Warwick’s got talent (students as producers)

Today was Warwick’s Teaching and Learning Showcase. The overall theme this year was Engaging Students, and topics included: Creativity, Beyond the classroom and Using resources in new ways. It would seem strange not to mention that only a few minutes away many students were displaying their engagement and creativity beyond the classroom, in the fifth day of their occupation. I won’t get into the politics of that, but to mention as context that the importance of student involvement in decisions, and the role of the institution as a public university are both part of my thinking about academic technologies. The showcase brought together lots of innovative work across the university, and showed just how fast technology is becoming mainstream for some.

We have lots of examples of student-led technology at Warwick. A while back a Warwick PG student, Josh Harding gave a fantastic talk at a libraries conference about his use of ipads. But the approach goes deeper than encouraging use, there’s a history of supporting student as producer and even a student as producer grant scheme. This ethos is embedded in some courses: two colleagues in my team are involved with the Making History module which encourages undergraduate historians to develop digital skills in the humanities. No doubt there are many other examples I haven’t heard yet.

Right now, here’s a great example. There is a student-run producer and broadcaster of live interactive TV and documentaries at Warwick, called SIBE. They are running a Hackathon this weekend, 23-24th June, on campus:

“The hack will focus on developing web solutions for the new OSAAT campaign model of global collective action to aid in addressing the major global issues of our time in a coordinated and efficient way. We’ve already come up with a few concepts for web solutions together¬†with major national and global campaign organisations during a series of interactive workshops.”

I have pledged a small grant to support the event, because colleagues and I believe academic technology should empower students as producers (a perspective that Rob O’Toole has been strongly advocating). You can participate this weekend by registering on the site, and if you aren’t on campus you can join in remotely.

On a related note, earlier this week I was really pleased to see a couple of Warwick entries to the Jisc Summer of Student Innovation. “Sigma: a new online learning system” is from a group of students, and “Unibubble” is clearly filmed on campus (no mistaking the Arts Centre in the background).

Clearly, Warwick has some serious student talent when it comes to technology and digital skills!


BYOI: ORCID and Impact Story

In “bring your own identity” I suggested that ORCID researcher identifiers might be important to rethinking the relationship between academics and universities.

At the Heads of eLearning Forum (HELF) meeting this week, Dave White from Oxford’s TALL Centre described how there are different currencies for academic credibility. The established currency is books, articles and conference proceedings (in my slides below you will see them referred to as library stuff’n’ting). The new currency is blogs, tweets, slides and videos.

Altmetrics is a term that has come to mean the broadening of what we count as scholarship and how we value it. I would characterise services like figshare, PeerJ and mendeley as “cool social scholarship”, they borrow the qualities of the new currency and bring them alongside the established currency. What the ORCID ecosystem does is enable these cool social scholarship services to come into their own.Then layering across all of that, altmetrics-focussed services like impactstory and plum analytics allow these wide range of outputs to be reaggregated along with information about usage, reach, engagement and that ellusive and contentious concept of “impact”.

What it could mean for universities is that instead of having to host all an academic’s outputs, and instead of having academics fill in forms about their outputs, the university can ask for an ORCID number and then use services like impactstory to map an academic’s outputs online.

Forthcoming presentations

I’m planning various presentations at the moment, things suddenly seem to have sped up! So far the list is …

Monday 10th June, talking to the Learning Technologies Module of the Healthcare Education Masters. My topic is “involving stakeholders in your project”.

Wednesday 12th June, talking at the Heads of eLearning Forum about “Bring your own identity“, rather intimidated by the other speakers!

Monday 17th June, hopefully doing a brief talk at the Educational Technology Research Group in Warwick’s computer sciences department. Not sure what my focus will be but really looking forward to meeting the group.

Thursday 19th June, part of a talk to the Warwick Learning and Teaching Showcase (internal) about MOOCs. Hoping to spark some discussion!

Wednesday 26th June, a rather scary plenary at the Institutional Web Managers Workshop (more affectionately known as a iwimiwim conference), on “Turning our attention to supporting research”.

Looking ahead to September, hoping to have my resubmitted proposal accepted for ALT-C, where I hope to give a short paper called “Stepping back, up and forwards to make technological innovation work”. It is about how we are reframing the work of my team as “academic technologies” within our context in the a services development group in IT Services. I’m also listening out for news of eResearch conferences we should be at, I know there is usually one that clashes with ALT-C. Hopefully we can get to one, though not so much on the e-science end, more interested in the digital humanities, scholarly publishing and whole institution research data management.

A visit from British Library Labs

We are lucky in the Academic Technologies team to have Steve Ranford and David Beck as technologists with a focus on the digital humanities.

Today we hosted a visit for Mahendra Mahey, project manager for British Library Labs. BL Labs is a new approach to encouraging the use of BL collections in digital scholarship. Mahendra’s slides are below, they explain more about the initiative and also detail some sample collections that are available for researchers to work with.

As a way of starting a dialogue with researchers and developers, BL Labs is running a competition. They are looking for ideas of innovative ways of using their content and data. The closing date for idea outlines is 26th June and they would love to hear from people with ideas.

If you’re at Warwick University and like the sound of this opportunity, get in touch with us! It’s late notice for the deadline, but this is just the beginning of our conversation with the BL. We’d love to hear from Warwick researchers and technologists who are interested in the digital humanities.