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Posts Tagged ‘cetis’

Standards for Web Applications on Mobile: Update on W3C Developments

Posted by Brian Kelly on 15 September 2014

Standards for Web Applications on Mobile: Current State and Roadmap

Back in July 2014 W3C published an overview report on Standards for Web Applications on Mobile which summarised the various technologies developed in W3C which increase the capabilities of Web applications and how they apply to use on mobile devices.

The document describes a variety of features which will enhance use of mobile devices to access Web products which are grouped into the following categories: graphics, multimedia, device adaptation, forms, user interactions, data storage, personal information management, sensors and hardware integration, network, communication and discovery, packaging, payment, performance and optimization and privacy and security.

For each of these categories a table is provided in the report which, for each of the detailed features relevant to the category, summarises the relevant standard (specification) and the W3C working group responsible for the standard. An indication is provided of the maturity of the standard and its stability (draft standards may be liable to significant changes in light of experiences gained during testing). In addition to information about the maturity and stability of the standard information is also  provided on its deployment in existing mainstream browsers together with links for developers to developer resources and test suites.

An example of the table for graphics. covering 2D vector graphics, is shown below.

Extract from chart on W3C mobile standards

Discussion

I feel that the report which summarises the current status and roadmap for future development of standards which aim to ensure that mobile devices are an integral part of the “open web platform” provides a welcomed mature approach to the complexities and obstacles which have been faced in the past in the deployment of open standards in a Web environment.

In the early days of the web there was a belief that open standards simply needed to be proven through implementation of at least two interoperable open source implementations – once that was achieved the benefits of open standards, such as platform independence, would inevitably lead to acceptance in the marketplace. That, at least, was the expectation for the W3C’s SMIL standard, which was felt to provide an open killer alternative to the proprietary Flash format.  Of course, despite the availability of a number of SMIL readers, the format failed to take off. Flash wasn’t killed by an open standard, I would argue, but by Apple decision not to support in on the iOS platform. And the eventual alternative to Flash wasn’t SMIL but a variety of W3C standards which are covered by the term “open web platform“.

I made this point in a post published in November 2008 which asked Why Did SMIL and SVG Fail? The post generated much discussion, primarily about the level of support for SVG. In August 2003 Isaac Shapira made the point that I guess in retrospect this article is very wrong. SVG is a prominent use, and has active development and support today -> in 2013“.

As can be seen from the above image this comment is correct: SVG 1.1 is now widely supported and SVG 2.0 is under development. Although, to paraphrase John Cleese “SMIL is dead. It’s passed on! This standard is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker!“. In contrast, SVG was merely resting!

Implications for the Sector

In retrospect institutional conservatism regarding the adoption of innovative open standards is understandable. Institutions may have legitimate reasons to be reluctant to upgrade the desktop environment due to the resource implications, the need for testing, etc. (There will probably also be less justifiable reasons to wish to avoid updating desktop browser as the use of systems which make use of proprietary features of specific – typically Microsoft’s Internet Explorer – browsers; however let us hope that this concern is no longer relevant!)

However W3C now appear to appreciate the need to be transparent about the take-up of their standards by mainstream browsers. This is to be applauded. The risk now, it would seem, involves the development or procurement of systems for use in a mobile context which are based on platform-specific apps.

I hope that everyone involved in the development or procurement of mobile applications, in managing staff with such responsibilities or with strategic planning for the institution’s IT environment will read the W3C’s report on Standards for Web Applications on Mobile and use the report to inform their planning. My concern would be with the senior manager, perhaps in the marketing department, who comes across information such as the recent (April 2014) infographic on “The rise of mobile technology in higher education” who makes a decision to invest on an institutional mobile app based on this evidence. Another interesting challenge will be faced by institutions which have already purchased a mobile app service, before the mobile web environment had approached its current level of maturity. Will this be the twenty-first century equivalent of the institutional Gopher service or Camus Wide Information Service? And is now the time to move to an infrastructure based on the open web platform?

Infographic on student use of mobiles

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

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 July 2014

UK Government Policy Announcement on Office Standards

UK Goverment policy on ODF

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

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

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

Further Details

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

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

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

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

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

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

For documents designed for sharing or collaborating:

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

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

The document goes on to explicitly state that:

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

Discussion

Initial Skirmishes

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

The signatories affirmed that:

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

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

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

The Government Rejects Microsoft’s Lobbying!

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

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

Challenges to be Faced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Thoughts

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

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

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


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

 

 

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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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Wikipedia and Information Literacy Article in CILIP Update

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 July 2014

Wikipedia and Information Literacy

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

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

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

The article goes on to point out that:

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

Wikipedia Sessions at LILAC 2014

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

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

What Next?

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

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

 

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

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 June 2014

The City and The City

City_and_the_CIty

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

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

Cetis 2014: Building the Digital Institution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Innovating for the Digital Institution

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

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

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

Jisc Moves Away from Open Standards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jisc Forest

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

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

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

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

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

Towards Orciny – the Rumoured Third City

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video recording (on YouTube):

Slides for Phil Richards’ plenary talk (on Slideshare)

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

Video recording (on YouTube)

Slides for Audrey Watters’ plenary talk (on Slideshare)


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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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The Biggest Barrier to WebRTC Adoption is Lack of Awareness!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 April 2014

How Appear.in Led Me To WebRTC

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

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

WebRTC: The ‘Most Exciting Technology for 2014′

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

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

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

About the WebRTC Standard

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

The WebRTC Web site states:

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

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

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

Support for the Emerging Standard

WebRTC architecture

Figure 1: WebRTC Architecture (from 

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

Support for Developers

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

As well as a number of discussion channels:

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

WebRTC browser support

Browser support

WebRTC is supported in the following browsers on desktop PCs:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Opera

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

Commercial Interest in WebRTC

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

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

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

Opportunities and Risks

WebRTC's barriers to adoption

Figure 2: Biggest Barriers to WebRTC Adoption

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusions

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

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


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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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Emerging Best Practices for Using Storify For Archiving Event Tweets

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 March 2014

“Embrace open practices which you are comfortable with; share your open practices with others”

In a post entitled Reflections on the #openeducationwk Blog Posts I summarised the guest posts published on this blog during Open Education Week. My post concluded with my thought’s on Sheila MacNeill’s post in which she gave her reasons “Why the Opposite of Open isn’t Necessarily Broken“. I agree with Sheila’s view that “in reality things are more nuanced” than is suggested by the soundbite “the opposite of open is not ‘closed’, the opposite of open is ‘broken’“. My post concluded with the suggestion that you should:

Embrace open practices which you are comfortable with; share your open practices with others and be willing to learn from the open practices used by other. But don’t be dismissive of those who don’t share your beliefs and practices.

 As part of that philosophy in this post I will share the open practices I use to ensure that the ideas and discussions shared at ‘amplified events’ can reach a wide audience, beyond those physically present at the event.

Developing Guidelines for Use of Twitter at Amplified Events

Since January one significant new area of work I have been involved in is leading the Communications, Dissemination and Knowledge Management work package for the EU-funded LACE project, a project which “brings together existing key European players in the field of learning analytics & EDM who are committed to build communities of practice and share emerging best practice“.

The LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project is funded by the European Union in order to help exploit the opportunities afforded by learning analytics (LA) and educational data mining (EDM). A particularly important aspect of the LACE work will be in making effective use of online tools in order to help to build a community with interests in learning analytics and facilitate discussions, sharing of resources and awareness of the project,

Various guidelines for use of social media and other online tools and services are being developed. Since LAK14, the Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference takes place in Indianapolis next week from 24-28 March this will provide an ideal opportunity to evaluate use of our emerging guidelines for use of social media at events.

Tomorrow morning we will have a LACE project team meeting to discuss our plans for the conference and, in particular, use of social media to support workshops at the conference which LACE team members are involved in: the Second International Workshop on Discourse-Centric Learning Analytics (#dcla14); Computational Approaches to Connecting Levels of Analysis in Networked Learning (#lak14cla); Learning Analytics and Machine Learning (#lak14ml) and the LAK Data Challenge 2014 (#lakdata14).

In order to gain further experience of use of the tools which will be used to support these sessions and to provide examples of the approaches to be taken, earlier today a Storify summary of “What I Know Is: #WIKIsymposium” was created as described below.

Experiences from the #WIKIsymposium

Storify summary of #wikisymposium  tweetsThe WIKIsysmposium was held at the University of Stirling earlier today (19 March 2014). The symposium was part of the Research Seminar Series organised by the Division of Communications, Media and Culture, University of Stirling which was made possible with the generous support of Wikimedia UK.

Since I have an interest in the use of Wikipedia in an educational and research context I had an interest in following the event tweets and possibly developing my Twitter network if I identified relevant new contributors to the Twitter stream for the event.

The Storify summary of “the What I Know Is: #WIKIsymposium” was therefore of personal interest to me as well as in providing an example of the approaches which are proposed for next week’s LAK14 conference.

The Storify summary is intended to be self-documenting. In brief here are the proposed approaches:

  • Create archive(s) of event tweets in advance: In this case a Twubs archive of #WIKIsymposium was created.
  • Create a Lanyrd entry for the event: In this case the Lanyrd entry was created earlier today and speakers, participants and those with an interest in the subject area were invited to register using their Twitter ID in order to be able to easily identify others who attend or follow events of mutual interest.
  • Nominate or encourage live tweeters who will tweet consistently through an event: During today’s event at least two participants ensured that a full coverage of the talks was provided.
  • Identify emerging best practices for live tweeting at events: Useful practices identified at today’s event included:
    • Providing a meaningful summary of the event with appropriate links in advance
    • Announcing participation at the event on the morning of the event in order that interested parties are made aware of the event and the event’s hashtag
    • Providing a timestamp and, ideally, a photograph at the start of each talk
    • Flagging the name of the speaker in Twitter summaries of talk which enable readers to be able to identify reported commentary (e.g.”Murray: Putting content in Wikipedia can challenge the unassailable voice of the academic, but this is no bad thing ” or “RM: Putting content in Wikipedia can challenge the unassailable voice of the academic, but this is no bad thing “).
    • It can be helpful to clearly signal the end of a talk and the event with an appropriate tweet (e.g. thanks speakers at the end of the event).

I hope these examples are useful to others. I’d welcome further suggestions on best practices to help provide meaningful and useful archives of tweets at events.


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Open Education and Wikipedia: Developments in the UK

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 March 2014

Open Education Week 2014 logoThe third annual Open Education Week (#openeducationwk) takes place from 10-15 March 2014. As described on the Open Education Week web site “its purpose is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide“.

Cetis staff are supporting Open Education Week by publishing a series of blog posts about open education activities. Cetis have had long-standing involvement in open education and have published a range of papers which cover topics such as OERs (Open Educational Resources) and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

The Cetis blog provides access to the posts which describe Cetis activities concerned with a range of open education activities. My contribution to the series covers Open Education and Wikipedia: Developments in the UK.


Open Education and Wikipedia: Developments in the UK

About This Post

As I explained in a post which asked “How Are You Using Wikipedia?” I will be giving a presentation on use of Wikipedia in the UK’s higher education sector at the Eduwiki conference to be held in Belgrade on 24 March 2014.

Since this post is published in a series on open education it seems appropriate to adopt open practices in the preparation of the talk. I am therefore ‘flipping’ my talk and have made my slides available on Slideshare (and embedded below)  in advance of the Eduwiki conference.The slides are accompanied by this blog post which summarises the key points I intend to make in the talk. I welcome comments which I may be able to incorporate in the talk when I deliver it in a few weeks time.  The availability of this blog post may also provide a complementary perspective on the slides which may be helpful in expanding on points which may not be obvious from viewing the slides in isolation.

A Wikipedia Approach to the Presentation

Opening slides for talkIt seems appropriate for a talk about Wikipedia which is being hosted by a Wikimedia chapter to adopt Wikipedia principles of openness and citation of sources in the talk itself.

The slides will therefore be available under a Creative Commons (CC-BY) licence. In addition the delivery of the slides will be available under the same licence, with recording or broadcasting of the talk being explicitly welcomed.

The slides themselves will be made available in advance. The slides will contain embedded links to resources mentioned in the talk or supplementary evidence or assertions made.

Slow Acceptance of the Value of Wikipedia in Higher Education

I will describe the initial resistance to  use of Wikipedia in higher education. However we are now seeing growing acceptance of its value with recent editing sessions for groups such as research scientists and librarians indicating the growing interest. Ironically the title of a talk at the LILAC 2014 conference  (“Wikipedia: it’s not the evil elephant in the library reading room“) suggests there is a need to address concerns that Wikipedia is an “evil elephant” which we may know exists but are reluctant to acknowledge. The title of an edit-a-thon session at the conference (“Improving the Information Literacy entry on Wikipedia: LILAC’s first edit-a-thon!“) again shows that this is a new area   Progress is happening, but Wikipedia, and especially updating Wikipedia articles, should not, yet, be considered a mainstream activities in higher education.

The Eduwiki 2013 Conference

The Eduwiki 2013 conference took place in Cardiff on 1-2 December 2013. This was the second such conference hosted in the UK. I have previously provided a report on the conference. In this post I will highlight two of the talks:

  1. Safe Use of Wikipedia in the Transition from School to University by Lisa Anderson and Nancy Graham, University of Birmingham.
  2. Introducing Students to Independent Research through Editing Wikipedia Articles on English Villages by Humphrey Southall, University of Portsmouth

These two talks addressed complementary aspects relevant to use of Wikipedia is higher education: how librarians can address information literacy by explicitly covering the strengths and weakness of Wikipedia and ways in which students can update Wikipedia articles as part of a formal assignment.

The presentation will go into more detail of the key aspects of these two talks. I should add that the slides used by Humphrey Southall in his presentation are available on Slideshare.

The Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador

The funding of a Wikimedia Ambassador for the period July 2013 – March 2014 by the Jisc was a welcome development which demonstrated how a funding body was willing to fund an initiative aimed at encouraging take-up of Wikipedia within the UK’s higher education sector. The work of the Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador has included delivering six sessions and supporting three edit-a-thons, a Jisc infoKit on Crowdsourcing: the Wiki Way of Working and a project blog as well as a series of reports on the work.

Looking to the Future

Wikimania web siteThe Wikimania 2014 event will take place in London on 6-10 August 2014. As described on the event web site:

Education will be a key theme throughout the whole event, and while we will be honouring past achievements, this year Wikimania will always be looking forward to the Future of Education.

The key areas to be addressed at the event are:

  • Overcoming friction: “librarians and educators are starting to teach students how they can use Wikipedia effectively. Like any other encyclopaedia, students are being shown how to use the site to find the helpful links to primary and secondary sources that are precisely the material students should be citing in their research”.
  • Knowledge is produced, not consumed: “Instead of being passive receivers of information, students become the creators and curators of knowledge. Wikipedia becomes an opportunity, not a threat, to formal education, and the educators’ role becomes facilitating a shift from simply teaching answers, to teaching how to ask questions”.

These two areas reflect the topics of the talks given by  Lisa Anderson / Nancy Graham and  Humphrey Southall which I highlighted earlier in this post.

Since the Wikimania event is still inviting submissions (the closing date is 31 March 2014) I am not able to speculate on the issues which will be addressed  at the event. Instead I’ll give my thoughts on important areas which will build on existing activities:

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers

The article goes on to explain how “the term “crowdsourcing” is a portmanteau of “crowd” and “outsourcing“. However the relevance of crowdsourcing is not widely appreciated in higher education, with the word “outsourcing” possibly leading to concerns due to its political  connotations. One of the significant deliverables from the Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador project was the production of a Jisc infoKit on Crowdsourcing. Resources such as this should help to provide a better understanding of the theories behind crowdsourcing and its relevance to Wikipedia.

  • Promoting Wikipedia editing by ensuring there are well-trained trainers: Back in October 2013 an article entitled “The Decline of Wikipedia” argued that “The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage“. The article concluded:

But that community also constructed barriers that deter the newcomers needed to finish the job. Perhaps it was too much to expect that a crowd of Internet strangers would truly democratize knowledge. Today’s Wikipedia, even with its middling quality and poor representation of the world’s diversity, could be the best encyclopedia we will get.

Participants at Training the Trainers course

Training the Trainers course, Cardiff, 1-2 February 2014. Licernsed under CC-BY-SA.

Concerns over the alleged “abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia” are being addressed. Wikimedia UK runs a Training the trainer course which aims to:

  • Recognise the importance of diversity in the training context
  • Respond appropriately to the needs of volunteer trainers
  • Understand the impact of different learning and communication styles when designing and delivering training
  • Use active listening to guide their interaction with participants
  • Give effective and appropriate feedback to other participants

I should add that I attended theTrainer the Trainers course which was held in Cardiff on 1-2 February. The accompanying image (taken from the Wikimedia Commons web site) shows the participants at the course.,

  • Maximising the pool of potential contributors: Last week an article in the Guardian pointed out that “It is thought that only around one in 10 of its editors are female“. In another article published the previous week in the Guardian entitled “Stop female scientists being written out of Wikipedia history Dame Athene Donald, fellow of the Royal Society & Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge University went on to point out that “Many female scientists are either not there at all on Wikipedia or just [have] stubs.

The concerns regarding lack of female involvement in Wikipedia editing are illustrated by the photograph of the participants at the Training the Trainers course, with the only woman in the photograph being the course trainer.

However such concerns, together with concerns regarding the lack of content about noteworthy females, are being addressed. In March there are no fewer than six events which are addressing these issues: Women in Science Wikipedia Edit-a-thon; Women’s Art Practices editing eventWomen Archaeologists editing eventScottish Women in Contemporary Art Edit-a-thon and Scottish Women in Computing Edit-a-thon.

As well as the need to increase the pool of female contributors to Wikipedia there is also a need to make it easier for people with disabilities to create content in Wikipedia.  The Accessibility of the Wikimedia UK website project focus is on making Wikipedia resources more accessible for people with sight problems; hearing problems; mobility problems and cognitive impairments. However in conjunction with the WikiProject Disability project which aims to “co-ordinate the improvement and creation of articles related to Disability” we might expect to see edit-a-thons being organised which aim to provide people with disabilities with the the skills needed to contribute to Wikipedia.

Education Strategy

I’ve given a brief view of various Wikipedia developments within the UK’s higher education sector and provided suggestions on further developments which would help to take Wikipedia beyond the early mainstream adopters and become more embedded within the higher education sector.

WMUK education strategyBut such issues need to be consider at a strategic level. Wikimedia UK are working on an Education strategy but, as illustrated, this is currently under development. As might be expected in a Wikipedia environment user input into the process of development of the strategy is encouraged, with the Education Strategy talk page currently having brief sections on:

  • OER university model
  • Primary and Secondary schools
  • Language learning
  • Theory of Knowledge

Would anyone like to contribute further suggestions for the development of Wikimedia UK’s education strategy?


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Preparing our Users for Digital Life Beyond the Institution

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 March 2014

About This Post

This blog post provides background information on digital literacy and argues that digital literacy needs to go beyond student teaching and ensure that staff and researchers, who may wish to continue their professional activities when they leave their current institution, are able to migrate content and services to the Cloud, so that content and tools can be reused once access to institutional services is no longer available.

The post concludes with an invitation for those with responsibilities for or interest in digital literacy to complete a survey which aims to gather information about current work in providing digital literacy support for staff and researchers, especially in preparing for digital life outside the host institution. The results of the survey will be presented at the LILAC 2014 information literacy conference.

Common Craft and LILAC on Digital and Information Literacy

Digital literacy by Common CraftI recently came across an animated cartoon on Digital Literacy published by Commoncraft. The cartoon explains that:

… there is a new kind of literacy that touches almost everyone in our modern world. It’s not related to a specific industry or job title. This literacy matters to both young and old and has become more important as computers and electronic devices have become more of a necessity in daily life.

I’m talking about digital literacy – the ability to use technology to navigate, evaluate and create information. 

LILAC, the Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference, defines information literacy as ‘the ability to find, use, evaluate and communicate information’. I find this latter definition more useful, as it includes the importance of using and not just evaluating information. However I prefer the term ‘digital literacy‘ as this goes beyond information and can include digital services and not just digital content.

The LILAC Web site goes on to describe how information literacy is “an essential skill in this digital age and era of life-long learning“. This emphasis on the importance of use of information to support life-long learning highlights the need to be able to use and manage digital information – and the digital services which manages the digital information – throughout one’s life, and not just when one if studying or working within an education institute.

SCONUL, the main representative body for academic libraries in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, uses the term ‘Digital Literacies‘ in a page on the Jisc Web site. This describes how the SCONUL Working Group on Information Literacy has developed the 7 Pillars of Information Literacy through a Digital Literacy ‘lens’ (MS Word format) which includes the ability to “Use a range of digital retrieval tools and technology effectively“, “Use appropriate tools to organise digital content and data” and “Manage digital resources effectively taking account of version control, file storage and record keeping issues“. This emphasis on the need to be able to use tools to organise and manage digital resources is important. I therefore find a definition of digital literacy as “‘the ability to find, use, reuse, evaluate, manage and communicate digital information” helpful. I’ve expanded ‘use‘ to ‘use and reuse‘ to highlight the importance of addressing the life cycle of digital content, in which content may migrate to new services.

Digital Literacy for Members of Staff and Researchers

Many staff and researchers in higher educational institutions will make use of digital content and services and would regard themselves as digitally literate. Within the context of the services they use within their host institution this may be true. But what happens when they leave their host institution (which we all will at some stage) and wish to continue using content and services and their online communities? This may be particularly relevant for researchers on short term research contracts.

The ability for highly skilled academics and researchers to be able to continue to be productive members of society is important when one considers that “Universities in the UK contributed £3.3 billion to the economy in 2010-11 through services to business, including commercialisation of new knowledge, delivery of professional training, consultancy and services” – might the commercial value to the economy provided by the sector be undermined if members of staff leave their host institution and are hindered from continuing to make use of their digital content due to a lack of expertise?

Ensuring that staff and researchers were able to continue to make use of their digital content and manage their online communities was probably not of great importance in the past, when one’s content could often be transported on floppy disks or memory sticks and the digital services which were used were could only be accessed within the institution’s network. However there is now a need to be able to respond to the radically changed environment in which Cloud services can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, there is a much greater volatility in the job market and the increasing important of open content, open data and open source software is minimising licence barriers to reuse of digital content and tools.

What Should Be Done and Who Should Do It?

Last year, in the run-up to my redundancy following the announcement of the Jisc cessation of core funding for UKOLN, I gave a talk on When Staff and Researchers Leave Their Host Institution at the LILAC 2013 Conference. The talk was based on personal experiences and described my views on the importance of researchers profiling services, such as Academia.edu and Researchgate, not only for providing a record of my research outputs but also  osting the content so that I could continue to manage the papers and the metadata once I lost the ability to manage information for my content hosted on Opus, the University of Bath repository.

Who is Responsible?

Vitae's Concordat

But what is happening across the sector in terms of ensuring that members of staff and researchers are being provided with the skills and expertise needed to continue to be effective professionals when they leave their host institution?

Should it be the responsibility of the Library, who have responsibilities for information literacy? In light of the importance of digital tools and services, perhaps it should be the responsibility of IT Service departments? Or maybe research support units or careers advisory services? In cases in which staff are being made redundant, perhaps the UCU or other unions could have a role to play in ensuing that union members are provided with appropriate training.

National Strategies?

If it is felt that there is a need for approaches provided at a national level perhaps SCONUL should look to ensure that their 7 Pillars of Information Literacy through a Digital Literacy ‘lens’ goes beyond undergraduate teaching.

For researchers, it might be appropriate ensure that Vitae’s Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and, in particular, the Concordat’s support and career development:

Principle 3: Researchers are equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse, mobile, global research environment

is implemented across the sector to address researchers ability to manage their digital content in a Cloud environment.

What is Being Done?

Ubfirmatuion Literacy Policy SurveyJenny Evans, the Maths and Physics Librarian at Imperial College London, and myself have had a proposal accepted for the LILAC 2014 conference entitled “Are Institutions Preparing Staff for Digital Life Beyond the Institution?” This will be based on a survey of institutional practices in providing support for staff and researchers so that they will have the skills needed to make use of digital content and services when they leave their current institution. We have created an online survey in which we invite staff across the sector who may have responsibilities for developing policies in this area and delivering the appropriate training and support to summarise their current practices or their plans. Since we appreciate that there may be a number of groups with interests in this area, including:

  • Library departments within institutions.
  • Library organisations such as SCONUL and CILIP.
  • IT departments within institutions.
  • IT organisations such as UCISA.
  • Staff development departments within institutions.
  • Academic departments.
  • National bodies such as Jisc, Vitae, etc.
  • Research funding organisations.
  • Unions.
  • The BCS (British Computer Society) and its Digital Literacy for Life programme.

We invite feedback from anyone with strong interests and involvement in this area; it would be better to get duplicate information than to have gaps in the information we gather. We would also invite those working outside to UK to provide information in related activities happening outside the UK. We will, of course, provide a public summary of our findings. In addition to the invitation to complete the survey, comments on this topics are also welcome on this blog post. The comments may address the topic area, but suggestions on ways of sending an invitation to complete the survey to relevant groups would also be welcome.


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What Could ITS 2.0 Offer the Web Manager?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 January 2014

ITS 2.0 videoBack in October 2013 the W3C announced that the Internationalization Tag Set (ITS) version 2.0 had become a W3C recommendation. The announcement stated:

The MultilingualWeb-LT Working Group has published a W3C Recommendation of Internationalization Tag Set (ITS) Version 2.0. ITS 2.0 provides a foundation for integrating automated processing of human language into core Web technologies. ITS 2.0 bears many commonalities with its predecessor, ITS 1.0, but provides additional concepts that are designed to foster the automated creation and processing of multilingual Web content. Work on application scenarios for ITS 2.0 and gathering of usage and implementation experience will now take place in the ITS Interest Group. Learn more about the Internationalization Activity.

Following the delivery of this standard, on 17 January 2014 the MultilingualWeb-LT Working Group was officially closed.

But what exactly does ITS 2.0 do, and is it relevant to the interests of institutional web managers, or research, teaching or administrative departments within institutions?

The ITS 2.0 specification provides an overview which seeks to explain the purpose of the standard but, as might be expected in a standards document, this is rather dry. There are several other resources which discuss ITS 2.0 including:

But the resource I thought was particularly interesting was the ITS 2.0 video channel. This contains a handful of videos about the ITS standard. One video in particular provides a brief introduction to ITS 2.0 and the advantages it can offer businesses involved in multilingual communication. This 8-minute long video can be viewed on YouTube but it is also embedded below:

The video, an animated cartoon, is interesting because of the informal approach it takes to explaining the standard. This, in my experience, is unusual. The approach may not be appreciated by everyone but since standards are widely perceived to be dull and boring, although still acknowledged as important. For me, providing a summary of the importance of standards in this way can help to reach out to new audiences who might otherwise fail to appreciate the role which standards may have.

If you are involved in providing web sites or content which may be of interest to an international audience it may be worth spending 8 minutes to view this video. If ITS 2.0 does appear to be of interest the next question will be what tools are available to create and process ITS 2.0 metadata? A page on ITS Implementations is available on the W3C web site but again this is rather dry and the tools seem to be rather specialist. However more mainstream support for ITS 2.0 is likely to be provided only if there is demand for it. So if you do have an interest in metadata standards which can support automated translations and you feel ITS 2.0 may be of use, make sure you ask your CMS vendor if they intend to support it.

Might this be of interest to University web managers? If you are a marketing person at the University of Bath and wish to see your marketing resources publicised to the French-speaking world but have limited resources for translating your resources, you probably wouldn’t want:

The University of Bath is based in a beautiful georgian city: Bath. 

to be translated as:

L’université de bain est basé dans une belle ville géorgienne: bain.

And whilst Google translate actually does preserve the word “Bath” if it is given in capitals, this seems not to be the case in all circumstances. For example, the opening sentence on the Holburne Museum web site:

Welcome to Bath’s art museum for everyone. 

is translated as:

Bienvenue au musée d’art de salle de bain pour tout le monde.

Perhaps marketing people in many organisations who would like to ensure that automated translation tools do not make such mistakes should be pestering their CMS vendors for ITS 2.0 support!


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Beyond MOOCs: Sustainable Online Learning in Institutions

Posted by Brian Kelly on 22 January 2014

Personal Experiences of MOOCs

Cetis MOOC paperLast year I completed the Hyperlinked Library MOOC. I had previously signed up for several MOOCs but this has been the only MOOC which I have completed.

I found the experiences I gained in participating in the MOOC useful and felt they were worth sharing and so I published post on my Initial Reflections on The Hyperlinked Library MOOC and the Badges I Have Acquired and on my final Reflections On The Hyperlinked Library MOOC. In brief I felt that the Hyperlinked Library MOOC was valuable for staff development for those working in a library environment who wish to learn more about the potential of social media in a library context.

The Bigger Picture

But what of the bigger picture? How should institutions respond to the hype which has surrounded MOOCs? What impact can MOOCS have in enriching the teaching and learning activities which take place in institutions? What technological options need to be considering when considering deploying a MOOC? And what are the strategic challenges and opportunities which MOOCs can provide?

These issues are addressed in a 20 page white paper on “Beyond MOOCs: Sustainable Online Learning in Institutions” by my Cetis colleagues Li Yuan, Stephen Powell and Bill Oliver which was published yesterday.

The Executive Summary of the paper describes the opportunities which MOOCs can provide:

The key opportunity for institutions is to take the concepts developed by the MOOC experiment to date and use them to improve the quality of their face-to-face and online provision, and to open up access to higher education. Most importantly, the understanding gained should be used to inform diversification strategies including the development of new business models and pedagogic approaches that take full advantage of digital technologies.

It was interesting to note the emphasis placed on supporting diversification strategies, new business model and pedagogic approaches: although the paper mentions a number of MOOC platforms, the technological infrastructure is not felt to be the main challenge which institutions need to consider. Rather, the key themes which have emerged from uses of MOOCs to date are openness; revenue models and service disaggregation.

The technological options (the platforms and services used, the functions they provide and whether single platforms or a collection of integrated tools and services will be used) will need to be addressed, but such considerations cannot be divorced from other important areas including the pedagogic opportunities which may be provided and the learner choices which the provision of new and affordable ways for learners to access courses can provide.

The white paper is available from the Cetis Web site and is recommended reading for those involved in developing or supporting MOOCs, those with management and policy responsibilities, those who may be evaluating MOOCs or simple those with a general interest in MOOCs.

I would be interested in learning more about people’s experiences in using MOOCs. I therefore invite people to complete a brief survey (which is embedded below) and to share your experiences in the comments for this blog post.


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Reshaping my Twitter Network

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21 January 2014

Managing One’s Personal Learning Network

Pruning My Twitter Network

In the autumn I took part in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC. One of the assignments was to develop plans for use of an Online Professional Learning Network (OPLN). The specific requirements included developing a Network Maintenance Plan:

This will provide answers to questions such as: How will you maintain your online professional learning network? When will you adjust it? At what points will you actively add to it or delete from it? Is there a particular type of technology that you will employ to make the best use of your network? Will there ever be a point where you would create a new plan from scratch?

As I described in the assignment:

My new job [as Innovation Advocate at Cetis] will provide an opportunity to prune my professional network, removing Twitter accounts, blog feeds, etc. which are no longer relevant to my new role (unless, for example, I still gain value for the personal connections).

Numbers of Twitter followersIn November I began work in pruning my Twitter network, and on 13 November I reduced the number of people I follow in Twitter from 1,426 to 1,397. However it was just before Christmas, on 23 December, when I deleted a significant number of my Twitter community. As illustrated on that date the numbers of people I followed went down from 1,426 to 1,122, a drop of 324 (note the graph is taken from the Twittercounter service).

I used the Social Bro Chrome extension for my Chrome browser in order to help identify followers to remove.

Social Bro list of inactive followersAs shown, this tool helped me to identify the people I follow who appear to have stopped using Twitter. The tool was also useful in highlighting Twitter accounts which may be used by spammers.

Of course, the more difficult decision to make was when to stop following accounts which are being used in a legitimate way, but are no longer aligned with my main professional interests. The decision I made was to remove significant numbers of accounts from contacts I’ve made over the years with the museums sector (unless I had a string personal connection.

As can be seen I did not quite achieve my target of 1,000 followers (and the number has started to grow slowly since the purge). However the exercise was useful and I may chose to repeat it yearly.

Growing my Online Personal Learning Network

My Cwtis and LACE networks shown in TweetdeckThe intention in pruning my Twitter network was to enable the network to be reshaped in order to be able to more effectively engage with communities relevant to my new role as Innovation Advocate at Cetis.

As I described in the blog post in which I summarised my plans for the development of my online professional learning network I intended to follow the accounts of my Cetis colleagues. In order to make it easier to view tweets from my colleagues I set up a Twitter list.

However since the main Twitter client I use on my desktop PC is Tweetdeck I also set up a Tweetdeck column of my Cetis colleague, which enables me to easily see their tweets and areas of interests which they have retweeted. In addition to work related content which I can find on internal mailing lists or Cetis blogs, Twitter also enables me to get to know my colleagues informally

As shown in the screen shot I have also set up a Tweetdeck column for a new area of work I am involved in – the EU-funded LACE project. As described on the LACE Project Web site:

LACE will:

  • Organise a range of activities designed to actively and passively integrate communities that are conducting LA/EDM research, early practitioner adopters, and those who are building first-generation commercial or open-source software. This integration would be used to stimulate creativity and accelerate the identification of viable and effective solutions to real problems, and hence to drive both current research and technology transfer.
  • Create and curate a knowledge base of evidence. This will capture evidence for the effectiveness and the relative desirability of the outcomes resulting from use of various tools and techniques.
  • Actively participate in the exploration of plausible futures for learning analytics and EDM by combining the creation of imaginative scenarios with participatory workshops and structured methods including a Policy Delphi to assess differences of opinion about the feasibility and desirability of possible future states, thus informing future research and policy agendas.

The LACE project brings together existing key European players in the field of learning analytics & EDM who are committed to build communities of practice and share emerging best practice in order to make progress towards four objectives.

I have started to follow project partners using the #laceproject Twitter hashtag. Interestingly I have just noticed that the @TheLaceProject Twitter account is used to promote fashion and jewelry and so there will be an interesting clash of hashtags!

How Do You Manage Your Twitter Network?

My change of jobs provided me with an opportunity to reflect on my professional networks. This was helped by the Hyperlinked Library MOOC assignment which argued that one need to plan the growth of one’s network and to proactively manage it in order that the contacts reflect one’s changing areas of interests.

I used to have an annual calendar alert which reminded me it was time to check the links provided on legacy project Web sites in order to ensure that technical or others changes hadn’t resulted in problems with the structural integrity of the Web sites (see the audit trail on the UK Web Archive copy of the Cultivate Interactive Web site).

However it seems to me that it would now be more relevant to have an annual survey of one’s professional networks and to see what maintenance may be needed in order to ensure that the professional network continues to provide a useful role. Does anyone else do this?


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Forecasting Long Term Future Events, Conditions and Developments in Technology

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20 December 2013

The Jisc has recently announced a job vacancy for a Futurologist. The details provided on the Jisc web site are worth publishing in full:

This role will forecast long term future events, conditions, or developments in technology and analytics that will allow Jisc to plan, present and develop innovation in support of research, education and skills.

They will develop a vision and generate high-quality intelligence to inform Jisc long-range strategic planning that creates/meets the needs of our customers and their customers.

The prime purpose is to track developments across the whole field of technology, analytics and society as they come over the horizon, figuring out where it is all going next, and how that will affect our customers.

Another crucial aspect will be to carry out blue sky thinking and develop an understanding of how macro trends impact technological evolution through a demonstrated ability to data mine socioeconomic, technological, geopolitical and cultural trends for meaningful insights. It necessitates the collaboration with horizon scanning and research and development organisations that are looking to create and set trends in digital management, for example (but not limited to) commercial organisations, sector thought leaders (such as Educause and CNI), research funders including the European Commission and the US National Science Foundation, and independent organisations such as the Mellon and Wellcome Foundations.

Jisc Observatory paperThis is of interest to me as it builds on the Jisc Observatory work which was led  by Cetis and UKOLN. Although the Jisc Observatory was closed following the cessation of Jisc funding for Cetis and UKOLN, we did ensure that the methodology used by the team was documented so that the approaches could be used by others within the sector. A paper on “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow” by myself and Paul Hollins (available in MS Word and PDF formats) which described Jisc Observatory activities was presented at the Umbrella 2013 conference.

The abstract for the paper describes how:

The paper outlines how the processes can be applied in a local context to ensure that institutions are able to gather evidence in a systematic way and understand and address the limitations of evidence-gathering processes. The paper describes use of open processes for interpreting the evidence and suggests possible implications of the horizon-scanning activities for policy-making and informing operational practices.

The paper concludes by encouraging take-up of open approaches in gathering and interpretation of evidence used to inform policy-making in an institutional context. 

These open processes were used in a number of events organised by Cetis and UKOLN staff, including workshop sessions at the Cetis 2013 and IWMW 2012 events. In addition a workshop on Preparing For The Future: Helping Libraries Respond to Changing Technological, Economic and Political Change was provided at a staff development event for library staff at the University of York. More recently together with Tony Hirst I facilitated a day-long workshop on Future Technologies and Their Applications at the ILI 2013 conference.

These events sought to engage participants in exercises in identifying emerging technologies and practices of relevance, prioritising their perceived importance and identifying appropriate responses to the implications of such innovations.

Whilst the Jisc Futurologist will be working with the European Commission, the US National Science Foundation and independent organisations such as the Mellon and Wellcome Foundations, it does seem to me that there will be a need for innovation planning at institutional and departmental levels, especially for those working in library, IT services, elearning and research support departments. I’d therefore be interested to hear from people who may be interested in hosting innovation sessions within their institution. As an example of the type of workshop which could be organised, the abstract for the workshop on Future Technologies and Their Applications is given below.

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.

A report on the workshop is available. If this is of interest, please get in touch.


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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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Open Educational Practices (OEP): What They Mean For Me and How I Use Them

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 December 2013

Yesterday in my role as Innovation Advocate at Cetis I gave a Webinar on “Open Educational Practices (OEP): What They Mean For Me and How I Use Them“.

This webinar was given in a unit on Open Educational Practices which forms part of a PGCAP (Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice) module on Flexible, Distance and Online Learning provided by the University of Salford.

The course description for the unit on Open Educational Practices describes bow:

The move towards ‘openness’ in education has accelerated in recent years with a number of high profile institutional initiatives such as the MIT OpenCourseware project and  there is now a growing body of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) offered by a number of institutions around the globe which not only give access to free educational courseware, such as images, video, audio and other assets to educators and learners worldwide, without an accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees but also provide opportunities for open access participation and learning in course settings via for example Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) which often attract large numbers of participants. The OER and OEP have emerged as a concept with great potential to support educational transformation as well as provide extended opportunities for learning in non-formal settings. This unit explores the benefits and challenges of openness in education and learning more generally and looks at ways in which educators and learners can harness and benefit from a plethora of open opportunities to engage and re-engage in learning but also to explore how OER and OEP can be re-purposed, adapted and contextualised for specific learning and teaching situations.

In my presentation I reviewed various descriptions of open educational practices and described how there are multiple characteristics of openness and open practices.

Promoting open educational practices through social and participatory media

Slide from talk on “Promoting open educational practices through social and participatory media” given by Grainne Conole in Finland in June 2011

I illustrated this point by mentioned the keynote talk on “Promoting open educational practices through social and participatory media” given by Grainne Conole at the New dynamics of language learning: spaces and places – intentions and opportunities conference held in Finland in June 2011.

As illustrated, in her slide showing relevant social and participatory media services only WordPress and Wikipedia are based on open source software solutions; others, such as Facebook, are quite clearly closed and proprietary.

The point I made was that one should not seek to be ‘open’ for its own sake; rather one should make use of open educational practices for the benefits they can provide. And if, as in the case of Facebook, there are felt to be benefits to be gained from use of closed approaches, then one should not discount their use.

Following the discussion on the spectrum of openness and the purposes of open educational practices and some examples of benefits of open practices which I have benefitted from, I moved on to the risks and limitations.

I described the opportunities and risks framework which was orginally described n 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“. 
I described how individuals may have personal preferences in engaging in open practices, which I references a post I published in 2009 on The Social Web and the Belbin Model. The issue of one’s personal comfort zone in working in an open environment was raised in the online discussion during the webinar. I mentioned a discussion which I described in a post on Should Projects Be Required To Have Blogs? and argued that although it may not always be appropriate to mandate open practices, one should not block their use if this would undermine the learning opportunities for those would would see the benefits in such approaches.

The slides 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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Starting A New Job!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 October 2013

Cetis home pageI’m really pleased to announce that I’ve got a new job. As announced on the Cetis Web site today I started work at Cetis as an Innovation Advocate (great job title!)

I’m looking forward to working at Cetis. I’ve worked closely with Cetis over the years. Looking at my list of events it seems that I ran workshop sessions or spoke at Cetis conferences in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013 and was the organiser of a joint UKOLN/CETIS/UCISA workshop on “Initiatives & Innovation: Managing Disruptive Technologies“. I’ve also written papers with current or former Cetis staff including ones on “Openness in Higher Education: Open Source, Open Standards, Open Access” (with Scott Wilson), “Twitter Archiving Using Twapper Keeper: Technical And Policy Challenges” (with Martin Hawksey) and “A Contextual Framework For Standards“, “A Standards Framework For Digital Library Programmes” and “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow” (with Paul Hollins).

My new role will enable me to build on our previous collaborations and my interests and expertise in areas including standards, accessibility, social media and open practices. In addition I hope that the extensive professional networks I have developed with provide useful in supporting and developing Cetis’s range of activities.

I will be working, as home worker, for four days a week. I’ll be looking forward to renewing my contacts with Jisc as well as making new contacts at Bolton University and across the e-learning community. I will also be looking for additional partnership and funding opportunities – so please get in touch (although I’ve still to finalise my preferred email address).

Since I was made redundant on 31 July I have spent my time improving the house and garden and, in particular, have converted one of the bedrooms into an office. The building work on the house included installation of network points in more of the rooms, so I will have a suitable working environment (although today’s induction at Bolton University will include a session on health and safety, so I will be interested to see if that includes issues of relevance for home workers) . I have also spent time over the summer on a number of professional development activities and some freelance work which has included participation in the Hyperlinked Libraries MOOC, the LinkedUp project booksprint, and facilitation of a day’s workshop on Future Technologies at the ILI 2013 conference. However today my new role as Innovation Advocate, Cetis, University of Bolton begins. I’m looking forward to it!


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