A year in the Yukon

When I was younger, I spent a year in the Yukon, working for what was then called Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. What started as a three month co-op term was renewed until we hit the maximum. It was a transformative year for me. I loved living up north; the city transformed in the spring time, I learned to cross country ski, and I lived in a cabin without heating or running water.

I had studied First Nations at school, doing the Arts One program at UBC with a focus on First Nations history, practices and tradition. But being up North personalized both the challenges and the deep history. There are actual negotiated treaties (self-governance agreements) with First Nations in the Yukon, unlike the lands I sit in right now. I learned much about the diversity in communities there. I knew intellectually that cultural groups are well, different. But then to see how different communities reckoned with self-governance and a changing relationship with DIAND (now INAC) made my understanding of First Nations more uncertain and more complicated (my mother used to say that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know, and she was right).

That was where I first did media management, making sure that the journalists got access to specific elders and spelled names correctly at a ceremony with the Minister, and that photo ops were arranged. And the drudge of the weekly ads we had to purchase as part of land transfer (?), and the value of newsletters, even if everyone claimed not to read them.

And I saw the Northern Lights.


Metadata and streaming videos

So I’m the first to ask about Metadata on our instructional videos (yay for me!). And now what?! I know how to add the metadata, that’s not an issue. But what metadata is useful and suits my purposes?
The videos are streaming, and behind a login, so my objective is not to use the metadata for searching. I  mostly I want the metadata so that we have a couple of bits of information for our own purposes and also so that if someone DOES pirate/steal it, then at least the metadata states our ownership.
The videos range from 1 to two hours, and are a head and shoulders + slides video recording of a  face to face presentation.
The metadata options I was given, and the fields I chose to fill out are:

·         Album:

·         Artist:

·         Author:  ACT – Autism Community Training [that’s us!]

·         Comment:  workshop delivered [date here]

·         Copyright:  Copyright belongs to ACT – Autism Community Training. This video is not available for distribution. [that’s my fancy threat/warning]

·         Description:

·         Title:  [title of workshop and presenter name]

·         Information:

·         Keywords:

·         Producer:

·         Software:


I think in this case, the limited amount of metadata is warranted. It’s for our purposes only – and if we were to find out any videos were pirated, we’d be able to point to the metadata for ownership (I know, a hacker could remove the metadata, but would they bother?).


Data in your site

The web developer in our office installed Google Analytics on our site last month. I like the pretty graphs and numbers, but wasn’t sure how it might inform my job. So I spent a half hour with my colleague, and we clicked and scrolled around.

First of all we looked up what the term Bounce Rate means. Generally speaking is means the number of people who landed on a specific page, and then left the site entirely, without having visited any other pages on the site. In the Google documentation, a high bounce rate is described as undesirable, and if people are landing on the main page and then immediately leaving again, I’d mostly agree. If, however, people are using effective use of keywords to land on a page on our site with more specialized content, then I”m okay with a high bounce rate – that route means the keywords are efficient. We also determined that the bounce rate for our online registration page is low. We’d been having some difficulties with the online registration system, and so this seems like validation that it’s working for plenty of people.

Traffic Sources was an unexpected sources of information. People are getting to our site mostly though google searches, and uses variations on the name of our organization. A healthy percentage come through direct links or our email newsletter. So people know how to search for us, and they read our newsletter, which is good news! We can also see which websites are linking to our site. We can see where on the government website we’re linked, that the BC Teachers Federation uploads information that we send out, and that we’re getting increasing traffic from our facebook site. So these outreach programs are working out for us.

My other preferred section of google analytics was the Top Content section. I can see which pages get the most hits. There are initially no surprises there, but digging deeper there are some interesting details. I can see how long people spend on each page (do they find what they are looking for quickly on the main page? Do spend time on the content heavy pages?), and I can see on which page they exit the site and extrapolate where they found the information they were seeking.

I’m looking forward to comparing last months statistics to this months statistics. We’re implementing changes, such as an online registration system and an online community, and tracking statistics over several months will tell us if our changes are taking hold and changing how are users interact with our site.

Information Overload

This post continues the theme from the post about George Siemens article. Everything new is….. not?

This article argues that information overload has been with us for a long time. The question that is only begun to be answered in the article is how do we store, sort and analyze materials?

Cross-posted at: http://blogs.sfu.ca/departments/lidc


Yesterday in a meeting the topic of inter-disciplinarity came up. What did it mean to the upper administration, to the (large f) Faculty, to the instructors, to students? Was having the option of studying with varied approaches and values enough? Or should a course itself be interdisciplinary and what might that look like?

And of course like all meetings, there was much to cover, and we didn’t get a chance to explore that more.

But here is one comical option: http://xkcd.com/755/

cross posted on: http://blogs.sfu.ca/departments/lidc

Meeting management

I’m probably never going to read a management book, which would undoubtedly include many detailed plans for meeting management. But I did do something today in a meeting that I think worked well.

I asked the other members of the meeting to briefly take one or two minutes to write down what we thought the outcome of the meeting should be (we are planning on a report that we have to present to a Bigger Committee). After the free writing exercise, we compiled what we’d written on the whiteboard. There were many similarities, and we were immediately able to build on those common themes, thereby saving much debate. Reflective time in meetings – it could work.

I’ll take my victories where I can get them.