Category Archives: jisc

Keynote at UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities

The Stage at #udigcap

I am currently at the UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event here in Birmingham. I will be live blogging here on elearningstuff and will probably post a more in-depth reflective piece on the digital capability blog later.

Last year, just before I started as Project Manager for the Jisc Digital Capabilities project, UCISA ran their first Spotlight on Digital Capabilities and Sarah Davies talked about where the project was and where it was going. Now just under twelve months later I am here in Birmingham at the second conference to talk about the project, where we are at and where we may go in the future.

As the opening keynote in front of well informed audience on the subject I have been immersed with over the last twelve months was quite a challenge. I didn’t want to repeat the story that Sarah delivered last year, I knew I want to let people know where we are, but also to get them to start thinking about once the service is available, what else needs to happen at an institutional level.

The presentation covered where we are in terms of the Jisc Digital capability service and what it will offer universities and colleges, but also some of the challenges and thinking behind the work we have done.

Building digital capability for new digital leadership, pedagogy and efficiency

What does it mean to be digitally capable? Not just for an individual, but from an organisational perspective. How will you lead using the plethora of digital tools and channels available to you? The Jisc building digital capability project has been addressing these issues for institutional leaders, for those on the front line of teaching and research, and those who support them.

I also covered aspects of institutional digital capability and what this may cover and what may need to happen. This area is really interesting, but key to helping universities and colleges to build digital capability. I intend to explore these areas in more detail as the work evolves.

Summer of Student Innovation 2016 #studentideas

As Jisc asks

Our challenge: could your students make an impact?

Jisc’s Summer of Student Innovation competitions are an opportunity for students to have an impact on life and study in work based learning providers, colleges and universities across the UK.

Do your students have a bright idea that uses technology to improve study or student life? If so we’d like to hear it, and the best will be given funding, support and an invitation to a multi-day mentoring event to turn their concept into reality.

Our goal is to unearth and develop the best ideas, creating apps and tools to be piloted in colleges and universities and harness the power of technology for better learning and teaching across the UK.

What’s more, our competitions fit in with core curricula and encourage employability skills like team working, business planning and viability testing. Many colleges and universities now recognise students’ work towards our competitions as part of their coursework.

Student Ideas Competition 2016 is open to all learners in universities, colleges or learning providers. We will select 15 successful teams who will receive £2000 per team to attend a four day design sprint on the 8-11 August. Each team will pitch to a panel on the 23 August and we will select five ideas to be developed into products who will receive a further £3000.

Support Technology Start-ups 2016 is open to established teams with existing products seeking to further pilot their product within colleges, universities or skills providers. Up to five selected teams with receive £20,000 and participate in a six month pre-accelerator programme.

The closing date for submissions is 23 May 2016.

For further information see: https://jisc.ac.uk/student-innovation and the blog post: Want to develop your own technology solution to support your learning? Enter our Summer of Student Innovation competition.

Learning Analytics – Case Studies and Report

Blackboard

Probably the highest profile technology amongst senior managers and leaders at this time is the use of analytics to support teaching, learning and assessment.

Using the data that institutions gather on a regular basis for the purposes of analysis, looking for patterns is one that has gained traction over the last few years. There are also others who wonder if this analysis of data and patterns is useful and allowing us to make informed decisions about learners.

Jisc have released a new report: Learning Analytics in Higher Education: A review of UK and international practice  (PDF). Drawing on eleven case studies, they examine why institutions are deploying learning analytics, and what the benefits are for learners. They also discuss the main data sources being drawn upon by institutions and the technical architecture required.

The emphasis of the report is on investigating the evidence for learning analytics: what impact it’s having, and to what extent the algorithms can actually predict academic success.

I have always seen analytics as a tool to support and enhance existing decision making and support, that was already in place. The analytics reinforcing an existing view, or bringing to light patterns that were previously hidden.

Analytics in my opinion doesn’t replace good teaching decisions, support and intervention strategies, it helps inform them, so that we can ensure all learners receive the support and advice they need. Which is why I am also pleased to see in the report, that they also look at how institutions are carrying out interventions to attempt to retain students at risk, and provide better support for all students as they progress through their studies.

The interventions arising from analytics are probably the most important aspect of analytics, otherwise why bother?

The main report summarises the case studies.  The full individual case studies are:

  1. Traffic Lights and Interventions: Signals at Purdue University
  2. Analysing use of the VLE at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  3. Identifying at-risk students at New York Institute of Technology
  4. Fine-grained analysis of student data at California State University
  5. Transferring predictive models to other institutions from Marist College
  6. Enhancing retention at Edith Cowan University
  7. Early alert at the University of New England
  8. Developing an ‘analytics mind-set’ at the Open University
  9. Predictive analytics at Nottingham Trent University
  10. Analysing social networks at the University of Wollongong
  11. Personalised pathway planning at Open Universities Australia

Social Media in FE and Skills – #jisc50social

Are you flying high in social media for UK further education and skills?

So are you using social media effectively to enhance, enrich teaching and learning and assessment in FE and Skills?

Maybe you are using Twitter to enhance learning through the use of Twitterchats or keeping lessons topical using a Hashtag.

This isn’t just about the Twitter, it’s about how you are using social media.

Are you enabling learners to debate and discuss using the communities feature of Google+ and using Google Docs for collaboration and assessment.

Do you have a Facebook page or group to engage with learners?

Is Periscope a tool that your learners are finding useful for live streaming from a workshop or the

Are your learners reflecting on their practice using tools such as Blogger, WordPress or Medium?

Why not help Jisc celebrate and share best practice by nominating yourself or nominating someone who is in FE and using social media effectively to support learners and learning.

Nominate them here.

Got some good coffee in the end: Reflections on ALT-C 2015 #altc

This was an article I started to write on the train home, then I left it for a while, wrote a little more, and then a few weeks later, thought, I really ought to get this finished, so I did…

Audience

The Association of Learning Technology Conference in Manchester is the biggest conference of its kind in the UK. Over the course of three days, hundreds of delegates (in the main from HE and FE) descended onto the University of Manchester to listen, discuss, network and discover what was happening in the world of educational technology and learning technologists.

You get a real mix of attendees at the conference, as well as a large smattering of delegates from overseas, there are people employed across HE, FE and Skills. They are in a variety of departments, from dedicated IT staff, staff development as well as technology enhanced learning. They are also in a variety of roles, from learning technologists, managers, leaders.

This is the first time since 2012 (which was in the same venue) that I have attended the whole conference, I missed it in 2013 and only managed one day in 2014. It was great to meet up with old friends and meet new ones. Back in 2012 there was only a few people from FE at the conference, it was refreshing this year to see many more FE people at the event. The people I spoke to certainly seemed to be enjoying the conference.

As has happened before there was a lot of talk about how there was still too much focus on small scale initiatives with little big picture thinking taking place. I heard discussions about how we had heard many of these things before, but with a slightly different gloss or skin.

To be honest I am not surprised, as the ALT Conference is very much about showcasing the work of learning technologists in institutions, their small scale pilots and projects. They are on the same journey that we made years before in discovering how they and their small cohorts can take advantage of new technologies, tools and services. If you think about it, the conference process isn’t totally conducive to showcasing large scale holistic change,

The paper submission process, geared to attending the conference, will push the focus to those projects that are research based, small scale, small cohorts, the work of individuals or small teams. This is not to say you won’t find gems in the conference on large scale implementations, but they will be rare and limited. Can you really for example talk about whole institutional change in 15 minutes?

This isn’t a criticism of that process and I think it is a valuable way for learning technologists to focus and present on their work in front of an expert critical audience. However if you attend the conference with the aim of finding out how to approach the embedding of learning technologies holistically across an entire organisation, you may find yourself disappointed, and you may need to think about scaling up the projects and outcomes you do get to hear about.

So why do I attend this conference:

  • Inspiration: Across the conference you can find out about amazing work going on, really innovative practice that inspires you in your own work.
  • Reflection: I find many of the discussion sessions enable me to reflect on my own practice and really think hard about what I do and how I do it.
  • Benchmarking: Something I use to do when working within an institution, was to use presentations and papers to benchmark our progress and work against that of other institutions.
  • Meeting and networking with old friends and making new ones: Though I spend a lot of time networking through social media, such as the Twitter and Google+, it is still nice to meet people face to face. I took the time to print off my Twitter avatar, which I have used since 2007 and stuck it to my badge so that people could link me to my Twitter account. As a result it was nice to meet many of the friends I have on Twitter for real.

meerkat

  • Connections: As well as meeting old friends and making new ones, conferences also allow me to make connections, other helping connect people together, who both know me, but may not necessarily know each other.
  • The Exhibition area: This is interesting to see what new technologies are been pushed by suppliers. At this year’s conference I noticed that Portal were there pushing the IBM Student Experience, whilst Instructure were talking about Canvas, the “next generation” VLE. Usually in the exhibition areas, the exhibitors focus on pushing one aspect of their product portfolio. I find these areas quite interesting as you will often find a gem or nugget of news about how one institution (or another) is using these new products.

Continue reading Got some good coffee in the end: Reflections on ALT-C 2015 #altc