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.)
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.
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.