Today I am at the College Development Network’s Getting Best Value from College Licences event, taking place at CDN’s offices in Stirling. I will be presenting on Jisc MediaHub (which I am, as of the beginning of this month, the service manager for – blog post on that to follow!) later this afternoon, along with my colleague Anne Robertson of the new Digimap for Colleges service,Â as part of the Jisc session. In the meantime I’ll be blogging the other talks as they take place.Â
As always this is a LiveBlog so please do be forgiving of spelling/typos or other errors – comments and corrections welcome!
Coming up later on…
Welcome and Introductions – Jennifer Louden, Chair Librariansâ€™ Development Network and Alan Rae, CS and CDN Copyright Adviser
Alan Rae is opening up the day by discussing the ongoing pressure on colleges to reduce costs, and asking those here if they feel they are getting value for money from CLA. And are we making best use of the materials out there, and I’m delighted we have representatives from Jisc here today, talking about Jisc MediaHub. Are we paying for things more than once? And are the creators of resources being appropriately reimbursed for what they do? And are the licences transparent enough? That’s what I do but even I find a few of themÂ impenetrable.
Are you aware of the new exceptions? I’m not sure that all were aware of the previous exceptions, but the new exceptions seem to give us significantly more leeway than we had before… And if we don’t use them, we’ll lose them…
And with that I turn to our first speakers.
Creating Inclusive Experiences for Students Accessing Library Services – Margaret McKay, Subject Matter Expert â€“ Inclusion, Jisc Scotland; Andy McMahon, Alternatives Formats Manager/IT Disability Support Specialist, University of Dundee
Margaret: I think that talking about how we can be inclusive, and accessible formats in digital media. I am from Jisc Scotland and there have been a lot of changes in Jisc recently. We now have account managers, some of whom are here today, as well as specialists – I’m the specialist in inclusion. But what do we mean by inclusion? Well it’s about ensuring that the systems we use are accessible, that the resources we produce, the formats we use and the activities we undertake is accessible. That is also about us as organisations being accessible and inclusive.
So, what else can we do? What are the quick things to do… Thinking about how we create headings and structures in documents, help texts etc. makes resources inherantly more accessible… And we have to be aware of the Equalities act, being sensitive to our practice and avoiding unreasonable practice. We have to think about images too – ensuring we use Alt text for images, a small thing that makes a really huge difference.
Within Microsoft Office there are automatic accessibility checks that can be used, these are worthwhile making use of. And you can also make use of “MS Office Speak” – which allows anyone reading a document to listen to what that document says… That’s great if you use it with the Scottish Voices – those are free voices from Coll Scotland, that can be used with this and other softwares.
All the main browsers have accessibility plugins – Safari Reader, Chrome Readability, Firefox Reader – these are great for struggling readers, there are text to speech tools we can use with learners too. And you can still access the enabling technology Jisc Tech Dis toolbox.
You might also want to provide information in Alternative Formats. Tools like Read and Write Gold, a software that assists dyslexic learners. There are free options too, like Balabolka. These allow you to turn text into MP3, to present that text differently. That’s software you can run from a memory stick. Libraries are also creating audio guides with tools like Audacity. And you can use tools like Xerte, which we’ll come back to. And if you do use multiformat learning materials you also need to think about, say, subtitles to help ensure that content is accessibility. You can also explicitly ask the learner if they need to access something in an alternative format – by adding a mechanism for them to request that alternative format.
One of the things aout the Equalities Act 2010 is that it is about making reasonable adjustments. Technologies are helpful. Students are aware that they have the right to use other formats etc. In England and Wales students there are changes to theÂ disabled students allowance that helps them choose the tools to learn, and more of a focus on making the institution as a whole more accesisble.
Tech Dis also created some accessibility tools, including the “How accessible is your library?” Xerte tool. It enables you to go through, to answer questions that help you access the accessibility of your lirary… And within Adobe Reader you can do lots of things, fantastic accessibility features, that lets you work with Xerte, focus on particular content etc… There is also “The e-book platform checklist” available to help you assess e-books, including a check list for vendors during procurement – about colour changes, formatting, navigation, etc. – really useful questions for suppliers during the procurement process.
The changes in the Copyright law have big impact for learners with additional needs and disabilities, allowing resources to be adapted, changed, amended to make them accessible.
Load2Learn is a great resource, used mainly by schools but increasingly by Colleges and Universities and they are up for that… This repository allows the crowd to submit accessible versions of e-books, with Dyslexia and RNIB the organisationsÂ heavily involved in this resource.
Andy: I am talking about accessible books. The costs associated with making formats accessible can be high, it is hard to have like for like access to reading list materials. Until recently we received about Â£20k/year per student for making materials accessible. So what we do has to be very cost effective. For our students we have found that it is more important to have a wide variety of texts, so 95% of text is accessible rather than a small range of materials being more accurately converted/adapted.
So, if the source is a UoD owned ebook with a high level of accessible platform, it’s free to make accessible. Commercial ebooks like Kindle, iBooks, DRM free PDF it’s a same day service of Â£10-Â£50 per book. For an e-copy from the publisher to be readable it can take anywhere from 1 day to 3 months. The good ones can be fast and reasonable (e.g. Sage) but some are terrible. And the cost is around Â£50 per book. If we have a physical copy we can duplex automated copy (so you remove the spin and it is duplexed) – the cost is around Â£70/book but of course images are not described/made more accessible. If we had to do individual page by page scan to be readable it’s Â£300 per book. Individual page by page scan to be accessible it’s Â£800. If you outsource page by page scan to be accessible it’s more like Â£8000. Now we have 12 students we are supporting, and we deliver our whole service for Â£45k but that’s still a lot…
So, making the right decisions over procurement is crucial… You need to compare the market. I am not aware of libraries suing a publisher for their works not being accessible. Even our licence agreements from 8 years ago stated ebooks would be compliant with screenreader software JAWS. But they are not always. So we are strongly pushing our academics to switch providers towards the accessible providers. For us, in obtaining our materials, we look to an accessible library e-book platform, we look at Load2Learn which is a good site, we look then towards measures like scanning.
We have a webpage specifically to help in the procurement of e-books. We have providers with high levels of accessibility for disabled readers (Palgrave, Springer, Safari, Sage, Science-Direct, Pro-Quest – Literature online), some have some barriers (MyiLibrary, Wiley), some have significant barriers (EBL, NetLibrary, DawsonEra). Scottish HE Basically anything with downloadable PDFs tend to be more accessible, those where you have to use their own package/software to read tends to be less accessible.
So, we have iPad minis that are loaned to students from the service. They are pre configured for book and learning accss only. Books are availabe on our VLE (restricted access enabled). And using the iPads have broader use, it feels inclusive, the students don’t feel different from their peers.
We recommend with suppliers that tou don’t trust the supplier but actually go and check some sample texts… So you want to check reading flow, you want to try changing the background colour in adobe reader; try PDF reading on screen; And if you do use Read&Write Gold TextHelp there is a tool called “ScreenShot” (there is a good tour of this on YouTube) which lets you read anything on screen if it is clear, bypass all known protection technology, and enables students to copy and paste text into word as needed – for dyslexic students that copy typing is really tricky and not what they need to learn.
So, I just wanted to give you some practical help in procurement. One thing: We had a publisher who did not have a digital copy, but there was a perfectly formatted version on a Russian site online… It could cost us Â£10k to digitise a complex mathematical text… legally… Well legally we have a duty to provide access to equal information. We pay Â£60-Â£100 for a site licence for the book… The cost to make it accessible is many thousands… Well we can switch supplier for a better accessible copy for maybe Â£40 more than our original licence but there is also good potential in the new Copyright exemptions – if we make an alternative copy of a text we can now (explictly) share this with other institutions. And we can now subtitle someone’s video from YouTube without their permission. But we still have to notify publishers that we have made our alternative format copy. But to date we have had very little sharing of accessible copies.
Margaret: We do need to do more of this. My colleague used to work with publisher resources on accessibility, which will now move to Load2Learn. Structured PDF wasn’t seen as alternative enough by some publishers… Structured Word docs was seen as alternative enough.
Andy: I always say that PDFs are not one thing, many many different formats. I try to describe this to our medics as PDFs being like Cancer – one term but many many different things. So whenever you get a PDF you need to actually look into how accessible that is, it can mean so much.
Alan: I’m really pleased to hear that you raised the issue of exceptions there, some of those are really important for accessibility. And those slides will be circulated, also on the CDN website.
ERA and ERA Licences – Kathleen Roberts, Field Liaison Officer, ERA
I am the liaison officer for the whole of the UK for ERA, I am involved in outreach so going out and speaking to people in schools, universities and colleges.
A few years back we used to have something called the ERA service for off-air recording – what happened was that a sample of educational establishments was identified by the National Foundation for Educational Research – schools, colleges, language centres etc. They told us what they recorded from TV and Radio. We asked schools to report monthly. With colleges and Universities we asked the once per term. I would visit 80-100 educational establishments per year on using the licence, and what they were recording. But it fast became clear that our data was totally inaccurate!
The crunch came when a school of journalism told us that they were recording nothing. Our contact there was in the library. I just wasn’t sure I believed them so I contacted the School of Journalism directly… I started with staffÂ in broadcast journalism – they recorded all news, Today programme, NewsNight, all of that stuff! So, I went back to the contact, showed her the material… she said “why aren’t they telling me about that”. And that once a term sheet was too much work to complete, so the staff weren’t bothering.
So, the system wasn’t working. We switched to a snapshot survey… In theory that should have been easier, but it was the same issue. So we have abandoned that too… We now rely on data from BOB, ClickView, custom schools services etc. From the electronic data we can see an enormous amount of usage going on, it’s very well utilised. People may pay a lot for this resource, but it is incredibly well used. A few years back I was at a large university and staff there complained, but before I could respond the people from the commercial IT and training section said they would give their right arm for the ERA licence – commercial licencing for a fraction of thatÂ material would have been much higher. I don’t make the policy but the service is high quality… where you can make the resources you need, that’s great. But where you want a professional, well produced repository of content ERA gives you access to that.
So, we now have a strategy of adding value to the basic ERA licence. We are trynig to give people extra. We have a strategy to do this… And I’m hoping some people here have seen the website, blog and case studies… I would like to get into some dialogue now or later on, or after the session, to get involved with ERA; to help us support licence users better… One of the sad things about losing the survey was that it did give us a chance to go out and talk to people. So, starting from September we want to meet with a small group of people to find out what you do, what you need. Individual visits are something we are happy to do. Let us know how we can improve the offer, how we can improve the support, we welcome that opportunity.
On our website we now have a series of resources to support ERA. We have a blog with some resources… Been doing this for about five months. We try to anticipate useful programmes that may be coming up, we’ve tried to put them in context in terms of the curriculum… So if there is a topic of curriculum level… if we spot something coming up as a broadcast we’ve tried to highlight it. We are just dipping our toe in the water… It may be that we aren’t doing it very well – but we’d love feedback either way… Could we do it better? How could we do it better? We wanted to use a blog to encourage people to subscribe… I wasn’t sure about that. We discussed putting in on the front page of the website… But in any case we wanted to add something beyond legalese on the website, to enrich the content. To provide material of use in teaching and learning…
As well as the blog we have some case studies, you will see that in the newsletters I’ve brought along today. We’ve tried to collect a series of these, and we’ve tagged them by level… I want some feedback on this. We have a massive problem curating our content… You are experts in content management, in curating material. We are trying to add more value, but we are very aware that the more we put on, the more difficult it is to access…
We also now have a Twitter feed. It’s not exactly riveting but it does let us tell you when we are, say, at BETT. But this should help to raise awareness of what is there. When I did my teacher training course it was hard to know about all of the resources that may be available. And it is also important to understand the role of licencing, and that there are appropriate ways to use licenced resources. We are not the copyright police, but we are here to enable appropriate use of licenced materials, to help organisations use material legally.
We want more people to know about the ERA licence. And we want to know more about what broadcast materials you want, and how we can help too. We are happy to write articles if that is helpful. And how do we reach out – are there networking meetings we should be attending? Is there material we should be producing to curate materials? We aren’t currently organising materials in terms of curriculum areas… All of the blog posts and case studies.. would they be better organised by subject areas? What works best? Perhaps we need a Pinterest board to organise them?
I am conscious that we need more examples of good practice. We’d really like good practice in using broadcast materials… People like trainee teachers would value a lot of guidance and support with using broadcast materials, also those in HE and FE. The use of less obvious materials or off the wall examples are particularly good. For instance the use of The Simpsons in teaching maths [see Simon Singh's book on all the sneaky books on maths], and people have also used The Simpsons in business classes to talk about “pester power”. So, we want case studies, inventive and innovative uses… If you are doing interesting things, we’d love to hear about it. We don’t promise they will have a starring role, but we do want to give you credit for what’s being done well…
So, how many have had a look at the blog and case studies before today? It looks like mostly not but I’d love you to go away today, take a look, and do send some feedback… We are a small team and we’d like to work smarter – and that means your ideas, your input, your feedback would be so valued by us.
Comment: I’m one of the main recorders for ClickView in my college. ERA seems quite passive to me… I never thought to go to you for advice on what to record. The process is easy, but finding what is needed and talking to staff… That’s what’s time consuming. So the blog looks really good. I saw one of the posts featured Horrible Histories though, not really appropriate for FE… So something more suitable, or a calendar of what’s coming up…
KB: So if we made an FE blog that was separate would that be good? Or would subject areas be better?
Comment: I go back to the older licences… I’m looking at various services… We have multiple sites and staff in particular curriculum areas and that is what matters. Some people do this anyway, some subject experts are already great at tracking what is needed, but others do need those subject focuses for the people who we still need to engage… They want to know what’s there for business, for construction, etc… Stuff specific to their areas…
KB: We don’t want to replace ClickView of BOB, and their searchable databases, but we do want to support those who don’t use those services. One of big college consortiums in England have a huge shared database with learning resources and materials, but that’s their own in-house integrated system. So we are particularly keen to reach those without a system, those partially covered. And we’d love a case study for every curriculum area… But then there are levels within there… We are not doing too badly for the first 5 months.
Comment: Can I embed video clips in my VLE?
KB: All our case studies are text based so far…
Comment: But that’s a good point, and resources on getting videos into VLEs etc. that would be very useful…
KB: We don’t have video material yet… but we may…
Comment: Would those case studies/examples be Creative Commons licenced?
KB: Might not be an issue if we have the examples… those case studies are the results of 3 years on the ground, following up THES articles, blogs etc. It’s really hard to tap into how teachers use materials in their learning and teaching materials. They don’t always want to be the focus of attention. But we are trying to help them see themselves as role models or exemplars. But one of ours commented that they didn’t think they were doing anything different/special… But the feedback we’ve had on that particular person has been very complimentary.
One example we have, on schools and weather forecasts… the teacher created a whole project out of that, measuring wind and rain… talking about precipitation… And when they came to using a whiteboard, choosing a style based on broadcast versions… The interesting thing was that the real learning outcome for that teacher was the confidence and the communication in the students, something that added to the science learning.
If anybody would like to get more involved, to chat to Â me in your institutions, please do email me and then maybe we can work together to create something useful to yourselves.
Alan: Kathleen is very enthusiastic about the amount of recordings. We don’t have surveys… The ERA licence is good but I get reports that few of us are using those recordings – just how much use are you making of ERA Licences? I know YouTube is the elephant in the room.
Comment: I still don’t know what others in my college do!
KB: We do know when people sign up to BOB or ClickView…
Alan: But how many here sign up to those systems? [few shown] Those systems do, though, record exactly what is used and how often… So can’t we just pay for those? And those systems have subscription costs in addition to ERA Licences. And we have YouTube, and we have Jisc MediaHub available too of course… It is a benign licence. It’s always been there, I used it massively in a previous role. I also used TRILT to help me plan what I would use – a BUFVC service there.
KB: Those using ClickView or BOB – are you using it?
Comment: Yes, and we use it a lot!
Alan: That’s fine… If we get Â£1 million in value, that’s fine… Lets talk about add ons, development… But anecdotally I’m not sure that colleges feel they are getting value for money.
Comment: For a lot of staff people think of ERA as restricting and policing, rather than enabling. We try to educate them but there is so much to do to promote ERA as an enabling service, as a way to make resources available. It’s been seen as a thing for people who deal with copyright licencing only.
KB: We are trying to do that now…
Alan: We are producing the next generation of producers and users. Copyright will not go away. It is an essential part of your toolkit as teachers, and support staff…
KB: We used to have a separate Open University licence, that’s now part of ERA, so you are now getting more than you used to too!
And with that we come to our next speaker…
Overview of CLA/NLA Licences – Julie Murray, Education Licences Manager, CLA Gursh Sangha, Education Support Manager, CLA
British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC) – Helen Fitton, Marketing and Events Manager, BUFVC
Licensing Requirements for Public Use of FilmsÂ - Robert Darling, Account Executive, Filmbank Distributors Ltd
Jisc Collections – Catherine John, FE Licensing Manager, Jisc Collections; Anne Robertson, Geodata Projects and Services Manager at EDINA; Nicola Osborne, Jisc Media Hub Service Manager and Digital Education Manager
It’s Good to Talk – Alan RaeÂ