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  • Our edtech competition win, and why you should enter this time around
    Have you got an edtech idea that could solve a sector problem or enhance the student experience? We won funding and support for our idea, and you could too… Hands up if you fell into a university course without really knowing if it was the one for you?It’s more common than you might think. Personally, I had no idea what to study, and after considering law, psychology, and criminology, I ended up studying computer science at Bangor University in 2012 (having gone through clearing).During my studies, I witnessed one of my closest friends falling out of love with his course, and eventually dropping out entirely. After speaking with him it was clear he had chosen his course simply because he had studied it at A-level, and wasn’t sure what else to pick. (Did you know that recent Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data shows that, in 2016, more than 29,000 full time students (7.4% of the intake) were no longer in higher education after 12 months?)[#pullquote#]After numerous interviews, and a handful of offers, I did a complete turnaround and decided I wanted to start my own company.[#endpullquote#]Two years later, I was in my last year at university, and amongst exams, dissertations, sports commitments, and the usual turbulent university lifestyle, I started the dreaded procedure of job hunting. After numerous interviews, and a handful of offers, I did a complete turnaround and decided I wanted to start my own company.After a short while I met my now co-founder Chris Worsey, and, based on our experiences at university, we decided to set up a business tackling the lack of engagement in higher education career advice - something we were both passionate about.[#pullquote#]we came up with the idea for Coursematch, an app that allows students to find the right university course for them.[#endpullquote#]Chris has a background in politics and chairing a commission on youth unemployment, which gave him some fantastic insights into the sector we were hoping to break into. So in March 2016, whilst still in my final year of university – we came up with the idea for Coursematch, an app that allows students to find the right university course for them.Concept in hand, we entered a Jisc competition that is now called the edtech launchpad, a competition that gives winning edtech ideas and startups the financial and business support to make their ideas reality, and improve and/or enhance the sector in some way.  We were thrilled when we found out that we were one of the winning ideas![#pullquote#]The support that we were given by Jisc after our win was completely invaluable. [#endpullquote#]The support that we were given by Jisc after our win was completely invaluable. Not only did we receive an initial £2,000 grant, but we were able to attend a week of outstanding workshops that focused on honing our ideas, and early stage customer development. This was something I hadn’t done with Coursematch yet, and quickly realised was of utmost importance.The £2,000 grant also allowed me to focus my efforts full time on Coursematch, which was a significant contributing factor to how fast I was able to develop the app and get the all-important first version launched.After our support from Jisc, we were accepted onto the three month Manchester Ignite Accelerator, which upon completion saw us start our seed fundraising efforts. Over the next few months we managed to raise £140,000 of funding from a collection of incredible angel investors across the UK, and have just closed another £140,000!We have made some big improvements to the app, but know there is still a long way to go before we find the solution to the problem that we’ve set out to resolve, but we’re well on our way.[#pullquote#]It’s great to know that our app is already making a difference[#endpullquote#]Over 10,000 students have downloaded and are benefitting from our app already, and we’ve had some really positive feedback. It’s great to know that our app is already making a difference, and that our business plan has been a success, too! I’d like to take a moment to thank Jisc for all of their help, efforts, and ongoing support with both myself and Coursematch.For anybody who is thinking of applying to the Jisc competition - do it! You never know where you might end up a year later!The student ideas competition will open for entries in spring 2018 but you can register your interest now. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #studentideas.
  • The top five things about Digifest for attendees
    Digifest is a great way to hear from other educators from around the UK and share and learn from like-minded people.  I was honoured to be part of the steering group for this annual event and think that Jisc has continued to listen, to and be led by, pedagogy and industry needs with Digifest 2018.Why attend?Here are five reasons why I think you should attend...1. Meeting people in personI only use digital to free up my time to work with students and co-design ideas with other teachers - it’s important we don’t get distracted from the use of digital and meet face to face with people when we can.Digifest is great for networking at breakout sessions (sit away from your friends - you know them already), peer meetups, hosted lunch tables to build your network, share experiences, and set up collaborations as well. It goes quickly so use your time well by downloading the free Digifest event app (anyone registered will receive a link as soon as it the app is ready) before you arrive, and message your fellow attendees to organise a meet up.[#pullquote#]Digifest is great for networking at breakout sessions (sit away from your friends - you know them already)[#endpullquote#]2. Hearing best practice from across the UKIt is a unique opportunity to see and hear the latest thoughts and edtech advancements from across the further and higher education sectors and to explore what is going to be happening next. The workshops, lightning talks and keynotes are all good, so you'll need to cherry pick what is best for you and your students.Hearing from peers (people who actually do it) and other sector experts (people who genuinely want to help us) from across the UK is a unique opportunity. I like hearing how others in the sector are improving education using digital and want to come away inspired with at least ten new ideas.[#pullquote#]I like hearing how others in the sector are improving education using digital and want to come away inspired[#endpullquote#]3. Sampling new technologyThe exhibition space is a nice place to play with new tools and think about how they can enhance teaching and learning; with helpful experts keen to chat and share - as opposed to simply selling you units.The Digi Lab is where you can try all the latest edtech aimed at improving education. This year’s Digi Lab will offer a ‘seed to oak’ route (I like that phrase) explaining each product from research and development, to technology available to use in your teaching now. [#pullquote#]The exhibition space is a nice place to play with new tools and think about how they can enhance teaching and learning[#endpullquote#]4. Learning about learning analytics, and what they can do for youBig data and learning analytics will be a big talking point in 2018 to help us use our data in a productive way to improve student retention and grades as well as the effectiveness of our teaching.This year’s Digifest promises to illuminate the topic in an accessible way through live demos exploring intelligent campus data in real time, learning analytics debates, eg how analytics supports student wellbeing, and other innovative approaches that help streamline and evolve our practice.Find out more about Jisc’s developing learning analytics service.[#pullquote#]Big data and learning analytics will be a big talking point in 2018[#endpullquote#]5. Engaging with Jisc As well as meeting peers, sector experts and businesses, Digifest is a good opportunity to find out about Jisc's plans for the next year. You can also get support and advice on topics such as GDPR, and explore the products and services they have available to enhance your teaching. Jisc are there to help us and can be an invaluable ally as we all seek to develop our respective institutions in 2018/19.[#pullquote#]Digifest is a good opportunity to find out about Jisc's plans for the next year[#endpullquote#]Collaborate with usI want to take this opportunity to extend an open invitation to all other colleges using blended learning approaches to visit Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) and potentially collaborate with the digital team as we embed meaningful and relevant digital learning in every curriculum.We love collaborating with others and it’s thanks to events like Digifest that we continue to benefit from meeting other inspiring educators and grow each year.About DigifestDigifest is taking place in Birmingham on the 6-7 March 2018. Find out more and book your free place. You can join the conversation on Twitter using #digifest18. Scott Hayden is the digital innovation specialist / lecturer of creative media production, at Basingstoke College of Technology.
  • Ten top tips to make your university accessible to all learners
    The University of Kent has been leading the way in designing systems and ways of presenting content to make it easily accessible to as many learners as possible. I worked with Alistair McNaught, one of Jisc's accessibility and inclusion subject specialists, to put Jisc's sector-level guidance into practice in a living, breathing university and worked strategically to embed recommendations into normal university processes.Here's how we did it – and how your university could too – in my top ten tips for taking a strategic approach to improving access to information for everyone.1. Scan the horizonGet a sense of the best practices across the sector.The real value of our relationship has been the constant liaison, shared ideas and learning that has enabled us to seek (and achieve) far more than just the dissemination of information. Something fundamental has occurred where accessibility considerations have now permeated to nearly all key sections of the university.[#pullquote#]Something fundamental has occurred where accessibility considerations have now permeated to nearly all key sections of the university[#endpullquote#]With Jisc’s help, we have explored our institutional culture and adapted our approaches to achieve scalable and lasting change.2. Build a caseIdentify risks and opportunities, recognise potential efficiencies and savings.Branding this work as the OPERA project (Opportunity, Productivity, Engagement, Reducing barriers, Achievement) was significant.It became a university-wide accessibility project supported by advice and guidance from Jisc with a prime focus on improving opportunities for everyone. This enhanced buy-in while still having disproportionate benefits for students with disabilities.3. Find a sponsorGet buy-in from a senior manager with the vision and authority to ‘grease the wheels’.I found a strong ally in our head of student services at Kent who championed the work at high levels within the institution and helped bring together a steering group.4. Listen and learnFind out where good practice already exists and identify pockets of expertise in different roles and departments.Relationship building has been key – liaising with different people across every part of the university from student services to e-learning teams, procurement, libraries and academics.[#pullquote#]If everyone does their little bit, the institutional impacts can be huge[#endpullquote#]Optimising accessibility isn't necessarily a great deal of work for individual departments if it is done as a whole. If everyone does their little bit, the institutional impacts can be huge.5. Build alliesExplore synergies where you can add value to another’s work and they can add value to yours.There were a number of projects across the university – from lecture capture and Student Success projects – that fitted really well with what I was trying to achieve and it made sense to work together.It’s great when other people see the value accessibility brings to their own processes.6. Assemble a team Bring together people who can represent different views, influence different areas and share responsibilities/actions.The OPERA steering group has been very important in representing different interests and opportunities. It has also allowed us to weave together accessibility practices so they integrate into existing systems, policies and practices.7. Seek critique and invite improvementsMany people find change difficult and threatening...It is crucial to listen respectfully to people who are finding change difficult. I found that asking for their opinion about how to improve practices and make things better for everyone worked well.[#pullquote#]It is crucial to listen respectfully to people who are finding change difficult[#endpullquote#]Expect to be misunderstood from time to time but recognise that it’s rarely personal. By being open to difficult conversations and aware of conflicts of interest it is easier to make the compromises that are sometimes necessary to move forward.8. Be realisticBetter to make a small change soon that benefits people straight away than spend years negotiating bigger changes that thousands miss out on in the meantime.Quite early on we incorporated Sensus Access into our processes for information delivery to enable everyone at Kent to have access to accessible file conversion technology (which gave far greater independence to people who prefer materials in alternative formats). As we explored new assistive technologies we decided to make them available to everyone through our productivity tools pages.9. Be strategic - get the quick wins done quickly Publicise them and monitor their impacts. Use this intelligence to keep momentum with the deeper and slower changesBeing inclusive is about offering services that work well for everyone. Kent Inclusive Practices (KIPs) offer guidance on simple but powerful mainstream adjustments to learning and teaching delivery at Kent and are informed by analysis of our most frequently requested Inclusive Learning Plan (ILP) adjustments.Embedding these adjustments will improve the learning environment for all students, reduce the need for retrospective adjustments and lessen the reliance upon Inclusive Learning Plans (ILPs). KIPs reinforce the measures for inclusive design that the university has also incorporated into module and programme design processes.10. Be publicMove from private adjustments for individuals to public entitlements for all – the things any student (disabled or not) should be able to expect of a 21st century institution.Identifying a few accessibility entitlements (eg all documents should be online and accessible) can give focus and momentum to other agendas (digital capability, bring your own device, sustainability etc).Ben Watson is the accessible information adviser at the University of Kent. Having recently moved into the sphere of inclusive information design, he is currently undertaking a project in partnership with Jisc researching and developing approaches to accessible information and technology provision at the University of Kent.
  • The top challenges for the UK’s HE leaders - revealed
    The results are in from our second annual higher education leadership survey, exploring what is looming large on the horizons for those in senior leadership positions in UK higher education. Six challenges facing HE leadersWe asked leaders to assess the importance of six challenges we know are currently of concern (see results below). With uncertainty over Brexit, competition from overseas providers, and the regulatory environment in English higher education (HE) poised to undergo significant changes over the next couple of years, it’s no surprise to find creating and sustaining a viable financial and funding model in top spot for the sector as a whole.[#pullquote#]it’s no surprise to find creating and sustaining a viable financial and funding model in top spot for the sector as a whole.[#endpullquote#]Running at a very close second was meeting the changing needs and expectations of today’s local and global students, confirming findings elsewhere in the survey which identify students as the most important stakeholders to the future success of HE institutions.Leaders from research-intensive institutions seemed most keenly aware, among the groups we talked to, of the importance of protecting their institution from threats, both from cyber criminals. It follows our cyber security survey earlier this year, which revealed a rise of 132% in the mean amount assigned to cybersecurity between 16/17 and 17/18 to a projected figure of £797,500.Institutions in Scotland and Northern Ireland highlighted the challenges around student expectations, while in Wales delivering a complete learning experience was most important.Here are the six priorities ranked in order of importance according to the responses: Creating and sustaining a viable financial and funding model that can adapt to market changesMeeting the changing needs and expectations of today's local and global studentsCreating the optimum environment to create and sustain learning excellence and deliver the complete learning experienceCreating a truly agile organisation that can anticipate, influence and react to change and manage the risks and complexity that comes with changeProtecting the institution, its brand, its IP and its reputation from cyber criminalsProtecting the institution, its brand and reputation from all other threats such as competitorsAs a membership organisation, it’s really important for us to understand the challenges our members face, so that we can best assist with solutions. The data collected will add focus to how we help universities respond to changing student expectations and government priorities, to help them to continue to compete at an international level.What’s going to be hardest to achieve?We also asked leaders which of these six challenges would require the most effort to overcome.Overall, leaders identified creating an agile institution as the hardest hill that they have to climb, slightly ahead of creating and sustaining a viable financial and funding model.[#pullquote#]leaders identified creating an agile institution as the hardest hill that they have to climb[#endpullquote#]Compared to last year’s survey, the two areas in which additional effort was felt to be needed were; meeting the changing needs of students, and creating the optimum environment for teaching excellence and delivering a complete learning experience - perhaps reflecting the influence of the national conversation around teaching excellence and the holistic student experience.We’ve also been seeing this focus reflected in very high levels of sign-ups to our 2018 student digital experience tracker, which enables universities and colleges to explore what their students think about many aspects of their digital learning experience.What would help universities to improve their attractiveness to individuals, employers and other stakeholders in a highly competitive market?We asked the same question last year and, since then, two possibilities in particular have increased in importance - tools to enhance teaching capabilities were mentioned by 68% (up from 58% in 2016) and access to data to aid decision-making, mentioned by 59% (up from 50%).These were both themes which our co-design work with stakeholders flagged as emerging needs from 2014 onwards, so we have been developing services to support institutions in these areas.One example which could help here is a learning analytics service we’re developing as part of our effective learning analytics programme. A number of universities have already signed up and it is helping them to collect, process and analyse data to inform business decisions and to improve student wellbeing, retention and attainment.Data-informed decision making is also supported through our analytics labs process, which enables agile multi-institutional teams to get hands-on with national datasets to derive insights and build data capability.We’re also working on building digital capability to ensure that staff have the skills and confidence to exploit the potential of digital technologies. We offer a digital leaders training programme to enable leaders to guide their organisations through digitally inspired change – the next sessions are in January 2018.Continuing to meet our members’ needsIn total, more than three quarters (78%) of respondents to this year’s HE leaders survey said that Jisc’s products and services align with their organisation’s needs. That proportion is higher than last year and we’ll be responding to the latest findings to make sure the figure is higher still in 2019, but also, that Jisc is helping to support the education and research sector as a whole.[#pullquote#]more than three quarters (78%) of respondents to this year’s HE leaders survey said that Jisc’s products and services align with their organisation’s needs.[#endpullquote#]Over the coming months we’ll continue to share with our members all the products and services available to help overcome a range of challenges faced across the education and research sectors. Part of how we’ll be sharing solutions and best practice includes a programme of events such as Digifest, our stakeholder forum and Networkshop46.Download the survey (pdf)For further information on the HE leaders survey, please contact Nick Beevors ( For information on the 2018 student digital experience tracker, please contact Sarah Knight (
  • The next generation of research – it’s online and open to all
    Research is changing, with calls on academics to make research open and collaborate across sectors. So how is technology helping to meet these demands? It’s time to meet the startups answering these calls. The open access movement has digital at its heart and we shouldn’t forget that it wouldn’t even be possible without the world wide web, allowing for huge amounts of information to be freely shared, and fast.But with this unprecedented opportunity to share knowledge, there are new challenges researchers must now consider. Some of these are costly, in terms of time, money, and content – the startups we’ll meet below are all about surfacing, and in some cases translating complex information, for non-academics and the commercial world.Changing demandsThere is a general gap within research practice which tech startups, with their entrepreneurial approach, are starting to bridge; there’s a lot of interesting research that’s not being put to use, because it's either very difficult to find or understand. The UK government has cross-sector collaboration on the wish list within the Industrial Strategy and for this collaboration with academica to work well, having accessibility to research findings is fundamental.[#pullquote#]If research publications are hard to find and understand, data is even more complex[#endpullquote#]We are already seeing an increase in research data, and the calls from our members have lead us to focus on where we can ease the burden of managing that data. If research publications are hard to find and understand, data is even more complex, because of the different formats and forms it can take – it also cuts across disciplines, which is both a blessing and a curse.There's an expectation that something like the research data shared service will become the place that surfaces all the data produced by intense hours and years of research. The discovery service is adding a layer of aggregation, of data from all universities. We are also working with other organisations in the sector that are building the links between academic research and the world outside higher education.In the future we will likely see an increase in the quantity of research, as well as more innovative uses of technology to help meet the open access requirements of funders. But the next generation of research is about so much more than meeting standards in order to comply with policies such as the Research Excellence Framework.[#pullquote#]the next generation of research is about so much more than meeting standards in order to comply with policies[#endpullquote#]Current solutionsThe exponential expansion in technology means there are exciting times ahead, but the startups below are changing what’s possible when it comes to sharing research, right now. They vary greatly, engage people in a wide variety of content, and some of those on offer which we’ve been impressed by include:Sparrho Sparrho's mission is to make science more discoverable, understandable and shareable. Set up by women and invested in by a women-based venture capital company, they certainly embrace the notion of cross-sector collaboration when it comes to research. As their website states, they ‘combine artificial intelligence and human experts to democratise science’ with over 45,000 journals and repositories checked hourly.Reveal DigitalReveal Digital are helping to bring collections of specialist content, such as Independent Voices, into the digital age. Through a crowd-funded approach, universities who pledge to support digitization of content, also receive digital copies of all of the material they provide to a collection. Independent Voices will become fully open access and available to the public from January 2019.KonferKonfer have recently crossed over from start-up to fully funded service, working with the National Centre for Universities and Business. Described by its founders as ‘Google meets LinkedIn’, it’s a huge resource to start conversations about collaboration across sectors, and to realise the full impact of research potential.Future possibilitiesIt might make us think of robot-run classes of the future, but edtech is already said to be the new fintech and the next generation of open research certainly lends itself to a groundswell in innovation. There’s an opportunity now to do things differently – new software and online platforms are being developed all the time, and with new means of (crowd) funding, we can bring citizen science to life, one project at a time.[#pullquote#]There’s an opportunity now to do things differently[#endpullquote#]Part of the programme of work we do in the futures directorate includes the edtech launchpad. Our aim with this R&D project is to support the entrepreneurs of the moment help meet the challenges being faced across post-16 education.Previous winners of our student ideas competition, Know it Wall, wanted to create a one stop shop for outreach in academia and through working with us they’ve recently launched this platform. To sum up, and in their own words:“It is estimated that well over two million academic papers are published each year and there are countless more university lectures. Who is accessing this knowledge? Academics within the same disciplines and their students. Why should it only be them? We couldn't think of a good reason either!”
  • Colleges that fail to place digital technology at their strategic core must prepare to fail
    Why I'm advocating investment in technology to meet the needs of today’s students and tomorrow’s workforce. The government has put the further education (FE) sector at the forefront of a drive to equip students with knowledge and experience they will need in the workplace and to deliver relevant courses that will help close the UK’s technical skills gap.UK businesses will need an estimated 1.2 million new digitally skilled workers by 2022According to the education secretary, Justine Greening, in a speech on 30 November, 2017 and, while I have no doubt the FE sector can help hit this target, the challenge is how to keep pace with this changing policy landscape and meet the needs and demands of students and employers. And all on a very tight budget. It’s a big ask, so what are the priorities?Student experienceFirstly, we must always strive to provide an exceptional learning experience and there’s no denying the benefits of education technology (edtech) in this arena. It brings teaching to life – think mixed reality and gamification; it allows flexible and personalised learning and assessment, so students can study at a time and place to suit them; and it equips learners with digital skills for the future.[#pullquote#]Tech is not simply a matter for the director of IT; it should be a priority for every leadership team[#endpullquote#]Decisions about what edtech to invest in should be part of each college’s core strategy. To me, adopting such a strategy is a key to keeping colleges solvent, vibrant and relevant. Tech is not simply a matter for the director of IT; it crosscuts every department, driven by the changing landscape of the workplace and it should be a priority for every leadership team.Share best practiceTechnology can also supply data that informs future decisions, offering a number of solutions around business efficiency and connectivity. At Richmond upon Thames College we will rapidly build upon our investment in intelligent systems towards the use of the learning analytics, mixed reality simulations and the Internet of ThingsWikipedia defines the Internet of Things as "the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to connect and exchange data." Read more: through the creation of a highly-connected, smart campus.[#pullquote#]There are many other examples of technological best practice in the sector that we could all learn from[#endpullquote#]There are many other examples of technological best practice in the sector that we could all learn from, so long as colleges don’t act in isolation, but instead disseminate their knowledge and experience. To that end, a new special interest technology group has been founded by myself, David Corke, the Association of Colleges (AoC) director of education and skills policy, and Paul McKean, Jisc’s head of FE and skills. To date, the group, which will also lobby government, comprises 20 members from across the UK.Our aspiration is to foster communication between institutions in order to share best practice and innovation. We also want this group to act as a national platform for appraising emerging trends and their application, identifying barriers to adoption and implementation.Lobby government for change - and moneyOne fundamental strand of this work will be the digital skills component of the new T-levels. We must assess how they will be impacted by digital and how we can lobby to make the digital skills component work across all employment sectors, for us, for students and for their future employers.Change doesn’t come cheap and this group will also aim to discuss with government our concerns about the capital expenditure in technology that will be required to meet its specific expectations on T-levels, apprenticeships and institutes of technology and the more overarching need to produce an employable workforce.[#pullquote#]We’d all have the latest tech if we could, but affording it is another matter altogether[#endpullquote#]We’d all have the latest tech if we could, but affording it is another matter altogether. Some colleges will also need careful guidance on best value investments, and this is where the sector’s not-for-profit technology expert, Jisc, can help.Digital skills for tomorrow's workforceMoney and time must be set aside for the associated upskilling of the workforce in terms of pedagogy, creative use of edtech and digital confidence. We can’t produce young people equipped to contribute to the future UK economy if their teachers cannot pass on appropriate digital skills.Finally, curriculum reform: given that all jobs require some use of digital technology, we need to be considering the use of technology linked to all courses, not just in relation to computing or digitally creative curriculums.Some colleges which have already been through, or are on, a pathway to technological change, will be ahead of the curve here, and my call to them is to share that experience. Please inform, encourage and support your FE colleagues.[#pullquote#]We need to be considering the use of technology linked to all courses[#endpullquote#]In a few years from now, I’d like to see a digital-first sector, where learning and assessment is accessed ubiquitously using a range of interactive activities, digital assistants, bots and AI. I envisage this approach embedded for all courses, vocational or academic, and delivered by a digitally confident staff. Colleges that fail to place digital technology at their strategic core must prepare to fail.Robin Ghurbhurun is principal and CEO of Richmond upon Thames College. He has been a member of Jisc's board of trustees since January 2016.
  • Citation metrics are making headlines, but what does citation really mean?
    It would probably come as a surprise to most researchers, working with assumption that citation counts as the one true measure of research excellence, that there is no accepted theory of what it is we are doing when we reference a work. As noted in a recent blog post, it is pretty clear that, when authors reference other works, they are doing many different things. To dig further into this and try to understand the implications in the current policy arena, I’ve taken a closer look at these competing theories to try to find out what we do – and don’t – know about the motivation behind the practice of referencing.References are not citationsOne of the most valuable distinctions is between in-text references and citation database entries. Most recently, Paul Wouters has drawn this distinction: an in-text reference is a marker in a text that refers to another text. These markers, occur in the text itself, generally matched with an entry in a bibliographic reference list (or in a footnote), and are the result of actions by authors.By contrast, the line in a citation database that states that a reference exists is the result of an action by the database provider. It also strips all the author's meaning and intent. This abstraction may seem like hair splitting, each of them being reflections and inversions of each other, but the stripping of meaning is crucial because it is used to make citation database entries countable.[#pullquote#]the stripping of meaning is crucial because it is used to make citation database entries countable.[#endpullquote#]Having countable database entries is critical to constructing quantitative indicators. Even the humble “citation count” for an article is a construction, dependent on the workings of the database, and only indirectly on any decisions by authors.At each stage we strip away meaning and also start to construct new meaning. Wouters has argued that, rather than needing a theory of referencing or citation, we need a theory of indicators.Theories of theoryThe above distinction in terminology is useful because it helps us highlight a key point: Most of the social theories we have about why authors choose to refer to a specific work are theories of referencing. The argument that citation databases are a reasonable basis on which to evaluate research has looked at correlations between citation counts. These are studies of data from citation databases.[#pullquote#]Most of the social theories we have about why authors choose to refer to a specific work are theories of referencing. [#endpullquote#]We have little, if any, theory of indicators, either ones that provide a strong framework for building them and understanding their limitations, or of how they actually affect the behaviour of researchers and institutions. We have plenty of anecdotal claims and occasionally a little bit of data, but no robust way to predict how changes in indicator design actually play out in practice.What about the power of choice?Another issue to examine is what an author chooses to reference, and how they respond to indicators; these are issues of individual behaviour, while most of the work on citation data looks at correlations and association, not an individual’s choice.While we often use correlations at the collection level to help us analyse or test a theory about individuals, it is a logical and statistical fallacy to work in the opposite direction. Where variances are low and correlations high – notably absent for citations – such associations might be useful as proxies or even predictors, but they cannot show causation.Goodheart’s law, that when something is measured it becomes the target, is often cited as the source of our problems in the world of research evaluation. But it can only apply if the measure is only a proxy. If there were a grounded causal link then measurement would not lead to a change in behaviour. These abstract arguments really matter on the ground, both to understand how measurement affects behaviour and also to ask whether changes to incentives can affect behaviour.Individuals and groups; normative and constructivist motivationsIt may seem we’re no closer to an understanding of what is going on in the world of citation metrics, but the observation of differences between group attributes and individuals may offer a way in.[#pullquote#]Broadly speaking, the social theories of referencing break into two categories.[#endpullquote#]Broadly speaking, the social theories of referencing break into two categories. Normative theories state that scholarship is capable of working towards creating valuable insights because scholars observe a set of norms of behaviour. These include, importantly, the acknowledgement of others' contributions to work and the provision of supporting evidence that allows validation of that work.Social constructivist theories focus on the process of persuasion and how authors navigate networks of power. They often focus on how references are deployed to persuade, to neutralise criticism and to defend claims, and are critical themselves of the outcomes of scientific endeavour. Neither strand of theory is satisfying in its extreme form, but several scholars have tried to bridge this divide. (Leydesdorrf (1998) and Small (2004)).In my view, the way to pull these together is to identify how individuals in their own socially constructed context are motivated to identify with the norms of any one group. In turn, these norms are part of a culture that has survived over time because it is successful in producing value. Understanding how our current policy culture draws in the individual – as well as the institution - and its ability to enforce the normative behaviours is worth further examination.But what does citation really mean?A more recent strand of work on referencing and citations focuses on the question of meaning. This is what led Paul Wouters to analyse the differences between authors’ acts of referencing and an index’s creation of a citation database. This new strand of theory can help us to understand both where meaning is stripped away, but also where it is being constructed. It also offers us understanding of how stages in processing citation data add or remove meaning.[#pullquote#]these discussions give us a rigorous way of examining how individuals are exchanging signs and meaning with the community. [#endpullquote#]Perhaps most importantly, these discussions give us a rigorous way of examining how individuals are exchanging signs and meaning with the community. That is, what is the exchange process by which an author is seeking identity with a community and how does the community create a culture of social norms?Understanding how and where meaning is constructed and whether or not it is underpinned by exchange of information will be crucial to developing an understanding of the varying motivations for referencing and the varying responses to indicators well beyond the implementation of the REF. More importantly, they will affect the choices that researchers and institutions make for years to come.Cameron Neylon is an advocate for open access and professor of research communications at the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University. You can find out more about his work and get in touch with Cameron via his personal page, Science in the Open.
  • Online safety - five years on
    In 2013, we published our top five tips for improving your e-safety. With Safer Internet Day 2018 approaching in the new year, we revisit the challenges facing universities and colleges. Much has changed in the educational landscape five years on but some of the key drivers to address online safety remain the same; namely, ensuring learners take advantage of the affordances of digital technologies to prepare them for the digital workplace and can thrive in a digital world. Fresh challenges also present themselves, such as developments with the Prevent agenda and new legal guidelines to deal with internet trolling.A brand new top fiveHere's our five top tips for improving your online safety:1. Engage with your learnersAs a start it is important to look at what students’ experiences and expectations of technology look like in education. In the summer of 2017 we published the results of the student digital experience tracker (pdf), which paints a national picture of the student digital experience.Key questions, such as the following, are instrumental in identifying how your students feel supported when making the most of digital technologies and ensuring aspects of their digital safety and wellbeing are met:Do learners know where to get help if they are bullied or harassed online?Can they access health and wellbeing services online?How does their learning provider help them to stay safe online?Many universities and colleges that took part in the tracker used the information their students shared to improve the services they offer. You too can do the same. The tracker serves as an excellent starting point to create an open dialogue with your learners and there are a variety of resources from the digital student project available to facilitate conversations with learners about their digital safety and wellbeing.If you're interested in taking part in the 2018 tracker, register your interest before 30 November 2017. 2. Implement robust web filtering processesHaving proper web filtering processes in place enables organisations to safeguard potentially vulnerable learners from inappropriate or illegal content on the web, while helping to comply with the Prevent agenda.You can access guidance on the Prevent for Further Education and Training site, which also includes our detailed guidance on web filtering and monitoring (pdf). Find out how our web filtering and monitoring service could help you.3. Understand what is criminal behaviour onlineUnderstanding what is recognised as criminal by law is important for anyone who supports teaching staff and learners to navigate social media. It's essential to ensure, for example, that harassment and bullying are recognised and that there is a transparent procedure in place to allow reporting of criminal activity.This guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) tackles the offences commonly committed via social media and identifies four distinct categories of offences:Threats - communications which may constitute threats of violence to the person or damage to propertyTargeting specific individuals - any communication that specifically targets an individual or individuals and which may constitute harassment or stalkingCommunications which may amount to a breach of a court order or a statutory prohibitionCommunications which are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false4. Ensure staff are kept up to dateAll staff need to be kept up to date, not only with the organisation’s processes and procedures for dealing appropriately and proportionately with online safety issues, but also with regular training opportunities that help to reinforce good practice.We offer a number of training solutions to help, such as our Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP), designed by HM Government, which provides staff with an introduction to the Prevent strategy and an individual’s role in safeguarding vulnerable people.We also offer online workshops on supporting learners’ digital identity and wellbeing, to equip participants with an understanding of the issues learners face when developing digital identities. The workshop provides participants with a range of activities to use with learners, so they can in turn make informed and responsible choices when using digital technologies that help them thrive in a digital world. The next course takes place on 14 December 2017. 5. Make online safety everyone’s businessRegardless of role within the organisation, everyone needs to be involved to ensure learners’ online safety needs are addressed and acted upon. We offer a tailored consultancy service around addressing online safety needs, where we work with your online safety lead and work around the specific requirements of your organisation.As part of your Jisc membership, we’ll get you started in the right direction, focusing on an informed and impartial diagnosis of your current situation to help you benchmark your current position and identify key issues to address. Find out moreThe next Safer Internet Day takes place on Tuesday 6 February 2018. Join the discussion on Twitter using the #SID2018 hashtag.To find out more about how we can help you with online safety, contact your account manager or email 
  • Our top ten higher education social media superstars of 2017
    The results are in! We’ve been on the lookout for our top ten social media superstars in higher education (HE), and we had some great entries! A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to apply.The competition celebrates the excellent social media work being done by sector professionals out there – and the most innovative ways of using social media to add value to their practice.The final line-up was chosen by a panel of HE and social media experts, including; our social media team, Sarah Knight (our head of change – student experience), and award-winning social media editor for Times Higher Education, Chris Parr.The top ten are fantastic examples of social media use in HE that others could take inspiration from. Each winner will receive an edtech visit for their class (robot included) – and of course, they’re celebrated in our top ten list, too! Why not give them a like, share, and follow.Congratulations to our winners!The Jisc top ten HE social media superstars of 2017Andy Tattersall, information specialist at the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of SheffieldAnastasia Denisova, journalism lecturer and researcher in viral cultures, University of WestminsterDr Christina Stanley, lecturer in animal behaviour and welfare, University of ChesterDr Glenn Hurst, department of chemistry lecturer, University of YorkKardi Somerfield, senior lecturer in marketing, University of NorthamptonKeith Brown, software developerPablo the library penguin, library penguin, University of PortsmouthDr Peter Klappa, reader in biochemistry, University of KentRoger Kerry, associate professor, faculty of medicine and health sciences, University of NottinghamDr Vikas Shah, academic champion in clinical radiology/imaging, University of LeicesterAndy Tattersall, information specialist at the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield[[{"fid":"6977","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Andy Tattersall"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Andy Tattersall"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Andy Tattersall","height":200,"width":200,"class":"media-element media--left file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] @Andy_TattersallCreator and contributor to ScHARR’s YouTube channel, Andy’s video series’ include ScHARR Bite Size series – which teaches the viewer “something new in 20 minutes”. His Research Hacks series contains 44 helpful videos, and the more recent Cite Hacks series features engaging illustrations and information – such as this video that covers blogging about your research. “Higher education is now in a continual state of change thanks to the web and social media (…) it offers a wealth of new opportunities for teaching and learning, knowledge sharing and opening up of our resources across the globe. Video plays an important part of that change as it allows bite size, cheap, accessible knowledge that is shared on all platforms and in the classroom, lab, or even on the bus.”As well as @Andy_Tattersall, Andy can be found tweeting from @ScHARRSheffield and @MultiMediaIT .Judges’ commentsAndy’s use of YouTube playlists to give bite-sized information is a really effective way to share knowledge simply with colleagues and peers across the world. We thought the Cite Hacks series was particularly good.Anastasia Denisova, journalism lecturer and researcher in viral cultures, University of Westminster[[{"fid":"6978","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Anastasia Denisova"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"2":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Anastasia Denisova"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Anastasia Denisova","height":200,"width":200,"class":"media-element media--left file-default","data-delta":"2"}}]] @AnaDenisova Anastasia practices what she preaches – as she shares and discusses her own research, research updates, and the wider news agenda on Twitter. Her conversations spark interest and engagement from her students, fellow researchers, and even journalists looking for commentary.“Tweets act as light bulbs, putting the exciting points on the spot. The feedback from other users further enhances this understanding – if anything receives likes retweets and any kind of attention – I know that I am on the right track. My research is of worth to the public.At the end of the day, we as academics have to oppose the waterfalls of ‘fake’ news, rushed judgements and toxic bias. By making our studies and balanced viewpoints more accessible for wider publics – via social media – we are serving the community. This is more important than ever in our turbulent times.”Judges’ commentsUsing Twitter as a sounding board for immediate feedback on research is a great use of the platform. Anastasia’s approach to the multi-benefits of Twitter sets a valuable example that others in HE could follow.Dr Christina Stanley, lecturer in animal behaviour and welfare, University of Chester[[{"fid":"6980","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Christina Stanley"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"3":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Christina Stanley"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Christina Stanley","height":200,"width":200,"class":"media-element media--left file-default","data-delta":"3"}}]] @crstanley_rsrchWhen asked to design a new module in line with her research interests, Dr Christina Stanley’s first thoughts were: “Brilliant! But how can I ensure this is fun and engaging?” Realising the importance of embedding employability skills into teaching, and after inspiring conversations with colleagues, Christina realised an innovative use of Twitter was the answer.Christina shared relevant papers with her students, and inspired them to do the same, even using Twitter as an assessment tool, using the hashtag #BI6192. The Twitter feed was embedded on the module’s eLearning site.“I think this is a great example of how social media can be easily used by other HE professionals. In addition to helping students to improve valuable communication skills, they engaged with wider reading on their subject (student reluctance to do this is something we often struggle to overcome) and reported to me they had gained inspiration, even replies, from scientists all over the world.They also graduated with concrete evidence of their ability to both engage with the wider community and promote new material, key employability skills. Try it yourselves!”Judges’ commentsDespite Christina confessing to not always having been a Twitter ‘believer’, we thought her use of Twitter as an assessment tool was very innovative and had the incredibly valuable benefit of helping students develop their communication skills.Dr Glenn Hurst, department of chemistry lecturer, University of York[[{"fid":"6981","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Glenn Hurst"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"4":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Glenn Hurst"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Glenn Hurst","height":200,"width":200,"class":"media-element media--left file-default","data-delta":"4"}}]] @GlennAdamHurst As well as using Twitter to engage with students and the academic community, Dr Glen Hurst uses social media to enhance the quality of his teaching - by empowering students to create their own YouTube videos of organic chemistry mechanisms. Students then tweet their videos to him to receive feedback so they can improve.“This has allowed me to provide students with even more feedback than other mechanisms such as tutorials/workshops and in doing so enables them to improve their communications skills.”Glen also uses Snapchat to signpost students during inductions, allowing them “to contextualise the chemistry concepts we teach in lectures to the real world and to provide them with a glimpse into conducting chemistry research in a laboratory and beyond. This is very easy and free for facilitators to try.”In collaboration with colleagues and students, Glen has also contributed to the construction of a 'Chemistry@York' app for applicants and visitors to the Department of Chemistry. The app has been downloaded by in excess of 500 individuals from across the globe.Judges’ commentsSnapchat has plenty of potential to reach a student audience and we were really excited to read about how Glenn uses it to give students a glimpse of chemistry research in a laboratory – a really clever use of the platform.Kardi Somerfield, senior lecturer in marketing, University of Northampton[[{"fid":"6982","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Kardi Somerfield"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"5":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Kardi Somerfield"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Kardi Somerfield","height":200,"width":200,"class":"media-element media--left file-default","data-delta":"5"}}]] @kardisom Kardi uses Twitter in several ways to help her students to keep up with advertising and marketing practice. The AdStudent Picks list is a set of accounts for students to follow. It keeps students up to date with the trade press and breaking campaigns, whilst building familiarity with agencies, clients and issues. Kardi promotes the use of #AdStudents, to highlight posts from the advertising student community across the three years of study and beyond to alumni.“The particular benefits of using Twitter this way are that the students begin to understand the research capabilities of this platform, and also acquire the good habit of including bite-size industry content in their daily media consumption. This addresses the specific challenge of the way digital natives selectively process information.”Her use of social media has resulted in the launch of a ‘student takeover’ of the university social media accounts. Final year students will be given the experience of working in the digital team, as well as being matched with skilled practitioners who will continue to mentor them into their first roles in industry: “We anticipate this will positively impact their employability and the student experience.”Kardi has also invited community organisations to have social media content created for them by digital marketing students, an initiative recently shortlisted for a Changemaker Award.Judges’ commentsKardi provides a brilliant example of how to integrate social media throughout a programme – from a resource of industry news to using it to provide real-world experiences. The AdStudent Picks Twitter list is a great way to get students engaging with the platform.Keith Brown, software developer[[{"fid":"6983","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Keith Brown"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"6":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Keith Brown"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Keith Brown","height":200,"width":200,"class":"media-element media--left file-default","data-delta":"6"}}]]Demonstrating that there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to social media, Keith has created Study-Space, a private social media app. The app includes the options to post quizzes, surveys and voting competitions, as well as posting questions and text.Study-Space proves useful for students and lecturers alike, especially for those who do not wish to use their own personal social media account for work or study, or who might have had negative experiences with social media in the past.“Study-Space provides a safe virtual learning space for students and teaching staff. It overcomes the obstacles identified with mainstream social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and enables active learning in a safe, secure and private environment.Our results have shown that the app enables a vibrant community of students and academics working together, with most students posting anonymously. It facilitates teacher/student and student/student communications, both inside and outside the classroom.”Judges’ commentsSocial media can present a number of barriers to people, so we thought Keith’s bespoke Study-Space platform was such a creative and useful solution that many others in the sector would want to hear about.Pablo the library penguin, library penguin, University of Portsmouth[[{"fid":"6984","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Pablo the library penguin"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"7":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Pablo the library penguin"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Pablo the library penguin","height":200,"width":200,"class":"media-element media--left file-default","data-delta":"7"}}]] @uoppenguinPablo works with the University of Portsmouth Library to build trust and engagement between university students and library services and facilities. He proactively enhances the library brand across social media, lowering barriers to service engagement, and engaging students, whilst demonstrating empathy and providing a quirky take on often serious messages.Establishing himself as a trustworthy source of advice on Twitter, he happily helps students and clients with their library queries.An ever increasing pace of service change means Pablo always has new or different services, products, and developments to remark upon, explore, or otherwise engage with – keeping his followers up-to-date with the evolution of the library. Behind the scenes, he has provided opportunities for staff at the University of Portsmouth Library to explore and rediscover their own library from new angles, as well as boosting morale through challenging times of change.Through his interaction with services and facilities Pablo offers a humorous sideways look at the library – you can even watch his movie on YouTube.Judges’ commentsAs he’s done with his 1,000 followers on Twitter, Pablo the library penguin stole our hearts. A truly fantastic way to engage students with library services and facilities.Dr Peter Klappa, reader in biochemistry, University of Kent[[{"fid":"6985","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Peter Klappa"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"8":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Peter Klappa"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Peter Klappa","height":200,"width":200,"class":"media-element media--left file-default","data-delta":"8"}}]] @pk_kent Dr Peter Klappa is a keen user of Facebook Live, harnessing the power of social media to expand traditional teaching and learning spaces. “Most students already use social media for communication and therefore it is only logical to use live-streaming as an extension of traditional face-to-face lectures and workshops.“Facebook Live streams (FLS) can make learning more accessible for students, who find it difficult to attend face-to-face sessions or who are studying remotely - for example, on placements. FLS can be watched on a plethora of devices, which students already possess, and no further software is needed to be installed on the user side.Live-streamed lectures can be easily scheduled and deployed, thus reducing timetabling constraints - eg, availability of large lecture theatres.”Student feedback for Peter’s livestreaming has been extremely positive - demonstrating that it can make learning on the go a lot easier and more accessible.He states that it’s important to note, that for some students the direct interaction with the lecturer and peers is very important, and suggests that a blended approach with face-to-face lectures and live-streamed sessions might be most beneficial. Furthermore, not every student uses Facebook and Peter is currently investigating other platforms, such as YouTube Live.Judges’ commentsPeter is a shining example of how to make learning more accessible with technology. Facebook Live hasn’t had massive adoption in HE learning yet but maybe Peter’s success will help to change that.Roger Kerry, associate professor, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham[[{"fid":"6987","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Roger Kerry"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"9":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Roger Kerry"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Roger Kerry","height":200,"width":200,"class":"media-element media--left file-default","data-delta":"9"}}]] @rogerkerry1Inspired by his earlier research into the educational use of Twitter amongst undergraduate physiotherapy students (sponsored by the Higher Education Academy), Roger has created a model of Twitter use which can be implemented into any programme to “enhance and expedite learning and access to knowledge and debate”. The project is called TWEED (Twitter in education). Find them on Twitter at @UoNTweed.“Following this, I went one step further and three years ago introduced a blogging assignment as part of the summative assessment for a postgraduate module I run. The underpinning theory for this is all about developing student’s critical writing and thinking skills via their awareness that what they write will be immediately open to wide public scrutiny.”Roger reports that the development of critical writing, compared to more traditional assessments, is remarkable. The assessment has now been taken up by a number of other physiotherapy programmes in the UK and USA.“Naturally, the international links were made on Twitter, which was a primary dissemination tool for the blogs!I believe that social media offers a unique and progressive dimension to the world of education. Like everything, there are limitations and misuses, but the more we learn about these, the more we can harness and develop the true power of the media.”Judges’ commentsRoger is a great ambassador of social media in education. He has been able to prove its value many, many times, not least with students securing employment from the networks they are encouraged to build.Dr Vikas Shah, academic champion in clinical radiology/imaging, University of Leicester[[{"fid":"6988","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Vika Shah"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"10":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Vika Shah"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Vika Shah","height":200,"width":200,"class":"media-element media--left file-default","data-delta":"10"}}]] thexraydoctor @DrVikasShah With his impressive Instagram following, Dr Vikas Shah is bringing radiology to the masses. In addition to image and video posts, he’s an active user of Instagram Stories, using them to post new teaching material every few hours. Vikas has used the new “polls in stories” feature since day one, increasing engagement with his quiz posts.“When Twitter rolled out the ability to tweet multiple images, I exploited the feature to create #radquiz which is a radiology image with three options which can be selected as potential answers. In 2015 I blogged a weekly case study, promoted using the hashtag #xrayoftheweek on multiple networks.”His expertise in the field led to co-authoring an article in Academic Radiology on the use of #SoMe (social media) in radiology education, with promotion of this article on various social platforms, yielding the highest Altmetric score for any article in that journal this year.“My knowledge of the platforms and their new features enables me to exploit them for the benefit of learners. My learners come from a variety of professional backgrounds and countries, often with poor access to formal education, and the ability to provide open access to knowledge is my primary motivation.”Judges’ commentsWe thought Vikas provided the perfect example of how to carve a niche on a social media platform and build an audience. His Instagram profile provides a fascinating look at the world of radiology.
  • How can libraries adapt more effectively to the use of digital technologies? By learning from global examples.
    I had the pleasure of attending the Library Global Excellence Tour in Cardiff Central Library where this was the pivotal question of the day. An inspiring event that showcases global excellence and ambition in library service, the tour aims to share best practice, and inspire professionals across the world.Working in WalesThe scene for the day was adeptly set by Alun Prescott, operations manager at Newport City Council and vice-chair of Society of Chief Librarians Wales. Alun celebrated the fantastic work already happening in libraries and within the wider community in Wales, highlighting the need for developing the Welsh libraries portal, and the migration to a single ‘public library management system,’ which is scheduled for 2019.The new system will start the ball rolling for the development of more robust analytics and benchmarking, all very positive and exciting indeed.Learning from developments overseasNext was an update from much further afield. Geoff Strempel, the associate director of public library services at the State Library of South Australia, gave an overview of the innovative work happening across the pond. Gone are the days of a physical library card, engagement has been upped by the introduction of an app instead, so users can receive library updates instantly too.[#pullquote#]Gone are the days of a physical library card[#endpullquote#]With this in mind, a central internet service provider (ISP) providing wifi to all the libraries has been contracted, achieving a seamless experience across all locations, with an overarching aim to create the opportunity to remove any physical barriers to library use.User experience (UX) must be centralWith so much activity happening online every day, your average library has a hard job competing, despite the quality resources worthy of sharing. Keynote speaker Jeff Penka, vice-president of product management at Zepheira, was on hand to discuss ideas surrounding the propagation of the data, and the need for a data strategy to do this successfully.[#pullquote#]libraries need to start thinking of web presence in terms of data[#endpullquote#]Jeff explained that libraries need to start thinking of web presence in terms of data, and proposed thinking about the following questions: Are you managing your web presence effectively? Are you registered with Google business? Do you have a Wikipedia page? These are the best places to start linking data and making it searchable.Library users as the focusOur next keynote speaker, also from Australia, was Jane Cowell, the director of engagement and partnerships at the State Library of Queensland. She highlighted the need for better library UX and that the user, not the library, needs to be at the centre of everything.[#pullquote#]Personalisation of library services for the library user is key.[#endpullquote#]Personalisation of library services for the library user is key. Netflix was used as a prime example, as it spends a fortune on its recommended engine to push content to the user. Privacy was an initial concern amongst the audience, but Jane immediately debunked any worries by suggesting that we should let users know what privacy is, what we will use their data for and let them choose. This is a commonly accepted practice, and something users are familiar with.Technology can also help with collection management by changing the rules ad hoc to suit the user, for example, different borrowing periods (Jane queried why libraries across the world had only one borrowing period - as this is distinctly archaic now).WHELF’s shared library management systemThe day was rounded off with a presentation from Emma Adamson, director of learning services at the University of South Wales and chair of the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF). Emma talked about the WHELF shared library management system that has now been completed and showed us a sneak preview into the results of the Jisc-funded benefits realisation report which has just been published by Cambridge Econometrics).[#pullquote#]one of the key things learned and explored further at the event was that it was about people and not products[#endpullquote#]I have previously blogged about the report, but one of the key things learned and explored further at the event was that it was about people and not products, and that WHELF kept people central throughout the process. WHELF are looking to build on this great work by looking at piloting reciprocal borrowing, data management, and linking to the Jisc learning analytics project among other things.How we’re helpingOverall this was an interesting day that got me thinking about how to get the rich data in libraries out there and visible to everyone, and how our projects like learning analytics and the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase can do just that.In Wales we’re working on a digital strategy for post-16 education, which will help to pull together a lot of threads for library users, ensuring more joined-up digital services. We also offer consultancy from our subject specialist teams to ensure we explore issues and support our members through them, ensuring that any solution found is accessible to all.If you would like to know more, get in touch with your account manager or watch this space!
  • Get up to speed with our faster cyber defence services
    We're getting ready to launch a set of faster services to combat a specific type of cyber attack. For the past year, we have been operating a foundation service, which can mitigate against a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack typically within a few  hours. Our new automated services are faster, either cutting the response time to just a few minutes, or preventing any disruption to the network.How does the present system work?In a DDoS attack, the network is flooded with data with the intention of bringing it down. If we detect such suspicious traffic, our security analysts will, in consultation with the affected institution, filter out the threat traffic before it reaches the core of the Janet Network and send the clean traffic onwards to the customer. This process of detection, verification, consultation and mitigation usually takes a few hours.[#pullquote#]Available for all members connected to the Janet Network as part of their subscription, this foundation service deals with large attacks that affect network connections[#endpullquote#]Available for all members connected to the Janet Network as part of their subscription, this foundation service deals with large attacks that affect network connections and its importance cannot be underestimated.Over the past year, there were 1,000 inbound DDoS attacks potentially affecting 221 different members. The biggest attack we dealt with was nearly 46 Gbps, which could have disrupted even the largest of our members’ network connections if not mitigated.Although the threat landscape is always changing, over the last year we have seen that higher education (HE) and research institutions are more likely to experience a DDoS attack than further education (FE) organisations. About a third of universities were affected, compared to a quarter of colleges and skills providers.[#pullquote#]Over the last year we have seen that higher education and research institutions are more likely to experience a DDoS attack than further education organisations[#endpullquote#]How will the new services work?We're now developing a further layer to the DDoS mitigation service to defend against attacks which target specific systems within an organisation’s network.The first of these services involves setting up pre-configured profiles for different systems, such as web servers, email and telephone systems. The profiles provide more finely tuned alerts and specific mitigations. We are doing this in consultation with our members; we want to know the services members most want defended, and feedback on how to best configure the profiles.[#pullquote#]We want to know the services members most want defended, and feedback on how to best configure the profiles[#endpullquote#]The benefit of creating pre-configured profiles is that we don’t have to produce unique profiles for each organisation, which means it’s cheaper for us to apply and more affordable for members.Members can also choose a custom profile if none of those we produce are suitable.  This option gives members the power to customise the sensitivity of alerts, the types of mitigation applied, and provides more detailed reporting on any actions.Because we will have already configured the alerts and reactions for each of the agreed service profiles, or a custom profile, mitigation is launched automatically once an attack has been detected, rather than manually applied. This takes reaction time down to about four minutes.[#pullquote#]A new top-tier permanently-on service can mitigate attacks immediately[#endpullquote#]For very sensitive or valuable services, a further level of protection is available. A new top-tier permanently-on service can mitigate attacks immediately. Again a cost effective option of pre-configure profiles will be available, alongside the higher level custom options.Threat intelligenceThreat intelligence is a valuable resource for any cyber security service. The more we know about how our members’ services are attacked and how we can best react to them, the better we get at defence.General threat intelligence is available from global and national sources, but the information we gather about  threats and attacks is a unique intelligence set specific to the organisations that make up the Jisc community.  It more accurately reflects the environment that we need to defend and the job we need to do. The more members that sign up to our DDoS mitigation service, the better the threat intelligence we generate, and that’s good for everyone.[#pullquote#]The more members that sign up to our DDoS mitigation service, the better the threat intelligence we generate, and that’s good for everyone[#endpullquote#]At our security conference in November we will be introducing these new, enhanced DDoS mitigation services  and discussing provisional prices. Our objective is to make it affordable for all members, including smaller institutions and the FE sector, where funds are under most pressure.In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about the service and how you can sign up, our security services manager, Nelson Ody, is the person to contact.
  • Ten ways we support a sustainable future for open access
    We've been involved in shaping and supporting the open access movement since its early days, and we know that our members want to see a sustainable future for open access; but what does sustainable look like when we’re talking about sharing research? This, the tenth year of Open Access Week, is themed “Open in order to..?”. While there are many benefits of open access (OA) to research, we know that top of the list of drivers for higher education institutes (HEIs) is ensuring they remain competitive and secure ongoing funding for research.[#pullquote#]As an independent, non-commercial service provider and voice of the sector, we work to understand the concerns and interests of our members[#endpullquote#]The transition to OA brings challenges and changes to working practices and systems, including issues around managing data, keeping down costs and improving efficiencies. As an independent, non-commercial service provider and voice of the sector, we work to understand the concerns and interests of our members - this is the starting place for everything we do.Our work to support your OA experienceHere we share ten of the ways we’re working to support higher education and research institutes to meet and go beyond the funders’ requirements, creating an open access experience which enhances existing research programmes and makes researchers’ working lives that little bit easier.1. Open standards and solutionsOur approach is to enable our members to support their researchers by promoting the use of open standards and solutions that can reduce the risks of vendor lock-in. For example, we built a consensus for ORCiD in the UK, and now lead the UK national consortium.2. A portfolio of servicesWe provide a portfolio of open access services that are driven by user need and developed according to users’ feedback and suggestions. Publications Router is one such service that helps institutions comply cost-effectively with the open access policies of research funding bodies.3. Managing costsWe help institutions manage the cost of subscriptions and article processing charges (APCs) through our leadership in piloting a range of offsetting agreements.Through Jisc Collections, we work on behalf of our members to identify where practical and functional improvements need to be made to simplify the process for authors and libraries, resulting in innovative agreements such as innovative agreements such as Springer Compact. The Monitor Local service helps institutions manage their own OA costs.4. Peer-to-peer supportWe facilitate peer-to-peer support for institutions in dealing with challenges of OA and helps to foster collaborative groups, user-groups and community events to increase sector capacity.One example of this has been the OA good practice initiative, through which we supported 30 pioneering universities to engage with other HEIs to build capability, and to share techniques and resources. The OA Scotland group emerged from this initiative and we continue to facilitate community events.5. Advice and assistanceWe support staff to meet the demands of change through providing advice and guidance, including helping our members navigate the complex policy landscape with our SHERPA services.Through our research and listening to member needs, we identify areas for future support, such as academic-led and university presses.6. A voice for the sectorWe're a facilitator for a sector-based voice in policy and service development. For example, we are currently collaborating with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Research Councils and Wellcome Trust on work to assess how their OA policies are being implemented, which will inform the next steps that those bodies will take.7. International representationWe also represent UK HEI interests at an international level and have an international reputation for insight, expertise and contributions to the global debate, supporting the UK’s research capability to punch above its weight on the international stage.We maintain strong relationships with European countries through the Knowledge Exchange focus on open science, and more widely through our contributions to initiatives such as the Research Data Alliance, and our long-standing collaboration with Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) in the US.8. Research and developmentThrough our research and development, we support open access to move beyond sharing of research publications, to the underpinning data itself, giving the potential to improve research quality and increase innovation. Our developing research data shared service aims to provide a cost-effective and flexible means to support institutions in managing and sharing their data.9. Global discoveryWe enable the global discovery and wider use of open access resources with CORE providing seamless access to millions of OA research papers, enriching the collected data for text-mining and providing unique services to the research community, enabling new types of research to emerge.Our IRUS service enables institutions to measure the reach of their repository content.10. Key infrastructureWe mustn’t neglect one very key service on which open access depends. The Janet Network is the infrastructure on which OA runs in the UK and across which it will develop in the future.According to the latest figures from GÉANT, we run the busiest national education and research network in the world, capable of downloading the digital version of War and Peace in one hundredth of a second.Looking forwardsA sustainable future for UK universities and research institutes will understandably mean meeting the requirements of the Research Excellence Framework, the research data policies of Research Councils, and soon, UK Research and Innovation. Beyond policy requirements, it means having the tools to simplify the complex processes of managing data, and the infrastructure to publish and track content with greater ease.With well over ten years expertise in supporting the academic community with open access, we will remain open; in order to continue collaborative working, and supporting the needs of the wider higher education and research sector with expert advice and services, for years to come.[[{"fid":"6805","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"International Open Access Week, 'open in order to...', October 23-29 2017"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"International Open Access Week, 'open in order to...', October 23-29 2017"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"International Open Access Week, 'open in order to...', October 23-29 2017","height":109,"width":920,"class":"media-element media--fullwidth file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]]
  • The General Data Protection Regulation and what it means for cyber security
    Keeping personal data secure has been a legal requirement since the 1984 Data Protection Act. But that creates a paradox, because to secure the computers and networks that store and carry personal data, we need to collect additional personal data about how those systems are used and abused The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in May 2018, at last recognises that paradox and provides a clear framework to resolve it. This is particularly important for research and education networks, such as the national Janet Network, which Jisc owns and operates.Because one of our main roles is to support innovation, we can’t adopt the preventive approach of listing all known uses and blocking everything else as “presumed hostile”. Instead, we concentrate on identifying security problems quickly and dealing with them effectively. That requires us to record a lot of information about use of the network and services because, although most of it relates to legitimate use and will never be looked at, we can’t know in advance which may relate to malicious or risky activity that needs investigation.What the law requiresThe GDPR states that protecting network and information security is a legitimate interest of a range of organisations, including operators of networks and computer systems.[#pullquote#]Processing personal data involves a three-step test[#endpullquote#]Processing personal data involves a three-step test: that the interest is legitimate, that the processing is necessary (there is no less intrusive way to achieve the interest) and that the risk to individuals is less than the benefit to the organisation. Unless all three steps are satisfied, the processing can’t proceed.There seems little doubt that protecting security is a legitimate interest. Not only is this now explicit in the law, but data protection regulators have recommended further clarifying and extending the security activities that are permitted.Necessity might seem tricky to demonstrate when we know that most log entries will never be accessed. However, there is no way to determine in advance which events relate to malicious activity, or which users will be the targets of attacks, and record only those.If, however, an organisation was to collect logs without having a process to use them, or to keep them beyond the point when they would have any value for investigation, then that would raise doubts about necessity. A consistent set of logs, with clear processes for when and how each of them will be used to protect and improve security, seems to satisfy the requirement for minimum intrusiveness.Keeping these logs does create some risk to users of the network or system, not least that the log files themselves may be involved in a security breach. The balancing test requires us to ensure that the security benefits – most of which apply to all users – justify that risk.[#pullquote#]The balancing test requires us to ensure that the security benefits – most of which apply to all users – justify that risk.[#endpullquote#]Logs will contain personal data, so must be kept secure; however, the same files also contain information that could help someone attack systems, so we should be keeping them secure already. The risks involved in processing can be reduced by installing programs to do the initial inspection of logs to pick out events that need further investigation by humans. The sheer volume of data is likely to make this a practical necessity.Finally, the risks can be reduced by only linking events to individual people after analysis has confirmed that they indicate a security problem. For the Janet Network, this analysis happens automatically. We don’t have access to the identities of individual users of the network, but we pass confirmed incidents on to the affected organisations to deal with individuals if necessary.The GDPR recognises that this type of processing contributes to reducing risk. Having organisations deal with their own users and security problems also means we rarely need to share that information with others. However, we share other information about how to avoid, detect or resolve security problems: this increases the benefits that result from processing, so contributes to satisfying the balancing test.What our members should doMany of the same considerations will apply to our members and other organisations’ own information security activities.[#pullquote#]The most important thing is to ensure that your logs are fit for purpose[#endpullquote#]The most important thing is to ensure that your logs are fit for purpose. Check that you know, and have documented, when and how you’ll use them to prevent, detect and investigate security incidents. Do you have enough information? Are you keeping logs for the right length of time? Do you have everything you’ll need to interpret them? Are timestamps derived from a consistent, reliable source?Exercises are an ideal way to test this. Think of a typical report you may receive and work through what your processes dictate. This can identify gaps where you need to collect more information or, conversely, that you are keeping information where any likely benefit is too low to justify the risk of collecting and storing it.Review how much of your security processing can be done with pseudonyms such as IP addresses. The GDPR recognises the benefits of having a separate process to link these to individuals and making that the last step in an investigation, possibly subject to separate approval, helps to protect privacy and comply with the law.[#pullquote#]Make sure your systems, tools, processes and people all reflect the importance of keeping security-sensitive information secure.[#endpullquote#]Make sure your systems, tools, processes and people all reflect the importance of keeping security-sensitive information secure. Access to logs, either directly or via security tools, should be restricted to authorised, trained people. And always be on the look-out for opportunities to automate processes: reducing the need for humans to look at personal data improves data protection and saves time and effort.Finally, when you are fixing your own security problems, think how you might use what you learn to help others within your organisation and the wider community. Sharing the benefits of your security activities makes us all more secure, and more data protection compliant.Helping you prepare for GDPRJisc is organising a GDPR conference on 6 December in London and Andrew Cormack will also be speaking on the subject at Jisc’s security conference in Manchester on 8 November 2017. These events are free to attend (for members) but you will need to register. We’ve also produced a GDPR guide for members. For more information, check out this blog on incident response and the GDPR, a peer-reviewed paper on how incident response protects privacy,  Janet Network CSIRT guidance on logging and the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) computer security incident handling guide, which includes an appendix of exercise scenarios. Finally, take a look at the range of cyber security services available to our members.
  • Parity of international learning and teaching: our TNE licensing pilot is born
    With a growing movement in transnational education, universities have a new challenge in achieving equality - how can they ensure all students have access to the same publications? Transnational education (TNE), the delivery of UK education overseas, is a rapidly growing part of universities' international strategies. TNE occupies a significant part of the UK international education portfolio, with 11% of cumulative international fee revenues and an estimated annual value of £496 million to the UK economy (2015). The UK is the second largest provider of TNE in the world, delivering in all but five countries, and with over 700,000 students being educated on UK courses.Parity of experienceCreating an experience for students studying overseas, which is at least equivalent to that being delivered in the home institution, is a critical element of transnational education.[#pullquote#]there had been an 81% increase in the number of UK HE TNE students since 2008-09[#endpullquote#]A Universities UK International (UUKi) report published in June 2017 found that there had been an 81% increase in the number of UK HE TNE students since 2008-09 and these students need to be nurtured and supported by various means, including a robust technological infrastructure to be able to reliably support such teaching and learning programmes. The requirements of staff supporting the delivery of high-quality UK TNE, wherever in the world that may be, also need to be factored in.So why is the sector struggling with the less technologically challenging issue of gaining access to published materials for overseas learners?It’s currently still a complex environment for universities when it comes to providing access to published content deals for their transnational programmes, but one that needs to be navigated. The new pilot we are launching in TNE consortium licensing is a real opportunity to give staff and students the equity of experience transnational higher education seeks to provide, regardless of their geographical location.[#pullquote#]Librarians are unanimous in seeking a simpler, less labour-intensive solution to create access to key resources[#endpullquote#]Librarians are unanimous in seeking a simpler, less labour-intensive solution to create access to key resources, and to give students themselves the standard of higher education they expect from a UK university - one where journals, databases and e-books are readily available to support course requirements.In this growing field of TNE, librarians need to have an understanding of the nature of their partner agreements, learners, and the implications of different publishers' approaches to overseas pricing and licensing, which vary both by country and by ‘arm’ of the local publisher.Universities are currently having to negotiate directly with publishers for library resource access to incorporate their students and supporting staff located abroad. In turn, some publishers have already indicated they would welcome a more streamlined licensing process, to bring efficiencies and economies of scale, which align with Jisc’s core licensing programme. A key factor in the success of this pilot therefore depends on both library and publisher engagement.Our support for TNEOur TNE support programme has been working to achieve services to support TNE over the last few years. Through research and education networks - such as the Janet Network - Jisc enables seamless connectivity between global sites, which means fast, efficient and high-quality infrastructure to support TNE. We are now exploring other areas where we are able to support our members internationally, such as through this pilot.[#pullquote#]Our TNE support programme has been working to achieve services to support TNE over the last few years.[#endpullquote#]We believe centralised negotiated agreements with publishers will relieve universities of much of this TNE burden, and go a long way to increasing the availability of affordable library resources for these learners, improving the parity of overseas student experience with their UK counterparts.By using the experience of Jisc Collections in engaging with publishers and aggregators of content, we aim to take a leading role in establishing agreements with publishers to bring together the common interests, and pricing and licensing requirements of those delivering programmes beyond UK borders. We hope to develop a simple and agreed licensing approach and process, tried and tested with pilot organisations and key publishers, which keeps pace with the delivery of international education.[#pullquote#]We hope to develop a simple and agreed licensing approach and process, tried and tested with pilot organisations and key publishers[#endpullquote#]Through this TNE licensing pilot – launched this month, it is anticipated that universities will have simpler options to be able to include additional users into their licence agreements. Adopting similar robust approaches used for our current Jisc Collections consortium service, we will negotiate transparent pricing terms and discounts on behalf of TNE consortium members. We will also coordinate licensing and payment processes to reduce complexity and return savings to the sector. This should also lower risk for individual institutions and release funding back into the sector. Influence from the sectorA key factor in the success of this pilot depends on harnessing common interests. Under the guidance of a steering group, including academic institutions and key sector agencies, we will work with representatives of the higher education community, publishers, and other partners, to implement and deliver the pilot - by testing models and developing solutions to these common issues which many of our members and partners may face.The pilot aims to achieve:Local cost savings for HEIs and publishers by removing the duplication of effort in negotiation, licensing and ordering Agreed methodologies for applying fees and discounts for access to resources Standardised approach, nomenclature and licence terms bringing clarity and transparencyEfficiencies to HEIs and publishers in ordering, paying and licence acceptance for inclusion of additional authorised users located at partner organisations and campuses abroadThe pilot couldn’t be more timely, with research figures from the Higher Education and Policy Institute predicting a decrease of 20,000 in applications from international students post-Brexit, the TNE offer is an essential part of the future of the higher education economy.[#pullquote#]the TNE offer is an essential part of the future of the higher education economy. [#endpullquote#]It is also an important export commodity, with the Department for International Trade establishing their own cross-sector TNE forum, in addition to a new Education Export Advisory Group, for the education sector to explore global trade and investment opportunities, and discuss how the government can provide support.To establish a network of interested parties and inform the development of the pilot, a JiscMail group has been established and a community survey will be distributed during November to capture key information needed. A workshop is planned for Tuesday 30 January 2018 for institutions that want to be included in the pilot negotiations and you can register your interest for the event.To find out more about our TNE licensing pilot and to join the JiscMail group, contact For more information on our TNE support programme, contact
  • The push and pull towards new models of publishing
    Within the world of publishing, we are seeing some new trends emerge. Born from a desire to change the current publishing landscape, dominated by a handful of large commercial publishers, there is an increase in new publishing models, being led by universities and academics Our publishing studyTo get a sense of the scale of these new publishing models, we recently completed an in-depth study; changing publishing ecologies: a landscape study of new university presses and academic-led publishing, which revealed a growing trend in alternative publishing, both globally, and within UK higher education in particular.[#pullquote#]We recently completed an in-depth study [...], which revealed a growing trend in alternative publishing, both globally, and within UK higher education[#endpullquote#][#inlinedriver right light#] [#inlinedrivertitle#] Podcast [#endinlinedrivertitle#]Listen to the accompanying podcastPlay audio [#endinlinedriver#]The report was inspired by a white paper from the Northern Collaboration, made up of 27 higher education libraries in England, which called on us to fund a study, collecting hard evidence on the extent to which these new publishing ventures support the sector.The last study of its kindResearch on university presses: An overview of UK university presses took place in 2004, and showed a shrinking number of university presses (UPs) in the UK. However, the study was positive about a future for UPs and since then there has been a surge in new university presses (NUPs) and also academic-led publishing (ALPs) - especially in Australia, the United States, Germany, and now the UK.The incentives for a new approachOne of the key findings from the latest landscape report is that the open access (OA) agenda is shifting publishing preferences - new models are becoming more desirable for research academics, and enable people to share their work with the wider world.[#pullquote#]One of the key findings from the latest landscape report is that the open access agenda is shifting publishing preferences[#endpullquote#]There are motivations and challenges which are pushing for changes in publishing processes – among them is a desire to move away from the existing model and the huge profits made in the sector.As a result of challenges to get research published, ALPs and NUPs are now more widespread within the UK and, judging by our primary research, the reasons are as follows:Demand from/for early career researchers and academics, including encouraging first-time publishingDeveloping OA publishingSupporting the university’s strategy/objectivesFunder mandates/research excellence framework (REF) complianceUndergraduate research journals to give post-graduates practice in peer reviewsHosting facilities for journals/conference proceedingsMoving print to online OAMonograph crisisTo enhance the reputation of the universityThe policy landscapeWe're likely to see more NUPs and academic-lead publishing across UK higher education as they offer an alternative and less onerous route to publishing research, while maintaining the academic rigour required for scholarly work.The Research Excellence Framework calls on research and higher education institutes to ensure open access publishing becomes the norm. In addition, there is the possibility that UK funding bodies will extend the current open access policy to include monographsRead more in the LSE Impact blog post: The starting pistol has been fired – now is the time to heed the drive towards open access books in a future REF. With rising publishing costs, and budgets that don’t follow suit, the sector is taking an innovative approach to ensuring it is prepared.[#pullquote#]The government is hugely aware of the value of the research sector and recent investments demonstrate this[#endpullquote#]The government is hugely aware of the value of the research sector and recent investments demonstrate this; from the £229 million earmarked for science and innovation, as part of the industrial strategy, to the recent announcement of the National Innovation Centre for Data. The weight of policy is behind this shift in publishing, and the technology is widely available to make it happen.Driving forward changeThe idea of new university presses is not a new one, but what is new about the current models is that they differ from the legacy model - they are niche, collaborative and often 100% digital. Academics are also able to group together to publish work on platforms that didn’t previously exist.These new methods we’re seeing today have also responded to callsRead more in the LSE Impact blog post: scholarly communications shouldn’t just be open, but non-profit too - who feel that open access is not enough of a change. They would like to create a system where publishing research is not-for-profit, community-first, in collectives or coalitions, and bottom-up, with opportunities for more visibility for the authors themselves.Looking to the future, we would like to increase our offer in this space, through supporting a network of alternative publishers and our expertise in digital data management.Find out moreKeen to find out more about our support for new university presses and academic-led publishing? Contact me: further research report from the Knowledge Exchange on open access monograph publishing, within eight European countries, will be published this autumn.
  • The future of FE: our vision for the next five years
    Can colleges and skills providers become efficient and financially stable, while also providing an excellent learning experience that produces a workforce with the skills required to help the UK economy thrive post-Brexit and beyond? The answer is yes, but the process is neither easy, nor short; it involves a commitment to digital transformation that some colleges have already embraced and others must adopt, or risk a struggle.[#inlinedriver right light#] [#inlinedrivertitle#] Podcast [#endinlinedrivertitle#]Listen to the accompanying podcastPlay audio[#endinlinedriver#]Our vision for the sector over the five years to 2022 is for FE (further education) organisations to be digital by default, supported by a digitally capable workforce that understands the needs of employers and the jobs learners will need to fill.Flexible, convenient and accessible learningEducation technology (edtech) will challenge more advanced learners, while enabling the less able to receive the individual support they require to succeed. Technology will not only personalise learning, but feedback and assessment, too, so that individuals can progress at their own pace and study where and when they choose, regardless of age, background or personal circumstance.By 2022, national education technology strategies for post-16 education will be in place in England and Wales, with Northern Ireland probably following suit. As a result of these strategies, learners throughout the UK are likely to be supported by a myriad of technological tools, apps, simulations and virtual reality platforms.[#pullquote#]virtual reality tools will be increasingly employed to save money, reduce risk and add excitement[#endpullquote#]Indeed, virtual reality tools will be increasingly employed to save money, reduce risk and add excitement, for example enabling learners to “use” potentially dangerous machinery, hazardous or expensive substances in safety and to practice without blowing the budget.Learners will expect “always-on” access to the internet and technology regardless of their location, or workplace environment, and to use a device of their choice. Formative assessment will mainly be carried out online via quizzes with instant constructive feedback, virtual observations or e-portfolio evidence, while summative and end-point assessments are likely to incorporate the use of technology as a way of reducing costs.High-quality digital content and the digital capabilities of teaching staff will become major learner and employer satisfaction indicators.Behind the scenesBehind the scenes, data intelligence will inform strategic and operational decision making, particularly around teaching and learning support, pastoral care and curriculum design.Learning analytics data, for example, will detect when and for how long a student is engaging with the VLE, or whether work is handed in on time, and track attendance. Such information will make it easy to spot learners who are struggling and arrange intervention and tailored support.Helping to provide this digital-first, data-led environment will be a digital infrastructure that also takes account of information security and the new (May 2018) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).[#pullquote#]The sector must absorb the potential risks associated with implementing technology[#endpullquote#]The sector must absorb the potential risks associated with implementing technology, to ensure security and business continuity. Robust cyber security policies will minimise the risk of breaches that could result in data loss, chaos and reputational damage and maximise user awareness of safe practice.Institutes of Technology, T-levels and apprenticeshipsAligning with the government’s industrial and digital strategies, which address the technical skills gap in the UK and aim to boost productivity, FE organisations will be taking a leading role in Institutes of Technology (IoTs), and the delivery of T-levels and apprenticeships.Current policy dictates that IoTs (due to open from 2019) will be joint projects between colleges, universities and employers, focusing on sub-degree level education. Meanwhile, an overhaul of technical education means that a myriad of 13,000 vocational courses will have been replaced by 15 comprehensive T-level routes, including construction, engineering and manufacturing, childcare and education, and digital.Apprenticeships have already changed to become employer-led standards, with colleges vying with each other and independent providers to supply training.[#pullquote#]Colleges will have developed stronger relationships with universities in order to deliver degrees and higher level apprenticeships[#endpullquote#]Colleges will have developed stronger relationships with universities in order to deliver degrees and higher level apprenticeships, or will have attained degree-awarding powers themselves.Across the UK right now, the FE estate structure is already changing, with a shift toward bigger, regional colleges, which have strong links with each other, with independent providers and industry.[#pullquote#]All of this adds up to a new era of collaboration and competition[#endpullquote#]All of this adds up to a new era of collaboration and competition, where the most successful colleges will be those that use technology effectively to facilitate smooth and successful partnerships between themselves, students and employers.Their investment in new facilities and equipment required to deliver these reforms will have been designed at the outset with technology at the heart of all operations, transcending geographical locations.Borderless educationThe sector will be technically-focused by 2022 and will also be looking to develop internationally. Technology will support global mobility of learners and the collaboration of colleges, following in the footsteps of many UK universities with established overseas partnerships.The sector will have harnessed the use of technology to prepare learners for the world of work locally, regionally, nationally and globally and, in doing so, equipped them with the digital skills, knowledge and behaviours they require to live, work and play, safely and securely, in an ever-changing digitally focused world.
  • Gotcha! How to avoid that sinking feeling - and the phisherman's hook
    With phishing the most common attack method for cyber criminals, tackling ignorance among staff and students has never been more important. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that cyber security is the responsibility only of IT professionals; we all have a key role to play in our own online safety, and that of our employers.Criminals who use the internet are becoming more prevalent and sophisticated in their attempts to exploit our online mistakes and lack of knowledge, and none more so that those who launch phishing attacks.[#pullquote#]46% of UK businesses suffered an online attack during the past year[#endpullquote#]The government reports (in its cyber security breaches survey 2017) that 46% of UK businesses suffered an online attack during the past year. By far the most common type of infiltration related to fraudulent emails sent to staff (72%).Understanding the dangers of phishingCommonly carried out via email, text (smishing) or voice messages (vishing), phishing is the malicious attempt to obtain sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, account numbers, or credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy source. Attackers are usually after money, or goods, but may also be motivated by the power to disrupt.Imagine what could happen if inadvertently you gave away your Amazon password, or you responded to a fraudulent request via an email apparently from your finance director asking you to pay a large invoice with the company’s credit card.[#pullquote#]To any organisation, the potential for financial and reputational loss is immense.[#endpullquote#]To any organisation, the potential for financial and reputational loss is immense. Organisations that suffer a data breach could even be fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office.Fortunately, universities and colleges don’t underestimate the threat of phishing. In a recent Jisc survey, members cite phishing and lack of security awareness among users as the two biggest threats to their cyber space.[#pullquote#]members cite phishing and lack of security awareness among users as the two biggest threats to their cyber space[#endpullquote#]Simulated attacks and awareness trainingIncreasingly, they are turning to experts to help staff and students spot a phishing attack. Jisc offers members simulated phishing and associated awareness training delivered by Khipu. This works in three stages: assessment, training and reassessment.Firstly, Khipu will check devices, software and infrastructure for vulnerabilities such as a weak firewall or spam filter, and conduct an initial phishing campaign among staff and/or students. Usually, knowledge of this campaign is limited to only a very few individuals at each institution.It consists of an email with a link to an authentic-looking website (both tailored to each institution), where the user is invited to enter information (customisable). The email can also contain a file to download, simulating other common phishing techniques.The number of users who open the email, followed the link and enter information is measured to give a percentage risk score. For example, if 5,000 emails are sent and 3,250 people click and enter information, then that organisation’s risk of being compromised is 65%. This then gives the institution an understanding of its risk factor and how vulnerable it is to phishing attacks.The second stage is awareness training, which can be delivered using online tools including fact sheets, quizzes, videos, as well as through classroom training.Finally, another, or a series of further simulated phishing campaigns are launched over a period of months (the member can choose how many times this is repeated) to determine how well the training has worked. A subsequent report will include stats and graphs of each campaign, a breakdown of the users who visited the training website, completed the quiz and watched the video, and a best-practice cyber security guide for forward planning.The importance of educating usersIncreasing awareness is a necessity. The user is both the first and the last line of defence against phishing and nobody can say ‘it’s not my job’ to guard against cyber attacks.[#pullquote#]The user is both the first and the last line of defence against phishing and nobody can say ‘it’s not my job’ to guard against cyber attacks[#endpullquote#]Organisations only know they are vulnerable when it’s too late, so educating the user is essential. Often, it’s simply a case of paying attention to the email address – a dot or a hyphen added or omitted is easy to miss – and always checking with the IT department before updating credentials. It pays to be suspicious.These types of criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated, producing believable emails and associated websites. I was almost caught out myself recently, when tempted by a two-for-one offer purportedly from Apple. It was only when I was asked to enter details like my full name and my mother’s maiden name that I realised it was scam; they were trying to steal my ID.Khipu has been providing this service, and other cyber security products, on Jisc’s behalf since April, and is already working with more than 30 members.How to spot a phishing emailThere are a few things to watch out for:The message asks for personal informationThe message makes threats if you don’t carry out the proposed action within a specific time frameThe message contains poor spelling and grammar, or poor-quality logos/imagesLinks are mismatched – if you hover a mouse over the link it displays the true URLDomain names appear on the left, not the right-hand side. Eg is likely to be legitimate, but is suspiciousThere are subtle anomalies in the sender’s address (a dot where a hyphen would normally be, for example)Offers look too good to be trueYou’re asked to send money / make a donationThere are enticing-sounding attachments you didn’t requestReporting the crimeIf you suspect phishing email at work, report it immediately to your IT department. If you receive a phishing (email), smishing (by text) or vishing (voice call) message outside work, you should report it to the national fraud and cyber crime centre, where you’ll also find lots of usual advice, or call 0300 123 2040.
  • Are you our next HE social media superstar?
    We’re on the look-out for the most social media-savvy folk in higher education (HE). Sound like you? Well, if you make our top ten list you could win an edtech visit for your class, with virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and even a robot, and hey, it’s always nice to be acknowledged for your hard work! Our shiny new competition celebrates the excellent social media work being done by sector professionals out there - we’re looking for the most innovative ways of social being used to add value to teaching.[#inlinedriver right light#] [#inlinedrivertitle#] Podcast [#endinlinedrivertitle#]Listen to the accompanying podcastPlay audio [#endinlinedriver#]I look after the social accounts here at Jisc and am always impressed by the high quality of tweets, posts and engagement.[#pullquote#]we’re looking for the most innovative ways of social being used to add value to teaching.[#endpullquote#]Social media has the potential to shape and inform the sector – and we’re a real advocate for using it in teaching. Be it Twitter, Facebook, or another platform entirely, social is a great way to share information, start conversations, break down barriers and get your voice heard. It makes it easier to communicate with other sector professionals from around the globe, and key influencers that you ordinarily wouldn’t get the chance to meet.You might engage your students by running a social account specifically for your syllabus. Or perhaps you encourage them to interact with a wider international community to discuss global issues related to their university work.Twitter is often used to share good practice with colleagues and others in the sector, maybe you’ve created a hashtag to kick off a discussion and it’s really taken off, or perhaps you’ve created an entirely new collaborative online movement. Whatever it is, we want to hear from you!Last time around we had all sorts of great entries, from those encouraging students to blog and promote their posts on Twitter, to using YouTube in creative ways to keep conversations going.Get involved![#inlinedriver right light#] [#inlinedrivertitle#] Social media and HE discussion [#endinlinedrivertitle#]Listen to our digital comms team chat about social media, its uses in higher education, and our new social media superstars competitionPlay audio[#endinlinedriver#]So, which social platforms are you using? How do you reach your students? How has your use of social improved or altered your teaching practice? Has it made it easier for your students to communicate, and are they more likely to engage when social is part of the learning package?All you need to do is fill out this short form by Monday 30 October 2017 and you could be celebrated in our list of top ten social media superstars. You’ll also win an edtech visit to your class from our Digi Lab – expect a robot, an Emotiv Insight EEG Brain Reader, and some VR too.A few years ago we ran a top 50 list, take a look at the impressive line-up, and if you’re already on the list, why not enter again? Imagine the glory…the parties…So have a think and get started on that application – it’s a quick one. And don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about further education (FE). We’ll be opening an FE social media superstars competition soon.Follow us on Twitter and join in with #JiscTop10.Enter the competitionCompetition postersAdvertise the competition in your institution with our poster to encourage entries (pdf) and our poster to encourage votes from your students! (pdf).
  • Three key ways to build staff digital capabilities and confidence
    Staff digital capabilities are central to student and organisational success. It's a digital world, and in addition to a chosen subject, students are preparing for work and life in a digital society.  This may involve searching for, processing and analysing data – as well as collaborating with colleagues online, creating digital artefacts and using industry-specific technologies. Whilst digital capabilities are not their prime focus, students rightly expect that technology will be used to support and enhance their experience.Sector engagement and student feedback tell us that how confidently and effectively staff model appropriate digital skills and behaviours impacts on the development of student digital capabilities. In short, staff digital capabilities are central to success.[#pullquote#]Students rightly expect that technology will be used to support and enhance their experience[#endpullquote#][#inlinedriver right light#] [#inlinedrivertitle#] Podcast [#endinlinedrivertitle#]Listen to the accompanying podcast.Play audio [#endinlinedriver#]How do we know what works?We surveyed over 22,000 students and learners from 74 UK organisations in the second year of our student digital experience tracker. The tracker offers valuable insights into how students use and feel about the digital tools, environment and support they experience. It also provides benchmarking data for each participating institution against their sector average.What learners like and dislikeWe found that learners value the convenience of digital systems.  They rely on robust wifi and expect mobile-optimised content and services.Learners enjoy opportunities for group work facilitated via digital technologies, and many use technology to personalise the way they learn.They’re frustrated by inconsistencies of digital use between staff and would like better use of digital systems rather than more of it. [#pullquote#]They want digital systems to complement but not replace face-to-face teaching[#endpullquote#]They want digital systems to complement but not replace face-to-face teaching, and some learners feel that staff do not receive effective training or adequate support. Our student digital tracker briefing booklet (pdf) summarises the survey’s findings and offers eight case studies showing how universities and colleges have used the tracker to support the development of the student digital experience.Targeted support for staff development needsStaff digital development needs are just as diverse as those of students, so knowing what is needed and where to target finite resources is essential. Earlier this year 14 universities and colleges took part in a pilot of our digital capability discovery tool, which is currently in beta. The discovery tool supports individuals to identify and reflect on their current digital capabilities and make personalised improvement plans.The engagement approaches used in the pilot are explored through six institutional stories outlining how insights gained are informing investment in staff digital capabilities development.You can find out more about what we learned from the pilots and how this is shaping the next release of the discovery tool via the digital capabilities project blog.Three proactive ways of advancing staff digital capabilities and confidenceWe now have a rich collection of institutional stories, and three key enablers are emerging from practice shared by others:1. Use a range of feedback and data collection tools to help target support The student digital experience tracker, digital capabilities discovery tool and the NUS/Jisc benchmarking tool (pdf) specifically focus on developing the digital capacity of your organisation, staff and students.2. Engage in discussions – locally and nationallyThe importance of having discussions with staff about their digital capabilities is clear – at individual, team and organisational level.  Discussions raise awareness, open up new channels of communication and surface new opportunities to make more effective use of technology.Collaboration and sharing effective practice is cost-effective and expands the range of approaches and resources available to all.3. Piloting is valuable but wider impact requires a whole organisation approachThe opportunity to pilot a tool, approach, or resource secures feedback and helps to refine your approach before scaling up.  With so many competing agendas and pressures the pivotal difference that support for staff digital capabilities development can have on student and organisational success can be overlooked. Our four-step strategic plan will help you to develop an organisational approach appropriate to your needs.How you can get involvedSign up to take part in the 2018 student digital experience tracker and find out how students use and feel about the tools, environment and support you provide – register by 30 September 2017Take part in the pilot of the revised digital capabilities discovery tool (December 2017 to May 2018) - register your interest by 31 October 2017Attend our one-day training course, curriculum confidence: designing for digital capabilities in the curriculum on 16 November in BirminghamAttend our next digital capability community of practice event on 30 November 2017
  • Crack that code! This could be the week the magic happens...
    At Jisc we believe that education technology (edtech) can improve education, research and student life – and not just in the classroom or lecture theatre. However, most of us are consumers of technology rather than producers. What would it take to learn how to code, or get into hardware hacking? This can be especially challenging if you are no longer in formal education, but a wide range of schools, colleges, libraries and hackspaces are throwing their doors open this week for National Coding Week (18-24 September), with the aim of helping adults to learn some digital skills.[#inlinedriver right light#] [#inlinedrivertitle#] Podcast [#endinlinedrivertitle#]Listen to the accompanying podcastPlay audio [#endinlinedriver#]Ever wondered how to design a website, create an app, or maybe something shiny and new like augmented reality (AR) or artificial intelligence (AI)? Why not find a National Coding Week event near you and have a go?I’ll pick out some examples of the sort of things you could be doing, drawn from Jisc’s Digi Lab, where we explore the potential of new and emerging technologies.Build your own “seeing eye” AIImagine an AI that helps blind and partially sighted people to retain their independence, by recognising and speaking out loud the names of objects that were placed in front of it.This might sound a bit like science fiction, but in fact it’s possible using a cheap (£25) Raspberry Pi computer and some free AI software from Google called TensorFlow. This “machine learning” software is open source, which means the source code is available to all, allowing developers to enhance and change it.[#pullquote#]there's lots you can do with a Raspberry Pi that won't break the bank.[#endpullquote#]If you're a pupil or an adult learner who wants to get to grips with AI, there's lots you can do with a Raspberry Pi that won't break the bank. Perhaps you already have a keyboard or a mouse from an old PC? And you can plug it into any screen that has an HDMI input, like most modern TVs. What will you create? For more information, check out my blog and video on DIY AI.Make your own Mycroft AI open source digital assistantWouldn’t it be great if you could make your own digital assistant – a bit like Siri or Alexa, except that you could also get under the hood and see what makes it tick. The Mycroft team has built a prototype open source AI that does just this. Now you can tinker with it to create new “skills” that extend its built-in capabilities, and make Mycroft do things that its creators never envisaged.[#pullquote#]it’s easy to see Mycroft being used as a hook for teaching advanced hardware and software concepts and project work[#endpullquote#]I’ve posted a blog and video that shows what Mycroft is capable of, using their prototype device - a clever combination of off-the-shelf hardware like Raspberry Pi and Arduino. However, you can also run the Mycroft software on your existing Raspberry Pi, or on a conventional PC or laptop. From an edtech perspective, it’s easy to see Mycroft being used as a hook for teaching advanced hardware and software concepts and project work.Mycroft "skills" and the TensorFlow image classification code are both written in the Python programming language, which is becoming popular in schools as kids move from basic coding environments like MIT Scratch to more advanced coding concepts. There's nothing BASIC about Python, however, as it drives real-world software used by billions of people every day.[#pullquote#]it’s also becoming increasingly common for further education colleges to offer introductory programming courses.[#endpullquote#]So, if you're a teacher, why not give Mycroft or TensorFlow a try to help get pupils engaged with coding in Python. Challenge them to think of new things that the AI could do, and have a go at implementing them.There are lots of open source examples that they can learn from, like these Mycroft skills on GitHub. And if you’re an adult learner, there’s lots you can pick up online, and it’s also becoming increasingly common for further education colleges to offer introductory programming courses.Explore augmented reality with Apple’s ARKitARKit is being released right now as part of iOS11, the latest version of the operating system software that drives iPads and iPhones. AR has been around for years, but in quite a limited way – point your phone/tablet camera at a picture that has special markers on it, and the AR app will typically do something like activate a video or show you a 3D model.Until now, anyone wanting to develop an AR app has had to fend with a couple of big problems – firstly the hardware in phones and tablets hasn’t quite been up to the job and, secondly, there hasn’t been a standard way of adding AR capability to an app.ARKit on Apple devices and the upcoming ARCore on Android devices provide that capability as standard, and now the hardware is much more powerful. I’ll stick my neck out and say that, by Christmas 2017, there will be hundreds of AR apps in the App Store. One catch, though, is that you need to have an Apple computer to develop ARKit apps. [#pullquote#]by Christmas 2017, there will be hundreds of AR apps in the App Store.[#endpullquote#]I’m very excited about how people could use ARKit in research and education. Imagine holding your phone up to find that the equipment around you in the STEM lab is all tagged with names, documentation, “reserve me” buttons and the like – maybe with a graphical status indicating whether you have had the health and safety induction to use the kit.Or imagine a prospective student visit where the would-be students can hold their phones up to see what happens in each building, and giant arrows appear directing them to the next activity, induction session, students union etc. The blog and videos on ARKit should give you some more inspiration.So that’s a whistlestop tour through some interesting new technologies that you might want to explore if National Coding Week gets you all fired up.I’d love to hear from you about what you discover, and what you plan to do next. Why not get in touch or leave a comment below?