Scholarly Publishing 2.0

I gave a short talk on the future of scholarly publishing at the OLnet/OU “Researcher 2.0” event last week, which I liveblogged in two parts (part 1, part 2.0).

You can see my slides:

You can watch a video of me talking about what I was talking about:

You can read Gráinne Conole’s liveblog of me giving the talk, which is part of the Cloudscape covering the entire event.

And … you can read this quick condensed text version: I argued that scholarly publishing is what scholars do when they make things public. I discuss some of the dramatic changes underway. I argue that they are quantitative (more and faster) rather than fundamental ones of type – but of course a quantitative shift on this scale is in itself qualitative. Determining what’s important and high-quality in the context of this information explosion is hard, but is essentially what peer review – broadly considered – is there to do. The Open Access movement is hugely important in social justice terms, but in terms of enabling access for researchers at well-funded institutions it’s small beer. (Thought it’s worth mentioning that there’s evidence that open-access material gets cited more, which is (a) a good thing, and (b) will get you REF points.)


Researcher 2.0 part 2.0

Further liveblog notes from the Researcher 2.0 event (see also notes on part 1).

(Interesting meta issue about blog vs Cloudworks. I don’t want my notes behind a login/search wall, I want them on Google! But Gráinne is doing an excellent job liveblogging there too. And maybe my notes aren’t so useful on a blog. Comments welcome! UPDATE: I’d got this wrong, it’s due to a bug, Cloudworks is *supposed to be* readable by everyone, indexed, the lot – you only need a login to post. *but at the moment new Cloud/scapes come up login-only.)

(Another meta issue is the multiple channel management.  It seems I can do two, possibly three, but not four and definitely not all five – f2f, Elluminate, blog notes, Twitter, Cloudworks – and still stay sufficiently on top of things to follow it. Especially as Elluminate has the whiteboard, the audio stream, the chat, and the participant list all in one.)

Martyn Cooper – Research bids 2.0

Research bidding support – some same for experience and novice bidders (process support, consortium negotiations, budgets, reviews of drafts, internal sign-off); novice bidders get extra (advice, confidence).

OU process based around the RED form.

Process – idea, workplan, consortium, bid, negotiate roles, set budget (often iteratively), final draft, sign off, submission.

Relationship is formed during the bid process; you will work with these people for years after (if you succeeed.)

Communication types – peer to peer, document/spreadsheet exchange, negotiation, redrafting and commenting, electronic sign-off and submission.

Most researchers could get more successful bids and be able to run more projects if they had more and higher-quality administrative support. Web 2.0 technologies could have a role in providing that support. However to date we under-use them.

At what stage do you make bids open to the world? Is the web 2.0 attitude affecting this? Martyn very happy to do that – he always has ideas in his back pocket. Has seen ideas taken up by others, whether by coincidence or copying is hard to say. Commercial partners keener to protect foreground knowledge and IPR, so perhaps harder.  But would be happy to do whole process on a public wiki.

Shailey Minocha (Shailey Garfield in 2L) – Second life research

3D virtual world –

Much more human environment than a 2D one; a real sense of being there. No story to them, there’s not a game, you can design it yourself.

Students found it difficult to critique/peer review each other’s work. Attributed to a lack of socialisation, lack of knowing each other well enough. So decided to get them to use 2L to provide opportunities for that.

Not much about how you should design learning environments in 2L.

2L to support research: meetings, virtual collaborations, seminars, conferences and shared resources

2L as a platform for conducting research: conducting interviews, observations, evaluate prototypes of concepts and designs, bringing in real data and developing simulations.

PhD supervision meetings and research interviews – runs regular meetings in 2L.  Real sense of visual presence and a sense of place. Large pool of participants. Also can keep transcript & audio – no need to do transcription.

Sense of realism in 2L which is hard to match in other environments – BUT steep learning curve (vs Skype, Elluminate, Flash Meeting), and demanding system requirements.

Question: are there extra issues in finding particpants in 2L? Yes. Issues about the avatars; don’t know who is behind them. Let the person fill out a form through normal email process first.

Kim Issroff – Business models for OERs and Researching Web 2.0


Business model – framework for creating value … or, it’s how you can generate revenue.

OSS business models: Chang, Mills & Newhouse, about how to make money. Stephen Downes models for sustainable Open Educational Resources – distinction between free at point of delivery and cost to create/distribute. Models: Endowment, membership, donations, conversion, contributor-pay, sponsorship, institutional, Government, partnerships/exchanges.Clarke 2007 – “not naive gift economies”.

Intuitively, go for resources are free but charge for assessment.

Grant applications increasingly ask for business models/sustainability/how you carry on afterwards.

Implications – for design, how to engage. Differences between OSS and OERs as models. What happens when we get to OER saturation point? (I suspect it doesn’t exist – too much out there already, but also still worth putting new stuff out.) Can we quantify the social value rather than the economic value?

Take a trainful of people, see what each person is doing in terms of access to technology, to get a handle on everyone, rather than a minority we over-research.

Two thoughts: how much difference does the business model make? Is a financial business model appropriate for an educational organisation?

(I see a strong link to Kevin Kelly’s Better Than Free essay: eight things that are ‘better than free’.)

Can free things (end up) more expensive in the end?

Robert Schuwer from OUNL: their experience of subscription models, paying for extra support, books and so on. Inspired by mobile phone world, hope that once they have the payment every month set up, they forget to unsubscribe and keep up year on year – €25 a month.

Chris Pegler – OER beyond the OU

What OER offers: global opportunities, goodwill among researchers, IPR vanquished, unlimited reuse potential. Has highlighted Creative Commons – demolish IPR obstacles. Most funded repository projects flounder – or even fail – at some stage on IPR. But Creative Commons to the rescue!

Li Yuan whitepaper CETIS on OER is key. List of 18 current OER projects ‘out there’, from MIT Open CourseWare, GLOBE (includes MERLOT and ARIADNE etc), JorumOpen, etc. These are not quite what you’d envisage – some are e.g. mainly research-focused.

Interesting HEFCE/HEA/JISC call on OERs  £5.7m pilot, possibly £10m yoy in the future. Chris has £20k individual bid – making a 30pt course using web 2.0 tools around OERs. Also NTFS bid on RLOs and how we embed them in the academic practice courses at three institutions.

Questions around metadata – especially automatic metadata.


Was more presentation-centric than perhaps ideal; but much captured on video, Twitter and Cloudworks. So next: small groups on producing a quick pitch for a bid about Research 2.0.

Researcher 2.0

Liveblog notes from Researcher 2.0 event – sponsored by the Technology Enhanced Learning research cluster (part of CREET) at the Open University, and the OLnet project.

Patrick McAndrew – intro

True Researcher 2.0s – weather not a barrier, see what technology to employ. So multiple channels. Elluminate, Twitter, Cloudworks. Video and audio capture. And face to face in the room!

The Cloudworks site for it, and remote people coming in via Elluminate – (if you are have an OU login, and then follow link Open Learning network trial ) OR (if do not have an OU login). And Twitter using #olnet as a tag. Also professionals doing video, and amateurs with Flips and other videocams.  Hope to learn from this for future workshops.  Not fully planned out (but very 2.0/lazy planning stuff).

Patrick – Researcher 2.0: Research in an open world

Open world, many users, what does it mean? How does our technology link out to the many users? Came up for Patrick in the OER world, but true in many areas. Transform to world where there are many more options for what we can do, many more options.

How do we change to network with more people, network as researchers in a new way. Draw in people, use their willingness to co-operate. Gráinne opened up in a f2f workshop with a Twitter request for ideas to flow in, worked really well.

Also new ways to get data in – video, audio capture. But what to do with the data? Need to make it part of the routine. Who does the research? Distributed models.

Want to find out: What is Researcher 2.0, What are the big questions?

Researcher 2.0 – discussion about what it means.  Not a Microsoft product, like Web 2.0. Is snappy – new improved way of doing research, using better ways.

Discussion broke up, and went in to Cloudworks en masse to add comments. Many new clouds and comments and so on. Challenge of multiple channels a new technologies is clearly a challenge, even for this roomful of fairly-techie people.

Gráinne Conole – Exploring by doing: Being a researcher 2.0

Personal Digital Environment – like a PLE. Technologies used on a daily basis. Crosses boundaries of learning, work and research. Increasingly, if it’s not available on Google, it doesn’t exist – so what’s the point in putting it locked in to print-only?

Mentioned 2800 people signing up for online Connectivism conference – of whom 200 really active. Very lively, multiple channels. George and Stephen contacted people casually and asked for an hour-long session.

Changing landscape: a step-change over the last few years.

Reports which encapsulate things:

  • NSF Fostering Learning in the Networked World.
  • The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, Open Knowledge (Iyoshi and Kumar)
  • EU review Learning 2.0 Practices (ipts)
  • The Horizon Reports annually

Changing content. What does it mean to be more open? Distributed dialogue makes it harder to attribute ideas. Especially group consensus. Will need to change.

Mediation: co-evolution: Oral, symbols, technology-mediation.

Thinking differently: OU Learning Design initiative, Compendium/CompendiumLD/Cohere, Cloudworks, Pedagogy schema, OLnet.

The vision underpinning OLnet: analysing the cycle of OER development, and who’s involved. What tools and schemas do (could?) people use to select, design, use and evaluate open educational resources?

Discussion: How do information resources fit in? Issues of quality?  Need to develop new ways of digital literacy and competency. Not just using Google, how we use it. How do I make judgements about what you find?  Share practices.  Different in different disciplines? For computing, ACM Digital Library is the information repository for that community; Google is merely a nice addition.

Challenge for OU classic course-in-a-box; Tony Hirst’s uncourse model right up the radical opposite end. Martin Weller noting that his journal publishing has gone down as his blogging has increased. There’s major issues here about what we consider to be quality. How to blogs compare to articles? Depositing your articles in open access places increases citation count.  Not just communicating with the public – it’s more becoming part of communities that are attentive to things you’re saying, which gets your name/reputation recognised. Concern that it’s transient, forget it. Have to foster the skills of discernment in our students, particularly.

Martin Weller – Digital Scholarship

YouTube video of Guitar90 kid playing guitar … got 55m views.  We are all broadcasters now.  A fundamental change in society in general, and education too.

You can’t predict what will be useful to people.

iCasting – new coinage – simple stuff you can do from your desktop, you don’t have to be an expert. Anyone can create YouTube movies, blogs, slidecasts on SlideShare. Blog is the hub of all this: aggregate your content and share it with other people.

What about quality? Caravan – you have a certain amount of money to spend on a holiday.  One holiday in the Caribbean is about the same cost as 30 holidays in a caravan – trading quality for quantity.

The power of sharing – getting views in from Twitter.  Passed on ideas from one to the other – it’s the sort of resuse we always wanted from learning objects.

What is the fundamental aim when you publish something? We’ve lost that aim and started thinking it’s about getting RAE credits. But ultimately it’s about sharing ideas. Martin’s experience is you get much more feedback and benefit from sharing through the blogosphere and other online routes than from locking stuff away in a printed journal. Blog gets 1000 views, lucky if a journal article gets 20 readers.

The cost of sharing has disappeared, but we act as if it hasn’t. Example of mixtapes: you had to buy physical tape, spend ages with the buttons recording each song, then had to give the tape away. Now to share music you can do it via iTunes, share URLs through lots of services. No more time, effort to share.

What to do? Find your inner geek. You don’t need to go on a training course to learn how to use Flickr or Slideshare, just use it. (I’m starting to not be so sure about that for people in general, based on evidence at this meeting).

Have fun! YouTube video from JimGroom pretending to be an Ed Tech survivalist.

And Just Share – RSS, OPML, etc. Make sharing your default mode.  Currently writing a 10k article – instinct is to just post it on his blog to get more readers. But then no formal publisher will take it; and with REF credits want to get it there. So a tension between sharing and getting cash.

What can your university do for you? Provide support and guidance.

Danger of not doing it? Universities need to look relevant. Remember the Viz Pathetic Sharks, who couldn’t swim properly, were scared of water. Universities in danger of looking like that.

Current project: Year of Future Learning (on his blog) – a bottom-up way of trying to do distributed research. Anyone can join in. Multiple modes, multiple ways to contribute, support/facilitate discussions.

Is sharing the same as making public? Martin says share earlier in the process – at conceptual stage and then throughout, not just publishing at the end.

REF has implications for what we share as researchers, but also as teachers. What do we do? Easier when established; earlier in the career need to play the game a bit more to advance. And easier if you’re in the right domain (IET) where part of the day job is to explore this.  Critique on blogs is similar to expert peer review, but also different.  Issue of saving it for posterity – 25 years ago, paper document. Failing to leave a reliable paper trail if everything’s in blogs – not preserved in the same way. (!) Not saying burn all journals, but the peer review process ‘is over-rated’. You can publish anything on your blog, but if you’re trying to build up a serious reputation, you’ll be taken to task for what you put up. ‘Publication process is designed to remove anything interesting or engaging or challenging’ (not universal agreement). Example given by Giddens at his Pavis Lecture – Internet can be empowering, democratising versus trivialising.

Eileen Scanlon – Digital scholarship in science

Interest came up in MSc in Science Studies. Communicating Science course.  Gold standard community having radical shift in how they behave due to new tools. Main example of a transformatory tool is physicists’ pre-print repositories.

Interesting perspectives on peer review – Nature did an experiment on open peer review. So not just small scale journals.

Many recent articles in the June 2008 issue of Journal of Science Communnication. Open Science.  Eileen wrote a book with that title … which was about OU teaching practices, not this.

Recognition of e-science as a new way of doing things.

Zvivocic science blogger – commentary piece.  Predicted that journal paper of the future will be a work in progress, with collaborative development.  There are some very serious bloggers, based in major research institutes, discussing what’s happening. Tola science journalist – growth of blogging. Cozzini – e-scientist – massive investment in e-infrastructure (e.g. Grid computing), vast quantities of data for analysis. There are technical problems, and other challenges – but need some imagination to see new ways of working. This stuff is hard.

Proposal submitted to ESRC – understanding the changes in the communication and publication practices of academic resarchers in HE.  Christine Borgman book on Scholarship in the Digital Age. Two case studies: one team in an e-science area. How is the landscape changed, what do people do? Now at a stage to see what people are actually doing, not looking at the rhetoric.  Sub-questions about different forms of publication, how they relate to open peer review, how the i

Doug Clow on Scholarly Publishing 2.0

No blog notes from me! But the slides are on Slideshare. One point from my talk: big barrier to going all-open is perceived esteem of publishing in particular named journals with particular named publishers. Big money at stake. Also change in who might sign up for OU courses, given that currently they get access to all our journals while they’re registered.

Learning and Teaching at the OU

Presentation by Denise Kirkpatrick and Niall Sclater.  Or is it a presentation? It’s organised as a Human Resources Development Course – it’s an Open Insights Expert Lecture – with sign up, sign in and all the details going on the internal staff Learning Management System.  And there are feedback sheets to complete too.  “The subjects covered were:  relevant to my present work, background interest only, possibly useful for future work, of no interest”.  If it’s not relevant to my present work then either I or the OU have a bit of a problem.

Being told it’s aimed at new staff … which is news to me; perhaps I misread the course information?  Networking opportunities over coffee later.

Denise Kirkpatrick – Learning @ the OU

Welcomes new staff. We take the quality of our teaching and our student experience extremely seriously, we do it well but always want to try to do it better. QAA audit coming in March.

(Tony Hirst would be pleased to see the RSS logo prominently on her Powerpoint title slide. And I also note that it’s not using the OU Powerpoint template.)

Hard to draw a line between technologies for learning and teaching and those for the rest of your life; the line is blurred. But focus here is on learning and teaching.

Sets out generational view of technologies: BabyBoomers, GenX, NetGen/Millennials. Digital natives, who grew up using technology, it’s not seen as something different.  New generations approach technologies in a different way.  We as staff don’t come at the technologies in the same way as our (potential) students. A challenge.  Attitudes and ways of working are also important, NetGen are team based, they like to work like that.  Caveat: they’re broad categories, are exceptions.

Statistics – UK data – on tech use – from last year.  65% home internet (+7% on 07), 77% NetGen online daily, 91% NetGen use email (Wow – so 9% of them don’t?)  Childwise 2009 report – kids, much younger, are using techs a lot – 25% 5-8 year olds have net in their room, 13-16 almost all have mobiles.

We have mobiles, but we use them differently.  Some staff can’t work out why the hell you would want to deliver something to a device that’s so tiny.  But our students are so much more comfortable with mobiles. So we must investigate how to do it effectively.

Emerging themes in tech in ed: Blurring (f2f/online, in/formal); increased mobility; gaming; social networking; high-impact presentation/engagement techs; analytics, diagnostics and evidence-based ed; human touch; Learning 2.0?

Mobility – shows Google Trends on news about mobile learning.  iTunesU – new OU channel to deliver OU assets to students. (Interesting metaphor.)

Social networking – mentions social:learn, very exciting. Current and potential students are likely to use social networking in their daily life.

Mentions Twitter, virtual worlds – we have big opportunity to create social communities for our students who wouldn’t neesarily meet up.

Online learning gives us lots of data – we need to use that data, especially good with Quality hat on. (Big on analytics – again I can picture Tony Hirst smiling.)

Learning 2.0, don’t underestimate social aspect. Strongest determinant of students’ success is ability to form and partiipate in small groups (Light). ‘Learning to be’ supported by distributed communities of practice; productive inquiry; increasing connections & connectedness.

Has tech changed things? Leveraging potential of social learning (esp in distance ed); add community to content; acces to experts; access to peer review audience.

Examples; iTunesU, Openlearn, VLE, Learning designs project (Gráinne Conole, Cloudworks) – making teaching community-based, sharing practice.

Our challenge: towards a pedagogy of technology enhanced learning; and a scholarship for a digital age (esp for academics). We have always used technologies, for the last 40 years, but need to move that forward.

Q: How does the technology match against our current student age profile? We have a lot of baby boomers.

A: We deliver to the here and now, but our profile does have GenY and is increasing. Also planning for the future. Many baby boomers are confident tech users. Also many of our students – regardless of age – are demanding it. If we have evidence it’ll improve the learning experience, we should do it.

Q (Martyn Cooper, IET): Is there a qualitative difference between GenY’s use of social networking, rather than a quantitative one?

A: I’m not going to answer that one. We might think our quality is far superior, but … it’s a fertile area for research.

Q: Demographics, social advantaged versus disadvantaged – do technologies favour the socially advantaged? Tension with OU’s principles of open access to all.

A: Really important question, currently researching. Lot of unpacking needs to be done in to e.g. mobile phone ownership. Dilemma and a challenge, we have to keep tackling and pushing it. We put in resources to help our socially disadvanted students have access to the net. How much wider would the gap become if we don’t give people the opportunity to learn about that (tech) world?  It could disempower them to give them a route without tech. We have a wide range, it is possible to still study with us and have an almost predominantly print-based experience. But need to reconsider what access means and what our responsibilities are.

Q (Robin Stenham): How explicit are we making the use of social networking tools for group learning in terms of accreditation? Building transferable skills in to the learning outcomes.

A: An area we need to do more work. If we don’t expect access to tech, can’t base assessment on it. There are examples where people are starting to build that in. But haven’t done huge amounts of work, not widespread at this stage.

Niall Sclater

(presentation uses OU template)

Audience question: who brought a mobile? (nearly all)  Who ignored ‘turn off your mobile’? Two. (Including me.)  So please consider switching ON your mobile now.  (And lots of phone boot-up noises.) Impression given by ‘turn it off’ is the wrong one. Onus is on the presenter to make the presentation more interesting than the other competition for your attention (email on your laptop etc).

Focus of VLE is to make web the focus of student experience.  E.g. of old-school A3 print study calendar – contrast A103 and AA100 VLE view showing you the resources. The spine of the course is on the internet.

Encouraging collaboration: tools to help. Elluminate – audio conferencing, increasingly video too. Shared whiteboard. Quite a traditional class way – teacher writing down equations, something about maths that is best taught that way.  Online learning with maths this way, tutors have taken to it like ducks to

Maths Online (MOL) – eTutorial trial Feb 08 – 449 student, 136 staff. Most positive comments about interaction, tutor, convenience (being at home vs travel to tutorials), help. Least about preparation, software, good audio. Negative comments: mainly sound problems, but 50% nothing negative. Connection problems. (Niall has no broadband at home at the moment thanks to ISP problems.) Must bear in mind.  Positive feedback comments – ‘very close to the experience of a face-to-face tutorial’. Elluminate is not for a stand-up lecture with passive audience, it has tools for feedback (instant votes, etc). Give talk, move to next slide, monitoring IM chat backchannel and referred to it. Very skilled to do that; it’s completely different to what we’re used to. ‘gave me a feeling of belonging to a group’ – we couldn’t do this in the past.  If net gen are more collaborative (some evidence?) – is likely to be more important to our students. Evidence for many years that group learning can help.

Community building: Second Life, virtual worlds. Virtual worlds project about to kick off. (Great slide of people sitting down lecture-style in Second Life – only funny bit is that one audience member has wings, another is in fact a chicken.) Can try to replicate stuff lecture environment, everyone sitting in rows … or have something more interactive. Interesting how we transpose traditional models that aren’t necessarily appropriate – e.g. building copies of physical campuses, no need to visit an empty reproduction. So use spaces more imaginatively.

Building your online identity: Increasing student blogs. tags – research, wisdom, travel, karate. Personalisation.  Niall happy with LPs, cassettes, MP3s, transition across groups. Young people build identity through Facebook etc, tell the world their interests, relationships and so on. Gives you a much better network of people, professional and social relation brings you closer together.

Making content interactive: e-assessment with feedback, based on your answer. Use internet for what it’s good for.

Ownership and sharing: MyStuff – eportfolio system. Share documents, store for your benefit, tag them, share them with other students, tutors, future employer. Compile in to larger collection. Problems with MyStuff – user interface confusing to students, and is also very slow. Planning to replace, but will take a long time. Looking at e.g. Mahara (works with Moodle) and PebblePad, Google Apps for Education, Microsoft Live@edu.  Google Docs – instant speed even though hosted in US. We could use this for the content repository side easily.

Reflection: Templates for reflection on learning outcomes. (Glimpse of Niall’s browser toolbar – RSS feeds from Grainne, Tony, Martin, Alan Cann …)

Moodle grade book – rich data to tutors immediately after students have done test. Wiki report showing breakdown of activity/contributions – have some courses requiring use of wiki, this is one way of assessing.

Studying on the move – much hype, but we’re now having sophisticated platforms (iPhone, Android, etc). Can do so much more now. Many/most students will have very sophisticated device that will browse web, view course content, do quiz, etc, from wherever.

VLE and other systems – must be like accessibility, think about it from the start, ensure accessible from mobile devices. Like BBC sites at present – all our systems need to be built like that. Learning Innovation Office site, under development. Niall’s blog at

Thanks to Ben Mestel, Maths Online Team, Rhodri Thomas.

Q (Martyn Cooper): Accessibility and mobile learning. EU4All content personalisation responding to accessibility profiles and device profiles – optimise content based on both of those. Who reviews this?

A: We have a big project underway, want to bring you (Martyn) in, LTS.

Q: Diversity of devices very important for accessibility.

A: Indeed.

Q: (Carol ?, LTS): Google Apps. Why do we develop custom things when there are good apps already out there? It’s disadvantaging our students, less transferable.

A: Key questions grappling with. (mobile phone sound … but can’t find the source. Oh dear.)

Q: Not rude to turn off phones, it’s setting aside time. Would be rude to take attention away.

A: Maybe this is a net generation thing. Conferences have people using devices constantly; don’t find it rude any more, my duty to get people interested. But understand that people find it offensive.  Alas, experiment has failed.

Back to in-house vs external – have had endless debates with Tony Hirst and Martin Weller on this. Can create a ‘VLE’ online out of many things – but putting big burden on students to remember/learn many sites. Can’t assess accessibility.  Can’t guarantee service (but if ours we can do something).

Q: (Will Woods, IET): Students using Twitter, blogs, etc – staff stuck in email as main communication channel. Small clique at OU using Twitter. Can we improve internal channels? Cultural change?

A: Is an issue. Is a very email-based culture. Use it too much? Twitter … has its place, but can’t guarantee people are reading it. How do we move everyone on to new technologies? Should we try to? People understand internet is a bigger thing, less opposition to elearning. Thoughts in audience?

Q: Robin Stenham – Moodle tools give us many different tools to communicate, can share learning; forum tool vs Outlook. Moderating on forum can be very useful. E.g. using email ‘send in your expenses’ and everyone does reply-all. Misappropriating technologies. Gets 100 emails a day, of which 30-40 are streams/CC-in a discussion.

A: Yes, cognitive overload. Wiki a useful tool, putting some committee papers on wikis so don’t need them on the hard disk. (Denise) Points out that we’re encouraging people to use VLE tools themselves, so staff are experimenting with tools to understand how to use them with students. You can use VLE in your departments.

Q: Janet Churchill (HR Development): HR Development are trying to upskill staff in new technologies. Emailogic course from AACS to help people get most out of it, not inappropriately copying people in. Development opportunities now extending beyond trad training – now have secondlife presence for feedback sessions. ILM courses have online Plug – we have an induction process, online induction tool, looking for people to put in touch with external agencies to build an online induction tool that’s more engaging.

Move to general questions.

Niall: Interesting to analyse what’s going on in conferences. E.g. people commenting on and sharing what you’re saying. Can’t assume people are ignoring you.  But our experiment (on mobiles) has failed.

DK: Experiment hasn’t failed, just hasn’t given you the result you wanted.

Giles Clark, LTS: eTexts. Took view not to enhance our e-texts wrt print. Should we stay like that? Keep electronic version exactly as in print? Or further develop – insert animations, collaborative activities – or is that for surrounding VLE?

Niall: Is potential to do more with our online PDFs. Can’t stay still and go for common denominator. Paper will long have a role. Some quite happy to read on phone/device, could be generational.

Denise: Lots of exciting opps in tech, but accompanied esp for us with challenges. We as OU have to be able to do it at scale.  Can do sexy experiments with e.g. 30 students in a classroom.  But doing it with thousands of distributed students very different, scale. We need to be more efficient and economic, tough times. Hard decisions: nice bespoke examples, or go for scale for all courses. Must explore opportunities, cost out, see scalability – then answer.

Thanks to all.

Martin Bean: Looking Ahead: Mission, Values and Opportunity

Martin Bean is the OU’s Vice-Chancellor designate, and will be taking up his post later in the year.  This is his first opportunity to address the OU community, and it’s been wildly popular, with tickets required for the lecture theatre, overspill, and videoconference.  The Communications group are out in force to marshall the loyal troops. I managed to get a ticket and have secreted myself quietly on the back row to take quiet blog notes.

His quote on appointment was very encouraging:

It is an honour to have been selected as the next Vice-Chancellor of The Open University. It is a unique and amazing institution that has changed the lives of millions through its commitment to furthering social justice and to making higher education and educational opportunity accessible to all. I look forward to combining my passion for education and technology to lead The Open University over the coming years, as we continue to provide innovative and high quality distance education solutions to meet the needs of the 21st Century

Social justice right up there, and with his techie management background, he could be just the right person for what is a really challenging time for the OU.

(He walked past me, sat on the corner, shook hands, and invited me to Tweet away!  Helped that I was sitting in the back corner.)

Current VC, Brenda Gourley, introduces him.  Says she can’t wait for him to be VC.  Runs through his CV – a tremendous track record, international connections.  Over to him.

Know it was a big surprise to be working with Mr Bean, nobody is more challenged by that than he is.  At least people don’t forget his name.  People want to meet him, and know why he wants to be a VC.  Answer is more why the OU, than why a VC – it’s because of everything you’ve achieved and stand for.  “I’ve always loved learning, had bad experiences, but OU has given me confidence […]” – OU student feedback about life changing, in airports, train stations, etc, he gets that everywhere now.   Wants to be with us “for the next 40 years”.

(He’s good with an audience, good judge of mood and joking, self-deprecating, compelling speaker. Was better before he went in to Powerpoint stepwise reveal mode.)

Link to UN Declaration of Human Rights Article 26 “right to educaiton, and he equally accessible to all on the basis of merit”.  Universities role is questioning, help people understand – a change agent.  We are special, we are open, we broke the mould. (Now ‘we’ rather than ‘you’.) Have proved don’t have to sacrifice quality for scale.

VC described many of you as missionaries. They said it was never happen, it was mocked, “blithering nonsense”.

The OU has led through acts of imagination, delivering high quality education to people who had problems of access, of all sorts. Let’s get our imaginations working together again. In the 40y ahead we’re going to face a lot of challenges, will take a lot of imaginations.

So easy to make decision to come here.  Close alignment of his personal mission and OU mission:

  • Everyone should have the ability to access high quality HE.
  • HE must become more open and flexible – have done a tremendous amount but much to be done.
  • Innovation happens through research, people, process and environment – technology is just one enabler.
  • HE needs to be relevant, personalised, engaging and student-centred – social:learn, Web2.0, 3.0
  • It’s important to nurture communities of learning
  • Partnerships are essential to maximise results – must open up private, public, employer, government partnerships. Thoughtful, don’t sacrifice mission or quality. But essential
  • Economic prosperity is underpinned by quality education at all levels.

His Values:

  • Belief in people at an individual level – protect rights of individual, start and finish of social justice
  • Open, honest and respectful communication – tell him what you don’t like
  • A never ending positive attitude – this will annoy many of you over the coming years. Says, What can we do, not woe is me.
  • A belief in making a difference.
  • Teamwork makes sense
  • Be inclusive yet decisive – get many data points, but you have to decide and move on – be careful with questions you bring to my desk, you may get an answer
  • Never be shy to ask for help
  • Celebrate success – e.g. wonderful success in RAE, feel good about that

The Future:

  • HE important in light of the crisis
  • HE can’t be produced at the scale needed on the traditional model. – John Denham “unacceptable that eLearning is a sub-quality experience vs traditional” and then gave example of OU moving to new media not sacrificing quality, MB delighted to hear it.
  • Dist ed market will grow rapidly and be increasingly competitive – US has large for-profit DE sectors. Difference between them and us is profit/shareholder value. Our cause more noble.  Need to understand them and stay in front, and never sacrifice our mission and values as we compete with them.
  • Technology will shift from content centric to people centric – very enthusiastic on this.  Our ability to embrace, extend and take OU innovation and quickly mainstream it – is terribly exciting and a business imperative
  • ‘Flat world’ puts skills agenda on Government policy agenda
  • Financial crisis uncertainty, but also unprecedented opportunities for change – will put presure on everyone, who knows for how long.  While everyone else is looking at the downside (which we must), but (his optimistic side) says will put pressure on to address skills gap, help citizens to get employable skills, realise what they want out of their lives.  Will help world sig themselves out.

Cites John Gray, Success and Sustainability: Tertiary Education’s Global Challenge – must be

  • Responsive,
  • Effective,- Quality. Supported Open Learning model – cannot sacrifice the quality. Can’t use quality as an excuse not to innovate and be responsive.
  • Efficient – Pressure. Not a business but sometimes need to act like one, allocate resources right.

Shows OU Futures – declares that we do not need a whole new set of priorities, they’re great.  Evolve, develop nuance, though. The plan we have is the right plan.  More thoughts to come, though.

Getting Started, wants to

  • Get to know you and our students.  Will get out and about very quickly, is stealthy in a cube environment. Not just MK, expect to see a Bean near you very quickly.
  • Get insight in to how University is perceived, without responsibility, so will seize the day. Doing already. Everyone has an opinion of you! Reputaiton is strong.
  • Listen – asks lots of questions, from lots of angles
  • Hit pause – wait before answering every question (mother said to put this in), important not to jump to premature conclusions, and don’t ask him to. Needs to understand the history, is very very important.
  • Give feeedback – take what he learns and communicate back
  • Draw on and make great use of your expertise.

OU student feedback – quote from Kerzy Lando, 84, BA Hons, “Life has taught me several lessons …”

Honour and privilege to stand … on this riser they’ve given me so you can see me.  I am in awe of the opportunity to be part of the community you’ve built.

Q & A

(his phrase for it)

Brigid Heywood – MB “Hello Brigid”. – Value of education should take note of, also climate change. What can we do?

MB: Climate change is going to require every human to get behind.  OU response is multidimensional: what we do with our working practices, and how we deliver our programmes, reduce travel needs.  Contrasted brick and mortar or click and mortar.  Then what we teach.

Lots of questions with same theme (and much polemic): When does the OU intend to go cross-platform?  Non-Windows computers.

MB: What a surprise! Where did that question come from?  Couldn’t be more delighted at the question.  Technology should provide as much freedom of choice as possible.  Firm believer in interoperability.  (Knows what that means.)  Fraser and I are debating but I’m determined to get an iPhone, because it’s fit for purpose, it’s the best device.  Microsoft was just a waypoint in his career in the intersection of technology and education.

Darrell Ince: Tension between university and business requirements, impinge on academics.

MB: We do have to face this, have new entrants in our world, playing with a different playbook. Will require us to be knowledgeable, and adjust to it.  Am never going to sacrifice the mission or quality or how we serve our students.  We’re not a business but we have to act like one – intelligence on trends in the marketplace, shifting student demands, government policy shifts.  Inclusive and decisive – we will need to keep pace.  The DE marketplace worldwide is on fire, 25% to 55% compound average growth rate, don’t join that and stand still.  1. Be open and don’t deny.  2. Compare what’s going on with our mission and value.  Then formulate a competitive response.  Faster than ever before.

Martin Weller: Shortest question of the day. If you could overcome one challenge in your tenure, what would it be.

MB: Being short!  Good question.  Touched on it already: scale, and quality. All must work on that, with technology.  All you missionaries, pack your bags, we’re off again.

Nottingham (in the room): Gordon Lammie – joined in 1970. Been through many different periods. Financial situation. Agre with being a good employer.

MB: Personal belief, nobody should be denied doing what they want to do in life.  (Not a policy answer …. yet.)

Web – Ian Gilmour – OU Wikipedia entry describes BBC’s role in establishing OU, who is our partner for next 40y?

MB: Everybody! Partnerships really important, multi-broadcasting partners.  Unbelievable work with iTunesU.  Multi-casting partners.  Look at all educational content, develop fit for purpose.  Multiple types of course development models, done some, must do more.  Work with other universities – beyond and in UK.  Public sector tremendously important.  Private sector can be important – as employers (to help them meet their needs, and union reps). Make your best analysis of what partners you need based on your priorities. But OU never worked in a vacuum.

Jeff Johnson, MCT: Found presentation inspiring..  How can I tell you what I’m doing?

MB: We need to set up some good fb loops.  In prior roles, f2f, out and about, structured things (e.g. focus groups).  But at MS your life is your inbox.  When gets here, has learned to triage an inbox.  Will run sessions like this too. Without filters.  Use tech tools coupled with what we can do f2f.  In companies, have used web-based collaborative groups, can talk to remote people without having to travel, very time effective, environmental.  Voice of people back to him is very important.

Josie Taylor, IET: Was inspiring. In particular, that is a human right to access education.  The ELQ issue, a problem on financial side, but is also a potential barrier for onward HE.  Are you ready to engage with British political system?

MB: I’m Australian, I love a good fight.  Way to early to comment on the details.  But did due diligence to look at the external environment – ELQ today, but will be something else tomorrow.  Role of VC – active constructive dialogue with legislators – but have courage to respond appropriately and take action to remain healthy.  Real skill is not about ELQ, but about the fight.  Really easy to fight for something he believes in, and he really believes in the OU.

Carmel McMahon (Assoc Dean in OUBS): International opps for OU?

MB: Believes in bringing our offerings to people throughout the world. OU held up as the example of SOL at a distance that got it right.  Academic and policy world knows who you are.  Now need to be deliberate and creative about … country-by-country issue, or states and regions even.  Where to focus our efforts, partners, business models – but must return value to University – either promoting extending mission and values, but also to balance with business agenda.  Don’t do the collegiate thing of sharing all our collective wisdom and give birth to a competitor who forgets where they come from.  Hardest part is showing what your unique value is, you have done that already.

Clare Cortesky, research student: What are we doing wrong?

MB: I do believe you’re doing most things right.  Wrong: amazing innovation in pockets in OU – e.g. technology of the day vs tech of tomorrow, quality and scale rapidly.  Need to do better job letting world know about our innovation, which is not understood, “you’re doing what?”.  Have to speed up appropriately how we unlock innovation.  Can honestly say it’s not a matter of fixing something that’s fundamentally broken, matter of reigniting the imagination to do it all over again, only faster.

What can OU learn from MS, Yahoo! and Google?

MB: Who?  From MS, tenacity.  MS don’t usually get it right initially, but we’ll stick at it until we come up with a way of making it work.  Yahoo – saw power of bringing people together through Internet; not just browser, but vision of transforming how people interact. Google – everybody else was iterating on what already had; Google said what’s the transforming thing people do with Internet, it was simple, it was search, so needed more sophisticated way of retrieving meaningful content. Leapfrogged entire industry, revolutionised software industry, ever-new suite of stuff wrapped round it.

He appreciated the questions, much more enjoys a dialogue than prepared remarks.  “Look forward to working with you!”

Update: I made a Wordle of these notes.

Google Analytics on library websites

OU Library seminar, given by Tony Hirst and Hassan Sheikh. Reprise of talk at ILI given by Hassan last year – draft presentation, PPT. Tracking referrals from course websites and how that affects their behaviour on the OU library site.

Google Analytics allows you to track users across your website during their session – how long they spend, which pages.  Tracking code (Javascript) put in to page templates. Up to 5m page views per month. Eay to set up.

Lets you ask and answer: How well is the home page working? Gives you an overlay of % clicks on each link.  One way of using the data is to change your site design to make things easier for users.  (E.g. to match Fitt’s Law – make the common elements larger and hence easier to acquire.)

Most clicked links: Databases (20%), eJournals (19%), library catalogue (11%).

53% traffic direct, 41% referring sites (i.e. via link), 5% via search engines. List broken down by referrers – so is 18%, intranet next.

Then look at summary report of behaviour of visitors from a specific referrer site – so traffic as an e.g. Show clear work-week peak of traffic. Bounce rate (single page hit): 27%.

Direct traffic much more steady through the week.

Content overview is another headline report – shows you top content, popular pages – / is top, find/journals is, top, then find/databases, etc. (Can map URLs on reports to easier to read names.)

Most popular pages: journals, databases, eResources.  Top traffic sources – shows you where the traffic comes from.

Can tunnel down too.  Interestingly, the databases get about 45% of traffic on site, but drilled down in to the databases themselves, even the top one only captures 5% – distribution much flatter. But we can’t get down to the activity spent on the journals themselves.

Library using GA to generate some performance indicators on page site – e.g. unique visitors, bounce rate, visitor loyalty, average page views, depth of visit, length of visit. Bounce rate is not necessarily bad for the Library site – if they come in and then go to somewhere you’re trying to get them to go, then that’s good.

Can export the data from any of the reports you can get on a single screen in GA – as XML, or CSV – so can plot e.g. avg time on site vs pages/visit, with a dot size for bounce rate, or avg time spent on site per network location – Tony has done quick graphs of this in ManyEyes.

Search traffic – can track search terms used – top were: athens, safari, refworks, referencing.  99.29% visits are without search (good site design?).

These are all averages – but be wary of them.

Next up: exploring OU library website usage, based on course referrals.  Brief look at traffic from Moodle (OU VLE), and also from TU120 (which has Google Analytics on it, so can match them).

Segmentation (breakdown) by Referral URL. Moodle has complex URLs with queries in them (which define the course, etc), but Google Analytics by default throws that away.  But can define a rule in GA to say ‘don’t discard that’. Then can see where traffic comes from (which courses), and then where it goes to on the Library website.  Can look at the originating page too.  So can get inkling of how effective (little bits of) the course pages on the VLE are in terms of where they send people.

Landing pages across VLE referrals – mostly home page, then eResources, then the Library Guide, then specific pages on eResources.

Tracking back, can find e.g. that ‘Article for Question 3’ was a big traffic driver on M882 – “Success Factors for Implementing Global Information Systems”.  (Currently a few technical fiddles required about being hard to distinguish links to separate sections of the same resource – an additional bit of tracking code on each link.)

TU120 2008J presentation – information skills “Beyond Google” – in Relevant Knowledge programme.

Out of 227k visits, TU120 generated 1678 visits. (In this sample – Sep-Dec for a single presentation.)  Can segment down in Google analytics.  Data is not TU120 students, it’s TU120 students visiting the Library.

Profile of visits – big spike at start, another spike in the middle, another towards the end.   Content Performance – tells you what pages were viewed.  Databases and journals are popular.  Look at referrer – and it’s mostly the ECA (week 10, final spike), then Section 3 of the course (multiple pages, week 3, mid-spike).   Can look down at what databases (it was Academic Search Complete, and Nexis UK).

Average 4.6 pages per visit, 14 min. But for the ECA, 28% of visits (overwhelming mode) are 2 pages deep – not normal distribution. But the depth of visit is much flatter in the middle of the week.

Can run A/B tests using Google Analytics – so 50% see page A, 50% see page B, see if the patterns are different.  Low risk way of trying A/B testing out for real on course content.  (Or multivariate testing, would be more efficient but more complex.)

Can look at which pages are sending e.g. traffic to the journals page.

Actions: segment onsite/offisite and regional users (IP range filters). Track by course referrals from the VLE. Enhanced OU Library PI reports (Many Eyes?). Improve homepage by keeping eye on site overlays.  Worth tracking changes – useful flag for problems. Keep eye on usage of database.  Reduce long list of databases (?). Use consistent names and URL paths.

Tony posts about Library analytics – eight posts already.

Getting away from screens

After yesterday’s session on multi-touch surfaces, I saw that Rhodri Thomas tweeted:

v interesting demo earlier on use of ‘Surface’-like multitouch table – but are we ever going to get away from interacting with screens?

Which got me thinking about the degree to which we already interact with computers without screens.  I was also reminded of a rather staggering (but believable on exploration) claim I heard on the radio last week from a guy from Intel, who reckoned that more microprocessors would be manufactured in the next year or two than currently exist in the world.  The overwhelming majority of these are not in computers-as-we-know them: they’re buried away in embedded applications.  So this morning I thought I’d try to note all the microprocessors I’d interacted with other than by traditional screens, from getting up to sitting down at my first traditional computer screen to type this.  Some of these are slight cheats since they do have displays (e.g. the central heating timeswitch), but they’re not the sort we usually think of.  (We do need some leeway here because if by display you mean some way in which a processor can make its state known to a human and/or vice versa, it’s by definition impossible for any interaction to occur.) Anyway – a rough quick list:

  • central heating system – the timeswitch programmer to turn it on, and more processors in the boiler itself to run the system
  • bedside clock
  • fridge/freezer (for milk) – thermostatic and frost-free control working away
  • microwave
  • kettle – not certain since older models are purely electro-mechanical, but this one’s brand new and I strongly suspect there’s at least one processor in there managing overheating/boil dry and possibly actively optimising the heating process
  • radio
  • umpteen electronic toys used by the kids
  • electric shower – controlling the flow and heating rates

Then I left home and got in the car:

  • car – engine management system, and possibly other subsystems I don’t really know about, oh, and another radio
  • streetlights – some were still on suggesting they’re individually controlled (time? light?) rather than centrally switched – must have passed hundreds of these or more
  • SID – Speed Indicating Device – measured my speed, flashed it up on a display, then a smiley face to say it was under the limit
  • Pelican crossing with lights
  • level crossing with lights

And then I got to campus and towards my building:

  • More lighting
  • Security barriers
  • CCTV cameras
  • RFID security card entry system
  • automatic doors
  • heating blower behind the door
  • building management system controlling temperature and ventilation – this does have a traditional screen view but I don’t interact with it that way
  • lighting controllers
  • coffee machine

… a pretty large haul, and that’s not taking in to account any of the processors helping deliver utilities I used (gas, electricity, water).  It rather swamps the number of traditional screens I’ll be interacting with today: phone, iPod touch, laptop, desktop.  And of course those themselves rely on a large number of less visible processors running the network and power systems, and the hundreds of computers (or more) I’ll interact with more directly online today.