Vidi Webinar for Developers

Yesterday The LinkedUp team ran a webinar on the latest LinkedUp Competition – the Vidi Competition.

The Webinar was a way to allow us to engage online with developers who are interested in the competition but needed an introduction, and those who had technical questions to ask. We began with a brief introduction to the LinkedUp Challenge, the Vidi Competition and the new focused tracks (specific problems we’d like the developers to solve). There was then an overview of the technical support on offer and a Q&A session which gave people the opportunity to ask our technical team some specific questions.

After a trial run with Meeting Burner that didn’t go too well we decided to use Adobe Connect as one of the partner institutions have a licence for it.

The software worked brilliantly – the only issue was that for some of us the connection went at around 10 minutes in. Unfortunately I was talking at that point and dropped out of webinar – on the upside I was near to finishing.

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 14.01.36

After the initial presentation the technical team (Mathieu D’Aquin, Alessandro Adamou and Stefan Dietze) answered questions from the attendees and we discussed some possible applications.

I think running a webinar like this is a really easy and effective way to initiate developers to a competition. We had 22 webinar attendees, many of whom participated by asking questions, suggesting data sets and talking about their submission ideas. Dealing with these people on a purely one-to-one basis would have been much more time consuming.

The recorded webinar can now be found online and the transcript of the discussion is also available. The slides are also available from Slideshare.

Want to Play FOTE13?

Last week I attended the Future of Technology in Education Conference (FOT13) held at ULCC. I went along with a couple of hats on. Firstly, with my Open Education Working Group hat on I was interested in hearing about any new open education initiatives, both in the UK and abroad. Secondly with my LinkedUp hat on I wanted to find out more about open education data activities, so for example are we going to be getting any data out of MOOCs?

Fireside chat

Fireside chat by LCD Imperial

Despite having 3 female plenary speakers (hurray!) the morning was a little disappointing.

While Nicola Millard, Customer Experience Futurologist, BT made some interesting points about our change in working practice (her idea that she needs ‘Coffice’ to work – good coffee, good cake, good connectivity and company – would tickle all you remote workers!) and delivered it impeccably without slides or notes, she didn’t really say anything that ground breaking. In the UK we’re all aware in the consumerisation of Higher Education, but I felt that her suggestion that education needs to be as ‘easy as Amazon’ was a little off the mark. While I agree with her view that “wowing does not create satisfaction but getting the basics right does” I think we are in dangerous territory if we just try to make everything easier, education is really about a lot more than ease of use. That said she had a really good story telling technique and I liked her ideas around social networking related to institutions – do you want people to graffiti the inside of your building or the outside?

Job title aside, Alicia Wise, Director of Universal Access at Elsevier, began her talk by being upfront about her organisation’s ‘backward thinking’ with regard to open access. Elsevier are engaging with the open access model and are apparently launching one open access journal week on average…but they are still a commercial company. While Alicia explained that she wants to see content “swish effortlessly round the web” the Twitter backchannel pointed out Elsevier’s growing R&D spend and exploration around journal rental had ultimately resulted in bigger profits. Alicia was in a tricky position but I was pleased to hear her touch on ideas around opening up research data saying that it currently has “high importance and low availability”.

In a talk entitled Webcasts in education: Mythbusters! Gwen Noteborn, Researcher, Maastricht University didn’t really bust any myths; she just confirmed that webcasts can be a really useful teaching and learning tool. At the Maastricht University EdLab they put students and lecturers on a level grounding and working through tech needs together and have experienced a 15% increase in student passes in sessions that used webcasts. They also found that ‘lazy’ students will look at the webcast and only access the sections they need while more ‘conscientious’ students watch the whole webcast (it could be argued that the ‘lazy’ students are just those who know how to work the system – more strategic.) Maastricht have been using Mediasite as their webcasting tool.

The morning concluded with a fireside chat (with real fire!) on implementing change in education. Discussion topics ranged from how we make technology easier for learners, how we get academics using technology and engaging more, and usability. Once again the focus seemed to be a little too much on how technology can make education easy and less on how it can make education better. [Though I go along with the idea that simple to use tools are a good thing].

Lindsay Jordan in blue

Lindsay Jordan in blue by Santanu Vasant

After lunch Lindsay Jordan, Educational Developer, University of the Arts London woke us all up by launching on to the stage in a full-body blue lycra leotard (“why so blue Lindsay?”) She then gave a really interesting talk looking at the differences between online and F2F learning. She explained that the drop out rates in distance/online learning are often to do with life events, but even more to do with isolation. Through a demo of the cupsong and a piano solo Lindsay explained that what we (sometimes) need is bite size learning and (sometimes) less flexibility. The term eventedness also came up – this is the idea that you are part of a shared endeavor – an event. David White has written a blog post about the term and I hope to revisit the ideas behind it for this blog in the near future – all very relevant to event amplification.

Eventedness by David White

Eventedness by David White

Martin King’s talk was by far my favourite of the day. His 101 slides dealt with opening up formal learning through diversity. He talked about how we will deal with 3 billion minds coming online – “the network event horizon of global connectivity”. Most of these will be from developing countries, many will have disabilities, many will be very young or very old and education will have to change to meet what they need. Access to Internet is currently only available to a third of world population but in the next few years new technology will be able to really help open up education and democratize access to information. Martin concluded by pointing out our western elitism and that “we are no longer the centre of our own universe”.

From Martin King's talk: 3 billion new users online

From Martin King’s talk: 3 billion new users online

Kevin Ashley, director of the DCC (my old place of work!) gave the next presentation on Research data: bothersome burden or treasure chest? Kevin explained that 164 HE institutions in UK received over £4.4 billion in research funding last year. Research funders worldwide are placing increasingly stringent requirements on researchers and research institutions regarding data produced by research. There are a huge number of reasons for opening up research data, and he covered quite a few, for example open data greatly increases research citation rate.

The penultimate talk was from Matthew Yee-King, Goldsmith University on MOOCs: a view from the trenches. In a highly practical talk that considered the approach taken at Goldsmith in creating the Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps Coursera course, Matthew also took time to touch on issues like why institutions create MOOCs (a marketing exercise?) and dropout rates. He put forward some interesting statistics: the creative programming course had 95k enroll, 38k active and 6.6k finish. The majority of those participating were already had Bachelors or Masters degrees, making the argument that MOOCs are continuing education for those already educated not the democratisation of HE. Matthew was also frank about the moderation of forums and how they had deleted inappropriate comments, making the MOOC not quite so open.

The final talk was given by Diana Laurillard, Professor of Learning with Digital Technologies in the London Knowledge Lab and Assistant Director for Open Mode learning at the Institute of Education. Diane discussed pedagogies for large-scale student guidance and began by asking why are we spending millions on MOOCs for those who already have degrees? And why are offering MOOCs for free when students (in the UK) are paying £9k? Diane explained that the approach we are taking will not satisfy the worldwide demand for higher education (currently estimated as ~ 100m per year (UNESCO)). Her suggestion is ‘education economics’, moving from the current norm of a 1:25 staff student ratio to a much higher ratio. To do so we need to consider ways of improving and sharing the pedagogies that achieve high quality student support and attainment on the large scale. Technology may well be the answer but we need to invest and support teaching innovation. Diane ended by saying that for her education is not like any other industry – I’d have to agree.

It did feel a little like we were only just getting to the heart of the matter at the end of the day, and it would have been good to talk a little more about this future. A future where more people are online than ever before and they deserve an education. When open education goes beyond sharing a few courses as a branding exercise. But a great day nonetheless.

And one last thing, the FOTE Web app is great!


Event Amplifying OKCon

OKConLast week I attended my first Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) in Geneva, Switzerland and I have to say I was pretty blown away by it all! The conference is organised by my newish employers – the Open Knowledge Foundation – and is is the world’s leading open data and open knowledge conference. There were over 900 delegates from all around the world and I’ve never met such a bunch of passionate and driven people! The sessions on open government, sustainability and development were hugely eye opening and work being carried out is both innovative and inspiring. I was involved in the open education strand and you can read more about how our panel session and other activities went on the LinkedUp blog.

I won’t go into too much detail about the conference content, there are a collection of posts on the Open Knowledge Foundation blog and my colleague Zara Rahman has written a great post on the vibe. Another tool that gives a really good feel for the event vibe is eventifier. They currently have 692 photos, 18 videos, 15036 tweets, 17 slide sets, 7 audio files and 2854 contributors listed!

OK Comms team

OK Comms team by Zara

What I want to concentrate on is what a fantastic job our Comms team did of amplifying the event.

The 'Live' page on the OKCon website

The ‘Live’ page on the OKCon website

I think the Comms team won’t mind me revealing that they hadn’t amplified such a big event before, but a massive team effort resulted in a really professional feel to the approach. A separate page was set up at where they collated a live blog, live streaming and live tweeting. You could even order an OKCon t-shirt to feel like a real member of the crew!

The liveblogging was carried out using Superdesk Liveblog by SourceFabrik. It allowed integration of tweets, photos and summary text.


Live blogging using Superdesk Liveblog

All the main stage plenary and panel presentations were livestreamed using Livestream. As soon as the talks had taken place the footage was archived and listed on the OKCon live site (and on the Livestream site), long term they will be archived on the OKCon Vimeo Channel. Feedback from those watching was that the live streaming was of high-quality and with few hiccups, viewing numbers were in the hundreds.


Remote participation felt natural from the start and the conference actually opened with a well-exectuted video message from Nellie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission.

Filming OKCon

Filming OKCon

There were quite a few sessions that called for outside participation. For example, the Open Citizen Science event asked for voting on interesting proposals using Skype, Google Hangout and Etherpad. The Open Hardware in Open Science and Research session used Pirate Pad to allow outside people to contribute.

Other remote participation channels included Twitter, use of the #OKCon hashtag and Facebook. There is also a Flickr pool for photo sharing.

Digital Storytelling

I’m not alone in liking a good story, so the Netskills one-day workshop on Exploring digital storytelling appealed. The workshop looked at why stories are a powerful and effective way of communicating with an audience and how the digital techniques suggested can be used effectively for a wide range of purposes; learning, publicity and marketing, community engagement and more.

Wikipedia describes digital storytelling as “a relatively new term which describes the new practice of ordinary people who use digital tools to tell their ‘story’. Digital stories often present in compelling and emotionally engaging formats, they are usually less than 8 minutes long and can be interactive.”

So I’ll say no more about the day but will let my digital story do the talking. This is my effort from the hands-on session, it was created using WeVideo (a collaborative online video editor) and took me a couple of hours to produce all-in. It’s pretty rough round the edges and I did think of starting again and re-recording the sound, but then I decided that it was more important to show what could be achieved in a very short amount of time.

Most of the photos in the video were taken in the workshop using my phone, hence not great quality. The others are from Flickr and acknowledgements are given at the end of the footage.

There were some great tools suggested during the workshop, here are a few of my favourites:

  • iMovie – doh! Didn’t even realise I had this on my Mac!
  • Voicethread – great for creating collaborative conversations
  • Pixton – I’ve used it before but a nice comic making tool with a database of graphics
  • Comic Life – A downloadable comic maker
  • Wallwisher – An online notice board
  • Animoto – really quick videos out of still images
  • Splice – video creator for your phone
  • Blue mountains – better search engine for Flickr CC photos
  • Vimeo music store – Free sounds/music – search by genre

The All New Event Amplifier Web Site

KirstyKirsty Pitkin (alter ego – the event amplifier!) has recently launched her fab new Web site.

I’ve worked with Kirsty many times over the years (yearly at IWMW and at other JISC events). In fact Kirsty has been mentioned on this blog many a time:

Kirsty is a professional event amplifier and her new Website show cases her events and offers case study accounts of the tools used at them. The site also offers blog posts looking at different aspects of event amplification. It’s all a real labour of love and looks amazing!

Well done to Kirsty and Rich.

Adventures in Space, Place and Time

A few weeks back I attended a seminar on Researching online and mobile interaction & environments: Understanding space, place and time‘ at the University of Bristol. The seminar was facilitated by Professor Carey Jewitt, Dr Niall Winters, Berit Henriksen from the London Knowledge Lab. The seminar was organised by the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) – a network of research groups, each conducting research and training in social science research methods and is part of the MODE: Multimodal methodologies for digital environments series.

Although the day was geared towards researchers and more theoretical than I am used to there were some really interesting themes from the day that align nicely with the whole remote working/event amplification area. Here are my notes…

Space, Place and Time

Space – It is not just physical and fixed, it can be modified, is an abstraction, but there are physical aspects to it. Types of space include local, global, utobian, heterotopia, aural and visual. One idea is that space doesn’t exist until something happens in it.

Place – Space is made into place by a set of activities that happen in it. Places are processes: not fixed or frozen in time. There are lots of new practices relating to online interaction, for example: cocooning – individuals socializing less and retreating into their home, camping – finding a space to sit (e.g. in a library) and setting up your online workd, foot-printing – the route you take online. Some argue that in the technology world it is no longer possible to be ‘late’ because as soon as you start texting you can still participate. Specification of spaces have changed

– Time and space always shape each other and are constitutive of social interaction. Time takes many forms. For example – clock time – people made; natural divisions of time e.g. seasons, light and dark; lazarus time – use of previously dead time.

These concepts are relevant when talking about online and mobile interaction because the classic notions of time, space and place need to be adapted for the online and mobile world. One example of this is this advert on Oxford Street which is shown only to women.

I think this ties in nicely with Brian Kelly’s discussions around Escaping the Constraints of Space and Time with regard to amplified events.

Spaceflows and Multimodality

There was also some discussion around the idea of spaceflows: what mediums are information and identity flowing through, and what is transmitted, text, video, image? One could argue that Twitter is a communter technology, users often use it on the move, while Flickr is a tourist technology because it involves standing still and documenting.

Another concepts introduced during the day was that of multimodality, where users are provided with multiple modes of interfacing with a system.

The course was really interesting and made me realise that not only is technology changing at a rapid pace but are so many other concepts we take for granted, like space, place, time and use. This often leaves us confused about how we are supposed to act in new situations. One example from the day that sums this up beautifully is the Museum of Unintended Use. No one quite knows where the technology ride will take us…

Video Conferencing in Universities

Yesterday I dipped in to the JISC Conferencing in Universities and Colleges workshop held at the University of Warwick. The event explored the role of video conferencing in reducing travel and was presented by the JISC-funded SusteIT project in collaboration with the EAUC Travel Coordinator’s Group, the Welsh Video Network and University of Warwick.

Unfortunately due to other commitments I didn’t have time to watch all the talks (a full programme is available from the JISC Web site) but did catch some of Jonathan Owen’s session on Conferencing at the University of Warwick. Warwick have a dedicated full time Videoconferencing support and development officer and now facilitate 40-60 calls per month (with a target of 150 a month). Warwick have also taken the decision to have five dedicated telepresence suites to encourage staff to make more use of the facilities. Telepresence technologies allow a person to feel as if they were present. At Warwick some of their approaches include use of a life-size image, integrated lighting and directional audio and compatibility with other systems.

Conferencing at the University of Warwick, Jonathan Owen, Audio Visual Service Owner, University of Warwick

Other presentations during the day include Peter James, Professor of Environmental Management, and Lisa Hopkinson, SusteIT Project Manager, University of Bradford on Conferencing in the Sector – Research Findings; Paul Bonnett, Videoconferencing Technical Co-ordinator, JANET on JANET Conferencing Services Today and Tomorrow; Geoff Constable, Welsh Video Network Support Officer, University of Aberystwyth, on Videoconferencing in Wales. There was also a talk from Heppie Curtis, Research Assistant on Conferencing at the University of Bristol who I worked with on the Greening Events II Project.

The event was video streamed in two different ways: by TConsult, a communications consultancy firm and the Janet Video Streaming service. I guess with video conferencing being the theme of the day it was important to make sure it worked!! There was also a discussion space on CoverIt live which offered opportunities for people to vote on different questions, nice touch. Unfortunately the question I voted on (How many people have used the following services: Adobe Connect, Collaborate, would only let me choose one answer!

Resources from the day will be available from the Event page.

Will Allen's set up for the day