SHEEN Sharing

A Project of the Scottish Employability Co-ordinators' Network

Flying Under the Radar: Lessons Learned from a Fun Faux-pository Project

My time as funded consultant on the SHEEN Sharing Project came to an end in February 2010. However, I keep being asked to share the lessons learned about our success as a project.

In April 2010, there are two educational repositories events where I’ll be taking part in discussions with my SHEEN Sharing hat on. Both events have asked for a position paper summarising my views on the lessons learned in SHEEN Sharing around the use of Web 2.0 / social media for resource sharing in educational communities. This blog post will serve as my position paper for both events; the slides I prepared go to with it are here on Scribd (BTW I no longer recommend Scribd- you can no longer get an RSS Feed for a group’s documents or a collection, nor can you embed their collection widget or an individual document in WordPress. Which is why you have a link to this slideshow, and why it doesn’t appear in the SHEEN Sharing Project Documents feed in the right-hand column).

The events in question are:

April 13-14: ADL Learning Content Registries and Repositories Summit (held in Virginia, USA; I’ll be attending remotely).

– As well as submitting a position paper, I’ll be taking part in two panels, talking about SHEEN Sharing: Registry and Repository Initiatives Panel and Discussion (April 13) and Social Media and Alternative Technologies Panel and Discussion (April 14).

April 19: JISC CETIS Repositories and the Open Web (held in London, UK).

Position Paper Overview
At the time of writing there are already 11 papers on the ADL site and 3 on the CETIS wiki. I’m not reading any of these erudite missives until I’ve written this.

I’m also focussing quite narrowly on my experiences on the SHEEN Sharing project and what the project sparked for me, going into it as a formal learning materials repositories person. The project was small scale and had the benefit of flying under the radar of institutional strategies and policies, that is, we avoided the kinds of concerns (IPR, metadata APs, technical architectures, sustainability of tools, etc.) that traditionally hamper full flexible fun engagement with educational communities. It would therefore be easy, and silly, for me to say “Just do all your repositories stuff like this“. Instead, I’ll just present what we found in hopes of furthering discussion, raising questions, and seeding ideas.

My Background and Approach

  • I’m a formal repositories kinda gal, a librarian with a primary professional interest in learning materials repositories and educational metadata since 1999.
  • For 14 months I had the guilty pleasure of organising a totally Web 2.0-based educational resource sharing project, with some success.

A Starting Point
There has been a recent trend to say “well, repositories for learning materials failed, metadata is useless, the Web is the repository” etc., etc. I would prefer not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We need to acknowledge that there are organisational use cases for formal, organised, well-catalogued repositories.

We also need to acknowledge that these are not, on their own, going to be the best place for educational communities to develop, share, brag about, co-create, tag, network around, learn with, educational resources.

These are the use cases that we once lumped into an un-differentiated learning object repositories model. We were kinda starting to see the problems (cf CD-LOR, PROWE, SPIRE).

“[…] the pedagogical, social, and organisational aspects of these communities have not been at the forefront in the design and development […]. Research has consistently demonstrated that the most substantial barriers in uptake of technology are rooted in these factors”

Margaryan, A., Milligan, C. And Douglas, P. (2007) CD-LOR Deliverable 9: Structured Guidelines for Setting up Learning Object Repositories. Available here.

Then the Web 2.0 paradigm shift came along and gave us much better opportunities to harness all of the creativity and collaborativity of teachers and learners (cf JISC Emerge, HEA DMU Learning Exchanges, JorumOpen, EdShare, etc. etc.).

For me, the pertinent questions are:

  1. How can educational communities make best use of both formal repositories and Web 2.0 sharing?
  2. How can repository developers and managers support educational communities by leveraging Web 2.0-type technologies?

Formal Repositories

Formal repositories meet a certain set of use cases, requiring things like:

  • A long-term view of, and expertise in, resource curation and management;
  • Good quality metadata for high precision and recall in resource discovery;
  • In some use cases, resource preservation;
  • Solid support for rights protection;
  • … and so on …

All this is very expensive and requires a high degree of strategic buy-in from funders / management.

Make no mistake though, this kind of work is going on out there. Off the top of my head I think of the UK DCSF National Strategies site for school teachers; the NHS Scotland and England e-learning libraries; the HEA EvidenceNet repository for higher and further education teachers.

A Meta-Whinge
Most formal repositories initiatives (I mean strategic learning materials repositories developments, as distinct from JISC-style R&D projects) in the UK rarely seem to take part in these kinds of discussions these days. It seems like there is a community for those in the know, those who are always talking about what’s going to be strategically do-able in 5 years, and a non-community of those doing what they can now with currently available scalable technologies for user communities with urgent requirements. We used to all get together and talk, but no more. I am digressing but I think there is polarisation happening between the purist/open source/research-led/enthusiastic amateur/early adopter side and the requirements of those who need to do something now with tax-payer or organisational money. Both sides are missing out.

More Importantly, A Micro-Whinge
What’s missing in formal educational repositories initiatives these days is full and frank support for non-technically-minded educators to integrate resources in them within their own community social media and Web 2.0 approaches (I don’t mean just providing your own in-tool discussion, profiling and tagging features!).

We almost seem to be going backwards. For example: Jorum (a UK national higher education repository for learning materials) was heavily constrained by unfortunate early decisions demanding almost comically restrictive walls around the repository materials. The repository itself, however, allowed flexible provision of newsfeeds, updating every kind of search available in the repository. Now we have JorumOpen, free of restrictions on access, but no obvious Web 2.0 functionality at all, not even the most obvious newsfeeds. The HEA’s EvidenceNet repository is similarly open, but again with no newsfeed capability.

How is it that repositories being built in this day and age without the ability for a user to create a newsfeed on a search of interest to them, which they can then push out to their network via widgets, wiki pages, whatever?

So What Was SHEEN Sharing? Was it a Bird, a Plane, a Repository?

Overview of SHEEN Sharing Project

NB: SHEEN = Scottish Higher Education Employability Network.

  • Proposed by the SHEEN Employability Coordinators’ Network (ECN) in direct response to an urgent internal need.
  • Funded by the Scottish (higher education) Funding Council.
  • Administered by the Higher Education Academy.
  • Overseen by the SHEEN Steering Group.
  • For the benefit of the ECN and their immediate stakeholders.

Project Resources

  • Project timescale: Jan – Sep 2009 (later extended to Feb 2010).
  • Project lead: Cherie Woolmer, Employability Coordinator, University of Strathclyde (voluntary).
  • Project consultant, 2.5 days / week: Sarah Currier.
  • Project Development Group: enthusiasts in the Employability Coordinators’ Network (voluntary).
  • Admin and advisory support from HEA.
  • Travel and events budget.
  • No technology budget.

Who Are the Community? The Scottish Employability Coordinators’ Network

  • Ca. 20-22 members at any given time.
  • National, across all Scotland’s HE institutions.
  • Geographically distributed, with some members, particularly in the north of Scotland, less able to attend centrally based meetings.
  • Mostly female (76% female / 24% male).
  • A mix of part-time and full-time (59% full-time / 41% part-time).
  • A mix of professional backgrounds: Lecturers; Researchers; Careers advisers; Policy developers and implementers; Staff developers; Educational developers; Librarians.
  • A mix of institutional situations, in terms of:
    1. the type of department they are based in: 59% educational development; 41% careers service; some co-located in different departments;
    2. the emphasis required by their institution: working at a policy level; working on curriculum and course development; working directly with academics and students;
    3. university type, from red brick to the ancients, including the Open University and the federated UHI Millennium Institute.
  • Temporary: funding for their work will not continue beyond the next couple of years (a few have permanent posts).
  • A small number of institutions did not employ designated “employability coordinators”, but most did.

NB: evaluation established that this community started out very non-technically-minded; fairly negative about using the Web at all for work, especially social media; very much working within a Web 1.0 paradigm; and with low to medium confidence about their own efficacy in discovering, sharing, and disseminating appropriate resources in their work. All of this changed considerably over the course of the project!

There was also a sense that the work accomplished must not be lost after the end of the ECN’s funded tenure in their roles.

What They Wanted

  • Communication:
    • Mutual support;
    • Sharing experience, practice and learning.
  • Resource sharing, comprising:
    • Discovery, sharing, recommending and rating;
    • Sharing experiences of use of resources;
    • Targeted resource dissemination to all stakeholders.
  • One-stop shop for employability for:
    • New employability staff coming in;
    • Employer stakeholders;
    • Academics;
    • Students.

So: A Repository? Out of the Question!

  • The ECN’s original idea was that “someone” should provide them with a Website, perhaps powered by a “repository”, and populate it for them.
  • Given the project’s resourcing, timescale and intended outcomes, they were advised by JISC CETIS to look at Web2.0 / social media resource sharing instead.
  • The HEA was keen to use the forthcoming EvidenceNet repository as a more formal home for resources that required this further down the line.

Developing Our ‘Faux-pository’

Is This a Repository?

This is an ancient architecture for a learning object repository, from IMS in 2003.

IMS DRI map showing focus on the “core functionality” of a repository (IMS (2003) IMS Digital Repositories Interoperability – Core Functions Information Model. Version 1.0 Final Specification. Available here. Figure 2.2 Core Functionality)

If So, Then is This a Repository?

Diigo Employability Group

It almost met our educational community’s use cases!

It provides excellent facilities for sharing resources; discussing resources publicly and privately; tagging resources with group tag dictionaries; generating tag and group feeds to make widgets and resource lists… and so on. Great for networking, and enabled highly non-technical users to get drawn in, because of its excellence as a personal resource management tool.

What About This?

Diigo + Netvibes + An Active Community = 1 x Repository?

Employability Resources for Higher Education in Scotland

Together with the afore-mentioned Diigo and a few other Web 2.0 bits and bobs, this completed fulfilment of our educational communities use cases. The most non-technical of users, with a tiny budget, have been able to learn to create their own portal of constantly up-dated resources and recommended resources, targeted at their own stakeholders.

Important Note Re Links With Formal Repositories
The ECN wanted to include feeds from a number of formal repositories. Here’s what happened:

  • Formal repositories with working newsfeeds:
    • EdShare at Southampton University (we used this as an example but its institutional focus and paucity of employability resources meant it came out of the final Netvibes portal);
    • Anything based on intraLibrary (but only if you can get behind the wall; their current open interface is based on SRU and doesn’t offer feeds out-of-the-box so we didn’t end up with any feeds in the Netvibes Portal);
  • Formal repositories not currently offering feeds:
    • HEA EvidenceNet (but they say they are working on it, and we’ve used their search URL in a webpage widget in meantime);
    • IRISS Learning Exchange is an example of a good intraLibrary repository using their open interface: again, the search URL can be used (but again we only used this as an early example- their weren’t enough relevant resources for the final netvibes portal);
    • JorumOpen for OERs: no way of currently putting a widget into our Netvibes portal.
  • Netvibes SWORD widget: rudimentary right now: not usable for a community like this.

Recommendations to the Repository Development Community

Overall: put educational communities at the heart of requirements gathering and ongoing planning. We all talk a good game on this; it’s amazing what happens when we really do it. And that means putting your most technophobic community members at the centre, and stories from their peers to encourage and inspire them.

First priority: make sure at the very minimum you support newsfeeds robustly and flexibly:

  • Make sure users can easily create standard feeds based on any search/browse/tag/collection;
  • Provide feeds that include user ratings / recommendations / commentary;
  • Make sure they really work!

Second priority: remote, easy-to-use deposit tools (use SWORD!) that can capture metadata;

Third priority: “save/share this resource”.. Especially to email, Twitter, Facebook, social bookmarking / recommendation sites. Again, include support for ratings/recommendations/commentary.

April 11, 2010 Posted by | SHEEN Project Dissemination, SHEEN Sharing Project | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Coordinating employability resources on the web: We made it!

Launch of SHEEN Sharing project: Using web 2.0 applications to co-ordinate employability resources on the web. (NB: This article will always appear at the top of this page! Scroll down for more recent updates.)

www.netvibes.com/employability

Sarah and I have been coordinating SHEEN Sharing on behalf of the Scottish Higher Education Employability Network (SHEEN) for the last year. We’ve been working with all Employability Coordinators (ECs) across Scotland to develop a means of co-ordinating employability-related resources on the web using web 2.0 technologies.

The project developed out of a need identified by all the ECs to a) use web 2.0 applications to support greater virtual networking and to build a community of practice and b) to provide a place for colleagues “to go to” where we could recommend a range of resources we have found useful in our own development work. The project had no technology budget so everything we have achieved has been through using free tools on the web.

All the hard work put in by Sarah and the Coordinators  culminated in a really successful launch event on Wednesday (3 February). Sarah has described in her earlier blog post what we covered on the day. It was great to see the fruits of our (collective) labour and to receive feedback that we had not only produced something of immediate use but also provided an opportunity which can be built upon as the sector continues to develop the employability agenda.

We developed a public-facing set of web pages using a free tool called Netvibes. Under each topic tab, viewers can find on the left a series of live feeds which pull in comment and opinion on the related topic from all over the web and on the right a series of resources that the Employability Coordinators have recommended through our professional community. We used the social bookmarking tool diigo to help coordinate this information. You will also see on the welcome page a series of short introductory videos on how to navigate the pages as well as introductory text on each tab. The link is www.netvibes.com/employability

We’re in the process of writing up a final report but I’d like to share  some of the comments that other EC members made on the day about their experience of the project:

“I have been inspired by others’ stories. It has demystified web 2.0 for me”

“It has shifted my mental attitude of the web. I used to see it only as something I could take from whereas now I actually contribute to it”

“I am able to discover new resources….and this is what I hoped for out of the project”

“I’m taking in bits of this project to other parts of my work in the university”

“I was initially disappointed about not having a “one stop shop” but now I know how this works I’m finding so much more than I ordinarily would”

“Seeing that others have bookmarked the same resource as you is validating”

“Using Diigo has changed my view of information management”

I’d add to my colleagues comments by saying that it is only through looking back on what we’ve achieved that I realise just how much I’ve learned over the last year through the project. I wasn’t just project managing; I was a participating member of the community of practice working through my own learning curve as we went along. Now I can’t really imagine not using diigo to help me manage all of my bookmarks and I’d never thought I’d be helping structure the netvibes pages (learning a little bit of the jargon about widgets and pipes as I went along!).  And I know other colleagues involved in the more detailed planning and development phases of the project feel the same way. It has been mentioned more than once that we’ve managed to enhance our own employability through the professional development that has taken place for each of us!

This is not the end of developments though. The ECs continue to contribute to the recommended resources sections on the netvibes pages and we hope that things will grow as we move into the next funding phase which will be addressed through the Scottish Funding Council’s new action plan for employability –  Learning to Work 2.

February 10, 2010 Posted by | SHEEN Project Dissemination, SHEEN Project Events & Meetings, SHEEN Sharing Project | , , , | 2 Comments

SHEEN Sharing Launch: Employability Resources for Higher Education in Scotland

We did it. We launched the Web resource created by the Employability Coordinators’ Network over the last hectic, busy, exciting, challenging, fun year of SHEEN Sharing. The Web resource called Employability Resources for Higher Education in Scotland.

We returned to The Teacher Building, venue of our successful SHEEN Sharing dissemination event in September last year. That is a great venue for stuff like this: they have good tech, and on-the-spot support, and great staff, and delicious catering, and a nice building (it’s all about whisky, not education 😉 ).

The day started with a keynote address from Prof. Brent MacGregor, Chair of the SHEEN Steering Group. Cherie Woolmer, SHEEN Sharing’s redoubtable project manager, gave some background from the ECN’s point of view. Then it was over to me for the entire rest of the morning session.

You’ll see my slides at the bottom of this post (which includes links to the relevant resources, including the videos I’ve created to help you use our Netvibes-based site). Gavin McCabe of Edinburgh University got to see himself on the screen as I used the evaluation interview I did with him and Jessica Henderson from Heriot-Watt again. He did get to give his story in full after lunch this time though! I also used audio clips of Fiona Boyle of Queen Margaret University and Gopalakrishnan Premalatha (Prema) from the University of Abertay to present even more voices from the ECN. This was their project, their vision and it is important to hear their voices.

Having shown people the new site, we made some laptops available at lunchtime for people to have a play around with it themselves. The feedback we got was great: people said it looked clean and interesting and was easy to navigate (once they’d seen the short introductory videos). And people reported already finding new resources and ideas, just in that short time.

After lunch, we had a panel presentation from five people from the ECN: Cherie Woolmer (Strathclyde University); Gavin McCabe & Ruth Donnelly (University of Edinburgh); David McCall (UHI Millennium Institute); Jonathan Culley (Stirling University). Each of them presented for about 10 minutes on their learning journey through SHEEN Sharing, and the impact the project has made on their work and their professional development. We finished with questions and discussion about the future: people were keen to disseminate the resource and the learnings from SHEEN Sharing into as many communities as possible.

There was a general vibe that, not only had we created a good place to find quality employability resources, but we’d also found out a lot about harnessing and developing a small community of practice, to ensure their quick growth and dissemination of their work to a wider audience. And we’d done it all on a shoestring, using only free Web-based tools. In fact, there was some suggestions that flying so low under the radar of top management and university policies was what enabled us to do such a good job in such a short time. No worrying about IPR and metadata schemas, even long-term technical sustainability or anything.

So, here are my slides (or here on SlideShare): you’ll see in here how to use our new Web resource, and also how we got here. I’m hoping to convince Cherie Woolmer to do a brief post as well, with her take on the day and what we’ve achieved.

View this document on Scribd

February 9, 2010 Posted by | SHEEN Project Dissemination, SHEEN Project Events & Meetings, SHEEN Sharing Project | , , , , | 4 Comments

Top hats & trainers: traditional repositories vs. Web 2.0 resource sharing? SHEEN Sharing at EdShare Workshop

Well, I should have blogged on this last year. But our beloved SHEEN Sharing is drawing to its official close, and I’m tidying up some loose ends. I want everything to be available on this blog for future reference.

So, last year, the JISC-funded EdShare project, based at Southampton University, put on a workshop designated “Traditional educational repositories vs. Web 2.0 sharing” and invited some people from relevant projects. Are formal repositories for sharing teaching and learning materials a thing of the past, now that we have so many fabulous Web 2.0 tools to use for resource sharing?

Now, I have a good relationship (I hope!) with some EdShare folks, primarily Debra Morris, who was organising the workshop. I was just drooling over the agenda for the workshop and wondering how I could swing an invitation to present on SHEEN Sharing, when Debra emailed me and invited me to present … on metadata! Well, I am a metadata-phile in my other professional life, but I told her all about what I really wanted to share at this workshop: what I, a repositories “expert”, or at least, very-experienced-person, had discovered about resource sharing while working on SHEEN Sharing. Debra and the other EdShare people were kind enough to say yes when I said “No, I don’t want to present on that, I want to present on this…”.

The slides I presented at this workshop are below. You can also find them on SlideShare, if you prefer, here.

I was simultaneously presenting to fellow formal repositories experts, and to a group that I thought was trying to say that Web 2.0 is taking over the role of repositories. So I was nervous. Also, it was the first time I had presented on our work on SHEEN Sharing outwith the employability / HEA / Scottish HE context; in fact, right in the heart of a more long-standing professional community of mine.

But it went great! The other presentations, and the workshop discussions were fascinating and juicy. Everyone had a keen interest in discussing and exploring, and they seemed pleased and fascinated with SHEEN Sharing’s findings. And my key messages were well received (and repeated in other presentations): that repositories and informal Web 2.0 sharing are complementary and serve different but overlapping use cases; and that repositories developers and managers must be mindful of supporting integration with Web 2.0 tools, for the sake of supporting the kind of informal, transient, and non-techie educational communities they serve.

Debra Morris wrote an excellent summary of the day here. You can just see the back of my head in one of the photos. Thanks again Debra and EdShare for this opportunity to allow SHEEN Sharing to contribute to the educational repositories community!

Here are the SHEEN Sharing slides from the day:

View this document on Scribd

February 9, 2010 Posted by | SHEEN Project Dissemination, SHEEN Sharing Project | , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Netvibes Page Inspires a University Careers Service: Can They Inspire You?

What with SHEEN Sharing having visibility on Twitter and Diigo and the blogosphere, we’ve picked up a few followers from outwith the ECN, which is great.

We got a very kind Tweet today on Twitter from Darren Jones at the University of Sussex Careers and Employability Centre.  BTW: you can see they are already pretty au fait with Web 2.0: they use a blog to update their main page with big news (see under ‘Latest News’), and their Twitter account to give short pithy updates (scroll down a bit to see an embedded Twitter widget from their @sussxunicareers account), both embedded in the page.

Anyway, Darren likes our Netvibes page and is experimenting with using Netvibes to create a student careers page at Sussex.  Here it is.  You’ll notice he’s chosen to divide his tabs by subject area. Check it out!

I’ve bookmarked this in our Diigo Employability Group.

October 15, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Employability Resources, Microblogging, Resource sharing sites, SHEEN Project Dissemination | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Improvements and Updates to Netvibes Site: Feedback Please!

Our Netvibes site is the public face of SHEEN Sharing’s original remit: the one-stop-shop, virtual repository/portal type thing that presents a range of quality employability resources, as planned and hoped for when SHEEN Sharing was originally funded in January 2009.  It displays selected resources by using feeds out of Diigo, from our Diigo groups and tags, and other Web-based feeds and resources.

Now, as it currently stands it is a sandbox / demonstrator site, mainly designed by me with some help from Cherie Woolmer at Strathclyde University.  I am not an employability co-ordinator, so I have used quite a bit of creative licence in trying to imagine the kinds of things the ECN will eventually want to go into the site.  It will be much easier for folk to say “not that, this” than to try and think of things from scratch.  So please keep that in mind when you have a look!

Even with this in mind, I have learned a lot since January 2009, and received a lot of feedback.  So, before we even get to the bit of the project extension where the ECN sits down and hashes out what it wants its Netvibes to look like, I have made a range of improvements and updates, as follows:

Google Scholar Resources Gone 😦

I had to remove all the fabulous Google Scholar feeds.  We used a wonderful Yahoo Pipe that enabled me to do a search in Google Scholar (e.g. “employability AND eportfolios”, resources published after 2006) and create a feed in Netvibes that showed the up-to-date results of that search.  Google Scholar of course only lists peer-reviewed publications, so this was a very rich resource.  However, Google does not allow this kind of feed and they have now blocked this Pipe and others like it from working.  Boo!  However, I have added a Google Scholar search box here.

EvidenceNet Searches: A Holding Pattern Until They Get Their Feeds Sorted

We are waiting with baited breath for the awesome HEA EvidenceNet repository to start providing feeds of specific searches so we can pop some of these into our Netvibes tabs.  So, we hope to be able to search for resources, or events, in EvidenceNet, e.g. with the topic “personal development planning”, get a feed for that search result, put it into Netvibes and thereby always see the most up-to-date list of evidence-based UK resources or events.  We know they are going to provide this, they just haven’t yet.  In the meantime, I’ve worked out that you can just use the URL of a search results page, and put that into Netvibes as a Web page, and get a rather clunky but still usable display of said search.  See here and here and here and here and here.

Delicious Feeds on Work Related Learning: Thanks Glasgow Caledonian!

I discovered some juicy resources tagged on Delicious with “work_related_learning”, so, in the absence of anything immediate on Diigo, I added a feed for that Delicious tag here (along with an above-mentioned EvidenceNet search page).  Shout out to Allison Littlejohn and team at Glasgow Caledonian for many of these!

New Version of Diigo Allows Group Tag Feeds: Cocurriculum Resources Tagged by Employability Group

Felt much joy when I realised Diigo had fixed a previous problem in their new version: I now have an example of a Diigo feed for a specific group tag (resources tagged “cocurriculum” by the Employability Group) here.  This will be great when we come to adding tag dictionaries to our Google Groups.

New Voluntary Sector Tab with Reflective Student Blogs from SHEEN Placements

Created a new Voluntary Sector tab, which has the feed from the SHEEN Placements blog in it (it’s still there under “Student Resources” too, Fiona, don’t worry!).  It also has the project’s Twitter feed, and individual feeds from the two student blogs accompanying the Samaritans placements set up by the project.

Some Content for International Students Tab

Added a couple of EvidenceNet search pages under the International Students tab, which was previously empty.

Small but Significant: You Can Read the Page Title Now!

Changed the colour of the title text to a much more harmonious and readable shade!

Moving Forward: Netvibes Day in November

Still have some empty tabs, and would like some new and exciting ideas from the ECN about what they’d like to see in the Netvibes page.  We’ll be having a day-long workshop session to hash it all out and make decisions in November, so please keep an eye on emails on the ECN JISCmail list if you want to take part in that.  We’ll use that day to train keen development group members in keeping Netvibes up-to-date after I go, too.

Launch in 2010

And, we’ll be running a launch event in January or February 2010!  So please help us make it as good as we can!

October 12, 2009 Posted by | Bookmarking, Resource sharing sites, SHEEN Project Dissemination, Tagging, Using Newsfeeds | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Improvements to This Blog: Feedback Still Welcome!

During the course of SHEEN Sharing’s initial nine month phase, we received quite a bit of feedback re this blog.

Some of this arose from the original ambiguity about the blog’s purpose.  While we were getting started, this blog was both a dissemination tool for the project, and a sandbox/demonstrator for the ECN to see how different Web 2.0 tools worked.  So, we had not only project news, documents and postings about how to use Web 2.0 tools, but also various feeds and widgets in the right-hand columns demonstrating how other tools and tags could be used to enrich the content here.  Some ECN members were very keen at the start, and tried using the blog to post about things they wanted to discuss with the rest of the network, or employability resources they were interested in.

Now, we are much clearer about what we want to achieve and which tools we want to use for which purpose.  We are using our Netvibes page as our one-stop-shop site, kind of a virtual “repository”, for disseminating quality employability resources to the ECN’s stakeholders.  We are using Diigo for two purposes: one is for co-ordinators to save, share, discuss and disseminate their favourite employability resources, the other is to use Diigo’s excellent social networking tools to provide safe online group discussion spaces.  You can see how using Diigo to save and share resources can feed directly into our Netvibes page with no additional work by the ECN by looking at this tab and this tab.

We are using this blog, plus our Twitter account, to disseminate the SHEEN Sharing project itself.  It will stand as a record of the proecess we went through and what we achieved.

With this in mind, I have removed several of the “sandbox” widgets with feeds from the right-hand columns, and also re-arranged and re-configured the remaining items there in a way that I hope will make the blog easier to find your way around.  Please do have a look and feed back to me if you can suggest any improvements.

I’ve also updated the SHEEN Sharing Project page and several of the Scottish Employability Projects’ pages, to indicate progress made.  In particular, check out the pages:

Sharing Student Experiences Trial Group

and

Voluntary Sector Project Trial Group: SHEEN Placements

October 12, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Bookmarking, Group Spaces Online, Microblogging, Resource sharing sites, SHEEN Project Dissemination, Social Networking | , , , , , | Leave a comment

SHEEN Sharing Evaluation Event, 16th September 2009

The SHEEN Sharing project is having an end-of-project event in Glasgow on Wednesday September 16th, at The Teacher Building.  The Teacher Building is in St Enoch Square in Glasgow, which means it’s about a 10 minute walk from Queen Street Station (map here).  The venue also offers car parking at £5 a day at the nearby Thistle Carpark: please contact them directly for information: 0141 5661871.

The following documents may be of interest to participants, for reading prior to the meeting, or to keep on hand during the meeting:

SHEEN Sharing Benchmarking and Requirements Report

SHEEN Sharing Review

SHEEN Sharing Web 2.0 Tools Handout

All public project documents are available on the Scribd SHEEN Sharing Project Documents Group Page.

This event will include a morning of looking at what the project has discovered and achieved so far, including presentations from employability co-ordinators on their personal experiences, and a video of two co-ordinators discussing how SHEEN Sharing has impacted on their work and professional development.  We’ve invited interested stakeholders to the morning session (and lunch) to catch up on where we are, and to give their input.

Over lunch, Heather Fotheringham of the HEA’s EvidenceNet service will offer an informal presentation on that work for those that are interested.

In the afternoon, the Employability Coordinators’ Network will workshop detailed plans for their future use of the tools introduced and trialled during the project.

In preparation for this evaluation event, we will be running a survey to follow up on the initial survey carried out at the start.  This will include opportunities for ECN members to reflect on and evaluate their use of the tools and resources introduced by SHEEN Sharing to date, even if they can’t make the September event.  Everyone who completes a survey will go into a draw for one of two Amazon vouchers.

Please bookmark this page as further details of the event’s agenda, timings and so on will be posted here.

*** Update, 10 September 2009 ***

Final Agenda

10:30 – 11:00 Registration and refreshments

11:00 – 11:45 Overview of the SHEEN Sharing project to date

11:00 – 11:10 Cherie Woolmer (Strathclyde University): Welcome & housekeeping; Why SHEEN Sharing?;  SHEEN Sharing and the ECN.

11:10 – 11:35 Sarah Currier (Project Consultant): SHEEN Sharing, January to September 2009:

– The SHEEN Sharing Review and Benchmarking Reports: What we discovered about the ECN as a Community of Practice; What are the ECN requirements and how Web 2.0 might support them

– The SHEEN Sharing tools: Blog and Twitter account for dissemination; Scribd group for sharing project documents; regular drop-in FlashMeeting webinars for support and discussion; and an informal community “repository” bringing together Diigo and Netvibes.

11:35 – 11:45 Questions and discussion.

11:45 – 12:45 SHEEN Sharing and the ECN:

– Fiona Boyle from Queen Margaret University will talk about SHEEN Sharing’s support of the SHEEN Placements project in utilising a blog and Twitter account;

– Cherie Woolmer of Strathclyde University will talk about how SHEEN Sharing impacted on her work as a member of the ECN community, as and individual, and internally within her institution;

– Gavin McCabe at Edinburgh University and Jessica Henderson at Heriot Watt University discussing, on video, a broad range of issues around the impact and potential of SHEEN Sharing;

– Sarah Currier, Project Consultant, will show examples from other ECN members, and give examples of their feedback.

12:45 – 13:00 Where to from here?  A brief look at the results of the end-of-project survey, with discussion.

13:00 – 13:45 Lunch for all.  Heather Fotheringham from the Higher Education Academy will be available to show folk the EvidenceNet repository.

13:45 onwards: ECN members only: evaluation and planning

13:45 – 14:25 Breakout Session 1

– Two breakout groups will look at, respectively, ways forward for Tools and for the ECN Community.

14:25 – 14:35 Grab a tea/coffee/biscuit.

14:35 – 15:15 Breakout Session 2 (as above; groups switch topics).

15:15 – 15:30 Closing session: report back from breakout groups; set priorities and assign tasks for the future.

NB: We have the venue booked for the whole day, so if any participants want to arrange to use the space to meet with colleagues before or after the event starts (between 09:30 and 17:00) please contact Cherie Woolmer or Sarah Currier and let us know.

August 12, 2009 Posted by | SHEEN Project Dissemination, SHEEN Project Events & Meetings | , , , | 4 Comments

SHEEN Sharing Examples: A Diigo List Published Straight to WordPress

*** NB: This post is an example of using Diigo to publish a Diigo List of bookmarks to any Web tool or Website.. what you see below is exactly how it appears after selecting Publish > WordPress in Diigo ***

*** This Diigo List contains the four Netvibes and Pageflakes project sites I used to show the SHEEN Sharing Development Group what kinds of things can be done with Netvibes.  They are still worth a look for that reason.  Thanks to the colleagues on Twitter who responded so swiftly and sent these  ***

SHEEN Sharing examples

Shared via AddThis

June 29, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Bookmarking, Resource sharing sites, SHEEN Project Dissemination | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SHEEN Sharing Benchmarking and Requirements: Introduction and Summary

Full SHEEN Sharing Benchmarking and Requirements Report (Final Public Draft) available here.

This report is primarily the result of a series of workshops with, and a survey of the Employability Co-ordinators’ Network. My thanks for their honesty and enthusiastic participation.

Introduction to SHEEN Sharing Benchmarking and Requirements Report

The SHEEN Sharing Project aims to support the Employability Co-ordinators’ Network as a community of practice, with a particular focus on utilizing online tools to communicate about, share and recommend resources of relevance to their employability work. The project will also support discovery and dissemination of relevant employability resources for stakeholders outwith the ECN, e.g. academics, staff developers, student support departments, funding bodies, national services, etc. Outputs and findings will benefit the wider education community, and the FE and HE funding bodies across the UK, by contributing to sector knowledge and understanding of resource sharing and community support using current Web technologies.

In preparing for the major work of the project Workpackage 4: Trials of Web 2.0 Tools, I gathered ECN requirements and ascertained co-ordinators’ level of awareness and experience with Web 2.0 tools in their work. This exercise, Workpackage 3: Requirements Gathering, was carried out in the first three months of the project from January to March 2009, in parallel with Workpackage 2: Web 2.0 Review; both fed into each other during this period. See also the SHEEN Sharing Review report here.

Executive Summary

  1. Who are the Employability Co-ordinators’ Network?

    Etienne Wenger, one of the key educators on communities of practice, notes on his website that:

    “Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavor: a tribe learning to survive, a band of artists seeking new forms of expression, a group of engineers working on similar problems, a clique of pupils defining their identity in the school, a network of surgeons exploring novel techniques, a gathering of first-time managers helping each other cope.”

    Looked at as a community of practice, the ECN is:

    • National (across Scotland), and geographically distributed, with some members, particularly in the north of Scotland, less able to attend centrally based meetings;
    • Mostly female (76% female / 24% male);
    • A mix of part-time and full-time (59% full-time / 41% part-time);
    • A mix of professional backgrounds;
    • A mix of institutional situations, in terms of:
      • the type of department they are based in (59% educational/staff development / 41% careers service), some being co-located in different departments;
      • the emphasis required by their institution on employability work (including working at a policy level; working on curriculum and course development; and working directly with academics and students);
      • university type, from red brick to the ancients, including the Open University and the federated UHI Millennium Institute.
    • Temporary: funding for their work will not continue beyond the next couple of years.

    Some implications:

    • There is significant time pressure on many ECN members;
    • There are a range of professional and institutional cultures, priorities and communication styles coming to bear on their ability to participate;
    • There are institutional cultures with different approaches to and support for use of technology (for instance, one institution blocks use of certain Web 2.0 tools on campus; another doesn’t allow use of Flash);
    • There is a sense that the work accomplished must somehow not be lost after the end of the ECN’s funded tenure in this role.

    So, although this is a small group of professionals, it cannot be assumed that they have access to the same resources, have the same work priorities and pressures, or have similar jobs.

    However, despite their differences, it is clear that the ECN has worked from the beginning as a community of practice, engaging in a process of collective learning about their tasks as university employees whose remit is to promote employability for the benefit of students in higher education and their potential employers. Given the affordances Web 2.0 can offer to a distributed community like this, the SHEEN Sharing project could have much to offer in their continued work, learning and professional development.

  2. What are the requirements of the ECN?The basic requirements that have emerged are as follows:
    • Communication:
      • Mutual support;
      • Sharing experience, practice and learning.
    • Resource sharing, comprising:
      • Resource discovery, sharing, recommending and rating;
      • Sharing experiences of use of resources;
      • Targeted resource dissemination to all stakeholders.

    During the initial meetings, however, it also became clear that learning new skills in utilising Web 2.0 technologies would be helpful in their roles supporting teachers and students with employability issues, an impression supported strongly by the SHEEN Sharing Review. As noted in the recent report of an independent Committee of Inquiry into the impact on higher education of students’ widespread use of Web 2.0 technologies (entitled ‘Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World’ ):

    “[…] the dispositions developed through engagement with Web 2.0 technologies – to communicate, participate, network, share etc – overlap with what are viewed both as significant 21st century learning skills and 21st century employability skills.”

  3. Benchmarking the ECN

    ECN members communicate less frequently than they would like, largely due to time constraints and issues of information overload, with all forms of communication tending to occur monthly or less. The ability to communicate privately and in a targeted way is valued, as are opportunities to meet in person, or to utilise tools which simulate the informality and support of face-to-face meetings.ECN members use bookmarking as the primary method of saving resources they have found, which points to social bookmarking as a possible way forward for SHEEN Sharing. They tend to rely on Web searching to find resources again, and email to share resources with colleagues. However, a considerable number of ECN members have low confidence in their own efficiency and effectiveness with finding, sharing, disseminating and re-discovering resources; un-surprising given their desire for the SHEEN Sharing project to help with this.

    To date, ECN members have some experience in their personal lives with social networking tools, but not much enthusiasm for them, and less experience with the main resource sharing and dissemination tools required for SHEEN Sharing. However, they strongly support the major aims of the project: sharing opinions, practice tips and ideas around resources with ECN colleagues and other stakeholders, and improving their own efficiency and effectiveness in sharing resources.

June 17, 2009 Posted by | SHEEN Project Dissemination, SHEEN Sharing Project | , , , , , , | 3 Comments