All posts by James Clay

Chilly – Weeknote #197 – 9th December 2022

So though I had snow and cold weather in Berlin last week, it appeared to follow me back and this week was rather chilly.

After a week away, I spent most of the week working from home, catching up on stuff from last week and tidying things up before the Christmas break.

I also spent time doing the final preparations for a meeting next week, which originally was going to be in London, but will now take place online.

I spent some time reflecting on a keynote from Taskeen Adam, Designing Justice-oriented Digital Education, at Moving Target: Digitalisation 2022, which I saw last week in Berlin.

Moving Target Digitalisation 2022, Opening 30.11.2022, Museum für Kommunikation (MfK), Berlin – Credit Stefan Zeitz/DAAD

So I wrote up my thoughts and published them on the blog.

I thought this was an excellent thoughtful insight into the challenges universities face in reflecting where they are and where they need to be in relation to edtech and digital education.

My top tweet this week was this one.

The application of duct tape

Group working
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

In writing this blog post, I do recognise that as white middle class male from a Western European background, I know I come from a position of privilege.  I am where I am today because of that privilege. No I wasn’t education at Eton, nor did I go to Oxford, but I recognise my background has given me advantages that others didn’t have. It would also be somewhat arrogant if I was to think that I, in isolation, had any answers to the challenges that others face. However I do feel that I have the opportunity to share the experiences and thoughts of others. I also recognise the need to understand and work together on decolonisation.

I like this definition of decolonising from The University of Essex.

Decolonisation involves identifying colonial systems, structures and relationships, and working to challenge those systems. It is not “integration” or simply the token inclusion of the intellectual achievements of non-white cultures. Rather, it involves a paradigm shift from a culture of exclusion and denial to the making of space for other political philosophies and knowledge systems. It is a culture shift to thinking more widely about why common knowledge is what it is, and in so doing adjusting cultural perceptions and power relations.

In that context I really enjoyed the thought provoking opening keynote at Moving Target: Digitalisation 2022 was a keynote from Taskeen Adam, Designing Justice-oriented Digital Education.

Moving Target Digitalisation 2022, Opening 30.11.2022, Museum für Kommunikation (MfK), Berlin – Credit Stefan Zeitz/DAAD

I thought this was an excellent thoughtful insight into the challenges universities face in reflecting where they are and where they need to be in relation to edtech and digital education.

Moving beyond ‘digital divide’ narratives, this presentation interrogates how the digitalisation of education can embed or promote material injustices, cultural-epistemic injustices and (geo)political injustices. After expanding on calls for ‘decolonising EdTech’, 3 key arguments framing justice-oriented Digital Education are highlighted along with 4 guidelines on how we can strive to design and implement more justice-oriented digital education.

As we move into a century where the technological way of being is the only way of being imaginable, we need to consciously reflect on the impact that technology has on our way of thinking and being, and resultantly how this is embedded into our education. Taking a justice-oriented approach to digitalising education means actively and consciously seeking to address material, cultural-epistemic and political/geopolitical injustices that digitalising education processes and platforms can embed or promote.

This presentation has three main sections.

The first section unpacks ‘decolonising EdTech’ which means dismantling the relations of power and conceptions of knowledge that are reproduced through EdTech in its fundamental assumptions; its content; its pedagogical underpinnings; its design; and its implementation. Here questions about ethics, equity, epistemology and power are raised.

The second section outlines 3 key arguments framing the design of justice-oriented Digital Education 1.) There is no one-size-fits-all framework for creating justice-oriented Digital Education. Justice-as-content, justice-as-pedagogy and justice-as-process are 3 approaches to use at different moments 2.) Designers and implementers need to examine their subjectivities and how these shape the epistemological framings of the course from its conceptualisation. 3.) Greater emphasis is needed on situational factors outside the construction of the digital learning experience, i.e. factors beyond content, outcomes, and assessments.

The third section wraps up by giving four practical guidelines on how we can strive to design and implement more justice-oriented digital education.

Of course it isn’t just about the decolonisation of digital education, there is the shift required in university structures and cultures.

This keynote got me thinking about this.

London Metropolitan University’s Centre for Equity and Inclusion has this to say on the decolonisation of higher education. I think this reflects the challenge in that diversity and inclusion isn’t sufficient, there needs to be more  in order to truly decolonize the curriculum and the university as a whole.

Decolonising education, however, is often understood as the process in which we rethink, reframe and reconstruct the curricula and research that preserve the Europe-centred, colonial lens. It should not be mistaken for “diversification”, as diversity can still exist within this western bias. Decolonisation goes further and deeper in challenging the institutional hierarchy and monopoly on knowledge, moving out of a western framework.

One of the challenges that we face is that we need to decolonise our structural approaches to the way in which we run our universities. Listening to the keynote from Taskeen Adam I was reminded of the struggle this can be, overcoming years, if not decades on entrenched thinking.

One area where I think we have challenges is recruitment and the process of recruitment.

We know from research that a diverse team brings wider benefits than a non-diverse team. 

This Twitter thread explains this better than I can.

To quote from the thread.

Diversity increases innovation: diverse groups are known to produce innovative solutions… 

Demographic diversity is a proxy for diverse thinking.

This is all pretty obvious but as the opening tweet says you often hear the line, “Oh, but we cannot compromise excellence for diversity.”

So I have heard organisations say, yes we have a policy of diversity and inclusion when it comes to recruitment, but we recruit on merit.

However despite the fact that recruitment takes into account diversity, the process of recruitment is flawed and biased. 

Very rarely is a team recruited in one go, generally there is an existing team. We generally recruit individually so as a result we lose the opportunity to have diverse teams that could support decolonisation.

As people leave, new people arrive. We often need those new people to replace the leaver, so we look for skills and background that are similar to the ones that the leaver has. We are looking at the problem from an individual perspective rather than a team perspective. Despite knowing that a diverse team is better, despite having a diversity and inclusion policy, the process of recruitment is biased as it focuses on the gap, the individual skills missing, when someone leaves. Rarely if ever is the holistic picture taken into account.

This process of recruitment can actually reinforce the existing structures and culture, despite the best efforts to decolonise.

This isn’t exclusive to decolonisation, and the talk by Taskeen Adam on this subject reminded me of the challenges that women face in the workplace, disabled people and other groups.

It also reminded me of the challenges in shifting and changing existing cultures and ways of working. Back in the 2000s there was an academic team I was working with who had a very negative culture, one where the students were to blame, they were resistant to change and certainly didn’t embrace digital technologies to support their work. It was quite a toxic culture.

Work was undertaken, probably best described as sticking duct tape to try and fix what was a broken team. It didn’t work. The underlying issues and culture were still there. Solutions that were put in place, were like duct tape, worked for a while, but eventually fell off, as it wasn’t fixing the underlying problems.

Over the years the actual team changed completely, as in people left and new staff were recruited. In none of the original staff were working there, it was a new team, it had changed, however the culture did not. Despite all new people, the culture hadn’t changed, the blaming was still there, as was the resistance to change.

In the end working as a leadership team including myself, with a new  line manager, we started from scratch and completely changed the modus operandi or operating model for the team. The ways in which they worked, the way in which they interacted with students and planning on the embedding of appropriate digital technologies. There was consistency of approaches and methodologies. The team and students were provided with a clear vision and strategic objectives.

There was a massive shift in culture and ways of working, which resulted in better outcomes for students, less complaints, less staff sickness, and better morale. We had to have a holistic approach to the way in which the team worked, but as we had a clear vision of what was expected, they had the clarity as well.

When it comes to decolonisation, this is a huge challenge. Even just looking at one area, the shift required in recruitment, is more than just the application of duct tape to fix the problem. Without thinking strategically and holistically about the challenge, the end result will be a much slower journey to decolonisation.

Ich bin ein Berliner – Weeknote #196 – 2nd December 2022

Spent most of the week in Berlin for the Moving Target Conference.

I was at our London office on Monday. We had a team coaching session looking at our internal and external stakeholders.

On Tuesday I flew out to Berlin from Heathrow. When I was invited to the conference I did consider catching the train to Berlin, but after doing some research I found out it was going to take in excess of 20 hours and required not just changes (which I expected) but actually would entail taking a bus for part of the journey. So despite some reservations decided to fly. I would have preferred to fly from Bristol, but there were no direct flights to Berlin, so in the end flew from Heathrow.

Travelling to Terminal 5 from my hotel, I took an autonomous pod. These pods are for those parking at a car park, but were also available to hotel residents.

The conference was excellent and I enjoyed attending. It’s useful to see education from a different perspective.

The conference had a focus on trans-national education.  There were some interesting panel sessions and presentations. I did a few sketch notes on various presentations and panel sessions.

Here is my sketch note of Trust and reputation in the digital economy with Prof. Timm Teubner.

I delivered my keynote on the Friday.

Making the transformation happen: The UK higher education digital transformation journey

The UK higher education sector has over the last three decades invested heavily in information technology, online solutions, digital services, resources and content. The aim has been to enhance and improve and reframe the student experience, to reimagine learning, teaching and assessment, and to transform the infrastructure, the university estate to enable and enhance this digital transformation. Across this, Jisc, the UK national research and education network, has been proving the infrastructure, security, advice and guidance to the UK higher education sector. In this keynote, James Clay Head of Higher Education and Student Experience at Jisc, will explore what we mean by digital transformation, what it means for students and why the UK higher education sector needs to deliver on their digital transformation journey. He will explore the UK experience over the last few years and how this has helped to accelerate the digital transformation journey and will showcase exemplars from across the UK university sector. He will discuss how Jisc is supporting UK higher education and what are plans are for the future in enabling future digital transformation and what our colleagues can learn from our experiences and those of the UK higher education sector.

There was an online audience as well as people in the room.

The conference was at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences).

The building still had the scars from the fighting in 1945.

It was a great venue for a conference, with good spaces. I also appreciated the fact that the building had eduroam, so connecting to the wifi was quick and easy.

I get a mention in the closing comments about my sketchnoting and tweets on the conference.

Saw this Twitter thread. Really useful list of locations in London for working and reading, where you don’t need to buy endless cups of coffee.

Read this paper COVID, Campus, Cameras, Communication, and Connection by Jasmine Price, Donna Lanclos and Lawrie Phipps.

This article discusses insights from two separate and linked projects. A staff-facing project at a UK university in the English Midlands, took place in late Spring 2020. We heard at that time a concern from staff for students who were not in touch and were not “visible” due to their absence from digital places as well as the more obvious physical ones. Staff also discussed their sense that, from the students who were in contact, there were a lot more emails and one-on-one discussions about logistics and worries. In Spring 2021, at a university in the north of England, we conducted a student-facing project intended to discover their lived experience of the 2020-21 academic year, as well as surface insights into what the phrase “back to campus” might mean for these students. Students struggled with what their lecturers were asking in terms of visibility (especially cameras). Students were also concerned about building and maintaining connections. The desire for effective and transparent communication in a time of crisis was also expressed. We juxtapose the rhetoric about “back to campus” and assumptions embedded in policies around cameras and digital participation with the expressed desires of students for human relationships and care in a time of uncertainty and upheaval. We end with implications for institutions going forward, with the certainty that this will not be the last time, as a sector, when we have to rely primarily on digital places and platforms for the work of the University.

Well worth downloading and reading.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Sketchnotes at Moving Target

I spent the week in Berlin attending Moving Target Digitalisation 2022 conference. I did a few sketch notes from various keynotes and panel sessions.

Trust and reputation in the digital economy

In this keynote, Prof. Timm Teubner talks about how, when, and why (and why not) people trust online. The talk sheds light on research on trust and reputation and explores the mechanisms and designs that govern our perceptions and behaviors — as well as the side effects that come with it.

Virtual Exchange for social inclusion

VE is not inherently equitable and inclusive. I will introduce a framework for Critical Virtual Exchange (CVE) (Hauck, 2020; Klimanova & Hellmich, 2021) and present and discuss examples from global exchange initiatives to illustrate the approach and its potential impact and socio-political relevance.

Panel session on Reframing mobility in and for transnational collaboration: Moving beyond the on-site/online divide

This panel draws on case studies to critically discuss the multiple meanings and models of mobility. We pay special attention to mobility in joint degrees and reflect on barriers and enablers and the current policy work towards a European Degree Label. We suggest a conceptual shift to mobility from a ‘singular’ individual experience to a process by which multiple mobility options are organically integrated in an institution’s pedagogic offering

Panel session on Benefits and challenges in the context of Open Educational Resources

The distribution of Open Educational Resources (OER) is strongly connected to the rise of the world wide web.

One thing I did find was that doing the sketch notes hit the iPad battery quite heavily. This also happened at the ALT conference, so much so that the iPad battery died before I had finished the sketch. At that session I kept listening and took some photographs on my phone. Afterwards I headed out to Caffé Nero to both refresh myself with a coffee and use their power sockets to charge my iPad.

At Moving Target I probably would have done more sketches if I had either more battery life, or I could have charged up the iPad. I forgot to bring my power bank, but that really only has sufficient charge to charge my iPhone and doesn’t have enough juice to recharge the iPad. Something to think about is can I get a heavy duty iPad power bank.

Under the weather – Weeknote #195 – 25th November 2022

Cardiff Castle

Spent the week working from home, mainly as I had a bad cold and also had my flu vaccination. Feeling under the weather I felt I was less productive than I usually am. It certainly didn’t help with the wet cold weather we had. Really felt like winter had arrived this week.

waiting room

I finished off my presentation for the keynote I am delivering next week in Berlin at Moving Target Digitalisation.

The UK higher education sector has over the last three decades invested heavily in information technology, online solutions, digital services, resources and content. The aim has been to enhance and improve and reframe the student experience, to reimagine learning, teaching and assessment, and to transform the infrastructure, the university estate to enable and enhance this digital transformation. Across this, Jisc, the UK NREN, has been proving the infrastructure, security, advice and guidance to the UK higher education sector.

 In this keynote, James Clay Head of Higher Education and Student Experience at Jisc, will explore what we mean by digital transformation, what it means for students and why the UK higher education sector needs to deliver on their digital transformation journey. He will explore the UK experience over the last few years and how this has helped to accelerate the digital transformation journey, and will showcase exemplars from across the UK university sector. He will discuss how Jisc is supporting UK higher education and what are plans are for the future in enabling future digital transformation and what our European colleagues can learn from our experiences and those of the UK higher education sector.

I did consider not using any slides and just talking to the audience, but in the end I with a mixed set of slides of mainly images, but also some text.

Did some more planning for my trip, from a travel and logistics perspective. Useful to check I can use my phone next week in Berlin for example. I also need to get from the airport to the hotel, looks like I can catch the train from the airport to central Berlin quite easily. I did in fact consider catching the train to Berlin, but it was going to be one long trip, with quite a few changes to get there. I did think it might be easier to get to by train. In the end decided I would fly there this time.

Brandenburg Gate
Image by Couleur from Pixabay

The last time I was in Germany was in 1985, and I have never actually been to Berlin either. Back in 1985 the city was divided by a wall, and it was at the height of the Cold War. I remember watching the news in 1989 as the wall came down. In 1985 I travelled through Germany to Yugoslavia on a Scout camp and we stayed in Munich. I did study German when I was at school, but I think I will struggle when I am there.

I also have to be in London on Monday, so did some planning around that as well. We are looking at our team’s internal and external stakeholders.

puzzle

BBC reported that: Rishi Sunak is considering curbs on foreign students taking “low quality” degrees and bringing dependents, Downing Street said.

However Downing Street declined to define what they meant by a “low quality” degree. To me it seems like an easy target to focus on rather than dealing with the actual issues and problems. It fails to take into account the positive impact of foreign students in the UK have for universities and the impact they return home afterwards.

My top tweet this week was this one.

One reason why Twitter will eventually wither and die – Weeknote #194 – 18th November 2022

Twitter

Back in 2009 I wrote a blog post about the relatively new micro-blogging service called Twitter. Having seen the demise of many Web 2.0 services and social media platforms, I wrote a piece called Ten reasons why Twitter will eventually wither and die…

It is a fact known to all that use Web 2.0 tools and services that one day they will no longer be flavour of the month, or will be swamped by spam, cons and hustlers. We have just seen the death of Geocities and services such as Friendster and Friends Reunited are not once what they were.

The same will, one day happen to Twitter!

Though I didn’t have mad billionaire will take over Twitter and kill it…. in that list. So eleven reasons why…

coffee
Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

I wrote a blog post on moving to Mastodon. Going (back to) Mastodon reminds me of Twitter in 2009 when there was a similar level of new users starting to use that service. Back in 2008 I wrote this blog post about how I used the Twitter. I basically said Twitter was all about the coffee. You can say pretty much the same about Mastodon.

Over the week I continued to use Mastodon to see how others were using it, who was using it and what was being posted.

I was up in Scotland for the first half of this week. I had flown up from Bristol to the Learning Places Scotland conference in Glasgow, where I was delivering a presentation: How will the growth in online learning shape the future design of learning spaces and our campuses?

 The physicality of online learning is an issue that will impact on university campuses as we move to a blended and hybrid programmes containing elements of online and digital learning and physical in-person learning.  This session will explore the challenges that growth in blended learning will bring to learning spaces and the university campus. What is required for, in terms of space for online learning, but will also consider the implications of delivering online teaching as well. Examples will be given of what universities are doing today to meet these challenges. The session will reflect on a possible future maximising the use of our space as students have the flexibility to learn online, in-person and across a spectrum of blended and hybrid possibilities.

The highlight for me at the Learning Places Scotland exhibition and conference was a workshop with Dundee and Strathclyde universities about their (estates) work on Net Zero and how they are working to the Scottish Government net zero target of 2045. Thoug, always find it amusing how a one hour session advertised as a workshop at a conference is just someone talking at me for 55 minutes and then five minutes for questions. That is not a workshop. Just be honest.

Impressed with the excellent talks from the young people here at Learning Places Scotland 2022. Takes something to stand up in front of such a large group of delegates.

Exhibition and other sessions were very school focussed, which wasn’t too surprising. I didn’t see or meet many people from HE. Across the exhibition I noticed a lot of stands for wood and sustainable materials.   There was some useful content for a future Intelligent Campus community event.

I had considered taking the train, but with seven to eight hour train journey each way I decided to save time and fly (it was also cheaper). However, upon reflection, though at the other end it had taken just an hour from disembarking to arriving at my hotel, having collected baggage from the carousel, a bus to the heart of Glasgow, a walk to the railway station, a train to Exhibition Centre and then a walk to the hotel. The fact that for an 11:30 one hour flight I had left home three hours earlier, meant that the overall journey time was in excess of five hours for that one hour flight. I think the next time I head to Scotland I might take the train.

Due to a range of factors I actually flew back from Edinburgh. So I had caught the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh and then took the tram to the airport. Caught the train to Haymarket. I then caught the tram to the airport. I had been told before that the bus was faster than the tram. Well as the tram arrived at the tram stop, there was a bus to the airport stopping alongside. I made a mental note of the bus number plate. There was only standing room on the tram.

Having arrived at the airport, I noted that the bus was already there, and the driver had gone off for a cup of tea. So, I think next time I will travel from the airport to Edinburgh by bus. Though to be honest as I said before, I am thinking about taking the train to Scotland the next time I have to come up here.

I had a meeting to provide advice on some internal strategy development. We had an excellent discussion and I think I supported the team in the development of their strategic operational plan, ensuring it was aligned to the Jisc corporate strategy and the sector strategies, whilst ensuring it provided a focus on the needs of universities.

I have been reviewing Digifest submissions through the lens of the HE sector strategy. Looking like there will be some interesting sessions at the conference which takes place on the 7th and 8th March 2023.

I also spent some time reviewing outputs from Sector Agency Widening Participation and Data working groups workshop I had attended

My IFTTT Instagram connection stopped working and needed to be fixed, well how else will my Instagram photographs of coffee get from there to Twitter.

I am still having issues with my MacBook doing “something” having closed the lid and placed in my bag. It seems to be still running even the lid is closed.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Review time – Weeknote #193 – 11th November 2022

I had my quarter one review this week, I had a productive review meeting with my line manager. I have made good progress against my objectives for this year. I was commended for the content of the review document. This is of course quite easy to fill, as I use JIRA and Confluence to plan and implement my objectives. In addition, I have these weeknotes to refer to for other things I have done. I also made use of the blog posts I published this quarter in addition to the weeknotes. I am reminded though I have published less this quarter than I have in previous quarters, so time to get that typewriter out and get typing.

Typewriter
Image by Patrik Houštecký from Pixabay

Elon Musk started to impact on the Twitter, so much so that lots of people were talking about moving off the Twitter and onto other similar services, with Mastodon getting much of this traffic. We had some discussions about Mastodon at work. I went out and created an account on mastodon.cloud and then discovered I had already created an account before, well back in August 2018, on mastodon.social. So, I went back and deleted the new account and started to use the original account.

Though I had been on Mastodon since 2018 the recent influx has got me back on the app. Though my stream of stuff is mainly people telling people how to use Mastodon and what and what not to do. Reminds me of Twitter in 2009 when there was a similar level of new users starting to use that service.

We had a sector strategy meeting to discuss future strategy and planning.

lecture theatre
Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Had a learning spaces meeting with our Advice Team on their forthcoming project on learning spaces. Gave background to the scoping work we did last year and provided insights into their brief.

Had a Funders and Public Affairs catchup meeting.

Chaired our bi-weekly HERLT meeting – as we develop the ways in which we work, this was an useful exploration of the purpose, function and need for the meeting. It raised a lot of questions over what and when we discuss activity across the directorate. I do feel we need to reflect on the spread and breadth of what we do and how we incorporate that into our future meetings.

Had an excellent discussion on the concept of a teaching and learning service wrapper for Content & Discovery. Reflecting on an offer for members and customers that incorporates community, advice & guidance, thought leadership, other (transformative) content, different audiences across an institution and reflecting about what this could look like. Next step may be to workshop this into a plan of action.

Had a meeting with a university where we discussed the history of Jisc’s previous work in the intelligent campus space. We explored what Jisc is currently undertaking in the smart campus space.

campus
Image by 小亭 江 from Pixabay

I did some preparation for the Learning Places Scotland presentation I am delivering next week. I also worked on my Moving Target Digitalisation keynote.

Setting up a meeting to provide advice on strategy development with an internal team.

Read GuildHE’s briefing paper on how OfS could be a better .

My top tweet this week was this one.

There was rain – Weeknote #192 – 4th November 2022

I did manage to get to the office in Bristol twice this week.

We had a team coaching session.

Had a planning meeting and catchup on transformative content scoping and ideas.

We had a meeting where we had a discussion on the  intelligent campus, climate change, net zero, estates, teaching and learning  We had a discussion on the financial aspects of this, the capex opex challenge and for example how the move from data centres to the cloud requires a change in funding approaches. We talked about the future challenges on how there is a need to influence the funding regime going forward.

group
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I had a preparation call for a presentation I am giving next week at Learning Places Scotland. My presentation title and abstract.

How will the growth in online learning shape the future design of learning spaces and our campuses?

The physicality of online learning is an issue that will impact on university campuses as we move to a blended and hybrid programmes containing elements of online and digital learning and physical in-person learning.  This session will explore the challenges that growth in blended learning will bring to learning spaces and the university campus. What is required for, in terms of space for online learning, but will also consider the implications of delivering online teaching as well. Examples will be given of what universities are doing today to meet these challenges. The session will reflect on a possible future maximising the use of our space as students have the flexibility to learn online, in-person and across a spectrum of blended and hybrid possibilities.

I undertook some research, planning and development of my presentation.

Next week I have my Q1 Review, so I did some preparation and filled in the paperwork.

In the beginning of December I doing a keynote at Moving Target Digitalisation in Berlin. I have been reviewing and reflecting on my  presentation content, and undertaking research, planning and development. This is my  presentation abstract.

Making the transformation happen: The UK higher education digital transformation journey

The UK higher education sector has over the last three decades invested heavily in information technology, online solutions, digital services, resources and content. The aim has been to enhance and improve and reframe the student experience, to reimagine learning, teaching and assessment, and to transform the infrastructure, the university estate to enable and enhance this digital transformation. Across this, Jisc, the UK national research and education network, has been proving the infrastructure, security, advice and guidance to the UK higher education sector. In this keynote, James Clay Head of Higher Education and Student Experience at Jisc, will explore what we mean by digital transformation, what it means for students and why the UK higher education sector needs to deliver on their digital transformation journey. He will explore the UK experience over the last few years and how this has helped to accelerate the digital transformation journey, and will showcase exemplars from across the UK university sector. He will discuss how Jisc is supporting UK higher education and what are plans are for the future in enabling future digital transformation and what our colleagues can learn from our experiences and those of the UK higher education sector.

I was planning to attend an International & TNE Student Experience Meeting, however it was rescheduled.

I did a fair bit of planning and booking travel and accommodation. I don’t travel internationally very often, so I needed to work out how to get to Berlin from Weston.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Another one – Weeknote #191 – 28th October 2022

This week we saw our third prime minister this year take office and a new cabinet and another new education secretary. So how long to the next one then?

Well I go on leave last week and come back to a full and bursting inbox (which was empty when I left) with over 140 emails to read, review, and act upon.

I had some more thoughts about what universities could do in the event of blackouts or on the impact of the energy crisis on changing student behaviour.

I spent most of the week in London.

I had some discussions on future content (what we use to call thought leadership) that would inspire digital transformation, provide insights into current practice and imagine what the future possibilities are. As a result, I spent some time scoping out some concepts and ideas on what this could look like, across our HE strategy.

Our HE strategy says for example

We will, in partnership with universities, develop approaches and digital solutions to improve and enhance the student experience and greater equity in access and participation in the UK and abroad.

If we think about insight, this is what is happening now, case studies, exemplars, commentary from sector, review, what good looks like now. So, for an insight into enhancing the student experience, university could explain how they are reviewing the student journey, so  to enable them to use digital tools and services to enhance the student experience.

As for inspiration, this is what you could do in the near term, what you need to do to achieve the potential of digital and technology, what good could look like in the next 2-5 years. So, an overview of the near future student journey illustrated with specific examples from the sector of how digital solutions are enhancing and improving that experience.

As for the future, we can imagine through horizon scanning, visions for the future, what good would look like in the next 5-10 years, what could be different, why would it be different. An example of this could be the 2035 student experience? How can digital and data enhance that experience and what does this mean for universities?

What was important to me, was to provide some scope and ideas on what we could do, not necessarily what we will do. Across the strategic themes and the concepts of insight, inspire and imagine, there are lots of opportunities for developing inspirational transformative content. Of course this had to be all backed up with toolkits, frameworks, support, advice and guidance, and a range of products and services that enable all of this.

On Tuesday I had a planning meeting, which demonstrated the importance of underpinning foundations and a clear vision to enable functional and effective planning.

One of my reasons for being in London, apart from some meeting was to undertake some research and ideation in the Intelligent Campus space. This involved some conversations, desk research, and field work across various campuses (in this case) across London.

I had some more conversations about learning spaces, for further scoping and research.

I continued with the Senior Education and Student Experience Group logistics and preparation for our meeting in December and further meetings next year.

I also continued with my preparation and planning for events in Scotland and Germany in November.

I did a quick skim of the OfS Blended Learning Review, might spend some time on this next week.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Lost in translation: Darkness

candle and laptop
Photo by PJ Gal-Szabo on Unsplash

Over the last couple of years I have been working on a series of blog posts about translating existing teaching practices into online models of delivery.

One of the things I have noticed as the education sector moved rapidly to remote delivery when the pandemic hit the UK in 2020 was the different models that people used. However what we did see was many people were translating their usual practice to an online version. 

As part of my work in looking at the challenges in delivering teaching remotely during the covid crisis period I wrote a series of blog posts. Though covid has not gone away the ramifications and impact of covid and the lockdowns are still with us thirty months later. Universities are wanting to utilise the experiences they had during the pandemic, to support the transformation of teaching, learning and assessment.

I decided to continue with the series of blog posts.

Since I last reflected on the series the UK has entered a cost of living crisis and an energy costs crisis (as well as other crises).

There is a real threat of blackouts happening this winter, how do you translate or transform activities dependent on energy into low-energy, asynchronous, low-bandwidth activities?

Also students will want to save money, they want to avoid excessive commuting (transport costs) as well as maybe, if they can, spend more time on campus keeping warm. Where do they go and what can they do.

So I will be listening, asking questions, reflecting and writing a new series of posts for the Lost in Translation series.