The second lockdown – Weeknote #88 – 6th November 2020

In an entirely expected move, the country faced a second wave of covid-19 and as a result there is now a second lockdown.

From my perspective not too much has changed. I am still working from home virtually all the time meeting via Teams and occasionally Zoom. I had started going to our office in Bristol once or twice a month, and was about to up this to once a week, I was in last week. However during November I will not be visiting the office or Bristol and will be following government guidelines.

The UCU said on Sunday that universities must move online for new national lockdown.

UCU said that universities must move all non-essential in-person teaching online as part of any plans for a national lockdown.

Now we have more details, we now know that the Government has said universities will remain open during this second lockdown. This will create headaches for universities as they plan to deliver more of their programmes online, but maintain some physical teaching to satisfy the Government. Of course some students will not want to attend physical lessons and lectures.

I did managed to get a coffee from one of my favourite coffee places before the lockdown.

Monday saw me involved in a meeting with Advance HE about how they and Jisc can work closely together in the areas of strategy and leadership, with a digital lens.

I was also working with a member of our communications teams on an article about data that we can use to promote the Data Matters conference. I have been working on the Data Matters conference all this week, looking at sessions and keynotes.

The universities minister wrote to vice-chancellors about their responsibilities.

Again the emphasis was on staying open! This was the response from Wonkhe.

Tuesday I was chatting with colleagues from our Digital Resources team on how we can ensure that their work in content and discovery is aligned with the teaching and learning strategy I lead on at Jisc.

Was also involved in a meeting about digital leadership and was reminded how much work myself and Lawrie have put into digital leadership at Jisc and ongoing work in this space.

Wednesday saw the launch of the latest Jisc Learning and Teaching Reimagined report.

I have been involved in the project, I have written a couple of visions about the future. They’re not what I think the future of higher education will – or even should – look like, but just possible scenarios to inspire (possibly scare) and provoke discussion.

I also started a series or primers for senior managers as well: Introductory guides for senior leaders on the fundamentals of digital learning and teaching.

It was an insightful launch webinar and there was a range of presentations, review the recording.

Wonkhe published an article on a large survey on student wellbeing – and found that lonely students are not getting the social learning experience they crave.

We wanted to know whether students are considering dropping out, who is most at risk, the reasons why they’re thinking about it and what they think universities and students’ unions could do to help.

The BBC reported that a mass exodus of students is expected as lockdown starts.

Students in cities across England could begin a mass exodus back to their families ahead of new lockdown measures coming into force on Thursday. Hilary Gyebi-Ababio, National Union of Students vice president for higher education, said students were “really wanting to go home”.

Lawrie posted this question to me tweet of the link.

What are universities are doing to support their students, and in light of the research Wonkhe have reported on this week.

The Government clarified their new national restrictions guidance.

Under the new national restrictions from 5 November, the government will be requiring everyone to stay at their current home, except for specific purposes. This means students should not leave their term-time address to return home between 5 November and 2 December. We are asking students to remain at university and not to travel home before Thursday 5 November, to allow all students who are able to, to benefit from face-to-face teaching and COVID-secure educational facilities, and to prevent the increased risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).

Independent SAGE though said that universities should teach online and send students home.

Thursday I was reviewing our Technical Career Pathway in Learning and Research, this has somewhat stalled over the last nine months for obvious reasons. Now though might be a time to review and evaluate what we should do next.

Had a few meetings with universities this week which were insightful and interesting.

Friday I had a day’s worth of meetings, I usually try and avoid that happening, as it is quite exhausting. Luckily one was a lot shorter than planned so I had a bigger break that I thought I was going to.

I think, though I love the speed, one of the key advantages of my new FTTP connection is reliability. I don’t think I’ve noticed if it has gone down or not. On my old FTTC connection, it was fall over at least once a day or even more. I would usually notice as my Alexa Spot device would show my hub login screen when the connection failed. Not seen that since we upgraded.

Oh and a certain election kept my attention wandering at times….

My top tweet this week was this one.

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