Introducing the femedtech Open Space

This blog post, by Frances Bell and I, originally appeared on the OER19 Conference website earlier this week and I’m cross-posting it here for International Women’s Day.  Frances and I first started discussing the idea of a femedtech Open Space when OER19 launched their call for proposals, and right from the off we knew we wanted to create a space that was as open and inclusive as possible, one that would allow those who were unable to attend the conference to participate, and one that would live on after it.  I was keen to explore the use of the TRU Writer SPLOT template, having previously had a lot of fun with other SPLOT templates through our work at the University of Edinburgh.  Out of these vague ideals, lots of late night e-mail and twitter conversations, and with the generous help of the people acknowledged below, the femedtech Open Space was born. Find out more about this initiative and please consider contributing your voice to our community. 

One of the real strengths of the OER Conferences is that in recent years they have increasingly facilitated an ongoing critical discourse that seeks to question and renegotiate what openness means to educators, teachers and learners within different contexts and perspectives.  This discourse ripples out from the physical and temporal boundaries of the conferences in the form of blogs posts, twitter conversations, research papers and discussions that enable us to trace the evolution of narratives of open from year to year.  OER17 The Politics of Open explored the challenges current political movements posed for Open Education and how they might further or hinder values of inclusivity, sharing, connectedness, equity, voice, agency, and openness. OER18 Open For All sparked discussions around power and marginality, inclusivity, diversity, identity, decolonisation and respect, and these themes will be explored further during OER19.  When Co-Chair Catherine Cronin introduced the themes of OER19 Recentering Open: Critical and Global Perspectives at the end of OER18 in Bristol she stressed the imperative of moving beyond hero narratives and including marginalised voices.

These themes and values align strongly with those of femedtech, an open, inclusive and voluntary network of education technology practitioners informed by feminist principles.  femedtech is committed to creating inclusive online spaces where marginalised voices can speak and be heard. We acknowledge that this is an ongoing work in progress and a learning experience for all of us.

With this in mind, the femedtech network will be facilitating an inclusive Open Space session around OER19 to explore themes and conversations that have emerged from previous OER conferences around power, marginality, equality, diversity and inclusion.  We’ll be seeking to question dominant narratives of “open”, explore whose voices are included and whose are excluded from our open spaces and open practices, whose voices we choose to amplify and whose are silenced. 

Questions we hope to consider before, during and after the OER19 session include;

  • How do we balance privacy, openness and personal ethics?
  • How do we mediate our place in the open community, aspects of which might conflict with our personal ethics?
  • Is openness an act of conformance and / or defiance? And are there performative aspects to openness?
  • Do we feel pressured to be more open than we are comfortable with, or do our boundaries constrain us?
  • How do we manage sustainable spaces for exploring challenging issues around open?

In order to facilitate these discussions and to ensure the widest participation from the community, we are building an online femedtech Open Space, http://femedtech.net/, to gather stories, thoughts, reflections, responses and reactions, in the form of written content, images, audio, and media.  We welcome reflections on all aspects and experiences of openness from feminist perspectives and we encourage participants to raise their own questions and tell their own stories.  We acknowledge that our understanding of openness is highly personal and contextualised, and appreciate that there is no standard definition of openness to which we must comply.  In order to ensure that engaging with the #femedtech Open Space will be as widely accessible and inclusive as possible, participants are able to contribute to these conversations anonymously if they choose.   

Through the femedtech Open Space, we also aim to explore how we build our communities and practices here and elsewhere in the #femedtech network, and evaluate whether this is a sustainable model for growing the #femedtech community and network. Inspired by Dignazio & Klein (2018), we will develop our inclusive values statement iteratively in conjunction with activities on the Open Space and across the femedtech community. 

During the conference session, we will briefly introduce the Open Space for those who haven’t seen it before, and invite delegates and virtual participants to contribute and discuss their own ideas and reflections. We’ll summarise progress to date, invite feedback from session participants, outline future plans, and encourage participants to engage with others’ contributions after the conference. We also hope to encourage remote participation in the conference session.

We invite you to visit the femedtech Open Space to contribute your thoughts, reflections, comments, stories and ideas: http://femedtech.net/

Acknowledgements

This is an extra-institutional project taking place within the broad venture of the femedtech network. 

Thanks to Maren Deepwell and Sheila MacNeill who have contributed to shaping this initiative and will be helping to facilitate our OER19 conference session. 

The femedtech Open Space is generously hosted by Reclaim Hosting.  Reclaim Hosting provides educators and institutions with an easy way to offer their students domains and web hosting that they own and control.   The site uses the open source TRU Writer SPLOT WordPress theme developed by Alan Levine and available on Github. 

Our Code of Conduct is adapted with permission from  PressED Conference run by Natalie Lafferty and Pat Lockley. It incorporates elements from ukmedchat and FOAMed and is intended to be interpreted according to feminist principles.

Sustainable Support for OER

This blog post was originally posted on Open.Ed as part of a series of posts for Open Education Week 2019. 

Sustainability is key to supporting open education and OER, and one factor that lays the foundations for sustainability is aligning the value proposition for OER with an organisation’s institutional mission and strategic vision.

At the University of Edinburgh, we believe that supporting OER is squarely in line with our institutional mission and vision to provide the highest quality learning and teaching environment for the greater wellbeing of our students, challenging the boundaries of knowledge, and making a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world.

In 2016 the University launched an OER Service, based in Information Services Group, to support the institution’s new OER Policy.  This policy, which encourages staff and students to use, create and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience, was approved by the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee, situating OER directly in the domain of teaching and learning.  Both the policy and the service are part of the University’s strategic vision for OER which is founded on traditions of the Scottish Enlightenment, excellent education and research collections, and the University’s civic mission.

At the University of Edinburgh one of the key value proposition for OER is that it mitigates the risk of what Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web services division, and the architect of the University’s OER vision, has referred to as copyright debt; the cost and risk accrued when copyright of teaching and learning resources is not cleared and they are upload to institutional systems.

In order to develop a sustainable approach to address this issue, the OER Service focuses on developing digital skills, copyright and information literacy for staff and students in schools and colleges across the University.  The OER Service embeds digital skills training and support in the institution’s strategic initiatives including lecture recording, academic blogging, VLE foundations, MOOCs and distance learning at scale, to build sustainability, enhance digital literacy, and minimise the risk of technical debt. 

The wide range of digital skills development activities supported by the OER Service includes online courses such as the award winning 23 Things for Digital Knowledge, playful learning initiatives such as Board Game Jams and Gif It Up!, workshops including Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile, and student internships.  All the digital skills training materials we create for these activities are made available as CC BY  licensed open educational resources from our Edinburgh’s OERs showcase.  We hope you find these resources useful.

Spring into Open Education Week

Today marks the start of Open Education Week, the global celebration of the Open Education movement.  Last year my OER Service colleagues and I didn’t participate in Open Education Week as it coincided with the USS Strike so this year, we’re making up for lost time and we’ve got a whole pile of activities and events lined up. 

Open.Ed Spring Newsletter

We’ve published our latest Open.Ed newsletter to coincide with Open Education Week and to highlight events we’ll be running over the course of the week, along with other open activities and initiatives going on around the University.  You can read the latest edition of the newsletter here:  Welcome to the OER Service’s Spring Newsletter, and find back issues of the newsletter here Open.Ed Newsletter.

Open.Ed Blog Series

Over the course of the week, the Open.Ed Blog will be featuring a series of posts from students, staff, and open education practitioners from across the University of Edinburgh, covering a wide range of topics including Masters level OER assignments, Wikipedia and Translation Studies, tools for creating OERs, and much more. The series kicks off today with one post by me on Sustainable Support for OER and another by Jen Ross on Digital Futures for Learning: An OER assignment

Supporting Open Education and Open Knowledge at the University of Edinburgh

On Tuesday 5 March at 12.00-13.00, the OER Service will be hosting a free and informal lunchtime webinar during which we’ll be sharing our approaches to supporting Open Education and Open Knowledge at the University of Edinburgh.  Come and join me, Stuart Nicol (Education Design and Engagement), Ewan McAndrew (Wikimedian in Residence), Charlie Farley (OER Service), Rachael Mfoafo (EDE) and Anne-Marie Scott (DLAM) to talk about supporting open education through digital skills development, playful approaches to copyright literacy, embedding Wikipedia in the curriculum, and open approaches to MOOCs and distance learning at scale.  The webinar is free and open to all, joining details are available here.

Decolonise & Diversify the Curriculum with OER

This one-hour workshop on Tuesday 6 March at 12.00 – 13.00 will explore what it means to decolonise and diversify the curriculum with EUSA VP of Education Diva Mukherji. My lovely OER Service colleague Charlie Farley will also demonstrate how creating, using, and sharing OER can be one avenue towards diversifying and opening up curriculum materials. The workshop is open to University of Edinburgh staff and students, further information is available here

And of course I’ll be blogging and tweeting on the #OEWeek hashtag and hoping to catch some of the other fabulous activities going on over the course of the week too. 

Daffodils in George Square, CC BY, University of Edinburgh

LGBT History Month – with emphasis on the B

This month is LGBT History Month and it’s inspired me to share a little bit of my own LGBT history, with emphasis on the B. Actually I’ve been meaning to copy some of this material for ages now and I even bought a blog domain a couple of years ago to share it, but I’ve never got round to doing anything with it! 

All this material is from the mid to late 1990’s when I was a member of the fabulous Edinburgh Bisexual Group which ran from 1984 – 2000. There was no bisexual group in Glasgow at the time but Glasgow was blessed with some really innovative arts programming featuring performances from Ron Athey, Annie Sprinkle, Penny Arcade, and Leigh Bowery among others, and the club scene was second to none.  

This is the kind of bisexual ephemera that tends to escape the attention of archives, so I was encouraged to recently discover the Bi History Archive project based at Glasgow Zine Library.  I should really to to get round to sorting through the rest of the material I’ve got stashed around the house to share some of it with them. 

Have No Fear – Learning to love your blog

Last week I taught the third run of our Blogging to Build your Professional Profile workshop and also had the pleasure of joining a lunchtime call with colleagues from ALT to talk about different approaches to team blogging.  Something that struck me is that whenever I talk about blogging there are a number of issues that come up repeatedly, regardless of whether the people I’m talking to are experienced bloggers or whether they’re dipping their toe in the water for the first time.  And all these issues relate broadly to anxiety.

All is vanity

Even among experienced bloggers there can be a lingering feeling that blogs are really just a bit of a vanity project, a space to show off and blow your own trumpet, and well, it’s all just a little bit undignified really. I find this a bit odd because as academics and professionals we are already expected to disseminate our work broadly, through scholarly publications, professional papers, and academic and industry conferences.  I think the difference with blogs is that they exist outwith the traditional academic sphere of acceptance and control.  By and large, we control our own blogs; we control what we post, when we post, and who we choose to share with.   I’d argue that far from being a vanity project, blogs are an invaluable way to facilitate reflective practice, and to empower colleagues to curate their own professional and academic portfolios and identities.   If you need to be convinced about the benefits of academic blogging have a look at some of the great blogs that are linked on our Academic Blogging SPLOT and hosted on the University of Edinburgh’s new blogs.ed.ac.uk service.

Have no fear

Once you get used to blogging it’s easy to forget just how terrifying it can be to hit that little blue Publish button if you’re not used to putting your words out there.   This is particularly true if you’re writing blog posts that are in any way personal or reflective.  Even experienced academic and professional writers can suffer from this kind of anxiety.  When we write academic papers or professional reports we generally abide by certain writing standards and conventions, which arguably place a degree of distance between ourselves and our words. When we write personal reflective posts, the buffer provided by these conventions disappears. Sharing a part of ourselves online can be a lot scarier than sharing our papers and reports.  I’ve blogged for years but I still feel a little anxious when I publish something that’s a bit more personal, a bit more political, a bit closer to the bone than usual.  In my experience it’s really worth it though, the response I’ve had on the odd occasions I have published more personal posts has been incredibly supportive and up-lifting.  Few pieces of writing have terrified me more than Shouting From The Heart, but the response to that piece from colleagues was overwhelming.

Perfection is the enemy of the good

Another issue that often comes up is what if my blog posts aren’t good enough?  What if my ideas aren’t fully formed?  What if I post something embarrassingly bad?  What if I regret it later? Perfectionism is one of the main stumbling blogs that often prevents people from taking up blogging, particularly in a domain like academia where imposter syndrome is rife.  When we all set such ridiculously high standards for ourselves, it can be really difficult to put anything out there that is less than perfect, and the result of course is that we end up posting nothing.   However the real beauty of blogs is that they are ideally suited to letting you develop your ideas and think aloud.  Blog posts don’t have to be perfect, they don’t have to be fully formed, and if there are one or two typos, well, it’s really not the end of the world, you can always go back and edit later.  Some of my favourite blogs are ones where I can see colleagues thinking through their ideas.  Maren Deepwell, Melissa Highton, Sheila MacNeill, Anne-Marie Scott and Martin Weller’s blogs are all great examples of this.  My advice if you’re struggling with perfectionism is to start out by blogging in private.  Lots of bloggers keep both public and private blogs and that’s just fine.  Blogging, like any form of writing, is 90% practice and hopefully as your confidence in your writing grows, you’ll find it’ll be easier to start sharing your posts in public.

Shouting into the void

So that happens once you’ve written your first blog post, taken a deep breath, hit the little blue button, and sent it off into the big world wide web?  Quite often what happens is…nothing.  Nada.  Crickets.  Tumbleweed. New bloggers are often anxious about getting lots of negative comments on their posts, but to be honest, it’s far more common to get no comments at all.  Seriously, have a look at my blog, the vast majority of posts don’t have a single comment. That doesn’t mean that no one is engaging with them though, whenever I write a blog post, I post a link on twitter and that’s where the conversation happens, if it’s going to happen at all, because that’s where my community of open education practitioners is.  Many of my posts still pass under the radar though, and there’s no denying that it can be discouraging to post a lovingly crafted piece of writing, particularly one you’ve invested a lot of time and effort into, and it receives no engagement at all.  This can be heightened by the odd sense of loss all writers sometimes feel when they let go of a piece of writing.

One way to address this is to be strategic about how and when you post. There’s a lot of advice and guidance available online that will tell you when the optimal time to post is and how to use analytics to track the impact of your writing, however I’d caution against getting too caught up in tracking clicks and likes and comments.  Online engagement can be fickle and it’s often hard to predict which posts will get lots of attention and which will sink without a trace.  Don’t judge the value of your writing on the basis of social media likes; posts that get a lot of attention aren’t necessarily the “best” posts, and vice versa.

My approach to counteracting post-publication (post-posting?) blues is to try and write for myself first and foremost. That might sound trite, but it’s still good advice.  I’m a great believer in the benefits of writing as a personal reflective practice.  If other people engage with what I write, that’s a bonus, but if not, it doesn’t matter, because I’ve still benefited from the process of writing.

Don’t feel too dispirited if you don’t get much engagement on your blog, try to enjoy the process of thinking and writing for yourself.  But if you do want feedback and engagement, don’t be afraid to reach out; find out where your people are, share your posts with them there, ask colleagues for comments and input, most will be only too happy to oblige.

Maren wrote a brilliant post on the creative process of blogging after our talk last week and I can highly recommend it if you’re looking for inspiration:  Blogging is my sketchbook: reflecting on the creative process and open practice.

Happy Birthday Wikipedia!

Wikipedia turns 18 today!  Hurray!  I hope it doesn’t go out and get completely hammered and wake up in the morning with no memory of how it got home.   To celebrate this momentous occasion, Wikimedia UK has asked us all to tell them why we value Wikipedia.

  • What does Wikipedia mean to you?

The power of open knowledge at your fingertips!

  • Why do you think people should value Wikipedia?

Used correctly, Wikipedia is an invaluable source of open knowledge.  It’s one of the few truly open and transparent sources of knowledge and information on the web.  Its very existence is a testament to human ingenuity and perseverance, and a challenge to those who seek to manipulate and restrict access to knowledge and information.

Also it’s dead handy when you need to know the population of villages in Fife.

  • What would you say to someone to encourage them to become a Wikipedia editor?

Wikipedia is an amazing achievement but we still have so much work to do.  The encyclopaedia is a reflection of the world and the people who edit it and as such it mirrors all our inequalities, prejudices and power structures.  If we want Wikipedia to be more diverse, more inclusive and more representative, then we need to encourage more people, and specifically more women and minorities, to edit.  Now more so than ever, open knowledge is far too important to be left in the hands of the few.

Ewan McAndrew, our fabulous Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh, often reminds us that the number of Very Active editors (i.e. more than 100 contributions in a given month) on English Wikipedia is just over 3,000, which is roughly equivalent to the population of a small village in Fife.  Anstruther for example.  Imagine the sum of all knowledge being left in the hands of Fifers?!  Perish the thought!  You know what you have to do….Edit!

Anstruther from Kirkyard, CC0, Poliphilo, Wikimedia Commons

Disclaimer: I’m sure Anstruther is lovely.

Looking Behind the Curtain

Before Christmas by lovely former colleague R. John Robertson invited me to answer some questions about digital literacy for a course on Digital Literacy and Life that he’s teaching with Cindy Strong at Seattle Pacific University.  I’m late with these responses as usual, but it was a really interesting and thought provoking exercise because I’ve never taken the time to sit down and really reflect on how I understand digital literacy and what it means to me.

What is digital literacy?

I’ve never attempted to define digital literacy before, but now I think about it, I realise that I tend to conflate information literacy and digital literacy, primarily because so much of the information we now create, consume and interact with is mediated by digital technologies.   Certainly, there is a digital skills aspect to digital literacy, having the requisite skills to be able to use the tools that enable us to create and access information, but developing digital literacies is arguably more important as it enables us to ask critical questions of this information regarding authorship, authenticity, ownership and perspective.

What impact does digital literacy have on your personal, professional, and spiritual life?

Digital literacy has a huge impact on both my personal and professional life.  I work for the OER Service, within Information Services at the University of Edinburgh, and helping colleagues to develop critical digital literacy skills is a large part of my job;  whether its running workshops on developing blogging skills to build your professional online profile, contributing to training sessions on understanding copyright and open licensing, or helping to run Wikipedia and Wikidata editathons.  Digital literacy is at the heart of what I do.

It’s not just about teaching people how to use digital tools, it’s about empowering them with the knowledge and confidence to have some degree of control over their digital presence and interactions.  Having the ability to curate and control our personal digital identities and online personas is a key aspect of digital literacy for me. It’s not all one way though, I’m constantly developing my own understanding of digital literacy and learning new digital skills through my professional practice and interactions with my peers.

I don’t regard myself as a spiritual person, but on a personal level, I believe that one of the most important aspects of digital literacy is that it gives us the ability to understand and to question how information is created, by whom, and for what purpose.  Digital literacy allows us to look behind the curtain to see the man (and it is invariably a man) who is pulling the levers and pushing the buttons.  Digital literacy helps to reveal how orthodoxies and narratives are created, and enables us to understand whose voices are included and whose are excluded.  Digital literacy helps to make structural inequality visible and if we choose to, it give us the tools to challenge these inequalities.

Who are you? (context matters)

I’m Lorna M. Campbell and I’m an open education practitioner.  I work in Edinburgh, live in Glasgow and come from the Outer Hebrides.  I’m a trustee of the Association for Learning Technology, Wikimedia UK and the Society for Nautical Research.  I was an archaeologist in a previous life, and I’m sometimes a naval historian.  I’m interested in fan culture and issues relating to gender and sexuality, particularly from a queer and historical perspective.  And I’m the mother of an almost-teenage daughter who understands the importance of citations on Wikipedia, because digital literacy begins at home ♡

2018 – It All Adds Up

A recap of 2018 in numbers…..

3 Keynotes

I was honoured to be invited to present 3 open education keynotes this at the beginning of this year at OER18, the FLOSS UK Spring Conference and CELT18 at NUI Galway.  Each keynote presented different challenges and learning opportunities, particularly FLOSS UK where I had to get up on stage and talk to an all male conference (there were only 3 women in the room including me) about structural discrimination in the open domain. It was pretty terrifying and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the #femedtech community.  Indeed the #femedtech network has been one of of my main influences and inspirations this year and it’s been a real joy to see if go from strength to strength.  My OER18 keynote also resulted in my most impactful tweet ever with 16,592 impressions to date.  Predictably it wasn’t about open eduction, it was about shoes :}

Bessie Watson

To coincide with the centenary of women’s suffrage on the 6th February, I wrote a Wikipedia article about Bessie Watson the 9 year old suffragette from Edinburgh.  Bessie’s story really seemed to capture the imagination and it was great to be able to bring her amazing life to wider notice.

11 Days of Industrial Action

The USS Pension strike had a huge impact on the whole Higher Education sector early in the year.  I was grateful that I was in a position to be able to support the strike, which I know was much more difficult for many, many colleagues across the sector employed on part time and precarious contracts.  Although the strike was nominally about a single issue it really did galvanise action around a whole host of deeply problematic issues including workloads, pay, conditions, equality, precarity and the commercialisation of higher education.  It was a real inspiration to see so many staff and students getting behind the strike and to be able to join the strike rally in George Square in Glasgow.

USS Strike Rally, George Square, Glasgow, CC BY, Lorna M.Campbell

Repeal the 8th Campaign

Once again I was hugely inspired by the people of Ireland and the way they came together to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution, to recognise womens’ right to bodily autonomy and to amend abortion legislation.

AO3 an Inspiration in Open Source

In June I was delighted to listen online to Casey Fiesler’s amazing Open Repositories keynote Growing Their Own: Building an Archive and a Community for Fanfiction.  I’ve long been a fan of AO3 and have been endlessly frustrated, though not surprised, that this phenomenally successful open source initiative run on feminist principles isn’t more widely recognised and celebrated in the domain of open knowledge.  Casey’s brilliant keynote showed us how much we can potentially learn from AO3.

Wikimedia UK Partnership of the Year

In July the University of Edinburgh won Wikimedia UK’s Partnership of the Year Award for the 2nd time, for embedding Wikipedia in teaching and learning and for advocating for the role of Wikimedians in Residence in Higher Education.  None of this would be possible of course without the support of our own tireless Wikimedian in Residence, Ewan McAndrew.

Left to right: Stephanie (Charlie) Farley, Open Education Resources; Lorna Campbell, OER Service; Ewan McAndrew, Wikimedian in Residence; Anne-Marie Scott, Deputy Director of Learnng, Teaching & Web Services. CC BY, University of Edinburgh.

50!

The other significant event in July was my 50th birthday :}  The day itself was lovely, lazy and lowkey and I spent most of the month catching up with friends from all over the world online and in person.  It was wonderful.  My partner bought me glider lessons as a gift but sadly I haven’t taken them yet as I haven’t been able to get to the air field since….

RIP Magic Bus

After 13 fabulous, and admittedly often frustrating, years our VW T25 camper van died a death, though not before taking us on one last holiday to Galloway and then home to the Hebrides where I finally got to visit Traigh Mheilein beach in North Harris.  Traigh Mheilein is often described as the most beautiful beach in the Hebrides and boy does it live up to that reputation.

Traigh Mheilein, Isle of Harris, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

ALTC 25th Anniversary

In September I was back in Manchester for the 25th ALT Annual Conference.  As an organisation that truly embodies its core principles of collaboration, participation, independence and openness, ALT continues to be an inspiration right across the sector and I’m honoured to be able to play a small role in supporting the organisation through the ALT Board and the ALTC social media team.  The 25th conference was one of the best yet and my own personal highlights included thought provoking keynotes by Maren Deepwell and Amber Thomas, Melissa Highton‘s unflinchingly honest talk about developing and implementing a lecture recording policy at the height of the USS strikes, and Catherine Cronin and Frances Bell’s personal feminist retrospective of learning technology.  Catherine and Frances’ session also inspired me to take a step back and reflect on my own career as a learning technologist.

Wiki Loves Monuments

September means Wiki Loves Monuments and this year the competition was even more fun than last year, which I wouldn’t have thought possible!  Huge thanks to everyone who participated and who made the competition so much fun, particularly our Wikimedians in Scotland – Ewan, Sara and Delphine.  I uploaded 383 pictures and came 15th overall in the UK.  Most of these pictures were taken during our summer holiday so I really have to thank my parter and daughter for their patience :}

Naval History

I haven’t been writing much Naval History recently and indeed I’ll be stepping down from the Society of Nautical Research‘s Publications & Membership next year after 5 years in the chair.  However my colleague Heather and I did publish one short paper in The Trafalgar Chronicle, the journal of The 1805 Club, which this year focused on the lives of women and families at sea and on shore.  Our paper “I shall be anxious to know…”: Lives of the Indefatigable women, shone a spotlight on the personal lives of some of the women we encountered while researching our book Hornblower’s Historical Shipmates.

Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile

In October I built my 1st ever SPLOT!  As part of the roll out of the University of Edinburgh’s new academic blogging service I was tasked with developing a digital skills training workshop on professional blogging and what better way to do that than by practicing what we preach and building a blog!  Anne-Marie Scott set up the SPLOT template for me and it was all plain sailing from there.  The Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile workshop has already proved to be very popular and all the resources have been shared under Creative Commons licence so they can be reused and adapted. It was great working with LTW colleagues on this project, particularly Karen Howie, who a good friend from early CETIS days and an awesome person to work with.

#QueerArt20

In late November Gary Needham, senior lecturer in film and media at the University of Liverpool tagged me in the #QueerArt20 twitter challenge; one image a day, any medium, no credits or titles.  I’ve loved seeing the images other people have been posting and it really was a challenge to choose just 20 of my own to post. It was also a timely opportunity to reconnect with queer culture.  And talking of which…

120 Beats Per Minute

I didn’t see many memorable films this year but one that I did see, and which will stay with me for a long time was 120 Beats Per Minute a deeply moving and viscerally powerful film about queer activism set against the background of the AIDS crisis in Paris in the late 1980’s /  early 1990’s.  It’s a beautiful, painful and necessary film and I would urge you all to see it.

CETIS – The End of an Era

At the beginning of December I stepped down as a partner of CETIS LLP ending a 17 year association with the organisation in all its various incarnations.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without CETIS and I wish all the partners the very best for the future

….and the lows

Brexit has cast a noxious cloud of reckless xenophobia, bigotry and intolerance over us all, with the only glimmers of hope being a 2nd referendum and the more distant promise of Indy Ref 2.

It’s been equally been horrifying to watch the rise of right wing populist movements across the world.  Fascism might have a new acceptable ALT-Right face but it’s still fucking fascism.

I was heart broken by the death of Scott Hutchison in May.  He was a phenomenally talented writer and his songs uniquely captured the struggles so many face with alienation, depression, isolation and addiction.  Scott faced all these demons in true Scottish style; with scathing wit, self-effacing humour and heartbreaking poetry.  Just a few months before his death, I was packed into the Academy with hundreds of others for 10th anniversary tour of The Midnight Organ Fight.  It’s a night I won’t forget.

Frightened Rabbit, Barrowlands Ballroom, December 2016. CC BY Lorna M. Campbell

On an open education note, one of my frustrations this year is that, due to lack of time and focussing efforts elsewhere,  I had to neglect Open Scotland.  I really hope I’ll have an opportunity to revitalise the initiative next year as we still have a lot of work to do to persuade the Scottish Government of the benefits of open education.  This might seem like a trivial exercise when Scot Gov is facing the catastrophic challenge of Brexit, but surely we need open and equitable access to education and educational resources now more than ever.

I think I’ve exhausted my numbers now and they all add up to quite a year (sorry, that’s terrible) it just remains for me to wish you all the very best for 2019.

Open for all? Engaging with open education practice at the personal and institutional level

A couple of weeks ago I gave a webinar as part of Jane Secker’s new online course on Digital Literacies and Open Practice at City, University of London.  The lecture was called Open for all? Engaging with open education practice at the personal and institutional level and the recording is available here (Adobe Connect)The webinar provided an overview of open practice, reflected on my own experience of being an open practitioner, explored issues relating to equality, equity, privilege and inclusion, and included examples of how the University of Edinburgh supports open practice and the creation and use of OER.

In a stroke of good timing, my webinar took place a couple of days after a fantastic EDEN webinar by Catherine Cronin and Martin Weller called Open Education: What Now? which you can listen to here (Adobe Connect).  Many of the points Catherine and Martin raised really struck a chord with me, particularly this one, so I was great to have the opportunity to reflect on this in my own webinar.

“Where there is no policy or strategy around openness many individuals, students and staff feel that if they make a mistake they may be in peril, that the university may not have their back. So the absence of policy speaks very loudly to people within higher education institutions.”