my talk at this year’s IWMW and Martin Morrey and Neil’s preview of their IWMW 2014 presentations have been published previously on the University Website Programme  blog.

As ever, the IWMW event provided a Lanyrd site to capture slides, write ups and various thoughts from contributors and attendees. I recommend you explore the resources, perhaps steered by the additional comments of colleagues which are included below.

Quick conference write ups

I asked colleagues who attended to answer three quick questions:

  1. Why did you decide to attend the conference?
  2. What was the best presentation or session?
  3. What was the big trend or takeaway point you took from the conference?

The responses from my colleagues are included below.

Aldona Gosnell

Ross Ferguson at IWMW 2014My reason for attending the IWMW conference was mostly to keep my eyes open and to listen. Not under any pressure to deliver my own presentation or sell a product, I had the luxury of not having to worry too much about what to say, and the freedom to explore whatever caught my interest. The truth is that we (the CHSS Web Team) don’t get a chance to stop and look around very often.

It is hard to choose one talk out of the many expertly delivered and entertaining IWMW presentations this year. Perhaps the one that rung particularly true for me was “Using the Start-up playbook to reboot a big University Website” by Ross Ferguson (University of Bath) as I have a long standing interest in both start-ups and big university websites. To some extent it echoed the agile processes developed in my team – especially  “release iteratively and often” and “provide ongoing support”.

I had my eyes open for any signs of the agile trend. I discovered that some of the delegates held the official SCRUM accreditation. It was interesting to meet with an official “Scrum Master” – Edele Gromley – and her team from the University of Kent. We have been trying to find our feet in the agile world for some time and come up with a successful recipe for the right balance between planning, doing and documenting.  Had I been less worried about making a nuisance of myself, I would have asked her outright – do you really have the everyday stand-up 15-minute meeting, and is that working for you guys?

Aldona is the Web Team Manager at the College of Humanities and Social Science. See Aldona’s staff profile and the HSS Web Team blog.

Martin Morrey

Martin Morrey and colleagues at IWMW 2014 conference

Martin’s answers to the questions posed by Neil are:

  1. I was speaking (!) + It’s the best way to find out what the rest of sector is doing.
  2. Ross Ferguson.  Reminded me that you can achieve change quickly if you are determined/stubborn/insensitive enough!  Also, Paul Boag on Digital Transformation.
  3. Digital Transformation.  Rethink digital experience from scratch, and from the point of view of the end-user.

Martin is the Manager of the Web Integration Team in Information Services, with responsibility for portal, web development, and graphic design services.

Steven Ross

This was the first IWMW I had attended so wasn’t sure what to expect. I hoped it would be an opportunity to gain insight into industry best practice and also a chance to pick the brains of others facing similar challenges. It’s too easy to become stuck in your institutional ways, so a reminder that others face and address similar challenges, was revitalising.

The theme that weaved its way through many diverse presentations was digital transformation.  To meet our users’ needs, we need to enable digital teams to function beyond organisational bureaucracy and dated processes. It’s clear that without organisational belief in the value of digital, we will continue to be perceived as facilitating the vision of others, rather the driver that brings improvement and keeps pace with fast evolving user demands.

Ross Ferguson’s presentation encapsulated these points well and unsurprisingly grabbed peoples’ attention. He countered the challenges we all face by presenting a brave new world where digital teams possess all the building blocks and resources required to deliver user focused services and products. Being able to quickly deliver and iterate products gives credence to this approach and generates confidence within the organisation and management.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Bath to see if the rhetoric rings true.

Steven is the Senior Digital Marketing Officer in Communications and Marketing.

Stratos Filalithis

As this was the first time I have attended the IWMW 2014 conference, my goal was to listen, learn and engage with people working within the UK Higher Education. It was a very nice opportunity to understand how common challenges are dealt in other institutions, as well as to understand different solutions or approaches to similar problems. All IWMW presentations were interesting and I was really happy that they covered an area of themes rather than focusing on a specific subjects.

I think that the presentation by Ross Ferguson (Head of the Digital team at the University of Bath), titled “Using the Start-up playbook to reboot a big University Website” really stood out, and was probably a taste of things to come on how to govern websites and digital services in general.

What was even more interesting was the following ‘birds of feathers‘ session around web governance itself where interesting conversations around how centralised and devolved models address the issue. It was apparent that there isn’t a magic solution as teams are structured in a way to suit each institution’s philosophy, business or organisational structure, while it’s too difficult to make radical changes even though they might directly fulfil their needs. It was really an optimistic touch, though, that there are initiatives, like the one at the University of Bath, which can rock the boat of web governance in UK Higher Education, if successful.

These are, certainly, interesting times and IWMW 2014 showcased the amount of change around us.

Stratos is the CMS Service Manager at the University Website Programme.

Bruce Darby

I’d heard a lot of good things about the IWMW conference but the main reason for going was that I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what issues other education institutes around the UK were concentrating on and what their approaches were. If you never leave the University to go to conferences there is a real danger you can become institutionalised!

Ross Ferguson’s talk on using start-up techniques to reboot the University of Bath’s website was also the best of great bunch for me. I felt that it was an honest and open presentation about his working practises. He’s implementing some of the things we are setting out to do with the new Drupal CMS project we’re currently working on. Three slides in particular I liked which seemed to say if you are using the agile methodology, which we are, be confident to follow these techniques and approaches through to the end however difficult it can become.

A few statements from the three slides stood out:

  1. Put users’ needs first.
  2. Keep things simple and consistent.
  3. Fail fast and lower risk.

And two final points were ‘too much product’ and ‘burn out’. I took the first to mean that there is lot of pressure to build too much into projects in one go and so ‘burn out’ is the inevitable outcome. If you are aware of this and constantly look out for it then at least that gives you some protection.

What surprised me was that quite a few universities seem to be embracing the term ‘digital’ even going as far as to include it in team and job titles. Paul Boag, who was at the conference, has been saying this for some time. It’s about incorporating digital into everything rather than seeing it something separate with its own strand and strategy.

Bruce is a Project Manager at the University Website Programme.

And finally, my thoughts …

Steven Ross at IWMW 2014 conference

I attended the conference as I think it’s a fantastic forum to network with colleagues in the sector, to learn about what they’re up to; their challenges and successes. The presentations are always varied and typically of a high standard. So great from a professional development and a social point of view. I always follow up with a few people via email or Twitter afterwards and end up with a new reading list and a few new people I can call on for an opinion or a bit of help.

Everyone has been talking about Ross Ferguson’s presentations so I will pick on something else – there were a good few excellent sessions besides him. (Martin and I for starters!) I went to a workshop session run by Richard Prowse (coincidentally from the University of Bath) in which he went through the principles of Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) and shared his experiences of trying to implement this with his university’s prospectuses. As I suspected, it’s been a big challenge for Bath, but it sounds like his hard work will pay dividends in the years to come. It’s not the first time I’ve seen Richard speak, and his experiences in the emerging field of content strategy are always worth hearing [or reading – see Richard Prowse’s blog – Content Bear].

My big takeaway was the need for organisational change and executive-level buy-in to truly bring about digital transformation. We web management folk can do great things in our sphere of influence, but there comes a point where you have to accept that to be able to present information and services in a way that really works for the customer, then the culture of the organisation needs to change. This message came across loud and clear in the presentations of Ross Fergusson (on agile development), Paul Boag (on digital adaption) and Tracy Playle (on social media). It was also a major point in my own presentation about user experience.

I’d encourage you all to check out the conference materials available and consider coming along to next year’s conference.


About the authors

The contributors to this guest blog post are:

  • Neil Allison, Head of User Experience, University Website Programme, University of Edinburgh.
  • Aldona Gosnell, the Web Team Manager at the College of Humanities and Social Science, University of Edinburgh.
  • Martin Morrey,  Manager of the Web Integration Team in Information Services, University of Edinburgh.
  • Steven Ross, the Senior Digital Marketing Officer, Communications and Marketing, University of Edinburgh.
  • Stratos Filalithis, the CMS Service Manager at the University Website Programme, University of Edinburgh.
  • Bruce Darby, a Project Manager at the University Website Programme, University of Edinburgh.

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IWMW 2014: The Evaluation

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 August 2014

Background

The 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2014, was held at Northumbria University on 16-18th July 2014. This was a relaunch of the annual event which began in 1997: following the cessation of Jisc’s funding for UKOLN it was not clear if IWMW 2013 would be the final event for those with responsibilities for managing institutional Web services. However thanks to the support of Netskills and Cetis I was able to relaunch the event, which this year had the theme “IWMW 2.014: Rebooting the Web” .

Feedback

The relaunched event provided greater focus on the work which is being taken across the sector in Web management teams, with two of the morning sessions covering institutional case studies. The session on the opening afternoon provided perspectives from outside the sector and the session on looking to the future provided two talks which were based on insights provided by data associated with existing use of Web services.

When significant changes to an established service such as the IWMW event are introduced it will be important to ensure that users of the service are provided with an opportunity to give their feedback on the changes, the organisation of the event, the talks and parallel sessions and the social events which aimed to provide opportunities for developing one’s professional networks. An online survey form was provided and a summary of the responses is given below.

Overall Feedback

IWMW 2014: evaluation of event organisationIWMW 2014: evaluation of event content In the evaluation form we asked participants to rate the event’s content, organisation and the individual talks and parallel sessions on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent). As can be seen from the accompanying histograms, the scores were very high, with 75% of the respondents giving a rating of excellent for the organisation of the event (the overall rating was 4.7). We were fortunate in being able to make use of Natasha Bishop’s expertise and knowledge of IWMW event (she has been the event manager for about 9 of the previous events).  However most of the local event organisation was carried out by Netskills staff. As someone who worked at Netskills in 1995 when they were first set up and has had dealings with them ever since, I was confident that Dave Hartland and the Netskills team (primarily Steve Boneham, Hanna Miettinen and Phil Swinhoe) would ensure that the event ran smoothly; this turned out to be the case.

I was pleased that the overall rating for the content of this year’s event was also very positive. As can be seen the majority of respondents felt that the content was either excellent or very good, with an overall rating of 4.3.

The comments provided about the event show the value which participants place on the event:

  • Highly recommended, the IWMW event offers the chance to network with colleagues from other higher education institutions across the country. The event is always well attended and you can expect to see a variety of knowledgeable presenters and take part in individual workshops over the course of the 3 days, as well as get the chance go out and socialise and take in some of your surroundings.
  • I found IWMW 2014 to be practical, encouraging, empowering, and enthusiastic. Brilliant opportunity to network with other people in the sector, and learn that you’re not just on your own. Other teams are going through exactly the same things. Definitely the best IWMW conference I’ve been to.
  • Over the years IWMW events have had more positive and direct effect on my career, the working practices of my team, and the University of Aberdeen than any other developmental conferences or activity. The only opportunity for UK HE’s web professionals to gather in person, compare practices and reflect on current challenges. An engaging and thought provoking event that challenges those in the sector to look ahead and see the possibilities as well as the pitfalls.
  • IWMW has been a constant in my working life since 2003. It allows me space to think, to test new ideas and to develop a strong social and professional network. With contacts built through IWMW I can contact folk anywhere across the UK on any one of a number of (often specialist) topics for a useful insight or debate.
  • Should be in the calendar of every web professional in the higher ed sector. Quality sessions, a great community and excellent value for money make it a no-brainer for me. IWMW offers a unique opportunity for digital professionals to come together, share experiences and learn from each.

We also encouraged participants to give their thoughts on the disappoint aspects of the event or ways in which the event could be improved. The comments included:

  • I enjoyed the Hancock museum — dinosaur, grrrr! I found the conference dinner a bit lack lustre, a bit disjointed, but hey!
  • A few more ‘hands-on’ sessions for the more practically minded. Perhaps include a speaker or two from outside the HE domain (though ensuring content is still relevant): Ross Ferguson clearly demonstrated how ‘non-standard’ approaches can reap rewards in the HE sector.
  • Better accommodation — my room was disgustingly dirty and the bed damaged my back. Yuck! Ouch! The food was a bit meh! too.
  • 1. Industry speakers on general web trends and innovations -expensive and not specific to universities but it would be good to look outside. 2. Move away from discussing corporate websites and CMS to DIGITAL, the full picture, the web is everywhere. 3. Get attendee numbers up, best when more people there, more investment and promotion required….tricky I know.
  • Numbers – in terms of attendees and in terms of the sessions volunteered by the community seemed to be down this year. Do we need to work harder through the year to foster the community and bring us together? My feeling is that the mailing lists are a bit tired, and for newer entrants to the sector do they even know they exist? Not sure how I came across the community when I joined Edinburgh in 2006, but I knew nothing about it during my time in Sheffield (1999 – 2003). Would a Linked In group and/or a Twitter hashtag be useful additions to ongoing comms? And more direct calls to the older hands to encourage participation amongst the newer folk? I just think that if we had a more active and open group (or set of groups – you mentioned different streams at the US conference which could be useful) through the year we might end up with a bigger and brighter annual event. (Not that I’m saying the conference isn’t great, because it is and long may it continue!)

Others also commented that they felt the accommodation and conference dinner was disappointing (although some disagreed with this).

The Plenary Talks

It was pleased that all ten of the plenary talks, together with the final panel session were all highly rated, with all speakers receiving an average rating of good, very good or excellent.

The most highly rated plenary speaker was Ross Ferguson, Head of Digital at the University of Bath; 78% thought his talk on “Using the start-up playbook to reboot a big university website ” was Excellent and 22% felt it was Very Good. This was an average of 4.8. Comments on his talk included:

  • Ross was really interesting and I found this talk the most motivational one I attended.
  • Brilliant, fantastic, breath of fresh air and nicely delivered as well.
  • Loved it! He had no need to apologise at the start. I was very encouraged to hear him talk about what we are trying to do at St Andrews.
  • Best presentation – most relevant to how my team are currently working and interesting approach to dealing with some of the University politics/pressures. Would be interested in hearing from other staff who are currently still at gov.uk as its quite transferable to our sector.
  • Every year there is one stand-out talk for me, and this was it for 2014 an inspiration
  • The way it should be: great to see how it can work with the right support form management. Engaging presentation and I’m sure the highlight for most.

Tracy Playe’s talk on “” Why you don’t need a social media plan and how to create one anyway which opened this year’s event was also highly rated: 48% thought it was excellent; 24% felt it was very good; 20% felt it was Good and 8% felt it was poor. This was an average of 4.47 . Comments on her talk included:

  • A great opening session and excellent speaker to kick things off. Lots of opinion, good advice and the theme running throughout was nice. Lovely slides.
  • I loved Tracy’s talk! Couldn’t have hoped for a better speaker to open the event
  • Very relevant and interesting idea. Good practical examples too.
  • Awesome, very relevant.
  • Loved this one, Tracy really knows her stuff!

I should add that an innovation this year was the final panel session in which four experienced web managers from a range of old and new universities and large and small institutions were asked to give their thoughts on the topic “What is our vision for the institutional web and can we implement that vision?” and invite feedback from the audience.

  • Loved this, would have liked to have spent more time on it. Think it’s important that we do so we can always be pushing forward rather than just catching up.
  • Well-stewarded discussion.
  • Some good points. I do wonder about whether it’s possible to have a single vision for the future with the range of institutions in the sector. Would have been good to understand why the panellists had been selected. Presuming you’d want a mix of: old and new unis, big and small, marketing and tech people. Maybe the panel could be a bit bigger. Definitely need to have more of an intro to each panellist so we understand better where they’re coming from
  • I thought Stephen Emmott chaired it well. Good input from those on the panel
  • format worked well, good panel

Parallel Sessions

This year initially eight parallel workshop sessions lasting for 90 minutes  were scheduled, but two of these were cancelled due to lack of numbers. In addition there was a 45 slot for birds-of-a-feather sessions, with the two cancelled workshop sessions being provided as birds-of-a-feather session. As ever, there is more diversity in the feedback for the parallel sessions, with some people finding the session they attend very useful but others finding them too simple; too advanced; not covering the expected area or have other reservations.

  • Despite me being tired, boiling and having a dead battery, I found this talk by Martin Hawksey to be a true eye opener in to Google Apps Script and it’s capabilities. It was pitched at exactly the right level.
  • Excellent session. Very well thought out structure, great interaction, great content. Good talk – interesting exercises. Will make use of this in future.
  • Quite a few parallel sessions – would have been good to attend more than 1!
  • It was very good, It covered something a bit basic so perhaps have more detailed descriptions of what will be covered?
  • Very interesting session presenting the content-led aspect of the technology/content/digital workspace. Confidently and characterfully delivered.

Social Events

The conference dinner took place on the first evening. On the second evening there was a wine reception at the Hancock Museum. The following comments on the social events were received:

  • Drinks overlooked by stuffed animals… nice (especially the giraffe). I’m not averse to the odd pint; but some non-alcohol focused events might have been nice. You also need to get someone to sponsor biscuits/cakes in the coffee breaks!
  • The event itself is the social event, if that makes sense. Anything else is icing on the cake
  • Well organised, friendly
  • I attended the reception at the Great North Museum, which was perfect.
  • Catering at Northumbria University could have been better, though it’s probably on a par with ours! Enjoyed the museum and exploring Newcastle – pleasantly surprised!
  • Event 1: Dinner itself was very nice. The setting was a step down from previous events and I felt that the smaller tables did not lend themselves to the networking of previous years. Nominating a specific venue for after-dinner was a good move and I’m glad many attendees made it to the same location. Event 2: the museum was a lovely venue and well-situated for attendees to then move on to their own preferred activities.
  • Conference dinner was better than expected, pub was very pleasant and walk by the river delightful. Reception at the museum was great.

What Next?

It seems clear that the IWMW 2014 event was successful. However the numbers, with 125 participants, were down slightly on last year’s event and significantly on the peak of 1997 at IWMW 2009. Those who did attend this year’s event (which included a significant number who had not attended previous IWMW events) seemed keen on continuation of the event.

Highedweb 2014But if the event is to continue there will be a need to ensure that it is financially viable, which might include revisiting existing sponsorship arrangements and seeking additional sponsorship opportunities. We will also need to revisit the costs for attending the event which have remaining fixed for a number of years. There is also a need to get feedback on possible changes to the scope and format of the event. Feedback is also being solicited from those who did not attend this year’s event in order to understand the reasons for this.

We are also exploring potential links with other organisations in the UK and beyond who may have interests in exploring ways of engaging with those with responsibilities for providing institutional Web services.

Finally we are also looking at the ways in which support for those providing institutional Web services is being taken in other sectors. This will include an analysis of the content and format of events such as the HighEdWeb conference which is aimed at US university web managers and commercial events such as the J.Boye conferences.

The HighEdWeb 2014 conference is interesting as this year’s event, which takes place on the 18-22 October 2014 , will feature six thematic session tracks, with 70+ presentations by industry leaders; pre- and post-conference half-day, add-on intensive workshops; outstanding keynotes; and a number of social and networking events.

Is this an appropriate model for future IWMW events? Or should we aim to keep the event on a smaller scale which provides opportunities for informal contacts and meetings?

The IWMW: Planning for the Future survey form is now available. Whether you’ve attended several IWMW events, participated for the first time this year or have never attended one of the events we’d love to hear from this. This is your opportunity to help shape the future for the development of IWMW!


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

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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?

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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.

 

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The City and The City: Reflections on the Cetis 2014 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 June 2014

The City and The City

City_and_the_CIty

The City and the City is a novel by China Miéville. As described in Wikipedia the novel “takes place in the cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma. These two cities actually occupy much of the same geographical space, but via the volition of their citizens (and the threat of the secret power known as Breach), they are perceived as two different cities. A denizen of one city must dutifully ‘unsee’ (that is, consciously erase from their mind or fade into the background) the denizens, buildings, and events taking place in the other city – even if they are an inch away.

I read the novel earlier this year. When I saw it in a bookshop over the weekend I thought of the parallels with the Cetis 2014 conference: two plenary talks which occupied the same space but which described the ‘unseeing’ of a shared history.

Cetis 2014: Building the Digital Institution

“lack of knowledge about the history of education and the history of education technology matter”

Phil Richards' keynote talk at Cetis 2014The Cetis 2014 conference, which had the theme Building the Digital Institution: Technological Innovation in Universities and Colleges, took place at the University of Bolton on 17-18 June. As described by Mark Johnson in his blog post about the event the conference “attracted 100 delegates from the UK HE and FE sectors eager to talk about the impact of interoperability, cloud computing, e-books, systems integration and learning analytics“. Mark went on to add that “the conversation has been more eager, imaginative and focused than in previous years. This was helped by the two keynotes“.

Mark was right to draw attention to the two keynotes which opened and closed the conference. After the conference had been opened by Paul Hollins scene-setting presentation, Phil Richards, Chief Innovation Officer at JISC gave the opening plenary talk in which he described “Innovating for the Digital Institution“. The following day Audrey Watters closed the conference with her talk on Un-Fathom-able: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech.

These talks generated much discussion on the Twitter backchannel, during the conference and afterwards. I welcomed both talks for helping to stimulate such discussions but for me, although the two speakers occupied the same physical (the lecture theatre at the University of Bolton) and virtual (the ed-tech development environment) spaces, they seemed to reflect two very different spaces.

Audrey Watters talk on The Hidden History of Ed-Tech provided examples of how the history of technological developments is written by the victors which depicts a misleading picture of the past. As Audrey described in a blog post about her talk:

[this] lack of knowledge about the history of education and the history of education technology matters. 

It matters because it supports a prevailing narrative about innovation — where innovation comes from (according to this narrative, it comes from private industry, that is, not from public institutions; from Silicon Valley, that is, not from elsewhere in the world) and when it comes (there’s this fiercely myopic fixation on the future).

I agree that such things matter. Indeed a year ago I had responsibilities for the preservation of UKOLN’s digital resources which aimed at ensuring that a record of our work in helping the development of the digital environment across the UK’s higher and further education sector was not lost. And since Audrey suggested hat there was a need for multiple recollections of the history of ed-tech developments to be published in order that historians in the future will be better placed to document the history I will provide my thoughts, with links to supporting evidence, on Phil Richards’ plenary talk.

Innovating for the Digital Institution

Phil Richards Cetis talk: outlinePhil Richards’ talk on “Innovating for the Digital Institution” was very useful in summarising Jisc’s plans for innovation in their new environment. Phil explained how the changes were based on the recommendations of the Wilson review. The Wilson Review (PDF format) described how “There is a common view that it has played a pivotal role in the UK as an enabler of innovation and early and widespread adoption of ICT …. There is no comparable body within the UK, and internationally its reputation is outstanding as a strategic leader and partner” and went on to add that “JISC is unique in the UK, providing what many stakeholders have described as a “holistic approach” to the sectors’ needs, from research and innovation, to core services, resources, advice and training“. However the review went on to comment that there had been “some criticism of the breadth and complexity of JISC’s activity, and of its structure, processes and governance arrangements“.

Phil’s slides are available on Slideshare and, as shown in the accompanying images, provided the reasons why Jisc needs to innovate, reflected on the Wilson review and outlined approaches to innovation in the future.

As can be seen from the video recording of the plenary talk it seems that Jisc needs to innovate in order that Jisc will be able to survive as an organisation, since the move to commodity IT means that Jisc will face competitors in the educational technology environment.

Jisc Moves Away from Open Standards

Phil Richards Cetis talk: standardsIn the moves towards reducing the range of activities which Jisc works on Phil highlighted a move away from working with standards, and highlighted the NHS as an example of a sector in which large sums of money had been invested in the development of interoperable systems based on open standards which had failed to deliver.

In the future Jisc will seek to focus on “innovative, successful learning technology without standards” and cited Sugata Mitra’s ‘hole in the wall ‘ work as an example of successful self-organised learning which we should seek to emulate.

This criticism of an standards-based development work was very radical in a Jisc environment in which for Jisc development programmes such as eLib and the DNER/IE, a strong emphasis had always been placed on the importance of open standards.

I should mention that back in 1996 I was a contributor to the eLib standards guidelines and in February 2001 contributed to the Working with the Distributed National Electronic Resource (DNER): Standards and Guidelines to Build a National Resource document (PDF format). In September 1997 in a talk on  talk on Standards in a Digital World: Z39.50, HTML, Java: Do They Really Work? I gave an uncritical summary of the importance of open standards in development programmes. However in June 2005 in a talk on JISC Standards: A Presentation To The JISC I highlighted the potential limitations of open standards.

But using a few slides which are presented to a small audience is, I feel, not an appropriate way to seek to change policies. At the time Jisc made use of posters which contained the slogan: “Interoperability through Open Standards“. Marketing people have a tendency to attempt to reduce complexities to such simple statements. There was a need t help develop a better understanding of the limitations of such views.

Along with colleagues working at UKOLN, CETIS, TechDis, AHDS and OSS Watch we published a number of peer-reviewed papers including “Ideology Or Pragmatism? Open Standards And Cultural Heritage Web Sites” (2003), ” A Standards Framework For Digital Library Programmes” (2005), “A Contextual Framework For Standards” (2006),  “Addressing The Limitations Of Open Standards” (2007) and “Openness in Higher Education: Open Source, Open Standards, Open Access” (2007). The first paper explained how:

The importance of open standards for providing access to digital resources is widely acknowledged. Bodies such as the W3C are developing the open standards needed to provide universal access to digital cultural heritage resources. However, despite the widespread acceptance of the importance of open standards, in practice many organisations fail to implement open standards in their provision of access to digital resources. It clearly becomes difficult to mandate use of open standards if it is well-known that compliance is seldom enforced. Rather than abandoning open standards or imposing a stricter regime for ensuring compliance, this paper argues that there is a need to adopt a culture which is supportive of use of open standards but provides flexibility to cater for the difficulties in achieving this.

This paper was based on the work of the Jisc-funded QA Focus project which ran from 2002-2004. As described in the final report the project was funded by the Jisc to advice Jisc on the conformance regime which should accompany standards documents for Jisc development programmes. The project recommended that rather than mandating conformance with open standards “JISC should mandate that funded projects address QA issues at the start of the project in order to consider potential problems and the most effective method of avoiding them. JISC should also remind projects of the need to implement QA within their workflow, allowing time at each stage to reconsider previous decisions and revise them if necessary

More recently in September 2010 Cetis organised a meeting on the Future of Interoperability Standards. An Ariadne report on the meeting provided the context for the meeting:

In his opening address, JISC CETIS Director Adam Cooper emphasised that the impetus behind this meeting was a sense of growing dissatisfaction amongst many involved in standards development and implementation within education. Where the original intentions of more-or-less formal bodies such as the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers Learning Technology Standards Committee (IEEE LTSC), the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) were laudable, there has been an increasing feeling that the resource put into supporting these standards has not always borne the hoped-for fruit.

A report on the meeting highlighted the issues which had been raised in the position papers presented at the meeting, which included barriers to participation, development and adoption and the importance of supporting an open culture and community engagement in technology development and standardisation:

There is broad agreement that community engagement and openness are key factors in the development of LET standards (Hoel, 2010). Niche software developers, many coming with an open source attitude, have been especially strong advocates for open standards, arguing that their use will enable innovation to flourish. An increasing level of interest and engagement of people from open source communities will naturally drive the standards process to become more “open”. 

The importance of engaging with developers to help validate open standards and provide encouragement in the development on applications and services based on open standards has, in the past, being addressed by Cetis in Cetis ‘code bashes’ (see Engaging Developers in Standards Development; the Cetis Code Bash Approach) and the DevCSI work which was led by UKOLN.

Phil Richards Cetis talk: Standards conclusionsTo conclude, it would appear that Jisc have recognised the arguments which Cetis and UKOLN, along with several other organisations, have been making since 2003: we can’t have an uncritical belief in open standards.

Jisc may well still have to conform with the UK Government’s Open Standards Principles (which is available in PDFMS Word and ODT formats) which states that:

The publication of the Open Standards Principles is a fundamental step towards achieving a level playing field for open source and proprietary software and breaking our IT into smaller, more manageable components

But the emphasis on the value of lightweight standards reflects the advice which the former Innovation Support Centres have provided to Jisc in the past.

What seems to be missing from the new Jisc vision, however, is the community involvement in the open development of further open standards. Perhaps there is an assumption that no new standards are expected to be developed? This would be a mistake, I feel. My Cetis colleagues Phil Barker and Lorna Campbell ran a workshop session at the Cetis 2014 conference in which they asked LRMI: What on Earth Could Justify Another Attempt at Educational Metadata? As Phil described in a report on the workshop session “We really love metadata, but [had] reached a point where making ever-more elegantly complex iterations on the same idea kind of lost its appeal. So what is it that makes LRMI so different so appealing?” Phil went on to conclude that “the general feeling I had from the session was that most of the people involved thought that LRMI was a sane approach: useful, realistic and manageable“.

It would be unfortunate if Jisc and the wider community were to miss out on the benefits which emerging new standards such as LRMI can provide for the education sector. Fortunately Cetis will be continuing to work in this area.

The Jisc Forest

Phil Richards Cetis talk: Co-design work for 2013-14In addition to describing the Jisc moves away from open standards Phil went on to explain Jisc’s core areas of work. As recommended in the Wilson Review Jisc are now focussing on a small number of areas in which they hope to make significant impact.

The areas of work are agreed with the Jisc co-design partners: RLUK, RUGIT, SCONUL and UCISA. In 2013/14 these areas were Access and identity management; National monograph strategy; Summer of student innovation; Digital student; Open mirror; Spotlight on the digital and Extending Knowledge Base +.

Following on from this work five additional new areas of work have been prioritised with four areas being mentioned in Phil’s presentation: (1) research at risk; (2) effective learner analysis; (3) from prospect to alumnus and (4) building capability for new digital leadership, pedagogy and efficiency.

Phil used a forest metaphor to describe this new approach: in the eLib days in the mid to late 1990s it was explained how Jisc were encouraging a thousand flowers to bloom in order to help build capacity across the sector and help ensure that there was abroad understanding of the value of the networked environment across the sector. However in light of funding constraints there will be less experimentation and less risk-taking; rather key areas of particular relevant to the co-design partners will be identified which will form the focus of development work in the future.

Tweet about Phil Richards' talkAs can be seen from the Storify archive of tweets posted during the talk this metaphor caused a certain amount of confusion. During the questions I asked a question based on this metaphor. To paraphrase what I said then “If Jisc are now building a forest containing five types of tree, who will develop the flowers, the shrubs and the hedges? And what would happen if, in three years time when institutions can chose whether of not to buy in to Jisc’s offering, they feel that the flowers, the shrubs and the hedges provide better value for money?

Towards Orciny – the Rumoured Third City

Audrey Waters keynote talk at Cetis 2014In The City and The City it is rumoured that a third city, Orciny, exists in the interstices between one city and another, unseen by occupants of both which has a hidden history. Is there a edu-tech city to be found beyond the forested Jiscdom?

I personally do not feel that the Jisc vision as described by Phil Richards will provide a environment in which those involved in ed-tech will feel at home. For me the future needs to be based on listening and engagement. As Mark Johnson put itwe should hope that the critical debate about those technologies, their implementation and development serves to give us permission to ask the questions about education that urgently need to be asked“. Those who wish to be involved in the discussion and in facilitating the discussion must not hide behind statements such as “people above my pay grade make the key decisions“.

This vision of the future is not based on a proclamation that “We are the UK’s expert on digital technologies for education and research” but on facilitation and support: the experts, I feel, are embedded across the sector and don’t work for a single organisation.

But I think it is also inevitable that the edu-tech future will be more fragmented. In the past the broad Jisc family could provide a leadership role across a wide range of areas. But the refocussing of work will mean the missing void is likely to be filled by a range of service providers, advisory bodies and consultants. I feel that Cetis will have an important role to play in that space. I hope that this will involve continuing to work with institutions, other bodies across the sector and with Jisc itself – but without buying in to the Jisc vision of the future!

As I said earlier I enjoyed the two keynote talks at the Cetis 2014 conference which did succeed in stimulating discussion and debate. If you didn’t attend the conference video recordings of the plenary talks and the accompanying slides are embedded below and are also available form YouTube and Slideshare. I’d welcome your thoughts on these contrasting talks.

Phil Richard’s plenary talk on Innovating for the Digital Institution

Video recording (on YouTube):

Slides for Phil Richards’ plenary talk (on Slideshare)

Audrey Watters’ plenary talk on Un-Fathom-able: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech

Video recording (on YouTube)

Slides for Audrey Watters’ plenary talk (on Slideshare)


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Update on Plans for #IWMW14

Posted by Brian Kelly on 27 June 2014

IWMW 2014: Update on the Programme

IWMW 2014, the 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop takes place in Newcastle on 16-18 July. The workshop fee is only £350, which includes 2 nights accommodation.The public announcement that the IWMW 2014 event would be held, under changed management, was made on this blog on 20 January 2014. The following month the IWMW 2014 Web site was launched and the call for proposals was made. On 14 April 2014 the IWMW 2014 programme was announced. This was followed by a series of guest blog posts on Planning work: How can technology help the Workload Allocation process?Wake Up and Face the Digital RealityBuilding Cost-effective, Flexible and Scalable Education Resources using Google Cloud PlatformI Do UX – Do You? and Rebooting MyEd – Making the Portal Relevant Again in which speakers at this year’s event have introduced their talks.

Since the event takes place in less than three weeks’ time, on 16-18 July, it is timely to provide a further update on plans for the event.

Beyond the Plenary Talks

Although the plenary talks will provide a shared context for all participants at the event, an important aspect of the event are the workshop sessions, in which all participants should have the opportunity to participate actively, share institutional and personal experiences and concerns and engage in discussions and, perhaps even disagreements and arguments.

In this respect the IWMW event has many parallels with the Cetis conference.  As described in Mark Johnson’s report on the recent Cetis 2014 conference:

The #cetis14 conference at the University of Bolton has been a great success. Although run on a self-funding basis for the first time (and consequently using the facilities of its home institution for the first time), it still attracted 100 delegates from the UK HE and FE sectors eager to talk about the impact of interoperability, cloud computing, e-books, systems integration and learning analytics. If anything, the conversation has been more eager, imaginative and focused than in previous year. [my emphasis]

Mark’s blog post was entitled #cetis14: Granting permission to ask questions about education. It may seem strange to talk about “granting permission to ask questions about education” in our context but as Mark explained we do seem to be moving to an environment in which important policy decisions about the future of education and the role of technology in supporting teaching and learning and research activities across the sector are being made in a top-down fashion with broader discussions being marginalised:

 I thought, the value of JISC projects was that they gave participants permission to think about education, in circumstances where this would otherwise have been impossible. It was this business of ‘asking questions about education’ which seemed curiously absent from the vision of the ‘new JISC': it seemed that the new JISC vision is to think about keeping JISC going, not thinking about education. When explicitly asked about who in JISC was asking the ‘big questions’, the response given was “people above my pay grade”.

In contrast to the changes in the Jisc environment, the IWMW 2014 event will adopt similar approaches to those taken at the Cetis 2014 conference: we will encourage participants to ask “big questions” and engage in conversations about the role of the Web in supporting institutional activities.

Facilitating the Discussions, the Sharing and the Community-Building

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Is content king? Should events ensure that their main focus should be on hosting proven quality speakers and ensuring the the event organisation runs smoothly?

These are, of course, important. But at IWMW events we have felt that “communications, rather than content, is king“.We will be providing a number of workshop sessions which are designed to facilitate communications. But in addition to the formal sessions at the event we will also be providing a number of social events which provide opportunities for informal networking opportunities and discussions.

On the evening of the first day, Wednesday 16 July, the workshop dinner will be held in the Great Hall of the Sutherland Building at Northumbria University. The following day a drinks reception will be held at the Great North Museum (Hancock). As can be seen from the accompanying image (taken from the Wikipedia entry for the Great North Museum: Hancock)  we should be able to see the T Rex in the Dinosaur hall. Or perhaps participants will wish to visit the Elephant display.

While we are having nibbles and drinking wine at the reception we might wish to consider some of the big questions. These might include: “Are we a dinosaur in today’s dynamic web environment?” or “Are we a white elephant?” These are questions which might be worth reflecting on from time to time. But perhaps more pertinently are questions such as “What role does the web professional have in today’s web environment?” “How relevant are Cloud services for delivering mission-critical services?” (a question, incidentally, which was addressed at the Cetis 2014 conference)? and “How do we engage our user communities in the development of new services?

We will not grant participants permission to ask such questions: rather we expect participants to raise these and other challenging question!

In brief, we will aim to provide high quality content with high quality organisation. But we will also provide a high quality experience for participants which will be based on the opportunities to interact with one’s and engage in discussions and debate.

I hope to see you at Northumbria University in a few week’s time. But if you are intended to attend the event please book quickly as the official closing date is just a week away- Friday 4 July!

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Guest Post: Rebooting MyEd – Making the Portal Relevant Again

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 17 June 2014

IWMW 2014, the 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop takes place in Newcastle on 16-18 July. The workshop fee is only £350, which includes 2 nights accommodation.The IWMW 2014 event is rapidly approaching- this year the annual event for university Web managers will take place at Northumbria University on 16-18 July. So if you haven’t book your place yet, do so quickly!

In the latest guest post from speakers at the event Martin Morrey, Web Integration Manager at the University of Edinburgh provides the background to his plenary talk on Rebooting MyEd – Making the Portal Relevant Again.

Martin’s talk will open the third and final day of the IWMW 2014 event.


Rebooting MyEd – Making the Portal Relevant Again

IWMW 2014 programme, with Martin Morrey's talk highlighted

IWMW 2014 programme, with Martin Morrey’s talk highlighted

Apologies to all for the late arrival of this blog post, but I’ve just spent three of the most intense weeks of my working life helping to upgrade the University of Edinburgh’s web portal, MyEd.

Reflecting on this experience has taken me back a masterclass delivered by the intranet usability guru Gerry McGovern, which I attended in 2008. At one point during the day, Gerry started talking about portals …

“For years, I’ve been going around asking people what a portal is, and I still don’t really know. The best definition I’ve come up with is: ‘A portal is like a website….except it takes five times longer to develop.‘”

Not for the first time that day, this was a cue for much hilarity.  For a long time afterwards, I was the smug website guy, pitying the lot of the poor, self-deluding, portal people in the office across the corridor.

Gradually though, I became more and more intrigued by the challenge of making a better portal.  Eventually I made the fatal mistake of commenting on the University’s portal here and there, and lo-and-behold in late 2011 I was put in charge of it.

Web portals were a concept that was born, and to a large extent abandoned again, in the mid-noughties.   However, in the education sector it seems to have hung around, presumably because it does actually deliver some value.

So what is a portal?  Is it just a list of useful links, or a personalised information hub, or a completely customisable experience?  In our case it is a bit of all of these things. What it should be though, is an experience centred on the needs and priorities of the end-user, which actually makes their life easier, as well as supporting the process needs of the institution.

The University of Edinburgh’s portal system was established in the noughties with great investment and fanfare, but later-on other IT priorities took over. So, ironically, a system that was meant to be dynamic, flexible and focussed,  ended up feeling static, out-of-date, and cluttered.

Improving our portal from there has been a slow process. Portal systems have integrations-with and dependencies-on a whole range of other information systems. When we upgrade our portal, updating and testing all these integrations is a real headache.   We are working on a better way of doing this, but in the meantime, we just have to live with it.

Just like a website, a portal needs really active monitoring and management, if it is to continue to meet everyone’s needs effectively.  Unlike a website however, tools like Google Analytics don’t give you the information you need to do this off-the-shelf. The first I thing I did with MyEd, was to find a way to get meaningful analytics on the usage of its content.

Our analytics revealed that mobile users seemed to prefer the clunky, desktop-optimised interface of our web portal, over the trendy native-app that had been rolled-out just the year before. We didn’t have the resources to get the best out of both, so since then we have focussed our mobile effort on developing a mobile-friendly skin for the portal.

My team has used its portal analytics, the results of user surveys, and student input, to inform the design of new layouts and interfaces for our portal.  I’ll be presenting the full story of this process, and some of the initial outcomes, at IWMW 2014 in my plenary Rebooting MyEd – Making the Portal Relevant Again.


About the author

Martin MorreyMartin Morrey is the manager of the Web Integration Team at the University of Edinburgh, with responsibility for portal, wiki, web hosting and web development services.  He has been working with the web for 18 years, and the mobile web for 14 years (remember WAP?).

He presented at EDUCAUSE last year on “Adding Analytics to the University Portal”.

Formerly an e-learning specialist and software entrepreneur, he won a SMART award in 2000 to develop a mobile-learning system and was co-founder of Intrallect Ltd.

 

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Planning for the Future: A Keynote Talk at the SAOIM 2014 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 June 2014

SAOIM 2014

Futures sidebarI’m pleased to have been invited to give a plenary talk at the SAOIM (Southern African Online Information Meeting) 2014 conference. The conference takes place in Pretoria on 4-5th June, with workshops being held on 3rd and 6th June.

I will be giving the opening talk on the second day of the conference. The title of my talk is “Understanding the Past; Being Honest about the Present; Planning for the Future“. In addition to this talk I will also be facilitating a half-day workshop on “Let’s Predict the Future!” on 3rd June.

Understanding the Past; Being Honest about the Present; Planning for the Future

The talk and the accompanying workshop are based on my involvement with the JISC Observatory and the accompanying papers on “What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future” and “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow“. The former of these papers was presented to Norwegian librarians at the EMTACL 2012 conference and the latter to (primarily) British librarians at the Umbrella 2013 conference. I am pleased to have this opportunity to disseminate this work with librarians from southern Africa.

Towards the end of the talk I mention one development which was highlighted in the NMC Horizon Report, Higher Education 2014 edition as having a deployment horizon of one year or less: the Flipped Classroom. As described in Wikipedia:

Flip teaching or a flipped classroom is a form of blended learning in which students learn new content online by watching video lectures, usually at home, and what used to be homework (assigned problems) is now done in class with teachers offering more personalized guidance and interaction with students, instead of lecturing. This is also known as backwards classroom, flipped classroom, reverse teaching, and the Thayer Method.

We might describe flipped professional development as a form of blended learning by which professionals learn new skills by viewing resources in advance and being able to reflect on the ideas and discuss them with their peers  so that the session itself can address issues in more depth. I am therefore happy to announce that the slides I will use are available on Slideshare and are embedded at the bottom of this blog post. Comments on the slides are welcome!


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Higher Education Web Survey

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 May 2014

TerminalFour’s Long-standing Support for IWMW

Terminal Four survey formFor several years TerminalFour has been a sponsor of IWMW, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop. This year is no different. As described on TerminalFour’s Web site:

TERMINALFOUR is once again a sponsor of one of the UK’s premier events for institutional web management teams – IWMW. The event takes place at Northumbria University on the 16-18th of July 2014.

IWMW has grown into a unique forum to share best practice, hear about new developments and discuss their relevance with peers. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Rebooting the Web’. The conference will explore what ‘reboot’ means for web teams. 

Higher Education Web Survey

In return for the financial support for the event I am happy to highlight TerminalFour’s current Higher Education Web Survey. As described by Laura Murphy, Head of Client Relations and Support:

If you work in a web, content, marketing, communications or senior management position in higher education I would be delighted if you could please take 5 minutes to complete our Higher Education Web Survey. You will be automatically entered into a draw to win €/$/£100 Amazon voucher for your troubles and will be among the first to receive a detailed report of the findings of this survey.  We’d also appreciate if you would share the survey – http://surveysandforms.com/e517uy93-67ufh69

If you are a customer of TerminalFour I am sure they would welcome the opportunity to chat with you at the IWMW 2014 event.


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Guest Post: Building Cost-effective, Flexible and Scalable Education Resources using Google Cloud Platform

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 May 2014

IWMW 2014, the 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop takes place in Newcastle on 16-18 July. The workshop fee is only £350, which includes 2 nights accommodation.In a series of guest blog posts speakers at the forthcoming IWMW 2014 event have been providing an introduction to their talks in order to stimulate interest in their ideas and solicit feedback and comments prior to the event – an example of ‘flipped lectures‘ which can provide opportunities for more considered reflections on new ideas provided at a conference.

In today’s guest post Sharif Salah, Senior Systems Engineer at the University of Portsmouth introduces his talk on “Building cost-effective, flexible and scalable education resources using Google Cloud Platform”.

Sharif will give his plenary talk on the second day of the IWMW 2014 event, from 09.00-09.45 on Thursday 17 July 2014.


Building cost-effective, flexible and scalable education resources using Google Cloud Platform

This will be my first time attending the IWMW event, and I’m grateful to fellow speaker Martin Hawksey who highly recommended the event to me. I’m excited and fortunate to be both attending and speaking this year. I first met Martin in 2012 at the annual European Google Apps for Education user group meeting #GEUG12 where we were also both speaking. At that time I had been working with Google Apps for a little over three years and there was a sense that the Higher Education community was growing relatively comfortable with the principles and concepts behind Software as a Service (SaaS).

In fact my colleagues and I at the University of Portsmouth had begun to explore the use of other types of cloud technology to extend the capabilities offered by the Google Apps services. For example, we built a largely cloud-based student portal primarily using Google Sites and then used Google App Engine to provide bespoke functionality such as the delivery of assessment results, that was highly specific to an education context and wasn’t readily available as part of Google Apps. In 2012 Google App Engine was often described as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) that allowed developers to deploy application level code without having to worry about the burden of looking after the underlying infrastructure. Today Google App Engine is part of a growing collection of tightly integrated services that make us Google Cloud Platform and include additional services for storage, compute and data analysis.

I’ve continued to build on my knowledge of Google Cloud Platform and earlier this year it led to Google awarding me entry into the Google Developer Experts (GDE) program for 2014. A large part of our activities as GDEs relates to both community engagement and public speaking, and I spend a lot of my time volunteering help with colleagues from both the education and business communities make the most of their introduction to the cloud.

One big shift I’ve observed in recent months within the cloud community is that the model I describe above with clear demarcation between SaaS, PaaS and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) layers is hindering the way that we build and architect our IT services in HE and other large enterprise environments. All too often I find that developers try to shoehorn their requirements into one model or another. However it’s often the case that one layer of the cloud model doesn’t provide enough flexibility, at other times it comes at the cost of too high a management overhead. Google Cloud Platform is helping to define a new way of working across cloud boundaries and this in itself presents us with new challenges as we try to learn to use the new tools effectively. One big theme of my talk will be to share my experience of working across these layers in the process of building hybrid cloud solutions.

Perhaps more importantly for this audience I also look forward to the opportunity to share some of the work we have undertaken at the University of Portsmouth to build new services for our students that might not have previously been possible or practical prior to the availability of cloud services. Over the past year we’ve experimented with the use of Chromebooks for exams, Google Compute Engine to deliver Linux resources for teaching and research as well as the operational use of Cloud Storage for the delivery of content as part of student-facing services. Higher Education is a unique environment that brings with it challenges and opportunities that often don’t apply to the world of business and this is particularly true of cloud services.


Biographical details

Sharif SalahSharif Salah has worked with Google technologies since early 2009 when he began a role as a Google Apps technical lead in Higher Education. Along the way this has given him the good fortune to be involved in evangelising extensively and affecting change and progress on the adoption and integration of Google Apps, Cloud Storage and App Engine both internationally and locally. More recently he has become immersed in and advocate on Google Cloud Platform, open source software as well as mobile app development and strategy.

Sharif is a frequent public speaker and spends time working with both education and startups on making the most of their move to the cloud. He is a Google Developer Expert for 2014 and a Google Qualified Developer for Google Cloud Platform.

Contact details:


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Accessibility for E-learning: What We Can do Today and in the Future

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21 May 2014

The Cetis 2014 Conference: Building the Digital Institution

The theme for the Cetis 2014 conference is “Building the Digital Institution“. As described in the conference abstract:

Each year the Cetis conference provides a unique opportunity for developers, learning technologists, lectures and policy makers to come together to discuss recent innovations in the domain of education technology. 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.

The conference will open with a keynote talk from Phil Richards, the Jisc Chief Innovation Officer. The closing talk will be given by Audrey Watters, a Technology Journalist. If you’d like to hear more about Audrey’s talk a 60 second interview ahead of #cetis14 has been published on the Cetis blog.

Parallel Session: Building an Accessible Digital Institution

Abstract for the accessibility session at Cetis conference. Full details at http://www.cetis.ac.uk/2014-cetis-conference/building-accessible-digital-institution/ Although the two plenary talks will provide a shared context for participants at the conference the most important aspect of Cetis conferences has always been the parallel workshop sessions.

One important aspect to consider when looking to build the digital institution is to ensure that the digital institution is an accessible institution.

In the early days of the development of Web-based learning environments the Web accessibility content guidelines (WCAG) developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) were felt to provide a framework for the creation of universally accessible Web resources and services.

However we now know that the development of accessible Web services is more complex than simply following a set of guidelines. As summarised in the abstract of a paper on “A challenge to web accessibility metrics and guidelines: putting people and processes first

This paper argues that web accessibility is not an intrinsic characteristic of a digital resource but is determined by complex political, social and other contextual factors, as well as technical aspects which are the focus of WAI standardisation activities. It can therefore be inappropriate to develop legislation or focus on metrics only associated with properties of the resource.

But if institutions need to look before WCAG guidelines, what should they be doing? In the parallel session on Building an Accessible Digital Institution myself and Andy Heath will try to provide answers to this question.

In the first half of the half-day session we will review the limitations of the WCAG approach and describe how the BS 8878 standard, with its focus on policies and processes, seeks to address these limitations. We will explore how BS 8878 can be used in the context of e-learning.

In the second half of the session we will look at new developments, models and ways of thinking about accessibility.

We will welcome brief case studies from participants at the session who may be working in this area.  Please get in touch if you would like to contribute.

Note that registration details for the Cetis conference are available on the Cetis web site.


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The Plenary Talk as an Opportunity for Hands-on Activities

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 May 2014

Traditional Lecture must DIE!

10 reasons to ditch lecturesThe “Traditional Lecture must DIE” argued Phil Root in a (err) TEDx lecture in September 2012. In the video he cited research which suggested that students learning is more effective when active engagement techniques are provided (5 minutes into the video).

Last Thursday an article in the Guardian’s Higher Education Network gave “Ten reasons we should ditch university lectures“.

Currently there have been 367 comments made to this article. If you have an interest in the relevance of lectures in teaching you may wish to contribute to the discussions. However my interest is in the effectiveness of plenary talks at conferences. A question I’d like to address is “Can we make use of interactive techniques in large-scale lecture theatres?” including conferences used for professional development.

The Plenary Talk as an Opportunity for Hands-on Activities

At the UKSG 2013 conference I recall a plenary talk by Laurel Haak on ORCID: Connecting research and researchers. As flagged at the very start of the video recording of the talk Laurel invited those who had a mobile computer with them to register for an ORCID ID during the talk. “Here is the challenge to you” Laurel said 2 minutes 50 second into her talk “Anyone who has a computer and you don’t already have an ORCID identifier please take about 30 seconds to register for one“.

I have used this approach myself when talking about researcher IDs. Last week I spoke at the CILIP Wales 2014 conference and used this approach again, but this time to encourage participants to sign up for a Wikipedia account.

I was pleased that during the talk one delegate announced:

Inspired by to create Wikipedia account!!

I had announced that the talk would provide an opportunity for a CPD activity – I was pleased to be able to see evidence that this activity was successfully completed by at least one conference delegate.

Further Approaches for Encouraging Take-up of Wikipedia

Storify summary of cilipw14 twets about Wikipedia talkIn the opening talk at the conference, John Griffith, the Minister for Culture and Sport in the Welsh Government told the audience of the importance of the importance of gathering evidence of the ways in which librarians are engaging with their communities. He also encouraged Welsh librarians to “Make yourself heard!

Although I had planned the Wikipedia user registration activity, the inspirational opening talk made me wonder how I could adapt my presentation to relate to such political considerations. The theme of the CILIP Wales 2014 conference was “Making a difference: libraries and their communities“. In my presentation I argued that librarians who supported their users in use of Wikipedia, which included creating and updating Wikipedia articles would be a way of engaging with communities in an effective way in light of the popularity of Wikipedia. A show of hands confirmed that Wikipedia was not only popular with the users: the vast majority of the audience made use of Wikipedia with only one (brave!) lady admitting that she had never visited Wikipedia.

Gathering Evidence of Take-up of Wikipedia

But how might we gather evidence of use of Wikipedia by librarians, which might be used as evidence of how librarians are engaging in a rapidly changing information environment? In my presentation I suggested that after spending about 60 seconds in creating a Wikipedia account the next step should be to create a Wikipedia profile page and I gave examples of a simple profile and a slightly more advanced profile which might provide inspiration for a profile page for new Wikipedia editors.

Since the majority of the audience were librarians working in Wales I showed the Wikipedians in Wales page and highlighted two examples of profile pages: one in which the user is willing to share their interests and one in which the user chooses to remains anonymous. I noticed that the Wikipedians in Wales page currently contains 136 entries. Looking at the history of this page it seems that the version of the page in July 2005 also contained 136 entries. It seems that embedding the relevant [category] tag in user profile pages hasn’t taken off. If the hundred of so who were present on the first day of the CILIP Wales conference were to sign up for a Wikipedia account, create a user profile and include the following line in their profile

[[Category:Wikipedians in Wales]]

we would have significant evidence of take-up in Wikipedia in Wales.

Furthermore the Wikipedian librarians page currently contains 267 entries. If you are a librarian and have a Wikipedia account, why wouldn’t you add the following to your user profile:

[[Category:Wikipedian librarians]]

Reflections

I have created a Storify archive of tweets related to my presentation as this enables me to reflect on comments made. I particularly welcomed the comment:

absolutely agree with , if so many are using , it can’t be dismissed by info professionals, realise & engage

Audience at IWMW 2013I have given a number of Wikipedia sessions for those who wish to know more about editing Wikipedia. However such sessions are likely to attract only those who are already convinced of the value of Wikipedia. Of more importance, I feel, is being able to persuade sceptics or those who have not previously considered getting a Wikipedia account and updating Wikipedia articles or the reasons why updating Wikipedia articles is of particular relevance to information professionals and then to convert that moment of inspiration into actions: investing sixty seconds in creating a Wikipedia account and even spending a few more minutes in creating a user profile.

Traditional lectures won’t die, I feel. Especially as in today’s networked environment they can provide opportunities for the audience to be active during the lecture. And, of course, you don’t need mobile devices, Twitter and a WiFi network in order to interact with large audiences. As can be seen from the accompanying image taken at the IWMW 2013 event, you can engage with your audience in more traditional ways!


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Guest Post: Planning work: How can technology help the Workload Allocation process?

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 8 May 2014

This year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2014, takes place at the University of Northumbria. In light of funding changes this year’s event is ore closely aligned with institutional challenges. In today’s guest blog post Hiten Vaghmaria, Head of Digital Development at the University of Westminster, summarises a problem which all heads of departments will face: how they will allocate teaching, research and administration work to their staff though use of a model known as the Workload Allocation Model (WAM). Hiten will describe the approaches being taken at the University of Westminster at the IWMW 2014 event and will welcome feedback on these approaches. To start the discussion he invites those with an interest in this area to share details of the approaches you use within your institution.


Planning work: How can technology help the Workload Allocation process?

Talk by Hiten Vaghmaria at IWMW 2014Each year, heads of academic departments at universities across the country plan how they will allocate teaching, research and administration work to their staff, following a model known as the Workload Allocation Model (WAM). This crucial planning and resource allocation exercise is at the heart of running a successful teaching programme, and ensures that the institution can meet its strategic objectives, yet many universities run the process from basic spreadsheets. In the age of readily available web-based productivity services, are we doing enough to help our institutions plan their work?

There are many different ways of running the WAM, with one institution’s model invariably being different (albeit similar) to the next. The National Academic Workload Management Conference was held on this very subject in December 2013, where leaders from several Universities met to discuss the differences between their models. Whilst the focus for this conference was the model itself, there was some discussion around the mechanisms for collecting the information, and it’s clear that this will soon be a pressing issue for IT departments – if it isn’t already.

At the University of Westminster we’ve moved, within an unexpectedly short timescale, from a variety of different spreadsheets designed separately by each department, to one combined spreadsheet, to a prototype web-based system which is fully supported by the in-house team. It hasn’t been the smoothest of journeys but it has been a fascinating and challenging learning experience which has uncovered a host of issues, related to both technology and people, and we’re confident that a support network for those going through this process (or about to) would be enormously helpful.

As a first step, I’ll be hosting a discussion session on Friday 18th July at this year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2014, to discuss the ways in which institutions currently collect their WAM information, and ask how they might do so more efficiently. We’ll showcase some existing solutions and talk about how the process could be improved using the technology available to us as Web Managers and developers. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the following questions:

  • How does your University run the WAM?
    • What tools are used in this process?
    • What support is offered by IT?
    • What are the main concerns raised by Heads of Departments?
    • How could this process be made more efficient?
  • What other processes does this link up with (e.g. Timetabling, Module Costs, Transparent Approach to Costing (TrAC))?
  • Does it allocate work based on real hours, or use some form of proxy unit?

About the Author

Hiten VaghmariaHiten Vaghmaria is Head of Digital Development at the University of Westminster, where he leads a team responsible for the operation and development of web-based services for students and staff. Previously, Hiten has worked as a Service and Product Manager for the University of Edinburgh and the BBC.


About IWMW 2014

IWMW 2014, the 18th Institutional Web Management Workshop, will be held at Northumbria University on 16-18 July 2014. Details of the event programme are available. The three-day event costs £350 which includes 2 nights’ accommodation. Use the online booking form to book your place.

 

 

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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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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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Call For Submissions for IWMW 2014

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 February 2014

IWMW Continues!

IWMW 2014 Call for SubmissionsThe Institutional Web Management Workshop series (better known as IWMW) was launch in 1997. The event aimed to develop a sustainable community of practice for those with responsibilities for providing institutional web services.

The event has been running for 17 years and has attracted participants from the web management community from across the UK’s higher and further education sectors. The growth of important of the web to support a range of institutional activities has also seen the event attract participants from beyond web teams, including those with responsibilities in teaching and learning and research, in addition to those with interests in marketing, design, user interfaces, gathering user requirements, accessibility as well as the technical aspects of providing large-scale web services.

For the past 17 years the event was provided by UKOLN with funding to support the organisation and planning for the event being provided by the JISC. In light of the cessation of JISC funding for UKOLN at the IWMW 2013 event we explored ways in which the event could be sustained without Jisc funding and backing from UKOLN.

The feedback at the event made it clear that there was strong demand for the event to be continued.

I’m pleased to announced that the IWMW event will continue! The IWMW 2014 event will be held at the University of Northumbria on 16-18 July. The event will be supported by myself, Cetis (my host institution) and Jisc Netskills.

Call For Submissions

Although the event needs such institutional support in order to maintain its unique profile, the most important aspect of the event lies in the contributions made by the speakers and workshop facilitators. The event aims to provide a forum for sharing experiences and we wish to continue that tradition.  We therefore invite members of the community who stories to share and ideas to explore to submit a proposal for the IWMW 2014 event.

We will continue to provide a mixture of plenary talks (typically lasting for 45 minutes) and workshop sessions (lasting for 90 minutes). However we will also welcome suggestions for other ways of engaging the workshop participants. In the past, for example, we have held debates, panel sessions and bar camps. if you feel you like to make use of such approaches, or perhaps even make use of a novel approach, we would love to hear from you.

And although we particularly welcome submissions from practitioners in the sector, we also welcome submissions from outside the higher and further education sectors.

Details for the call for submissions are available from the IWMW Web site. Alternatively feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions, ideas or suggestions.


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Announcing IWMW 2014!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20 January 2014

I am delighted to be able to formally announce the IWMW 2014 event will be held at Northumbria University on 16-18 July.

The IWMW event: a well-established national event for those working in university Web management teams.

The IWMW event: a well-established national event for those working in university Web management teams.

The Institutional Web Management Workshop series, better known as IWMW was launched in 1997 to enable those responsible for managing institutional Web services to share best practices, hear about new developments and discuss their relevance. The event has been held at locations across the UK in the 17 years since it was launched.

Last year’s event was slightly shadowed by the forthcoming cessation of Jisc funding for UKOLN. However, a post-event survey together with comments we received during the event indicated an overwhelming appetite for continuation.

Over the past few months I have been exploring new funding options to cover planning, organising and hosting the event in 2014. I have received positive feedback from commercial vendors who would be willing to sponsor the event and my new organisation, Cetis, has agreed to provide support for the event. In addition, Jisc Netskills have agreed to act as co-organisers for the event.

The call for submissions will be announced shortly. If you have any questions or queries, feel free to get in touch. This includes those who may be interested in speaking at the event, as well as potential sponsors for the event.

The IWMW 2014 will take place over 3 days, which, based on feedback from previous events, has proved an ideal length for attendees – enabling them to enhance their skills and expertise and develop their professional networks.

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“Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research Activities” – Workshop Session at the #DAAD2013 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 December 2013

Earlier today I facilitated a workshop session on “Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research Activities” at the annual conference of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), London.

From Tweet to Blog Post to Peer-Reviewed Article: How to be a Scholar NowThis is a topic I have spoken about a fair amount since the realisation that the Social Web could be used to support research activities and not just share photos and videos of cats! This year I have facilitated a hands-on workshop session on “Managing Your Research Profile” at the Information Science Pathway’s day on alt.metrics which was held at Edinburgh University in June and, in the same month, presented a paper on “Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research Activities” at the SRA’s Social Media in Social Research 2013 conference.

The DAAD 2013 conference provided an opportunity to explore the benefits of the social web with a new community: humanities researchers and, in particular, German humanities researchers who are working in universities in the UK and Ireland.

I had been informed that, unlike the scientific and library communities I am more familiar with, although the participants would probably have smart phones and use Facebook, they probably didn’t make significant use of social media to support their research or teaching activities.

In my preparation for the session I came across a paper on Re-Skilling For Research hosted on the RLUK Web site which described how (my emphasis):

They [Connaway and Dickey, 2009] found,  for example, that science researchers … are more likely to use Twitter, while mathematicians and computer scientists are more predisposed to archive their own material, and, like classicists, to disseminate their research outputs themselves. Social scientists on the other hand are more reluctant to use new technologies, for example they are less likely to Tweet or use a laptop at a conference.

This was certainly the case for the DAAD conference; for example although everyone in my session had a mobile phone, with most having an iPhone and Android smartphone, they weren’t being used to support conference activities. I therefore began the session by exploring the purposes of conferences for academics and how social media could support such purposes. The previous night I had discovered that the Cumberland Lodge, the venue for the conference, had been designed so that rooms weren’t locked and the were no TVs in the accommodation; design decisions made in order to enhance opportunities for networking, sharing ideas and discussion. I subsequently learnt that participants at the conference were expected to share their room although, as an invited speaker, I had a room to myself.

I drew parallels with such design decisions for conference venues and the typical structure for a conference programme (which also normal provide informal networking opportunities)  with the ways in which social media services can be used to share ideas; discus and refine ideas, develop one’s professional community; gain additional input from others and then subsequently share the outputs from such collaborate activities with one’s peers and the wider public.

I used the physical example of post-it notes to illustrate approaches to using Twitter: write how you might use social media to support your research on a Post-it note and share it with a colleague – that’s similar to a Direct Message. Note put the Post-it notes on a shared notice board so that everyone can see the ideas – that’s a public tweet.

The feedback from the participants was very positive and I enjoyed facilitating the session. But we didn’t really have the opportunity to explore the reasons why use of networked technologies still don’t appear to be widely used at conferences in the humanities. At one stage humanities researchers would probably not have laptops which science researchers would be more likely to possess. But these days even those who have laptops appear more willing to use the own smartphone for tweeting at events.

During the talk I cited the example of a recent blog post entitled From Tweet to Blog Post to Peer-Reviewed Article: How to be a Scholar Now published on the LSE’s Impact of Social Sciences blog which describes how:

Digital media is changing how scholars interact, collaborate, write and publish. Here, Jessie Daniels describes how to be a scholar now, when peer-reviewed articles can begin as Tweets and blog posts. In this new environment, scholars are able to create knowledge in ways that are more open, more fluid, and more easily read by wider audiences.

But this was based on experiences from the US. I’d be interested to hear examples of use of social media in amplifying events in the humanities in the UK and to hear suggestions as to why event amplification appears to be so unusual for this sector,

Note that the slides I used are available on Slideshare and are embedded below.


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Reflections on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 December 2013

About the Hyperlinked Library MOOC

Networked personality badgeI have (finally) completed a MOOC. The MOOC in question was the Hyperlinked Library MOOC which was organised by Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones of the School of Library and Information Science at the San José State University.

As described by Michael Stephens in the initial post on the MOOC blog:

This MOOC is based on a course I’ve been teaching at San Jose State University SLIS since 2011.We’re excited to adapt it to a larger scale and gather some of the folks we admire to share their expertise as we explore the model.

The post went on to provide the background to the MOOC and the relevance of the hyperlinked organisation model in a library context:

Libraries continue to evolve. As the world has changed with emerging mechanisms for global communication and collaboration, so have some innovative, cutting edge libraries. My model for the Hyperlinked Library is born out of the ongoing evolution of libraries and library services. David Weinberger’s chapter “The Hyperlinked Organization” in The Cluetrain Manifesto was a foundational resource for defining this model as are the writings of Michael Buckland, Seth Godin, and others.

The Hyperlinked Library is an open, participatory institution that welcomes user input and creativity. It is built on human connections and conversations. The organizational chart is flatter and team-based. The collections grow and thrive via user involvement. Librarians are tapped in to user spaces and places online to interact, have presence, and point the way. The hyperlinked library is human. Communication, externally and internally, is in a human voice. The librarians speak to users via open, transparent conversation.

The model incorporates dialogues about Web 2.0 by such authors as O’Reilly, and concepts tied to participatory service, including ideas presented by Casey and Savastinuk in their book Library 2.0.

The model is broader than just online communication and collaboration. It encompasses both physical and virtual space, as well as many types of libraries. Presenting the model to assembled teacher librarians at the Australian School Library Association conference in Perth in 2009, I argued that school librarians could use the model as well to extend support for learning beyond the walls of the school library and engage with students, teachers and administrators in an open, transparent manner wherever the learning takes place.

MOOC Activities

Students on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC had been informed that they could receive a SJSU SLIS certificate of completion by completing two required assignments (regular blogging during the course and completion of a presentation at a Virtual Symposium towards the end of the course) and three other additional assignments from five on offer (Community EngagementEmerging Technology/Social Media PlanningContext BookOnline Professional Learning Network and Director’s Brief).

As I described when I began the MOOC the Hyperlinked Library MOOC arrived at a timely moment for me; following the cessation of Jisc funding for UKOLN I had been made redundant shortly before the MOOC began. Participation in the MOOC therefore provided a useful opportunity to further develop my professional skills, extend my professional network and gain experiences in how MOOCS work and their strengths and weaknesses.

Towards the end of the MOOC I started work as Innovation Advocate at Cetis. In light of Cetis’s interest in e-learning developments and, as I described recently, open educational practices, the MOOC became particularly relevant for me, and so I chose to complete all of the assignments.

The MOOC’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Storify summary of final tweets about the Hyperlib MOOCAs the Hyperlinked Library MOOC came to an end I used Storify to capture the final tweets about the MOOC. The comments provided evidence of students’ high regard for the course:

  • Much interest in because it is so awesome!
  • The end of my first but not last MOOC

and the benefits they gained:

  • Not saying that was the reason I got a new job, but I did get questions on it during my interview. Great learning experience!

Using the Google Custom Search Engine I set up for the MOOC you can see further evidence which suggests that the MOOC was valued by the participants with, at the time of writing, 212 occurrences of ‘awesome‘ and 1,330 occurrences of ‘great‘ but only 98 of ‘poor‘!

Other indications of the perceived value of the MOOC can be seen from students’ creation of a Hyperlinked Library MOOC Facebook group and WordPress blog which aim to sustain the community and the culture of sharing.

I did, however, have some reservations about the MOOC. In a post in which I summarised my Initial Reflections on The Hyperlinked Library MOOC and the Badges I Have Acquired I described how I felt patronised by being awarded badges for trivial activities. These sentiments were echoed by sevarl others who commented on the post on the blog and on Facebook, including @cogdog:

I echo the cynicism of micro badging for every possible task; I would go beyond and find it revolting and demeaning. 

However @cogdog went on to suggest that:

 A more comprehensive system might aggregate a series of actions, like all you have done to get this account set up, and perhaps badge something in a large skill, like establishing and online community presence.

In reality that seems to have been the case so although I have received in total 29 badges (yes, my expertise in deleting a private message has been acknowledged!) only a handful have been submitted to my Credly account, covering the higher level activities such as blogging activities, peer reviewing, use of networking tools and active learning.

Regarding the MOOC content itself, I did feel that the course material failed to provide an adequate critique of the hyperlinked library model. There was a module on Transparency & Privacy but this provide only a superficial account of the potential dangers of more open approaches, use of third party services and recent revelations of government snooping on online services. It was also interesting to observe the pause in the YouTube video after a question 25 minutes into the video on the ramifications of government spying of online services with this issue being ignored and an example of online racism and bullying being addressed with the suggestion that “if you’re a hateful person you shouldn’t be putting it out on the web … you shouldn’t be a hateful person” and “in kindergarden do we teach people what it means to participate?

This was the most disappointing aspect of the MOOC, since these questions, together with related concerns regarding the sustainability of social media services, the ownership of user generated content, privacy issues, etc. are hardly new. If the MOOC aims to encourage librarians to embrace use of the hyperlinked library model which includes use of social media tools and more transparent approaches we might expect such legitimate concerns to be addressed.

But despite this concern I did enjoy the MOOC and found the time I invested in participating the MOOC worthwhile, In particular the assignment on planning the development of one’s online professional learning network was very relevant for my new post, and the Director’s Brief assignment, in which I addressed Library Use of Wikipedia and Other Wikimedia Projects, also proved useful in recent events on use of Wikipedia I have been involved in.

Captioning of the hyperlinked-library-mooc

I was also interested to observe how video resources used on the MOOC seemed to illustrate a risk management approach to accessibility issues.

In one of the initial video resources, which provided orientation for the MOOC, a full transcript of the talk was provided, as shown in the accompanying screen shot.

However the majority of the video lectures and additional video resources were hosted on YouTube, with no captioning being provided.

It had occurred to me that the effort in providing captioning for video resources used in the MOOC was not likely to be sustainable, especially as there doesn’t appear to be any significant income stream to cover the production of the materials and support for the MOOC participants.

In the case of the initial video I suspect that a script had been written in advance, and it did not require significant additional effort to include the script in conjunction with the video recording using, in this case, the Panopto screen capture software. However other video lectures were more free format, typically involving a conversation. In this case, although broad areas for the discussion will probably have been agreed in advance, there will be no formal script which can be used.

Such use of digital resources which do not conform with WCAG guidelines for accessibility provides an example of the difficulties in deploying online services which conform with best practices. But rather than the binary decision to either ensure that all video resources will be captioned or they will not be used, we have here an example of where a more nuanced approach must be taken and the question answered “Should we not make video resources available if we do not have the resources to caption them but we feel they would be valuable to MOOC participants?” This is likely to be a question faced by many organisations which are looking to host MOOCs. This is an issue I will revisit in the future.

Conclusions

How might I summarise my thoughts on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC? I’ll conclude by giving brief recommendations to librarians who may be considering participants of a future version of the MOO:

If you are a librarian and you wish to hear more about the value of open approaches to library work and see examples of how social media services are being used, the Hyperlinked Library MOOC will provide useful examples and will provide opportunities to hear about and discuss implementation strategies with like-minded librarians and information professionals. If, however, you are sceptical of the value of the hyperlinked library model, based on the experiences of the first version of the MOOC you will probably not find concerns that you have being addressed.

For the organisers of the MOOC I would give the following comments:

Many thanks for organising a successful MOOC. I found the MOOC assignments very helpful in focussing my attention on ways of planning the development of my online personal learning network and for writing a proposal to senior management on making use of one aspect of open practices which is particularly relevant to librarians: making use of Wikipedia. I do, however, feel that the MOOC failed to adequately address areas of concerns related to use of social media services and embracing open practices. I would suggest that the module on Transparency & Privacy would benefut from being rewritten, with the concerns being addressed more thoroughly.

But if you were to ask me if I would recommend participation on the MOOC to others, my answer would be “Yes!


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Accessibility is Primarily About People and Processes, Not Digital Resources!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 November 2013

Earlier today I gave the closing talk at the OZeWAI 2013 conference, which was held in La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia. However as I was in bed in Bath at the time, I pre-recorded my presentation. I had intended to answer questions using Skype or via Twitter but as I was asleep after having arrived home after a brief holiday in Marrakesh a few hours before the talk was delivered I was unable to do this.

The title of my talk is “Accessibility is Primarily About People and Processes, Not Digital Resources!“. In the talk I review approaches developed by accessibility researchers and practitioners in the UK (with some input from Australian colleagues) since 2005 and complementary standardisation work which resulted in the BS 8878 Code of Practice for Web Accessibility.

The slides, with accompanying audio, are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

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Facilitating a Wikipedia Editing Session; the #solo13 Experience

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 November 2013

The Wikipedia Editing Workshop Session at the SpotOn 2013 Conference

@pixievondust tweet on the Wikipedia workshopThis has been my second extended week of conferences since I started work at Innovation Advocate at Cetis. As described in a post on my Reflections on the EduWiki 2013 Conference on Friday and Saturday, 1 and 2 November 2013, I attended the EduWiki 2013 Conference. On last Friday and Saturday, 8 and 9 November I attended SpotOn 2013, the Science, Policy, Outreach and Tools Online conference. The conference provided a further opportunity to engage with use of Wikipedia, but this time as a facilitator of an hour-long Wikipedia editing workshop session. The conference organisers had asked me to ensure that the session was a hands-on session, with participants having the opportunity to create Wikipedia resources rather than listening to speakers talk about the potential of Wikipedia. The workshop session therefore provided me with an opportunity to facilitate a Wikipedia session for the first time. Earlier this year I attended the Queen Victoria’s Journals University of Oxford editing day which provided an initial opportunity to familiarise myself with the format of an editing workshop. This was followed by participation in a Sphingonet Wiki workshop, which provided my with initial experience in working with other Wikimedia experts. This time, however, I led the workshop and developed the accompanying materials, but I was fortunate to be supported by Toni Sant, the Education Organiser for Wikimedia UK as well as the Director of Research at the University of Hull’s School of Arts and New Media in Scarborough. I have an interest in expanding the community of Wikipedia editors. There will therefore be a need to expand the community of those who can train others in using Wikipedia. Therefore in this post I will share my experiences of facilitating a workshop.

Reflections on Facilitating the Workshop

The Eliot room used for the Wikipedia workshopOn the Friday I visited the Eliot Room, which we would use for the workshop. As can be seen from the accompanying photograph, the room layout was less than ideal for a hands-on session, in which Toni and myself would wish to mingle with the participants, helping them out with any problems they had. The layout also meant that it would be difficult for participants to share what they were doing with others. Fortunately during the lunch session when I was installing my slides on the room’s PC I met the two facilitators of the #solo13lego session on Making Research Useful: The Consequences of (Bad) Communication. The abstract for this session described how “In this workshop, we’ll be getting hands-on with Lego to explore how good and bad communication can impact on research utility and impact“. The facilitators were happy for the room layout so be changed with chairs being arranged in three circles so that the participants could more easily share what they were doing. As illustrated below. participants were able to follow the slides during the initial presentation but work collaboratively when they signed up for a Wikipedia account and created their user profile.

Wikipedia editing session

Photo by Toni Sant and available under a CC BY-SA licence.

As can be seen from the slides (which are available on Slideshare), only one slide provided reasons why researchers may wish to make use of Wikipedia; as Cameron Neylon had said in the “Wikimedia UK Annual Review 2012-13” (PDF format):

If you’re serious about ensuring public engagement in your research then you need to make damn sure your work can be incorporated into Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the most important engagement channel for your research.

After this, and the introductions for the facilitators and hearing about the level of Wikipedia expertise of the participants we then provided details of the task to be attempted during the session:

You will:

  • Create a Wikipedia account (go to http://tinyurl.com/SpotOnWiki and register!)
  • Create a user profile & add personal details (e.g. name, organisation, interests, …)
  • Add hyperlinks to (a) external Web sites (e.g. your organisation) and (b) Wikipedia articles (e.g. areas of interest)
  • Add simple formatting

We provided the following examples of user profile and suggested that participants could view the source of these profiles and copy markup of interest:

After just over half an hour into the session we found that most of the participants had created their use profile. I have created a Storify summary of the session which provides links to a number of the profiles which had been created:

David Freeborn's user profile

The accompanying screenshot illustrates a user profile which a relatively new Wikipedia user can create in about 30 minutes. The use of Twitter during the session was useful in providing useful feedback on the users’ experiences. In particular @pixievondust commented that:

This is a genuinely useful hands on session, thanks @briankelly! Lets see more unis running workshops like this!

with similar sentiments being echoed by @FunSizeSuze:

This session has done exactly what I hoped it would do – I now have increased confidence in getting involved in all things Wiki.

After we realised that everyone who had attempted to create a user profile had successfully done so the session concluded with discussions on strategies for creating new articles, the fundamental Wikipedia principles and details of other Wikimedia projects beyond the Wikipedia service. The slides used in the session are available on Slideshare and embedded below. In addition a recording of the live stream of the session is available on YouTube and also embedded below. I hope these resources and this description of how the resources were used will be of interest to others, especially those who may wish to train others on how to contribute to Wikipedia.

YouTube video:


Note: The Wikimedia UK web site has a page on the SpotOn London 2013 Wikipedia editing workshop which provides additional information about the workshop session. The following information has been included in this post for the sake of completeness 23 SpotOn conference delegates (10 female and 13 male) attended this session. We were also able to observe that there were 14 postgraduate students, while the rest were academics, researchers, or other non-students. The following attendees created new Wikipedia user accounts during the workshop:


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Reflections on the EduWiki 2013 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 5 November 2013

My First Event as Innovation Advocate at Cetis

EduWiki 2013 conference badgeOn Friday and Saturday, 1 and 2 November 2013, I attended the EduWiki 2013 Conference. This was the second EduWiki conference organised by Wikimedia UK; EduWiki 2012 was held at the University of Leicester in September 2012.

This was also my first event in my new role as Innovation Advocate at Cetis. As I mentioned in a previous post I only started at Cetis on Monday, so I had little time to become acclimatised to my new role! It was pleasing to receive messages of congratulations st the conference from a number of people at the event who had seen the announcement either on this blog, on my Facebook page or from my LinkedIn profile (incidentally footnote provides some speculation on the metrics for the numbers of responses to the announcement) . It does seem to me that Wikipedia could be of interest to Cetis, as an emerging technological resource which appears to be relevant to teaching and learning. Did the two days I spent at the conference confirm such views?

Thoughts on the EduWiki 2013 Conference

The first day of the Wikipedia conference began with the welcome to the conference being provided by Toni Sant (Wikimedia UK’s Education Organiser) , with the opening remarks on the conference given by Martin Poulter, the Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador in a talk entitled “Where’s the Edit Button on this Textbook?“.

Welsh and Other Minority Language Wikipedia Sites

After the introductions, Robin Owain, the Wales Manager for Wikimedia UK gave a talk in Welsh with instant translation for English speakers via headsets. Robin’s talk provided the political and cultural context for the following keynote talk and made the links with Wicipedia, the Welsh language version of Wikipedia. “Wales is a small country. That’s our greatness. “Do the small things” is our motto” explained Robin, who went on to inform the audience that “Wales is the land of open content“. Such approaches to openness and doing small things, but doing them well has led to Wicipedia being the most popular web site in the Welsh language.

Welsh language Wikipedia:  usage statisticsit was pleasing to see that many of the speakers at the conference backed up their assertions with evidence. In Robin’s case we heard about the usage statistics for Wicipedia, as illustrated.

Robin Owain’s talk focussed on Wicipedia, which is unsurprising for the Wales Manager for Wikimedia UK. A wider context was provided by Gareth Morlain (@melynmelyn), the Digital Media Specialist for the Welsh Government. in his keynote talk on “Getting More Welsh Content Online” which highlighted how a public pressure resulted in Amazon changing their policy on providing Welsh language access to Kindle ebooks.

I was fascinated to learn about use of minority languages, such as Catalan, Basque, Galician, Welsh, Breton, Irish, Gaelic and Cornish, on the Web. I was particularly interested to note that Catalan appears to be punching above its weight. Since I have professional contacts in Catalonia I sent a tweet to Miquel Duran, a professor at Girona University, about this. It seems that his son is president of @amicalwikimedia which promotes Catalan Wikipedia. This suggests that small-scale advocacy can have a significant effect on the creation of articles on minority language Wikipedia sites. Since we heard how the number of Wicipedia articles need to grow by 400% for Google to take Welsh language seriously as a search language I hope that Robin Owain and others involved in encouraging take-up of Wicipedia are successful in their advocacy work.

Wikipedia in Higher Education

Although the first morning at the conference provided me with new insights into less well-known aspects of Wikipedia, it was use of Wikipedia in higher education which was of most interest to me. This was the subject of the session after lunch. Of particular interest to me was the talk by Humphrey Southall on “Introducing Students to Independent Research Through Editing Wikipedia Articles in English Villages“. Humphrey, a Reader in Geography at the University of Portsmouth and Director of the Great Britain Historical GIS, explained the approaches taken in a first year geography course which introduces the students to editing articles on Wikipedia. Rather than focussing on the IT aspects of using Wikipedia, Humphrey explained how the course requirements addressed both the needs to enhance students’ research skills and the need to respect Wikipedia’s culture of neutrality. The abstract for the talk describes how:

Each student on a large first year human geography course at the University of Portsmouth is assigned a different Wikipedia stub article, unedited for at least a year, about an English village. They are required to extend it “to provide a rounded description of the place and … an account of its historical development”. All villages are far from Portsmouth and students are banned from visiting them, so we emphasize that this is an exercise in finding, evaluating, interpreting and citing sources created by others, mainly online. All the villages are Civil Parishes, meaning that modern census data is available for them on the government’s Neighbourhood Statistics site, and historical census data are available on our own site A Vision of Britain through Time. Marks are given for the inclusion of required systematic information (completing the infobox); effective use of sources to create a sense of place; originality in use of sources; quality of layout and illustration; quality of referencing (do hyperlinks work?); engagement with other Wikipedia users (responding to comments!); and adherence to Wikipedia guidelines.

The second day of the conference provided another two interesting talks related to use of Wikipedia in higher education: Lisa Anderson & Nancy Graham provided a librarian’s perspective in a talk on “Safe use of Wikipedia in the transition from school to University” and Darren Stephens facilitated a workshop session on “Exploring the Education Program/Courses Extension for UK HEIs“.

Lisa & Nancy’s talk provided a rebuttal of Dave White’s talk which asked “What’s left to teach now that Wikipedia has done everyone’s homework?“. In this talk, which concluded the first day, Dave White proposed a variant on the first rule of the Fight Club. The first rule of Wikipedia in education is: “You don’t talk about Wikipedia and the learning black market“. The reason for this was based on Dave’s research which showed that although students feel that their lecturers don’t approve of use of Wikipedia, in reality they do use Wikipedia and use references obtained for Wikipedia articles – although they don’t necessarily read the references. There is therefore a learning black market based on content from Wikipedia which lectures must not be made aware of!

Lisa & Nancy’s talk described how librarians at Birmingham University appreciate that students will use Wikipedia, and therefore sought to ensure that students are made aware of best practices for using Wikipedia. They ensure their students are made aware of the history pages for Wikipedia articles; how easy it is to edit articles, which includes vandalising articles or adding errors, mistakes or deliberately incorrect or misleading content but also how such changes are normally spotted by Wikipedia volunteers which can remove such content.

I found this a useful talk on how a group of librarians are understanding how their users use Web resources and respond by engaging withe such realities. But Dave White’s evidence of student belief that use of Wikipedia is frowned upon by academics and librarians shows that further work needs to be done. One tweet summarised the talk: “Librarians’ attitudes to Wikipedia are changing @msnancygraham ”. But to what extent does this reflect the reality of how university librarians are informing their students (and staff) of the relevance of Wikipedia, I wonder? As I suggested to Nancy after her talk, perhaps gathering evidence across the sector would be useful for a paper at next year’s LILAC 2014 information literacy conference.

The final session I’ll comment on in this post is Darren Stephens workshop on “Exploring the Education Program/Courses Extension for UK HEIs“. Darren explained that the education extension installed on Wikipedia has had minimal take-up in the UK, with only two universities in England making use of it in the academic year 2012/13. The Education Program extension for MediaWiki adds features to Wikipedia to support classes of students editing articles, including structured Institution and Course pages and feeds of recent activity by students. However as we learnt during the workshop session, the extension is poorly documented and the software has a poor user interface. Comments that the software enabled staff to monitor how their students made use of Wikipedia to complete assignments also led to concerns regarding the privacy implications’ even if the software provides a dashboard which gives a window on publicly available information, there will still be issues regarding potential concerns that students have been required to make information publicly available and also that institutions may have policies which require student activities to be analysed prior to assessment.

Rod Dunican, Director of Global Education at the Wikipedia Foundation had opened the second day with a plenary talk on “Wikipedia in Education: Adventures in Learning“. I was fortunate to spend some time over lunch talking to Rod and hearing more about the Wikipedia Foundation and the Wikipedia Education Program. In my opening remarks in this posts I wondered whether the conference would confirm my feelings of the relevance of Wikipedia for the higher and further education sectors. I’m now convinced of the importance of Wikipedia in open educational practices. There will be a need to be able to provide further evidence of the value of Wikipedia (beyond the usage statistics which several speakers provided) and learn from the successes (and failures) of the early adopters.

I’ll conclude with a few tweets made during the conference.

Kate Fisher showed her enthusiasm for the conference and shared the actions she’ll be taking when she returns to work:

Thanks to @wikimedia for a great conference. Even more motivated to start a monthly Wiki Wednesday met up on our campus

but Terry McAndrew reminded us that there is still much work to do:

Very impressed with all the wikimedia available at but disappointed that HE makes too little use of it for developing

Finally Judith Scammell’s tweet makes me regret having to leave the conference before the final talk:

Thank you Wikimedia UK & spkrs 4 really interesting day fri. Sorry to miss today + musical ending!

I hope a video of the song which concluded the conference will be published!


Appendix: Archives of the Event

Storify summary of the Eduwiki conferenceanyone archiving #eduwiki tweets? Would that be a good idea?asked Simon Knight on the opening day of the conference. Although the question was directed at @wikimediauk I saw the tweet and immediately created a Twubs archive of the #eduwiki tweets. “That’s the power of the crowd – fixed in two minutes flat! #eduwiki” responded @wikimediauk . I agree, one shouldn’t have to wait for employees or officers of an organisation to carry out work which interests bystanders can do. That’ after all, can be regarded as the ‘Wikipedia way’.

In addition to the Twubs archive, I also created Storify archives of the tweets posted on day 1 and day 2 of the conference.

I should add that although I normally use Storify to curate an edited summary of event tweets published in chronological order, with tweets omitted if I feel they are of little value and annotations provided, such as links to speakers slides, in this case due to lack of time I published the full set of tweets in reverse chronological order. I did this shortly after the event was over so that an archive was available in a timely fashion, especially for others who may be wishing to publish a report on the conference. I would also add that the full archive may be of value to others who may wish to create an annotated story (e.g. of talks of particular interest). Again the process of publishing something incomplete which can be enhanced can be regarded as the Wikipedia way.


Footnote:
I was interested to see that I had received 94 ‘likes’ and 43 comments for the Facebook status update, 33 ‘likes’ and 12 comments on a LinkedIn update for my new job but only 16 comments to the original blog post.Might this suggest that Facebook and then LinkedIn are more effective than blog posts in alerting people to information such as a change of job, I wonder?


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Twitter Archives for the #ILI2013 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 October 2013

The Value of Twitter Archives for Event Hashtags

Storify summary of the Futures workshop at the ILI 2013 conferenceYesterday I summarised the workshop on Future Technologies which Tony Hirst and myself facilitated at the ILI 2013 conference. But although the post provided details of the talks we gave and the exercises we set, we didn’t provide much information about the discussions which took place. Some of these discussions would have been general, with all 21 participants and 2 facilitators able to listen in and, if desired, participate. However other discussions will have taken place in the small groups and only the summary reports would be shared with the other participants. But in addition other discussions will have taken place virtually, with remote participants involved.

Twitter is the main tool used to support such discussions at conferences. And since such discussions normally take place in an open environment it is then possible to archive the discussions which can help to ensure that interesting issues are not forgotten.

I have therefore created a Storify summary of the discussions which took place during (and after) the workshop. As can be seen from the screenshot when you use Storify to curate tweets, tweets which contain links to an image will have the image embedded within the story. This can hep to provide richer context than would be possible using just the textual content of the tweets.

Looking at the archive I notice than one of the first tweets, in which Tony Hirst asked “does Summon limit access by IP range? Any way to open up offsite access? [Qn from -ws-future ]”  came from a question one of the participants raised during the introductory session. Since neither Tony nor myself knew the answer to this question I suggested that the questions was asked across our professional network. This illustrated the potential value of having an extensive network and the potential value of use of Twitter during an event. I should add that I say ‘potential’ since I don’t think we got an answer to the question!

During the morning session we discussed trends which we may have noticed. I asked for a show of hands for people who had made use of a ‘second screen’ – i.e. using a mobile phone or tablet to discuss a TV programme while watching the programme on the TV.  Following this show of hands @Krolofsson tweeted “Only a third of the workshop crowd do “The second screen” while, f.e. watching TV . I certainly do.”  Although I had asked for the show of hands, I had forgotten the numbers responding. This event tweeting therefore helped in providing a record of evidence gathered during the workshop. This was particularly useful at our workshop as, as described in the summary of the session, the participants “were from no fewer than eleven countries (UK, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, South Africa, Australia, India, Trinidad and Tobago and Qatar) and six continents (Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Australasia and Asia)“: this example provided a vivid example of the diversity of experiences and practices.

Reviewing the archive of the tweets can be useful in helping to identify the aspects of the workshop which people found useful. It was therefore useful to see comments such as “About inventions/improvements/innovations: what’s the difference? And how to measure success or failure? Nice roundup by @briankelly ” and “Another nice quote by @psychemedia at : “The future’s already here – it’s just not evenly distributed” (William Gibson)“.

But perhaps the must useful aspect of this particular archive was the record of the discussions (which involved several people including a number who weren’t physically present at the workshop) which arose from my summary of a observation made by Tony Hirst: “Since a smart phone can act as a scanner/photocopier do we need photocopiers in libraries asks @psychemedia at “. The background to this was an observation Tony made when he was working as part of a Cambridge University Library Arcadia Project Fellowship on “Rapid Innovation in the Library”.  As Tony described in a report on his work (PDF format):

Whilst trying to photograph UL signage for inclusion in this report, I was taken to charge for using a camera (that is, my phone) within the Library. For users of current generation smartphones, an increasing number of camera related applications are now available. From barcode scanners that capture book details and call up bibliographic information or full text search tools using Google Books, to “personal photocopying” and optical character recognition (personal text scanning), maintaining a policy that bars the use of cameras within the UL is likely to act as a brake on patron delivered library innovation (No Cameras in the Library…). Note also that the act of copying is not universally ruled against within the UL – a self-service scanning/photocopier service is already provided, albeit for a fee. The provision of the photocopier service might also be reconsidered in the light of the increasing availability of digital content. For example, if a patron scanned the barcode of an item before copying it, an advisory system might be able to direct the user to a digital version of the resource (this would also help track those items that were being copied).

Tony had discussed this topic in a blog post on “No Cameras in the Library…” which described (n December 2009) how:

One of the things that has got me in trouble a couple of times during my stint as Arcadia Fellow is using my phone as a camera within the confines of University Library (cameras, along with bags, are most definately not allowed inside the Library). As the Library rules puts it:

18. Overcoats, raincoats, and other kinds of outdoor clothing, umbrellas, bags, cases, cameras, photocopying devices, and similar personal belongings shall normally be deposited in the locker-room adjacent to the entrance hall during each visit to the Library.

Which is not to say that photocopying, per se is not allowed in the University Library, because it is… either using self-service machines or via Imaging Services (UL: Photocopying). So the problem is presumably guarding against Library users photographing/photocopying works that they shouldn’t? But from what I can tell, those works are accessible only in the Reading Rooms, so presumably a ban on photograph/copying works in those areas would suffice? (If the books that may not be copied can be taken out of those rooms, then they can easily be copied in the photopcopier room…)

The discussion this story generated, both in the workshop and online, illustrated that there are still diverse views as to whether use of smartphones should be banned from libraries (as they may be used to infringe copyright or, if photos of people are taken, privacy) or encouraged.  It was interesting to see how this discussion continued on Twitter which Owen Stephens described how:

[At] one library I worked an academic came in with 35mm SLR digital camera and tripod to take pictures of an item …
[The] item in question was on loan from BL but could only be used in library with no p/c allowed …
whether this was to do with rights or fragility of item I’m not sure

I would like to revisit the question of acceptable practices covering use of phones in libraries at a later date. The Twitter archive, and the contributions made by participants and the remote users, will be a useful resource for me.

Archives of #ILI2013 Conference Tweets

Storify archive for #ILI2013 tweetsI curated the tweets for the workshop session. This meant I inspected the archives, tried to add them to the archive in a logical structure, included relevant tweets which may not have contained the #ili2013 hashtag and omitted tweets which I felt didn’t any value.

In addition to the archive of the workshop tweets I also used Storify to create a complete archive of the #ILI2013 tweets. Due to the time it can take to curate a large event archive this time I simply accepted all tweets containing the hashtag and published them in reverse chronological order, as illustrated.

I hope this will provide a useful resource for other ILI 2013 speakers, organisers, participants or other interested parties who would like to see the discussions which took place on Twitter.

I should also add that I have also used the Twubs service to create a complementary archive of the tweets, which may provide a useful comparison of the two services.

Enjoy!

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