The 2011 Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey ranked the University of Dundee as the 1st Scottish institution, and 5th in the UK – sandwiched nicely between Cambridge and Oxford. The activities of the Library and Learning Centre were rated highly, and recognised directly by our student spokesperson. “We are delighted with our University’s performance [...]
The Library and Learning Centre at the University of Dundee are currently recruiting for a post that lies within my division (Research & Systems). This is a great role, and will make a fantastic opportunity for someone – please pass this on to anyone who you think may be interested:
The Library and Learning Centre was formed as a merged service in January 2009 under the directorship of Dr Richard Parsons, combining the existing library services with support for elearning activities and the academic staff development programme. The LLC offers a forward-thinking and innovative environment, committed to providing support for learning, teaching and research activities across the University Of Dundee.
This role lies within Research & Systems division, where the LLC is seeking to appoint a highly-skilled, motivated individual who can demonstrate aptitude in system delivery, electronic service enhancement and team leadership. These skills will be used to co-ordinate the development and maintenance of our wide range of learning and library systems, with particular responsibility for the library management system.
The role includes team leadership responsibility for the IT Support and Systems staff (5 FTE). This proactive team includes a recently appointed systems developer, and works to support and enhance numerous online services including an LMS, VLE, search services and a repository.
A number of new initiatives are currently underway which provide example projects the role-holder could expect to be involved in:
• Transition to comprehensive RFID technologies and self service in all library sites
• New web-scale discovery system to search online academic resources
• Open source digital repository for online archiving of publications
• Integration of existing library and learning systems and further development of website
The division has an established reputation for system delivery in both elearning and library fields and are committed to building on existing work to remain an exemplar institution in this field.
Candidates should have a good degree based in computing or information professions, and minimum 4 years relevant experience, with experience of an academic environment and of team leadership highly desirable.
Informal enquiries should be addressed to Hannah Whaley, Assistant Director – Research and Systems Division. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org (tel 01382 384277)
This week the Library of Congress announced, via a tweet, that they have been given the full back catalogue of tweets from Twitter to archive. This is kinda huge, and I don’t just mean in terms of storage space.
For the Library of Congress, they are confirming loudly their continued commitment to preserving and researching what matters to their nation, and with it the absolute requirement there is for them to do so. This furthers the important work they have already done in digital file standards and the semantic web, and shows an understanding and sensitivity towards the way history is now being written, and by whom. For some time now we have spoken of the changes in the news and publishing industries, and the role the average person can now play in communicating news. With this announcement, there is a sense of validation for what was already a widely accepted change in communications medium.
For Twitter, they have become the social network of history – it is the information passed through the channel they created that is being stored for all of time. One of the underlying concepts that has led Twitter to this has been their ideal of openness. Facebook, MySpace and even Friends Re-united before them kept everything locked down and internal – holding the data their users created close to them, in case it represented any possibility for further revenue. When you post on Twitter, the information you create is publicly available – therefore it can justifiably be viewed as such, archived and made available to researchers.
Twitter has therefore come to represent the thoughts of the population at any given snapshot in time, including historical events like the Obama election, topical events such as Michael Jackson’s death and real-time news like the Hudson Bay plane crash. While admittedly it is an unfortunate aside that many of the populations thoughts continue to be drivel, contained within them are the views of the masses on key events, and the idea that these remain open and accessible for researchers is very significant. A colleague rightly commented today that much content of newspapers is also drivel, but as with Twitter, the key news is still documented, discussed and evaluated within. How heartbreakingly (in fact, chillingly) different the communications surrounding 9/11 would be to look back on had twitter been used then as it is now.
We can therefore hail this as an important step for both research and open access. We can expect university researchers to draw immediate and fascinating data from the archives that attracts public interest and engagement. As many academic papers, conferences, and concepts are discussed online and tweeted, we may even find new ways to collate the information surrounding ‘published research’. This creates an odd irony – a company’s committment to openness may have made it easier to access what people think about a piece of research than it is to access the actual published document.
The 33rd Annual UKSG Conference was in Edinburgh this week, with a varied programme and over 850 attendees. A number of themes started to recur through the sessions and discussions, as summarised:
- Big deal bubble must burst, as it is unsustainable for many institutions
- We must move further towards open access, but it is not yet clear how
- Journal impact factor isn’t good enough anymore, we need to review the commentary and produce new ranking factors
- Linked information is nearly here, allowing informal and pre-publish conversations to be viewed and measured in a structured way on the web
- The age of the article is here, meaning metrics, usage and discoverability will increasingly be at article level rather than the ‘journal container’
- Just-in-time must replace just-in-case, as no one can maintain a full array of items that may only occasionally be required
The discussion around these issues is healthy, as is the growing volume with which librarians and researchers are willing to speak them out loud. However these key themes are notable for representing problems, not solutions. It is clear that licensing models, researcher metrics, electronic and open access still have some way to evolve to meet the growing needs and expectations of the community.
I gave two presentations and spoke in a panel session at the Durham Blackboard Users Conference in January 2010. As a few people have asked for access to the slides, here they are:
During the last eight years there have been rapid development in pedagogies for online learning and the underlying technical systems to support these pedagogies. These systems have matured to form a next level environment, encapsulated in systems like Blackboard 9, and the expectations for Moodle 2.0.
Challenging experiences in deploying Blackboard 9.0 have highlighted the significant issues that these change processes are raising for our field, and fuelled concerns that central VLEs should be making way for more agile socially driven solutions. As many institutions are at the point of deciding what direction they believe will provide that next generation experience that we are all aiming for, this presentation opens the discussion about the extended issues they may face.
This presentation discussed the rise in the use of assessed group work in many disciplines within Higher Education over recent years because of efficiency gains, employability agendas and notably, the increased availability of online collaboration tools. An approach to collaboration was introduced that teaches about team work by focusing on assessment criteria and peer evaluation aspects of group working. A building block has been developed to deploy this methodology in a Blackboard environment. As well as discussing the concepts and challenges of groupwork assessment and introducing the methodology, the key features of the building block were highlighted.
The year is starting with the UK Blackboard Users Conference in Durham this week. One of the presentations I am giving is looking at change in the elearning field, what can be attributed to the release of Blackboard 9, and what institutions can learn from this period of change. Here is the abstract for my presentation:
During the last eight years there have been rapid development in pedagogies for online learning and the underlying technical systems to support these pedagogies. These systems have matured to form a next level environment, encapsulated in systems like Blackboard 9, and the expectations for Moodle 2.0. These platforms have looked to bring the technologies implemented up-to-date (look and feel, underlying code, standards compliance) and to provide a sound platform to build on in the future.
However, the move to Blackboard 9 has been demanding for many institutions in many ways – bugs, stability and performance, staff training, staff engagement and expectation management to name but a few areas. These experiences have highlighted the significant issues that this change process is raising for our field, and fuelled concerns that central VLEs should be making way for more agile socially driven solutions. As many institutions are at the point of deciding what direction they believe will provide that next generation experience that we are all aiming for, there is value in discussing the extended issues they may face:
- Do we want the change we say we do?
- Are we capable of moving large scale VLEs forward?
- Are jumps away easier than jumps forward?
- How do we focus attention on learning and teaching and not the underlying technology?
- How can we manage expectations and change processes?
- Is our understanding of the elearning infrastructure at institutions the same as our users?
This talk will refer to the University of Dundee as a case study example, but will be discussing the broader conceptual and strategic direction of the field at this time. Discussion welcome.