Faculty of Engineering & Design staff

Sharing experience and best practice across the Faculty of Engineering & Design

Posts By: Beth Jones

A new online Faculty induction

  

📥  New initiative

A long while ago now, our Director of Administration tasked a group of us to create an interactive staff induction module for everyone in the Faculty:

Slide1

 

We interviewed members of staff to hear about their induction experiences. This helped us to come up with specific aims for the project.

We interviewed members of staff to hear about their induction experiences. This helped us to come up with specific aims for the project.

 

We also learned from our research that people’s experiences varied depending on their line manager and the time of year they started. We decided we needed to develop a module for managers to help them prepare for their new member of staff and consider which point of the annual cycle they would be starting in.

We also learned from our research that people’s experiences varied depending on their line manager and the time of year they started. We decided we needed to develop a module for managers to help them prepare for their new member of staff and consider which point of the annual cycle they would be starting in.

 

The project has had many stages with different members of the project team taking on more active roles depending on the stage.

The project has had many stages with different members of the project team taking on more active roles depending on the stage.

 

We all come from different job functions which meant we could specialise or learn new skills.

We all come from different job functions which meant we could specialise or learn new skills.

 

The team met regularly to share ideas and kept in touch through Trello between meetings.

We all come from different job functions which meant we could specialise or learn new skills.

 

We mainly learnt the importance of investing in technology and sharing our knowledge with each other.

We mainly learnt the importance of investing in technology and sharing our knowledge with each other.

 

Try out the new staff induction module using the self-enrolment key available on the wiki.

Managers' training module coming soon...

 

Telling student stories

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📥  Staff insight

There's a new online prospectus (named course search) on its way and we've been picking what to feature in the student testimonial sections. The bad news is that we don't have enough content, but the good news is that we do have more platforms to tell student stories and we've been approaching these stories in different ways.

Web case studies

In the past, getting student testimonials was prompted by the need to update a brochure. We then added this collection of soundbites to the web as an afterthought, usually in a thumbnail list.

If a student story came up in the meantime, we had to publish a news article that usually consisted of:

  • introduction
  • student quote
  • academic quote
  • definition of a term from the intro
  • and then an unsubstantiated "that's why we are the best" sentence

We've found these news articles quickly go out of date and are mainly read internally rather than by prospective students. This situation was partly due to OpenCMS's hierarchical structure and outdated templates. But now we have a brand new CMS and a host of new content types to use. We are big fans of the case study content type; it focuses content through its structure, and optimises it with a feature image and quote (all mobile responsive of course).

Partly, though, we were also approaching content wrongly. There was something about relying on news articles or asking the same old "why Bath?" questions that didn't feel massively satisfying. I couldn’t articulate why this wasn't working until I read this blog post by Hanna in the digital team about their approach to writing research stories. Becky began using this approach and the new case study content type when profiling PhD researchers Bruno and Olivia as part of the worldwide collection. Once our Faculty pages shipped to the new CMS in January, we could roll this out to profiling our taught students as well.

So, we have been moving towards more specific case studies centred on a student's experiences of a project or a placement, where we actually profile what the student is working on. This approach produces content with longevity, it creates a more coherent story and it's more interesting. For example, by reading about the experiences of Hemant from Team Bath Drones or Stefano from Team Bath Racing Electric you get a real sense of the skills students develop through project work.

Getting an insight on our student blog

Our student blog provides more of a behind-the-scenes view than the more formal web case studies. It's a snapshot of student life as it's happening, while our case studies are more about giving the completed story: beginning, middle and end. I love that we have this platform to hand over to the student voice. It's less polished, but there can be a real power in its authenticity. You can get updates from our students as they go out on placement, travel abroad on the ERASMUS scheme or develop their projects.

The website and the blog really came together for a profile on this year's Basil Spence winning project. The web case study gives an overview of the group project and then links through to a blog post from each team member for a more extensive personal insight into the students' experiences.

Video shorts

We've also begun using video more this year (we are still quite limited on this due to resource) to give prospective students a taste of studying in the Faculty. These range from short project videos to the My Day in 60 Seconds collection.

Keep the content coming

It's tough producing this content with such limited resources; the one university photographer or the one AV specialist are usually booked up well in advance. It leaves little time for idea generation, concept development or retakes. We also rely on collaboration from staff who work directly with students, even if it's just a suggestion or passing on a piece of student-generated content, we can usually tailor it to one of our platforms.

What is usually pretty easy though is getting great content from our student volunteers. They know how to present themselves, they know how to communicate their work and they know why they should communicate it. It's so reassuring reading our students' experiences on the web, on our blog or social media. The Faculty of Engineering & Design is producing not only technically astute but articulate architects and engineers who will make a positive impact on the world...and best of all, they'll share with you how they are doing it and why.

 

Why I (mostly) like using the new CMS

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📥  Staff experiences, Staff insight

I've had a long hiatus from using the new CMS, but with our Faculty pages finally live, it feels like things are moving again and I've been reacquainting myself with the new system. I'm reminded every time I log into our old CMS what a better system we now have for those who update the website and those who read it. Here's why:

It forces you to write coherently

Before I even create a page in the new CMS I have to select a content type. This involves a good 10 minutes of working out what will fit my purpose. If I'm telling a story I'll probably select the case study content type, but I'll use a campaign if I'm writing persuasive content with lots of calls-to-action or a guide if I'm explaining something.

Once that's sorted I have to fill out a user need. I find this a really (really) tiresome job, but it's a good check to see if you are actually about to create a coherent page that someone will find useful. It's pretty tempting to stray into writing something you want to say and adding in content that is perhaps related but not directly relevant. When I scroll back up the page to check its user need, it helps me to refocus my writing on the intended audience: why am I doing this? Why is it important to someone?

It provides a structure to guide you

I'm not a fan of filling in boxes and until they introduced a preview button I really struggled to use the new CMS. I am often driven nuts by the word limits. For me the most annoying box of all is the one under the title, which is limited to 160 characters. I agonise over that box for about half the time the rest of the page will take. Then I turn around and show Becky and we agonise some more. The secret is, when you've got that sentence or two right, the rest of the page will follow. Getting it right in 160 characters means that you really know what your page is going to be about.

Screenshot of a page title and tag line

The 160 character tag line

I see now that other than the really useful things word limits ensure (not least how the pages are displayed in Google search results) they are actually helping me to write better. They force me to really get to the point and be concise. They are challenging me (quite literally, the page won't save if I've written too much) to take my time and really think things through. What I once raged against I see now is a support (still a frustrating one though) to guide my content and stop me settling for the quick win and a quiet life.

It demands better content

Pages need to have real substance now with information that delivers value or answers a question. Even the photos have to be better, a 16:9 ratio is unforgiving to non-professional shots. Using the new templates makes me realise how much we have been able to hide behind HTML styling in the old CMS. I was pretty horrified when I found out I wouldn't have access to the code in the new system (there's a part of me that would still like to have the option) but it really does make me focus on the quality of the content rather than spending 5 minutes faffing with a boxout. What I once saw as crushing the creativity of the content producer I now understand to be for the benefit of consistency.

Why you should find out more about it

Change can be a brutal process. I have often felt disheartened and confused during this CMS transition project. I still despair on a monthly basis, but when I look at a new page on a mobile I find my answer: the content and the design are so much better. I know the way to overcome many (not all) of my CMS frustrations is to learn more. Find out the rationale behind the compromise, the reason why my status quo has been challenged, what benefit a perceived sacrifice has been made for. I follow the Digital's team blog, 'watch' their release notes wiki page, attend their Show & Tell sessions, and most importantly click that 'suggest an improvement to this page button' and just find out why.

Once you know the thought behind the content strategy and the coding you will feel reassured as to the talent working on this new system and have faith in its ability to get better. I once used to ask myself "why is this happening on our watch?" Now I understand what an opportunity it is to question, to rethink, to reflect and improve. I wouldn't give up the past difficulties or the ones to come because it only makes us think more. With understanding it's impossible to return to before, there's only new ways, better ways.

 

Effective staff induction

  

📥  New initiative, Staff insight, Top tips

We are working on a new Faculty staff induction to complement the activities that happen at a departmental and University level. As part of this project we interviewed new staff about their experiences joining the University. We also asked some teams what they did to prepare for new arrivals. We discovered a lot of good practice happening within our Faculty. From our findings here are some staff induction best practice tips:

Put in preliminary work before new members start

Nearly all our new members of staff expressed frustration at not being able to access University systems immediately. Although there are many processes that can only be started once a new member of staff is on campus, there are still some aspects that can be prepared in advance such as folder access, informing and setting up meetings with relevant people (including those who can provide card access).

Develop your own materials

We discovered some teams have developed their own induction materials specific to their job function. These even included tasks and treasure hunts so that new members of staff could get to know folder structures and try out the University's systems.

Get the whole team involved

Creating a schedule of training where each team member takes on responsibility for a certain aspect helps share the workload and means each member gets to know the new recruit.

Start small

Some of the staff we interviewed talked about being overwhelmed by "meeting too many people in a short amount of time". One team within the Faculty draws up a plan where the inductee is introduced to their immediate surroundings and then shown other areas as the weeks progress, ensuring their network increases at a manageable rate.

Put the role into context

Understanding where your role fits within the wider university is an important part of working effectively. One of our job families produced a special induction document introducing the University's strategy and how their job function fits into this.

Get them connected

Our interviewees mentioned how useful it was to meet others outside their immediate surroundings who performed a similar job function. Many people aren't aware of the mentoring or buddy opportunities available at the University, so this might be a good thing to highlight to inductees early on and at the mid-probation point.

The little things

In our interviews small gestures like buying an inductee a coffee on their first day really made a difference.

Our staff induction module will be available on the Faculty of Engineering & Design's staff wiki space's New Staff page in the Autumn.

 

Introducing our Faculty Staff Wiki space

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📥  New initiative

As part of the CMS transition, our Faculty’s internal web pages have migrated to the University’s Wiki (called Confluence).

Our new Faculty of Engineering & Design Staff Wiki space means:

  • Faculty staff information is contained in one place
  • teams can take ownership of their own content and easily update their pages
  • staff can share information and collaborate more effectively

Since starting the project back in January, we have moved across our current content, as well as creating new content. We’ve also undertaken a user testing process to refine usability and design.

Where is the space?

You can find the Staff Wiki space in the same way as the old internal pages: by clicking the padlock link on the Faculty’s external landing page.

You can also log in to Confluence and search for the space or type in the web address go.bath.ac.uk/fedstaffwiki directly into your browser.

Who can access the space?

All staff at the University (who have a University log on) can view the space but certain pages may have viewing or editing restrictions applied to them. This is so that they can only be seen or edited by a select group or individual.

Design

The space has been designed by Rosie Hart (Postgraduate Taught Programmes Officer) using a colour palette of Faculty Orange, Stylus grey and About blue. All pages have consistent headers and footers. To reduce scrolling we have hidden some content under expandable headings.

Each page has been assigned a webmaster or masters who are responsible for creating and keeping content up to date (these names are listed within the page footer). Page design inevitably varies depending on the webmaster, but should retain the same design ethos and colour scheme as the rest of the space.

Navigation

The page tree in the left-hand sidebar lists all top level pages. Page headings with ‘>’ next to them (rather than a bullet point) expand to reveal child pages beneath them with further content.

The search box in the top right toolbar searches the whole of Confluence (all University of Bath Wiki pages). The search box on the Faculty Staff Wiki homepage only searches the space.

You can always return to the homepage by clicking the Orange Minerva head logo at the top of the Wiki space’s left-hand sidebar.

Each page is tagged with its function or team, which formulates an index (or A-Z) linked to in the left-hand page tree and on the homepage.

Take a video tour of the space


Managing the space

The Staff Wiki space will always be a work in progress. All staff are expected to take an active responsibility for keeping the space up to date. We all have editing rights for any page containing an edit button (located at the top right of a page). Teams who do not wish people to edit their pages can restrict this, so if an edit button is present then the webmaster is happy for others to contribute. The Wiki has a history function so if anything goes wrong you can always publish an earlier version of a page.

The homepage has a feedback link for staff to provide comments on usability, content and design. This feedback will be evaluated tri-annually (October, February, June) by the Wiki space editorial group consisting of Becky Garner, Beth Jones, Rosie Hart and Tracey Madden. The group will also review the space to ensure design and content standards are being met, and offer advice to webmasters.

Creating new pages

Should your team have a presence within our Staff Wiki space? In the first instance, it is best to contact Tracey Madden (Learning Enhancement Advisor) through the new content request table. Tracey can advise on your content needs, the design of your page and provide bespoke wiki training for your team. You may find that the Staff Wiki space is not the correct location for your content or that you only need to link to your own pages from it.

Webmasters of top level wiki pages already in existence can create as many child pages as they wish. All new pages must contain a header and footer to match the rest of the Wiki space and comply with our colour styles and brand principles.

Developing your wiki skills and finding help

Tracey Madden has created a bespoke help section with how-to guides and page templates to aid staff in using the Wiki space and creating their own content. You can also take a look at Tracey’s Macro of the Month feature and Rosie’s Top Wiki Tips on the blog to develop your wiki skills. You can practise editing and using macros on your personal wiki page (everyone automatically has one) or book wiki training with Computing Services. Tracey Madden is also available to provide bespoke training to members of our Faculty.

Thanks to...

Thank you to Rosie Hart (supported by Bex Mills) who transitioned our existing internal content and designed the space, and to Tracey Madden who has worked with teams to create new content. Thank you also to our user testers.

 

Staying informed with internal comms

  

📥  New initiative, Top tips

Everyone’s different when it comes to how they like to receive information and in what format, so we’ve introduced new ways for you to keep up to date with what's going on in the Faculty.

Sign up to our quarterly staff e-bulletin

Our staff e-bulletin goes out in September, December, March and June containing a roundup of Faculty news stories, blog articles, opportunities and events. The email is an opt-in service so staff need to sign up to receive it.

Staff e-bulletin screen shot

Staff e-bulletin screen shot

You can view our first editions here:

December 2015

March 2016

Staff can submit items for inclusion in the next e-bulletin by emailing fed-internal@bath.ac.uk

Subscribe to our Faculty staff blog

Our blog is for staff to:

  • share their experiences
  • provide insight into working practices
  • highlight new initiatives
  • define best practice
  • promote staff events and opportunities

You can subscribe to receive blog posts straight to your inbox by typing in your email address on the right side panel. After you have submitted your email address you will receive an email to confirm your subscription (you may need to check your junk email for this) - please make sure to click the confirmation link.

Blog confirmation email

Confirm your blog subscription by clicking the email.

The best posts from the blog are included in our quarterly staff e-bulletin and may also be featured on the University’s staff homepage.

Posts are created by individual members of staff. Anyone who wishes to contribute a post to the blog can email fed-internal@bath.ac.uk and read the University’s guidelines on blogging style.

Keep an eye on our foyer TV screens

The TV screens in the 6, 4 and 2 East foyers now display staff notices and event slides. You can see an example below:

OneLan screen staff notices

Notices for staff displayed on our 2,4 and 6 East foyer screens.

Staff can create their own slides for the screens by downloading a template from our Marketing & Web Team Wiki page.

Watch or favourite the Faculty staff wiki area

Our new Faculty of Engineering & Design staff wiki space is currently under construction. This is where team overviews, structure charts and Faculty events are listed. You can favourite wiki pages you find useful so that you can easily find them again.

If you would like to be notified when anything changes anywhere on a wiki space or just on one page in particular, you can use the Watch facility. This notifies you by email with details of what has changed to the wiki page and who made the changes.

How to favourite a Wiki space

How to favourite a Wiki space

 

Faculty social media explained

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📥  Staff insight

Our channels

Our Departments each have public Twitter and Facebook profiles, some of which are more established than others.

Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering
Facebook: Architecture & Civil Engineering at Bath
Twitter: @BathArchAndCivE

Department of Chemical Engineering
Facebook: Chemical Engineering at Bath
Twitter: @BathChemEng

Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering
Facebook: Electronic & Electrical Engineering at Bath
Twitter: @BathElecEng

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Facebook: Mechanical Engineering at Bath
Twitter: @BathMechEng

We also have a Faculty Instagram account @BathEngAndDes for student project work, images of research and life at Bath.

The Faculty contributes content (but does not have access) to central University of Bath accounts including Twitter, Facebook and Weibo. Departmental LinkedIn groups are managed by the Department of Alumni Relations and individual members of the Faculty.

How our channels are managed

Department Offices manage social media output in collaboration with the Faculty Marketing Team. The Departments respond to enquiries and contribute departmental specific content through their own accounts. The Marketing Team has centralised access to all channels through the social media management tool Hootsuite. This enables us to schedule and coordinate content. We share reports, best practice guidelines, strategy and a content calendar on our collaborative Wiki page. We have a social media training module for staff who contribute to our official channels.

Our aim

Our social media channels aspire to create a thriving and engaged community of staff, current students, prospective students, alumni, researchers and industry partners. We aim to showcase our research activities, student work, life on campus, and opportunities for work, collaboration and study within the Faculty.

What was popular in 2015?

  • Downloadable print (brochures and newsletters)
  • League table results
  • Student project work
  • News featuring members of staff
  • PGR opportunities

Some highlights of the coming year

  • Undergraduate and MSc course spotlights
  • Research Centre insights
  • Archive photos to celebrate our 50th anniversary
  • Showcasing user-generated content: blog posts, student projects and events

If you have content you’d like to contribute to our social media channels please contact your Department Office.

 

Getting started on the Wiki

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📥  New initiative, Staff insight

We are undertaking a Content Management System (CMS) transition project that involves migrating content from our current website to a new system. Our Faculty's internal webpages (at www.bath.ac.uk/engineering/staff.bho/) will not be part of this transition. Instead, we are migrating this content to the Wiki.

What is a Wiki?

A Wiki is a website that allows editing by multiple users for greater collaboration. The University of Bath uses Confluence.

Using a Wiki for our internal pages will ensure they are kept relevant and up-to-date as they will be editable by all staff.

Wikis in plain English video

Our Wiki project

We are in the process of building a FED Staff Wiki space with content from our current internal webpages. Our Wiki space will contain a similar, but more extensive, structure to the staff.bho pages. Once this has been built we will encourage faculty and departmental pages (with an exclusively staff audience) already in use in other areas of the Wiki to be copied and pasted across into the FED Staff Wiki space.

Using the Wiki

Staff will be supported in using the Wiki through training and tips on the Faculty staff blog. We will also develop templates for staff who need to create pages from scratch and guidance through our Help with Confluence Wiki pages.

Tracey Madden, Learning Enhancement Adviser, is available for bespoke Wiki training (please contact her directly to book an appointment). There is also training provided centrally by Computing Services. Keep an eye on the staff blog for upcoming posts from Rosie Hart on her Top Wiki tips and Tracey Madden’s Macro of the Month feature.

 

Promoting your campus event checklist

  

📥  Top tips

There are a few key questions to ask yourself when promoting your event to ensure you use the appropriate channels:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • Is University branding appropriate?
  • What’s my budget?
  • How much time do I have?
  • Are my attendees internal or external?

1. Talk to your Department Office
First and foremost talk to your Department Office who will be able to advise you on promoting your event. Please note inaugural lectures must be organised by your Department Coordinator as there is a set protocol for who is to be invited.

2. Use Eventbrite
Eventbrite is the University-advised method for organising your event and has more functionality than you’d think, including a reminder facility and ticketing options. Having an Eventbrite link will make it easier for others to promote and link to your event.

3. Invite your attendees
Add the date of your event and why they should attend to your key guests’ Outlook diaries.

4. Add your event to the What’s On calendar
If you add your event to the What’s On calendar (and it’s approved by the central communications team), it will be displayed on the internal staff homepage. If your event is for Faculty staff then add it to our Faculty Staff Wiki space.

5. Create a slide for our digital signage
Creating a slide for your Department’s digital signage (TV screens in 2, 4, and 6 East foyers) will help raise the profile of your event. You can create a slide in Powerpoint and then save it as an image to ensure it’s the correct specifications for the screen. For further details read the University's guidance on producing this. You can download a Faculty event template from our Marketing & Web team Wiki page.

6. Get active on social media
Use your own channels or ask your Department to promote the event on theirs (all four Departments have Twitter and Facebook profiles). Use twitter handles to get your post noticed and an event hashtag so others can link in to your event. Think about a timeline leading up to your event, when might be good to post and then repost your messages?

7. Produce promotional materials
If you have budget to produce promotional materials such as posters, banners and so on, then our Design, Print & Photography service can help you to do this.

If you don’t have any budget then you may be able to use our Faculty templates available for download from the Faculty Marketing & Web Team’s Wiki page. Consider whether University branding is appropriate for your event before doing this.

8. Submit your event to the Faculty Staff e-bulletin
Email your event title, date, time, location and a short description to fed-internal@bath.ac.uk for inclusion in the quarterly (September, December, March and June) Faculty Staff e-bulletin.

High profile events/launches
If your event is high profile (for example the launch of a new facility with notable external attendees) then you may get support from our central Press Office and Events Team to drum up added publicity on external channels.

Watch this space…
There are currently working groups meeting at the University to discuss how events are managed and the new CMS will provide changes to how events are utilised on the website in future.

 

Better print with the Aurasma App

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📥  New initiative

The Aurasma App (available on the Google Play Store and the Apple Store) allows us to add online content to our print materials. It does this by scanning trigger images, which then load videos, images and webpages, augmenting our publications in an imaginative and engaging way. It has already been pioneered by a number of Departments around the University and we have recently introduced it to some new Faculty of Engineering & Design print items.

The app is free to download and once following the University of Bath channel anyone can enjoy content across campus (including the Images of Research and the Bath Leap List). It's a great way to integrate our online and offline assets, to promote study at Bath in a more interactive format and to add content without compromising design. As with anything that's free it has its drawbacks, but the app offers considerable potential for Open Days, as well as showcasing student project work and communicating our research impact.

Download the app to try out the images below.

Instructions on downloading the app to your phone:

  1. Download the Aurasma App.
  2. Search uniofbath within the Aurasma App and select 'follow' or alternatively open your web browser and enter the following URL: bit.ly/uniofbath
  3. Select the camera view within the app and hold your phone over the image.

Scan the following image from page 6 of our new Mechanical Engineering brochure:

Mechanical Engineering brochure - Team Bath Racing aura

Mechanical Engineering brochure - Team Bath Racing aura

Scan the following image from the back of our Civil Engineering brochure:

Civil Engineering brochure placement testimonial aura

Civil Engineering brochure placement testimonial aura

Scan the following image from our new postgraduate funding postcard:

Postgraduate research funding postcard aura

Postgraduate research funding postcard aura

Scan the following image to see how we can showcase student projects and make our foyers more interactive:

Drawing of a Basil Spence project

6 East foyer Basil Spence exhibit aura

 

Exploring further

The app also has 3D capabilities and large photos can have multiple trigger points. Scan the image below to see where we could take our augmented content in future - to do this please follow the University of Bath test channel by typing in http://auras.ma/s/era3w

3D animated gif example aura

3D animated gif example aura

Many thanks to Hugh Tonking and Marie Salter for helping to introduce the app to the Faculty of Engineering & Design.