Raising Awareness

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Metrics and Social Web Services: Quantitative Evidence for their Use and Impact


The following talks were given at the workshop on Metrics and Social Web Services: Quantitative Evidence for their Use and Impact.

Why Impact, ROI and Marketing are No Longer Dirty Words: Amber Thomas, JISC
Your university has an institutional repository, releases open educational resources, makes podcasts, digitises library resources and hosts blogs. But institutions can no longer sit back and wait for visitors to arrive. Not only will there be a need for pro-active marketing, but there will also be a need to gather evidence to demonstrate that the marketing is effective - and the service itself provides a positive ROI. In the introduction session Amber Thomas provides the context for the workshop - and will unashamedly use words which previously weren't uttered in ivory towers!
Surveying our Landscape from Top to Bottom: Brian Kelly, UKOLN
This talk will review a number of small-scale surveys of institutional and personal use of social web services. The talk will describe how such surveys can be used to understand ways in which institutions may be using such services and how examples of emerging best practices can be identified.
Learning From Institutional Approaches: Ranjit Sidhu
This talk will describe how institutional dashboards can be used in order to bridge the gap between usage of institutional Web services and providing evidence (perhaps financial evidence) of the value of the services to the institution.
Identity, Scholarship and Metrics: Martin Weller, Open University
As academics begin to use a wide range of third party services to share content and engage in scholarly discourse, they are constructing a distributed identity. Previously a publication record stood as a proxy for an academic career and became closely allied with promotion, reward and reputation. Many of the new tools have the advantage of generating data and metrics which are richer than the standard publication record, but to what extent can these metrics be useful to the individual or the institution? Some preliminary work of the digital scholarship group at the OU will be used to explore these issues.
Impact of Open Media at the OU: Andrew Law, Open University
With experience of the OpenLearn project, iTunes U and their YouTube channel, the Open University has been gathering a range of statistics and data around the use of open media content it generates and shares openly. This talk will look at what these statistics tell us and some of the issues involved in their interpretation.
The Script Kiddie's Perspective: Tony Hirst, Open University
There is an awareness that many online services will provide APIs which may facilitate rich data mining including analyses of the growth and development of communities, uses of resources, etc. This session will review what sorts of data are freely available and how it an be accessed and analysed. The talk will also highlight potential dangers in the uses of automated analysis tools, such as how savvy users might be able to 'game the system'.


The following people will speak at the workshop.

Amber Thomas, JISC
Amber Thomas is a Programme Manager in the Digital Infrastructure team. She works on the Open Educational Resources (OER) Programme and oversees the work of Jorum. Amber coordinates the work of the OER IPR Support Project, the OER Technical Support Project at CETIS. Her focus is on how learning and teaching materials can be supported by digital infrastructure, including repositories, tools, standards, metadata, rights management and sustainable services.
Brian Kelly, UKOLN
Brian Kelly works at UKOLN, a national centre of expertise in digital information mangement based at the University of Bath. In his role as UK Web Focus he advises the UK's higher education community on emerging new Web technologies, standards and practices. Increasingly he has an interest in ways in which evidence can be gained in order to demonstrate the value and impact of use of networked services to support institutional and professional activities
Martin Weller, Open University
Martin Weller is Professor of Educational Technology at the Open University. He chaired the OU's first major elearning course with 12,000 students and has been director of both the VLE and SocialLearn projects. He has just completed a book on digital scholarship, to be open access published by Bloomsbury in September 2011. He blogs at
Tony Hirst, Open University
Tony Hirst is a Lecturer at The Open University, appropriater of online/web technologies, regular blogger at and wannabe data artist. Publisher of, he is an active open public data advocate with a particular interest in data visualisation.
Andrew Law, Open University
Andrew Law is the Head of the OpenMedia team at the Open University and previously directed the Open2.Net website for the BBC
Ranjit Sidhu, Statistics into Decisions
Ranjit Sidhu (or SiD) is founder of Statistics into Decisions (or SiD). Around 1998 Ranjit fell into the internet space whilst trying to run away from a career in law. Since then he has worked at several internet based companies, but has found his niche in analysis and helping clients understand what is going on in the internet ether and how to use that information to improve what they do.
Around 4 years ago he set up Statistics into Decisions (SiD), in Sydney - since then the company has, happily, found a market for its basic ethos on making information relevant and something that can be used so much so that it now works with many top blue chip companies as well as governmental clients both in the UK and Australia. SiD's second office is in Perth, Scotland.

Breakout Groups

The following breakout sessions will take place.

Breakout Group 1: Sharing Experiences
In your groups discuss:
  • What approaches to gathering metrics are you taking & in what areas (e.g. research; teaching & learning; marketing; projects; ...)?
  • How are the metrics being used?
  • If resources wasn't a problem what would you like to do differently?
Breakout Group 2: Planning for the Future
In your groups discuss:
  • What new approaches do you envisage?
  • How will you address the difficulties and problems (including resourcing issues)?
  • Is your preferred solution(s) for your area(s):
    • Use of commercial social media analytic tools?
    • Use of external social media consultancies?
    • Development of in-house solutions
    • Development of solutions designed for the specific needs of the HE/FE sector.