Are you a unicorn? – Weeknote #06 – 11th April 2019

Bristol

Monday I was back in the office, I do like going to the office. You can interact with people online quite easily these days, and I have been doing that for years. However there is a different kind of interaction you get in the physical office environment. Our Bristol office was shrunk due to an impending merger and move, so it can get crowded and noisy, even so I do like being there. I also like the fact that as it is in the heart of Bristol, I can go for a walk at lunchtime around the city centre.

I published a new Intelligent Campus use case on the Intelligent Campus blog.

Use Case: Onboarding – Improving the new employee experience

I also reviewed the other use cases, however these needed more work on them before they go on the blog.

I had to prepare some slides for a colleague who is attending a funders meeting next week on progress we had made on our HE and student experience strategy.

As part of the research for the slides I took the time to re-read the Digital experience insights survey 2018: Findings from students in UK further and higher education report.

In it are some interesting findings, though of course, it’s not a representative survey of HE students, as students chose to fill in the survey.

74% of HE students rated the quality of digital teaching and learning on their course as above average (choosing to rate it as either good, excellent or best imaginable). This doesn’t mean that the digital teaching and learning was of a high quality, as the responses are very personal and subjective. My high quality experience, may not be the same as your high quality experience. Having said that, three quarter of HE students who filled in the survey felt the experience they were having was good or better.

Seven in ten HE students used digital tools on a weekly basis to look for additional resources not recommended by their lecturer.

The survey also found that HE learner use lots of personal devices for learning, for example 94% of HE students own a laptop. Over 80% use a smartphone to support their learning.
Universities may want to think about ensuring that they are providing reliable wi-fi not just across their campuses and buildings, but in all those places that students use for learning and research. In a similar vein, are your online services are mobile-friendly and work effectively on mobile platforms.

I spent Tuesday working from home, mainly as the weather was predicted to be wet and cold. As well as finishing the slides I was working on, on Tuesday, I spent some time preparing for the panel session I was doing in Nottingham on Wednesday.

I had a few technical issues with Outlook not sending e-mails in a timely manner. I can never work out why that Outlook will send some e-mails, but with others leaves them in the Outbox waiting for something. In the end I had one e-mail stuck in there for four hours before it was sent.

I wrote a blog post on the discussion on the ALT mailing list about what we call learning technologists. As you might expect the predominate response from a list of members of Association for Learning Technology who in the main are learning technologists was that these “learning technologists” should be called learning technologists.

Wednesday I travelled to Nottingham for Networkshop, where I chaired a panel session. The session was entitled, What will the university look like in 2030?

Networkshop Panel Discussion

The background to the session described what we wanted to discuss.

What we hope to discuss and share our views on is about what the student experience will look like in 2030? What are the challenges students and staff will face in the future. Our panel of experts will discuss which emerging technologies offer the most promise in helping with the challenges universities and colleges face. The session will highlight the horizon report and Jisc’s view of education 4.0. This session is aimed at helping managers understand the future student experience, and what it potentially could look like and the challenges that may arise. What emerging technologies will help to meet these challenges, and how do they integrate these into the current and future institutional strategies. As you might expect with a somewhat technical audience some of the panellists will focus and discuss the technical aspects. How do we ensure we have the infrastructure and bandwidth to meet these challenges? How do we ensure security of the growing network, which takes advantage of the cloud and the internet of things?

I really quite enjoyed chairing the panel session, we had a great diverse panel with different backgrounds and experiences. We even had a student (which shouldn’t really be a big issue, but sometimes is at these conferences). We had a wide ranging discussion covering not just the student experience, but also opinions about the infrastructure needed to enable this. We had a good range of questions from the audience.

As it was scheduled the end of the day, it was a late finish. Nottingham isn’t in the middle of nowhere, but is a bit of a hike from Weston-super-Mare and back in a day.

Thursday was the final day of the week, a shorter week this week for me, as I am on leave on Friday. I was interviewed by Sophie Bailey and recorded for The EdTech Podcast in which I discussed my role, but also some of my thoughts on Education 4.0 and how we get there. I enjoyed the interview and reminded me of how much I enjoyed recording the elearning stuff podcast.

In between calls I looked at openetc which Lawrie had forwarded me the link, having attended a presentation about it at the OER conference which is taking place in Galway this week.

What Is OpenETC

I did consider going to OER19, but in the end decided not to. Not because it wasn’t going to be interesting and informative, but I am still relatively new in the role and the timeframe was quite short. Also it clashed with some home stuff.

Reading and reflecting on openetc, it reminds me of the PLE/VLE discussions we had ten years ago, when there would be these tools that students would use to create their own learning environment. My view back then was that the VLE would be at the hub of a learner’s online envruonment, and then they would plug in other tools. The use of LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) which was initially developed back in 2008 with the final specification launched in 2010 made this much easier for people using tools such as Moodle, to then plug in other tools such as WordPress or Mahara.

The incarnation of openetc as a community also reminds me of the “offer” from ULCC of managed services that integrated Moodle and Mahara, the real advantage for FE was that it was a) managed so they didn’t need the skills and knowledge to maintain the service b) secure – they managed the security and patching. It is something that people may want to look at.

I had another meeting later about the future strategy, which was interesting and informative. One key thing we discussed was the importance of a robust data estate to fully exploit the advantages of analytics, across all aspects of the university.

Slightly annoyed that the meeting following that got cancelled at relative short notice. Something I need to reflect on, as it appears to be happening a lot with my diary.

I spent the rest of the day clearing through my inbox, nothing like Inbox Zero to end the week on. I also spent time planning for next week.

My top tweet this week was this one.

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