UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

What Can IWMW Learn From Higher Education Web Events in the US?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 Apr 2015

IWMW Events: Learning From One’s Peers

A recent post on Revisiting Ideas for IWMW 2015 explored some ideas for possible sessions at this year’s IWMW 2015 event which has the theme “Beyond Digital: Transforming the Institution”.

IWMW, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, has, since its launch in 1997, provided a forum for learning about new web developments, sharing experiences, developing one’s professional networks and, last but not least,  having some fun!

It is valuable to be able to learn from one’s peers and the institutional case studies which have been presented at IWMW events have provided an opportunity to learn from others in the sector who are typically facing similar challenges. However it can also be useful to explore the approaches which are being taken beyond the UK higher education sector in order to learn from others and avoid the risks associated with the echo chamber and confirmation biases of seeking support for one’s preferred approaches to providing institutional web services, for ‘thinking digital’ and, moving to the next steps in ‘transforming the institution’.

Learning From Others

Back in February 2009 I asked What Can We Learn From The eduWeb Conference? It’s timely, I feel, to revisit that question but with a broader focus.  The question for me, therefore, is “What Can IWMW Learn From Higher Education Web Events in the US?”.

The Higher Education Web Professionals Association (HighEdWeb)

heweb 2015 conferenceThe Higher Education Web Professionals Association (HighEdWeb) is “an organization of Web professionals working at institutions of higher education“”. As described on the HighEdWeb web site: “We design, develop, manage and map the futures of higher education websites. Our mission is to “strive to advance Web professionals, technologies and standards in higher education.”

HighEdWeb’s involvement in organising events for web professions in higher education dates back to 2004when the organisation “joined forces with WebDevShare to create an annual international conference where the community can come together to learn, share and network. The Association also runs a series of smaller, targeted regional conferences around the United States“.

The HighEdWeb annual conference seems to have many parallels with IWMW events: the conferences are:

created by and for higher education Web professionals. This not-for-profit conference offers high-quality presentations, speakers and events at affordable rates. From Web developers, marketers and programmers to managers, designers, writers and all team members in-between, HighEdWeb provides valuable professional development experience for all those who want to explore the unique Web issues facing colleges and universities.

The year’s conference will be held on 4-7 October in Milwaukee  at the Hilton Milwaukee Downtown. The call for proposals is currently open with three types of sessions available: (1) 45-Minute conference presentation;  (2) poster presentation and (3)  3.5 hour workshop session.

The conference rates are HighEdWeb member rate: $725 (£490) and  non-member rate: $825 (£558) for earl registration with the full conference rates being  $850 (£575) member rate  and $950 (£642) non-member rate. In addition the workshops cost an additional $160 (£108) for one workshop or $220 (£149) for two workshops. It should be noted that these rates do not include accommodation, which costs from $177 (£119) per night.

Although the conference programme has not yet been finalised the structure of the event is as follows:

  • Sunday, 4 October: pre-conference workshops and welcome reception
  • Monday, 5 October: keynote and track sessions; breakfast, lunch and snacks provided; dinner on your own and HighEdWeb “AfterDark” and hackathon
  • Tuesday, 6 October: track sessions; keynote sessions; poster sessions; breakfast, lunch and snacks provided and HighEdWeb “Big Social Event”
  • Wednesday, 7 October: track sessions; closing keynote and post-conference workshops.

The main differences with IWMW events are the Sunday start; the poster sessions and the post-conference workshops. Both events provide an evening for delegates to make their own choices for dinner and a social event although IWMW events also provide a conference dinner.

Looking at the timetables for HighEdWeb 2010 (held in Cincinnati),  HighEdWeb  2011 (held in Austin, Texas), HighEdWeb  2012  (held in Milwaukee), HighEdWeb  2013 (held in Buffalo) and HighEdWeb  2014 (held in Portland, Oregon) have all had a similar structure although last year’s event began with the first part leadership academy on the Saturday which also ran from 8am to 4pm on the Sunday!

The HighEdWeb  2014 conference began with four half-day workshop sessions which were held on the Sunday afternoon: Developing and Maintaining Web Content: An Idea Generating Workshop; Video Production Workshop; Get on Track with Content Strategy and Is my .edu accessible?.

Over the remaining 2.5 days of the conference the sessions were split into a number of parallel sessions including Applications, Integration and Mobile; Development, Programming and Architecture; Marketing, Content and Social Strategy; Management and Professional Development; Technology in Education and Sponsors sessions, as illustrated.

HEweb 2014 timetable Monday 20-oct

After a concluding plenary session and lunch the conference finished with the second set of workshop sessions on Finding Your Way: Fixing (Conflicting) Map Data and Building an Interactive Campus MapNavigating Social Media in Higher EducationA Nuts-and-Bolts Introduction to Client-side Interactivity with jQuery and AJAX; Responsive web design and Let’s face it: We’re not sixteen anymore.

The EduWeb Conference

EduWeb 2015 timetableAs described on the HigherEdExperts web site the eduWeb Digital Summit (the eduWeb Conference) is

an annual, internationally recognized event for the higher education community, attracting those who are involved in the design, development, marketing, strategy and implementation of their online presence.

This year’s event will be held at the Westin Downtown hotel, Chicago on 27-30 July. The event features four tracks including: digital marketing; web development and web strategy.

The programme for this year’s event is available. As can be seen from the screen shot of the timetable for the opening day the event mainly consists of plenary talks which, unlike the HighEdWeb conference, are not split into parallel streams. The third and final day of the conference does provide four sessions entitled Breakfast with the Best which take place before the closing plenary talk. After the lunch break there is a half-day workshop on “Closing the Loop: Gathering and Using the Right Data to …… Evaluate Your Marketing Initiatives“. The day after the conference features a full-day master class entitled “How to Use Market Research to Capture the Essence of Your Institution“.

EduWeb 2014 brochureIt should also be noted that the programme for the EduWeb 2012 (held in Boston), Eduweb 2013 (held in Boston) and EduWeb 2014 (held in Baltimore) events are available (links are to PDF files).

The costs of the EduWeb conference are:

  • Platinum Package (pre- and post-workshop sessions, master class and full conference): $1,305 (£882).
  • Gold Package (one workshop and conference ): $705 (£476):
  • Conference (early bird rate): Delegate: $795 (£537) – Speaker: $695 (£470)
  • Conference (full rate): Delegate: $895 (£605) – Speaker: $795 (£537)
  • Half-day Workshops — $195 (£132) (doesn’t include lunch)
  • Full-day Master Class: $595 (£402)

It should be noted that these rates do not cover accommodation, which costs $229 + tax (£155) per night.



The first thing which struck me was how affordable IWMW events are in comparison with the HE Web and EduWeb conferences. As described in a post about IWMW 2014 the IWMW 2014 event cost £350 which included 2 nights’ accommodation – and this has been the maximum price over the past 5 years. The following table summarises the typical costs for the events (where early bird rates are available these are shown).

Table 1: Costs of IWMW, HE Web and EduWeb conferences
Cost Length Covers Note
IWMW £350 2.5 days Conference, workshops, breakfasts, lunches, conference dinner, social event and 2 nights accommodation Student accommodation provided.
HE Web £490 2.5 days Conference, breakfasts, lunches, conference dinner, social event and social event but no accommodation Additional £108 for one or £149 for two half-day workshops. Accommodation from $119 +tax per night.
EduWeb £537 2.5 days Conference, breakfasts and social events but no accommodation Additional £132 and/or £402 for half-day workshops / full day master class. Accommodation from $155 + tax per night.

The low costs of the IWMW event reflects its origin as a JISC-funded event delivered by UKOLN. However the need for the event to now cover its costs may necessitate increases in the charges to attendees – a possibility which was acknowledged in discussions at least year’s event.

Although  increases in the cost of attending the event would enable more resources to be spent on enhancing the event it should also be acknowledged that now, in the run-up to the General Election, is probably not an ideal time to increase the costs of providing professional development activities – the higher education sector is suffering the effect of austerity cuts :-(


HEWeb sponsors logos: 2014For several years the IWMW event has accepted sponsorship. However in order to avoid possible conflicts of interest with JISC we ensured that the sponsorship was used to cover the costs of social events and conference ‘schwag‘ such as rucksacks, badges, etc.

Looking at the list of sponsors for the HighEdWeb 2014 (illustrated) and EduWeb 2015 conferences it would appear that organisers for these events have been pro-active in attracting sponsorship. The list of sponsorship opportunities for EduWeb 2015 provides details of the range of sponsorship opportunities available at this year’s EduWeb conference, which range from $1,500 (£1,012) for sponsoring tracks at the event, the opening and closing keynote and the lunch session with other rates available for sponsors’ branding at meals and coffee breaks, for the event WiFi and for advertisements or inserts in the conference programme.


It was interesting to read the details  about HighEdweb: on its web site it describes how “HighEdweb is an organization of web professionals working at institutions of higher education” and goes on summarize its missions:

HighEdweb strives to advance web professionals, technologies and standards in higher education.

its purpose:

HighEdweb is an organization of professionals working to advance the web at institutions of higher education. We design, develop, manage and map the futures of higher education digital communications and services.

and its core values:

  • Being Trustworthy: We do the right thing; we keep our commitments; we strive for excellence.
  • Being Openness: We strive for transparency in our actions; we value open access to knowledge and resources; We support tools and approaches that cultivate free exchange, participation and community building.
  • Fostering Collaboration: We encourage sharing and teamwork; we support our members’ success and needs; we foster a culture of service within the organization; we provide opportunities to share knowledge and ideas.

Is there a need, I wonder, for IWMW to transform from being a well-established annual event for Web professionals to forming the core of a professional association for those involved in providing Web services in higher education in the UK’s higher education sector? Perhaps this is a topic which should be addressed at IWMW 2015.


As described in a recent post the call for submissions for IWMW 2015. I hope the links to the programmes for the HE Web and EduWeb conferences may provide some additional ideas for those considering submitting proposals.

From the forthcoming EduWeb 2015 event I noticed the following half-day workshop sessions which I feel would be of interest to IWMW 2015 attendees:

  • Managing the Unmanageable: Web Governance in Higher Education
  • The Explosion of Video Marketing: People prefer watching video to reading text, who knew?

Plenary talks on topics I also think would be interesting include:

  • Social Media strand: “#CollegeBound: Using Instagram to Impact Yield“; “How to Use YouTube and Hangouts on Air for Creating Differentiated Video Content” and “You have it, now use it: Extracting measurable value out of enterprise social media
  • Web Intelligence+ strand: “User Testing on a Shoestring“; “Optimizing the User Experience for .EDU Websites“; “Multilingual Campus Websites – Opportunities and Challenges” and “Data isn’t Just for Geeks Anymore!
  • Technical Design & Development strand: “Kickstarting Engagement Strategies with Drupal and …” and “Web Wedding Announcement: Google Analytics and Customer
  • Digital MarCom strand: “Mobilizing Ambassadors to Communicate Your School’s Story

From last year’s HighEdWeb 2014 event the following talks seemed of interest

Returning to the question I posed earlier: “What Can IWMW Learn From Higher Education Web Events in the US?” I feel looking at the business and governance models provided for events aimed at Web professionals in higher education as well as the content of similar professional development events held in the US is helpful in exploring options for IWMW, both in the immediate future (IWMW 2015) and beyond.

I also feel that we should explore the longer term issues of the sustainability of the Web management community in UK higher education institutions during IWMW 2015. But there is no reason why the discussions shouldn’t begin today – so feel free to give your thoughts as a comment to this post.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Revisiting Ideas for IWMW 2015

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 Mar 2015

Beyond Digital: Transforming the Institution

A recent post on this blog announced the Call For Submissions for IWMW 2015. The post suggested that the theme for this year’s annual Institutional Web Management Workshop should be along the lines of “Thinking Digital”. Subsequent discussions with members of the IWMW 2015 advisory group (Ross Ferguson, Mike McConnell, Alison Kerwin, Clare Gibbons and Mike Nolan, the local organiser at Edge Hill University) led to a subsequent refinement of this idea. It was suggested that the challenge we now face is how we break out of a purely operational role and play a sustained, strategic role at the core of the University business. It was agreed that the theme “Beyond Digital: Transforming the Institution” summarises this challenge nicely.

Technology in Higher Education: Defining the Strategic Leader

Technology in higher education: defining the strategic leaderWe seem to be seeing changes in the roles played by those with responsibilities in this area, with managers and policy makers increasingly acting as advocates for business change. In this regard the joint report between Jisc and EDUCAUSE on “Technology in higher education: defining the strategic leader” was timely. The report suggest that underlying technological shifts in personal, professional and academic life can provide opportunities for IT leaders to reshape the image of IT and their own role within the institution which IT leaders can achieve in a number of ways:

  • Campaign for a seat at the top table: Clearly demonstrate how IT touches and provides value to many aspects of the institution. Executive peers often have an incomplete understanding of IT and technological issues, and the IT leader needs to paint a compelling picture of the value IT does and can bring.
  • Speak their language: A perception often still exists at the board level that IT leaders are technologists alone, and there is an unease with the language of technology. Don’t start talking about the technology. Start by talking about the business value.
  • Coach executive-level staff: No matter how well an IT leader mentors IT staff, if IT leaders aren’t coaching campus leaders outside IT, they will face significant barriers to success.
  • Build credibility: Deliver on the promises you make, and colleagues will trust you. ‘Talk the talk and walk the walk’.

Such observations would also appear to be very relevant for those with responsibilities for managing an institution’s digital presence, so I would hope that the report will help to identify possible areas which could be addressed at the IWMW 2015 event.

What is a Digital Strategy? 

However an Accenture report which asked “What is a digital strategy?“, also published in March 2015, suggests that “Digital strategy is not IT strategy, and requires a different approach” and goes on to describe how:
Going mobile, adding analytics, or extending the online experience begs the question what’s next? These investments often changed the form of interaction, with limited change to the function. Transforming the business with digital, particularly in the marketing area, makes sense in the face of changing consumer expectations, options and information. As organizations near the end of their first digital journey and complete their initial roadmap, the question of digital strategy re-joins the executive agenda. 

The report concludes by Refining the definition of digital and strategy which it summarises as:

  • Digital is the application of information and technology to raise human performance.
  • Strategy is setting a direction, sequencing resources and making commitments.

IWMW 2015: Supporting the Transformation of Your Institution

The call for submissions for IWMW 2015 is open. I hope the two reports I have mentioned will help to stimulate ideas for talks and workshop sessions for the IWMW 2015 event, which will be held at Edge Hill University during the week beginning 27 July. If you would like to discuss a possible proposal feel free to get in touch.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Call For Submissions for IWMW 2015

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 Mar 2015

About IWMW

A year ago, in a post entitled “Call For Submissions for IWMW 2014” I reviewed the history of IWMW, the Institutional Web Management Workshop series which was launched in 1997 and, from 1997 to 2013, provided the main annual event organised by UKOLN in its role as a national JISC-funded Innovation Support Centre.

Following JISC’s cessation of core-funding for UKOLN the future of the event was uncertain. However requests from many members of the UK higher education’s web management community made it clear that there was still demand for such an event. Last year I was therefore able to announce that:

I’m pleased to announced that the IWMW event will continue! The IWMW 2014 event will be held at the University of Northumbria on 16-18 July.

IWMW 2014: evaluation of event organisationIWMW 2014: evaluation of event contentThe IWMW 2014 event was a great success: details of the programme were announced on 14 April 2014, with a report and a summary of the feedback provided in the evaluation forms was published in August 2014.

In addition to the valuable comments which were made the feedback for the overall rating of the content of the event and the organisation was particularly impressive. As shown in the accompanying graphs on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) the majority of respondents felt that the content was either excellent or very good, with an overall rating of 4.3 and 75% of the respondents gave a rating of excellent for the organisation of the event (the overall rating was 4.7).

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

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

IWMW 2015: Call for Submissions

IWMW 2015: Call for Submissions

In light of the strong support for the IWMW 2015 I am pleased to announce that call for submissions for IWMW 2015 is now open.

This year’s event will be held at Edge Hill University during the week beginning 27 July (the exact dates are still to be confirmed)

Submissions for plenary talks (lasting for 45 minutes) and workshop sessions (lasting for 90 minutes) are invited. In addition we also welcome proposals for other approaches for engaging with the participants which might include panel sessions, debates or masterclasses (lasting for 3 hours).

Although IWMW events have also provided a forum for those who work in institutional web management teams to share their experiences with their peers we have also found that speakers from the commercial sector have proved useful so we also welcome submissions from the commercial sector.

Submissions can be made using the online submission form. If you would like to discuss possible proposals feel free to send an email to

Theme for IWMW 2015

At last year’s event the most highly rated plenary speaker was Ross Ferguson, Head of Digital at the University of Bath; 78% thought his talk on “Using the start-up playbook to reboot a big university website ” was Excellent and 22% felt it was Very Good.

In light of this talk and subsequent discussions we feel that Thinking Digital’ might be an appropriate theme for this year’s event. However we welcome suggestions for other variants on this theme. As ever comments on this blog posts are welcomed.

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

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Identifying and Preparing for Technological Developments

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 Feb 2015

THE Article on Technology Trends for 2015

Times Higher Education: technology trends for 2015An article published yesterday in the THE (Times Higher Education)  summarised the 6 key trends accelerating technology adoption in higher education in 2015.

As can be seen from the accompanying screenshot the THE has published similar articles in the past; in February 2014 they published two related articles:

These lists of trends accelerating adoption of technologies and challenges impeding adoption of technologies have been taken from the NMC Horizon series of reports with yesterday’s article summarising the trends described in the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition. In brief these trends are:

  1. Advancing cultures of change and innovation: long-term trend based on the observations that “many thought leaders have long believed that universities can play a major role in the growth of national economies” and “research universities [being] generally perceived as incubators for new discoveries and innovations that directly impact their local communities and even the global landscape“.
  2. Increasing cross-institution collaboration: long-term trend which is based on the observation that “collective action among universities is growing in importance for the future of higher education“.
  3. Growing focus on measuring learning: mid-term trend focussing on “gathering and analysing large amounts of detail about individual student interactions in online learning activities, with a view to personalising their “learning experience” or measuring performance“.
  4. Proliferation of open educational resources: mid-term trend based on the observation that “open educational resources (teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others) have momentum behind them“.
  5. Increasing use of blended learning: short-term trend which acknowledges that “blended learning, whereby teaching utilises a mixture of online and in-person methods, has been around for some time, but recent developments are “upping the ante”“.
  6. Redesigning learning spaces: short-term trend which, for example, address how “more universities are helping to facilitate “emerging models of education” such as the flipped classroom, whereby content is delivered online and lecturers use contact time to discuss and explain rather than to disseminate knowledge“.

So how we know what the future holds for higher education!

Identifying and Preparing for Technological Developments

The publication of the THE article was quite timely as tomorrow I am facilitating a session on “Identifying and Preparing for Technological Developments” at a JIBS meeting entitled “Technology will not defeat us: offering a good service in difficult times“.

The session is based on my initial work on the Jisc Observatory (led by UKOLN and Cetis) which was summarised in a paper on “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow“, participation last year with the expert panel which advised on the NMC Horizon report for Academic Libraries and workshop sessions on predicting technological developments which I gave at ELAG 2014, SAOIM 2014 and ILI 2013 conferences.

In the session I will make use of the Delphi process used by the NMC Horizon team in the production of their reports, together with illustrating a number of other techniques which may be useful in identifying technology trends and responding to such trends. The key point I’ll be making is that organisations should incorporate such approaches to support their long-term planning. I hope the approaches I’ll describe will be of interest and, as the resources are available with a Creative Commons CC-BY licence, that the methodology can be easily adopted by others.

The slides I’m using at the event are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

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MTSR 2015, the 9th Metadata & Semantics Research Conference (and its use of Facebook)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 Feb 2015

MTSR 2015, the 9th Metadata and Semantics Research Conference

MTSR 2015 conference web siteThe 9th Metadata and Semantics Research Conference has recently announced its call for papers, which is also available as a PDF document.

Metadata has been a area of interest to UKOLN, my former organisation and Cetis, my current organisation, also have interests in this area including recent support for LRMI, the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative.

MTSR 2015, to use the conference’s abbreviation, will take place at the University of Manchester on 9-11th September 2015. As described on the conference home page:

the ninth International Conference on Metadata and Semantics Research (MTSR’15) aims to bring together scholars and practitioners that share a common interest in the interdisciplinary field of metadata, semantics, linked data and ontologies. Participants will share novel knowledge and best practice in the implementation of these semantic technologies across diverse types of Information Environments and applications. These include Cultural Informatics; Open Access Repositories & Digital Libraries; E-learning applications; Search Engine Optimization & Information Retrieval; Research Information Systems and Infrastructures; e-Science and e-Social Science applications; Agriculture, Food and Environment; Bio-Health & Medical Information Systems.

The deadline for submission is 9th May and authors will be notified of acceptance or rejection of their submission on 16th June.

What have you noticed is now a mainstream practice?

MTSR 2015 Facebook pageIn a post on his OUseful blog over a year ago Tony Hirst described the “What did you notice for the first time today?” exercise which he used in a workshop on Future Technologies and Their Applications which Tony and I co-facilitated at the ILI 2013 conference.

Tony describe how this approach could be important for trend spotting: “it may signify that something is becoming mainstream that you hadn’t appreciated before“. However I found that trying to reflect on something I’ve notice for the first time today too constraining, so I proposed a tweaked version: What Have You Noticed Recently?

However another variant may be “What have you noticed is now a mainstream practice which may have been considered inappropriate in the recent past?“: this might be particularly useful in identifying acceptance of emerging practices and a willingness to accept some level of risk.

This came to me when I notice that, as shown in the image at the top of this post, the MTSR 2015 conference home page provides details of the MTSR Metadata Semantics Research Conference Facebook page. The Facebook page, which currently has 217 ‘likes’, contains a small number of updates: the launch of the Facebook page, the first announcement of the call for papers, an update to the page’s photograph, details of the conference Twitter account, dates for the call for papers and award details.

In addition to this content (which are primarily links to content hosted on the conference web site)  as can be seen from the screen shot the Facebook page also provides links to Facebook pages for related content including Open Repositories 2015 (283 likes including 3 researchers/librarians I am connected with), the Research Data Alliance (363 likes) and ICCMI 2014 (309 likes).

In answer to the question I posed “What have you noticed is now a mainstream practice which may have been considered inappropriate in the recent past?” I can answer “Use of Facebook to promote research conference and apparent ‘liking’ of the page by hundreds of researchers and practitioners“.

Or, to generalise this “An acceptance of the risks of using Facebook by well-educated researchers and library practitioners and an acknowledgement of the benefits which can be gained“.

MTSR 2015 Facebook statisticsThe use of Facebook to promote research conferences seems to no longer be one of “should we?”  but instead one based on a cost-benefit analysis – can the effort in updating a Facebook page for a conference be justified? Fortunately the Facebook statistics for the page provides usage data for helping to answer this question (it should also be noted, incidentally, that the conference’s MTSR 2015 Twitter account currently only has 9 followers).

Would you agree that this is now a mainstream practice? Would you also agree that in the past this type of use was frowned upon?

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Sharing Project Practices: the LACE Compendium

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 Feb 2015

Open Practices Covered in this Blog

LACE Compendium coverI have written a number of posts on various aspects of openness since this blog was launched back in 2007, with posts in recent months covering topics such as protocols to support open services (“OpenSocial and the OpenSocial Foundation: Moves to W3C“); the implications of open licences (“Flickr and Creative Commons; Lessons from Open Source Software“) and moves towards open practices in the UK (“Report on Modernisation of Higher Education: Focus on Open Access and Learning Analytics“).

The LACE Compendium

I am currently working on the EU-funded LACE project. The LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project team members have a similar commitment to open practices to support of the project. As an example we agreed that the LACE Compendium, the project handbook which documents the policies and practices the team are taking in supporting the user engagement and dissemination aspects of the project, would be published under a Creative Commons licence.

The first version of the Compendium, which was published in April 2013, described our initial plans for the outreach work. This has been significantly updated in the light of experiences and feedback from team members. The latest version containing 45 pages which cover our strategies for user engagement, events and development of our network of policy makers and practitioners with interests in learning analytics. The document also describes approaches we are taking to measure the effectiveness of the strategies and concludes by summarising approaches for ensuring the sustainability of the project assets, including project deliverables, other project resources, the channels used in supporting the work and the communities themselves.

Why We Have Used a Creative Commons Licence

The team’s culture of openness, which includes use of a Creative Commons licence for the report, is not primarily an end in itself; rather such openness can provide tangible benefits including:

  • Encouraging feedback on the document, since others who may wish to reuse the content should benefit from feedback.
  • Enabling others to use the document, thus saving effort from having to develop similar project documentation.
  • Allow others to build on the documentation should there be changes to the project team.
  • Support the long term preservation of the project’s resources by minimising legal and licences barriers to reuse of content.
  • To enhance the reputation of the project team.

There are resource implications associated with the implementation of open practices and, in keeping with a culture of openness, it is appropriate to acknowledge such implications as well as highlighting the potential benefits of providing Creative Commons licences for project deliverables.

Unlike the value criteria for copyrighted resources (making money) the value in the project team’s resources lies primarily in their reuse, the feedback we receive and embedding of the resources and the ideas across the community. Feel free, therefore, to reuse this report and our other deliverables. Your feedback is, of course, encouraged.

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in openness | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Microsoft Adopts First International Cloud Privacy Standard

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 Feb 2015


microsoft-adopts-first-international-cloud-privacy-standardOn Monday 16 January 2015 Microsoft announced that they had adopted the first international Cloud privacy standard.

The standard in question is ISO/IEC 27018, the code of practice for protection of personally identifiable information (PII) in public clouds acting as PII processors.


A ZDNet article entitled “Microsoft adopts international cloud privacy standard” was published yesterday which provided Microsoft’s summary of this development:

… under the standard, enterprise customers will have control of their data; will be informed of what’s happening with their data, including whether there are any returns, transfers, or deletion of their personal information; and will be protected with “strong security” by ensuring that any people processing personally identifiable information will be subject to a confidentiality obligation.

At the same time, Microsoft has ensured that it will not use any data for advertising purposes, and that it will inform its customers if their data is accessed by the government.

Other news announcements included:

The latter article highlights one limitation of the standard: “Microsoft added the new standard forces them to inform users about government access to data, unless the disclosure is prohibited by law“. This seems to suggest that if the UK Government requests data held by Microsoft in their Cloud service conformance with the standard will require them publicise such disclosure; however this would not be the case in the US where such disclosure is seemingly prohibited by law.

Andrew Cormack, in a post on Janet’s Regulatory Developments blog pointed out that Microsoft’s new ISO/IEC 27018 standard covers “their Azure, Office365 and Intune cloud services“. This should be a pleasing development for institutions which are making use of Microsoft’s Cloud services. But here does this leave Google, Amazon and other major Cloud services?

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in Legal, standards | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Seminar on “Preparing Our Users For Digital Life Beyond The Institution”

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 Feb 2015

Later today I am giving a seminar on “Preparing Our Users For Digital Life Beyond The Institution” for the iSchool at Northumbria University. As described on the iSchool web site:

For nearly 70 years we [the Information Sciences department at Northumbria University which is a member of the iSchools Organisation] have been working closely with employers and professionals to develop and deliver programmes that respond to changing needs and technologies, and draw upon experience and expertise across the University.

Our programmes, research and staff activities span a range of applications from Information and Knowledge Management, Librarianship, and Records Management, through to Communication Management, Public Relations, and Engagement. 

Across this spectrum, we maintain strong links with professional bodies and employers, and our graduates have been very successful in finding employment in commercial and public organisations, at home and abroad.

In light of the department’s long-standing interests in bridging the gap between academia and other employers this seems to provide an ideal opportunity to revisit an area of interest which I first raised at the LILAC 2013 conference in  a talk on When Staff and Researchers Leave Their Host Institution and was followed by a poster presentation a year later at LILAC 2014 (see the accompanying image).

In the talk I will argue that the traditional approaches taken to IT provision and support for staff and researchers is increasingly inappropriate: the institutional IT environment (such as the institutional repository and the institutional email account) can provide a siloed environment when staff and researchers leave their current host institution. This can be a significant barrier if they wish to continue to make use of their content, services and communities to further their professional career  in a different institution, as a consultant or, say, citizen scientist.

Although content ownership and licence conditions may have placed barriers in the past, the moves towards open content, open source software and Cloud services which are hosted beyond the institution are nowadays providing a more flexible environment, which should enable staff and researchers to continue their professional activities more easily when they leave their current institution. It is important to remember that everyone will someday leave their current institution and so, I would argue, all institutions should ensure they have policies and procedures for when this happens.

In the talk I will invite feedback on a possible policy:

The University seeks to ensure that staff and students are able to be productive and effective in their work and study at the university and are able to continue to exploit their skills, knowledge and content when they leave provide this does not conflict with licence conditions, etc.

How will this policy be achieved? During induction staff and students are advised on how to maximise long-term access to content and services. Prior to leaving staff and students will be able to access support on how to migrate their content, communities and access from institutional services.

I appreciate that such a policy may be in conflict with institutions which seek to ensure ownership and control of content created by members of the institution. However as HEFCE pointed out in a news items published in July 2012Universities 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“. Minimising the barriers to reuse of content, tools and services which academics helped to develop and are familiar with should ensure that they continue to contribute to the economy (if financial aspects are your main interest) and to research and learning (if you place an emphasis on these aspects of academia).

Reasons forlack of formal training/support?In a survey carried out in spring 2014 Jenny Evans and myself found that the majority of the respondents case felt that it was not the responsibility of the Library to provide formal training in use of Cloud services for staff and researchers who are about to leave the institution is not the responsibility: as can be seen from the histogram this, rather than lack of expertise or resources, is the most significant reason.

But if this isn’t the responsibility of librarians, then who should have responsibility? I’d be interested in your thoughts. I’d also like to hear if things have changed since I first started writing about this back in 2013.

Note that the slides for the talk are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

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OpenSocial and the OpenSocial Foundation: Moves to W3C

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Dec 2014

OpenSocial logoYesterday, 16th December 2014, the OpenSocial Foundation and the W3C announced that the “OpenSocial Foundation [is] Moving Standards Work to [the] W3C Social Web Activity“.

In the press release John Mertic, President of the OpenSocial Foundation, described how:

The consensus of the OpenSocial Board is that the next phase of Social Web Standards, built in large part on the success of OpenSocial standards and projects like Apache Shindig and Rave, should occur under the auspices of the W3C Social Web Working Group, of which OpenSocial is a founding member. The OpenSocial community has taken the idea of industry standards to govern the Social Web from dream to reality. By shifting our work now to the W3C Social Web Working Group, we will make the Open Social Web inevitable and ubiquitous.

OpenSocial has already developed a number of mature specifications which have been managed by the W3C Social Web Working Group including Activity Streams 2.0 and OpenSocial 2.5.1 Activity Streams and Embedded Experiences APIs.

The OpenSocial Foundation and W3C are invite participants in the following groups:

  • The Social Web Working Group, which is defining technical standards and APIs to facilitate access to social functionality.
  • The Social Interest Group, which is coordinating development of social use cases, and formulating a broad strategy to enable social business and federation.

The Social Web Working Group (SocialWG) wiki provides a summary of the proposed areas of work. I found the (current) single user case of particular interest: SWAT0, the Social Web Acid Test – Level 0, provides an integration use case for the federated social web:

  1. With his phone, Dave takes a photo of Tantek and uploads it using a service
  2. Dave tags the photo with Tantek
  3. Tantek gets a notification on another service that he’s been tagged in a photo
  4. Evan, who is subscribed to Dave, sees the photo on yet another service
  5. Evan comments on the photo
  6. David and Tantek receive notifications that Evan has commented on the photo

Such functionality will be familiar to Facebook users, but in this case the users don’t need to have accounts on the same service.

It will be interesting to see how this standardisation work develops and, in particular, the extent to which we will see take-up of the standards by existing providers of social media services and the development of new services which may provide competition to existing providers

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in Social Web, standards | 1 Comment »

Implications for Institutions of a Backlash Against Facebook

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 Dec 2014

Moves Away from Facebook?

We are apparently seeing a backlash against use of Facebook. Over the weekend a post on Facebook’s struggle to keep teens described how, although in September 2014 had 864 million daily active users, 703 million mobile daily active users and 1.35 billion monthly active users, “the company faces a significant challenge keeping the service relevant to younger users“. Earlier this week Niall Sclater provided a personal anecdote in a post on How a fifteen year-old Scottish girl uses social media which suggested “Facebook is mainly for older people who want to share baby photos“.

Also over the weekend the Observer included an article by Ben Goldacre entitled When data gets creepy: the secrets we don’t realise we’re giving away. The popularity of this article can be gauged by the 323 comments made on the article to date as well as, ironically, the 7,390 shares made on social media.

But Continued Use By Professionals in Higher Education?

Linkedin Facebook groupThe article on Facebook’s struggle to keep teens suggests that  teenagers may be moving towards use of messaging applications although a post published  by Piper Jaffray earlier this year described how a Survey finds teens still tiring of Facebook, prefer Instagram.

However moves towards use of messaging applications do not seem to be reflected in my professional uses of social media services. Twitter continues to be a valuable tool but I also seem to be making greater use of Facebook for professional purposes, in part  helped by the release earlier this year of a bookmarking facility for Facebook posts. I also find that there are various Facebook groups for professional purposes which have been subscribed by my professional contacts who also make use of Twitter. A good example of this is the Linked Web Data for Education Facebook group which has 102 members, including 35 I am connected with on various social networks.

In additional to use of Facebook by professionals to support their work in additional to social interests we also see continued use of Facebook by institutions.

Back in July 2014 a post on Facebook Usage for Russell Group Universities, July 2014 provided figures related to Facebook usage by the 24 Russell group universities and summarised growth since similar surveys were published in 2011 and 2012.

An updated survey was carried out on 8 December 2014 which includes metrics which weren’t collected fin previous surveys, including the numbers of Facebook users ‘talking’ about the institutional Facebook page and the numbers of new ‘likes’ for the page. I hope that this data will provide a benchmark which could help to indicate a decline in interest in Facebook use: we might expect Facebook ‘likes’ to continue to grow users probably don’t ‘unlike’ pages, but the number of new pages ‘likes’ should provide a better indication of current levels of interest. Clearly Facebook page administrators will be able to view the metrics for their institutional Facebook page but will not be able to detect trends unless such data is shared.

It should also be noted that, as described in a Facebook support page,  an apparent decline in the numbers of ‘likes’ may be due to Facebook users managing their privacy settings:  Earlier this year Facebook announced new privacy controls for Making It Easier to Share With Who You Want and we are now seeing a range of resources, such as this poster on “How to Stay Safe on Facebook” which can help to educate users on how to manage Facebook more effectively.

Should Institutions and Experienced Professionals Cease Using Facebook?

However rather that making decisions on professional use of social media services such as Facebook on business criteria such as the level of use, the audience profiles, the costs of providing the services and the estimated benefits, might there be an argument that organisations and individuals who place a high value on ethical business practices should cease making use of services which infringe users’ privacy and exploit their intellectual property from unfairly using their dominant position in the market place. We have been here before – back in 2004, the EU ordered Microsoft to pay a fine of over £380 million for abuse of its dominant position in the market. But beyond such infringement of monopoly legislation which are decided by a court case, might the business decisions being taken by social media companies such as Facebook be regarded as a social injustice which individuals and organisations should face up to, just as many did by disinvesting in South Africa during the apartheid era?

I’ve already mentioned Ben Goldacre’s Observer article which highlighted such dangers: When data gets creepy: the secrets we don’t realise we’re giving away.  And a few days ago Pete Johnston posted a comment on this blog in which he summarised his concerns:

Targetting, profiling and “personalisation” are central, and vast resources are ploughed into trying to gather or infer information about individuals’ activities and preferences based on our behaviour on the Web. Sometimes that data collection is overt and explicit: we are invited to volunteer personal data to a social media service in exchange for access to communication channels and the creation of an online profile without which we are told we are a second-class citizen. Sometimes it is rather more covert, as in the surreptitious tracking of our behaviour across Web sites through ever more complex digital sleight of hand tricks. And that tracking increasingly extends into our physical world behaviour (tracking mobile wireless signals in shopping malls, linking email addresses to “loyalty” cards and so on).

That personal information is gathered, stored, merged with other information, analysed/mined, transferred/bought/sold/brokered/requisitioned/intercepted/lost/found/stolen, and (re)used by different parties for purposes and in contexts over which we have no control – from “personalised offers” to spam to profiling to surveillance to identity theft to ending up on Theresa’s Big List of Domestic Extremists because someone on your “friends” list once “liked” a Bad Book. Services’ promises of ephemerality, security and anonymisation appear to mean little when the price is right (ba-dum-tish) and they can fall back on that get-out clause buried deep in the terms of service.

 Your Thoughts

Facebook currently has 864 million daily active users and 703 million mobile daily active users. The data provided in Appendix 1 gives some figures for Facebook’s use across official pages for the 24 Russell Group universities. But is such data irrelevant? I’d welcome your thoughts.

Appendix 1: Institutional Use of Facebook by Russell Group Universities, December 2014

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

Ref. No. Institution and Web site link
Facebook name and link
Nos. of likes
(Dec 2014)
Nos. of visits
(Dec 2014)
Nos. talking
(Dec 2014)
Nos. of new page
likes (Dec 2014)
 1 InstitutionUniversity of Birmingham
Fb nameunibirmingham
   10,853 118,057  4,020 4,020 [Link]
 2 InstitutionUniversity of Bristol
Fb namebristoluniversity
    32,715   3,053     950      183 [Link]
 3 InstitutionUniversity of Cambridge
1,081,801 14,240   8,336 [Link]
 4 InstitutionCardiff University
Fb namecardiffuni
      57,660  –     241     200 [Link]
 5 InstitutionDurham University
Fb nameDurham-University/109600695725424
     32,636  11,004  –  – [Link]
 6 InstitutionUniversity of Exeter
Fb nameexeteruni
      34,572   47,314    2,242   202 [Link]
 7 InstitutionUniversity of Edinburgh
Fb nameUniversityOfEdinburgh
      87,865    32,402     1,598    552 [Link]
 8 InstitutionUniversity of Glasgow
Fb Name: glasgowuniversity
     82,736  69,505     4,646     555 [Link]
 9 InstitutionImperial College
Fb nameimperialcollegelondon
     83,629     1,391    437 [Link]
10 InstitutionKing’s College London
Fb nameKings-College-London/54237866946
     44,189    32,020       544    190 [Link]
11 InstitutionUniversity of Leeds
Fb nameuniversityofleeds
    29,410   20,856     1,557    237 [Link]
12 InstitutionUniversity of Liverpool
Fb name: University-of-Liverpool/103803892992025
    70,647  48,447  – [Link]
13 InstitutionLSE
Fb name: lseps 
   163,854   50,554   2,140  1,070 [Link]
14 InstitutionUniversity of Manchester
Fb name:TheUniversityOfManchester
     67,346  23,170   6,709     567 [Link]
15 InstitutionNewcastle University
Fb namenewcastleuniversity
    42,868  19,383    3,038    379 [Link]
16 InstitutionUniversity of Nottingham
Fb nameTheUniofNottingham
     72,015  85,596    2,381     279 [Link]
17 InstitutionUniversity of Oxford
2,038,667   25,012 13,531 [Link]
18 InstitutionQueen Mary, University of London
Fb name: QMLNews
     85,861   21,478       1,132       291 [Link]
19 InstitutionQueen’s University Belfast
Fb nameQueensUniversityBelfast
     25,162     2,930     209 [Link]
20 InstitutionUniversity of Sheffield
Fb nametheuniversityofsheffield
  76,932    83,375    1,011      279 [Link]
21 InstitutionUniversity of Southampton
Fb nameunisouthampton
  58,409   71,726   2,039     384 [Link]
22 InstitutionUniversity College London
Fb nameUCLOfficial
  105,048    83,375   4,938    489 [Link]
23 InstitutionUniversity of Warwick
Fb namewarwickuniversity
   55,146  –    1,459   285 [Link]
24 InstitutionUniversity of York
Fb nameuniversityofyork
  20,785 14,605      467    56 [Link]
TOTAL  4,460,806    835,920     84,685          37,731


Posted in Evidence, Facebook | 4 Comments »

Librarians and Wikipedia: an Ideal Match?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 Dec 2014

Characteristics of Librarians

Image from Wikipedia:

Image illustrating librarians’ characteristics from Wikipedia:

What are the key characteristics of librarians? According to the basic personal traits and skills which librarians typically share include:

  • A love of knowledge and learning
  • A desire to work around people
  • Love of books
  • Broad overall knowledge of life and the world
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Good with numbers
  • Friendly
  • Ethical
  • Personable
  • Basic affinity for working with large volumes of information
  • Computer skills

How might these skills and traits relate to Wikipedia?

Wikipedia’s Purpose and Key Principles

Wikipedia’s purpose is “to benefit readers by acting as an encyclopedia, a comprehensive written compendium that contains information on all branches of knowledge“. As described by Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder: “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.

Wikipedia seeks to achieve its goal by its five pillars:

  1. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia: Wikipedia is not, for example, a soapbox, an advertising platform, a vanity press, an indiscriminate collection of information, or a web directory.
  2. Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view: Wikipedia strives for articles that document and explain the major points of view, giving due weight with respect to their prominence in an impartial tone. It avoids advocacy and we characterize information and issues rather than debate them.
  3. Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute: Since all editors freely licence their work to the public, no editor owns an article and any contributions can and will be freely edited and redistributed.
  4. Editors should treat each other with respect and civility: Contributors are expected to respect fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree. Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and don’t engage in personal attacks.
  5. Wikipedia has no firm rules: Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, but they are not carved in stone; their content and interpretation can evolve over time. Their principles and spirit matter more than their literal wording, and sometimes improving Wikipedia requires making an exception.

How well do the characteristics of librarians relate to Wikipedia’s goals and principles?

How Well Are The Two Communities Aligned?

The following table suggests how these characteristics of librarians relate to Wikipedia’s goals and principles and other information about Wikipedia.

Librarian Traits / Characteristics Relevance to Wikipedia
1 A love of knowledge and learning Aligned with Wikipedia’s goal of “a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge“.
2 A desire to work around people There is a strong Wikipedia community: in October 2013 there were 31,000 active editors with about half of the active editors spending at least one hour a day editing, and a fifth spend more than three hours
3 Love of books  –
4 Broad overall knowledge of life and the world Wikipedia provides access to broad knowledge of life and the world. In addition Wikipedia provides an environment in which librarians can share their knowledge and support their users who may also wish to share their knowledge.
5 Strong organizational skills There are currently 4,616,531 articles in the English-language version of Wikipedia. In order to help manage such a large number of articles there will be a need to have good organisation skills (e.g. in making use of metadata such as Wikipedia categories) to help manage the service.
6 Good with numbers As described in a post on , the 1:AM conference Wikipedia provides a wide range of metrics, which may be of relevance  to those with interests in altmetrics.
7 Friendly Aligned with Wikipedia principle that Editors should treat each other with respect and civility
8 Ethical Aligned with Wikipedia principle that Editors should treat each other with respect and civility
9 Personable Aligned with Wikipedia principle that Editors should treat each other with respect and civility
10 Basic affinity for working with large volumes of information This is of direct relevance to Wikipedia.
11 Computer skills  This is of direct relevance to Wikipedia.

Perhaps the librarian trait which does not initially appear to be aligned with interests in Wikipedia is a love of books. However the Wikibooks service which, along with Wikipedia, is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation does provide access to an open-content collection of text books that anyone can edit which currently hosts 2,722 books with 49,758 pages. In addition librarians with a love of books may well find that the Wikipedia summary of  lists of books that have articles on Wikipedia, organised by various criteria may provide a useful starting point for sharing their expertise!

Of course the library traits of friendliness and being personable will traditionally have been relevant to the real world environment and visitors to the physical library. Nowadays if would be appropriate to relate these traits to the online environment, just as they would also apply to engagement with patrons on the telephone.

Librarians and Wikipedia: an Ideal Match!

I would argue that there are a number of other important key characteristics shared by dedicated professional librarians who are comfortable working in today’s online environment which are relevant to an environment in which Wikipedia provide a resource which is widely used.

In a talk on “Wikipedia in the library – the elephant in the (reading) room?” given at the LILAC 2014 conference Nancy Graham and Andrew Gray pointed out the flaws in the view that: “We have a problem. The kids these days are reading too many encyclopedias“. As can be seen from their slides they argued that considerations of the relevance of Wikipedia in education provides an ideal teaching moment for thinking critically about online material,  differentiating the good from the bad and even engaging with the means of production.

Beyond digital literacy, librarians are also perceived as belonging to a trusted profession. Although expertise in use of online tools is now essential for librarians, not all online tools will necessarily respect users’ privacy concerns – indeed as Phil Bradley recently pointed out Google is tracking your every move.  Other popular online services, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. will also track your online activities and display ads based on the resources you visit.

Although such tools will be used by librarians, they will find that Wikipedia provides a more ethical online environment, with visitors to the Web site not having to worry out intrusive adverts or their browsing patterns and online profile being sold to advertisers.

Librarians and Wikipedia: surely an ideal match! Wouldn’t you agree? If you do agree I’d be interested to hear how you are using Wikipedia in your library. If, however, you don’t agree feel free to give your reasons why you feel librarians should not actively engage with Wikipedia.

About the author

Brian Kelly is the Innovation Advocate at Cetis, University of Bolton. He has responsibilities for promoting use of innovative technologies and practices in higher and further education. Brian has given talks on the importance of Wikipedia for librarians including “Editing Wikipedia: Why You Should and How You Can Support Your Users” at the CILIP Wales 2014 conference and “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia” at the CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2014. Brian has also written a number of blog posts about Wikipedia including Top Wikipedia Tips for Librarians: Why You Should Contribute and How You Can Support Your Users and Wikipedia, Librarians and CILIP.

About this post

This post was submitted to the CILIP Blogger Challenge, a competition which provides bloggers the opportunity to talk about important library, knowledge and information issues. Posts must be between 500-1,500 words long and must be submitted by Friday 7 November. Submissions will be judged on the following criteria: 1) be short and focussed on one issue; 2) have a short, meaningful and descriptive title; 3) be relevant; 4) be bold and encourage debates; 5) be original and 6) make complex concepts and ideas accessible to non-experts.

However since criteria 5 requires that submissions be original (i.e. “should provide a new and original perspective and should not have been published anywhere else previously, including on your own blog”) this post is being published after the CILIP Blogger Competition judges have selected the winning blog posts.

The post did not win the challenge. The winning post of the CILIP Blogger Challenge was entitled “Is digitisation the answer or is digital preservation the question?” and was written by Jenny O’Neill. The 4 “highly commended” blog posts  are:

  1. Managing agricultural indigenous knowledge in my rural library by Eric Nelson Haumba
  2. Architecture, memory and metaphor in the digital domain by Nadia Holmes
  3. Libraries and archives could teach gamers a thing or two by Ros Malone
  4. Sharing stories: how libraries can help new parents live happily ever after by Katy Loudon

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Flickr and Creative Commons; Lessons from Open Source Software

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 Dec 2014

Flickr’s Commercial Exploitation of Photographs

Yesterday in a post entitled Sharing Information, Misinformation and Untruths I suggested that an article entitled “Flickr is about to sell off your Creative Commons photos” which had a sub-heading providing a warning to Flickr users: “And no, you won’t see a single penny from it“ was being disingenuous as such commercial exploitation has always been available for resources which have a Creative Commons licence which do not have a NC (non-commercial) exclusion.

Last night on Twitter I found a number of people agreed with my perspective – if resources have a licence which permits commercial exploitation, you can’t complain if that’s what happens. However today I have read posts such as “What’s wrong with this picture? Flickr is about to sell off your Creative Commons photos” and “I don’t want “Creative Commons by” to mean you can rip me off” from bloggers who are unhappy with Flickr’s announcement.

The Battle For Open

'The Battle For Open' by Martin WellerCoincidentally a few hours ago I noticed a Facebook status update from Martin Weller, Professor of Educational Technology at the Open University, in which he announced that his book entitled “The Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory” is now available to download for free – but if you wish to buy the hardcopy you will have to wait for a couple of weeks.

This was therefore a timely announcement. I’ve not yet read the book but I have downloaded the PDF and the table of contents for this 244 page book makes it clear that the book is of interest to me, covering topics such as “The Victory of Openness“, “What Sort of Open?“, “Openness Uncovered” and “The Future of Open“.

Revisiting Openness

My thoughts on openness are informed by my personal involvement in a number of aspects of open and closed resources in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the 1980s whilst working in the Computer Centre at Loughborough University I discovered that the terms and conditions covering use of a engineering package prohibited transfer of the package or its outputs from a list of countries which the US was not on friendly terms with. I can’t remember the full details but I do recall that the list included countries (the USSR and Bulgaria) which I had visited. I wondered whether I should monitor the nationality of users of the software and block access to the software if they were from one of the prohibited countries or, since the terms and conditions didn’t prohibit them from using the software. just from exporting the outputs, ask them to sign a form saying that they wouldn’t take any printouts from the software or export magnetic tapes containing data. That didn’t happen – and I suspect a manager suggested that I ignore the terms and conditions.

In 1994 I wrote a handbook on “Running A WWW Service“. The document included a statement that “This work may be copied in its entirety, without modification and with this statement attached“; today this would be covered by a Creative Commons CC-BY-ND licence. I was pleased that the document was mirrored in over a dozen countries, including countries behind the Iron Curtain.

During my time as a member of the Advisory group for the Jisc OSS Watch service I learn about how Free Software Licences must be “non-discriminatory” among licensees. Such licences would permit open source software to be used in countries that one may not be on friendly terms with and by organisations which may have business practices which one may disagree with: businesses in Russia and Iraq and companies such as Microsoft, Google and Apple can, and indeed do, freely use open source software.

This notion of non-discriminatory use also applies in use of patented software. As described in WikipediaReasonable and non-discriminatory terms (RAND), also known as fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND), are a licensing obligation that is often required by standards organizations for members that participate in the standard-setting process.

My Perspective

My view is quite simple: if content uses a Creative Commons license which permits commercial exploitation, then it would be inappropriate to complain if such commercial exploitation takes place.

One might wish to argue that there is a need for additional Creative Commons licence which enable additional restrictions to be placed on how content may be commercially exploited. But that, to me, would seem to add unnecessary complications and would be difficult to implement and enforce.

To put it simply, Creative Commons is about openness for everybody, and not just one’s friends. I’ve shared my thoughts – I’d welcome yours.

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in openness | 1 Comment »

Sharing Information, Misinformation and Untruths

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1 Dec 2014

Recent Mainstream Examples of Misinformation and Untruths

It’s good to share. And we now have a global infrastructure in place which facilitates sharing and encourages discussions on the information which has been shared.

But as well as sharing information the infrastructure (such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+) can also be used to share misinformation and untruths – and it’s not always easy to differentiate between the different types of information. This is especially the case if we would like to belief the misinformation.

This struck me over the weekend when I came across three examples of misinformation and untruths which were being widely shared across my stream on Facebook and Twitter.

On Friday and Saturday I came across a number of Facebook status from people I am connected to who posted links to stories about how ‘Black Friday’ originated with the slave trade.

Coalition of resistanceI also came across a number of links to a post published by the Coalition of Resistance: Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay organisation which provided visual evidence that MPs will turn up on large numbers for votes on MPs expenses and pay but won’t attend parliament for votes on the war in Afghanistan, the sex abuse inquiry, knife crime prevention, drug laws, the impact of welfare reforms on the sick and disabled and similar issues.

The outrage which this series of images generated can be seen from the large number of Facebook ‘likes’ (28,615 to date), shares (67,721 to date) and comments.

In this case the Spectator, a right-of-centre publication, published an article entitled “The menace of memes: how pictures can paint a thousand lies” pointed out misinformation:

When debates go on for several hours, MPs often pop in and out as they have other business going on at the same time. They may be in a select committee, meeting constituents, taking part in a Westminster Hall debate, running an all-party parliamentary group meeting, briefing journalists, plotting a rebellion with colleagues or working in their office 

and untruths:

The bottom image claims to be from 11 July 2013. There was no debate on pay that day, which was a Thursday. There are often fewer MPs in the House on a Thursday. So this image is from the wrong day. I’ve combed the PA images archive and, surprise, surprise, it’s not from a debate about pay in 2013. It’s from Prime Minister’s Questions on 5 September 2012.

associated with this post and associated discussions.

In the case of the origins of the term ‘Black Friday’ the Snopes service provides evidence that the claim that “The term “Black Friday” originated with the practice of selling off slaves on the day after Thanksgiving is false.

Examples of Misinformation and Untruths About Online Services

The two examples given above were not only popular across my networks but also more widely. However two further examples are of more direct relevance to those with professional interests in online services.

Flickr is about to sell your photosThree days ago the Dazed Digital blog published an article entitled “Flickr is about to sell off your Creative Commons photos” which had a sub-heading providing a warning to Flickr users: “And no, you won’t see a single penny from it“.

I’m come across similar misleading posts about the terms and conditions of popular online services in the past. Back in April 2012 in a post entitled “Have You Got Your Free Google Drive, Skydrive & Dropbox Accounts?” I pointed out, in response to suggestions that Google owned everything uploaded to the newly released Google Drive service, the terms and conditions which state:

“You retain ownership of any intellectual property that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours”?

In the case of Flickr, according to a c|net articleit turns out the Web giant is selling prints of photos some photographers intended to give away for free, according to a report Monday by the Wall Street Journal“. But it seems that this will only happen for photographs which have been shared with a licence which permits commercial reuse, such as a Creative Commons CC-BY licence.  If Flickr users do not want others to make money from their photographs they simply need to provide a Non-Commercial (NC) licence. In this the original blog post was not being untruthful in saying “And no, you won’t see a single penny from it” but was being misleading in hinting that Flickr was implementing new terms and conditions.

Facebook copyright memeThe final example which I came across over the weekend is the Facebook copyright meme. In this case the misspellings (“the Berner Convention“) and poorly-written text (“Facebook is now an open capital entity“) provide clues that this text is meaningless and a Gawker article gives further details on why “That Facebook Copyright Thing Is Meaningless and You Should Stop Sharing It“.

Popular Memes

I suspect that few people in my network have been misled by the racist Britain First organisation (I do not intend to raise its visibility further by providing a link, but it seems that it currently has 590,762 ‘likes’).

But what about other memes such as “If You’re Not Paying for It; You’re the Product“? In some respects this isn’t saying anything new: I don’t pay to watch ITV and am happy to accept that ITV sells advertisers eyeballs for advertisements, with programmes as the filler between the ads.  But I didn’t pay to go to university. Was I, back in the 1970s, a product of the establishment? And should I welcome the fact that today’s generation of students are not products but consumers?!

Memes can help to disseminate useful information as well as misinformation and untruths. But it’s not always easy to differentiate between them!

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []


Posted in General | 3 Comments »

Making Effective Use of Google Docs (and Who Will Support Researchers?)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20 Nov 2014

Looking to Make Google Docs a Richer Authoring Environment

Google Docs: table of contents addon

The Table of Contents add-on for Google Docs

These days I find myself making extensive use of Google Docs. This is the tool of choice for the LACE project I am involved in. Although Google Docs doesn’t have the power of MS Word it does provide access control capabilities which are important for project work with partners working at different institutions across Europe.

As a long-standing user of MS Word (since its days which it competed with WordPerfect on MS DOS!)  I have become accustomed to its functionality and user interface. As I described in a post which summarised the collaborative authoring approach myself and my co-authors used in writing a “Paper Accepted for #W4A2012 Conference” I have made use of MS Word and Microsoft’s Onedrive (then called Skydrive) so that we could edit the document using our preferred authoring tool. Since our paper was hosted in the Cloud we could edit a single copy and avoided the problem of authors editing multiple copies of a paper. However although the approach worked for a small group of authors who were happy to use MS Word, it is not necessarily the best approach when there are a more diverse group of contributors.

In my current environment we used a shared Google Drive folder and I typically create project documents using Google Docs and receive contributions and comments from project partners. Some of the documents, which are intended for use by the project team, will continue to be hosted on Google Drive. However other documents. which are intended for submission to the European Commission, will migrate to an MS Word environment using the project’s template for submission of deliverables.

I have recently started to explore ways to enhance the Google Docs environment for producing documents. Sometime ago I installed the Google Docs Table of Contents add-on which, as shown, provides a document outliner which can be useful, especially for longer documents, in depicting the document structure.

What Do I Do Need to Do More in Google Docs?

It seems that at some point I also installed the Gliffy Diagrams add-on, which can be used to “create professional looking diagrams and flowcharts in Google Docs“.  As I often include diagrams in documents I produce using  MS Word I have felt the need for such functionality, but I haven’t got around to using this tool on a regular basis. This may be because I use Google Docs as the initial authoring environment but produce the final version in MS Word and use MS Word tools for embedding images and producing the polished final version.

Google Docs add-onsBut what more do I need to make greater use of Google Docs, I wonder?

As described in a TechCrunch article published in March 2014 “Google Launches Add-On Store For Google Docs“.  The article explains how on 11 March 2014:

Google announced the launch of its add-on store for Google Docs’ spreadsheet and word processor apps. The store, which resembles the Chrome Web Store in its design, currently features about 50 add-ons, with more coming in the near future.

According to Google, the idea here is to provide users with new tools that will give them access to more features — especially features that aren’t currently available through Google’s own products.

I’d be interested to hear if anyone has experiences in use of these add-ons for Google Docs. Are there any power users who are using Google Docs in sophisticated ways and are making use of add-ons to enhance the functionality of the service?

Beyond the Tools – Managing Google Docs

As a long-standing user of MS Word I can remember when using a word processor was a solo experience. However nowadays tools such as Google Docs are designed to provide collaborative authoring environments. Such tools also provide collaborative commenting and viewing capabilities, with the ability to manage access to document, co-authors, commenters or viewers.

There will therefore be a need to understand best practices for managing access to Google Docs. This will go beyond the use of folders and file naming conventions: there will be a need to make use of scaleable approaches which will enable  authors to be able to manage large numbers of documents shared with  potentially a wide range of contributors and viewers. Giving world write access to documents is one way of managing access, but this approach does have risks! Note that there will also be a need to manage access when collaborators leave projects or change their host institution.

Supporting Researchers

Earlier today Dave Flanders alerted  me to the Research Bazaar Conference (#ResBaz) which aims to “kick-start a training programme in Australia assuring the next generation of researchers are equipped with the digital skills and tools to make their research better“. The event is described as:

an academic training conference (i.e. think of this event as a giant Genius Bar at an Apple store), where research students and early career researchers can come to acquire the digital skills (e.g. computer programming, data analysis, etc.) that underpin modern research

I suspect there will be a lot of sharing of open source tools at the event. But I wonder if making effective use of mainstream tools such as Google Docs will be covered? And if such issues aren’t addressed at events such as #RezBaz, who will take responsibility for training of postgraduate students?

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in General, Web2.0 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Including Your Missing 20% By Embedding Web and Mobile Accessibility

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Nov 2014

Launch of a Book on Web and Mobile Accessibility

Including your missing 20% by embedding web and mobile accessibilityLast week, on Monday 10 November 2014, Professor Jonathan Hassell launched his highly anticipated book entitled “Including Your Missing 20% By Embedding Web and Mobile Accessibility“. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the launch event, but I used Storify to capture the buzz surrounding the launch event. As described in the book summary on Amazon:

Almost 20% of the world’s population have some form of disability or impairment that impacts their use of digital products. Yet Digital Accessibility is often a misunderstood concept. It isn’t just a way of organisations protecting themselves from being sued by coding their websites according to a standards tick-list so they work with screen-readers. It’s about working to ensure your website, intranet, widget, workplace application, mobile site, mobile app, or IPTV app is able to be used by as many people in its target audiences as possible. It’s about recognising that no product is ever going to be usable to all users, and finding a reasonable, justifiable way of balancing the resource costs of inclusion against the benefits. And it’s about letting your users know when you’ve not been able to fully support their needs. Fundamentally, it’s about understanding the challenges of inclusion, and solving them in creative ways, to gain a bigger audience so your product is more successful. In this book Professor Jonathan Hassell, award-winning international thought-leader in digital inclusion and lead-author of the BS 8878 British Standard on Web Accessibility, will take you on a journey to transform your organisation to achieve the consistent creation of web products that are usable and accessible to all your customers, at the most efficient cost.

I have to declare an interest in this book and the author. I met Jonathan several years ago and his work which led to the development of BS 8878, the BSI’s Web Accessibility Code of Practice, was carried out in parallel to the papers on web accessibility written by myself, David Sloan, Sarah Lewthwaite and several other web accessibility researchers and practitioners. One of our papers from 2007, “Accessibility 2.0: People, Policies and Processes“, reflects the approaches which were taken in BS 8878, which, on the web site, explains that (emphasis added):

BS 8878 is not a declaration that the finished web product has met a standard. It’s a statement that the process of developing the product has followed a standard where educated decisions about accessibility have been made. Through this process web managers and developers will gain a deeper and broader understanding of web access issues that will bring both short-term and long-term benefits to the community as a whole.

This focus on following a set of processes is helping to move institutional practices on from use of the WAI model, in which the emphasis has tended to be on ensuring that Web resources conform with WCAG guidelines. For me the next step should be exploring how the higher education sector can make use of BS 8878 in enhancing the accessibility of online teaching and learning and research services.  If you’ve an interest in this area feel free to get in touch. If you’d like to know more about the book visit the Amazon or BSI web site.

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in Accessibility | 4 Comments »

Thoughts on the OU’s Innovating Pedagogy Report

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 Nov 2014

Innovating Pedagogy

Innovating Pedagogy 2014 reportThe Open University has recently published the Innovating Pedagogy 2014 report (PDF format), the third in a series of annual reports on innovations in teaching, learning and assessment. As described in a blog post which introduces the report:

This third report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education.

The blog post also provides links to summaries of these ten innovative areas:

  1. Massive open social learning
  2. Learning design informed by analytics
  3. Flipped classroom
  4. Bring your own devices
  5. Learning to learn
  6. Dynamic assessment
  7. Event-based learning
  8. Learning through storytelling
  9. Threshold concepts
  10. Bricolage

Some Thoughts on the Report

A few days ago I reported on the opening session of The NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries, an event which was based on the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition (available in PDF format). The Open University and the NMC report are important reading materials for those with responsibilities for planning and implementing use of IT in higher education. Although such reports can’t be guaranteed to describe what the future will bring they do provide useful background material which can be valuable in informing institutional planning and decision-making.

I’ll provide some personal thoughts on the areas of innovation which are of particular interest to me.

  • Massive open social learning: The report introduces this topic by describing how:

Massive open social learning brings the benefits of social networks to the people taking massive open online courses (MOOCs). It aims to exploit the ‘network effect’, which means the value of a networked experience increases as more people make use of it.” The section summarises this are as “Free online courses based on social learning“.

Initially I was surprised at the inclusion of this topic as the first innovative area since the Open University has led MOOC activities in the UK through its FutureLearn platform. However it seems that the emphasis is on “social learning” rather than simply massive open online courses. It should also be noted that the report gives this are a potential impact rating of high and suggests a short (1–2 years) timescale for its widespread implementation.

StackexchangeI was interested to note that the report had mentioned StackExchange as a service which illustrates the power of social learning in other contexts:

In our previous reports we have given the example of StackExchange, with over 5 million users, which exploits the power of social learning. It is an example of problem-led massive social learning. When people have a problem to solve in the
relevant field they pose it online. Other people in the community provide answers. Yet more people expand the answers and rate the contributions, so the most interesting questions and best answers become more visible to all users. 

Back in 2010 I asked the question “Is Stack Overflow Useful for Web Developers?” The answer, it seems, was ‘yes’: “I’m pretty sure that most web developers will have come across Stack Overflow quite some time ago“.

Looking at the StackExchange lists of sites it seems that although the original Stack Overflow “Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers” is still the most popular, many other areas are also covered as shown (in part) in the accompanying screenshot. The less widely-used areas, which are not included in the image, include “History of Science and Math“, “Italian Language” and “History“. I have to admit that the extent of such communities which can support informal learning as part of the StackExchange range of services was a surprise to me, which I had previously thought was focussed on IT topics.

  • Learning design informed by analytics: This is described as “A productive cycle linking design and analysis of effective learning” which also has a potential impact rating of high although in this case a medium (2-5 years) timescale for its widespread implementation. The report describes how:

As learning is taken online, there are opportunities to collect data on student activities and analyse these, both to inform the design of new courses and to improve the learning experience. The data can also be linked with test results to show which learning activities produce good results and to identify where learners are struggling.

The reports highlights the question of “what to measure?” and “ethical considerations” as two important areas which need to be addressed.

The report concludes:

An important consideration for institutions wanting to implement learning analytics is their capacity to produce and act on reliable data. Organisational change takes substantial time, effort and financial resources. We expect an increased use of learning analytics by managers and teachers to improve the quality of their courses. This, in turn, will help the learning analytics community to understand more clearly which variables for learning are important, how to incorporate informal learning, and where the ethical boundaries of learning analytics lie.

Note these are areas which are being addressed by the EU-funded LACE (learning analytics community exchange) project which Cetis is involved with. I should also mention that my colleagues were authors of the Cetis Analytics Series and co-authors of Analytics for Education, an article published in JIME.

  • Flipped classroom: Flipped learning “reverses the traditional classroom approach to teaching and learning. It moves direct instruction into the learner’s own space. … This allows time in class to be spent on activities that exercise critical thinking, with the teacher guiding students in creative exploration of the topics they are studying.

I’ve an interest the learning and staff development opportunities which networked technologies can provide beyond the lecture theatre. In this context I tend to use the term “amplified event“. For researchers this may be characterised as the “amplified conference“, a term coined in 2007 by Lorcan Dempsey and described in more detail on Wikipedia. Initially communication tools, such as Twitter, were used to encourage a remote audience to engage with discussions. However we may also be seeing resources being made available before an event, in part simply to facilitate sharing with a remote audience, but this enables use of such resources in advance of a talk.

  • Bring your own devices: As described in the report “when students bring their own smartphones and tablet computers into the classroom, this action changes their relationship with the school and with their teachers“. The report feels that BYOD will have a high potential impact in a timescale of 2–5 years.

The importance of mobile devices has highlighted in the recent NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries, with the opening session providing an “Emphasis on Mobile“. The session build on the findings of the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition in which mobile apps was felt to have a time-to-adoption horizon of one year or less. It therefore seems surprising that the OU’s Innovating Pedagogy report predicts a longer period before ‘bringing your own device’ has a significant impact in learning.

Perhaps the differences reflect the differing perspectives from the teaching and learning and library sectors, with the library focussing on ensuring that content is mobile-ready, whereas the teaching and learning community will need to consider how BYOD policies can be integrated within the learning environment. The opportunities provided by BYOD approaches will also have to aligned with institutional policies regarding security, privacy and support issues, as summarised in the following image (taken from Bring Your Own Device: A Guide for Schools. Edmonton, Canada: Alberta Education, available in PDF format).

BYOD models

Your Thoughts

I’ve given my initial thoughts on four of the ten innovative areas mentioned in the Innovating Pedagogy 2014 report. I’d welcome your thoughts.

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in learning-analytics | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

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

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 Nov 2014

The NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis on Mobile

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

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

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

Anytime, Anyplace Anywhere

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

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

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

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

whilst others seemed more unapologetic:

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

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

  • I have never done that in bed.

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

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

Privacy Implications of Mobile Devices

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Information

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


View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

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

Evidence Submitted to the House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 Nov 2014

The House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills

House of Lords Select CommitteThe House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills is seeking answers to the question “how should the UK join up ‘fragmented’ digital skills teaching?

Last month, on Tuesday 14 October 2014, the House of Lords’ Digital Skills Committee quizzed Karen Price OBE, Chief Executive, e-skills UK, Maggie Philbin, UK Digital Skills Taskforce & CEO TeenTech and Rachel Neaman, CEO, Go ON UK about digital skills teaching in the UK. If you missed the live video stream of the meeting  a recording of the meeting is available on the UK Parliament’s web site.

In addition to the oral evidence which has been presented to the Select Committee a significant number of written submissions have also been made, with a total of approximately 125 contributions included in the Oral and written evidence report, a substantial PDF document containing no fewer than 763 pages!

About the Select Committee on Digital Skills

The Select Committee on Digital Skills was announced in the chamber of the House of Lords on Monday 9 June 2014. The Select Committee will consider information and communications technology, competitiveness and skills in the UK. It is expected that the committee will submit its recommendations and publish its report by 5 March 2015.

The Digital Skills Committee published its call for evidence on 11 June. The deadline for submitting written evidence was 5 September 2014.

In addition to the call for written evidence the Select Committee held a number of meeting which sought answers to questions from various sectors:

  •  On Tuesday 22 July the Select Committee asked Google, Microsoft and some of the UK’s leading technology specialists  about the UK’s readiness for technologies of the future.
  • On Tuesday 29 July the Committee heard from campaigners for digital start-ups, the voice of SMEs in the UK and the country’s tech sector and asked them whether rapidly changing technology trends are creating barriers for businesses, whether businesses’ tech skills are falling behind, how the UK’s infrastructure can be improved, and whether the end result of these challenges is damaging to the UK economy.
  • On Monday 1 September the Committee heard from the British Chambers of Commerce, Direct Line, McKinsey & Company, BT, Boston Consulting Group and Virgin Media. Questions that the Committee put to the witnesses included How can UK businesses prepare for the future?; What skills do future workers need for the UK to be globally competitive?; Does the UK have a competitive infrastructure to support a knowledge-driven economy?; How is the change in technology affecting this infrastructure?; How does the UK compare to other countries? and How important is faster Internet speed for businesses and their development?
  • The following day, Tuesday 2 September, the Committee held further evidence sessions, where they heard from the BBC, Ofcom and lifelong learning experts, among others. In these sessions they concentrated on the issues of: boosting levels of digital and media literacy; digital careers; and lifelong learning.
  • On 3 September  the Committee went on a tour of the offices of Guardian Media Group and Google Campus in London. The purpose of the visit was for Committee Members to see both how digital technologies are being produced at Google Campus and to learn about how Guardian Media Group is using digital technology to innovate and grow its global footprint.
  • Finally, as mentioned above, on Tuesday 14 October the Committee asked ‘how should the UK join up ‘fragmented’ digital skills teaching?’ and quizzed witnesses on several aspects of skills delivery, from preparing the workforce, to identifying skills gaps, to reducing inequality between the digitally skilled and the unskilled.

The Oral and Written Evidence Report

As mentioned above the Oral and Written Evidence Report is a substantial PDF document containing 763 pages. I’ve not attempted to read the report. However I have a number of observations after skimming through the list of contributors and reading the evidence provided by organisations I have some knowledge of.

CILIP Response

I was pleased to see that CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, had responded to eight of the fifteen questions in the call for evidence. CILIP pointed out that “Increased mobility within the workforce means the ability to telecommute is more attainable than ever“. CILIP also highlighted two areas which were of particular importance to their organisation:  information which “needs managing well and the skills and expertise of information managers need acknowledging as they will be an essential component to future success in a knowledge driven economy” and information literacy, defined as “knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner“. The CILIP response then went on for 9 pages to provide more detailed responses to points raised by the Select Committee.

Wikimedia UK Response

Wikimedia UK provided 7 pages of evidence. Their submission concluded:

There is an expectation that the fostering of digital skills in the 21st Century will take place in an ‘always on’ open environment. For the potential of such developments to come to fruition, legislative change around the opening of cultural heritage, and innovation around education design both need support. ‘Open’ practices are not simply about copyright reform and open licensing of public materials; they embody the kinds of literacies – informational and digital – required in the digital environment, and as such deserve consideration as important ‘digital skills’.

Other Responses from the Higher Education Sector

Searching the table of contents for submissions from the higher education sector I found:

  • Association for Learning Technology (ALT), on pages 36-39.
  • Bath Spa University on pages 70-71.
  • The Open University (OU) on pages 292-801.

Although there may have been additional submissions from individuals who work in the higher education sector, the limited numbers of responses from higher educational institutions and affiliated organisations seems disappointing, especially in light of the larger numbers of responses from commercial organisations including:

  • Barclays Bank on pages 49-52.
  • British Sky Broadcasting (Sky) on pages 137-143.
  • BT on pages 160-171.
  • Channel 4 on pages 176-179.
  • EE on pages 295-301.
  • Google, Microsoft and UK Forum for Computing Education on pages 364-380.
  • Microsoft, Google and UK Forum for Computing Education on pages 532-534.
  • Samsung Electronics UK on pages 660-676.
  • Virgin Media  on pages 777-786.

There are many other submissions which I have not listed from a variety of sectors. However I find it surprising that a Select Committee which is looking for answers to the question “how should the UK join up ‘fragmented’ digital skills teaching?” seems to have such limited input from the higher education sector. Should we be concerned? Or is the answer to be provided by companies such as Google, Microsoft, Sky and Barclays Bank?!

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []



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From the Modernisation of Higher Education Report to the Open Learning Analytics Network Summit

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7 Nov 2014

More Personalised Learning Informed by Better Data

In a recent post on a Report on Modernisation of Higher Education I described how the High Level Group’s report on the Modernisation of Higher Education which covers New modes of learning and teaching in higher education gave a high profile to the importance of learning analytics. The report includes a section entitled More personalised learning informed by better data which explains how:

In traditional lecture hall settings, it is difficult for a teacher to follow the progress of each and every student. It is impossible to adapt the pace of the course to match individual needs. Online provision allows the capturing of a range of data that can be used to monitor student progress. Advances in big data and learning analytics can help our higher education system customise teaching tools and develop more personalised learning pathways based on student data. However, the collection, analysis and use of learning data must only occur with the explicit consent of the student.

Data can capture how students engage in the course, interact with other students and retain concepts over time. It can provide information on the learning process as opposed to just learning outcomes. Teachers can experiment with different approaches and examine the immediate impact. Data can also be used to identify at-risk students at an early stage, assisting in efforts to increase retention rates. While still a relatively young field, exciting developments in learning analytics are underway. Several universities in the United States have programmed automatic dashboards, giving teachers the possibility to monitor their student’s performance live. The massive availability and usability of data has also great potential for empirical research on learning and teaching. Stanford’s Lytics Lab is one example that applies empirical research to better understand the performance of students. Learning process and feedback tools are yet another development that allows students to monitor their own performance and adapt it accordingly. The Open-Learning Initiative of the Carnegie Melon University and the Check-My-Activity-Tool of the University of Maryland are two examples of these promising developments.

Note that the 37 page long report is available in PDF format.

Open Learning Analytics Network Summit

Open learning analytics network summit 2014As part of its work on the LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project, Cetis is organising a one day summit event to broker collaboration around the idea of an Open Learning Analytics platform – based on principles of modularity, open architectures, and open standards – in Amsterdam on 1st December 2014, collaborating with colleagues from the University of Amsterdam and the Apereo Learning Analytics Initiative.

We have seen how the Modernisation of Higher Education report which covers New modes of learning and teaching in higher education has given a high profile to the importance of learning analytics.

In addition Learning Analytics and interoperability are identified as key areas for research and innovation in the Horizon 2020 call ICT-20, “Technologies for better human learning and teaching“.

The time is therefore right to gather a European critical mass of activity behind the idea of an Open Learning Analytics platform.

The purpose of the Open Learning Analytics Network Summit Europe event is to develop a shared European perspective on the concept of an Open Learning Analytics framework, based on a critical view of where we are now and what is feasible in the next 3-5 years.

The intended outcomes of the summit are concrete plans for collaborative research and innovation. These plans will set out to meet the challenges and realise the possibilities of 21st century learning and teaching, including those outlined in the ICT-20 call, in a way that properly embeds the Open Learning Analytics principles.

The Open Learning Analytics Network – Summit Europe 2014 will take place at the Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam on 1st December 2014. Participation is invited from public and private sectors, including innovators from all sectors of education and training, open source and proprietary software developers, people with experience of learning analytics interoperability and architects of modular and distributed systems.

Further information including the full call for participation is available on the LACE project web site.

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Report on Modernisation of Higher Education: Focus on Open Access and Learning Analytics

Posted by Brian Kelly on 5 Nov 2014

New Modes of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Modernisation of higher education reportVia a post on the Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) LinkedIn group which described how a “Report on Modernisation of Higher Education specifically refers to LA [learning analytics]” I came across the High Level Group’s report on the Modernisation of Higher Education which covers New modes of learning and teaching in higher education. The 37 page report, available in PDF format, provides two quotations which are likely to welcomed by educational technologists.

We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher’s hand, because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world” David Warlick


… if we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow” John Dewey

The coverage and tone of the report can be gauged from the table of contents:

  1. Introduction: why Europe needs to act
  2. Harnessing new modes of learning and teaching to modernise higher education
  3. Challenges and how they can be addressed
  4. Recommendations
  5. Selective glossary of terminology
  6. Acknowledgements
  7. Members of the group

From the section on “Harnessing new modes of learning and teaching to modernise higher education” I noticed a number of areas of particular interest to me:

  • Greater global and local collaboration and cooperation: I noticed that this focussed on “collaboration and cooperation” rather than competition.
  • More personalised learning informed by better data: This was the aspect of the report which is being addressed on the LACE LinkedIn group.

Report Recommendations

Recommendations of the Modernisation of higher education reportHowever it was recommendation 13 which surprised and pleased me:

Governments and higher education institutions should work towards full open access of educational resources.

In public tenders open licences should be a mandatory condition, so that content can be altered, reproduced and used elsewhere.

In publicly (co-)funded educational resources, the drive should be to make materials as widely available as possible.

I also found it interesting that copyright concerns weren’t considered to a significant barrier in the report. Instead the report focusses on the legal challenges posed by the privacy implications for the collection, analysis and reuse of learning analytics data. For example Recommendation 14 states that:

Member States should ensure that legal frameworks allow higher education institutions to collect and analyse learning data. The full and informed consent of students must be a requirement and the data should only be used for educational purposes.

In addition Recommendation 15, the final recommendation in the report, states that:

Online platforms should inform users about their privacy and data protection policy in a clear and understandable way. Individuals should always have the choice to anonymise their data.


It’s pleasing when a significant report is closely aligned with the interests of one’s host institution! In this case the ebook Into the wild – Technology for open educational resources by Amber Thomas, Lorna M. Campbell, Phil Barker and Martin Hawksey (which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License) provides a series of reflections on three years of the UK OER Programmes from staff at Cetis and Jisc who were closely involved with the three phases of the Jisc OER programme.

In addition since the start of 2014 Cetis have been working on the EU-funded LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project. If you’ve an interest in this important new area feel free to visit the LACE project Web site, subscribe to the LACE Newsletter, join the Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) LinkedIn group, or simply follow the @laceproject Twitter account and the #laceproject hashtag. If you were following the Twitter stream you may have noticed the announcement of the Notes from Utrecht Workshop on Ethics and Privacy Issues in the Application of Learning Analytics –  a very timely report in light of the recommendations made in the Report on Modernisation of Higher Education!

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Subverting Copyright (and Other Flawed Legislation)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Nov 2014

Be Informed: Recent Changes to Copyright Law

JISCLegal slide on copyrightLast week Jason Miles-Campbell, manager of the JISCLegal service, gave a talk entitled “Be Informed: Recent Changes to Copyright Law” at the CILIPS Autumn Gathering.

Jason summarised changes to copyright legislation which were approved by Parliament in July 2014 and came into force on 1 October 2014.

The slide (illustrated) Jason used which caught my eye described how:

the fact that our system of communication, teaching and entertainment does not grind to a standstill is in large part due to the fact that in most cases infringement of copyright has, historically, been ignored.

This quotation comes from a post published in 2008. Since the blog asked for its content not to be attributed I will not provide a link (but note that I used Google to find the source of this quotation!)

The quotation came from Sir Hugh Laddie, a British High Court judge, lawyer, professor, and a specialist in intellectual property law who died in 2008. The blog post suggested that:

In the field of copyright, two of Sir Hugh’s articles should be laminated and placed on your desk so they may be re-read often. The first is his 1995 Stephen Stewart lecture, “Copyright: Over-strength, Over-regulated, Over-rated”, published in 18 European Intellectual Property Review 253 (1996).

and went on to describe how Sir Hugh:

criticized the insane criminalization of the economic tort of copyright infringement: “We have … reached the stage where taxpayers’ money is being used to enforce private rights which many might think are more than adequately protected by civil remedies. I should also mention that it appears that in most cases it is not the poor and weak who are using these criminal provisions but the rich and well organised.”

In light of the recent changes to copyright legislation Sir Hugh Laddie’s comment, made that many years ago, that “the fact that our system of communication, teaching and entertainment does not grind to a standstill is in large part due to the fact that in most cases infringement of copyright has, historically, been ignored” could be regarded as demonstrating that flawed legislation will eventually be repealed. However I think this ignores the value of the actions taken not only by those who have pro-actively sought to change the legislation but also the actions taken by those who have ignored legislation which is clearly flawed, in which no or minimal harm is done to others by such action.

A Risk Management Approach to Copyright  Legislation

web2rights risk calculatorSeveral years ago Professor Charles Oppenheim gave a seminar about copyright and institutional repositories at the University of Bath – and terrified the audience when we realised that most of our  work in developing an institutional repository would like infringe copyright.

However in response to a question I posed as to whether copyright concerns would inhibit the development of the repository, Charles said this needn’t be the case: rather there is a need to understand the legal issues but to make an informed decision on actions based on an assessment of the risks and a decision as to whether the organisation was prepared to take the risks.

Charles and I subsequently co-authored a paper on “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web” in which we documented a framework for making an informed decision in addressing copyright and other issues.

Charles and Naomi Korn subsequently developed a Risk Management Calculator as part of the Web2Rights OER Support Project. As illustrated if you wish to make use of a textual document which wasn’t published with a commercial intent, doesn’t contain clinical content or images of identifiable individuals or children but the provenance and licence of the resource is unknown, there will be risks in reusing the resource, but the risks will be low. In this situation the toolkit concludes “[The] Indicative Risk Value indicates that there is some risk associated with the content that you wish to use. If your organisation is risk adverse and seeking permission or using alternative material then you will need to consider seeking permission or using alternative material.

What Else Have We Subverted?

Beyond copyright there are other examples of supposed legal requirements which can be seen to be flawed, so that ignoring them can be done for those who are willing to take a small amount of risk.

Cookie legislation is one example; since the requirement that users must ‘opt-in’ to use of cookie has been shown to be technically flawed, a pattern of use in which web site owners simply inform visitors that they make use of cookies and document the cookies used and their purpose is now widely accepted as an acceptable practice.

Another example is email disclaimers. A few days ago I received an email message which contained a request for information which could be easily addressed by forwarding the message. However the message contained a legal disclaimer:

Legal disclaimer
The information transmitted is the property of the University of xxxx  and is intended only for the person or entity  to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Statements and opinions expressed in this e-mail may not represent those of the company. Any review, retransmission, dissemination and other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender immediately and delete the material from any computer.

Although I am entitled to forward the message it would appear that subsequent forwarding to other who may have to process the request for information is prohibited. But does anyone care about such legal niceties?

Beyond the infringements which many computer users may be guilty of in the early days of the Web creators of HTML pages will have created pages containing links to other Web sites almost certainly without getting permission to create such links. But even back in 2008 there were still discussions as to whether you need permission to link to someone’s content.


Just over  year ago I asked “Do We Want Radical Law-Breaking Librarians?” The background to the post was a BBC News article which described how “UK’s top prosecutor defends journalists who break law in public interest“. The story was about the role of journalists in making information publicly available. Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions insisted that it “would be very unhealthy if you had a situation where a journalist felt that they needed to go to their lawyer before they pursued any lead or asked any question“.

The article went on to suggest that library rules which seek to ban use of mobile phones which can be used to make copies of copyrighted resources or take photos of people without their permissions may be counter-productive. I would argue that the welcome changes in copyright legislation have come about not just from the advocacy of organisations such as Jisc and CILIP but also by the risks-takers. Blessed are the risk-takers for they set the path for others to follow!

Note: A few hours after this post was published Andrew Cormack alerted me to an article published less than a week ago which described how the CJEU rules on whether ‘framing’ amounts to copyright infringement:

On 21 October 2014 the CJEU had to decide in the case of Bestwater whether embedding content in a website via “framing” constitutes “communication to the public” within the meaning of Article 3 of the InfoSoc Directive [1] and therefore infringes the copyright of the creator of the content.

The article goes on to explain:

The CJEU has now made it clear that linking does not constitute a “making available to the public” (or any other form of communication to the public), irrespective of which linking technique is used as long as the link leads to a website that is available to the public as a whole.

This decision drew on a previous ruling:

where it had already decided that hyperlinks do not constitute a “making available to the public” provided the link is to content that is freely and lawfully available online.

Or, in brief, you can link to Web resources and embed Web content in frames provided that the content itself is freely and lawfully available online. You can now, it would seem, create links from your Web pages to such resources without having to worry too much about the legal ramifications. Of course, you may have been doing this already, before the legal ruling was made!

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“Proud to be a Librarian” – Reflections on #CILIPSAG14

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 Nov 2014

CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering

Proud to be a librarianThe CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering event took place in Edinburgh on Thursday 30 October 2014. Although the CILIP Scotland Web site provides information about the event, a more comprehensive set of resources can be found on the Lanyrd entry for the event, including links to speakers’ slides (where available), additional speaker information, links to archives of event tweets, etc.

“Proud to be a Librarian”

The highlight of the day’s event for me and other participants was the opening plenary talk on “Full Disclosure: Hillsborough and the human side of information work” given by Jan Perry, the CILIP Vice President (and President in the new year).

In the presentation Jan  described her work with the Hillsborough Independent Panel. This was a very moving presentation, especially for someone, like me, from Liverpool -and although I’m from the blue half of Liverpool hearing about Jan’s involvement with the independent panel for the Hillsborough disaster brought back particular strong memories as my dad died around that time.

As I commented during the talk:

Listening to talk about Hillsborough, The Sun, etc at is making me feel angry. Memories of 80s: miners strike, Thatcherism.

Others also shared their thoughts on the presentation, including @AminaTShah who began by commenting that:

Jan Parry describing her role in the Hillsborough enquiry and proving information really is power.

and went on to report how:

Liverpool libraries helped families who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough disaster search for information online

and @bainofmylife who tweeted:

the small decisions, personal and political, documented and less so behind Hillsborough – sobering

But the comment which summarised the positive aspects of Jan’s talk was made by @libraries4us who concluded on a positive note:

Proud to be a Librarian today after hearing about their contribution to the Hillsborough Independent Panel

Unfortunately there was no time for questions but over the coffee break I was able to thank Jan for her talk; she told me that I was not alone in my emotional response to the talk.

“[The] current attack on libraries is part of a wider movement against people without money”

Tweets about Alan Bissett at CILIPS Autumn Gathering

The final plenary talk at the event was also full of passion.  Alan Bissett, author and playwright, provided the final keynote talk and was passionate about his belief in the importance of public libraries. Alan’s talk was more overtly political than Jan Perry’s but resonated with many in the audience, with @Miss_Horan7 commenting:

Thought provoking and powerful stuff at today’s How do we distill @alanbissett to share him round Scottish librarians?

and @JLMacfadyen concluding:

Final thought from Alan Bissett: current attack on libraries is part of a wider movement against people without money …

The Role of Library Professionals  in Light of Such Political Considerations

As I have described the CILIPS Autumn Gathering began and concluded with plenary talks which had political connotations for information professionals. The third plenary talk, on “Be Informed: Recent changes to Copyright Law“, also had interesting implications for information professionals with Jason Miles-Campbell, manager of the JISC Legal service, pointing out that “the fact that our system of communication, teaching and entertainment does not grind to a standstill is in large part due to the fact that in most cases infringement of copyright has, historically, been ignored.

The reminder of the CILIPS Autumn Gathering consisted of parallel sessions. As I mentioned previously I had been invited to facilitate a session on “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia”.

The day before the event began a tweet from @CILIPScotland explained:

We’d like to see our organisation documented on . Can @briankelly inspire you to help?

During the session I gave reasons why librarians should engage actively with Wikipedia, not only understanding some of the hidden secrets behind the service but also  why they should be willing to update Wikipedia articles and even create new articles.

The suggestion that there should be a Wikipedia article provided an opportunity to address issues of neutrality and the Wikipedia principal regarding a Neutral Point of View (NPOV).  As described on the Wikipedia Web site:

Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view. NPOV is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia and of other Wikimedia projects. This policy is nonnegotiable and all editors and articles must follow it.

Prior to discussing the creation of an article, I updated the Wikipedia article for CILIP to include details of the membership numbers since CILIP was founded in 2002.  As can be seen from the figures shown below there has been a drop in the membership numbers every year since CILIP was founded (note where possible the figures have been taken from CILIP annual reports but not all annual reports are available).

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
CILIP members nos. ~23,000 22,689 N.A. (20,373) N.A. 19,206 18,490 17,634 17,192 15,705 14,555 13,974 13,470

The decline in CILIP membership numbers has been a bone of contention over recent years. It would probably therefore be inappropriate for a Wikipedia user who is employed by CILIP to comment on the membership trends, as this would conflict with the neutral point of view principle. I would, however, suggest that if a CILIP employee has access to membership numbers for 2002 and 2004-2006 these could be added to the table,  ideally with a comment on the talk page declared a vested interest.

CILIPS Wikipedia articleI used this example when I address the suggestions that there should be a Wikipedia article for CILIPS.

Initially I asked whether CILIPS, the CILIP in Scotland organisation should be regarded as sufficiently notable to have its own Wikipedia article. As described in Wikipedia:

On Wikipedia, notability is a test used by editors to decide whether a given topic warrants its own article. Information on Wikipedia must be verifiable; if no reliable third-party sources can be found on a topic, then it should not have a separate article. Wikipedia’s concept of notability applies this basic standard to avoid indiscriminate inclusion of topics. Article and list topics must be notable, or “worthy of notice”. Determining notability does not necessarily depend on things such as fame, importance, or popularity—although those may enhance the acceptability of a subject that meets the guidelines explained below.

However in discussions I discovered that CILIPS has its own governance, its own web site and as involved in consultations with the Scottish Parliament for the development of the National Library of Scotland Bill 2011. This would seem to make it appropriate for there to be a Wikipedia article for CILIPS.

We then discussed the need for content to be provided by contributors who have a neutral point of view. I suggested that the talk page for the CILIP article could provide a forum for discussions about the creation and evolution of a CILIPS article.

However as I concluded the session I was informed that a CILIPS article already exists! The Wikipedia article, entitled Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland, is shown. Looking at the history for the page we can see that it was created on 5 November 2013. However on 9 August 2014 it was proposed that the article should be deleted. In response one user “added a reference to a Scottish Parliament document. I believe this organization is sufficiently notable to remain given that they were consulted in writing a national library bill.” It would appear that this information provide sufficient evidence of the notability of the organisation.

Conclusions: The Importance of Librarians’ Trustworthiness

I began this post by describing two plenary talks which described organisations (the police force and the Labour party in Scotland) whose reputations have been undermined through a loss of trust. We are not in that position with libraries. And yet librarians and information professional should not rest on their laurels. In my talk (the slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below) I spoke about the close parallels between librarians and Wikipedia, both of which aim to provide neutral and unbiased access to information. Wikipedia had documented its core principles which aim to ensure that Wikipedia provides a neutral source of information.

A while ago I came across an article entitled “So who’s editing the SNHU Wikipedia page?” which described how analysis of editing patterns and deviations from the norm may be indicative of inappropriate Wikipedia editing strategies, such as pay-for updates to institutional Wikipedia articles.

The article  pointed out how the PR sector has responded to criticisms that PR companies have been failing to abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s terms of use: Top PR Firms Promise They Won’t Edit Clients’ Wikipedia Entries on the Sly. The article describes the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms which is hosted on Wikipedia. The following statement was issued in 10 June 2014:

On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge that the prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship with the community of Wikipedia editors.

Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfil its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.

We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:

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

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

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

If we wish to maintain the level of trust which librarians currently possess and we wish to see librarians supporting use of Wikipedia, should there be a similar statement of neutrality for those who are members of CILIP and CILIPS?

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Forthcoming Talks on Wikipedia in Edinburgh

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 Oct 2014

Yesterday was the first anniversary since I started work at Cetis. During that period  I have been involved in two main areas of work: supporting the outreach and engagement aspects of the LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project and promoting use of open educational practices and in particular, use of Wikipedia.

Later today I will be travelling to Edinburgh to give talks about Wikipedia at two conferences.

Tomorrow I’ll be explaining “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia” at the CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering. I will explain how Wikipedia provides a good match for the interests of librarians and how librarians can become involved in updating Wikipedia content in order to both support their role as librarians and t develop skills and expertise which can be used in supporting their user communities.

On Friday I will give a joint presentation with Filip Maljković at the Eduwiki 2014 conference. In the talk on “Working with Wikimedia Serbia” we will summarise the Eduwiki Serbia Conference and Learning Day which I attended earlier this year,

I was pleased to observe that both events are fully subscribed, which might perhaps indicate the level of interest in open practices, such as making use of Wikipedia.

The slides for “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia” and “Working with Wikimedia Serbia” are available on Slideshare and embedded below. Comments on the slides are welcomed. Also note that the Twitter hashtags for the events are “#cilips1g14” and “eduwiki”14 so feel free to participate in the discussions on Twitter if you can’t make it to either of the events

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

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Oct 2014

Technology Innovation and Impact Strand at ILI 2014

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

The NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Do You Think Is Missing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Events, library2.0 | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Why Don’t We Share More Multimedia Support Materials?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 Oct 2014

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

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

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

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

I received the following feedback on the live video stream:

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

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

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

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

What about sharing screencasts?

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

What are the barriers?

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

Some possible reasons include:

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

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

Is ILI providing opportunities for sharing multimedia resources?

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

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

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

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in Events, library2.0 | 1 Comment »

LACE Project Infographic (and Keeping Up-to-date With New Posts)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 Oct 2014

LACE Project Infographic

The EU-funded LACE  (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project is “bringing together key European players in the field of learning analytics (LA) and educational data mining (EDM) in order to support the development of communities of practice and share emerging best practice“.

LACE project infographic (portion)Last week the LACE project blog included a post on “Infographic Learning Analytics“. This post described how learning analytics can help answering questions such as:

  • When is a student ready to proceed to the next subject?
  • When is a student at risk of dropping out?
  • What grade will a student most likely receive for a specific subject?
  • Does a student need extra support on a specific area?

The post, which provided comments on learning analytics from a school perspective went on to add that “It will take some time before Learning Analytics will be broadly adopted in schools. We expect that within two to five years approximately 50% of the schools will make use of systems that are more or less driven by Learning Analytics principles.

In order to encourage discussions on this topic the LACE project team have created an infographic which depicts “the roads to more differentiated and personalised education“.

A portion of the infographic is included in this post.The full infographic (which can be downloaded as a hi-resolution PDF) goes on from the traditional and personalised educational environments to summarise how learning analytics can help; the learning analytics cycle; the four levels of learning analytics; the teacher’s role and ask ‘what’s next?’.

Keeping Up To Date With LACE Blog Posts

Other posts on the LACE project blog published in the past two weeks have covered topics including:

But if you have an interest in learning analytics how should you ensure that you do not miss any of the blog posts? Traditionally this has been done by adding a blog’s RSS feed in your RSS reader. In the case of the LACE project blog the RSS file is available at . However RSS usage seems to have declined significantly in recently years, particularly since July 2013 when Google closed down the Google Reader.

These days many professionals seem to keep informed on new articles and blog posts through their Twitter network. If you use Twitter you may find it useful to follow the @laceproject Twitter account or monitor the #lacproject hashtag which is used by the project team.

However as well as RSS readers and Twitter, another way of ensuring that new LACE project web sites are delivered to you is to subscribe to an email delivery services for new posts.

LACE feedburner - subscription

The Feedburner service is basing used to provide this service. If you would like to receive automated email delivery of new LACE project blog posts simply click on the following link:

Subscribe to LACE – Learning Analytics Community Exchange by Email

You should note that if you wish to unsubscribe from this service you can do so at any time.


View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []


Posted in learning-analytics | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

New Developments for ILI 2014

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 Oct 2014

ILI – the Internet Librarian International conference series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Events, library2.0 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 Oct 2014

Looking Back at Lanyrd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Benefits Does This Provide?

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Proposed Approach for Creating Lanyrd Entries for Events

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

Be bold! image (from Wikipedia)

Be bold! image (from Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

Encourage event participants to add their details and add links

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Thoughts?

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

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

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

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 Sep 2014

1:AM, the First Altmetrics Conference

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

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

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

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

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

Altmetrics as an Indicator of Quality or of Interest?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raising the Visibility of One’s Research: Kudos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Measure: Measure the impact on your publication performance.

Raising the Visibility of One’s Research: Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is To Be Done?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy]

Posted in Events, Evidence, Wikipedia | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Wikimedia and Metrics: A Poster for the 1:AM Altmetrics Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 Sep 2014

1:AM – time for an altmetrics conference!

Wikimedia and Metrics posterThe 1:AM Altmetrics conference is being held in London today and tomorrow, 25-26th September.

The aims of the conference are summarised on the conference web site. It particular I noted:

We will be taking a closer look at how authors, readers, funders, publishers and institutions are beginning to integrate altmetrics into their scholarly communication processes — and the challenges that they face along the way.

With a quick overview of recent developments and future plans, we will aim to better understand how and why altmetrics can be of use to the community — and draw further inspiration from those outside academia.

The conference programme is packed with interesting talks and workshop sessions running from 9am to 5/5.30 pm on both days. It is not surprising that the conference was fully booked shortly after the conference was announced.

Wikimedia and Metrics

I will be attending the conference and will present a poster designed by myself and Martin Poulter on behalf of Wikimedia UK. The poster (which is shown and is also available on Scribd) summarises metrics which are available for Wikipedia articles, including usage statistics for articles and media, information on both in-bound and outbound links to and from Wikipedia articles, statistics on the contributions made by editors of Wikipedia articles and statistics on the evolution of articles.

If you are familiar with Wikipedia metrics, if you visit a Wikipedia article you will notice a “View history” button near the top of the window, as shown below for the Global warming article.

Wikipedia article on Global Warming

Clicking on this button and then selecting the Revision history statistics you will see a comprehensive set of statistics about the article. At the time of writing (9 September 2014) you can see that:

  • Statistics for Wikipedia article on Global warmingThe first edit was made on 30 October 2001.
  • The latest edit was made 4 days ago.
  • There have been 4,776 minor edits, 3,307 anonymous edits (identified by an IP address) and 200 edits made by bots (automated edits).

In addition to information about edits to the articles indications are provided on the articles potential impact and levels of interest.  For example there are:

  • 8,042 links to the article from other Wikipedia articles
  • 527 links in-bound links to the article.
  • 1,712 watchers (who receive notification of changes to the article).
  • Over 406,000 views of the article over the past 60 days.

Next Steps

As the world’s fifth most popular web site, Wikipedia shapes public discussion of every area of theoretical and applied science. Its open data and APIs are used by to develop new evaluative tools to assess the impact of a user, set of content, or contributing organisation.

The Wikimedia community welcomes opportunities to exchange ideas on further developments with the altmetrics community. Feel free to leave any comments, questions or observations on this blog post.

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in Wikipedia | 1 Comment »

Analytics Events: For Learning and For Research

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 Sep 2014

Moves Towards Analysis of Data

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

The SoLAR Flare Event

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

As described on the event booking web site:

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

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

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

1:AM: The First Altmetrics Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Attending?

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

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

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in Events, Evidence | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »