Some things change – Weeknote #47 – 24th January 2020

King's College Chapel, Cambridge
King’s College Chapel, Cambridge

At the weekend I read this article on facial recognition.

The European Commission has revealed it is considering a ban on the use of facial recognition in public areas for up to five years. Regulators want time to work out how to prevent the technology being abused.

This does have implications for those universities and colleges who are thinking about using facial recognition technologies as part of any initiative (say intelligent campus) in the next five years. Of course after five years the EU may ban such technologies, what that means for the UK, well we will have to wait and see.

Monday I was writing, preparing and designing a presentation for a keynote I am giving next week in London. I am using only images.

Image by Florian Pircher from Pixabay

This week we are launching details about the Data Matters 2020 conference which takes place on the 5th May 2020 in London.

Data Matters is jointly run by Jisc, HESA and QAA, who are the UK’s higher education digital, data and quality experts. This partnership brings these three perspectives together in a one-day conference to discuss the topical issues around data and its use in shaping the future of higher education.

I have been working with colleagues across our three organisations, to develop an interesting and exciting programme.

Madingley Hall
Madingley Hall

Tuesday, fog and traffic problems delayed me on my way to East Anglia, I was staying overnight at Madingley Hall in Cambridgeshire. This is part of the University of Cambridge and they offer accommodation. So the rooms are quite “halls” like, but do have an en-suite as well. One big positive is that there is also eduroam as well.

Trinity Lane
Trinity Lane

I grew up in Cambridge, so it was interesting to re-visit the city of my childhood. Two things struck me was, though Cambridge is a somewhat small place compared to other places I have lived, there are many areas of the city that I had never been to or I didn’t realise existed. I think part of that was when I lived there, I either walked or went by bike, whereas I was doing a bit more driving on my most recent visit. As with any city there have been some huge changes, some little changes and some places haven’t changed at all. Walking into the independent Heffers bookstore on Trinity Street was very familiar to similar experiences walking in there in the 1970s and 1980s.

Trinity Street
Trinity Street

I read this article on driverless autonomous transport trials taking place in Bristol.

The vehicles are being trialled in Bristol by infrastructure firm AECOM, which is working with partners including the Bristol Robotics Laboratory to develop autonomous vehicles.

Wednesday I was having another discussion about the Education 4.0 Roadmap this time in Hertfordshire. I am having meetings with colleagues from various universities about their thoughts and feedback on the roadmap. Initial feedback has been positive and that the initial concept is on the right lines and could be useful for the sector.

Jisc Offices in Portwall Lane, Bristol
Jisc Offices in Portwall Lane, Bristol

Thursday I was off to the office in Bristol for a meeting with some of the Innovation (Futures) team at Jisc. I wasn’t intending to discuss the roadmap, but after some initial talking I discussed the roadmap with some colleagues and got some useful insights and feedback.

I thought it was interesting that the University of Sunderland have decided they are moving to a “career-focused curriculum”.

I was reminded of this post I wrote two years ago after attending the  Rethinking Research: Disrupting and Challenging Research Practices conference in Coventry.

Making another game #disrupticon

In one session we designed a game for students that demonstrated to them the difference between employability and education.

Many students sometimes focus on the skills they need for a job and think “education” isn’t as important as gaining employability skills.

What we wanted the game to demonstrate to students was that undertaking a degree wasn’t (just) about gaining the skills for a future job, but that by undertaking the degree you would learn stuff in the subject, but by doing so would also gain the skills that would be transferable and useful in a future job. In addition that focusing on employability would be a false economy and learning those skills discretely independently from the degree subject takes longer than gaining those skills by learning in the subject area.

We used a simple example to explain this, learning how to use Excel is an useful employability skills. It takes time to learn how to use Excel effectively and gain skills that are transferable to the workplace. Without context though, the transfer and application of these skills can be challenging, especially if you’ve not done it before.

However using Excel to understand a series of data from the subject area and learning how to manipulate it within Excel not only means using Excel, but also learning how to use Excel in context. This makes it easier to understand how to use Excel, but you can apply it to different situations. As a result, using Excel within a subject context can make it quicker and easier to gain Excel skills, than learning to use Excel outside the context.

I still think that this is relevant today, there are undergraduate degrees out there which are career focused, but what about those students who love a subject and are less sure about their future career, couldn’t they do a subject that is less career focused?

My top tweet this week was this one.

Leave a Reply