Transforming Our Professional Services


Communities of Practice: Update – Data and Insight

30 January 2019

UCLs Communities of Practice (CoPs) have continued to grow. We caught up with the Data and Insight CoP.

Photo of two people working together on a laptop in a park

A Community of Practice (CoP) at UCL unites staff working in similar areas and functions in order to help members develop professionally and improve their practices. They provide staff with opportunities to learn from each other by sharing knowledge and expertise, by working together on self-selected projects, and are supported by a Senior Sponsor who provides top-level recognition and strategic visibility.

Connecting colleagues

We now have eight different CoPs across UCL in areas such as Communication and Marketing, HR, Planning and Student Registry Support Services. Within these there are currently 40 ongoing community-led projects.

As of this year we have over 1000 core and wider CoP members. Core members are active members who meet regularly and shape the boundaries, priorities and subsequent projects and activities delivered by the community. Wider members are staff who have a sense of professional alignment to the practice area, benefit from being involved in CoP activities like Lunch and Learn events and are interested in creating a more cohesive UCL culture.

One of the latest additions is the Data and Insight CoP, which brings together colleagues from across UCL to work on increasing our expertise in data and insight and raise the bar for effective data visualisation. 

Data and Insight Community of Practice

Currently led by Rebecca Allen, Head of Data and Insight (Education) in the Vice-Provost Education’s office and Martin Howells, Data and Insight Manager in the Planning Division, the community now has around 20 core members. They meet monthly to work on projects, share expertise and build the practice area together as well as give expert critique on each other’s work.

The community is currently working on two projects; one to produce a set of data visualisation best-practice principles, and the other to create a catalogue of available management information datasets across UCL (not including research data). 

The CoP also offers training and advice to wider community members and seeks to provide induction and support for new data analysts. Si Ning, a Research Data Analyst who recently joined UCL’s Institute of Education and is one of the Community’s newer members, said:

“I’ve really enjoyed getting involved in the Data and Insight Community of Practice. I’ve had the opportunity to learn about different data specialisations, speak with talented colleagues from a range of departments, and contribute to useful data-focused projects in UCL.”

The main benefits to being a member as a new joiner are getting quick access to the right people for advice and guidance, being able to access software and tools they might not get otherwise, being part of a wider network of data analysts and getting up to speed with projects such as the Data and Insight Project being run by the Planning Division.

The community plans to continue to improve the quality of data work at UCL, and to work on further projects. The CoP will also seek to grow its numbers in the future. If you or a colleague does data or analytical work in your day-to-day role and would like to join a group of analysts to share expertise, build confidence and work on joint projects, please get in touch with Martin Howells or Rebecca Allen to join the D&I CoP. 

Upcoming Communities of Practice

The Access and Widening Participation CoP has recently been set-up and their launch event will be held on 3 April 2019. The next CoPs we are looking to set up are in the following areas:

  • Student Health and Wellbeing
  • Technicians
  • Finance 
  • Estates
  • ISD
  • Research Support 

If you want to get involved and be part of any of these communities, please get in touch

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