This is all my own work – Weeknote #35 – 1st November 2019

Thames House in London

You can tell winter is coming, but I did enjoy having an extra hour on Sunday. I watched this video on Sunday morning about how university students in Europe and the US are paying Kenyans to do their academic work for them.

The global market for academic writing is estimated to be worth $1bn (£770m) annually.

I recalled earlier this month looking at this Australian study on contract cheating or collusion. The findings make for interesting reading.

Findings from the largest dataset gathered to date on contract cheating indicate that there are three influencing factors: speaking a language other than English (LOTE) at home, the perception that there are ‘lots of opportunities to cheat’, and dissatisfaction with the teaching and learning environment (Bretag & Harper et al., 2018).

These influencing factors could be mitigated, could we assess in the learner’s native language? Culd we improve satisfaction with the overall teaching and learning environment? Often easier said than done.

This contract cheating or collusion is a major headache for universities in the UK, but I wonder if the answer isn’t about creating systems or processes that can identify when cheating or collusion is taking place, but ensuring that assessment is designed in a way that means there is no incentive to chat, collude or pay someone else to undertake the assessment.

However as indicated in the Australian study:

It would be a dream to be able to individualise assessment tasks or have an innovative approach where students can be assessed in class doing individual oral presentations. We make do…

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I took some leave early in the week, so it was a shorter week than normal. Even so, it felt like a quieter less busy week that previous weeks, but I think it was about undertaking focused work.

I finished an article on Education 4.0 which I started last week and sent it off for editing (and approval).

Image by Pexels from Pixabay
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I wrote up our workshop that we did at the Jisc Board Away Day. For some people, the message of Education 4.0 is confusing. There is a disconnect between the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution and the four themes of Education 4.0 in the messaging. We talk about the technologies as though they are Education 4.0, when they are in fact the technologies that will enable Education 4.0, but still clarity needed on what Education 4.0 looks like. The more immersed you are in the Education 4.0 space, the less confusing it looks, but for others looking in form the outside, you might not know what is being said.

I have been focussing my recent presentations on the four core themes of Education 4.0

  • Transforming teaching
  • Personalised adaptive learning
  • Re-Imagining assessment
  • Digital and fluid campuses

Underpinning these are things like leadership and the overall student experience.

Part of my current work is thinking about the foundations that institutions need to start building to prepare them for the future which is Education 4.0.

Image by dewikinanthi from Pixabay
Image by dewikinanthi from PixabayImage by dewikinanthi from Pixabay

The Register always has interesting articles and a tone that I like. I enjoyed reading this article:

Here’s our latest summary of AI news beyond what we’ve already covered. It’s all about two favourite topics in machine learning today: facial recognition and deepfakes.

Many organisations are looking not to use facial recognition. Which isn’t surprising as it still doesn’t really work, unless you are a white male.

Amazon’s facial recognition tool fails on black athletes: Amazon’s controversial Rekognition software mistook the faces of 27 black athletes competing in American football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, as suspected criminals in a mugshot database.

Wednesday I was off to London. I had been invited to be part of the Office for Students Safeguarding and Welfare Expert Advisory Panel, and we had our first meeting at their offices in London. Part of the discussion was about agreeing some terms of reference for the panel. Due to purdah, some of the outputs from this group will not happen until after that election.


Thursday I was back into our Bristol office for a meeting, but it was nice to touch base with a range of people from different parts of the organisation. Though I might not get as much work done when working in isolation, I sometimes like to be in the office to have those informal an adhoc conversations which are challenging to re-create virtually. Part of the reason to be in the office was to access our finance system to book myself onto some events.

When I got home from work I carved a pumpkin for Halloween,


Seven years ago this week I wasn’t happy about the use of the word “appropriate”.

Missed Opportunities

I spent part of the week working on the career pathways and assessment criteria, which is always more challenging that I think it should be. What does appropriate evidence look like for a specific outcome?

I also reviewed some earlier Jisc work on portfolios as part of this work. Staff who are part of a technical career pathway need to demonstrate evidence of their outcomes and assessment criteria.

Here are some of the work I looked at.

A portfolio involves skills essential for 21st century learning – organising and planning material, giving and receiving feedback, reflecting, selecting and arranging content to communicate with a particular audience in the most effective way.

My top tweet this week was this one.

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