Not quite a four day week – Weeknote #36 – 8th November 2019

Big Wheel in Cardiff

I was working from home for a lot of the week. I had originally planned to attend Wonkfest, but some administrative technicalities meant I didn’t manage to book a place at the event and I had to glance in remotely.

Following my meeting last week in London at the Office for Students I was interested to see the following press release from them on mental health issues in higher education.

Today the Office for Students has published an Insight brief, Mental health: are all students being properly supported? Our Insight briefs give an overview of current issues and developments in higher education, drawing on the data, knowledge and understanding available to us as the regulator for universities and colleges in England. Mental health is consistently among the top concerns raised by students and the OfS has an important role in identifying systemic gaps in student support or advice. Alongside the Insight brief, we have published an analysis of access and participation data for students with declared mental health conditions.

With the rise in students reporting mental health problems, there is a real challenge in supporting these students. We know that many support service staff are seeing many more mental health emergencies compared to a few years ago. More funding for support services is of course one solution, but there is also the need to consider the well being of students overall and ensuring that those students who are at risk, are supported much earlier. Does the current structure of higher education courses contribute to well being or negatively impact on it?

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay
Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

I have discussed with colleagues the concept of the four day week, allowing employees to take advantage of the efficiencies that technology can bring to productivity. Interestingly in Japan, Microsoft found that productivity jumped 40% following a four day week experiment.

The other thing that Microsoft Japan do is restrict meeting to 30 minutes only. Do you have long meetings or do you try and keep them short?

Talking of Microsoft,  I participated in a meeting with Microsoft talking about the educational use of Teams following the successful event last week organised by Jisc at Keele University. There are some interesting new features coming to Teams, which were announced at the Microsoft Ignite Conference including private channels and bookings. Though not really a VLE, even Microsfot are keen to point out that it isn’t a VLE, it has quite a bit of the functionality you would look for in a VLE. The ability to plug in other tools and services, can make Teams the heart of a digital ecosystem.

Image by HeikoAL from Pixabay
Image by HeikoAL from Pixabay

Alexa and other voice assistants can be useful (as well as annoying), but did you know you can silently issue ‘voice commands’ using a laser?

Lasers can silently issue ‘voice commands’ to your smart speakers | Engadget 

On Thursday I was going to be going to a meeting at our Bristol office, alas the person I was going to meet was ill and cancelled. I thought about still going to the office, well I had a desk booked, but it was raining, so decided to work from home.

I finished off the agenda for my Senior TEL Group meeting that is happening in December. This group consists of a mix of people including PVCs Teaching and Learning, as well as TEL people, students and a few Jisc staff as well.


I posted a post on the Twitter to the blog.

So is the Twitter taking over your life?

Image by Julia Phillips from Pixabay
Image by Julia Phillips from Pixabay

Friday I was off to Cardiff for a meeting with the Welsh Government on their funding of Jisc. Over the last few months I have had similar meetings with funders in Scotland and England.

My top tweet this week was this one.

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