Wikipedia editing with the #femedtech network

I signed up to be curator for the (@femedtech) twitter account for the 11-22 Feb 2019 slot. I thought it might be useful to have an activity or theme to focus on and the idea of trying to organise an online asynchronous distributed Wikipedia- editathon came about. I have enjoyed taking part in previous wikipedia editing events and wanted to get more experience.

The idea was to offer an opportunity for individuals to work individually and together over the two weeks to create and add to Wikipedia articles. The aim was also to add information and sources on overlooked and underrepresented people with important and critical contributions.

The two weeks turned into a very collaborative effort, as people with a lot more experience that me, eg. Dr Sharon Flynn set up the event page and editors from the Wiki Project Women in Red offered links and resources to add. I added resources for ‘how to edit’ on the events page so that less experienced participants had a place to start.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/femedtech_2019

A screenshot of a tweet conversation

Frances Bell, Julia Hengstler and Lou Mycroft were also very active in both supporting others, sharing their experiences and creating lots of discussion.

screenshot of tweet comments about editing Wikipedia

Later, following a suggestion by Julia, Sharon also set up a dashboard to see the amount of work done during the ‘editathon’. Something I had no knowledge or experience with so that was really useful to learn about.

I tried to do a few different things:

The activity prompted me to read more hooks [always a good thing], and adding references and short summaries was an easy way to contribute that felt like you were actually making a difference.

The challenges of sources when writing for Wikipedia

I just want to think-out-loud about my attempt to write a ‘biography’ entry. The person I, somewhat randomly picked, was Yukako Uchinaga. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft:Yukako_Uchinaga

The draft submission was declined by a Wikipedia editor with comments around the style and the sources used:

“…this is a press release, not an encyclopedia article. First give her bio, including birth date and place, all degrees with date, title of her thesis. List her most cited publications, if any. Describe what she did at IBM, with a reliable source. Her speeches at forum are not encyclopedic content”

I don’t necessarily disagree with all the comments. It was definitely a challenge to find sources for the life and career of Yukako Uchinaga but what I found in the public domain seemed to suggest she is indeed a notable person with impressive achievements. For example, being awarded the ‘Prime Minister’s Commendation for Efforts Toward the Formation of a Gender-Equal Society’ and being the founder of Japan Women’s Innovative Network (J-WIN), a non-profit organization that promotes diversity in the workplace.

However, many of the sources are from non-academic sources, such as business news and forums or indeed Yukako Uchinaga’s long-time employer IBM. And I readily confess to not really having any ideas for how to get information on the title of her thesis from 1971 from University of Tokyo or even how to find out when she was born so that I can create a more traditional biographic encyclopedic entry. I suspect there may be Japanese sources that could help with this but I don’t read Japanese; I also wonder what would happen if I did find some, would they be accepted?

The email declining the article had a number of useful looking links to get support from and I have since then added an additional source but I don’t think it will ever be a traditional entry in the encyclopedic sense ‘required’. I am not sure what alternative formats might be a better fit for information like this?

There has, of course, recently been a number of instances [I am not saying this is one] where Wikipedia gatekeeping have been highlighted as reinforcing societal biases, see a recent article analysing the case of Clarice Phelps, whose page was deleted https://undark.org/2019/04/25/wikipedia-diversity-problem/

Anyway, the activity left me with lots to ponder about sources, what knowledge counts, limitations of English, the importance of Open Access, and page formats. I am certainly not done with editing Wikipedia and have more activities planned.

[This post has also been submitted as a story to the Open Space at femedtech.net ]

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Presenting your narrative to demonstrate fit: reflections on applying for jobs and attending interviews

Abstract

photo by Antony Pilling (all rights reserved)

Between July 2017 and Aug 2018 I have written about fifty applications and attended around ten interviews. I applied mainly to UK universities that were in commuting distance, charity/museum sector, national/international organisational jobs with a focus on research, communication, engagement, academic and research support and project coordination. Here is some of the stuff I have thought about based on a year of job applications and interviews.

Up to date CV

If, like me, you worked for one organisation for a long time [seven years] it can be really difficult to remember all the projects, tasks and changing responsibilities that you have been involved in. But it is important to reflect on these and consider the things you have learnt from some of the situations you have been in, eg. difficult negotiations, giving feedback, team communication skills, working with a variety of organisations/stakeholders/external partners etc.

Applications

All organisations are different and require different type of applications, and this is even more true if you are applying for jobs in different countries. Do the research to find out what the expectations are for a CV and application. If you are applying to a UK University, most of the time I would say that you need to make sure that you provide at least one example for each criteria. I also tended to include a short paragraph at the end about why I am interested in the role.

I found motivated cover letters very difficult to write and I am not sure I ever completely got the hang of them as they are in addition to a CV. But I did feel the best ones I wrote contained details of what I would bring to the role and about my personal motivation. But as I never got shortlisted for interview for any of the roles that required a cover letter, perhaps that is an indication that there is more work to do. It is difficult to say as those organisations requiring cover letters either sent very basic emails to say the job was filled or never got back to me about the outcome.

Writing more or less the same application for similar roles/criteria to different organisations can result in being shortlisted or not. All the things you cannot control, such as amount and quality of other candidates, play a huge role and you can only do your best application/interview for any given opportunity.

I asked my friends to read through numerous applications to give me feedback and this was always really helpful – also sometimes they suggested better examples as they knew work I had done. I can’t thank my friends enough for supporting me with the job search.

Interviews

Research your interview panel if you get the details of who they are. Look up their professional profile and social media presence.

This is really obvious but you need to prepare example answers for interview questions. A good rule is to prepare answers that have examples structured, for example following a STAR structure. Situation, Task, Action and Result. This allows you to develop structured and compelling answers where you outline the situation, detail the task required, the action YOU took and the outcome as result. If like me you find it difficult to constantly foreground yourself and your contribution then try and think about it as if you are talking about someone else BUT you do need to say ‘I’ a lot, as in I did this, I had this responsibility, I contributed this etc.

Prepare answers to the following questions:

  • What motivated you to apply for the role and what skills and experience do you think you would bring to the position?
  • Can you give us an example of when you have worked effectively as a member of a team?
  • Can you give us an example of when you worked independently on a project/task and with a tight deadline?
  • Can you give us an example of when you had to deliver some negative/critical feedback and how you approached this situation?
  • Can you give us an example of when you have had to use your initiative [to make a decision, to accomplish a task etc]?
  • How would you anticipate establishing and maintaining effective communication channels [with colleagues in other departments, external partners etc]?
  • How would you handle conflicting deadlines for tasks? Or how would you prioritise a complex workload? It is likely there will be a question about how you organise/approach your work/projects.

Even though I am not sure I think it is quite fair on applicants, as they only really know what is in the job specification, I have realised that it is a very good idea to present a narrative about how you will approach working in the role. So if the role requires communication via social media, develop a communications strategy with details of channels and pros and cons. Presenting a written version at the interview of what you have prepared is a good idea. I know that a lot of interviews give you a task to prepare and this may include aspects of this. This is about presenting yourself and your skills/experience/knowledge in relation to what they want the role to achieve. A lot of this may well be hypothetical as you don’t know how the role will be. It is about creating a narrative with details that demonstrates the fit between you and them.

If you are asked to do a presentation and you are using power point slides, then bring a print out for each of the panel members so they have a copy to scribble on. Also bring any other relevant examples of your work and give the panel one copy.

Do try and think about one or two questions that you want to ask, you may weave them into the main bit of the interview, but it is your opportunity to steer a discussion. If it is a new role you could ask about the context for the role being created. If it is a permanent role you could ask about any professional development opportunities that are available.

Feedback

Always ask for feedback after an interview. Yes, I know it is no fun but most of the time it can be useful, maybe even in ways you hadn’t thought about. One organisation gave me the feedback that my presentation style was too informal and this just confirmed for me that this was not an environment I wanted to work in.

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Liminal space in The Breakfast Club

img_3075-1.jpg

In-between spaces by Kathrine Jensen     CC BY-NC-SA

Anyone who reads my infrequent blog post will have noticed that I go on about liminality and liminal spaces. I am always considering what might be a good example of a liminal space and at some point this month, it struck me that the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club is an excellent example. For me liminal space can include physical space, digital space, any interactive or conversational space or a combination of these. Crucially, it is a space that allows us to step outside ‘normal’ roles/activities/structures and represent an opportunity to explore, reflect, negotiate and the potential for transformation and change.

As the wikipedia entry on Liminality says:

‘During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt’

For anyone who hasn’t seen The Breakfast Club the plot is loosely that a group of five students are in detention in the school library [!] on a Saturday and is asked by the teacher to produce an essay on ‘who you think you are’. The students are from different cliques and at the beginning of the movie are presented as five stereotypes:

  • Claire – the popular rich girl
  • Andrew – the sports jock
  • Brian – the geek
  • Allison – the outsider
  • John – the delinquent

As the day progresses they begin to come together as a group and they emerge as individuals and break out of their stereotypes. This happens through conversation, physical confrontation, sharing the content of their wallets/bags, comparing their packed lunches (or lack of), breaking the rules together when they leave the library and importantly sharing their stories about why they are in detention. Vernon, the teacher, who stands in for clueless adults, also functions as a way to bind the group together in joint resistance.

So here is some of the ways I think The Breakfast Club is an interesting tool to think about what happens in liminal spaces:

  • The space itself is not neutral but it does put them all in the same position to some extent – Claire and Andrew are still portrayed as privileged in a number of ways, but they are subject to the same conditions as the others.
  • Through talking about their lives, they all end up reflecting on/questioning their place/role in the societal structures they are expected to fit into.
  • They use the space to question their actions and motives and to what extent these reflect who they are, who others expect them to be and/or who they want to be.
  • The characters experience a sense of freedom in the space [or that is how I interpret the scenes where they play music, dance, etc.] even if they acknowledge this could be temporary.
  • It is portrayed as a space for negotiation [of identity and more] and a place of transition where we can see ‘becoming’ happening.
  • It is clear that being in a liminal space is both an experience that leaves them vulnerable, scared and exposes them but at the same time it can also empower them to explore their identity and break out of expected behaviours.

At the end of the movie, the characters recognise that the time [and space] they have had together has allowed them to see each other/themselves differently and break away from the rigid hierarchical interactions. But what happens when this time-out comes to an end? They ask themselves: will they still be friends – if they are now. Will they say hello to each other? What ridicule and social pressure from their established cliques (if they are part of one) will they risk? They acknowledge that some of them have more to loose than other, in terms of prestige and position.

They are asking whether the dissolution of the social hierarchies can be sustained outside of the space they find themselves in. I think the movie ends on a hopeful note; that what the students have experienced in the liminal space means that they have changed and will not blindly continue in the same way as before. I would argue this is illustrated by the match making where our intial expectations of who might end up as couples are reversed as the Sports jock ends up with the Outsider and the Delinquent ends up with the Popular girl [significantly Claire gives John one of her diamond earrings at the end of the movie – I always thought this was a very symbolic ‘distribution of wealth’ gesture].

I have more thoughts about the fact that the space is a library, the things that are in the library space and how they students use the space but that is for another post perhaps.

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The #altc alphabet

toys letters pay play

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Following the excellent example of Sheila MacNeill and her blogpost on 25 things I’m looking forward to at #altc here are some of the conference things that I am excited about. The Association for Learning Technology Conference takes place in Manchester, 11-13 Sep:

  • a is for access and the very useful pre-conference online space that ALT has organised
  • b is for being able to attend the conference. Thanks to University of Sheffield for funding my attendance. I will be mentioning the journal I work on so this is your advance notice that I’ll suggest you take a look at Online Information Review. The journal publishes research on the social, political and ethical aspects of emergent digital information practices and platforms
  • c  is for Dr. Catherine Cronin. The conference will be a great opportunity to catch up on all the exciting things she has done after finishing her PhD. For example the co-creation of Equity Unbound – an emergent, collaborative curriculum which aims to create equity-focused, open, connected, intercultural learning experiences
  • d is for Dr. Donna Lanclos. I’m excited to be able to connect with Donna in Manchester and learn more about the Digital Perceptions tool  a tool aimed at getting people thinking about their digital identity. It was developed by Donna, Lawrie Phipps and Zac Gribble
  • e is for the excellent supportive community feel that the conference always has
  • is for Dr. Frances Bell who, along with Catherine Cronin, is presenting a session called ‘A personal, feminist and critical retrospective of Learning (and) Technology, 1994-2018’ and I am really looking forward to their reflections
  • g is for getting to see Dr. Chrissi Nerantzi. Chrissi co-developed #LTHEchat and there is a special #altc edition of the chat running on Tuesday 11th September
  • h is for Huddersfield and the opportunity to catch up with my ex-colleagues from the University of Huddersfield, Dr. Liz Bennett and Dr. Sue Folley. Check out their session, ‘Getting to grips with Learner Dashboards: a research informed critical approach to understanding their potential’
  • i is for all the intriguing tweets that I will see, which will give me ‘alternative session envy’
  • j is for joining in as many of the opportunities the programme affords
  • k is for the amazing keynotes, eg. Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom. I follow her on twitter and am excited about seeing her IRL. It will be a real treat to hear her critical perspectives on what is going on in higher education. LowerEd. How for profit colleges deepen inequality in America
  • is for learning analytics (LA) and the really interesting sessions on how students engage and perceive LA in this year’s programme. 
  • m is for Manchester, a great city for a conference and with lots of things to see and do (plus eat & drink). Check out the Beyond the Conference – what’s on in Manchester? blog post by Dr. Frances Bell
  • n is for networking, which the programme leaves plenty of spaces for
  • o is for all the open education experiences being shared at the conference 
  • p is for the pack of playing cards that participants will get when registering
  • q is for all the questions that will be asked in the sessions
  • r is for Research in Learning Technology, the excellent ALT journal
  • s is for the stickers with #femedtech that I have heard Dr. Maren Deepwell will be bringing
  • t is for technology and student and staff partnership approaches.
  • u is for the umbrella I should probably pack for going to Manchester but will forget all about
  • v is for the venue, University of Manchester
  • is for the wildcard presentations, I think that is a really great way to accommodate exciting work that may not fit the themes
  • x is for the [e]xhibitors and perusing what they have to offer
  • y is for Youtube, where you view the keynotes if you are not able to make it to the conference [this one is the same as Sheila’s – it was just too good]
  • z is for the [bu]zzwords in ALTc Bingo
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Sharing university press practices – our initial findings

Sharing university press practices – our initial findings

https://hudunipress.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/sharing-university-press-practices-our-initial-findings/
— Read on hudunipress.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/sharing-university-press-practices-our-initial-findings/

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