Category Archives: conference

Spotlight 23 – Moving forward with Blended Learning

Spotlight on Digital Capabilities 2023: Blended learning – are we getting it right? is an event put on by UCISA. I did a keynote at this event back in 2016.

At Spotlight 23, UWTSD delivered a presentation on Moving forward with Blended Learning.

This is my sketch note of the presentation.

sketch

With campuses throughout south-west Wales and others in Cardiff, London and Birmingham the University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD) is committed to delivering high quality blended learning – and to supporting learners and staff to develop their digital skills and confidence to study and work remotely. For this presentation, the Digital Learning and Digital Skills teams will take you through their approach in promoting digital pedagogy and skills to staff as well as students. This is supported by a rolling programme of training, webinars and drop in sessions as well as the development of online resources; allowing staff and students to access a range of support at a time and a place that suits them.

Spotlight 23 – a practical view of what teaching can look like using Microsoft Teams

Spotlight on Digital Capabilities 2023: Blended learning – are we getting it right? is an event put on by UCISA. I did a keynote at this event back in 2016.

At Spotlight 23, Mary Hill, Digital Skills Manager, Sheffield Hallam University did a session called: Using IT effectively to deliver engaging and impactful teaching: a practical view of what teaching can look like using Microsoft Teams.

This is my sketch note of the presentation.

sketch
“Online or a blend of in-person and online teaching can be highly effective if the educator has knowledge of and confidence in using online tools and functionality. Knowing, and importantly seeing, what is possible can help us design courses to make full use of these tools and functionality, rather than just delivering in front of a webcam material previously designed purely for in-person delivery. This session will show what online teaching can look and feel like by exploiting the functionality of Microsoft Teams before, during and after the event. Do you know how to make a teaching session using Teams flow well, have an engaged and interacting audience, and convey its messages impactfully? This session will show you the art of the possible.”

Spotlight 23 – Adventures in audio

Spotlight on Digital Capabilities 2023: Blended learning – are we getting it right? is an event put on by UCISA. I did a keynote at this event back in 2016.

At Spotlight 23, Rebecca Snelgrove, Content Developer (Digital Education), Keele University gave a presentation on podcasting, entitled, Adventures in audio: the interdisciplinary approach shaping engaging real world experiences for students – a podcast and radio production module case study.

This is my sketch note of the presentation.

sketch

Post pandemic there’s still considerable debate about what the future of higher education looks like, in particular the student learning journey. Our presentation focuses on our experience of hybrid delivery of a module, to showcase our reflections on what module design and delivery may look like. We put student experience at the heart of the module, using various strategies to build an inclusive, community environment, both online and in person. We engaged with industry experts to create authentic experiences, from interviews for asynchronous learning content to a synchronous pitching and feedback session with a panel of industry experts.

Spotlight 23 – The Office for Students Review of Blended Learning, 2022

Spotlight on Digital Capabilities 2023: Blended learning – are we getting it right? is an event put on by UCISA. I did a keynote at this event back in 2016.

At Spotlight 23, Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services, University of Edinburgh gave a talk on The Office for Students Review of Blended Learning, 2022.

Dr Highton was part of the panel who met with staff and students in a number of universities of varying size, shape, age and mission. They developed a set of questions to collect the data necessary to get a clear understanding of blended learning approaches being taken. The technology context was different in each provider, and this technology context was essential for understanding how blended learning provision was enabled, quality assured and available equally to course leaders and students across their institution. This presentation will tell the story of how the review was done and highlight practical suggestions for moving forward.

This is my sketch note of the presentation.

sketchnote

Secret life – Weeknote #211 – 17th March 2023

I was on leave for part of this week.

I attended The Secret Life of Students last year and enjoyed the conference, so made a point this year of booking a place.

This year the focus of the conference was on belonging.

I made some sketch notes from many of the sessions.

I did some more planning for Senior Education and Student Experience Group Meeting on the 20th March.

I spent time reviewing and having discussions on the Connect More themes.

campus
Image by 小亭 江 from Pixabay

I did some planning , working on ideas for the  Intelligent Campus community event which is taking place on the 24th May 2023. Bookings are now open.

This community of practice gives people a chance to network, share practice and hear what various institutions are doing. You will have the opportunity to discover more about intelligent campus projects and our work in this space. The focus of this community event will be where do we go next? You can read the new guide to the intelligent campus and reflect on your own journey in this space, and where you feel we can provide help and support. This will be an opportunity to discover more about the history of our past and current work in the intelligent campus space as well as hear from others about their work on this exciting topic.

I did some reflecting and reviewing potential priorities for next year, as well as some budgetary planning to support it. Much of what I am planning to do, builds on the work I have done this year and am doing this year.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Sketch notes for the secret life of students

I recently attended the Wonkhe event, The Secret Life of Students 2023, in London.

There was some excellent sessions and I made some sketchnotes for lots of them.

Belonging in a cost of living crisis

The stats are dire and the initiatives have come thick and fast – but what sort of impact is the cost of living crisis having on the student learning experience? Do efforts to enable students to succeed in these circumstances normalise a thin and stretched student experience?

The real risks to equality of opportunity

Tacking equality gaps in higher education remains a huge concern – particularly when some initiatives and efforts seem to fall foul of government guidance and preference. In this session we’ll bust some myths and seek to understand what really works when it comes to narrowing the gaps.

How to (re)calibrate the needle of trust

Post-Covid, there’s been lots of debate about the extent to which safety-net shifts in trusting students should be rolled back in the name of academic standards, as well as discussion about assessment methods that both appear to narrow awarding gaps and exacerbate allegations of cheating. How viable is it in 2023 to maintain the idea that every student should achieve a standard at the same pace? Where is the line between cheating and collaboration? And what could new AI tools mean for teaching, learning and assessment?

Cracking the code

So your department has a difficult NSS score on assessment fairness, and the Dean wants you to turn things around – fast. Or a flag goes up on your engagement analytic dashboard – what now? In a field teeming with data, finding out what is going on with the people behind the numbers can make the difference. In this session we’ll consider the role of the qualitative in turning data to action – and share new insight from our new student survey platform Belong on what students are really thinking.

Why are students so left wing?

The political leanings of students have been central to the free speech debate that has played out in recent years – but is it nature, or nurture? Some would argue that the past decade has seen a huge expansion in higher education participation, opening up opportunity to more students than ever. Others would argue that politics is increasingly skewed away from students and young people’s economic interests. What’s really going on – and what should universities, SUs or governments do about it?

Secrets of the student experience

Increasingly universities are expected to have a handle on “difficult” aspects of the students’ experience: alcohol and drugs, sexual harassment, and sex work. In this session, we will think through the various frames available for managing behaviours and the implications for students, university policy, and the competencies of university staff.

Listen to the sound of my voice – Weeknote #203 – 20th January 2023

A shorter week for me, as I was on leave at the end of the week.

At the beginning of the week, I spent some time reviewing forthcoming events and conferences. I have found in the past that I usually find out about interesting events either on the day (via the Twitter) or after it is over. So, this year I have been planning to attend some conferences and events. Some will be ones I have attended in the past, others will be new to me.

I did though manage to get to the office in Bristol on one day.

Last week we did a session of our directorate risks, and after they were written up, I spent time reviewing them and feeding back. Another aspect was reviewing the mitigation of those risks.

In the summer Jisc will once more put on the online event, Connect More. I am part of the group at Jisc reviewing the themes for Connect More and I provided some ideas and feedback to the Jisc Events team.

Had a meeting with a new member of staff, exploring what I do and how my role fits into the wider Jisc.

Next week is my Q2 Review, so I did the paper paperwork and reviewing of work over the last quarter. As you might expect these weeknotes have helped considerably in reviewing my work over the last three months.

microphone

I have been researched and reflecting on AI voices and narration, implications for creating effective audio teaching resources automatically. Apple is already using AI voice narration for some of their audio books. Note this is not text to speech, but artificial voices that sound natural.

Some examples of voices can be found on the ElevenLabs website. The narration voices sound much better than text to speech.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Warm and nostalgic – Weeknote #184 – 9th September 2022

I was away the whole week, firstly in Manchester for ALT-C and then Leamington Spa for our away day. Of course the end of this week was dominated by the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

On Monday I headed off to Manchester, stopping at our Bristol office to pick some stuff up, as well as participate in an online meeting. ALT-C was kicking off at 9am on Tuesday, so wanted to be in Manchester rather than travelling and missing the start of the conference, especially as I knew I would miss most of the sessions on Thursday.

I planned some travel, as I am in Dublin next week. The last time I had the opportunity to visit Dublin was in 2016 when I was a keynote speaker at LILAC 2016. I am looking forward to making a return visit.

It was interesting to return to Manchester for ALT-C. The last time I attended ALT-C in person was in 2018, in Manchester. I missed going in 2019 in Edinburgh. I would like to have gone to ALT-C in Edinburgh, alas I didn’t go that year as I needed to be close to home as my youngest started secondary school, and as most people know, transition is a challenging time for all. In the end there were very few issues, but I am glad I stayed behind. Of course, due to the pandemic, the 2020 conference in London was cancelled and the 2021 conference was purely online.

This was a hybrid conference, so the first part of day one was online with the in-person sessions starting after lunch.

I did feel warm and nostalgic attending the conference, it reminded me of conferences past. However, there was still something new about it as well, which I enjoyed.

I am intending to write up my thoughts on the various sessions in future blog posts.

I did one sketch note of a keynote on ethics in educational technology, which was liked by people.

I did have a bit of a challenge as my iPad battery died before I had finished the sketch. So I kept listening and took some photographs on my phone. After the keynote I headed out to Caffé Nero to both refresh myself with a coffee and use their power sockets to charge my iPad. There was certainly a dearth of power sockets in the conference venue.

Leaving Manchester on Thursday I realised how exhausting attending an in-person conference is, I haven’t done this kind of conference for a while.

Pleased to see a tweet about the Social Media In HE Conference. Every year when I see this is happening, I say to myself I should attend that, but then forgot the following year to book. This year I am planning to attend.

We had an away day in Leamington Spa, in which we looked at the current sector landscape, planning for next year and just getting together in-person, which is something we rarely do as a geographically distributed team. It was a lunchtime to lunchtime away day.

After the sessions for that day I went to my room and made a coffee. I was so glad I had taken my coffee machine with me to Manchester and Leamington Spa.

As I read Twitter, it was announced the Queen had died. I went off for a drink before dinner in the bar.

Friday was the second half of our away day and then it was a lengthy journey home.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Packing for #altc22

Power
Image by ldyshah from Pixabay

I have written conference packing posts before, I did a post in 2009 and wrote an updated version in 2018. Actually the last time I attended ALT-C in person was in 2018. So here we are four years later and I am off to ALT-C once more.

So here are some suggestions on what to pack if you are attending the conference in-person. It might have been a while since you attended an in-person conference, so hope you find the suggestions useful.

Six-Way Gang – I still think a six way gang is an useful thing, instead of fighting people for the power sockets, you can immediately make five friends! Having such an adapter is also useful in the hotel room when you want to charge everything up for the following day and you have limited plug sockets. When I mentioned the previous article on the Twitter someone told me about the USB charging stations you can now buy. With so many devices reliant on USB charging then these could be useful, but then I have a laptop that needs a proper plug socket. If you are coming from outside the UK, then a trick I do (going the other way) is to bring a extension gang and then you only need one UK plug adapter.

Power Bank – Though in normal usage your phone might last the day, I have found if you are using your device for photographs, using the Twitter, accessing the conference Discord, checking e-mail, and so on; your battery will be hit hard. A charged power bank can be used for restoring those battery bars on your device.

coffee
Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

Coffee – I don’t drink instant coffee and usually that it is what is only available in hotel rooms. Some hotels these days have Nespresso machines, which is nice, but most I find still rely on sachets of instant coffee. In the past I have taken a cafetière mug or coffee bags. I have been thinking as I now doing a lot more travelling, about getting a portable coffee machine.

Of course if you drink a specific brand of tea, then take some of those, you can’t always rely on Twinings being in the hotel room. 

It’s also useful to take the time to see what independent and local coffee places are near to the venue, which can be used instead of queuing for that awful conference coffee.

Snacks – I also bring a few snacks with me as well, as that solitary small pack of biscuits you usually get is never enough! These days though I have found that the increase in (small) supermarket branches means buying snacks locally is much easier than it use to be. Of course if your conference isn’t in Manchester, then pack some snacks.

Chargers – Don’t forget your chargers, expensive to replace, difficult to borrow, make sure you pack yours. The other thing about power is investing in a higher powered adapter (or borrowing one from a friend). As Apple says here

Using an Apple 12W or 10W USB power adapter charges some Apple devices and accessories faster than a 5W power adapter.

I find that when charging my iPhone using the adapter that came with my iPad Pro and it charges the phone so much faster, which is an useful thing to know for a conference. This means you can do a quick “supercharge” of your iPhone ready for the next keynote. Also useful to know that the 5W power adapter potentially can charge your iPad Pro, but only if you aren’t using it for eight hours or more….

filming on a phone
Image by SplitShire from Pixabay

Photography and Video – I use to take a camera to conferences, today I use my phone. If you take a lot of photographs then check you have a lot of storage space on your phone, or at least one way to take the pictures off. I try and remember to empty my camera roll before I go to the conference. However if you like to take a lot of video then I personally would take a separate additional video camera.

Connectivity – I am sure that the WiFi at the conference venue will be fine, however what about at the hotel, the dinner, the train… Technological changes means that connectivity is more important that in the last few years. Yes there is a plethora of places to get free wifi, but there are some security considerations to take into account. I normally use tethering on my iPhone and make sure I have enough bandwidth to do that. Other options could include some kind of MiFi device. 

Display cables – If you are presenting, then ensure your laptop can be connected somehow to the projector, you can’t always rely that the VGA adapter you have will be good enough. I now take an HDMI cable with my too. I also take my Lightning to HDMI adapter so in theory I can present from your iPhone or iPad. It also means I can connect to the hotel TV and watch what I want on the big screen.

broken USB stick
Broken USB Stick by James Clay

USB Stick – In a world of cloud storage, you might think why would you need an USB stick. I have been caught out and needed to quickly move my presentation to a presenter machine. Despite the proliferation of the cloud or potential sharing solutions, I find sharing via an USB stick is quick and easy.

SD Card – If using a device with an SD Card I usually carry a couple of spare SD Cards, just in case I lose one, or fill one of the others up.

USB Cables – Due to the differing sizes of USB, normal, micro and mini, I now carry three of them! I also carry a couple of Apple lightning cables too.

Paracetamol – some of those presentations do give you headaches…

What are you going to pack?

Preparing to pack – Weeknote #183 – 2nd September 2022

Lots of my colleagues were still on leave, so it was quite quiet in the office.

So I was on leave last week and the week started with a Bank Holiday in England, so it was a shorter week. Having spent the week on leave, I was not too surprised to find that there were 109 unread emails in my inbox, it didn’t take too long to get those down to six that I needed to deal with.

Spent some time working out our finance system, I rarely raise purchase orders, so I do find it can be challenging to get to grips with the finance system and processes. Though I will say ours is certainly simpler than ones I have used in the past.

Next week I am off to Manchester for ALT-C. I revised and updated a blog post about making preparations for the conference.

Having probably spent time and effort securing the funding to go to a conference such as the ALT Conference in Manchester, it makes sense to spend some time preparing in advance of attending. Last minute rushing and chaotic flipping through the programme on the day of the conference, means you are probably not getting as much out of the conference as you could. I think this year with the hybrid nature of the conference, it makes even more sense to do some planning.

I have also written a blog post about packing and what to take to the conference, which I will be publishing later. Of course if you are attending online then this old post might be useful.

Some meetings were cancelled this week, as a key member of staff was off sick, which gave me some more time for planning.

Had some discussions with GuildHE about Jisc attending a network meeting at end of September to present on Learning Analytics and Student Support.

Had a session with a member of staff about agile methodology and how I use an agile approach, JIRA and Confluence to plan my week and my work. It reminded me that I haven’t written this up (for myself) and maybe I should write a blog post on my workflow and processes.

I updated my new stuff and old stuff event and conferences pages on the blog. Helpful for me to remind myself where I have been and where I am going, but may also be useful for others to either find out about a future event, or to let me know about an event that I might want to attend (and isn’t in the list).

I enjoyed this Twitter thread on diversity, merit and excellence.

I often hear people about appointing the best person for the job based on merit, or inviting the best speaker for the conference. This often though misses the whole picture and what diversity can bring to the holistic metaphorical table.

Diversity increases innovation: diverse groups are known to produce innovative solutions, especially to ill-defined problems (much of the science we do). Demographic diversity is a proxy for diverse thinking.

Having a diverse team means a better team, this isn’t about recruiting the best individuals, it’s about having the best team. I think I might write more about this in a future post.

I also liked this comment from the thread on higher education, and the importance of diversity in the demographic of the staff in an university.

Demographic diversity is beneficial to the very experiences of undergraduate and graduate students, creates a feeling of belonging in students, and provides them with role models that they can aspire to.

Rochdale Canal in Manchester
Rochdale Canal in Manchester

So if you are attending ALT-C next week in Manchester, see you there.

My top tweet this week was this one.