“What do you do?” – Starting out on CMALT

“So what do you do?” can be a bit of a difficult question to answer when you work in the domain of learning technology.  And depending on which area of learning technology you work in it can be a harder question to answer for some than others.  My default answer tends to be “I work at a University” followed by “I work in education technology”, often with the added explanation “It’s about the use of new technology in education.”  “Open education” tends to get you blank looks outwith academia (now there’s a topic for discussion), and thank god I don’t work in “education technology interoperability standards” these days.

My family have defaulted to telling people that I’m a spy on the basis that they don’t actually know what I do, other than travel a lot and disappear for days at a time. It’s hard to argue with them tbh.

Lorna Campbell – Spy

Sometimes I think it’s easier to explain what I don’t do; I don’t teach, I don’t do formal academic research, I’m not a programmer, I don’t develop or implement systems, I don’t provide help desk services, I don’t run the VLE.   I do manage projects and provide advice to colleagues. I provide input to policies. I support networks and disseminate practice.  I write a lot, talk a lot and present a lot.  I facilitate events and chair conferences.  I sit on boards, steering groups and executive committees. Maybe it is easier to tell people I’m a spy.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is that after months of procrastination, I’m finally making a start on my CMALT application.  I had hoped to do this towards the end of last year but two new projects took precedence, so CMALT went on the back burner.

I had mixed feelings about CMALT for a number of years, primarily because for a long time I didn’t really seem to fit any recognisable definition of what a learning technologist is.  I tried to explain this anxiety in a blog post I wrote in 2014 Thoughts on ALT’s CPD Rebooted.  That post also refers to a brilliant piece written by Amber Thomas Perhaps I’m not one,  which I identified with strongly at the time, and still do.  The main point I was trying to make in CPD Rebooted was that formal certification can be difficult for people whose roles don’t neatly fit into the kind of boxes that make up accreditation frameworks.   This is doubly true for those on short term contracts, who have to jump from project to project and rarely have much time for formal CPD.  I ended that blog post with a question I asked on twitter:

Things have changed a lot for me since 2014, both professionally and personally.  Our understanding of what it means to be a learning technologist has matured and become more inclusive, and although contracts in higher education have become increasingly precarious, I’m very lucky that my own employment situation is more secure than it was three years ago.  In fact I’m incredibly fortunate to work for an institution that not only allows dedicated time for CPD but that also actively promotes and supports CMALT membership. Information Services at the University of Edinburgh offer bursaries to enable learning technologists to become Certified Members of ALT and my colleague Susan Grieg supports colleagues to help them prepare their portfolios.

Having spent the day pouring over the CMALT guidelines I can see that ALT have worked hard to create an accreditation framework that is as broad as it is inclusive.  However I’m still sitting here sifting through projects, webinars, presentations, papers, twitter conversations and reflective blog posts wondering how the hell I’m going to fit all this into that. How on earth can I demonstrate an “understanding of my target learners” when I don’t actually teach?  Of course the answer is that I’m going to have to think creatively.  I may not have a teaching role, but hopefully all those webinars and talks and blog posts do help my peers and colleagues to learn and to develop their professional practice.  I’m still at the stage where I’m struggling to fit my experience into the CMALT framework, but hopefully if I keep thinking about it and reflecting on what I actually do, it will all start to fall into place.  Having access to the CMALT Portfolio Open Register is already proving to be enormously helpful but I’d be very interested to hear how others have approached this.

Organising my CMALT portfolio like

(Belatedly realising I have no idea how to licence memes….)

Crossing the Field Boundaries: Open Science, Open Data & Open Education

Last week I was invited to speak at the International Open Science Conference in Berlin which this year had a special focus on OER.  My talk featured a case study of the University of Edinburgh’s Geosicence Outreach and Engagement Course so I’d like to thank Colin Graham and all those involved in the course for allowing me to present their inspirational work.

This talk focuses on the interface between OER, open data and open science and our experience at the University of Edinburgh of promoting open education through the School of GeoSciences Outreach and Engagement course.

The title of this paper, “Crossing the field boundaries”, comes not from the domain of GeoScicences though, but from Maryam Mirzakhani, professor of mathematics at Stanford University and the first female winner of the Fields Medal.  In a 2014 interview Maryam said

“I like crossing the imaginary boundaries people set up between different fields—it’s very refreshing. There are lots of tools, and you don’t know which one would work. It’s about being optimistic and trying to connect things.”

A Tenacious Explorer of Abstract Surfaces, Quanta Magazine, August 2014

I am not a mathematician, or a scientist, but I do have some experience of crossing field boundaries, and since open education is all about breaking down boundaries and cutting across fields, this seems like a nice metaphor to hang this talk on. Continue reading

23 Things: Thing 5 Diversity

“A lot of communication online is now via the mode of emoji/emoticon images. Traditionally these have been displayed as a yellow standard, but recent releases of more diverse emoji choices have raised a number of conversations. Read the two articles on reactions to the Apple and Facebook release of diverse emoji/emoticons in 2015 and 2016. Now consider the emoji alternative Bitmoji
Thing 5 

To be honest I’m not big on avatars and emjois.  I used the same twitter avatar (a rather fetching picture of the back of my head) for nine years and only got round to changing it a couple of months ago :}  I also don’t use emojis very often so I’ve never really given much thought to who they may or may not represent.  Now I stop and think about it though, that lack of regard is a clear reflection of my own position of privilege.  I may not use emojis, but if I ever wanted to, it wouldn’t be difficult to find plenty that would broadly represent me.  So the article about the furore surrounding Apple’s multicultural icons certainly gave me pause for thought.  It also made me think of the recent news articles about Rayouf Alhumedhi, a Saudi teenager living in Germany who has submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium’s emoji subcommittee for the inclusion of hijab and keffiyeh wearing emojis. Motherboard Alhumedhi as saying

“Emojis can seem like a trivial topic but people use emojis to represent themselves and their lives. When the different couples and different skin tone emojis were added there was a huge buzz, and this was because people finally felt represented and acknowledged, which is the same case with the headscarf emoji.”

Rayouf Alhumedhi

Rayouf Alhumedhi

There are several things I find really inspiring about this story. Firstly it’s about choice and empowerment.  Here is a young woman who felt she lacked representation online and took it upon herself to change that.  And secondly it’s about diversity and engagement with standards bodies.  The way that Alhumedhi went about creating an icon that represented herself was by submitting a proposal directly to the formal standards body that governs unicode emojis.  That takes some doing.  I worked with technology standards bodies for many years, though admittedly not the Unicode Consortium, and to say that women are underrepresented in these bodies would be something of an understatement. I got so used to being the only woman in the room that I stopped even noticing and I don’t think I ever encountered a woman of colour in any of the standards working groups I was involved with over a period of about fifteen years.  So more power to Alhumedhi for taking her campaign for representation straight to the body that governs the standard.  If we had more people like Alhumedhi involved in the the development of standards and software perhaps the web would be a more diverse and inclusive place and companies like Apple wouldn’t find themselves in such a mess when it comes to dealing with issues of race, representation and diversity.

Links
The Hijab Emoji Project
The Unicode Consortium
Unicode Emoji Subcommittee

 

23 Things: Bonus Thing A – About Me page

Consider creating a definitive ‘About Me page’. This is a space where you can tell the world who you are, what you do, where your interests lie, and link your online presences all together in the one place.

This one’s easy.  I’ve got an about me page right here lornamcampbell.org/about-2/ I first posted this page in 2013 but because my job tends to change pretty rapidly I update it regularly.  Looking at it today though I realise I could do with updating it again.

I also recently started keeping a google doc for short bios, because I’m always being asked for bios for one thing or another and tend to end up writing variations of the same thing over and over again.

I did used to keep an About.me page but I haven’t updated it for ages and since the system changed it now looks a mess so I should probably delete that account.

23 things is proving to be very useful for highlighting all these little digital housekeeping jobs that I never seem to get round to doing!

23 Things: Thing 4 Digital Security

So Thing 4 is all about checking your digital security and privacy settings.  This isn’t actually something I’ve done before but I’m glad I didn’t have any nasty surprises.  I actually don’t use many apps, I tend not to link them together, I don’t turn on location services unless it’s absolutely necessary and I keep bluetooth off.  That might make me sound very careful about my digital privacy and security but I have to confess, it has more to do with the fact that I have a rather old iPhone with hardly any storage capacity and crap battery life!  In actual fact I’m a bit blase when it comes to this kind of thing so it would probably do me no harm to follow up with one of the recommended digital security courses.

Credit: Wowser, CC BY NC 2.0, https://www.flickr.com/photos/wowser/2915951282/

Credit: Wowser, CC BY NC 2.0, https://www.flickr.com/photos/wowser/2915951282/

23 Things: Thing 3 or why I am conflicted about digital footprints…

Thing 3 is all about your Digital Footprint …. I don’t often google myself but when I do, I do so with some trepidation. Thankfully if you google lorna m campbell you get a fairly innocuous footprint.  The top six hits are:

  1. My blog. Rather annoyingly it’s my old blog on wordpress.com, rather than my new blog on Reclaim Hosting.
  2. My twitter account.
  3. My author bio on the University of Edinburgh’s Teaching Matter’s website.
  4. Aggregated blog posts on Open.Ed.
  5. My profile on the Cetis website.
  6. The Amazon page for a book I’ve just written: Hornblower’s Historical Shipmates: The Young Gentlemen of Pellew’s Indefatigable.  Blatant plug.

And if you look for images you’ll mostly find me, or people I’ve worked with, or blogged about.

my-footprint

It’s all very professional as I’m well aware of the idea of digital footprints and the necessity of not letting the streams cross.  Having said that, I am also rather conflicted about the whole concept of the digital footprint.  I do allow a lot of my personal identity to bleed into my professional digital footprint as I see this as being an integral part of being an open education practitioner.  However I also actively curate my digital footprint, I am careful about what I post where and I have some digital channels that I choose to keep private.   But I still have very mixed feeling about this.

How much should we allow our professional identities dictate how we interact online?  At what point does curating your digital footprint become a form of self censorship? Who regulates what is deemed to be acceptable and professional behaviour in which contexts? And as our personal and professional selves increasingly bleed together online, where do the boundaries of these regulations lie?

There are some really thorny issues here.  I’m concerned that a lot of the complex issues around the control of online identity often get brushed under the carpet and I think that worries me more than having digital footprints that stray all over the internet.  I’d be very interested to know what others think about this.

23 Things: Thing 1 and Thing 2

“If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”
The Cat in the Hat, Dr Seuss

I’m belatedly jumping on board with the University of Edinburgh’s 23 Things course, which is being facilitated by my colleague Charlie Farley in the Open Education Team.  23 Things for Digital Knowledge is a self-directed course that aims to

“expose you to a range of digital tools for your personal and professional development as a researcher, academic, student, or professional. The aim is for you to spend a little time each week over the semester, building up and expanding your skills.”

Thing 1 Introduction

“Register for the course and familiarise yourself with the program and the University’s Social Media Guidelines for Staff and Researchers.”

Okay, done both of those.

Thing 2 Blogging

Register your blog with 23 Things….done, Open World is now registered.

“Use your blog to write a short post about:

A) what you hope to gain out of the 23 Things programme.

B) were you aware of the University’s Social Media Guidelines for Staff and Researchers or the student Social Media Student Handbook? What do you think of the guidelines/handbook?”

So, what do I hope to gain from 23 Things?  Well, I use a whole host of social media channels routinely and I’m so familiar with them that perhaps I don’t give them the thought and consideration as I should.  I have to confess that I’m pretty blasé about my social media presence, so I think one of the things I want to gain from this course is to step back and actually think about how I present myself online and engage with my peers. Also I want to see if I can actually finish the course.  I very rarely sign up for online courses because I already have so many commitments above ad beyond work, and I hate starting something and not being able to finish it :}

I was aware of the University’s social media guidelines but I have to confess that I hadn’t actually read the handbook.  I’ve read it now, a quick skim admittedly, and while a lot of it is common sense, there were one or two parts which made me go hmmm…..particularly the recommendation that staff or researchers “always obtain approval for any new personal social media presence.”  I’m not entirely sure how necessary or realistic that is tbh.   I was also a bit puzzled by “make sure you offer an equal level of service for members of our audiences who find social networks inaccessible.”  What exactly does that mean if you’re blogging about work on a personal blog? Should I also make my blog posts available through another channel or in a different medium?  I’m curious to know that this really means in practice.

23-things

A new string for my bow: OER Liaison – Open Scotland

burghead_saltire_cropped

CC BY Lorna M. Campbell

(Cross posted to openscot.net)

I’m very pleased to have added a new string to my bow! As of the beginning of this month I will be working one day a week as OER Liaison – Open Scotland within the Learning, Teaching and Web division at the University of Edinburgh, where I’ll be working with LTW Director and OER16 co-chair, Melissa Highton. I’ll also continue working in my main role as Digital Education Manager at EDINA, while still doing some consultancy work with former Cetis colleagues, so I’m certainly going to be busy!

Edinburgh already has a world class reputation for encouraging innovation in open education and a forward looking vision for sharing open educational materials, so I’m very pleased indeed that the University has chosen to support Open Scotland in this way.

The main activities I’ll be concentrating on over the coming months are planning next year’s OER16 conference, revitalising the Open Scotland initiative, promoting the Scottish Open Education Declaration, and continuing to participate in the Open Policy Network.  The Open Scotland blog has been sadly neglected for some time now so hopefully I’ll be able to start updating it again with open education news and developments from across Scotland and beyond, so if you’re involved in an any kind of open education initiative that you’d like to see featured on Open Scotland please feel free to get in touch. You can drop me a mail at lorna.m.campbell@icloud.com or contact me on twitter @lornamcampbell.

I’ll also be at ALT-C next week so if you’ve got any thoughts or ideas either for OER16 or for Open Scotland, please do come and find me for a chat.