Choice overload: Finding the right tool for the job (conference) 

By Sae Ra Germaine, Deputy CEO and Manager, Member & Academic Services, CAVAL (saera.germaine@caval.edu.au)

As a self-confessed conference organising addict I’ve seen my fair share of conference platforms. Before COVID there was a smattering of virtual conference platforms available and to be honest they were all terrible. There just wasn’t the need to develop something that was user-friendly and created an event “experience” that we all grew to love in the “meatspace”.

Since then… well, COVID happened. It saw this accelerated need to bring the conference space into the virtual space and the rapid growth in many cases didn’t do us many favours. We now have an over-abundance of event management platforms and I for one suffered from a severe case of choice overload.

A bit of background about me, I’m currently the Co-Chair of VALA2024 Conference, founder of the Everything Open Conference, and a “Ghost of Conferences Past” for Linux Australia. In total, for the various organisations I am linked to, I have helped in some sort of form, run 13 conferences. 4 of those were in a virtual environment with no face-to-face attendance, while 2 of those were in a hybrid form. The concept of a “Ghost of Conferences Past” is a group of those who have organised a conference prior to the current conference organising team. This group passes on knowledge, wisdom, and war stories to the current team, so they learn from victories and mistakes of conferences past.  

A picture of a dark stairwell with an illuminated 3 hanging light to indicate the 3rd floor
Photo by Alison Pang on Unsplash  

One of the greatest words of wisdom that was ever dealt out was: “You only need to deliver 3 things for a successful conference: speakers, delegates, and venue”. The venue could be the crappiest venue available, but the important piece was that people were there to learn from each other and that’s all that matters. Some of the best conferences I attended were held at a school camp venue, with post-it notes on a wall for a schedule, terrible Subway for lunch, and a whole bunch of new people to meet. 

Most conferences I have run have been 100% volunteer effort. Most core teams had about 6-10 people and then about 30 volunteers on the ground during the conference. Many of these volunteers had many hats ranging from Rego Desk-ers to speaker wranglers, AV recorders, MCs, code of conduct teams, and volunteer well-being checkers. A personal plea… please don’t forget volunteer well-being checkers. This is so important! Volunteers need to be looked after too! 

A screenshot of the vFAIRS platform. The screenshot depicts a large virtual hall with an Information desk, vending machines, plants, advertising on the walls, and virtual people standing around in groups.
Screenshot from vFAIRS

As I mentioned, COVID caused many platforms to pop-up and I’m not sure why this is but, so many platforms insisted on re-creating the “meatspace” conference experience in a virtual environment. You know what? It does not work! It creates a confusing space for people, and it makes it difficult to manage by your team.  

A fancy virtual world creating experiences are very IT resource intensive. Remember, given Australia’s terrible internet situation you want to deliver a conference to reach the regions that will experience your conference with a horrible internet connection. The true benefit to running an online conference is to maximise your reach, don’t exclude those you are trying to reach by choosing a platform that a bad internet connection will struggle to deliver. 

I’m not going to list and do comparisons on lots of platforms as we all will make decisions on the platform we use based on needs at the time and what would provide the best experience possible. But, what I will do is talk about 3 specific setups that I’ve found to work very well for the events that I’ve helped run. The key with all 3 is the usability of the interface – in a virtual world, the venue does matter! The first 2 setups will require a separate mechanism for managing sponsorships, vendors, and schedules/website, etc.

Scrabble pieces that spell out the word Zoom.
Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Zoom:

Love it or hate it, Zoom is one of the most common tools used across sectors. It can be downloaded or used directly within a browser. Zoom has also added an “Events” platform to help manage ticket sales and while it’s not perfect, it will get there eventually. One of the best conferences I attended was multiple zooms that I could duck in and out of and the schedule was in a simple Google doc spreadsheet. But the one thing that was missing was the serendipitous chatting that happens between/during/after talks.

Other versions of this were using an open-source tool called Jitsi. While this works great, it just doesn’t scale well beyond about 30 people.

A photo of a mobile phone which has the Twitch.tv app open that has the Twitch.tv logo.
Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

Twitch.tv: or even YouTube

Twitch is a gaming platform where you can watch many streamers play games. But between Twitch and YouTube they have more recently moved to hosting conferences and it has worked quite well. It has chat functions and is very light in using computer resources. But again, it’s missing those serendipitous chats! 

Last but not least:

Sae Ra’s choice! https://venueless.org/en/

It would be remiss if I didn’t bring up an open-source friendly alternative 😊. Venueless is part of a 3-part software package. Venueless is primarily text based however it has 4 key pieces. Sponsor exhibitor spaces, text-based chat rooms, streaming spaces, and video/audio conferencing. What makes this unique is that it’s completely stripped back and a low resource intensive solution. There are no bells and whistles, it’s essentially text-based chat rooms with some video capabilities.

Screenshot of linux.conf.au Online 2022 conference opening address. The screenshot includes the linux.conf.au 2022 logos, a picture of the speaker, and a picture of “The pets of LCA” with pictures of cats and dogs that joined during the conference.
Screenshot of linux.conf.au online 2022 conference opening address

At Linux Australia we used the video/audio conferencing for side birds-of-a-feather sessions, product demonstrations, user group meetings, and we even had our conference dinner in there! One of our speakers wrote their perspective on the event. Running that specific conference gave me all the joy that I would have got in bringing something to people face to face.

One thing to note, is that audio quality is a must. If you are watching a video stream all day, you can forgive video quality because you can look away, but audio quality we aren’t so forgiving about. For some handy tips please go and see this document that we created for linux.conf.au 2021. 

After all of this I think it will just go back to the basics: Speakers, Delegates, and Venue. You don’t need the bells and whistles to run a successful conference. Keeping it simple will make your life easier and will make the delegates feel more included.

Highlights reel for 2023 

by the members of the Digital Dexterity Blog Group

Emma Chapman, Auckland University of Technology | Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau:

AI has sure been big on the agenda this year. I’ve gone through all stages of excitement and grief with this topic. I think there was a time mid-year when AI-fatigue set in. But, the latest post on prompt engineering really re-ignites interest for me – as does the development of new, improved AI models. Sadly, as most of these are paid, I think an AI-digital divide could be the next thing we see. Meantime, I’ll keep working on trying to craft killer prompts (and keep trying to make GIFs that do not make me seasick). Merry holidays and a peaceful new year to all.  

Kristy Newton, University of Wollongong:

I’m not sure if we can refer to the year that has been 2023 without also saying the phrase “Generative AI”, and libraries (like everyone else) scrambled to understand how we could use these tools, whether we could use them ethically, and what this all meant for critical literacies. It’s been both exciting and fatiguing as others noted, but an absolute game changer. The blog has been a great space to facilitate discussions, share opinions, and learn from each other about this and about all things digital dexterity. 

Krista Yuen, University of Waikato | Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato:

I only joined the DigiDex community and blog group about halfway through 2023, and I honestly think I’m still finding my feet. That said, getting to know the fellow blog group has no doubt been a highlight for me. Coupled with the upward trend of Generative AI and navigating a new world of literacies in libraries and education, it has certainly made for a very interesting time to be involved with DigiDex. It has been a real honour to partake in and witness all the discussions we’ve had around the use of AI and how to best support and embrace these advancements. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what 2024 will bring! 

Sara Davidsson, CAVAL:

The diversity of topics and voices in the blog has been my highlight for 2023. We have been able to deliver posts from our extended DigiDex community, written especially for the blog, as well as showcasing interesting articles from far and near. I am so happy to see that our readers keep returning every month for more posts! 

Danielle Degiorgio, Edith Cowan University:

It’s been an absolutely fascinating year diving into the world of AI. I’m genuinely thrilled by how these technologies are revolutionising the way we work in libraries and education as a whole. I’ve particularly enjoyed exploring how generative AI tools can support and foster creativity and innovative learning. It’s an exciting time to be in the field, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds! 

Also, a big shoutout to our DigiDex blog group for their amazing work this year. They’ve done a stellar job in capturing these advancements and discussions around AI in libraries. It’s been inspiring to see their dedication and creativity in action. Kudos to the team for their exceptional work. 

Marianne Sato, University of Queensland:

I love reading the new Digital Dexterity blog posts each month. And being part of the blog group, I often get a sneak preview! The posts about different aspects of AI, finding and creating inclusive OER, and how websites work have been highlights for me this year. The blog posts always have so many great ideas or innovative solutions that I can apply to my work. AI definitely had a big impact this year and I suspect every year from now on. I look forward to reading more great posts in 2024! 

From all of us, we wish our loyal readers a happy and peaceful holiday season and all the best for 2024! We will return with a new blog post on 29 January.

Decorative image of tree branches laid out in a festive way
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

What does the word “community” mean to you in the context of teaching and research?

We loved this Open Access Australasia blog post by Richard White, Chair of the Open Access Australasia OA Week 2023 organising group, originally published on 12 July 2023.

Richard is also a member of the International OA Week organising committee and the Manager, Copyright & Open Access at University of Otago.

I vividly remember a senior researcher telling me a few years ago, as we were talking about making versions of our work available openly in repositories, that they didn’t need to worry about that because everyone who needed to had access to their publications.* Frankly I was flabbergasted at such a statement of privilege and assumption. I am afraid I didn’t come up with a counter argument to convince that person that there was no way they could possibly know who might be interested in their work. Still, that conversation has stayed with me, and this year’s Open Access Week theme resonates with how I felt about it.

Community over Commercialization. Open Access Week

Let’s ask that question again, then: what does the word “community” mean to you in the context of teaching and research? It’s true that many of us will first think about the disciplinary or professional communities we work with. Increasingly, though, we’re broadening our thinking. It might be professionals, teachers, policy makers, businesses and innovators, non-public-sector research organisations, citizen scientists, not to mention all the institutions, researchers and students around the world that cannot afford subscription access. Could it even mean the people or local communities who have contributed to our work or the people who might benefit from our work? If we tell people – especially those we’re writing about or working for – about our work in ways that require payment we should ask ourselves the question: are we doing research for us or for them?

In broadening the communities we want to engage with, however, we have a problem; we’re hindered by the systems we have built. Checking the COKI Open Access Dashboard, we can see that only about 40% of research publications by authors from Aotearoa and Australia from the past 20 years are free to read.** I say “we” have built them because we cannot absolve ourselves of the responsibility for these systems, even though we might complain that “Big Publishing” made them for us. 

The theme for this year’s OA week, running from October 23 to 29, is community over commercialisation. This theme was chosen by SPARC’s international OA week advisory committee to encourage conversation about the approaches to open scholarship that prioritise the interests of the public and the academic community.

The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, adopted by its 193 members, highlights the need to prioritise community over commercialisation. It calls on members to ensure that science does not involve the “unfair and/or inequitable extraction of profit from publicly funded scientific activities” and to support “non-commercial publishing models and collaborative publishing models with no article processing charges.”

All this should not be reduced to: commercialism = bad. Many of the institutions we work for explicitly encourage commercialism and, naturally, commercial entities are constantly developing innovative ways of doing things. The distinction to make, perhaps, is that ideally investment should serve the needs of the community in sustainable ways.

For Australasian OA week this year, we’re planning a series of topics and discussions, with a star-studded cast of speakers, panellists and experts, that we hope will provoke discussion and debate. Naturally, our focus will be on our corner of the world, examining questions like these: 

  • What would community ownership of the scholarly communication ecosystem look like? What about a research system centred on indigenous knowledge?
  • How can we ensure our knowledge is made as widely available as possible in ways that are sustainable? What about book publishing and open educational resources, which often play second-fiddle to journal publications in OA conversations?
  • What safeguards need to be in place to ensure knowledge is used appropriately?
  • What opportunities and challenges does the emergence of generative AI (controlled by huge commercial entities) pose for open knowledge? 

We’re hoping the sessions will be not just food for thought but also provide some practical opportunities to work together and meet people. We are looking forward to it!

* Having just checked this person’s publications I am sad to report that, even in 2023, only 20 percent are free-to-read, which is much lower than the average for New Zealand researchers (which is about half of publications being open).

** The COKI OA Dashboard shows OA rates for Aotearoa and Australia over the last 20 years as 38% and 42% respectively. [Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative Open Access Dashboard. https://open.coki.ac/ Accessed 4 July 2023]

Attributions: 

DIY degree? Why universities should make online educational materials free for all

We loved this article from The Conversation, originally published on 29 May 2023.

Richard F. Heller, University of Newcastle

This article is part of our series on big ideas for the Universities Accord. The federal government is calling for ideas to “reshape and reimagine higher education, and set it up for the next decade and beyond”. A review team is due to finish a draft report in June and a final report in December 2023.

Sam Lion/Pexels


As part of the federal government’s bid to overhaul higher education, the Universities Accord discussion paper is seeking to “widen” opportunities for people to access university. It also wants to “grow a culture” of lifelong learning in Australia. As the review team note, most people in Australia who study at university are under 35.

Lifelong learning can help to ensure that workforce skills are up to date and that jobs in high demand can be filled, as well as enabling people to create new job opportunities through innovation.

These issues need to be approached in many ways. And will inevitably include proposals for shorter forms of learning as well as addressing the financial cost of attending university.

My proposal – also outlined in this journal article – is that a proportion of educational resources generated by publicly funded universities should be made public and freely available.

This could radically expand opportunity and flexibility and potentially allow students to design their own degrees, by doing multiple different units from different universities.

This idea is not completely new

There is a precedence for this idea. The international Plan S initiative is led by a group of national research funding organisations. Since 2018, it has been pushing for publicly funded research to be published in open-access journals or platforms.

Australian chief scientist Cathy Foley similarly wants all Australian research to be “open access, domestically and internationally, and for research conducted overseas to be freely available to read in Australia”.

When it comes to university learning, a 2019 UNESCO report encouraged member states to make higher education educational resources developed with public funds free and freely available.

In a March 2023 report, the Productivity Commission recommended the federal government require “all universities to provide all lectures online and for free”. The commission said this would increase transparency in teaching performance and encourage online learning.

But this also has the ability to make to higher education more accessible.

There is already plenty of international experience sharing educational materials online – including the global Open Educational Resources public digital library. This includes resources from early learning through to adult education.

The Productivity Commission says universities would not lose income by making educational resources open access. This is because universities “sell” credentials, not resources. It is also argued overworked academics can save time by using materials created by others.

A mother works on her computer next to her young son.

But there is resistance from institutions and academics, including a perception free resources will be poor quality and take a lot of time to create. There is also a lack of technological tools to adapt resources. This may explain why open education has not yet taken off in Australia.

Making resources free will increase access to higher education in Australia. Shutterstock

How would this work?

My plan would require open online sites to host educational materials produced by academics. These would need to be moderated or curated and published under an open access license.

It would include a peer review system for educational materials like the one already used for research publications. Academics could get credit for publishing, updating or reviewing resources and the publication of education output would be included in the university metrics.

This could also help reverse the current downgrading of teaching in Australian universities in favour of research.

There could be three types of users:

  1. students who access materials through the university that produced them, as per current practice

  2. individual students outside the university that created the materials who access materials for their own learning at whatever stage of life they are relevant to them

  3. other organisations, including other universities, that then contextualise and deliver the materials to their students.

What kind of materials are we talking about?

The Productivity Commission has talked about “lectures” being made available for free. But lectures are not a good way of transmitting information, especially online. For one thing, they do not promote critical thinking.

My plan proposes whole courses or at least sections of courses with assessments, would be provided. This includes text, videos and software and can include course planning materials and evaluation tools.

An indication of the academic level to which the course speaks, and the amount of possible credit, should also be provided.

What about accreditation?

Accreditation of learning should be considered as part of this.

The OERu is an international organisation where partner universities (including Penn State in the US and Curtin University in Australia) offer free access to online courses. Students pay reduced fees if they want to submit assignments, which can earn them microcredits towards a degree offered by one of the partners.

A woman in a wheelchair work on a laptop in a cafe.

A more radical option would be to develop a system where students collect microcredits from whatever source they wish and present them to an accrediting body for an academic award rather than enrolling in a particular degree course.

Students could pay a fee if they want accreditation for their work. Marcus Aurelius/Pexels

Suggested recommendations

As it prepares its draft report, the accord review team should recommend:

  • most university-generated educational material should be public and free

  • as an interim goal, within three years, 10% of all public university courses should be freely available online

  • an organisation should be created to develop the infrastructure needed to do this. This includes, open repositories, a peer review system for open educational materials, and systems for offering microcredits to students and academic credit to academics who take part.

Why is this a good idea?

The Productivity Commission says making this material public will encourage higher quality teaching, empower students and assist in lifelong learning. On top of this, there is the potential for true reform of the educational landscape.

It provides opportunities for collaboration between universities, rather than a competitive business model. And it would make teaching more important, rather than an “inconvenient task” by those seeking academic advancement through research.

Finally, it would genuinely make learning more accessible and more affordable, no matter who you are or where you live.The Conversation

Richard F. Heller, Emeritus Professor, University of Newcastle

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Project Management Digital Tools at University of Newcastle and University of Wollongong libraries

by Kristy Newton (Digital Literacies Coordinator, University of Wollongong Library, knewton@uow.edu.au), and the Library Business Services Team (Aimee Herridge, Cassie Connor, Shaista Poonawalla and Tahlia Kelso) with Ruth Cameron (Coordinator, Digital Library Programs, University of Newcastle Library, ruth.cameron@newcastle.edu.au)

Two members of CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Champions group had a chat about the different project management tools we use in our libraries. You might like to read about what we found: 

University of Newcastle Library – the Project Management Toolkit 

Screenshot of the Project Management Toolkit in our Library Hub SharePoint site

What is it?

Library staff can use the digital toolkit to learn more about what a project is, how to propose and gain approval for a project, and the library’s project lifecycle (including a current project register). Templates have been created for each phase of the project lifecycle to help staff to manage their projects successfully. There is even a Tools and Training page which links out to further training for staff who want to learn more. 

Our Library Business Services team put the toolkit together so that we can standardise the project approval process, ensure that library projects are managed consistently, and follow best practice project management processes. The toolkit aligns with existing University of Newcastle digital resources to ensure a common language and consistent approach. 

How long did it take to build?

Approximately one month for the toolkit itself, which will include information and training sessions for library staff in 2023 to build capability and confidence. The toolkit was refreshed in 2022 and flipped into a more interactive SharePoint site with intuitive navigation based on gateways and the project lifecycle. The templates were also updated to align with University of Newcastle brand guidelines, giving them a clean, professional finish.  

How did the team decide what to include? 

The team benchmarked practices, tools and templates within the University of Newcastle, and researched other universities’ toolkits and project management methodologies (the University of Newcastle is PRINCE2 aligned). They looked at the types of projects usually undertaken by our library staff, and applied what was appropriate for those projects. 

Do we track usage? How popular has it been? 

The team looks at analytics in SharePoint to measure toolkit and template views. Stakeholder evaluation consultation was undertaken post-implementation, for feedback prior to the toolkit being flipped into the new design. This feedback informed the design and allowed adjustments to be made to the content. 

The initial review feedback was positive. Usage was low however due to COVID-19 impacting the number of projects being launched, and we hope to see more engagement following the training sessions in 2023.  

Are the documents/templates used in different ways? 

Templates are required for project approval and endorsement under the guideline that accompanies the toolkit. Staff are required to use the templates if they have a medium to high level project, to ensure projects are properly scoped and documented for consistency. The documents are designed to be tailored to the size and scope of the project.  

Staff can refer to the inbuilt Project Lifecycle page which provides guidance on the different stages (Ideation, Planning, Delivering, Close and Review) of any project, the approval gates, and the relevant templates for each stage.  However, the purpose of each template is clear, and they are used mostly for the same purpose in each project, e.g. Project Brief and Closing Report. 

University of Wollongong (UOW) Library – Microsoft Planner 

What is it? 

UOW Library make frequent use of Microsoft Planner. As it integrates so well into Microsoft Teams there are multiple active Planners in our digital environment, with uses ranging from project management, team priorities, strategy, and even resource sharing. Planner can be used to document tasks at a high level, or more granular level. Depending on the preferences of your team/project group you can arrange it by work area, due date, project phase, or topic – the options are virtually endless. 

Are the documents/templates used in different ways? 

In a team context, Planner can be used to manage team tasks, both strategic and operational. Buckets can be set up for the various focus areas that the team is responsible for, and individual task cards in each bucket document progress against the tasks. A ‘New’ column at the beginning of the board serves as a catchall queue for new items coming to the team, and the task cards are often moved across to a bucket as a team member picks them up. Projects with a separate Planner can be included in the Team Planner as a link, rather than replicating the tasks across multiple Planners. 

A resource-based project group uses Planner to arrange resources by topic. This is less a task-based system, and more a categorisation and navigation board.  

Project groups use Planner to manage the tasks for the project, with buckets for each of the project phases. There are task cards which function as links to key external reference points such as the vendor knowledge bases, with the rest of the board being populated with a variety of project tasks assigned to relevant staff members, utilising the Checklist function to break each task down into smaller components. The Charts view (which is available in all Planners) is particularly useful in a project as it gives a visual overview of the project milestones that can be extracted for use in reporting. 

Tips for getting the most out of Planner 

Staff with assigned tasks sprinkled through multiple team and project planners can choose to view a streamlined overview of all the tasks assigned to them by adding the “Tasks by Planner and To-Do” app to their MS Teams sidebar. This app draws in tasks from multiple planners and collates them into a handy task list. From the app view, there are options to filter tasks by options such as ‘Important’ or ‘Assigned to Me’ to drill down to the highest priority tasks. 

Prefer to see all the tasks assigned to you across various Planners in a more board-like structure? Use the web view by navigating to displays to see the various project planners you are part of by navigating to the Planner of your choice in the left-hand column. Visually motivated folks will enjoy the ability to add a colourful background to the Planner in web view, too! 

Large and complex Planners can get overwhelming and details can be easily missed. Use the Filters on the top right-hand side to drill down and see only those tasks which are high priority, due soon, or assigned to a particular staff member. 

Rather than adding multiple cards for smaller steps of a task, use the Checklist within a card to track the more granular aspects like emailing a certain stakeholder, finding an image to use, setting a meeting etc. This allows you and your team to see how the task is progressing and keeps the board a little cleaner. 

So … what do I choose?

This will really depend on the nature of your project, and how your team prefers to work.  And these two different examples of project management tools are just the tip of the iceberg! Sit down with your project team and talk about what will work best, for the project and for the people involved. Remember, too, that one function of these tools is to keep management updated with what you’re doing, so choose something which is easily shareable or copied for a presentation or meeting. 

Have fun!

In-person versus Online: A Conversation

by Peggy Hsu, Liaison Librarian, Federation University Australia, and Kayleen Wardell, Team Leader Client Services, Southern Cross University Library

Authors’ contact details: p.hsu@federation.edu.au and kayleen.wardell@scu.edu.au

Open laptop with gallery view of online meeting participants, on a desk next to a pottery cup
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

 “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.

Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.”

J. R. R. Tolkien. The Fellowship of the Ring. 1954

It’s starting to happen again. Attending events in person and seeing friends and colleagues from other institutions face-to-face.

Kayleen and I both attended the ‘CAUL: Enabling a Modern Curriculum Conference’ in early September 2022, which had both online and in-person days to the program, so it felt like the appropriate time to interrogate and debate our thoughts on ‘in-person versus online professional development’.

Webinar fatigue

Peggy: I. Love. Webinars.

I can see a webinar from anywhere in the world. With webinars, I don’t hurt my neck or back if I’m seated sideways, and *whispers* I can run to the bathroom with my headset on and still listen to the webinar. Plus, the links and attendee chat are often interesting.

Kayleen: I. Love. In-person events.

I enjoy being in the same physical space with others and engaging with them on a very visceral level. I am energised by their enthusiasm and love working together on activities at the event. This can be exhausting, but not as much as ‘webinar fatigue’.

Connections and networking

Peggy: I am an introvert with ‘weird hearing’. I strain to filter all the conversations happening around me, plus I feel weird sidling up to a group, inserting myself and then having said difficulty hearing the conversation. Ugh!.

I also forget names, like really quickly. I’m sorry and embarrassed now.

Kayleen: For me, the most amazing part of an in-person event is meeting the people who until that moment had only been faces on a Zoom screen.

And during the breaks, it’s great to engage in ‘face to face’ serendipitous or ‘water cooler’ conversations. Especially when standing in front of the vast array of teas, trying to work out which flavour you want to try, and then finding out that the person standing next to you likes that same tea. A conversation then ensues about the other things that you have in common. Pure gold!

Costs: Money or Time (Travel)

Peggy: I’m about 90 minutes from Melbourne, so not that far. For me, the event should ideally be longer than the time it takes travelling and if it’s on the other side of Melbourne, add another hour. Plus, why are universities not near train lines?

Kayleen: I must admit that there are probably not many positives about the cost of travelling to an event in person. Unless the event is just around the corner or your boss is paying the bill. However, adding other activities to the trip, such as visiting colleagues in other libraries, can make it worthwhile.

Equity

Peggy: This article from Scientific American had some great points to make on equity provided by online events.

  • Easier access for disabled or people with children.
  • Environmentally friendlier, if you have a budget for travel.
  • Lastly, online is great for diversity.

The information that really blew my mind though was research reported by Allseated that at online scientific conferences, female attendance increased by 253% and genderqueer attendance “jumped by 700%”.

Kayleen: Peggy has raised some excellent points around specific elements of equity for attendees at online events.

There is also some great information provided by the Australian Human Rights Commission on hosting in-person meetings and events to improve the experience of attendees.

Wrap-up

There are positives and negatives to in-person and online-only events. Hybrid seems to be the way forward, but the technology may not be ready in terms of pricing, access, and ease of set-up. Still, worse, we might be stuck in a binary where the only perceived options are in-person or online, and we aren’t displaying pandemic adaptability and innovation.

References

Allseated. (n.d.). The Return to In-Person Events: What’s Changed. Allseated. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://allseated.com/blog/the-return-to-in-person-events-whats-changed/

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2021). Hosting accessible and inclusive in-person meetings and events. https://includeability.gov.au/resources-employers/hosting-accessible-and-inclusive-person-meetings-and-events

Liu, G. (2020, August 21). The Surprising Advantages of Virtual Conferences. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-surprising-advantages-of-virtual-conferences/

MyHub. (2022, May 24). Water Cooler Conversation: The Essential Guide For Hybrid Workplaces. https://www.myhubintranet.com/water-cooler-conversation/

Robinson, E. (2021, April 21). Study explains ‘cocktail party effect’ in hearing impairment. OHSU. https://news.ohsu.edu/2021/04/21/study-explains-cocktail-party-effect-in-hearing-impairment

The National Press Club (n.d.). Live, Virtual or Hybrid Events – Which Approach Is Best? The National Press Club. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://www.press.org/live-virtual-or-hybrid-events-which-approach-best

Wilson, A. (2021, September 15). What is Webinar Fatigue and how do we manage it? Lernium. https://www.learnium.com/2021/09/15/what-is-webinar-fatigue-and-how-do-we-manage-it/

Meet the Blog Bunch

Blog Bunch, we’re the blog bunch, we’re a modern digi blog family…..

Have you ever wondered who the team is that puts this blog together? Meet the Blog Bunch!

Sara Davidsson is currently in the role of Member Services Coordinator at CAVAL Ltd. The role gives her the opportunity to advocate within areas that are close to her heart, such as professional development for staff and the importance of learning, education and literacy in the academic and wider community. Being part of the Digital Dexterity blog editorial team further adds to this effort of advocacy and content curation as the blog posts benefit the professional development of so many.

Sara is originally from Sweden, and thus has a healthy obsession with IKEA, ABBA, and pickled herring.

Marianne Sato is a Digital Content Specialist at the University of Queensland (UQ) Library. Her role involves creating all kinds of digital content and supporting others to create their own content. She is interested in ways to improve the student experience, particularly around the use of open educational resources and accessibility. Being part of the Digital Dexterity blog group has helped her learn about and share many amazing digital literacy initiatives and ideas. Marianne would love to live on an Animal Crossing New Horizons Island forever but for now just plays the game instead. 

Emeka Anele is a Learning Designer at Deakin University Library. His role involves socialising, communicating and capability building others in digital content creation, platform usage and digital literacies. He has a strong interest in the ways people interact with library content. This blog group is another avenue for communicating interesting work in the digital space to a wider audience. Outside of work Emeka is dreaming about his next overseas adventure, which will probably be another trip to Japan.

Kristy Newton is the Digital Literacies Coordinator at UOW Library and loves to empower people with the skills and confidence to be autonomous in the digital world. She loves being in the blog group because the blog allows people to learn through sharing stories and experiences, and brings people’s voices to a wider audience. Outside libraries she plays bass in a rock band, supports community skills in permaculture, and cooks really good vegan Mexican food!

Krista Yuen is a Teaching and Learning Librarian at the University of Waikato Library in Aotearoa, New Zealand. This role sees her connecting with a wide variety of people with different interests, skills, and backgrounds. She loves exploring with digital technologies and finding or advocating for ways to build and increase people’s digital literacy skills and capabilities. Joining the Digital Dexterity blog group has allowed her to broaden her network, learn from other people’s stories and experiences and share these initiatives in a virtual space. Outside of libraries, Krista can be seen either paddling with her dragon boat team, taking too many photos of her dog, or trying out a new board game with friends

Kasthuri Anandasivam, currently the Digital Curriculum Librarian at UniSA, is dedicated to empowering individuals with the skills and confidence needed to navigate the digital world independently.

She focuses on advancing online learning environments, particularly in AI and digital literacy tools & frameworks, aiming to support innovation and scholarship.

Originally from Sri Lanka, spicy food and family hold sway in her daily life.

The Blog Bunch want to say a big THANKYOU to all our contributing authors – you’ve helped make this blog the informative and topical resource it is today! If you’ve ever wanted to contribute, 2024 could be your year! Have a chat to one of the Blog Bunch or send an email to digidexbloggroup@lists.caval.edu.au

The Need for Digital Literacy in a Digitally-Connected World

by Darnell Epps and Kurtis Tanaka

We loved this post so much, we have to share it with our readers! Originally published in the Ithaka SR blog on 15 March 2021: https://sr.ithaka.org/blog/post-nchep-reflection/ . This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution/NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

If you have a topic you would like to read about, please drop us a line at digidexbloggroup@lists.caval.edu.au.

We also welcome contributors, so if you want to write a post yourself, please let us know!

Open knowledge activism for lifelong learning, independent research and knowledge translation

By Clare O’Hanlon, La Trobe University Library

e: c.ohanlon@latrobe.edu.au

Open knowledge activism in libraries is about more than negotiating transformative agreements and making research available in repositories and open access journals. It also involves helping researchers and students give research back to communities in an accessible and meaningful format for their needs and contexts. Academic library worker support for student and academic digital literacies development, particularly information, media, and data literacies; collaboration; community and participation; and digital creation, problem solving and innovation, plays a crucial role in this. Local public library and community archive and museum workers provide extensive digital literacies, local history, STEM, and creative programming in their communities. Together we can do more to support lifelong learning, independent research, and knowledge translation.

Open knowledge activism by night

Volunteering with the Australian Queer Archives (AQuA) by night to preserve and make research and more knowledge available for and with LGBTIQA+ communities within and beyond the academy in multiple formats (from queer history walks and exhibitions to an Honours thesis prize and beyond) has helped me see that research can be a collective, generative, and transformative process. Our collection and work may not be open in traditional academic “Open Access” ways, and it is not safe for our collection to be completely open to all, but we are open in the inclusive sense of the word. In her Open as in dangerous talk, Chris Bourg illustrates the importance of individual privacy and protection from abuse and harassment, and warns that Open Access publishing can perpetuate existing systems of oppression and inequality and that opening up collections can potentially lead to a loss of context that is then extracted and shared in diverse ways. Bourg’s warnings and my work at AQuA by night motivate me to advocate for the collective, generative, and transformative kind of research and openness in the sometimes extractive and competitive academic environment I work in by day.

The Australian Queer Archives reading room
Australian Queer Archives reading room ready for visitors (author supplied).

Other ways that library workers can support open knowledge activism by night might include participating in learning spaces outside of universities, including but not limited to:

Open knowledge activism by day

Below are some ways I have helped and seen others help support lifelong learning, independent research, and knowledge translation through open knowledge activism by day:

Additionally, we could help connect academics and students with local public library, archive and museum-based STEM, local history, literary and creative programming rather than compete with such programs. Some examples of this public library and related programming include:

We must keep in mind the amount of labour involved in opening up research, translating it into practice, and making it accessible to communities and recognise that this is not always adequately acknowledged and supported. With increasing focus on research impact and engagement, this is changing, and I hope this post will encourage academic and public library workers to collaborate with each other and academics and students to open research with and for communities.

Large protest on Flinders Street in Melbourne with a trans flag and placard with the words 'Change the System' written in rainbow-coloured letters and two Aboriginal flags on it.
Protest in Melbourne (author supplied).

The OER Capability Toolkit – Reflection and Learning

by Frank Ponte, Manager, Library Services (Teaching), RMIT University Library

E: frank.ponte@rmit.edu.au or
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/francoponte/ and Twitter: @ponte_frank

The OER Capability Toolkit

Cover of the OER Capability Toolkit from RMIT

Read and download the OER Capability Toolkit from:
https://rmit.pressbooks.pub/oercapabilitytoolkit/

Eighteen months ago, I formed a team to investigate how we would address OER awareness, adoption, support and capability for teaching staff. We addressed these needs through the development of an OER Capability Toolkit designed for the RMIT University audience but shared openly for others to adapt.

The authoring and development of this work was conducted remotely in the shared Teams environment. The OER Capability Toolkit was published in July 2022. The published work also spawned a set of four open education self-directed modules via the university HR platform for onboarding of new staff and professional development, an authoring toolkit and a style guide. Collectively, these works are the fundamental building blocks to open education knowledge building and all designed to provide the support structure required for educators to successfully author an open work.

Building the OER Capability Toolkit allowed me to reflect on the process that was undertaken and share the learning from our project.  

Sustainability

Sustainability is key driver in the development of an open publication. Educators are tasked with bringing together large groups of authors, and consequently need to ensure clarity and purpose. Therefore, a strong foundation of support is required. The library has provided this through the aforementioned publications, self-directed modules, and the Pressbooks authoring platform. In addition, the library created an open publishing team to reinforce our commitment to open education, streamline the support the library provides, and assign each open textbook project an open publishing team member to provide advice and guidance for a successful outcome.

A publishing workflow

When we embarked on our project to develop the OER Capability Toolkit our understanding of an open publishing workflow was emergent. In retrospect, it would have been a simpler task if we had a clearer understanding of the fundamental principles, processes and tasks associated with publishing rather than vacillating between authoring and addressing complex problems. The subsequent emergence of the CAUL publishing workflow  now anchors our support with educators and ensures that the seven stages of publishing and associated tasks are addressed at the appropriate time.

Creative Commons licensing

The OER Capability Toolkit is a remix. That is, the publication is a combination of existing creative commons resources and original content. Lessons learned include:

  • Ensuring there is an understanding of the license type you are publishing under from the outset. This will determine what resources you have at your disposal and can use in the adaptation process.
  • Knowing a non-derivative license cannot be used in any adaptation.
  • Maintaining track of what was being used in the adaptation. Doing so, assisted in creating the reference list and acknowledging the original resource.
  • Reflecting on your level of comfort with releasing an open work. That is, are you happy for your newly created work to be adapted, remixed, or monetized.

Formative and summative assessments – H5P activities

H5P is a plugin available in Pressbooks which allows the author to create formative and summative assessment tasks for learners. There is evidence to suggest that this kind of interactivity assists learners to stay focused and engaged with the content.  I wanted to include these activities in the OER Capability Toolkit as learning and engagement was a critical element to building and delivering this work. The toolkit contains a number of H5P activities used as formative assessment and presents a summative assessment called the “open pedagogy plan” in Part 5 as the culmination of this learning.

Open publications that contain formative and summative activities have the capacity to be embedded within the context of a broader course curriculum and provide the flexibilities required for educators to engage with open pedagogical practices.

Referencing

Ensure that attribution and citation are clearly defined and articulated from the beginning.  Even though the terms share characteristics, citations and attributions play different roles and appear in different places. A citation allows authors to provide the source of any quotations, ideas, and information that they include in their own work based on the copyrighted works of other authors. It is used in works for which broad permissions have not been granted.

Attribution on the other hand is used when a resource or text is released with an open licence. This legal requirement states that users must attribute — give credit — to the creator of the work and encompass these critical elements at a minimum:

  • Title of the work
  • Author (creator) of the work
  • Source (link) or where the work can be found
  • License of the work

Peer review, front and back matter

Peer review was an important element to get right. We engaged in three rounds of peer review. Starting by reviewing each other’s chapters within the authoring group. This exercise provided an initial opportunity to assess, grammar, language, the use, or overuse of acronyms, and finesse language and comprehension. The second peer review involved an external cohort of colleagues from other Australian universities who provided a similar overview but from an external perspective. A third peer review was undertaken using a tool called Hypothe.sis. This tool is a plug-in in Pressbooks and allows for social annotation with students. It is also a useful tool to implement as part of a peer review process. All commentary is contextualized within the chapters and responses are received by email and easily edited.


Front and back matter was important to include as part of the publication process. Including the front and back matter provided completeness to the work and offered context to the reader. The front matter introduced the new work and helped the reader understand the evolution of its creation and the back matter included a glossary and appendix.

In conclusion

The open education philosophy seamlessly interconnects with RMIT Library’s ethos of sharing knowledge and supporting learning. RMIT Library is well positioned to work with academic staff to create, produce, and disseminate open works via open platforms for maximum impact, and the library as publisher, can lead and shape the transformation of curriculum pedagogy where every learner is supported and valued.