Do you have 30 minutes spare to discuss OER?

Evidence Base at Birmingham City University are currently working with the Jorum (http://jorum.ac.uk) team at Mimas (University of Manchester) to create a series of case studies about Jorum use. So, if you have used Jorum and would be willing to share your experiences of using and sharing Open Educational Resources (OERs), we want to hear from you.

The information will be collected via a short interview, which will be written up as a case study for the Jorum website. The interviews should take approximately 30 minutes via telephone or Skype.

If you are willing to be interviewed, please leave your details in our very short survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/jorumcasestudies

Please do share this request amongst your networks/colleagues – we need your stories!

G4HE webinar

One of the projects we are currently working on is hosting a free webinar on 22nd October. See the details below to find out if it’s something you may be interested in attending. 

G4HE logo

G4HE logo

Are you a research manager, administrator, or researcher? Wonder who you could be collaborating with? The G4HE project (Gateway for Higher Education) is a Jisc-funded project with the aim of improving access for HEIs to information held by the Research Councils, by giving something useful in return for all the effort that goes into creating, maintaining, and collecting this research information. It uses the BIS-funded RCUK Gateway to Research API to retrieve the data they collect from institutional research management systems like Research Fish and ROS. Using this data, the G4HE tools have been developed to help Higher Education institutions (HEIs) answer questions such as:

  • Which other HEIs did my institution collaborate with last year and how much value did those collaborations bring in?
  • Are there other HEIs working in a similar area that we could collaborate with in future?
  • How does the value of our research compare with other institutions or research groups?

G4HE is hosting a free webinar to introduce you to the tools being developed and consider how these could be used in institutions. The webinar is on 22nd October 2013 from 1pm until 2pm – book your place now at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/8548036407.

IRUS-UK new users survey feedback

IRUS logo

IRUS logo

Evidence Base is responsible for community engagement on the IRUS-UK project, a Jisc-funded project developing a statistics service for repositories in UK Further and Higher Education institutions. As part of the community engagement, we survey new joiners to the service to get her their first impressions, collect ideas and suggestions, and discover the areas they need more support with. Their feedback informs the technical development and guidance and support aspects of the project:

  • Technical development – we keep a technical wishlist based on user feedback, and review this at monthly team meetings to prioritise development work.
  • Guidance and support materials – we work with other members of the IRUS-UK team to provide relevant help and guidance for using IRUS. User feedback helps us focus our efforts on guidance for the areas that need it most.

As we are moving to the second year of IRUS-UK, we produced a summary of the key themes from the user survey so far. This included benefits and challenges, the way people use IRUS-UK and other repository statistics, their views on the open data approach, benchmarking, and feedback on specific features of IRUS-UK. The table below demonstrates some of the ways we have responded to feedback from these surveys:

IRUS-UK response to user feedback

IRUS-UK response to user feedback

Community input to IRUS-UK is something which is highly valued, and we will continue to collect feedback from the community on a regular basis. The summary report is now available from the News page of the IRUS website.

Mobile technologies in libraries – recent events

Though our m-library community support project has ended, we remain active in the area of mobile technologies in libraries to provide people with information which may help their library/information service, and to continue the conversations as new technologies and developments are introduced. Over the summer we have been involved in two events, as outlined below.

CILIP Umbrella Conference 2013

At the CILIP Umbrella Conference 2013, I collaborated with a colleague within BCU library, Annmarie Lee, to present a paper on ‘Putting research into practice: mobile technologies in libraries’. I have been part of the mobile technologies working group for BCU Library and Learning Resources, and through that have been able to be involved in projects as a researcher to help put what we learnt through the m-library community support project into practice (e.g. using the information in the Pathways to Best Practice Guides). Annmarie and I gave the perspective from a researcher and a practitioner, and highlighted some of the mobile technology projects currently in progress at BCU Library and Learning Resources. We also shared the benefits of a researcher/practitioner collaboration and some tips for both to help each other. You can view our presentation below, and our paper will be available in the conference proceedings which will be published by Facet Publishing.

Annmarie and I also wrote an article on this topic for SCONUL Focus which is due to be published shortly.

Mobile resources library access issues workshop

I helped co-ordinate this workshop hosted by Jisc Collections, and was invited to present a section in the morning session. The idea of the workshop was to get librarians together to discuss the issues currently being experienced in terms of access library content via mobile devices, and see if we could come up with a way to move towards addressing the issues. I presented on some of the approaches libraries are using to record information about access to library resources via mobile devices, and some of approaches publishers and content providers are delivering their content to mobile devices. My slides are below:

I also blogged an overview of the day on the Mobile Technologies in Libraries blog, and Mark Williams from Jisc Collections has published an article in Research Information reporting on the main themes from the day and the next steps.

Birmingham City University Library and Learning Resources, along with many other libraries I’m sure, have been working on mobile development over the summer to support the students when they return in September. If you’re interested in utilising mobile technologies in your library/information service, please check out the Pathways to Best Practice Guides or contact us for further guidance.

DevCSI Stakeholder Survey 2013

Evidence Base at Birmingham City University has been commissioned to undertake a survey of stakeholders on behalf of DevCSI, the Developer Community Supporting Innovation project. DevCSI aims to build a community of developers working / studying in UK Education and investigate the value and impact it can make to technical innovation in the wider educational community and at an organisational level. DevCSI is managed by the Innovation Support Centre, UKOLN at the University of Bath and funded by JISC. The broad topics of this survey include: benchmarking developers across the sector; examining stakeholders’ views of software development; discovering examples of local innovation; and gathering suggestions about the on going future development of a developer community.

The survey is currently available for developers, managers of developers, senior managers, funders, vendors/suppliers and users (academics/researchers/librarians) at:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/devcsi2013

Each respondent will be able to enter a prize draw to win a £200 Amazon voucher or one of four £50 vouchers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win, please follow instructions at the end of the survey.

The survey should take approximately 10-15 minutes of your time. Please be assured that all data will be anonymised during analysis. We would welcome your responses by 28th June 2013.

In addition to the survey responses the DevCSI team are looking for people who would be willing to provide further in depth case study data to support the project. There will be an option towards the end of the survey to supply your contact details if you are interested in finding out more about this. Please note this is not a compulsory element of the survey.

If you have any queries about this survey, please contact Evidence Base: ebase@bcu.ac.uk

Thanks for your help – we really value your feedback.

UKSG Annual Conference 2013 #uksglive

UKSG conference

UKSG conference

This week some of Evidence Base staff attended the UKSG Annual Conference and Exhibition in Bournemouth. It was a packed conference schedule covering a variety of different topics – open access, discovery services, innovative technologies, patron driven acquisition, mobile technologies and more.

Some of the key themes which stood out to me included:

  • The need to improve dialogue between publishers and librarians

This was my first UKSG conference and I was pleasantly surprised by the mix of publishers and librarians. Quite often I have attended conferences where the exhibitors have felt very separate from delegates but this wasn’t the case at UKSG. Many of the publishers and exhibitors attended the sessions, the socials, as well as presenting (sharing some of their research or things they are working on rather than the traditional sales pitches). As the closing plenary speaker, T Scott Plutchak, highlighted, librarians and publishers have a shared goal of helping link people to information, and there’s a lot of information about users that both librarians and publishers find valuable. There does still seem to be a barrier though, and I think it old be beneficial to improve communication between librarians and publishers both at conferences and outside conferences.

  • Different business models for acquiring content

One of the stand out plenary sessions (everyone was talking about it!) was from a postgraduate medical student, Josh Harding. He demonstrated how he had moved completely paperless and does all his studying and activities out on medical practice through his iPad. I could relate to a lot of what he was saying (I’m writing this blog post on an iPad and made all my notes and tweets during the conference on either a tablet or mobile phone), but it’s great to hear about his workflow in detail. He uses a number of different apps to help him with his studies – for searching and accessing content (interactive textbooks, medical reference resources etc.), annotating, note taking and voice recording in lectures. He uses Inkling to download ebook chapters to his iPad and add annotations (using GoodReader) which he then stores in the cloud (Dropbox) and can access from any device. Sharing his experience caused many of the librarians and publishers at the conference to consider how to support this workflow.

We also heard from Coventry University who have worked with Ingram Coutts to provide all students with a pack of books to support their studies (and I had discussions with people about how to do something similar with electronic content such as giving students a tablet or e-reader with all the content preloaded) and there were a number of presentations and discussions about patron driven acquisition (PDA). It’s clear that the traditional business model which has been used for print materials is not fit for purpose for electronic materials, and it’s really interesting hearing about new developments to support models which may suit electronic content.

  • Importance of understanding the behaviours and workflows of our users 

There were a number of presentations and discussions about the information-seeking behaviours and the workflows of users. This is something that has always interested me, and it was good to see it covered during the conference as I think it’s something that spans across most of the delegates. Understanding more about this behaviour and user workflows helps libraries provide support throughout the process and helps publishers and other suppliers provide tools to help facilitate effective searching and content consumption. I was interested to hear about some of the research happening and hope there will be ways to continue to share this sort of information to help us better understand different types of user groups and how new developments are changing behavious (e.g. mobile devices).


There were of course many other things discussed at the conference (I was really impressed with how broad the coverage was), but these are the key ones that stood out to me. The conference gave me lots of food for thought and I’ve come away with plenty of ideas for things to follow up on and future topics for research. I of course also managed to get some conference goodies and very much enjoyed the conference dinner which included popcorn, candy floss, dodgems, hook a duck and laser quest in a massive inflatable maze (as all good conference dinners should!).

BCU Technology in Education Exhibition

Mobiles in education (from ThinkStock)

Mobiles in education (from ThinkStock Photos)

Last week I attended a great exhibition hosted by my colleagues across Birmingham City University (BCU) focused on technology in education. I’ve always been interested in ways to utilise technologies to support teaching and learning, and much of my research has been into this area, including the recent M-libraries community support project. Most of the work surfaced in our projects is linked to libraries, so it’s always good to take the opportunity to find out about work outside libraries.

The Technology in Education Exhibition included a number of showcase projects from within academic schools and support departments such as IT Services (CICT) and our Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT), plus some presentations and a Pecha Kucha hour. Some of the highlights of the day for me included:

  • Use of iPod touches in classroom to deliver teaching for fashion students. This enables the students to work at their own pace and pause/rewind until they mastered the techniques. It also freed up the lecturers to support those who needed it (easy to identify those who are struggling) without having to go over the same thing again and again for those who don’t need it.
  • Use of virtual worlds to provide training for things which would be unethical to do in the real world. Many of the courses at BCU are vocational, involving working with children, patients, and other members of public. For some situations it wouldn’t be fair to put students (or public) in these situations until they are fully trained. One example I was shown was a parent’s evening at a primary school where education students selected what they felt was the best approach and could then watch the parents’ (pre-recorded by actors) responses. BCU have developed Shareville and continue to expand this community to incorporate different courses (it currently has a school, hospital, financial district etc.)
  • MyCAT, a content authoring system for creating reusable learning objects. This has also been developed internally and makes it really simple for academics to create learning objects to include in their Moodle courses. It also links to ExpLOR, our learning object repository, which other staff can use to adapt their own versions.
  • Experiments with iBooks author. Two of the Pecha Kucha presentations (from different faculties) talked about how they had started using iBooks author to create content tailored to their courses which students can get from the iTunes store. They had included text, images, and embedded videos. I may need to add this to the list of things for the library’s mobile technologies working group to investigate!
  • Hearing about the potential future of our IT system utilising Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) that allows you to log in to your desktop through any computer with internet access and a browser (even tablets). It reformats appropriately to the device but gives access to all the software on your profile, even if it’s not downloaded on to the computer you are using to access it. At the moment this is still very early stages (needs to be pilot tested and costed) but it sounds great so I really hope it comes into fruition.
  • Learning that we have an institutional account for stock images (which is where the image for this blog post is from!)

I really enjoyed chatting to academics, learning technologies, and others interested in innovative ways of utilising technologies in education. I had no idea so much great stuff was being done in the university and hope events like this continue to help share good practice and spark new ideas across the departments.