SHEEN Sharing

A Project of the Scottish Employability Co-ordinators' Network

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

Diigo Training Dates and Venues

Look here (and save this URL) for details re our upcoming Diigo training days. I’ll update this page as soon as possible with further details such as maps, exact times and parking instructions. If you haven’t already done so, please email me your RSVP regarding which training day you want to attend.


*** All participants: please download and follow these instructions before coming to your Diigo training session. The instructions are to get you a Diigo account, get the Diigo Toolbar installed on your computer, and get your existing bookmarks and favorites imported into Diigo before we start ***


29 June, 12-3pm, Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University.

*** Update: read my reflections on the first training day here ***

Contact our kind host James Dunphy re parking or other venue queries.

Please bring a wifi-enabled laptop if you have one!

Venue details: Room A52 in the St Andrews Street Building (Aberdeen AB25 1HG). This building is around 15mins walk from the train station:

21 July, 12-4pm, Glasgow, Strathclyde University.

Contact our kind host Cherie Woolmer re parking or other venue enquiries.  Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Please bring a wifi-enabled laptop if you have one!

Venue details: Computer Lab Room 6.34, 6th Floor, Graham Hills Building, 50 George Street, Glasgow G1 1QE.

We’ll meet for lunch at 12 midday in the Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement (CAPLE) in the Graham Hills Building, after which Cherie and I will take you upstairs to the main venue.

Maps from Strathclyde website in various formats here – make sure you go into Graham Hills at the 50 George Street entrance, not the 40 George Street entrance.  It’s about a 10 minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street Station, and is the same place where we’ve met with Cherie many times.  Come to CAPLE on the 2nd floor.

23 July, 10am-1pm, Edinburgh University (King’s Buildings, a wee bit out of city centre).

Contact our kind host Ruth Donnelly re parking.  Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Venue: James Clerk Maxwell Building (rear entrance), King’s Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JF (adjacent to the
Michael Swann Building).

However, it’s difficult to find the correct entrance so we will meet Ruth Donnelly and Gavin McCabe at the Michael Swann Building and they will take us to the venue.

Directions and map for the venue available here.

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Bookmarking, Group Spaces Online, Resource sharing sites, SHEEN Project Events & Meetings | , , , , | 1 Comment