All posts by James Clay

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

140 characters – Weeknote #37 – 22nd November 2019

140 Conference

Ten years ago this week I was at the O2 in Greenwich for the #140conf organised by Jeff Pulver. Why was it the #140conf, well of course back then the Twitter was restricted to 140 characters, not like the 280 we have today. This was the conference where Stephen Fry was crowned the King of Twitter. That was also the week that Stephen Fry passed a million followers on Twitter. Today he now has nearly 13m followers.

140 Conference

I was on a panel session with Shirley Williams (@shirleyearley), Dave White (@daveowhite), Drew Buddie (@DigitalMaverick) and Professor Sue Black (@Dr_Black) where we talked about education and the Twitter.

From what I remember the talk went down well. Continue reading 140 characters – Weeknote #37 – 22nd November 2019

What is the difference between strong, thorough and exceptional? – Weeknote #36 – 15th November 2019

BT Tower in Fitzrovia
BT Tower in Fitzrovia by James Clay

One interesting read this week was this blog post

An ‘Edinburgh Model’ for Online Teaching Programme: Notes from a pilot run.

In this post, Dr Michael Gallagher, a Lecturer in the Centre for Research in Digital Education, describes how he and colleagues drew on current expertise and research within The University of Edinburgh to inform and design a new online course…

It was an interesting read, but I find it equally interesting that we are still having difficulty with delivering and teaching online that we still need to run pilots.

There has been substantial amounts of research and practice in this space, this is reinforced by the forthcoming A Manifesto for Teaching Online which, as indicated in the article on the  ‘Edinburgh Model’ was a source for the course, much of what is distilled in the course comes from the outcomes of the Near Future Teaching project and the Manifesto for Teaching Online.

This isn’t though a course which is delivered online, this is a course for teaching people how to teach online and it wasn’t initially delivered online.

This first pilot of the course was run face to face to allow the team to focus on specific areas and get rapid feedback from participants.

In my reading and experience, people really get to understand the challenges and affordances of delivering online if they have first hand experience of being taught online, both bad and good. A similar thing can be said for non-online teaching (or what we sometimes call traditional or face to face teaching. This is something that all teachers will have experience of, being taught in a face to face or traditional manner before they start teaching themselves. Though I wonder can we teach online if we have never been taught online? Should be said though the team are planning to run the course fully online in early 2020.

I suppose there is for me an element of frustration that the concept of online teaching isn’t new, there has been considerable research in this space, but it’s still something that we as a sector struggle with. Hopefully sharing experiences from these pilots will help, but we have been doing pilots for decades now… Continue reading What is the difference between strong, thorough and exceptional? – Weeknote #36 – 15th November 2019

Not quite a four day week – Weeknote #35 – 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

Continue reading Not quite a four day week – Weeknote #35 – 8th November 2019