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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)


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

 

 

 

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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!

Posted in Events, Twitter | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

ILI 2013: The Future Technologies and Their Applications Workshop

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 October 2013

ILI – My Favourite Library Conference

I am now back home after spending a hugely enjoyable and stimulating three days at the ILI 2013 conference. This was the fifteenth in the annual Internet Librarian International conference series, As I have attended fourteen of the conferences (I had been invited to speak at a conference in the National Library of Singapore for the ILI conference I missed) it’s clear that I am a great fan of the event. This is for a number of reasons; in particular the international flavour of the event provides an opportunity to hear about developments in the library and online information world from a wide sector. It is also a very friendly event, which provides a valuable opportunity to develop and cultivate one’s professional network – as ever, the numbers of people I follow on Twitter has grown over the past few days; who needs business cards when swapping Twitter IDs can provide an ‘interactive business card’ – a suggestion I made back in 2008 which now seems to have become a mainstream approach.

The Future Technologies and Their Applications Workshop

The conference itself took place over two days. However on Monday three full-day workshops took place, on search, Libraries and MOOCs and future technologies. Myself and Tony Hirst facilitated the workshop on “Future Technologies and Their Applications“. As described in the abstract the workshop set out to ensure that participants were made aware of methodologies which could be used to detect new developments and gather evidence which could be used to justify investment n exploring the technologies in more detail and implementing the technologies:

Despite the uncertainties faced by librarians and information professionals, technology continues to develop at breakneck speed, offering many new opportunities for the sector. At the same time, technological developments can be distracting and may result in wasted time and effort (remember the excitement provided by Second Life?!).

This workshop session will help participants identify potentially relevant technological developments by learning about and making use of ‘Delphic’ processes. The workshop also provides insight into processes for spotting ‘weak signals’ which may indicate early use of technologies which could be important in the future.

But having identified potentially important technological developments, organisations need to decide how to respond. What will be the impact on existing technologies? What are the strategic implications and what are the implications for staff within the organisation?

The interactive workshop session will provide opportunities to address the challenges in understanding the implications of technological developments and making appropriate organisational interventions.

We highlighted Second Life as a technology which failed to live up to its expectations and demonstrated the need for more systematic approaches for detecting new technologies which could be embedded, However we also described the need for libraries to be willing to take risks and provided a risks and opportunities framework which could be used to assess risks and minimise or, perhaps, accept such risks.  Part of this framework was to assess the risks of doing nothing, and the missed opportunities this could entail.

A total of 21 participants booked for the workshop. They 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 provided some challenges but also opportunities in learning from the differing experiences and challenges which the participants faced.

The Content

In the workshop we made use of processes which I described in a paper on What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future which I presented at the EMTACL (Emerging Technologies in Academic Libraries ) conference held in Trondheim a year ago and a paper by myself and Paul Hollins (CETIS) on Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow which I presented at the Umbrella 2013 conference earlier this year. The Delphic processes described in the papers had been previously used by UKOLN and CETIS in our work for the JISC Observatory which, prior to the cessation of its funding was an “initiative to systematise the way in which the JISC anticipates and responds to projected future trends and scenarios in the context of the use of technology in Higher & Further Education in the UK“.

Following use of the Delphic process to identify and prioritise new developments we also used the risks and opportunities framework which has been described in papers on “Library 2.0: Balancing the Risks and Benefits to Maximise the Dividends” and “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web“.

Tony Hirst also provided some techniques which could be used to identify developments which may be taking place. “What have you noticed around you which may indicate changes which may be significant?”  he asked, which made we reflect on how WiFi in conferences is now starting to “just work”. In addition I subsequently told Tony how I had purchased a discounted copy of The Guardian using an electronic voucher Another technique which Tony suggested was to provide a question for which the answer might be “At the library”. For example during his talk in the Data Librarian session at the ILI conference itself Tony suggested that there could be opportunities for librarians to provide training and support for their users in developing skills in SQL and use of regular expressions. Could “At the library” be an answer to the question a researcher is asked by a colleague: “Where did you learn how to take the data from diverse sources and manipulate them prior to data visualisation?” for someone working in an institution in which library staff are developing new skills and moving into new areas?

The final part of the framework used in the workshop during which participants made a business case for exploring new technologies was an approach I have learnt recently from my participation in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC organized by Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones.

In the second assignment on the MOOC participants were asked to make plans for the deployment of emerging technologies using a planning checklist which included completion of the following statement:

Convince ______ that by _______ they will ________ which will ________ because _______.

Have identified key technological developments using the Delphic process the participants, working in three groups, where asked to provide a business case for their area which included the methodology from the Hyperlinked Library MOOC.

Feedback

How did the workshop go?  Unfortunately I missed the final afternoon of the ILI 2013 conference but Alison McNab tweeted this summary from the final session:

The @Philbradley session on Privacy, #LibraryCamp inspiration & @briankelly workshop on new technology all mentioned as highlights

The evaluation forms provided some useful feedback. We asked participants to summarise things which they would do as a result of the workshop when they return to work. The responses included:

  • Discuss Delphi with our IT development Team
  • Use the Delphic process and Action Brief Model to plan new tech projects as I brainstorm them
  • Discuss within the library if the hierarchy must be kept up for the use of social media and cannot everyone, in the name of the library, use social media with our users
  • Look at the [IFLA and NMC Horizon] Trend reports and Gartner report

We asked participants to List suggestions and recommendations you will make to your colleagues. The responses included:

  • Risk assess new technologies
  • Approaching potential new technologies and looking at evidence, case studies & asking about its application in a library context.
  • Take more risks, share disaster experience
  • The “have you asked the Library?” is quite an eye-opener. It forces one to rethink what they think they are doing.
  • Rethink the role of librarianship, current and future

We asked participants to What aspects of the workshop did you find most useful? The responses included:

  • Discussions and networking. Tony’s “Did you try the Library?” Horizon project Top 10.
  • The Scenario Planning process. Template for proposing tech/service. Loved the two morning presentations.
  • Share disaster experiences within library community, Take risks with new technologies.
  • Discussions with other people. Useful ‘recipes’.
  • The 3 short term and medium term technologies to look for. The Delphic process.
  • The discussions and group sessions. Overview of reports.
  • The international diversity of the participants.
  • I found it most useful to discuss library issues with fellow librarians/participants
  • The personal experience stories from librarians. Planning of new proposals for library.

We asked participants to Summarise aspects of the workshop which could be improved. The responses included:

  • Furniture layout in advance of the workshop
  • Would have liked more focus on emerging technologies (specific ones)
  • Warm up the room :-)
  • I would have preferred more practical examples relevant to the library even if they end up being Second Life.
  • Cooperative parts, participation parts.
  • Less talking, more doing.
  • It would be nice if new technologies had been presented. The only ones mentioned were Google, Wikipedia and Amazon. I already knew about them and did not need to hear about them again.

The general comments included:

  • Well done for working with such a mixed group
  • Loved the bit.ly interactive Doc notes idea – very helpful for attendees and makes it easier for me to share this info with my colleagues back home.
  • Well-organized. Group work was a but difficult because the group was too international, that means the problems in the different countries are too different.
  • I really enjoyed it!
  • Good workshop! Thanks
  • Liked it a lot!
  • I think it would have been useful if the presenters, at least one, was a librarian. The two presenters did not seem to know about the legal issues concerning library technologies. Several things they said were illegal.

Reflections

This was the fist time Tony and I had ran this workshop. We were pleased with the workshop and the active participation from the participants. We had said that the structure of the workshop may change in light of the feedback form the participants. This meant that three presentations, on digital badges, amplified events for professional development and hyperlinked libraries, were not given. Instead we responded to requests from a couple of the participants to address the broader issues of the future of libraries.  However these slides, together with all of the resources used in this workshop, have been made available and use of a Creative Commons CC-BY licence means that they can be reused by the participants (and others) in their own institution.

One of the discussion groups commented that the six participants were from six different countries. I suspect that wouldn’t have been the case for workshop sessions at the Internet Librarian conference which is held in the US and attracts primarily a North American audience. Despite the concerns Tony and I had when we first heard of the global diversity of the participants at the session we are pleased with the feedback we received. In retrospect, however, the title of the workshop did not correctly reflect the abstract. Rather than “Future Technologies and Their Applications” we should have called the workshop “Predicting  Future Technologies”.

Resources

The slides used in the workshop are available below.  Note that the slides hosted on Slideshare are the latest version. The Authorstream versions are provided as a backup copy.

Code Title Slides
A1 Workshop Introduction [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
B1 Predicting Technology Trends: a Methodology [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
CO Future Doodles [Slideshare]
C1 Amplified Events [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
C2 Digital Badges [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
C3 The Hyperlinked Library [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
D1 Gathering Interests [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
D2 Group Exercises [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
E1 Scenario Planning For Libraries [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
F1 Review and Next Steps [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]

Slides

A1: Workshop Introduction B1: Predicting Technology Trends: a Methodology CO: Future Doodles
C1: Amplified Events (not used) C2: Digital Badges  (not used)  C3: The Hyperlinked Library  (not used)
D1: Gathering Interests D2: Group Exercises
E1: Scenario Planning For Libraries F1: Review and Next Steps

NOTEJeroen de Boer has just published a report on the workshop (and a number of other events). Google Translate has been used to provide an English translation. This describes how “we opted for the development of mobile.  Because my group were mainly employed by university and research libraries was their focus very focused on issues relating to the accessibility of private collections and therefore problems of copyright etc. I said that it is right to look at how external sources very interesting for us including academic, can link to library collections“.

The group included the following summary. They would:

Convince management that by implementing mobile they will exploit Linked Open Data collections which will optimize the library collection in order to attract new and current users because they will keep our library relevant anywhere anytime.

I was pleased to see this approach, developed by Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones, being used by others.


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Supporting Open Data and Open Content

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 August 2013

Following on from a couple of posts last week which summarised reasons why I may be  and an explanation of What is Open Data, Why the Interest and What Are the Barriers? in today’s post I summarise some of the ways in which I have made use of open content and encouraged others to do likewise.

IWMW event and open dataDuring my 16 years at UKOLN I have given over 400 talks throughout the UK and Europe, as well as in North America, Australia and Asia. I have made many of the slides available with Creative Commons licences as well as using services such as Slideshare which permit reuse, downloading, modifications and embedding.

But in addition to a personal commitment to openness I have also sought to ensure that others in the higher education sector are aware of the potential benefits of open practices.

The annual Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) series has provided an opportunity to make use of open practices and ensure that those with responsibilities for managing institutional Web services in UK universities are aware of moves towards openness.

The IWMW 2013 event, for example, opened with a keynote talk on “Open Education: The Business & Policy Case for OER” which was given by Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons. This was followed by Doug Belshaw’s talk on “Mozilla, Open Badges and a Learning Standard for Web Literacy“. In addition to such keynote talks, workshop sessions on “Open Up: Open Data in the Public Sector” and “Save Money and Make Things Better with Linked Open Data” provided an opportunity for participants to explore issues about data and openness in more detail.

iwmw speaker mapBut in addition to the talks and workshop sessions which address various aspects of openness, information about the 17 years of IWMW events has been made available as open data, This has included information on the location of the IWMW events, details of the plenary talks and workshop sessions and biographical details of the speakers and facilitators.

This information has been provided in RSS format, a lightweight and extensible syndication format which has proved suitable for this task.

The extensibility of RSS has enabled geo-located information to be provided.  In addition to the location of the IWMW events themselves, the biographical information includes the location of the host institution of the speakers and workshop facilitators.

Use of open data in this way has enabled maps to be provided, as illustrated, showing the extent of active participation at 17 years of events from across the sector. It should be noted that this work focussed on the creation of the data and associated data modelling, rather than the use of an application. The initial applications which provided location maps of the data have subsequently been superceded by Google Maps which provides a more robust service. The data could potentially be used for other purposes, such as providing estimates of the carbon costs of speakers and facilitators in travelling from their host institution to the IWMW event.

The data modelling led to an awareness of the importance of definition of the data items and the need for documentation – it was decided to provide geo-location information for the speakers’ host institution (and not, for example, where they live) and this information was primarily provided only for people who were based in universities and not for consultants of those  working for the commercial sector.

It does seem to me that given the importance of events as a channel for sharing ideas there would be benefits from providing open data associated with events themselves, which can build on access access to the talks given at events. The Lanyrd service can be used to provide information about speakers at events, as can be seen from my Lanyrd profile. I’d be interested to hear of further examples of the ways in which open event data is being used, especially examples of the aggregation of event data.

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Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 July 2013

The Umbrella 2013 Conference

Plenary talk at Umbrella 2013Yesterday I attended the first day of the Umbrella 2013 conference. The opening day of the two-day conference was full of fascinating talks and interesting discussions – the highlight of which was the closing plenary talk which asked “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s a librarian?“. But no ordinary librarian – Victoria Treadway, Clinical Library at the Wirral Hospital Teaching Hospital Trust, in an engrossing double act with Doctor Girendra Sadera described how, by going beyond one’s comfort zone and working closely with others in a team working in the hospital’s Critical Care Unit, librarians could literally save lives.

We’re All Information Professionals Now!

Umbrella tweetIf this was the highlight of the first day, there was also an undercurrent related to the uncertainties of the future of the library profession and CILIP, the professional organisation for librarians and information professionals. Perhaps it would appear strange for librarians and information professionals to be uncertain of their future in an information-rich society. But as Annie Mauger (CLIP CEO) tweeted during the opening plenary earlier today: “We’re all information professionals“. But if we all all information professionals (Channel 4 news journalists, researchers and, indeed, ordinary people many of whom will now have to curate increasingly large volumes pf digital resources) what differentiates information professionals who choose – or choose not – to belong to a professional organisation?

Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow

My contribution to the conference was to present a paper on “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow” which argues that librarians need to adopt evidence-based approaches to planning for the implications of technological developments. The paper summarised the approaches which have been taken by the JISC Observatory and argued that, in light of the imminent demise of the JISC Observatory following the cessation of the core funding for UKOLN and CETIS, institutions may wish to adopt the methodology developed by the JISC Observatory team.

Since the presentation only lasted for 20 minutes it was possibly to give an overview of the JISC Observatory team work. However I would hope that the paper (for which Paul Hollins, Director of CETIS, was a co-author) will be published shortly. In addition an extended version of the slides are available on Slideshare and are embedded below.


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IWMW 2013: Web Managers In A Double Bind

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 July 2013

Reflections on the Plenary Talks at IWMW 2013

Summary of Dai Griffiths' talk at IWMW 2013

Sketch note of Dai Griffith’s talk by Kevin Mears (@mearso)

In a recent post I described how “The Job’s Not Over Till The Paperwork’s Complete” and summarised the ways in which the digital resources associated with last week’s IWMW 2013 event are being aggregated. As well as the curation of event tweets which is currently being carried out using Storify (e.g. see the Storify summary of the first day) the Lanyrd entry for IWMW 2013 is also being used to provide links to speakers’ slides, curated session tweets and, where possible, notes provided by event participants.

The first trip report we came across was written by the City University London Web Team; a report which began: “there are a lot memories and a lot to describe to my fellow colleagues and those who couldn’t attend“. Indeed, many memories and lots of interesting content which will be of relevant to many working in institutional Web teams. We would therefore encourage anyone who has written a report about the event to ensure that it is made publicly available and to provide a link to the report from the Lanyrd page (you can add links from the bottom of the Lanyrd Coverage page).

The Open Agenda on the Opening Day

Rather than attempt to summarise all of the talks I intend to reflect on some of the significant themes which were discussed at the event.

The opening plenary talk was given by Cable Green, Director of Global Leaning at Creative Commons. In the talk on “Open Education: The Business & Policy Case for OER” Cable explained how Creative Commons licences can provide a stable legal framework for permitting reuse of content and the importance of such licences in helping to support the aim of global leaning for everyone.

In the second talk, on “Mozilla, Open Badges and a Learning Standard for Web Literacy“, Doug Belshaw introduced the idea of open badges to, gauging from the comments on Twitter, an audience which is intrigued by open badges and their potential relevance for both personal use and to support departmental activities.

The IWMW 2013 event opened with talks which promoted the benefits of open practices. On the final day of the event several of the speakers responded to issues which had been raised earlier (which highlighted the benefits of having a flexible approach to processing speakers’ slides). For me the two most inspirational talks were “The University in a Bind” by Dai Griffiths and “The Delicious Discomfort Of Not Knowing: How to Lead Effectively Through Uncertainty” by Neil Denny.

Dai Griffiths, Professor at the Institute for Educational Cybernetics at the University of Bolton described how the institutional Web is situated at the “not-so-calm centre of a hurricane”. Within current economic uncertainties institutions are also in a “double bind” – described in Wikipedia as “an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, in which one message negates the other“. Dai provided a number of examples of this ‘double bind’ such as the pressures on researchers in the run-up to the REF to publish in high impact journals whilst also expecting researchers to ensure that their research publications are available in open access journals.

This reminded me of the double-bind which institutional Web managers found themselves in just over a year ago after the ‘cookie’ law came into being: institutions must (a) conform with the law and ensure that visitors to institutional Web sites opt-in to use of cookie or (b) providing clean and simple user interfaces to resources which minimise barriers to use of services (especially if accessed on a range of devices).

Sidhu's KIS statisticsAnother example of an institutional double bind relates to a plenary talk given at IWMW 2012. At last year’s event Andrew Oakley, Head of Software Development at the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) spoke about Key Information Set Data, information which the government requires institutions to provide. But this year Ranjit Sidhu, towards the end of his talk entitled “9am, 16th August, 2012: ‘What the fcuk just happened then?’” informed the audience that “Less than 1 visitor per university per day click the UniStats [KIS] widget“. Again the tension if between (a) implementing systems which are legally required and (b) ensuring that we allocate scarce resources in a cost-effective way.

Or as Bart Simpson put it: “You’re damned if you do; you’re damned if you don’t“.

double bindHow are we to respond to having to implement incompatible goals, with decreasing resources? In the final talk at the event Neil Denny spoke about “The Delicious Discomfort Of Not Knowing: How to Lead Effectively Through Uncertainty“. Neil was another speaker who updated his slides in response to the issues which had been raised during the event. It occurred to me that Neil could have updated the title of his talk so that it explained “How To Lead Effectively Through Insanity” as suggested by Dai Griffiths is the slide illustrated.

I will conclude this post by using the summary of Neil’s talk which my colleague Marieke Guy has just posted with the title “The Delicious Discomfort of IWMW13“:

His message was about how we need to be comfortable with uncertainty and find strategies for surviving at the edge of our comfort zone. We can survive by listening to others and adopting the attitude of an artisan (trying new things). His talk really touched a nerve. All of us from UKOLN are going through big change, but change is good, if you don’t change…you stand still. I have to admit I actually love that point when change can happen and I’ve actively strived towards it. It’s at that point that all possibilities still exist.

I agree – survival will require being able to listen to others and being receptive to change. The challenge for me will be to explore sustainability options for future IWMW events. In a future post I will summarise plans to do this.


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IWMW 2013: The Resources

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1 July 2013

The Job’s Not Over Till The Paperwork’s Complete

Storify summary of first day at IWMW 2012IWMW 2013, the seventeenth Institutional Web Management Workshop, is now over. Or perhaps I should say that the event is over for the speakers and participants. For the event organisers we still have to process payments, analyse the event evaluation forms and send feedback to the speakers.

But in addition to the post-event work which all event organisers will need to carry out, since we have always prided ourselves on the event amplification of IWMW events, we need to process various digital resources in order to maximise the readership of resources used at the event and provide additional ways in which the discussions can be accessed. An event no longer has to finish when the organiser announces the physical event is over!

Providing Access to an Event’s Digital Resources

A Storify summary of the first day has already been published, as illustrated. In addition a summary of the closing session, entitled IWMW 2013: What The Users Thought, which includes Twitter comments made by participants after they had left the event is also available. The comments included:

  • thanks for the last 3 days, lots of work, lots of fun and many new friends, it’s been great hope this isn’t the end!
  • Great to hear how important IWMW is in inspiring us to work together and found communities of practice
  • Themes I will take away from this year’s #iwmw13:  silos, change, big data, Agile, openness, and “to MOOC, or not to MOOC?”
  • Feeling inspired by our speakers, change is inevitable, work with it not against it!
  • Be comfortable with uncertainty, listen, adopt the attitude of an artisan, be creative, read, be curious – an inspiring ending to #iwmw13
  • Leaving Bath inspired & impressed after my first #iwmw13 An amazing community which will no doubt keep going in the future.
  • My first time at IWMW. Also first conference I’ve been to that ended with Monty Python on YouTube. Delightful!

Lanyrd page for Doug Belshaw's talkIn addition to the Storify summaries the slides used in the plenary talks and a number of the workshop sessions have been uploaded to the IWMW 2013 and to Slideshare. The Slideshare repository is probably the more important, as slides hosted on Slideshare can be embedded elsewhere. This includes the IWMW 2013 Lanyrd site, for which pages for each of the sessions contain not only the abstract and speaker details but also slides which are available from Slideshare as well as user-generated content including blog posts about the sessions and, of particular interest to me, links to Kevin Mears’ sketches which give a graphical depiction of his reflctions on the key messages of several of the plenary talks and the two parallel sessions he attended.

An example of a Lanyrd page, for Doug Belshaw’s plenary talk on “Mozilla, Open Badges and a Learning Standard for Web Literacy” is illustrated.

But in addition to the resources produced by the speakers and the tweets posted by the audience the other valuable resource created at the event are the sketches produced by Kevin Mears. What a great way of summarising a talk and highlighting the key aspects in what I feel is a particularly memorable way.

Sketch by Kevin Mears

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Event Amplification at #IWMW13

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 June 2013

Event Amplification at IWMW Events: The History

For several years we have provided a live video stream of the plenary talks at IWMW events. This decision was made for several reasons:

  • To maximise access to the talks given at the event.
  • To ensure that a wide audience was aware of the event and, potentially, attend the event the following year.
  • To enhance the accessibility of the event for those who may not be able to attend for a variety of reasons.

The background to these decisions has been explained in a video clip which is available on YouTube and is embedded below.

Event Amplification at IWMW 2013

panopto interfaceWe are pleased to announce that the IWMW 2013 event will be amplified, with a live video stream being provided for the plenary talks.

BUCS, the IT Services department at the University of Bath will be providing the video stream. They will be using the Panopto service for this.

Since Panopto requires Silverlight support in order to run there will be a need for remote viewers to check that their local computer has Silverlight installed.

Before viewing you are advised to check the
viewing requirements.

The Panopto service will capture/stream screen capture and MS Powerpoint display from the lecture room PC. A test page (illustrated) is available which can be used for testing.

Further information about the video streaming, including the URLs which will be used and the times the video stream will be live is available on the IWMW 2013 Web site.

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Benefits of IWMW Event Beyond Its Main Purposes

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 June 2013

Events are Primarily About Content and Networking

The IWMW  2013 event is rapidly approaching. In recent posts I’ve highlighted the key content areas which will be covered at the event. I have also described how we have responded to feedback from previous events which have highlighted the importance of the networking opportunities which the event provides – this year, for example, in addition to the opportunities to network during the conference dinner and reception at the Roman Baths we are encouraging participants to explore the potential of mobile applications which can support such networking activities.

Additional Benefits of Events

But what of the hidden benefits which such an event can provide? The IWMW 2013 illustrates a couple of such benefits which may not be obvious: the opportunity to evaluate tools which may be of interest for institutional use and the opportunity for participants to organise and discuss surveys addressing relevant areas of interest. These two examples are summarised below.

Evaluation of Event Networking Tools

A recent post in This Year’s Experiment at #IWMW13 – the Bizzabo Mobile Event App described how the Bizzabo mobile app (available on Apple and Android mobile devices) is being used to provide access to the event timetable, speaker biographies as well as biographical details and links to Twitter and LinkedIn profiles provided by participants who choose to sign up and provide such information. In addition the app provides a communications infrastructure which enable participants to communicate with ones – and I have already received a message from one participants who would like to know if there is a recommended meeting place for those who will arrive on the Tuesday evening, the night before the event starts.

Although such an app can be particularly useful for event organisers (e.g. getting in touch with people directly if we have found lost property) knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of such tools may also be of interest to those working in institutional Web teams who may be asked to recommend an application available for use on mobile devices to support events in their local institution.

One of the issues which Web managers will be aware are the tensions between mobile apps (which typically need to be developed for a range of platforms such as Apple and Android devices) and mobile Web interfaces to such services, which should be platform neutral. But although there would appear to be significant benefits in recommended a mobile Web solution, the benefits of services which require take-up by a critical mass of users to be effective will not materialise if users choose not to make use of a mobile Web solution, for whatever reason.

In order to provide a comparison of such alternative approaches, at IWMW 2013 we are providing the event details on the Lanyrd Web service, which also has a mobile interface.

In addition to the main architectural differences, these two services have slightly different functions: Lanyrd was set up (by two Computer Science graduates from the University of Bath, incidentally) as a social directory of events (you can see the events which your Twitter followers attend) whereas Bizzabo is focussed on supporting communications at a specific event.

Repository Survey

Lanyrd email message about iwmw2013I mentioned how Lanyrd can provide information on events one’s Twitter community have attended, spoken at or organised. In addition, as Lanyrd takes a wiki-style approach to the addition of event-related information, this morning I received an email alert of new addition to the IWMW 2013 Lanyrd entry: as illustrated Nick Sheppard had added a link to a survey on institutional approaches to the provision of institutional repositories.

The blog post which is referenced in the coverage describes how the survey:

is designed to provide a snapshot of opinion on how successful institutional websites are at disseminating research information, outputs and data.

This illustrates the second hidden benefit of events such as IWMW 2013: it provides an opportunity to survey usage patterns, opinions and concerns across a group of professionals with shared interests and enables the responses to be discussed in a structured environment – in this case during the 90 minute workshop session on “The Institutional Web Site and the Institutional Repository: Addressing Challenges of Integration“.

What Can You Do?

If you have an interest in evaluating services to support networking at events, feel free to install the Bizzabo app and join the IWMW 2013 event or to sign up for the IWMW 2013 Lanyrd entry. In both cases, it should be noted, that there is no need to be physically attending the event, although Lanyrd does allow you to ‘track’ an event rather than register as a speaker, organiser or participants.

If you have an interest in giving your views on the success(or not) of your institutional website in disseminating research information, outputs and data feel free to complete the survey.

If you’d like to attend the workshop session in which the findings will be discussed, or, indeed, sign up for the IWMW 2013 itself, you will need to register quickly as we have been informed that the university accommodation requirements need to be finalised.

 

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Update on IWMW 2013

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 June 2013

IWMW 2013, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, will take place at the University of Bath on 26-28 June 2013. As that’s less than 2 weeks away I thought it would be timely to give an update on the planning for the event. Note if you are unfamiliar with the event you can view the IWMW 2013 programme or read the posts about the event and the video summary of the event.

Additional pricing plans: Since we have been told that, in a number of institutions, staff development budgets have been reduced significantly we have introduced a day rate for attendance at the event. Although the cost of £350 for the three day event (which includes 3 nights’ accommodation) is very reasonable, the £100 daily rate may be of interest for those on small staff development budgets or who have other commitment s and can’t attend for the full 3 days. This new daily rate has been added to the IWMW 2013 booking form.

New sessions added since bookings launched: Since the booking form was launched a number of additional workshop sessions have been added, including Connections, Connecting, Connected, Opening Up University Space Online Using Google Street View, Interactive Maps & Dynamic Web Design and Are We Too Easily Distracted by Shiny Objects?. Since people who booked early will not have been aware of these sessions we will notify participants of these sessions, in case they wish to modify the parallel sessions they have signed up for.

Event information provided on a range of online services: The IWMW 2013 programme is now available on Lanyrd (which also has a mobile interface) and on the Bizzabo app (as described in a recent post). Although such duplication may cause some confusion, it also provides an opportunity to make comparisons between use of a mobile Web site and a mobile app for use of events. Such comparisons may be useful for institutional Web managers who are making plans for the provision of event information for mobile devices.

Logistics for social programme being finalised: The plans for the event dinner in the Claverton Rooms on Wednesday 26 June and the Wine Reception at the Roman Baths on Thursday 26 June are being finalised, which includes details of the buses which people can take to get to the centre of town from the University. In addition to these two organised events we are still exploring options for people who may arrive on the Tuesday as well as suggested restaurants and pubs which people may wish to visit after the reception at the Roman Baths. A Google Map of pubs and restaurants is being developed which currently lists pubs I would recommend; however I will add details of wine bars for those who may have different tastes :-)

Travel information being finalised: A travel page is being finalised which will provide information for people arriving by plane, train or car. Note for people who attended IWMW 2006 or IWMW 2000, which were also held at the University of Bath, there is now a direct bus service from Bristol airport as well as two bus services (the 18 and the U18) from Bath bus station to the University.

Information about technical infrastructure being finalised: A page on technologies provides information on connecting to the WiFi network and the applications which may be of use at the event (e.g. details of the event’s Twitter hashtag). We recently found that some Eduroam users had difficulties in connecting to Eduroam at Bath University, so we’ll be encouraging them to test their settings in advance and try to connect as soon as they arrive on campus.

Information sent out to speakers and workshop facilitators: We’ve sent out information to the plenary speakers and workshop facilitators to ensure they have booked for the event and informed us of any special requirements they may have.

I now have less than two weeks to prepare my welcome talk and the parallel session I am running. But have I forgotten anything, I wonder? Do let me know!

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What Could Data Journalism Tell Us About Events?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 June 2013

Background

Location of plenary speakers at IWMW eventsOne of the sessions at the forthcoming IWMW 2013 event is entitled “IWMW: The Digital Story“. The 90 minute-long session will provide an opportunity for participants to share their stories, anecdotes and digital resources for IWMW events since it was launched in 1997. The aim will be to provide a series of stories about the event including some of the key moments, the ways in which the event has influenced participants over the years and the role the event has had in supporting a thriving community of practice for those with responsibilities for providing large-scale institutional Web services.

What Can the Data Tell Us?

But beyond the recollections of the community and the memories which may be triggered by photographs and video clips, what stories could be told by use of data associated with the event?

Due to long-standing interest in the value of data (and particularly open data) we have been providing a series of data sets about the IWMW series of events for a number of years. In particular we have RSS files available for:

  • Locations for the 17 IWMW events
  • Biographical details of the plenary speakers at the IWMW events.
  • Biographical details of workshop facilitators at the IWMW events.
  • Abstracts of the plenary talks and workshop sessions at IWMW events.

The biographical details includes the location of the host institution of the plenary speakers and workshop facilitators (normally where they are based in a university). These geo-located RSS files can be viewed in services such as Google Maps, Yuan.cc and Acme.com (for example see the location of plenary speakers using Google Maps and the location of workshop facilitators using Yuan.cc).

facilitators-all RSS fileThe RSS files ensure that the information is provided in a format which can be used by a number of freely-available applications. An example of a fragment of one of the RSS files is illustrated, which shows how the file contains the biographical information supplied by the speakers, the geo-location of their host institution, the date  of their session and a link to their biography on the IWMW Web site.

The following caveats should be noted:

  • The location of the host institution is normally available only for people who are based at a University (although on a number of occasions, the location of people based in organisation such as Eduserv hasd been provided).
  • The coordinates has been obtained from Google Maps and may differ slightly over the years in different buildings representing the institution have been found.
  • The date of the talk or session will only apply to the first session, if multiple talks have been given.
  • The date has not been used for all years.
  • The date may not take into account British Summer Time.
  • The semantics of the have been subverted, as the date does not give the date the item was published (this field was used as it is processed by some timeline applications.
  • There may be errors in the data.

But what stories could be told using such data? My thoughts are:

  • The range of institutions which have contributed to the series of events is depicted by the location map.
  • Connecting the institutions with institutional profiling information e.g. size of institution and grouping (e.g. Russell Group) might tell us if large institutions or research-led institutions showed a greater tendency to share their expertise and activities (or boast about it!) across the sector.
  • Tag clouds of the session titles and abstracts might tell provide a visualisation of the topics covered.
  • Applying a timeline across the data could provide an indication of the changes in topics of interest over 17 years.

Such stories may emerge from consideration of the data which is available. But what about the stories which the gaps could tell us? These might include:

  • Institutions which have never provided a speaker or facilitator.
  • Topics which might be expected to have been covered in the past 17 years but which have not been included in session titles or abstracts.

A page containing links to the various RSS feeds is available. Anyone have suggestions for other stories which could be told? And would anybody like to provide a visualisation, an infographic or a story based on this data? Finally, I’d welcome suggestions on how analysis of the data associated with well-established events (such as Jisc, UCISA, SCONUL, ALT-C, etc. events, for example) might provide fresh insights into such events.


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