Wikimedia in Scotland 2014

A guest post from Graeme Arnott on WIkimedia UK‘s activities in Scotland.

Wikimedia UKWhen  I first discussed the idea of a retrospective of Wikimedia in Scotland’s activities in 2013 I thought that I would probably say something about a year that saw Dr. Ally Crockford take up the first Wikimedian-in-Residence role in Scotland at the National Library of Scotland, and maybe something about the success of the Women in Science editathon that was run in conjunction with the MRC and supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. I also thought that I could say something about the successful first meetup of Wikimedians in Glasgow and the recommencement of meetups in Edinburgh, or the amazing experience of coordinating Scottish Women on Wikipedia with Glasgow Women’s Library (#SWoW). I also thought that I’d write about the pleasure of being asked to speak at EduWiki 2013 in Cardiff, mostly on the subject of Open Badges, and being even more thrilled when the OBSEG members’ Open Badge appeared on a slide in one of the following day’s presentations. When I started putting ideas together I fondly remembered the sheer enthusiasm of the the first librarycamp in Scotland which resulted in proposals to work with CILIPS MmIT, Glasgow School of Art and the Mitchell Library respectively. However, that was last year and instead I thought I’d take the opportunity to look ahead at what’s happening in 2014.

The relationship between Glasgow School of Art and Wikimedia UK has developed really well over the last few weeks in no small part to the hard work of their SCONUL Graduate Trainee Librarian, Delphine Dallison. In November 2013 Ally and myself provided some skills training in December for librarians and archivists and what’s been really satisfying about this project is the way that the staff have really got excited about editing the encyclopaedia. Duncan’s initial editing has seen an increase in the amount of information added to the article about the designer Talwin Morris, whilst David has done some really splendid work developing the list of Scottish architects as well as expanding the article on the Scottish architect James Miller. What I found really quite interesting about David’s work was the amount of effort he put into increasing the number of photographs of Miller’s buildings on the article, and not just into Wikimedia Commons. It’s going to be really interesting working with the GSofA peeps to see how they work with or against the encyclopaedia’s logocentrism. Delphine’s first blog post on her Adventures in Wikipedia is here.

After the success of the library and archive training session word got around, and in late December I met with Dr Robyne Erica Calvert of the school’s Forum of Critical Inquiry (FoCI). We roughly sketched out an idea for her second year undergraduate module, Glasgow Architects, that would see the twenty-one students improve the article on Wikipedia of their chosen architect or Glasgow building. Since then I’ve provided the students with an initial overview of Wikipedia, and in particular it’s writing conventions. The initial project idea was that the students would use their GSA assessment as a means to develop and improve the respective Wikipedia articles, but as the project’s developed we seem to be moving towards a more critical analysis of Wikipedia as a source and how it constructs the legitimacy of its content. This eight week long module has generated Wiki-interest amongst other FoCI staff and we are in the process of arranging a workshop to discuss how the Wikimedia projects can be integrated into the Forum’s teaching and learning. Robyne and David will be speaking at the next Open Knowledge Foundation Scotland meetup (#OpenDataGLA) in the Club Room of the CCA, Sauchiehall St. Glasgow on 3rd February from 6.30pm onwards.

Stevie Benton

Stevie Benton

In late January (22-01-14), Stevie Benton, the Head of External Relations at Wikimedia UK, spoke at the Edinburgh community meetup of the Open Knowledge Foundation Scotland, (#OpenDataEDB). Stevie spoke about the plans for the Open Coalition and his hope that the employment of a WMUK funded Project Co-ordinator’s position will further cement the good relations established between different open communities that took shape at Mozfest in London in October 2013.

The Open Coalition chimes nicely with Wikimedia in Scotland’s close association with the local Scottish grouping of the Open Knowledge Foundation: Ally introduced herself as the WiR at an Edinburgh meeting and in early December I was joined by Anabel Marsh to give a lightning talk on the Scottish Women on a Wikipedia project. Anabel and myself later got into a discussion with Dele Adeyemo, from the wonderfully named Perfect Pidgin, about a possible collaboration involving the Asian community in Pollokshaws that we were hoping to do in January but it’s been postponed until sometime later in the year.

Editing at Anybody But Burns, A Crockford, (Own work), CC-BY-SA-3.0

Editing at Anybody But Burns

Our January activities came to a head on the 25th of January with our ‘Anybody but Burns‘ Scottish poetry editathon that was held in conjunction with the Scottish Poetry Library and the NLS. This editathon was actually born during the BCS’ Women in Computing editathon back in November: Ally was on her soapbox about Robert Fergusson and I was punning on the names of poems, and between us we came up with the idea of a poetry event to improve any article related to Scottish poetry, except for ones that related to Robert Burns. I think we were all a bit taken by surprise to learn that there are roughly three-hundred and fifty Scottish poets listed on Wikipedia.  The event had been described in The List as the most eccentric Burns event and The Telegraph had kindly listed us as one of the top-ten Burns events to attend. It was an absolutely miserable day in Edinburgh which I imagine might have prevented some people from attending. Still, about fifteen people turned up, some of whom had never edited before; by the end of the day new articles were created and existing articles expanded, tidied up and improved. There was a really friendly atmosphere at the event and I hope it turns into something we repeat.

One of the current features of Wikimedia in Scotland that needs to be challenged is its M8-centricness. This is hopefully forgiveable, given that Ally and I live at opposite ends of the M8; but we know we need to reach out to both the north and south of Scotland, and to the Uicipeid na Gàidhlig and Scots Wikipædia communities too. Hopefully the training sessions that we’re currently arranging  – one for lecturers at UHI Inverness College, and one for staff at JISC Scotland – in February or March will start to help in this process. The training at UHI Inverness College in particular will act as a precursor to the use of the Wikimedia projects by the college’s students. In addition, there has been a request from students at Dundee University to form a student’s society. In February, Ally and myself have also agreed to do a joint webinar with CILIPS MmIT, although no firm date has yet been arranged for this, and one of the projects that Ally in particular is keen to see develop is a recorded training session supported by JISC which could be circulated online throughout regional JISC offices and made public on Wikimedia Commons.

I first met Dr. Greg Singh at EduWiki 2013 in Cardiff when he gave a cracking talk that ranged from Andrew Keen to Adorno and Horkheimer to Michael J. Sandel. Wikipedia’s institutionalised gender bias had often been the topic of our conversations, and Greg’s lingering question as to what makes a good wiki is one that seemed to go directly to the heart of the matter. Users of Wikipedia will undoubtedly be familiar with stub articles and that these are generally regarded as poor in quality and/or lacking relevant material. Whilst in one sense stubification can be seen as a straightforward administrative process of classification, its application to articles of women who have been anonymised by the culture of their time can make it seem like the encyclopaedic equivalent of “You’re not worthy” – more of a snub than a stub. Greg is based at Stirling University where he is organising a one-day Wiki-themed symposium to be held there on 19th March. Ally will be speaking about digital publishing and open access, building on her own academic projects as well as her work with Wikimedia UK, and the programme also boasts as speakers Lorna Campbell from Open Scotland, Wikimedia UK’s Academic Liaison Dr. Tony Sant, and Wikimedia UK board member Dr. Padmini Ray Murray from the University of Stirling. More details will be confirmed on the meta-wiki Events page.

Perhaps one of the most striking and unexpected results of the NLS’s Wikimedian in Residence programme has been the intense amount of interest generated across the IS sector and cultural organisations more generally. On February 27-28, Ally has been invited to speak at the prestigious Edge Conference, hosted by the Edinburgh City Libraries. Speakers and delegates alike span diverse career fields, spanning council managers, Library services, and corporate directors. A similar audience will be courted by the Special Libraries Association during a Wikimedia-centred event to be held at the National Library of Scotland in early March. These events offer the opportunity to introduce organisations outside of the NLS in particular and libraries more generally to the possibility and benefit of working alongside the Wikimedia Foundation. That these talks are being delivered in Scotland will undoubtedly have a significant impact in increasing the presence of Wikimedia events and other collaborations across the country.

The considerable change from 2013 into this year is the way that events now seem to be a consequence of a request from a group/organisation rather than something Ally or myself have pitched to the group. Ally has received requests from two groups for March edit-a-thons that fit with the Women who Shaped Scotland theme which forms part of the Residency’s focus. These are the Feminist Art group at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, and the BSCWomen who are keen to do a follow up event on the subject of women-in-science.

Plans are also in place to take part in and support the joint Open Knowledge Foundation Scotland, OpenStreetMap, National Library of Scotland and Open Glasgow/Future Cities Demonstrator at Datafest Scotland 2014 to be held in the University of Glasgow on the 12th, 13th and 14th of June this year. One of the exciting ideas that we’re currently working on is the means by which Wikipedia could (will) become the portal of choice for accessing geo-specific open data. The conference will be a mixture of speakers, training events and workshops. More details to follow. Ally’s piece for Post magazine on opening the National Library can be read here.

In all these areas, our goal is to develop the Wikimedia community in a Scotland and to enrich the projects by reaching out to the widest and most diverse range of people. You can keep up to date with Wikemedia in Scotland’s projects and events by signing up to the #ScotWiki mailing list by following this link. We hope to see you at an event soon!

Graeme Arnott is a Training Officer with the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and manages the Scottish Joint Industry Board‘s (SJIB) Adult Training Scheme. He’s a member of Wikimedia UK, and a Community Coordinator with OKF Scotland.

 

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Norwegian Government MOOC Report and Digitization Programme

Norway MOOC reportEarlier this week the Nordic OER Alliance announced that the Norwegian Government has published its first governmental report on MOOCs and the role of OER: Norwegian MOOC report: Tilrår satsing på OER!

Although the report is in Norwegian, the recommendations have helpfully been translated into English by Tore Hoel, and are copied below. Even without being able to read the entire report, it’s very encouraging to see a national government recommending further investment in innovative pedagogies, teacher and learner support and infrastructure development for technology supported learning. Amongst other recommendations, the Committee has recommended the allocation of a 15 million NOK annual grant for “research-based knowledge development and transfer of knowledge related to learning analytics”. Perhaps more significantly the Committee has also recommended a further 10 million NOK to be allocated to “pursue further development of digital literacy among staff in the higher education sector”. Enlightened thinking indeed. Additional funding has also been recommended for education technology infrastructure development in general and MOOC infrastructure in particular. The report also covers accreditation and recognition, but does not recommend a radical overhall of the current system.

The publication of the Norwegian Government’s MOOC report, comes hot on the heels of reports in the tech press earlier this month that the National Library of Norway is planning to digitise all the books in its holdings within 15 years. While the essence of this story is true, the NLN is a legal deposit library, and it does have a policy to digitise its entire collection over the course of 20 – 30 years, the initiative has actually been running since 2006, but seems to have come to the attention of the US press only recently. That aside, it’s an admirable and ambitious initiative which, together with the Government MOOC report,  speaks volumes about Norway’s commitment to openness.

Resources

Nordic OER: http://nordicoer.org/
Government MOOC Report: http://khrono.no/sites/khrono.no/files/moocutvalget_delrapport_1_13122013.pdf
National Library of Norway – Digitization Policy: http://www.nb.no/English/The-Digital-Library/Digitizing-policy
National Library of Norway – What is being digitized?: http://www.nb.no/English/The-Digital-Library/What-is-being-digitized

Government MOOC Report Recommendations

Chap. 6.2 Innovative pedagogy and quality

The Committee recommends a systematic focus on research-based knowledge development about ICT and learning.

The Committee recommends the establishment of an environment for research-based knowledge development and transfer of knowledge related to learning analytics in 2015 with an annual grant of 15 million NOK. Structure and shape must be considered in relation to current participants and funding agencies.

The Committee believes that the higher education sector has limited use of incentives at the individual level associated with the development of teaching. This does not work stimulating and motivating to adopt new technologies and new forms of learning. The Committee therefore recommends that the operative environment in general and incentives for the educational area are reviewed, both at the individual, institutional and national level. These must be connected together and clearly have the same effect.

The Committee recommends that the allocation of funding to pursue further development of digital literacy among staff in the higher education sector. The Commission proposes to allocate NOK 10 million.

The Mooc Committee recommends that the ministry appointed committee to assess competencies outside the formal education system also considers expertise developed through Mooc deal with exams and credits.

Chap. 6.3 Infrastructure for Mooc and other digital learning

The Committee believes there is a need to continue and increase national spending on technology infrastructure. The Commission proposes to increase funding for further infrastructure development for online education in general with 10 million annually and 10 million annually to develop new infrastructure for Mooc deals specifically.

The Committee recommends that there be further assessed whether it is appropriate to have a common national Mooc portal or alternative solutions are better.

Chap. 6.4 Trade and labor market skills needs

The Committee recommends that business and industry sector uses Mooc and similar offerings in skill development of the employees.

There is appropriated 10 million to further education of teachers using Mooc and similar offers. The Committee recommends that there be an additional 10 million to develop and gain experience with the use of Mooc and similar offerings in continuing education within other relevant educational fields.

Chap. 6.5 Mooc that part of the Norwegian degree system: accreditation and recognition of Mooc deals

The Committee believes that Mooc not necessitate a change of the Norwegian regulations for accreditation and recognition of subjects and topics to be included in a degree system. Mooc exams and credits from both Norwegian and foreign institutions may naturally be part of this system as it is today.

The Committee recommends that institutions utilize the room for maneuver which lies in the administration of the rules for crediting of subjects and topics to be included in a degree system, by facilitating better and smoother practices across Norwegian institutions.

The Committee recommends an assessment of whether current practices are appropriate and what can be done to strengthen the institutions’ utilization of leeway inherent in the current rules for crediting of subjects and topics to be included in a degree system.

The Committee recommends trial of admission to Mooc offerings at Norwegian institutions for applicants who do not meet the traditional requirements for admission to higher education.

Chap. 06.06 Copayment and the principle of free higher education

The Committee believes that Mooc offerings in Norway in the first place should be free.

The Committee recommends that the Ministry is undertaking a review of the rules for personal payments to institutions opportunities to claim fees for parts of a group of participants will be made clear.

Chap. 6.7 Educational support

The Committee recommends that considered whether to grant educational support to learners in Mooc and similar offers with flexible workload and duration. With similar offerings means other forms of online promotions or offers that combine online and campus education.

The Committee believes that Mooc and similar offerings outside Norway and the EU / EEA area should be considered to provide the basis for educational support.

The committee believes that the assessments of changes in education funding scheme also must asses the impact on foreign students.

Chap. 6.8 Funding of higher education

The Committee recommends that the funding system should facilitate incentives or arrangements which support the cooperation between the institutions on the development and supply of Mooc and similar offers, such as flexible ways to share the benefit of credit production.

The Committee recommends considering the introduction of an incentive for education relevance in the funding system. Cooperation between educational institutions and actors in the labor sector on Mooc and similar offers can be an indicator of such relevance.

The Committee recommends that there be annual allocation within the strategic assets of the funding, to support the development of educational content and the development of technological infrastructure for Mooc and similar offers.

Jisc RSC Scotland Open Education Joint Forum

Earlier this week I was invited by Jisc RSC Scotland to attend their Open Education Joint Forum which took place at the Informatics Forum at the University of Edinburgh.  It was a very well attended event that featured a packed programme of thought provoking and  engaging presentations that highlighted a range of really inspiring open education developments.   I’ve put together a storify of the event’s lively twitter back channel here and links to all the presentations are available from Jisc RSC Scotland here.

Open Scotland

Lorna M Campbell, Cetis and Joe Wilson, SQA

I kicked of the event with a short overview of the Open Scotland before passing over to Joe who challenged the audience to share their educational resources, before talking about about the benefits of openness and calling for changing mindsets around Open Education.  Joe also reminded us that there is a real strength in Scottish education, we have dedicated and talented teaching staff and by opening up education they can shine for learning.

Joe Wilson, SQA

Joe Wilson, SQA

Massive Open Online Courses: Open education  of course?

Martin Hawksey, ALT

Martin Hawksey, my former Cetis colleague, now with ALT, gave an inspiring presentation that placed MOOCs in the historical context of technology innovation and asked if we are now in danger of promoting a dogmatic approach to programming and technology innovation. Martin revisited Doug Englebart’s “Mother of All Demos” which, among many other innovations, demonstrated screen sharing and videoconferencing as far back as 1968.  In education we have a tendency to get stuck in particular ways of doing things, both students and teachers have specific expectations and can be very resistant to change.

Martin Hawksey, ALT

Martin Hawksey, ALT

Martin highlighted some of the tools, services, platforms and applications that can be employed to deliver MOOCs.  He also reminded us that every letter of MOOC is negotiable and suggested that the issue of MOOC completion rates is irrelevant.  Open or closed is not a binary thing, but there are huge benefits to moving towards more openness.  Martin concluded by telling is all that “openness is about feeling warm inside” and that we should all “ride the waves of innovation to a more open, more relevant style of education’.  Martin has written a an excellent blog post about his presentation which you can read here: Taking on the dogmatic approach to education with a bit of ‘reclaim open digital connectedness’.

Re:Source OER Repository

Garry Cameron, Scotland’s Colleges, Jackie Graham and Sarah Currier, Mimas

Gerry spoke about the need to change hearts and minds to use and develop open educational resources and called for a clear statement and a decisive stance on open educational resources from Scottish Government. Scotland’s Colleges committed to releasing resources under Creative Commons licences.

Gerry Cameron, Scotland's Colleges

Gerry Cameron, Scotland’s Colleges

Re:Source is an OER repository for Scotland’s colleges. The open platform is here and could be used by many across the Scottish education sector but policy drivers needed.  Jisc RSc Scotland is collaborating with Scotland’s Colleges to work ona  way forward. Librarians also have a crucial role to play in developing open repositories within Scotland’s colleges.  Jackie Graham went on to demonstrate the Re:Source repository before handing over to Sarah Currier who spoke about the Jorum repository which powers Re:Source.

Jackie Graham, Re:Source

Jackie Graham, Re:Source

Blackboard xpLor

Julie Usher, Blackboard

Julie Usher, Blackboard

Julie Usher, Blackboard

Julie Usher began by highlighting the potential of OERs but suggested that they can be hard to find; how do you fin and evaluate OERs, link them to curricula, including assessments.  To address this problem Blackboard have developed the xpLor content repository. xpLor supports OER discover and allows content to be pulled directly into Blackboard courses.  Creative Commons is baked into xpLor repository so content can be exported with  CC licenses.

Introduction to Open Badges and OBSEG

Grainne Hamilton, Jisc RSC Scotland

Grainne Hamilton, Jisc RSC Scotland

Grainne Hamilton, Jisc RSC Scotland

Open badges are a form of digital accreditation that can be displayed online.  Badges are like coats of arms, they are images that contain information and have meaning beyond the visual.  Open Badges incentivise informal, formal and work based education and break learning into manageable chunks. The Open Badges in Scottish Education Group (OBSEG), which is supported by Jisc RSC Scotland, has set up three sub-groups focusing on Learner Progress, Technology and Design and Staff Development.

EduWiki Conference Reflections

260px-Wikimedia_UK_logoLast week Cetis’ Brian Kelly attended the 2013 EduWiki Conference in Cardiff, run by Wikimedia UK. There’s a full write up of the conference on Brian’s UK Web Focus blog, and many of the themes raised are of direct relevance to Open Scotland.  The event led Brian to reflect on the role of Wikipedia in open education and to conclude

“I’m now convinced of the importance of Wikipedia in open educational practices.”

One of the themes to emerge from the conference was the library sector’s changing attitude towards Wikipedia. This can certainly be seen in parts of the library sector in Scotland, and the National Library of Scotland is to be applauded for appointing a Wikimedian in Residence earlier this year.

I was also particularly interested to hear about efforts in Wales to engage with Wikimedia and to support the uptake of minority languages. This from Brian’s conference report: 

Welsh and Other Minority Language Wikipedia Sites

Robin Owain, the Wales Manager for Wikimedia UK gave a talk in Welsh with instant translation for English speakers via headsets. Robin’s talk provided the political and cultural context for the following keynote talk and made the links with Wicipedia, the Welsh language version of Wikipedia. “Wales is a small country. That’s our greatness. “Do the small things” is our motto” explained Robin, who went on to inform the audience that “Wales is the land of open content“. Such approaches to openness and doing small things, but doing them well has led to Wicipedia being the most popular web site in the Welsh language.

Robin Owain’s talk focussed on Wicipedia, which is unsurprising for the Wales Manager for Wikimedia UK. A wider context was provided by Gareth Morlain (@melynmelyn), the Digital Media Specialist for the Welsh Government. In his keynote talk on “Getting More Welsh Content Online” which highlighted how a public pressure resulted in Amazon changing their policy on providing Welsh language access to Kindle ebooks.

I was fascinated to learn about use of minority languages, such as Catalan, Basque, Galician, Welsh, Breton, Irish, Gaelic and Cornish, on the Web. I was particularly interested to note that Catalan appears to be punching above its weight. Since I have professional contacts in Catalonia I sent a tweet to Miquel Duran, a professor at Girona University, about this. It seems that his son is president of @amicalwikimedia which promotes Catalan Wikipedia. This suggests that small-scale advocacy can have a significant effect on the creation of articles on minority language Wikipedia sites. Since we heard how the number of Wicipedia articles need to grow by 400% for Google to take Welsh language seriously as a search language I hope that Robin Owain and others involved in encouraging take-up of Wicipedia are successful in their advocacy work.

It’s very encouraging to see Wikimedia supporting both open practice and minority languages in the UK and I hope we will see similar advocacy work undertaken in Scotland.