The CAHSS Web Team is now the Digital Innovation Team

It is official – the Web Team is now the Digital Innovation Team.

Firstly, colleagues from the Digital Scholarship Team have joined our office – so a big welcome to Helen Bradley and Emma Cockburn who are the Digital Scholarship Assistants.

More information about their work in the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences can be found on the Digital Scholarship website.

I think we can justify why “digital” rather than “web” easily.  For the past few years, we have refined our process of designing for mobiles and tablets as well as desktops. Services provided by the team include multimedia design, digital publications and infographics, intranet applications, online chat, social media and email marketing. Quite a diverse remit for a relatively small team.

Now, how about “innovation”?  I agree that this is an ambitious title. It is also aspirational. Not every single aspect of our work is necessary innovative, and we are not setting ourselves apart from other digital teams claiming that our processes or products are somehow more cutting-edge. This would be a tall order. We do however get the opportunity of working on a very diverse set of projects across the College and the opportunity to grow and develop our skills.

What is required of us is the understanding of how the latest technologies can support research. By listening to and supporting our academic colleagues in CAHSS we are hoping to collectively find (and share) novel approaches and novel solutions. Funding bodies such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council place a high value in innovation: http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/innovation/.

We will also need to be more aware of the interesting work created by Information Services and other digital teams in house and in a wider context.

The next months will see further communications about this change with more details to follow.

National Association of Disabled Staff Networks (NADSN) – Spring Conference

The NADSN Spring Conference was hosted in a nicely renovated and accessible Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation http://edinburghcentre.org/. I thought it would be interesting to attend not only from a personal angle but really useful in my role as a line manager.

In the world of web development, we are all very familiar with the concept of web accessibility. Still striving towards it rather than 100% compliant we are at least very aware of the possible issues and barriers and the good practice guides to overcome these. Web accessibility in the context of student or outreach materials has had a lot of publicity over the past 10 years or so (for a good reason of course).

Currently, UoE is also investing a lot of money to get rid of the physical barriers, adapting the old buildings particularly as part of improving the student experience.

There is a bit of a contrast though in a way the HE addresses issues of disabled staff. Stephanie Millar, Senior Policy Advisor, Equality Challenge Unit in her very informative keynote quoted that only 3.3% of the University Staff disclose a disability. This can be compared with around 18% of the interviewed general public.

The reasons for this huge discrepancy may be many. Fewer disabled staff being employed in HE but also much fewer wishing to disclose their condition for the still very much alive fear of stigma.

Generally speaking, everyone wants to be seen as a fully productive and able member of staff rather than a “problem”.

The non-disclosure is one of the reasons why it may be easy for the institutions to ignore the issues. Departmental culture plays a very significant role in the treatment and policies around the disability of staff. This created many inequalities how for example special adjustments or disability leave is treated. It is through networks such as the NADSN that the slow change in attitudes is beginning to emerge.

Thank you to the brave speakers who are coming with the personal stories as well as the knowledge of the field.

 

 

UX Scotland Conference 2016 – Report

I attended the UX Scotland Conference 2016 with a view to discovering the latest trends and thinking in the constant evolution of design interfaces.

The best aspect of the conference was the overall theme of practical and applicable solutions to improve our user experience. Indeed, most of the sessions during the second day provided not only a lot of food for thought and inspiration but also some immediately actionable tips.

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New staff profiles content type launched!

One of the recent addition to the main University website content management system (EdWeb) is a new content type – staff profile. The CAHSS Web team has worked on this in close collaboration with Information Services .

Staff profle imageHow did the new staff profile come to the world?

Around the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and beyond, throughout the University, each and every School had a slightly different way of presenting staff profiles Often, staff profiles used different systems depending on the University unit. The key goal was to standardise this but in a way that allowed flexibility and variation.

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Nursing Studies Highlights

The Summer edition of Nursing Studies Highlights is now available.

Created using Adobe InDesign the Nursing Highlights newsletter contains current news and articles from the Nursing Studies department at the School of Health and Social Science. These will be of importance to current nursing studies students, alumni and staff but there are also stories of wider public interest such as the feature on “Ebola nursing in Sierra Leone” by Magda James and latest research in dementia care in an article by Professor Charlotte Clarke.

Adobe Edge Animate (part 2)

As promised, I have tried out extending Adobe Edge Animate with jQuery libraries in order to implement a “drag and drop” functionality. It is meant to be a fairly straightforward task of importing the scripts or including the relevant url paths, through Edge script interface.

Adobe Edge panels

It turned out to be quite fiddly, as including the url path didn’t work for me and importing scripts into edge also turned out to be a bit problematic. There is a separate script for touch devices – jQuery UI Touch Punch, and this seems to be sensitive about the order in which it is included. It has worked after a fashion and an example can be found here: http://www.ed.ac.uk/staff-students/students/new-students/student-support/preparing-for-study/school-and-college-leavers/looking-back/time-management/looking-back

Since Adobe Edge export includes a bundle of files (edgePreload.js, edgeActions.js, main.js as well as HTML files and images folder) the easiest way of including all these in our CMS Poloply was to host these packages separately to be called in via iframes.

Not the most elegant solution.

The new section  http://www.ed.ac.uk/staff-students/students/new-students/student-support/preparing-for-study/school-and-college-leavers/looking-back is a bit of an experiment. It is an attempt to make the activities more interesting than reading PDF files.

Whether the new JavaScript  elements provide an added value is up for debate…keen to hear your views.

 

“Landscapes of Hope”

Recently I have uploaded podcasts from the “Landscape of Hope” symposium held by the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities

Experts in fields ranging from History of Art and English Literature through to Linguistics, Anthropology, Human Geography and other subjects discuss the issues around the broad topics of “hope”, “landscape” and “identity” in the context of deciding what the future may bring for Scotland. They don’t make any explicit political statements but rather draw on their own expertise to see if any relevant parallels can be made.

Detail from 'Vignettes of Cairnsbruck' by Sam Caldwell

Detail from ‘Vignettes of Cairnsbruck’ by Sam Caldwell

The opening address by Doctor Maxim Shadurski begins with an assumption that we all know how hope can change our individual lives, and how hope guides and informs aspirations for our societies.

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Adobe Edge Animate

Edge Animate promises to replace Adobe Flash and (unlike Flash) allow animations to display on mobile devices. You have to subscribe to Adobe cloud in order to use the most up to date version, so I have downloaded a trial version for now.

The interface looks vaguely familiar, except all icons seem much smaller. It doesn’t have the advanced drawing capabilities that Flash use to have, so it is best to use another graphics programme to create individual assets and then import these to the image library. There is a very useful option to make the animation responsive. In terms of scripting the interactions it all still seems rather basic in comparison with Flash but I’m sure this will improve with time.

I have started with an extremely basic diagram below and next hoping to try out the drag and drop functionality….