All posts by James Clay

You’ve got mail – Weeknote #45 – 17th January 2020

Harris and Hoole
Harris and Hoole in London

Monday I was off to London for a discussion about the Education 4.0 Roadmap I have been working on. 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.

After that meeting I headed off to our London office for some ad hoc meetings and working on the programme for Data Matters 2020.

On the train home I read this article from Wired Magazine, How Slack ruined work.

It was heralded as the product that would kill internal email chains. Instead, it’s changed how we behave while in the office

This does article does echo some of the feelings I have about IM style platforms (not just Slack, but also Teams and other platforms), that they can be a distraction if used badly. Slack doesn’t solve the problem of “doing e-mail” versus “work” as it is merely a platform and can replace e-mail, but doesn’t solve the problem of distraction of e-mail.

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay
Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

There were a couple of articles on grade inflation that caught my eye this week:

Grade inflation: new survey looks at degree algorithms

Universities UK (UUK) is asking higher education providers to take part in an online survey about their use of degree algorithms in an attempt to reduce the number of top-class degrees.The new survey will shed light on how degree classifications are decided. It is the latest stage in a sector-wide initiative led by UUK to tackle grade inflation and the perception that degrees are ‘dumbing down’.

and

‘Grade inflation’ in top degree grades stopping

The sharp increase in university students in the UK getting top degree grades seems to have stalled, according to annual official figures. It follows warnings from ministers of the need to prevent “grade inflation” devaluing degrees.

During the same period they asked universities to improve the quality of their teaching and learning which may have resulted in “higher” grades across the board. Many of the “unexplained” increased in grades were when some universities decided to align themselves with how other universities were grading their degrees.

It can be challenging to balance the need to improve the quality of education, and not to be seen to be dumbing down in the same breath.

Next week is Bett in London. My first Bett Conference was in 2000 and then I didn’t go again until 2007

Ten years ago I blogged that I wasn’t going to Bett in 2010.

I’m not going to BETT

I have been to BETT twice in my life and that was two times too many!

I had good reasons for not going.

The reason why I won’t be going is that the focus of BETT is too much on the technology rather than what people do with it. It is much more an event based on educational technology suppliers than educators using technology. It is this reason that I won’t be going.

Since then, though the focus is still on educational technology, there was more about how people were using technology.

I was kind of forced to go in 2013, partly against my will, but did see some interesting stuff. With a change in role I did go again in 2014 and saw a lovely VW Bus.

VW Bus at Bett 2014
VW Bus at Bett 2014

I know I went again in 2015, but then missed 2016, but did go in 2017, mainly for a team meeting, but due to train issues saw very little of the show itself!

I actually presented at BETT in 2018 on the Intelligent Campus, which was fun, but a little bit of a logistical nightmare, as I was in Leicester at the time running the Digital Leaders Programme, so I had to leave Leicester at lunchtime, catch a train to London, make my way across to the Excel Centre, before heading home, by way of Leicester again to collect my car.

BETT 2018

Thursday I was travelling to Cheltenham for a meeting with a colleague. We recently merged with part of HESA and so we now have an office in Cheltenham where the former HESA, now Jisc, staff work. I worked in this area for seven years when I worked for Gloucestershire College, which had a campus in Cheltenham. Well though I was regularly in Cheltenham, two to three times a week, the campus was in the suburbs of Cheltenham (close to GCHQ) so I rarely if ever went into the heart of Cheltenham. So though familiar, it wasn’t that familiar.

BBC Television Centre

Friday was another trip to London for a meeting between key staff from the University of Sussex and Jisc. We discussed a range of subjects and topics including the intelligent campus and intelligent libraries.

My top tweet this week was this one.

We built a treehouse – Weeknote #44 – 10th January 2020

Image by Th G from Pixabay
Image by Th G from Pixabay

It’s a new year and a new decade.

I am still a little surprised that it’s 2020, as it appears to be so futuristic, but we seem to be living in a Children of Men or Handmaid’s Tale future rather than the utopia of the future that I imagined in my youth.

Monday I spent the day catching up with e-mail, even though most people had been off over the festive period, a lot seemed to have started back on the 2nd (when I was still off). I also took the time to get back into gear and work-ready.

I wrote a first draft of a blog post for the Data Matters 2020 conference , that is taking place on the 5th May 2020. The essence of the post is the importance of thinking about data now, in the contect of future needs of data. This isn’t just about the technical aspects of data, but importantly the people aspects as well.

I was reminded that this week ten years ago we had some of the worst snow for forty years…

Snow

Tuesday I was travelling to Leeds where I am attending the ALT Learning Spaces SIG on Wednesday. Leeds always seems a lot further away than I think it is. The ALT Learning Spaces SIG was on Wednesday and this was an interesting get together.

As well as hearing about the challenges facing universities such as Leeds and Loughborough, there was also a excellent workshop in the afternoon looking at the challenges in converting an existing formal learning space (which wasn’t working) into an informal space for learning. I started to draft a blog post on this workshop. The concept we looked at was building a treehouse.

LSSIG Meeting in Leeds
LSSIG Meeting in Leeds

Continue reading We built a treehouse – Weeknote #44 – 10th January 2020

e-Learning Stuff: Top Ten Blog Posts 2019

This year I have written 52 blog posts. I decided when I got my new role in March that I would publish a weekly blog post about my week.

Back in 2018 I only wrote 17 blog posts, in 2017 it was 21 blog posts, in 2016 it was 43 blog posts, in 2015 I wrote 24 blog posts. In 2014 I wrote 11 and in 2013 I wrote 64 blog posts and over a hundred in 2012. In 2011 I thought 150 was a quiet year!

Dropping two places to tenth was 100 ways to use a VLE – #89 Embedding a Comic Strip. This was a post from July 2011, that looked at the different comic tools out there on the web, which can be used to create comic strips that can then be embedded into the VLE. It included information on the many free online services such as Strip Creator and Toonlet out there. It is quite a long post and goes into some detail about the tools you can use and how comics can be used within the VLE.

100 ways to use a VLE – #89 Embedding a Comic Strip

The ninth most popular post was a post from 2010 and was about one of my favourite quotes from Terry Pratchett which is, that “million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten”. When something awful happens, or freakish, we hear news reporters say “it was a million-to-one chance that this would happen”. The article was on snow and snow closures.

“million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten”

The post at number eight, dropping one place, was Comic Life – iPad App of the Week Though I have been using Comic Life on the Mac for a few years now I realised I hadn’t written much about the iPad app that I had bought back when the iPad was released. It’s a great app for creating comics and works really well with the touch interface and iPad camera.

Comic Life – iPad App of the Week

Seventh most popular post was from 2019, and was a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the VLE is Dead debate that took place at ALT-C 2009.

The VLE is still dead… #altc

Entering at number six was a post from 2008 on how you could have Full Resolution Video on the PSP. Does anyone still use their PSP?

Full Resolution Video on the PSP

Dropping two place back to fifth, was Frame Magic – iPhone App of the Week, still don’t know why this one is so popular!

Frame Magic – iPhone App of the Week

Back in 2015 I asked I can do that… What does “embrace technology” mean? in relation to the Area Review process and this post was the fourth most popular post in 2019.

I can do that… What does “embrace technology” mean?

Entering the top ten at number three was Learning from massive open social learning. This was a post from 2015 looking at the growth of MOOCs and how massive open social learning brings the benefits of social networks to those people taking massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Learning from massive open social learning

After six years running, last year number one post drops a place to second , and that was the The iPad Pedagogy Wheel. I re-posted the iPad Pedagogy Wheel as I was getting asked a fair bit, “how can I use this nice shiny iPad that you have given me to support teaching and learning?”.

It’s a really simple nice graphic that explores the different apps available and where they fit within Bloom’s Taxonomy. What I like about it is that you can start where you like, if you have an iPad app you like you can see how it fits into the pedagogy. Or you can work out which iPads apps fit into a pedagogical problem.

The iPad Pedagogy Wheel

So after six years, I have a new number one for the most popular blog post this year and that was is Can I legally download a movie trailer? Up from fourth last year. One of the many copyright articles that I posted some years back, this one was in 2008, I am still a little behind in much of what is happening within copyright and education, one of things I do need to update myself on, as things have changed.

Can I legally download a movie trailer?

So there we have it, the top ten posts 2019.

We choose to go to the moon… – Weeknote #41 – 20th December 2019

Moon landing

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

This was the final week before the festive break. A lot of the week was spent finishing stuff off and getting things in place for January.

I had an interesting initial meeting about open content and open textbooks, and personalised adaptive learning. I have been thinking about this and have a draft blog post on the go.

Also on Monday, I remembered that on this day four years ago, I was helping that Lawrie Phipps deliver some Digital Leadership training to colleagues in Jisc at our Away Day.

Lawrie Phipps
Lawrie Phipps presenting at our away day.

This was only a couple of months after we had run the initial pilots in Bristol and before we ran the first “proper” programme in Loughborough in October 2016. The version we ran for colleagues was  a cut down version, but the essence was on mapping your digital self and and then mapping your organisation. Since then the mapping has evolved and in some instances changed quite dramatically. It was never about comparing yourself with others, but looking at your maps and thinking what do I want to do differently, what do I want to achieve.

Going for a walk around Bristol at lunchtime, I saw they were filming.

Filming in Bristol today

They were filming a new HBO series called Industry, which is a new American drama series which follows the lives of young bankers and traders trying to make their way in the world in the aftermath of the 2008 collapse.

learning
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Sometimes I think we have moved along as a society and then I read news articles like this  and I think we’ve not moved on at all.

The gap between men and women, measured in terms of political influence, economic gain and health and education, has narrowed over the last year, but will take another century to disappear, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said.

There is more we can do, to reduce the gap and hopefully reduce the time for the gap to disappear. I am very conscious that I come from a position of privilege. As someone who is invited to talk and present keynotes I make a determined effort to avoid all-male panels and for sessions and conferences I am organising I ensure it happens. It’s actually not that difficult, as there are some great speakers and panellists out there.

I have spent a lot of this week planning and organising the Data Matters 2020 conference which will take place on the 5th May 2020 in London. It’s very much about laying the (data) foundations for the future.

Mud Dock Cafe

After a few meetings on Wednesday we had a team lunch at the Mud Dock Café which was really nice, great food and enjoyable to take time out from the hectic schedules of work to chat and relax.

Thursday I was in Cheltenham for a meeting and the main challenge was finding somewhere to park, sometimes it is easier to drive to a venue, other times catch the train!

I really enjoyed reading this blog post from Dom Pates

I was born in August 1971. By this point in time, there had been four successful crewed moon landings (Apollos 11, 12, 14 and 15). There were a further two after I was born — Apollo 16 in April 1972 and Apollo 17, in December of the same year. I can therefore stake a claim, if I wished, to be a child of the moon landings, having been born in a period when the impossible had begun to become almost normalised, when human aspiration had moved from ‘we will…’ to ‘we have…’

Myself as someone who was born before the moon landings (just) I know I have lived a time when we moved from ‘we will…’ to ‘we have…’

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Hello Portwall Lane – Weeknote #40 – 13th December 2019

Jisc's Portwall Lane Office, Bristol
Jisc’s Portwall Lane Office, Bristol

Monday was a lovely day, as it was the first day that the new Jisc offices on Portwall Lane in Bristol were open. The new office was lovely, not quite finished, but the main working areas were open for business and it was a fantastic working environment. Lots of choice of different places to work, open plan, quite spaces, not a library quiet working space, small meeting rooms (ideal for silent working), social working spaces, light, bright and airy. Loved it.

I spent time putting together a presentation I was delivering later in the week. Though it was mainly images I did put together some explanatory graphics.

The talk was only ten minutes, so I hoped the graphics would explain the concepts more easily and faster. I also wrote a blog post about the presentation, which helped me formulate what I wanted to say in the talk. I wrote this in advance and scheduled it for publication later on the same day as the presentation.

Latest trends in intelligent campus design

Latest trends in intelligent campus design Event
Latest trends in intelligent campus design event

As I had an early start in London on Wednesday I travelled up on the Tuesday so I wouldn’t be late for the event. In the end due to some travel issues I missed the start of the event, but was on time to present my piece and listen to some others from the first half.

James Clay speaking at the Latest trends in intelligent campus design Event
James Clay speaking at the Latest trends in intelligent campus design event

I enjoyed delivering the presentation and a due to a last minute illness I was asked to chair the second half of the event.

My overall takeaway was that developing an intelligent campus (even a smart campus) involves a range of stakeholders and users, and that all departments across an university need to be involved.

Thursday I was on leave, so Friday was more about catching up on missed e-mail from the week and doing some preparation for the Data Matters 2020 conference, ready for meetings next week.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Latest trends in intelligent campus design

Campus
Image by Jessica Aggrey from Pixabay

Over the last few years I have been working on a project at Jisc, called The Intelligent Campus. Though I left the project in March, in my new role and as part of Jisc’s work on Education 4.0, I still have an interest in that space and what is possible and what benefits it could bring universities and colleges.

Last year I wrote an article for Educational Technology on what the difference is between a smart campus and an intelligent campus.

At the recent Westminster Higher Education Forum on the 11th December I delivered a short presentation entitled Latest trends in intelligent campus design.

I wanted to talk about how the campus of the past is evolving into the smart campus of today, but look forward to a future where we may have an intelligent campus. Continue reading Latest trends in intelligent campus design

Netflixisation, is that even a word? – Weeknote #39 – 6th December 2019

Gringotts Dragon
Gringotts Dragon at Harry Potter Studio Tour

At the weekend we went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. The first time I went to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour was in 2015, just after they had added the Hogwarts Express and Kings Cross set to the tour. We made a return visit, mainly to see how different it was dressed for Christmas and with snow. Last time we were in the foyer waiting to go in, suspended from the ceiling was the magical flying Ford Anglia. This time there was a dragon!

Fetter Lane
Fetter Lane

The week started off in London for my Jisc Senior TEL Group meeting. This is an invited meeting in which we discuss various issues and technologies relating to teaching and learning. We had an informative discussion in the morning on curriculum analytics, what it is, what it isn’t, what it could be used for and some of the serious and challenges in analysing the curriculum. In the afternoon we were discussing some of the challenges relating to Education 4.0 and what the potential issues are in relation to preparing for the future that may be Education 4.0. Continue reading Netflixisation, is that even a word? – Weeknote #39 – 6th December 2019

Goodbye Castlepark – Weeknote #38 – 29th November 2019

Ramsay Garden in Edinburgh
Ramsay Garden in Edinburgh

It was a much busier week this time, with a lot more travelling, including trams, planes, trains, buses, cars and walking. At least the weather wasn’t too bad, but there was certainly some rain and wind about.

University of South Wales
University of South Wales

Monday I was in Wales for one of Jisc’s Stakeholder Forums. It was interesting to talk to colleagues form universities and colleges about how they felt about Jisc and the services we provide them. I really enjoyed the session delivered by my colleague on big challenges and co-design and on my table we had a really insightful and interesting discussion about  a Netflix style model for education.

Landed at Edinburgh Airport
Landed at Edinburgh Airport

Tuesday I was off to Scotland, staying overnight in Edinburgh, before heading off to Glasgow for a meeting with QAA Scotland. Continue reading Goodbye Castlepark – Weeknote #38 – 29th November 2019