Tag Archives: 23 things

The Benefits of Open Education and OER⤴

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This is a transcript of a talk I gave as part of the Open Med Project webinar series.

What is open education?

Open education is many things to many people and there’s no one hard and fast definition.

  • A practice?
  • A philosophy?
  • A movement?
  • A licensing issue?
  • A human right?
  • A buzz word?
  • A way to save money?

This is one description of the open education movement that I particularly like from the not for profit organization OER Commons…

“The worldwide OER movement is rooted in the human right to access high-quality education. The Open Education Movement is not just about cost savings and easy access to openly licensed content; it’s about participation and co-creation.”

Open education encompasses many different things. These are just some of the aspects of open education

  • Open textbooks
  • Open licensing
  • Open assessment practices
  • Open badges
  • Open online courses
  • MOOCs (debatably)
  • Open data
  • Open Access scholarly works
  • Open source software
  • Open standards
  • Open educational resources

Open educational resources (OER)

Open educational resources are central to open education. UNESCO define open educational resources as

“teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.”

OER World Congress

And the reason I’ve chosen this definition is that UNESCO is one of a number of organisations that actively supports the global adoption of open educational resources and just a few weeks ago UNESCO and the Government of Slovenia hosted the second OER World Congress in Ljubljana  which brought together 550 participants, 30 government ministers, representing 111 member states.

The theme of the Congress was “OER for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education: From Commitment to Action” and there was a strong focus on how OER can help to support United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4.

 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”

The main output of the Congress was the UNESCO Ljubljana OER Action Plan and accompanying Ministerial Statement.  Central to the OER Action plan is the acknowledgement of the role that OER can play in supporting quality education that is equitable, inclusive, open and participatory. The Action Plan outlines 41 recommended actions to mainstream OER and to help Member States to build knowledge societies and provide quality, lifelong education.

In his summing up at the end of the congress UNESCO Assistant Director for Education Qian Tang said

“to meet the education challenges, we can’t use the traditional way. In remote and developing areas, particularly for girls and women, OER are a crucial, crucial mean to reach SDGs. OER are the key.”

Creative Commons

One of the key characteristics of open educational resources is that they are either in the public domain or they are released under an open licence and generally that means a Creative Commons licence.

However not all Creative Commons licences are equal and only resources that are licensed for adaptation and reuse can really be considered as OER.  Resources that are licensed with the “No Derivatives” licence can not strictly be regarded as OER, and there is some debate about the status of “Non Commerical” licenced resources.

At the recent OER World Congress, Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley emphasized that free is not the most important thing about OER, it’s the permission to modify and adapt resources that is most important, because that is what allows us to adapt educational resources to allow us to meet the specific and diverse needs of our learners.

University of Edinburgh OER Vision

At the University of Edinburgh we believe that open educational resources are strongly in line with our institutional mission to provide the highest quality learning and teaching environment for the greater wellbeing of our students, and to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world, promoting health and economic and cultural wellbeing.

Our vision for OER has three strands, building on our excellent education and research collections, traditions of the Scottish Enlightenment and the university’s civic mission.  These are:

  • For the common good – encompassing every day teaching and learning materials.
  • Edinburgh at its best – high quality resources produced by a range of projects and initiatives.
  • Edinburgh’s Treasures – content from our world class cultural heritage collections.

This vision is backed up by an OER Policy approved by our Learning and Teaching Committee, which encourages staff and students to use, create and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience.  This OER Policy is itself CC licensed and is adapted from an OER Policy that has already been adopted by a number of other institutions in the UK, so please do feel free to take a look and adopt it or adapt it as you see fit.

And we also have an OER Service which provides staff and students with advice and guidance on creating and using OER, and which provides a one stop shop where you can access open educational resources produced by staff and students across the university.  Because we believe its crucially important to back up our policy and vision with support.

I want to focus now on some of the benefits of OER and I’m going to highlight these benefits with case studies from the University of Edinburgh.

OER ensures longevity of access to resources

So firstly open licences help to ensure longevity of access to educational resources.  It’s very common to think of open licensed resources as primarily being of benefit to those outwith the institution, however open licenses also help to ensure that we can continue to use and reuse the resources that we ourselves have created.  I’m sure you’ll all have come projects that created content only for those resources to be come inaccessible once the project ends or great teaching and learning materials belonging to a colleague who has subsequently retired or moved on, and nobody quite knows if they can still be used or not. Unless teaching and learning resources carry a clear and unambiguous open licence, it is difficult to know whether and in what context they can be reused.  This is a phenomenon that my colleague Melissa Highton has referred to as copyright debt.  If you don’t get the licensing right first time round it will cost you to fix it further down the line.  And this is one of the best strategic reasons for investing in open educational resources at the institutional level. We need to ensure that we have the right use, adapt, and reuse, the educational resources we have invested in.

Continued access to educational resources can be particularly problematic when it comes to MOOCs.  MOOC content often gets locked into commercial platforms, regardless of whether or not it is openly licensed, and some platforms are now time limiting access to content.  So at the University of Edinburgh we are ensuring that all the content we have produced for our MOOCs is also freely available under open licence to download from our Open Media Bank on our Media Hopper platform.

OER can diversify the curriculum

OER can also make a significant contribution to diversifying the curriculum.  So for example A number of studies have shown that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual health is not well-covered in Medical curricula, however knowledge of LGBT health and of the sensitivities needed to treat LGBT patients are valuable skills for qualifying doctors.

Using materials from the commons, a project at the University of Edinburgh sought to address the lack of teaching on LGBT health within the curriculum through OER.  The project remixed and repurposed resources originally created by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio, and then contributed these resources back to the commons as CC BY licensed OER.  New open resources including digital stories recorded from patient interviews and resources for Secondary School children of all ages were also created and released as CC BY OER.

OER improves digital skills

OER can also help to improve digital skills for both staff and students. 23 Things for Digital Knowledge is an award winning, open online course run by my colleague Stephanie Farley. 23 Things, was adapted from an open course originally developed by the University of Oxford, and it is designed to encourage digital literacy by exposing learners to a wide range of digital tools for personal and professional development. Learners spend a little time each week, building up and expanding their digital skills and are encouraged to share their experiences with others.  All course content and materials are licensed under a CC BY licence and the University actively encourages others to take and adapt the course. The course has already been used by many individuals and organisations outwith Edinburgh and it has recently been adapted for use by the Scottish Social Services Council as 23 digital capabilities to support practice and learning in social services.

OER engages students in co-creation

OER can also engage students in the co-creation of their own learning resources. One initiative that does this is the School of Geosciences Outreach and Engagement course. Over two semesters, students undertake an outreach project that communicates an element of GeoSciences outside the university community. Students have the opportunity to work with schools, museums, outdoor centres and community groups to create a wide range of resources for science engagement including  classroom teaching materials, leaflets, websites, and smartphone/tablet applications.  Students gain experience of science outreach, public engagement, teaching and learning, and knowledge transfer while working in new and challenging environments and developing a range of transferable skills that enhance their employability.

A key element of the Geosciences Outreach and Engagement Course is to develop resources with a legacy that can be reused and disseminated for use by other communities and organisations.  And the University is now taking this one step further by repurposing some of these materials to create open educational resources. For the last two years we have recruited Open Content Creation student interns, to take the materials created by the Geoscience students, make sure everything in those resources could be released under open license and then share them in places where they could be found and reused by other teachers and learners.

For example this resource on sea level variation is designed for students learning Geography at third and fourth level of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and it can be downloaded under a CC BY Share alike license from Open.Ed and TES.

OER promotes engagement with the outputs of open research

Open access makes research outputs freely accessible to all. It allows research to be disseminated quickly and widely, the research process to operate more efficiently, and has the potential to increase use and understanding of research by business, government, charities and the wider public.  However it is not always easy for those outwith academia to know how to access these outputs, even though they are freely and openly available.

In order to address this issue and to foster technology transfer and innovation, we’ve created a series of open educational resources in the form of video interviews, case studies and learning materials called Innovating with Open Knowledge.  These resources are aimed at creative individuals, private researchers, entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises to provide guidance on how to find and access the open outputs of Higher Education.  The resources focus on developing digital and data literacy skills and search strategies and feature case study interviews with creative individuals and entrepreneurs engaging with the University of Edinburgh’s world class research outputs.

Innovating with Open Knowledge demonstrates how to find and use Open Access scholarly works, open research data, archival image collections, maker spaces and open source software, and features interviews about how these resources can be used to support creative writing, visual research, citizen science, community engagement, drug discovery and open architecture.  All these resources are released under open licence and the videos can be downloaded for reuse from this url.

OER contributes to the development of open knowledge

OER can contribute to the development of open knowledge and one great way to do this is to engage with the worlds biggest open educational resource, Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is a valuable learning tool that can be used to develop a wide range of digital and information literacy skills at all levels across the curriculum however it is not without bias.  The coverage of subject matter on Wikipedia is neither uniform nor balanced and many topics and areas are underrepresented, particularly those relating to women.

At the University of Edinburgh we have employed a Wikimedian in Residence whose job it is to embed open knowledge in the curriculum, through skills training sessions and editathons, to increase the quantity and quality of open knowledge and enhance digital literacy. This project is also helping to improve the coverage and esteem of Wikipedia articles about women in science, art and technology, and redress the gender imbalance of contributors by encouraging more women to become Wikimedia editors.  And I’m delighted to say that over that last year 65% of participants at our editathons were women.

 OER enhances engagement with content and collections

This rather obscure 17th century map of Iceland was digitized by the University’s Centre for Research Collections and because it was released under open licence, one of our colleagues was able to add it to the Wikipedia page about Iceland.  Now Iceland’s Wikipedia page normally gets about 15,000 hits a day, however in June 2016 Iceland’s page got over 300,000 hits in a single day.  That was the day that Iceland put England out of the Euro 2016 championship qualifiers, so 300,000 people saw our obscure 17th century map because of a game of football.  This story was subsequently picked up by Creative Commons who included a little feature on the map in their 2016 State of the Commons report, resulting in further engagement with this historical gem.

Open Scotland

We believe that there are many benefits to using and sharing open educational resources within Higher Education and beyond, and this is one of the reasons that the University of Edinburgh support Open Scotland, a cross sector initiative that aims to raise awareness of open education, encourage the sharing of open educational resources, and explore the potential of open policy and practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education.

Open Scotland has developed the Scottish Open Education Declaration which, in line with the UNESCO OER Action Plan, calls for all publicly funded educational resources to be made available under open licence.  I know colleagues in Morocco are already in the process of adopting a version of this Declaration and I would strongly urge you to follow their example.

Conclusion

I just want to finish up with a quote from one of our Open Content Interns that eloquently sums up the real value of OER. This is from Martin Tasker, an undergraduate Physics student who worked with us last summer and in a blog post titled “A Student Perspective on OER” he wrote:

“Open education has played such an integral part of my life so far, and has given me access to knowledge that would otherwise have been totally inaccessible to me. It has genuinely changed my life, and likely the lives of many others. This freedom of knowledge can allow us to tear down the barriers that hold people back from getting a world class education – be those barriers class, gender or race. Open education is the future, and I am both proud of my university for embracing it, and glad that I can contribute even in a small way. Because every resource we release could be a life changed. And that makes it all worth it.”

23 Things: Thing 13 Video⤴

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So here’s a thing…. (thing…get it?) …. although I consume as much online video as the next person I don’t actually produce a great deal, though there are plenty of embarrassing videos of me on YouTube from various conferences and events. Recently however I did have to produce a couple of videos.  The first was this video for the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Community Choice Awards earlier this autumn.  Although our media production colleagues here at the University did an excellent job of producing the video and stitching the content together, recording the film was a bit of a faff to say the least. Due to tight deadlines and people disappearing for summer vacations, Stuart Nicol and I ended up filming the clip ourselves using a camera balanced precariously on a stool on top of a table. We may have forgotten to turn the microphone on during the first take and we lost another take due to hopeless laughter.  Anyway, it was a bit of a hassle, so it’s no wonder we look a bit rabbit-in-the-headlights in the film :}

Fast forward a couple of months and I was asked to present a guest lecture for the University’s Introduction to Online Distance Learning course.  Because I was on leave in the Outer Hebrides the week I was scheduled to talk I offered to record my lecture instead.  This time I used MediaHopper, the University’s Kaltura based media management platform, to record my talk and I have to say I was very impressed.  Once I’d created my slides I was able to record my lecture on my own laptop which was incredibly convenient for me as I have to work from home two days a week owing to childcare responsibilities.  Everything worked perfectly and although it took over half-an-hour to upload the video file from my cranky home network, I was able to get the whole recording done and dusted in a few hours.  Sorted!  Unfortunately the MediaHopper embed code isn’t quite as effective and my slides don’t render properly when I embed the video in WordPress, however you can see the lecture complete with slides here: Open Education and Co-Creation.  And because it’s CC BY licensed you’re welcome to download and reuse it too ?

23 Things: Thing 11 & 12 Copyright and OER⤴

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First of all a confession – I can get quite emotional about copyright and licensing :’} So emotional in fact that Jane Secker’s ALT Conference keynote Copyright and e-learning: understanding our privileges and freedoms  actually brought a wee tear to my eye.  You might think I’m making this up but it’s true, and the reason why is that copyright and licensing is ultimately about rights and freedoms and, at this point in time more than ever, what could be more important and fundamental than that?

One of the things that fascinates me about copyright is that people often hold contradictory views on it at the same time.  On the one hand there is a nebulous fear of copyright founded on the assumption that both copyright and licenses are preventative and punitive and that getting it wrong will call down the wrath of lawyers. On the other hand there’s a general assumption that anything that’s out there on the internet can be reused without permission, because if you weren’t happy with your stuff being reused you wouldn’t put it online in the first place, right?

Encouraging colleagues to engage with copyright is no easy task, it’s seen as dry and dull and vaguely threatening. However engaging colleagues with open education resources (OER) is a great way to raise awareness of both copyright an licensing.  Learning about OER can help colleagues to think about their own rights and to consider how to express, in unambiguous terms, what they will or will not allow people to do with content that have created.

The beauty of Creative Commons licenses is that they are designed to enable reuse, rather than prevent it. Admittedly CC licences are not perfect, the Non-Commercial clause is widely regarded as being particularly problematic but it’s no exaggeration to say that they have played a fundamental role in facilitating the development of open education and OER. Creative Commons licenses are now so integral to my work that I can’t imagine life without them and I can’t think of copyright without also thinking of Creative Commons.

So the task for Thing 11 & 12 is to find two CC licensed resources and then find or create an OER, so in the best traditions of Blue Peter – here’s one I prepared earlier! Two CC licensed images from flickr and the open education resource I used them in – a guest lecture for the University of Edinburgh’s Introduction to Online distance Learning Course.

Free Speech Zone by Caitlyn_and_Kara CC BY 2.0

Free Speech Zone by Caitlyn_and_Kara CC BY 2.0

Free Hugs

Gratis by Abrazo Dan CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

23 Things: Thing 9 Google Hangouts / Collaborate Ultra⤴

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I am woefully behind with 23 Things owing to work and annual leave so I’m going to try and catch up with a few quick and dirty posts.

Thing 9 is Google Hangouts and Collaborate Ultra and I did actually manage to dial into the live sessions Charlie ran a couple of weeks ago which were a lot of fun. I’ve worked remotely in one way or another for most of my career in ed tech, either working from home, working for distributed organisations, or working on projects with multiple international parters, so I’ve lost count of the number of remote collaboration tools I’ve used over the years.  Here’s a brief run down of the way I use some of the current crop of tools.

Skype

Still my favourite for one to one calls and personal conversations. I use Skype routinely on both my laptop and my phone and would be lost without it. I tend to use Skype for audio calls, text chat and transferring documents and images, it’s not often I make video calls.  The downside of Skype is that it’s still flakey with more than a few people, so I tend not to rely on it if there are more than about four people on a call. Also the way Skype updates its interface and randomly hides features is annoying as hell.

Google Hangouts

I can’t say I was impressed with Google hangouts in the early days.  I remember having a call with a Google project manager in the US not long after hangouts were launched and they insisted on using a telephone conference line rather than a hangout, which kinda spoke volumes. Initially I found them really flakey and in my experience there are often problems with scheduling and people getting into hangouts.   Having said that, things have improved, the interface is nice and clean, and once you’re in I find that hangouts are pretty robust. You can only have up to 10 people actively participating in a video hangout which is an obvious limiting factor, though you can have a much larger number listening in.  One nice feature is that you can stream hangouts directly on to Youtube which makes them a useful broadcasting tool. Here’s a link to an ALT Community Call which essentially involved Martin Hawksey interviewing me in a hangout and streaming it directly on to Youtube. So I tend to find hangouts are useful for project meetings, small committees, and broadcast interviews.  Also filters and ponies.

Google Hangout interface

Susan Greig channelling her inner Elsa in a Google Hangout

Google Hangouts with ponies

Not many collaboration tools offer ponies as standard

Collaborate Ultra

I’ve been using various incarnations of this tool since the dawn of time and it’s never been exactly user friendly.  Anyone else remember the days of having to install Java before you could run the damn thing? No, not that version of Java, this version of Java. *sigh*  However there’s no denying that Collaborate is very useful indeed for more formal online collaboration, particularly webinars and online lectures, which may have a large audience.  In my experience you need at least two people to run a successful Collaborate webinar, one doing the talking and one watching the chat window, and if you’ve got someone else acting as administrator then that’s even better. Of course to use Collaborate Ultra you need a subscription, but if you have access, it’s a very useful tool indeed.

Collaborate Ultra interface

Collaborate Ultra – no ponies

 

23 Things: Thing 8 Facebook⤴

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Thing 8 is Facebook and here is a cautionary tale….

I have not been a Facebook user for a couple of years now, but that is more by accident than design.  I first started using Facebook in 2007, primarily to chat with work colleagues outside work and to keep in touch with various friends and family.  I used it fairly consistently over the next seven years, though to be honest it was really starting to annoy me. In addition to Facebook’s high handed attitude to privacy I found the targeted advertising intrusive, sexist, and annoying.  (No Facebook, for the millionth time, I do not want to loose weight or go on a diet. Please fuck off.)

Anyway, in 2013 I was made redundant by the University of Strathclyde where I had worked for sixteen years.  My entire online identify was tied up with an institutional e-mail address which I was told would be deleted 3 months after my contract was terminated. Needless to say, untangling all my accounts and subscriptions from my Strathclyde e-mail address was a significant task, but I did it, and I now use a non-academic e-mail address to subscribe to my social media accounts. I’m not going to make the same mistake twice.

A couple of years later the hard disk on my mac and my iphone died within a couple of weeks of each other and when I replaced them and went to log back into Facebook I discovered that not only had I forgotten my password (yeah, go on, laugh) my account was also still associated with my Strathclyde address which had long since been deleted.  That meant that I couldn’t get my password reset and I was locked out of my account.  Needless to say I was pretty pissed off, but really I had no one to blame but myself.  I did eventually discover that there is a way to reset your account by passing keys back and forth to nominated friends but I never quite got round to requesting the keys to be sent and, before long, I realised that I didn’t actually miss Facebook at all. I quite happily washed my hands of it and moved on.

Since then I have actually remembered my password (you’re still laughing, aren’t you?) but I haven’t reactivated my account because I don’t miss it, I don’t want it, and I certainly don’t want it associated with the social media accounts I do actually use.  I suppose I should really just go and salvage anything that’s worth keeping and then delete the whole account but somehow I never seem to get round to doing that.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions from this cautionary tale :}

Facebook timeline

23 Things: Thing 7 Twitter⤴

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I first signed up for twitter in April 2007 and I’ve been tweeting pretty much continually ever since; over 23,000 tweets and counting! It’s no exaggeration to say that, in terms of work, I would be lost without twitter.  Twitter has become so fundamental to my work and my identity as an open educational practitioner that I genuinely don’t think I could do my job without it.  Twitter is my workspace, it’s my office, it’s where I hang out with friends and connect to colleagues all over the world.  It’s where I pick up news, find new ideas, and listen to fresh perspectives. It’s where continuous professional development happens.  It’s where I learn. As someone who works remotely a lot of the time, twitter enables me to be part of a global connected community of open education practitioners.

Live tweeting ALTC

Live tweeting ALTC by www.chrisbullphotographer.com

Twitter is also an invaluable tool for communicating and disseminating educational events all kinds of. It’s second nature for me to live tweet every event I attend and if I can’t get online, I feel a bit lost. I find that live tweeting helps me to process what I’m listening to and the 140 character limit means I have to synthesise the ideas as I go along. Sometimes I get invited to live tweet events, such as the ALT Conference and the Day of Digital Ideas, in a more official capacity. Live tweeting in an official capacity requires a slightly different approach to live tweeting from my own account.  When I live tweet on behalf of an event organiser I try to keep my tweets as factual, neutral and representative as possible.  If I’m tweeting personally, I tend to tweet the points that interest or irritate me, adding my own thoughts and comments along the way. It feels  quite different. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to use twitter to amplify academic events, here’s a presentation I gave at the Day of Digital Ideas at the University of Edinburgh: Using Social Media to Amplify Academic Events.

Despite the fact that twitter is such an important channel for me, I actually use very few twitter tools. I have tweetbot installed for occasions when I want to manage multiple accounts but I prefer to use the generic web interface.  I do have a couple of lists set up, but I very rarely use them, I prefer not to filter as I love the random serendipity of my twitter feed.  The only twitter tools I use with any regularity are Storify, for collating event tweets, and Martin Hawksey’s fabulous TAGs for archiving and visualising tweets associated with event hashtags.

Although I think of twitter as a work channel first and foremost, I tend not to filter what I tweet.  I don’t just tweet about educational technology, I tweet about all kinds of things that interest me – naval history, poetry, sexuality and gender,tattooing, art, politics, rugby, whatever.  These things are all part of my real life identity, so they’re part of my online identity too.

My twitter feed

23 Things: Thing 6 Accessibility⤴

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Thing 6 is all about web accessibility and it’s a thing I have had a very on and off relationship with over the years. Despite the fact that I am fully signed up to the belief that accessible design is good design for all, I think I probably pay less attention to accessibility online than I did ten or fifteen years ago. When I used to build websites for other people, I made a point of trying to ensure they were as accessible as possible within the constraints of the web browsers of the day. It’s a long time since I actually built a website though, most of the content I now put on line appears on blogs or social media platforms which come with their own user interface or stylesheets. Consequently I’ve got very blase about accessibility because the design of the user interface is usually beyond my control.  However I know I’m just being lazy and there is a lot more I could be doing to make sure my blogs are accessible, so it was really interesting to run one of my blogs through the Web Accessibility eValuation Tool.

wave_outputThe blog I chose was the Open Scotland, a simple WordPress blog running on Reclaim Hosting and you can see the results here.  To be honest most of the errors and alerts didn’t surprise me as they relate to heading abuse and images without alt text.  One thing that did surprise me though is that justified text is problematic.

“Large blocks of justified text can negatively impact readability due to varying word/letter spacing and ‘rivers of white’ that flow through the text.”

This made me very sad, because I love justified text and I justify all my blog posts and documents.  I will have to try and wean myself off justification, starting here today.  I still think unjustified text looks messy though.

Also as an aside, when I used to work in technology standards development I had a very peripheral involvement in some of the web accessibility standards groups.  I was never actually a member of any of the working groups but I was occasionally called in to comment on metadata issues. Negotiating consensus in standards working groups is never an easy task but in the accessibility groups it could be particularly fraught, so kudos to all those to worked hard to bring these standards to fruition.

23 Things: Thing 5 Diversity⤴

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

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

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

Rayouf Alhumedhi

Rayouf Alhumedhi

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

Links
The Hijab Emoji Project
The Unicode Consortium
Unicode Emoji Subcommittee

 

23 Things: Bonus Thing A – About Me page⤴

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

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

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

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

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

23 Things: Thing 4 Digital Security⤴

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

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

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