This was my first return visit to the Colloquium for approximately 5 years. It was a great opportunity for me to meet with colleagues “old” and new and establish new connections with librarians since I’ve become the WHELF Development Officer.

I attended the sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday afternoon began with a session on the theme of: Digital Literacies and a presentation on “Upcycling: the challenges of bringing old resources to a new audience” by Sue Burnett from the University of South Wales. Sue detailed their experiences of upcycling an online MA module in Research Methods via iTunesU. The next stage in this process is to release the whole module as a Multitouch iBook. In preparation of this the module content was completely reviewed and videos and new content was added. All 3rd party materials had to be recleared by copyright and the references all updated and this will be published in Autumn 2014. Sue said that they are also exploring open badge accreditation as a means of adding assessment to the online module.

This presentation was followed by Joe Nicholls from Cardiff University also discussing the digital literacy theme with, “ Developing staff and student digital literacies: a progress report on putting theory into practice”. Joe’s previous role was as Project Director on the Jisc Digidol project and is now Principal Consultant: Digital Enablement. As his job title suggests Joe sees his role as an enabler in developing learning literacies. This enablement focuses on the what the learner wants to achieve and not just what the service provides. Success in the embedding digitial literacies relies upon them being placed in a meaningful context , blended learning and building partnerships, i.e. a “with” not “for” attitude. Joe also referred to Beetham and Sharpe’s (2010) pyramid model of digital literacy as a way to structure engagement with learners.

Beetham and Sharpepyramid model of digital literacy development model (2010)

Wednesday morning’s session opened with a theme of collaboration. John Dalling, UWTSD and Mark Hughes of Swansea University gave a presentation on the “WHELF Shared LMS Project: an overview”. The project is building on the collaboration, sharing and openness that has long been a part of institutions working together in Wales, e.g. the consortial purchase of Voyager in 1999 and the work of the WHELF sub-group WHEEL in negotiating shared procurement of electronic resources.

The Library Management Systems currently being used in Welsh institutions are reaching the end of their useful life; these systems are rooted in print resources and not managing our electronic resources as well as we would like. The project is ground-breaking and has attracted interest worldwide. The project has 11 partners including the National Library of Wales and NHS Libraries and will incorporate 88 libraries/sites. All of these partners have varying needs and differences in their requirements, so there are some difficulties to overcome. To address these issues there is an appointed Project Manager, Gareth Owen working with a Project Working Group and this group reports to the WHELF Steering Group. The Working Group found using Google Docs very useful for the project in terms of collaboration. The group have also regularly met face to face at Gregynog. An ongoing governance structure has been proposed to deal with the upgrades and updates to the shared LMS beyond the life of the project. The timescales are tight as a contract is due to be awarded at the end of Summer 2014 with some institutions going live mid 2015 and all participants live by the end of 2016. However , the project is making great progress and continues to run on schedule with great enthusiasm for the success of the project providing momentum.

Steve Williams next got us thinking laterally with session 2: Wicked Problems  “The well-known solution: neat, plausible and wrong”. Steve encouraged us to take time out from our day to day work life (even though it is hard to do this) to try to understand and develop awareness of other areas; “my job today is to think about what we need to do tomorrow”. It can be useful to write the problem down to decide upon our goal formulations. Many times it is not the problem that is “wicked” but the complexities surrounding it, e.g. a lack of funding.

Image credit: Unsplash

I liked Steve’s analogy that in order to solve problems we have to get into the swamp, we can’t stay on the high ground we have to get it and deal with it. He also mentioned that the most interesting problems, and the ones that will lead to transformations can usually be found in the “swamp”.

We returned to the digital literacy theme following coffee with a presentation from Marianne Shepherd and Lis Parcell, Jisc “Strategic approaches to digital literacies” outlining the Jisc Developing Digital Literacies programme (2011-2013) involving 10 universities and two FE colleges. Marianne stressed the importance of digital literacy being embedded in the curriculum in order to make it meaningful to students. Attendees divided into small group to discuss how our services currently support the development to student’s digital literacies. Some of the key points that emerged were:
–          Making students aware that digital literacy skills are transferable and enhance their employability
–          To help students develop e-safety in order to avoid problems
–          To make sure students are aware of their online profile

The rest of the sessions in this part of the morning shared the useful practical experiences of colleagues at Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of South Wales. Louise Wallace, (UofSW) talked about the setting up and manning a virtual chat service and then managing and developing that through a period of great change as the University merged. Jamie Finch (Cardiff Metropolitan) discussed his experiences of “Developing digital literacies in Endnote: train the trainer pilot” to teach Endnote to students in a way that they would remember as part of Cardiff Metropolitan’s strategic aim to improve research output quality. Finally, Jenny Godfrey (Cardiff Metropolitan) entertained us with many interesting images in demonstrating how to teach visual literacy to first year undergraduates.

As we approached Wednesday afternoon the Colloquium began to welcome our colleagues from the IT sector and I stayed for two more presentations on that day before having to leave. The theme changed to Business Analytics and Planning with Nia Ellis describing her experiences of working on the Digitisation Benchmarking Project at Aberystywth University. 13 institutions from the UK participated in evaluating their existing methods for digitising materials for a VLE and sharing methods of best practice. The project report can be accessed here. Finally I listened to Marianne Shepherd “Data analytics and BI to add value: a view from Jisc”. Business intelligence is a broad umbrella term which includes the infrastructure and tools to access to and analysis of data. Marianne highlighted the JiscLAMP project (Library Analytics and Metrics Project) which aims to enable libraries to support students, improve satisfaction and increase retention through analysing the data they have collected.

There is also an interesting blog post about Gregynog from Susan Ferguson, Aberystwyth University on the Cadarn Learning Portal.

by Rachael Whitfield, WHELF Development Officer