Saturday 22 November 2014

SCONUL Winter Conference 2014 #sconul2014

On Friday November 21st I attended the SCONUL Winter Conference 2014 which was held at the Royal College of Physicians, St Andrews Place, London.
It is the first time I have attended the SCONUL conference and it proved to be an interesting and informative day.
The conference was entitled 'The Visible Library: Demonstrating our Value' and the aim, according to the conference programme, was to  address the need 'to define and articulate the value of the library to both internal and external stakeholders'.  The outputs from the discussions on the day will form a basis for a SCONUL advocacy toolkit.

The introduction and welcome was given by Liz Jolly, Chair of SCONUL and Director, Library & Information Services at Teesside University.

The keynote was given by Graham Henderson, Vice Chancellor of Teesside University
'Opportunities & Challenges for the Modern Academic Library: A VC's perspective.

It was a very interesting presentation and useful to hear a view about the purpose of academic libraries from a different perspective, from the perspective.  He talked about Teesside University and it's role as the 'Opportunity University', the 'can-do' university driving enterprise.
He explained that the library needs to be a hub of the university and a place for all students to get work done.  It should be a triage point for all.  
So, what are the challenges:
1. To respond to the increasingly diverse support needs of a wide spectrum of users within a finite resource envelope (All users - UG, PG, graduate employability, non confident)
2. Copyright - equivalence for partner locations
3. Access to research
4. Balancing the cost of resources to support teaching and research without burden on teaching funding
5. Embracing social media as an asset not threat
6. Access to sufficient finance and resources to provide staff, space and resources (fewer books on shelves does not mean less resource but more)
There is a need to get more people to understand the changing role of academic librarians - therefore express in employability , research impact, retention.  Update the perceptions about libraries - they are about innovation in L&T and not just content.  He used the phrase 'responsive repositioning'.
It is important to nurture the fact that the library is more than just 'another support department' -it has a critical role in academic processes.  I think this is an important point to note and a key message that needs to be communicated in a positive way.

The next session was crowd sourcing narratives - this was discussions in groups about the perceptions of Finance Directors, VCs, Academics of Librarians / Libraries.
I was in the Finance Directors group.  
The positive perceptions included:
Play according to the rules, evidence based, operational efficiency, good project management, corporate players, the library as student space, solution focused and pragmatic, strategic enablers.  
The negative perceptions included:
Do well in NSS so don't need to invest, cost too much and rising (content, space, procurement practices) the view that 'everything is free on internet', different systems used for library as for finance.
Each of the tables in the group came up with much the same answers which is reassuring in one way but in another it means that there are common problems that haven't been solved (if it is possible to do so?).
It was agreed that the perception is that libraries are good for engaging on open access.  Also an agreement that there is a need to put forward a business case in the right way, to align it to institutional strategies (not too parochial and don't be too precious about library).  Finance Directors want resilience and financial robustness and a good business case.
This was a recurring theme throughout the day - the need to put forward the case for libraries in a language that can be understood by those you are communicating with, use their language and present the case in the terms that others understand and can align with their priorities.
After lunch there was a reflections session which brought together the ideas from the crowd sourcing sessions.  The SCONUL Chair and Strategy Group Chairs summarised the narratives and explained how these linked with the work that the groups were currently undertaking and future plans.

The positive perceptions were that libraries are an important part of the University's brand and are valued as provide access to resources.  

The other points I picked up from this feedback and reflections session (and these are from my notes so not comprehensive)
Demonstrating our value - libraries are inspirational spaces from social to silent (I liked this)
Libraries have a good understanding of student behaviour 
But how do we make something visible when there is nothing wrong?

Reputational challenges
1.Cost of content 2. Copyright and licensing 3. Open access
SCONUL are having a content forum - ways to advocate the cost of content.  
Working with jisc collections etc. will produce a RDM briefing

User experience - concentrating on:
1. Graduate attributes 2. Supporting researchers 3. Supporting learning and teaching 4. Organisational skills and professionalism 5. Library space - is there a need for them these spaces to be anything other library spaces?

Shared services
1. Collaboration v competition between institutions. Need to give examples of shared services successes

Performance and quality
1. Data used appropriately for hard advocacy 2. SCONUL stats widely recognised - data is useful - how do we use that evidence base to build reputation 3. Use evidence for advocacy and to create strong business cases 4. Toolkit to help present business case 5. Link to jisc co-design

The next three sessions were based on case studies.
Margaret Weaver Head of LiSS University of Cumbria 
'Leading for Value Added'
She explained that they had had feedback from staff that they wanted better communication so they planned and facilitated a strategic conversation between the library and the University leadership.  They prepared by producing a poster presentation to show what their team offered to university and it had to be data rich. They aimed to show their value, their corporate value as a service and to show how they deliver innovation in practice. They produced infographic style posters with performance data including research support, graduate employability, academic support, learning resources, personal development and recruitment and conversion.  
This was interesting as it was from a wider perspective i.e. as Student Services and Library and therefore may be easier to present more comprehensive evidence of the student experience.  Also the use of infographics to present data and information - sometimes you have to use different formats to present a case and a visual representation is effective.  We used infographics when I was at Middlesbrough College to demonstrate data and trends and found it engaging for students and staff. 

The next presentation was given by Andy Priestner, Information and Library Services Manager, Judge Business School, Cambridge.
He talked about using 'Ethnography for Impact: new ways of exploring user experience in libraries'.
They decided to use ethnography in addition to surveys as surveys often have closed or leading questions and are self reporting - does this give an accurate picture of what students are doing in the library?
He explained about three ethnographic techniques that they have tried:
1. Behavioural mapping - map routes through library space, where students went, what they did.
Heat map. Desire lines. 
Most traffic going straight through - use ground floor in order to walk straight up to first floor
Users are quieter the fuller the space
 2. Show me round. Students guide us around the space.  This showed that some users are failing to access key services.  Workspaces - more desks and desk spaces.  2 tribes - upstairs and downstairs with different needs. Kiosk terminals - not popular
 3. Cognitive mapping
Students use different libraries for different purposes. Most people are regularly on the mover and use variety of research environments. Library services are complex so need to use ethnography

There is a link here to his presentation on Slideshare

And a link to the #UKAnthrolib blog

The next presentation was by Lorraine Beard, Head of Digital Technologies and Services, University of Manchester.  She talked about the Eureka student innovation challenge. 
Some of the projects that have come out of the partnership with students are a facility to reserve study spaces and click and collect book reservations.  
The things that were found difficult were: 
PC desk availability
Finding a book
Sharing reviews
Student well being. Sleep zones (yes, sleep zones in the library...)
The quick wins they have introduced 
Textbook rescue
Living plant project
Book trolleys
Ear plugs
Umbrella stands
There were some really interesting ideas and it was very much student experience focused.  It shows how difficult and different it is to see it from a student perspective when you are providing the service...

The final presentation was by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind
It was interesting to hear about how a charity such as Mind promotes itself and it's cause and raises public awareness.  He said that it is important to concentrate and advocate the difference you're making to people you are working with. In the case of Mind they were promoting it as much more important than just as a subset of NHS health. Should this be how we think of libraries - more important than just being a subset of the university?  There were some useful points about changing peoples perceptions and using the passions of those involved to create engagement and secure funding.

The main takeaways from the event for me were:
1. You have to use the 'correct' language for the situation and the audience
2. Presenting a business case is vital - it has to be robust and aligned to the institutional strategies
3. Academic libraries do lots of good things, they are valued - it's not that they need to do anything different to the ways they are developing already - just need to engage and inform other people
4. Economy, effectiveness and efficiency are the important factors
5. Use the student experience - map developments and outcomes to it - e.g. "the library does 'x' and this leads to increased recruitment and retention"
6. Collect feedback - map behaviours - use data 

Customer Services Group UK Conference CSGUK2014 #csguk2014

The CSGUK Annual conference was held in London at the Magic Circle on Friday 14th November 2014.  The title of the conference was 'What does excellence really look like? Tangible examples of quality in Customer Service'

The welcome and introduction was given by Erin Caseley, Chair of CSGUK.

The keynote speaker was Ian Creagh, Head of Administration and College Secretary, Kings College London. He talked about the organisational culture for award winning customer service.  

Culture is the climate and practices that exist in organisations including the subcultures.  These cultures and subcultures are fostered within teams and change over time.
Organisational cultures depend on:
1. Size of the organisation and how far it is spread worldwide
2. Technology - a new system can change how the culture operates
3. Diversity
4. Age - the age of institution and its history
It's necessary to reflect on culture and subcultures in order to enable action in organisations and also to reflect on values.  Empowerment is vitally important - nothing gets done in organisations unless teams are empowered. 
He then talked about strategy and how it is difficult and takes time.  He gave the example of Apple in 90s where there was a need to cull manufacturing lines due to duplication and a waste of effort.  There was a need to remove barriers and obstacles and so choices were made.  
There should be a focus on market orientation rather than process orientation.  Universities tend to focus on the products that they think students want but instead should be market oriented. Market focused service delivery.  But market orientation means change - it's necessary to change and be dynamic to respond to customers This gives us a link to our customers.
He went on to say that values really count - values, integrity and leadership behaviour. Take a value and look at what it means - to do this and not do this. 
Empowerment - this is difficult as Unis are hierarchical.  You have to think about clarity of direction and the team who are going to deliver need to be involved in creating the strategy. It is important to have a rewards system and celebrate the successes.  Also to be able to try new things without blame if they fail.  An interesting point that Ian mentioned was 'conflict tolerance' - permission to conflict so that improvement can take place.  
Kings College initiatives were mentioned - CSE and 'fit for kings'.  A world class services for a world class university.  The quality of service we give to our customers begins with the quality of service we give to each other.  'Real Talk' Kings Future transformation programme - facilitating conversations about strategies and change. It is necessary to talk about things that count - identify issues - go through issues in a constructive way and move through it. 

The next presentation was 'Compliance Plus' Culture presented by the Libraries Customer Service Team Kings College.  
There were 6 members of their team represented.  Their Customer Service Manager explained how you have to empower staff to make decisions.  There has been a shift in culture from process focused to customer focused  - to be 'Responsive, inclusive, knowledgeable, friendly'. They have a Team Plan which provides a clear vision and roadmap (which they talk about all the time). Everyone is working towards the same aims and objectives and there is an opportunity for all staff to be involved.  
One of their Senior Library Assistants talked about 'Freedom in a framework' which means they have the freedom to make decisions.  Staff are responsible for decision making based on the ethos of being responsible and providing a consistent and fair service 'What can we do to say yes?'  They, as staff, are empowered to do what they think is right, to use their initiative in a no blame culture.  There are guidelines rather than rules and they do what they think is right within the framework. The Team Plan gives objectives, expectations and opportunities.
Their Library Shelver spoke about how everyone matters and they are empowered to contribute. There is an expectation on all staff and they are trusted. 
The Library Operations Manager explained about the shared vision and the values and commitment to change.  The focus on customer service experience.  The team goals are embedded in PDRs. Their recruitment processes focuses on recruiting for personal qualities.  The advert text is self filtering and they conduct competency based interviews.  The interviews include role play to assess  for customer service skills and there is a behaviours matrix for probation.
One of their newer Library Assistants also spoke to give an insight into how he had found the recruitment and induction process and the positive approach to new members of staff.

The next presentation was by Judith Andrews from Birmingham City University and was about 
Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) for Excellence
The purpose of CJM is to map the journey and identify key processes that the customer encounters. It is important for CSE, in order to enhance services from a customer point of view and also to collect information.
They had spent a lot of time and put a lot of work into the development of CJM methodology.  They are a multi-campus University so need to apply processes consistently.  They built on business process mapping (trained by Talis) and introduced the customer element.  They used a flow chart of a process and then introduced the customer with the effect of reducing the negative flow of the process. Judith explained the way that they had introduced CJM - initial training sessions with senior staff including scenarios.  Then introduced to Senior Library Assistants. They then moved to a swim lane mapping approach followed by a public trial of the methodology with Weslink.  Then it was rolled out to frontline staff.
They mapped everything eg self service reservation, borrowing laptops.  Issues were identified and actions taken to address them. Individual appraisal objectives were given to senior staff so that they owned the process and then the training was enhanced.

How to map a customer journey:
1. Produce a scenario
2. Brief staff how it works
3. Then have to let the staff member or student get on and fill in a template. They walk through the process . Then results come back and use flip chart and post its to show problems or issues. Then produce ideal map and this produces the actions. They also include the emotions - how do users feel if they are using your service?
It is important to work with students because "we can't be 18 again or unlearn what we know about libraries". They set up two pilots with students to test the CJM methodology.  They learned how the student researchers applied the methodology.  The projects confirmed the value of mapping with customers.  
Staff were involved by carrying out the initial mapping and it raised awareness of the problems encountered by students.  Staff were involved in the development of scenarios.  The outcomes of the student projects were shared and involved in creating action plans. Staff continue to lead student CJM.
Benefits of CJM:
It helps with planning 
Looking at it from student view perspective leads to reduction in complexity. 
Remember need to validate - don't use just a small sample of students.
Introduce concept of 'super mappers'
Emotions - valuable as shows impact of service and changes on users.
Can use results of CJM for library Learning and Teaching Team. 

The next presentation was by Lynn Sykes from the University of Sheffield about the Thelma Award.
Some of the elements that counted towards the awards were:
Investment in Study Spaces
National Fairground archive - showzam
Digital Leadership Alma Primo
The Thelma bid was a cross service bid and involved lots of staff.  Customer Services have streamlined processes - requests, variable loan, auto renewals. Variable loans - the length of loan depends on the level of usage - it's a week loan unless someone else has requested it then it becomes a two day loan. Books move round quickly which is essential and staff need to be flexible as they work at more than one site, more than one job, in more than one team.   
They have knowledgeable staff  who facilitate efficient referral at the Helpdesk including telephone, email and social media enquiries.  There are service desks at each site for face to face enquiries. There is efficient enquiry management and queries are logged and referred systematically. 
Lynn explained how they have standard answers for questions which are in a searchable word document based on a google site and searchable database. Everything that is requested is recalled, everything else is auto renewed.  There are no fines but if the item is not returned then the account is blocked (this is the library account not IT account)

The next presentation was by Jenny Share from Leeds Beckett University.  
Customer Service Excellence -  Making it Real.
They have achieved CSE for the whole university which is impressive.  
The University had a new strategic plan in 2010 which aimed to promote and embed a customer focused culture.  A  KPI was set to achieve CSE by 2015. The first step was to identify customer groups eg potential students, current students, alumni, staff. Then research best practice.  Followed by a gap analysis which helped  with the identification of next steps and quick wins.  A crucial step was to engage staff.  It was difficult to engage academic staff but was helped by the fact that communications about CSE came from vice chancellor.  Then they concentrated on process improvements The applicant experience, student inductions, fees, financial and student debt advice.  Then graduation and leaving the university.   Staff recruitment and CRM.   Other initiatives were  - mystery shoppers, communications guidance - what's your view feedback scheme.
The accreditation process involved the selection of an assessment body and building a relationship with assessor.  Pre-assessment visit, then desk based review of the evidence and then the actual assessment. They used a lot of real examples of current practice and planned events to do so.
CSE makes a difference in the following ways:
Cultural - institutional pride and celebratory culture
Reputational - of the University
Practical - enhanced customer experience, better understanding of customer service, better business process work, skills development, genuine learning from assessment, support for other initiatives - helped to evidence
Strategic - keeping CSE alive, continuous improvement

The workshop that I went to was a CJM workshop and was useful as a discussion forum and to look at the practicalities of how you would take a topic and try to map the process.  I talked to some delegates from University of Hull and they gave me some useful feedback about things they have implemented in their library including the room booking system

The final presentation was by Shepway District Council - Karen Everett - Customer Services Manager.
It was useful to hear about CSE in a non-library setting.  She explained how it is important to understand the customer journey.  They used customer focus groups and mystery shoppers.  The feedback from mystery shoppers went to the focus group.  It enabled better relations between teams and services and staff were involved in all processes.  Their service is based on triage when people come into building so they are dealt with promptly and directed efficiently.  Complaints are dealt with consistently.  

All in all it was a great day - extremely useful and informative.
My main takeaways from the day were:
1. To achieve CSE you need to have staff on board and they have to be positive and engaged
2. Different institutions have different cultures and subcultures and you have to take these into account and develop them to succeed
2. You need to plan ahead - there is a lot of work involved
3. Involve your customers - become customer focused not process focused

The venue, the Magic Circle, was interesting and appealing and, as you would expect, all the delegates were friendly and happy to exchange knowledge and experiences.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Conference - Day 1 #altc

The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Conference 2014 took place at the University of Warwick 1st - 3rd September
The first day started with a welcome from the conference chairs - Sarah Cornelius, Linda Creanor and Joe Wilson - the 21st ALT Conference has arrived.  They encouraged everyone to engage and interact with ideas and with other delegates and use the conference hashtag #altc plus #innovate #educate #community to share experiences.

Christina Hughes PVC T&L at Warwick University gave a welcome address describing the conference as a 
'Smorgasbord of creative engagement'.  She talked about the global power of MOOCs and open educational models.
The first keynote speech was by Jeff Haywood from the University of Edinburgh and entitled Designing University Education for 2025: Balancing competing priorities.  He started with a quote from Terry Mayes 1995 'Learning Technology and Groundhog Day'.  It takes patience and persistence to make progress and move forward - has learning technology changed in the last 20 years or is it a series of new and exciting initiatives which appear and then disappear? Since 2004 there has been an explosion in online identities and range of tools and technologies.  These tools and technologies are not educational but social consumables - they are part of the user not the institution.  It is the changes in those sort of things that will have an impact on education and learning.  There is now a realisation that it is a certainty that wholly online courses are possible and can be of high quality.  
We may laugh at the 'trough of despondency' but often those technologies do come through, a steady maturity.  

Students do have positive feelings about online courses but do employers trust online education and qualifications?  There are a vast technologies, tools, applications - the conversation prism.  90% of technology in universities is brought in by and used by the students in creative ways - they are student oriented rather than institution oriented.

He then talked about MOOCs at the University of Edinburgh.  You've 'got to brag about MOOCs', everyone does and the slickness of marketing is apparent much more than for traditional courses. Moocs have reopened a debate at policy level about digital education. Courses can be run at large scale, charismatic lecturers can touch learners. Technological innovation is coming out of MOOCs - tools and applications - we need to capitalise on this as an opportunity.
How can we use the technology? Throughput of curriculum - learn at own pace, don't have to wait. How do we increase the productivity of education system?  However productivity is not the vision of many as their driver is to increase the quality of the content and experience.

So what of the future - 2025 - he predicts that, education will be on demand, self paced, location flexible, relevant to your life/ career, affordable, personalised, global and local, high value added.  Without technology then this would be undoable.  A vision is needed at policy level otherwise nothing will transform  - there needs to be a roadmap and investment.  The 'M' will be dropped from MOOCs to OOCs  meaning that students will take at least one core module wholly online and universities will offer most courses as open online courses.  

The technology of the future that will most impact on education is in the areas of security and the internet of things.  Students (and staff and courses) will have a Digital / |Physical co-presence.

 During the Q&A session he was asked about how support will be offered on an individual / small group basis? The answer was that offering support to small groups is not feasible are not at this stage or at least shouldn't be the focus.
What 'leaps' should be taken?
Invest in learning and instructional design, online assessment and learning analytics

It was an interesting talk - it shows that educational technology is higher up the list of priorities in Universities but presumably this because of financial considerations....and productivity....and globalisation

The other presentations I went to were:
Riding the unstoppable WordPress wave - ePortfolios - Alex Furr - University of Southampton
Different themes for different groups of students and different purposes eg medical students and language students. Promote employability - badges. To be successful they need to be embedded in the core content of modules.

Linking the real world to the digital world: QR codes in non-standard teaching spaces
Dan Jagger - University of Manchester
The presentation was about creating video tutorials for use in sewing labs.
Instructions were created in a simple web page for each sewing machine and then these were linked to via QR codes.  

Then two invited speaker sessions:
Bryan Mathers gave an interesting presentation and the slides were engaging with sketches and images
Performance or innovation - which culture for education?
Bucket or fire
Leadership - create a belief system
Make something awesome
Use images to explain ideas - a picture speaks a thousand words
He also said that if you're running a business,  don't run it as a democracy

Fiona Harvey talking about the Watching the Moocs go by - and the ALTMOOCSIG
There are 43+ UK MOOCs plus others not on platforms, The  Future Learn launch had a big impact on MOOCs in the UK. Should QAA have a say on the quality of a MOOC?
People are looking at the technology and seeing what they can use to offer courses?
Are you a teacher on a MOOC?
Participation rates are NOT a measure of success Massive is about reach, how far your knowledge spreads
Pick and mix modules - Change the model for education.
Again a great presentation with images of hands presenting information.

Next the drinks reception and dinner and tomorrow's another day...

Sunday 3 August 2014

Annual technology break #techdetox

The week before last I had a weeks holiday, a week off work and a few days away at a hotel. It was also designated as my annual technology break which is a week once a year when I don't send or receive any emails and don't engage with any social media and generally try to switch off.
This is no easy feat for someone like me who sleeps with their ipad next to the pillow and phone on the bedside table.  So I delete all email accounts from my phone/ipad plus any apps that I may be tempted to use ie facebook, twitter, linkedin, pinterest, blipfoto, angry birds etc etc. In fact I switch my ipad off and disable everything on my phone except text for family to contact me in emergencies. I do take a camera for holiday photos.
It sounds a bit extreme to have to delete everything but I discovered about 3 years ago that I just use all these programmes/ applications / facilities automatically, without thinking. I just take my phone out of my pocket or bag and browse.
So how did it go? Well for the first two days I am really on edge and twitchy - it's weird. I find myself in situations where I subconciously pick up my phone to do something and then discover there is nothing to or two text messages does not really constitute an engaging experience especially when the conversation is "hope you're ok?" "yes, fine, hope you're ok too". Standing in queues or waiting around for something or someone are typical situations when I pass the time of day by checking up on emails or social media. Checking to see if anyone is doing anything exciting. Posting photos, checking in, commenting on posts, blogging about the day etc.
After the first couple of days things settle down and I start to feel the benefit of switching off. It's definitely a feeling of less responsibility and being detached.
I read a lot - this time I read 5 books during the week
We spend time walking and exploring places so it makes the most of being away from home and work. More time to talk and listen and meander aimlessly around.
It's stepping out of every day life and I think that's the point - being connected is part of everyday life, it's essential and I enjoy it - I wouldn't want to be without it.  But it is important to occasionally disconnect and realise that is what you are doing and give yourself a break and time to reflect.

Saturday 12 July 2014

ALT Scotland SIG - Open Scotland event

I attended the Open Scotland event on 3rd June 2014 at the University of Edinburgh.  The event aimed to "provide an opportunity for  ALT Scotland SIG members and the wider community to come together and share ideas and experiences of adopting and promoting open educational practices across all sectors of Scottish education"

Notes from the best bits:

Jonathan Worth @jonathan_worth #phonar an editorial photographer gave a great presentation that was very engaging. He explained that images have different properties to photographs - what is the product? Anyone can take a photograph and it's not possible to limit the sharing of photographs once they are on the web so the photograph has to be an image with a value. 
It is necessary to rethink what the product is as a photographer and 
Rethink what product is as a teacher
Digital fluency of images
A library is just a room full of books until a librarian takes you through it.....
Take the class where the 'fish are already swimming' in the cloud and aggregate everything back to the hub

Sheila McNeil @sheilmcn - interesting presentation about the idea of a Digital University
Key themes - Digital Participation, Information Literacy, Learning Environments, Curriculum and Course Design.

Emerging themes
Infrastructure - digital and physical
Digital literacy - staff and students
Learning and teaching technology implementation plans
Open Education
Cohering around student engagement
How we use our data. Map of online activity within a university. Sense of place as a digital hub.

Ian Stewart and John Johnstone, GLOWGLOW interesting problems
Data protection
Child protection
Engagement of teachers
Government, ip
Local authorities ip
Office 365 within email 365 accessed via GLOW

Lorna M Campbell, Cetis: Scottish Open Education Declaration

Open Scotland is a cross sector initiative
Open to everyone
Open Scotland summit 2013
Scottish Open Education Declaration drafted - an open community draft

Need a culture shift - Capacity building to enable educators to do this
Brand awareness - marketing - publicity
Openness - journey from informal to formal learning
Can support the declaration, can sign up to it
It's better to campaign for something than against something

Suzanne Scott, Borders College presented about Open Badges
It was a really interesting 
presentation and useful and practical - something definitely to try to introduce for cpd hopefully

I didn't take any notes as I was concentrating on the content so will have to find a link to the slides.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards - interviews and judging

The Learning Technologist of the Year Awards are a great experience for the participants, winners and judges. It is worth entering yourself, your team or a colleague who deserves recognition for work and achievements in the field of learning technology.
ALT receives a high number of entries for the individual and team awards all of whom are carrying out exciting and often innovative practices. Therefore you need to 'show off' about what you do - this is often easier if someone else has nominated you - but in the interview make the most of your achievements. Entrants come from all sectors - universities, colleges,  schools, charities - so which ever sector you work in, you can be considered.
The judging panel ask a series of questions about what you do - really what we would like to say is 'Tell us about the fantastic things you do?' All of those short listed are of a high standard and could 'do the job' of Learning Technologist of the Year. The time available for each interview is quite short at 25 minutes, including a presentation so plan to show evidence and impact - show how how your practice affects learners, peers, your institution, the community etc.
The panel are always very friendly and encouraging. You can attend in person or online eg Skype. Once the decisions have been made then the successful candidates are notified but it remains confidential until September. The awards are presented at the ALT conference which is a great occasion.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

USTLG event - Promoting the role of libraries, library services and librarians #USTLG

The University Science and Technology Librarians' group (USTLG) meeting event was held at Heriot-Watt University on Friday 16th May 2014. One of our Subject Librarians, Kirsty Thomson, who is an active member of the group, offered to host it and helped with the organisation. 
The welcome and introduction was by the Director of Information Services here at Heriot Watt, Mike Roch. He talked about the University, about the IS Directorate and the importance of librarians in navigating information and the internet.  He emphasised that there is a need to add value, engage users and find out what students and staff need.  
Carole Rhodes, the Chair of the USTLG, welcomed everyone and gave some background information about the group which was useful as there were a number of new participants.  
The first presentation was by Sarah Kelly, Subject Librarian, Heriot-Watt University and entitled "Using print and digital media to promote library services".  The presentation was based on the 'Power Hours' Workshop programme that has been developed to provide training for students.  The programme has been developed over 5 years and has used a variety of documents and methods for producing the marketing materials. To begin with there posters, booklets and the website and then in 2010/2011 materials were developed for plasma screens.  The materials included quotes from participants and tag lines and were aligned with the SCONUL pillars.  the number of presenters of sessions increased and included staff outwith the Library.  
There was also a gradual move away from fun titles in order to make the publicity more descriptive.  In 2012/2013 the Library was merged with IT to become Information Services.  the workshops were renamed as Power Hours and rebranded to become more professional.  The topics were divided into themes.  Librarians worked with media services to produce A0 posters, A3 posters and material for the digital display.  
Other promotional materials include the website, IS blog, twitter and the University newsletter.  The purpose was to increase visibility by raising the profile and reaching science and technology subject students.
Some of the challenges that Sarah outlined are that marketing requires resources especially financial.  A marketing budget can sometimes be seen as an 'add on activity' and it is not necessarily the case that students get all the information they need online.
Printed materials are useful for handing out but when changes happen such as cancelled sessions or change of presenter or content then difficulties can arise. Lots of channels mean lots of changes. 
Future plans are to delegate tasks, introduce power bytes, promote sessions through Vision (VLE), have calendars in Vision (VLE) to pop up on student dashboard.  Increase presence on digital displays, create 'you said we did' posters and promote the facts and figures about the sessions.  

The next session was by Lisa Haddow, University of Stirling "Research bites - trying to engage with reticent researchers".  The programme is a digital literacy programme for researchers.  The challenges in engaging researchers are that they are busy people, isolated people and the hardest group to reach.  The librarians work closely with the researcher development team and forum. 
The research bite sessions take place over lunch and are short sessions and provide an opportunity for networking.  They have tried holding the sessions at different times of year to give flexibility and encourage attendance.  During Summer 2014 there will be 12 discrete sessions.  Participants will sign up through VLE and the sessions will be advertised through the blog and university web pages.  
In the future the aim is for the initiative to be self sustaining, offer peer to peer support, more/better coverage, and use better branding.  

(I made a note here, from a question that was asked I think, about the trend for library support to be more directed towards research than teaching - will have to explore this further).   

The next sessions was by Sarah George, University of Bradford
Marketing to our non-users".  
It was a very upbeat and engaging presentation so I made quick notes.
How do you know who logs into and uses electronic resources?
Why would you need a library? Single text book, subject-specific needs
Bad experience?
Customer journey mapping - break points
Comments as to why students don't libraries
Why don't staff use the library?
Do they know they can?
Administrators / professional staff
Convince staff that you are useful and they will tell others
Book issues correlated degree classifications
No correlation with visits

Tips for engaging non users
Appear in unexpected locations e.g. Library and Careers on location
Teaching - do it at point of need, type of need, give me 10 minutes..., use evidence, resource specific enquiries.  Liaison - go to meetings, get on mailing lists.
Assessment - second marking, get your own assessment
Find a bandwagon - Jump on university policies - we can help with that e.g. Plagiarism
Bombard the marketing department
Engage the gate-keepers
Don't wait to be asked
Look for unclaimed territory
You're doing a great job : shout about it 

Lunchtime - the lunch was sponsored by RSC-CICAG
Quick lunch and then gave a quick tour of our library to two people who couldn't go on the official tour.

The presentation after lunch was by Professor Jeremy Frey, University of Southampton, School of Chemistry
RSC-CICAG.  "The future of experimental data: Libraries and Laboratory Notebooks".
As an academic his social media profile - Google scholar, LinkedIn, website of School
One of the Uni of Southampton important projects is about data management.  There are implications concerning ownership of data. Promote Open Data Institute - try to make as much data open as possible.
Laboratory notebooks in the digital era. Data curation in the chemical sciences. Access to the data is crucial.
It is data that librarians are going to be looking after - how will this be managed so it is curated and can be found at a later date?
Intelligent Open Access to Data - the data has to be intelligible, show your workings so that others can see how you got there. The narrative is important - why did you do those steps? What was innovative?
The processes and methods are as important as the data.  None of these lessons are different, it is the digital that has made it different when sharing information.  
The Trove Software
As students/researchers are collecting data they should have in mind how it is going to be disseminated. You are recording it for someone else to use.

Next there was a presentation by Lynne Robinson from University of Sunderland. 
"How we put the FUN into library services". 
She explained about the marketing toolkit and how they like to involve all staff in their marketing campaigns.  They have details on their website of their Customer Service offers - Quality Promises.  The quality themes are customer care, customer support, communication etc.
I really liked these and the way they are displayed on the website.
They have timetabled staff training so that everyone is involved and informed.  The aim is to show value and impact.  
The posters that they have designed and produced are great as are their library bags.  They also have postcards with contact information, a Christmas campaign and prize draw, competitions to get feedback about learning spaces, feedback using visual tools and sharing with customers.
It was a very good presentation with lots of great ideas.

The last presentation was by Maren Schroeder Kingston University "Facilitating an enhanced library experience through social media". 
She showed examples of the blogs that they use.  Blogs are used as a stepping stone for help and advice
They use their twitter feed to link to blogs and have an elevator pitch to promote the blog.  Librarians create the content from feedback at the service desk.  They blog 3-6 times per week with a round up on a Friday which includes weekly statistics.  
They use various means to get academics to know about the blogs and then ask them to forward links onto to students.  they are looking at embedding twitter feed in VLE. 

There were discussion groups after the presentations but unfortunately I had to leave to finish off some other work.  it was an interesting and informative day and there are plenty of ideas to investigate.
The presentations can be found here

Friday 16 May 2014

Approaches to Learning #ocTEL

Approaches to Learning

OcTEL week 2 task is to consider three approaches to learning
Deep, Surface or Strategic
If I had to review my own approach to learning on the basis of these category titles then I would say I had a strategic approach with a good deal of surface activity.

But when I looked at the descriptions in the categories then this is not the case.

I am strategic as I look at how to get the best possible result and I manage my time and effort effectively.  This is influenced by two factors – one, that I have a lot of activities, work and learning to fit into the time and only a finite amount of effort and resource.
Secondly, and possibly a 'failing' here on my part is that I see work and learning as merged and often interchangeable.  For work, I'm solution focused so my usual way of learning is also solution or result focused.
As far as a surface learning approach is concerned, I may self-assess myself as such but the rest of the criteria doesn't fit.
So the deep learning approach – I like to understand ideas for myself, relate ideas to previous knowledge and experience (consciously and subconsciously) and become actively interested in the course content.

As far as considering these approaches to learners – in my experience, it is important that learners/students, especially if they are new to online learning and an online course, know what the course requirements are. It's essential that there is a structure and framework which clarifies what the course is about and the learning expectations.
Then the considerations of outcomes – is it essential to achieve a grade or qualification? If so then tailor the learning to take this into account. Make sure that the components of the course relate to each other, that they are not unrelated and try to find the links.
Learners are more likely to disengage if they can't see the connections when learning online.
However one of the great advantages of online learning is that you can push the boundaries, that you can explore more resources and more channels of communication and more opportunities to interact and create collaboratively.
That learners can become actively interested in the course content and develop it to match their own approach to learning.

Tuesday 6 May 2014

ocTEL activity: Reflecting on strategies for Learning Technology #ocTEL

A reflection on Learning Technology Strategies:

A: If you have your own example, reflect on these questions:
  • Did you contribute to the strategy, if so, in what capacity?
    I have contributed to Learning Technology Strategies as a Learning Technologist and as a Manager
  • Is the main focus of the strategy on Learning Technology, or if not, what is its main focus?
    Focus of the strategy should be on the learning and it depends whether the learning technology or eLearning strategy is part of a Teaching and Learning strategy or a stand alone document.  It also depends whether it is a strategy for a department, directorate or service as this has often been the case in my experience.
  • How often is it reviewed and is it flexible enough to adapt as things change?
    Strategies tend to be for 3 year periods but that is too long if you want your strategy to remain relevant.  So you've either got to shorten the lifetime of the strategy or make it a dynamic live document that you can review and adapt as you go along.
  • Does the strategy impact on your practice and if so, how? If not, why?
    I think that the strategies that I'm involved with now impact more on practice as there is more emphasis on delivering an enhanced student experience.
  • Finally, if you were to provide input to a new version, what, if any, changes would you make to it?
    More flexibility, more dynamic, more customer focused, more service delivery focused, more blended learning, more opportunities to evolve to meet demands.

Monday 5 May 2014

ocTEL Just dipping in....... #ocTEL

Lunchtime at work and just dipping in to see what's happening with ocTEL.  ocTEL is an online course, a MOOC, being run by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT).  This is the second running of the course (I did participate last time) and it consists of six weeks activities plus an induction week. 

I'm not sure what the recommended time is to spend on the course activities each week is - I suspect about 5 hours but it is very flexible.  There is also a 'If you only do one thing....... suggestion which helps if you are undecided what to do each week or feel overwhelmed with the many possibilities.

Anyhow as I'm short of time / too busy at work I'm going to spend half an hour a day skimming across the surface and see what happens.  As usual when participating in a MOOC, I turn off any automatic notifications or membership of lists so that there is hardly anything coming through and then gradually turn them back on as required and as the course progresses.  That initial enthusiasm when everyone contributes frequently and slightly manically, is too much for me. This may sound a little non-participatory but with MOOCs you have to find your own way of working and filtering and make a conscious choice about how it is going to work for you.  I always follow the hashtag on twitter so if there is something urgent or in fact very interesting, I'll pick it up from there.

So straight to week 1 - Concepts and Strategies for Learning Technology.
A badge - a Check-in Badge.  Great - I'm definitely one of those people motivated by badges - easily pleased or perhaps I like learning in small achievable chunks.  I hope that is not true most of the time in my work but for this purpose, that's fine.

You also get a badge for completing the 'if you only do one thing....' and for participating in the webinar.  So that's two more targets for this week - and the half hour is gone - until tomorrow.

Friday 18 April 2014

Open Scotland Webinar 2nd April 2014

Attended this webinar

Thursday 3 April 2014

Effective Online Learning in the 21st Century - #BCS event

On Wednesday 2nd April I attended a BCS event at University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum.  It was a joint event between the Edinburgh BCS branch and BCS Women.  I haven't been to a BCS event for some time so I was interested to see what sort of events and turnout they get in Edinburgh.
The presentation was by Professor Liz Bacon, President of BCS.

The presentation was about Technology Enhanced Learning and covered a variety of general and specific themes.  It was all interesting, most of it covered topics and ideas that I am already aware of but the majority of the audience were not from education or academia so it was very relevant to them.
I have posted my notes below - mainly unedited but they do provide a brief overview of the areas covered.
The points I found interesting were:
The success factors for successful online study - Metacognition, Engaging and immersive environments, Socialisation and Personalisation.  
The need to move to andragogic / heutagogic model of education - treat students as adults, constructivist , flipped classrooms.
Technological and digital solutions to issues with online assessment
Learning Analytics to inform learning strategies
The need to deliver independent, more employable learners  who are capable of lifelong learning.

Online technology will revolutionise learning and is already doing so.  We have had online learning for years so why is now so important?
Bandwidth wifi internet
Ubiquitous devices
Mobile technology
Variety of tools, environments, online classrooms
Ease of access

Student expectations - to learn where and when through any device. In the US in 2010 30% of degree students took an online course during their studies

Student attention span in lectures in 20 minutes. THE March 2014 - 76% of students wanted a recording of lecture for reference Lecture capture is transformative for international students on campus due to language skills

Education is big business and global, countries want it now, not in 3 years - can't build enough physical universities.  
Long term trend in IT market is growth in jobs and high youth unemployment.
Technology has to be at heart of the solution - need to train people in IT

Online is not about taking what we do f2f and repeating pedagogy.  Need to include socialisation.
Take advantage of new possibilities.  MOOCs disruptive (good and bad) - no attempt to save - sink or swim - online has poor success rates. Most MOOC learners already have degree so why is success rate so low?

Teaching Computer Science
Pockets of good practice but most still teach in traditional ways

Factors for successful study - from students perspective
Prior experience
Intrinsic interest

Also other factors that can influence
Learning strategies
Social and cultural characteristics including an ability to make friends online Metacognition

Factors for successful study - from education perspective
Engaging and immersive learning environment
Adaptive interfaces and personalisation of the environment
Support Blended

So success factors
Metacognition - this is not taught , generally expected to emerge but for some learners it doesn't
Engaging and immersive environments - relative depersonalisation of the learning experience but online learning has potential to provide a different range of learning experiences
Games provide social personalisation,  progression at own pace, repetition and reinforcement
Socialisation - isolation but some people may feel more able to socialise online, need moderation, Minerva project
Personalisation - environment can be built to adapt to an individuals needs, can provide personalisation en masse, online systems can provide online feedback that is personalised.

Need to move to andragogic / heutagogic model of education - treat students as adults, constructivist , flipped classrooms
Learning environments need to monitor and capture the students  experience. Provide instantaneous feedback to focus support where needed.  

Cheating in learning and assessment
Massive widespread cheating but how to detect and combat
Deterrents eg setting intermediate targets
Solutions - environments that monitor student behaviour and performance digitally.
Verifiable biometric authentication but not easy to put in all the measures

Assessment does not have to be an event, if students fail an assessment it should not mean that their education is over or that their potential to learn is zero.  As long as learning remains relevant could do assessment when ready.

Learning Analytics - can mine VLE for readership, analyse attention span of student, their learning strategies, mistakes made, how often, what they looked at to get help, when they called for help.
Increase student satisfaction, retention, progression and attainment.
Deliver independent more employable learners capable of lifelong learning.

BCS L&D looking at HE Quals , certifications Videos of members events streamed Online mentoring BCS CPD app Support for personal learning Future - free taster online courses - global reach - enhance brand and reputation

Questions about
Have universities embraced idea of 20 minute slots rather hour long lectures?
There is a space and estates issue to provide connectivity?
Online training and learning for specific job roles? Admin roles?
It's not just about HE and academia - it's across a broad spectrum. Giving all staff the opportunity.
Online learning for office skills, negotiating, presentation skills

Need Learning Technologists to help teachers and educators bridge gap between them and students and change online learning.