UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Posts Tagged ‘cetisuk’

Forecasting Long Term Future Events, Conditions and Developments in Technology

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 20 December 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

The abstract for the paper describes how:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 18 December 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Posted in Events, Social Web | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

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

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 6 December 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Promoting open educational practices through social and participatory media

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

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

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

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

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

I described the opportunities and risks framework which was orginally described n a paper on “Library 2.0: balancing the risks and benefits to maximise the dividends” and subsequently further developed to address legal risks in a paper on “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web“. 
I described how individuals may have personal preferences in engaging in open practices, which I references a post I published in 2009 on The Social Web and the Belbin Model. The issue of one’s personal comfort zone in working in an open environment was raised in the online discussion during the webinar. I mentioned a discussion which I described in a post on Should Projects Be Required To Have Blogs? and argued that although it may not always be appropriate to mandate open practices, one should not block their use if this would undermine the learning opportunities for those would would see the benefits in such approaches.

The slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below:

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