Monday I was off to London once more for various meetings including my mid-year review. These weeknotes were an useful tool to recall what I have been doing and what I had done, especially for those things outside my core objectives.
This was an intriguing story about how you could “fake” traffic jams merely by walking down a street (with a hundred mobile phones in a cart).
Artist Simon Weckert walked the streets of Berlin tugging a red wagon behind him. Wherever he went, Google Maps showed a congested traffic jam. People using Google Maps would see a thick red line indicating congestion on the road, even when there was no traffic at all. Each and every one of those 99 phones had Google Maps open, giving the virtual illusion that the roads were jam packed.
As we approach 2020, there is little doubt that digital technology is core to the UK’s Higher Education (HE) sector. It enhances teaching and learning and has the potential to create efficiencies across all aspects of the student experience, supporting staff in delivering excellence. As the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) continues to influence education and research, there will be implications for copyright and licensing too.Continue reading Million to one chances – Weeknote #49 – 7th February 2020→
After careful consideration and because of the ongoing and unpredictable developments around coronavirus (COVID-19), this year’s Data Matters will not go ahead. It was a difficult decision to cancel but the health and wellbeing of our members, staff, exhibitors and suppliers is our top priority. We also want to ensure we play our part in containing and delaying the spread of the virus. For delegates who have already paid for their ticket, we will fully refund all conference fees.
“New technologies and approaches are merging the physical, digital, and biological worlds in ways that will fundamentally transform humankind. The extent to which that transformation is positive will depend on how we navigate the risks and opportunities that arise along the way. The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.” – Klaus Schwab, (founder of the World Economic Forum), The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Digital is core to the UK’s higher education sector, enhancing and creating efficiencies across all aspects of the student experience, and supporting staff in delivering excellence. The UK education sector needs to transform to meet the requirements of Industry 4.0 and student expectations. Artificial intelligence and mixed reality will play a critical role in successfully upskilling, retraining and assessing our workforce to ensure no one is left behind.
The world of Industry 4.0 is one of high-level skills such as analysts, AI wranglers, problem solvers and creatives, but also a world of dexterity, such as artisans, carers and robot carers and maintainers. Mixed reality will play a role in educating and reskilling the professionals of the future, while assessments could be performed by robots.
In order to fulfil and achieve that vision, universities and colleges will need to start laying the foundations now, so that they can build the infrastructure, the technology and the culture required for whatever the future will bring.
One core aspect underpinning the vision of Education 4.0 will be data, analytics and data literacy. Future technologies will be dependent on a range of datasets which have been gathered accurately, but also ethically. Without a foundation of data, a single set of truth, it will be challenging to take advantage of the possibilities that analysis
Analytics and prediction will rely on working algorithms, which need to be designed and created in a way that removes bias and are able to tell us an accurate narrative that will enable data informed decision making that will enhance the student experience and improve the effective and efficient use of spaces and resources.
We know we can collect a range of data about individuals, but just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. There are numerous ethical, as well as legal, issues in the collection of data about how individuals are engaging with a university or college, including academic data, but also location and usage of resources data as well.
We must not forget the human element of data and analytics. It’s not enough to deliver accurate analysis, predictions, and visualisations. Staff and students in universities and colleges need to be data literate to enable them to understand and act on that data. Appropriate and effective interventions will only be possible if staff and students are able to understand what is being presented to them and know what and how they could act as a result.
The future is an unknown, but universities and colleges can start to prepare for whatever is coming at them. They can lay the foundations for the future, and an important foundation is that of data, the use of data, analytics, wrapped in an ethical blanket.
The Data Matters 2020 conference will bring together experts from across the sector to discuss and debate the key data and analytics challenges in building the future vision of Education 4.0. We will discuss the possible future, the importance of laying the foundations for that vision, we will think about what we need to do today, to start that journey.
We will consider the ethical implications of undertaking all this as well as how we could provide the data literacy and other digital skills for the staff and students to take full advantage of the possibilities that data can bring.
This unique conference brings together three sector agencies, Jisc, HESA and QAA, who will be working together with colleagues from universities and colleges to collaborate and share their vision, ideas and solutions for the data enabled future of Education 4.0.
At the weekend I read this article on facial recognition.
The European Commission has revealed it is considering a ban on the use of facial recognition in public areas for up to five years. Regulators want time to work out how to prevent the technology being abused.
This does have implications for those universities and colleges who are thinking about using facial recognition technologies as part of any initiative (say intelligent campus) in the next five years. Of course after five years the EU may ban such technologies, what that means for the UK, well we will have to wait and see.
Monday I was writing, preparing and designing a presentation for a keynote I am giving next week in London. I am using only images.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
On this day twelve years ago I was taking photographs of mobile kit for MoLeNET.
Monday was another trip to London, I had been expecting to participate in a workshop, but this was cancelled late last week, and I already had train tickets and another meeting in the diary so decided to head up anyhow. The weather was changeable, raining whilst on the train, but this cleared up by the time I arrived in London.
I saw this link in my news feed and it did make me think more about how we could use AI to support learning, but also reflect on some of the real challenges in making this happen. Also do we want this to happen!
In the afternoon in the office we were discussing Education 4.0 and how we are going to move this forward in terms of expert thinking and messages.
Tuesday was a busy day, first a meeting in the Bristol office, before heading up to Cheltenham for a meeting the HESA office.
I haven’t been on a CrossCountry train for a while now, so travelling to Cheltenham Spa from Bristol Temple Meads I was interested to see how the 3G connectivity issues I’ve always had on that route would be like, especially as I now have 4G with Three. Well same old problems, dipping in and out from 4G to 3G as well as periods of No Service. I would like to blame the train, but the reality is that there is poor phone signal connectivity on that route. As there is no incentive for mobile network providers to improve connectivity.
If I do go to Cheltenham again, I think I will take a book!
We were discussed the Data Matters 2020 Conference, which is now in my portfolio. Still a work in progress and the proposal needs to be signed off by key stakeholders.
Whilst I was in Cheltenham I bumped into my old colleague Deborah from Gloucestershire College and we had a chat about stuff. What was nice to hear was the number of my team and colleagues in that team that had started there in learning technology and were now doing new and more exciting jobs at universities across the UK.
Wednesday there was rain. I spent today preparing for a meeting in the afternoon and tidying up my inbox. Though I did find time for a coffee.
Thanks to Lawrie for the link, I read this report on the iPASS system, which uses data and analytics to identify students at risk.
The three institutions increased the emphasis on providing timely support, boosted their use of advising technologies, and used administrative and communication strategies to increase student contact with advisers.
This report shows that the enhancements generally produced only a modestly different experience for students in the program group compared with students in the control group, although at one college, the enhancements did substantially increase the number of students who had contact with an adviser. Consequently, it is not surprising that the enhancements have so far had no discernible positive effects on students’ academic performance.
Looks like that it didn’t have the impact that they thought it might.
In a couple of weeks I am recording a podcast and met with the organiser today to discuss content and format. Without giving too much away, we will be covering the importance of people in any digital transformation programme and ensuring that they are part of the process, consultation and are given appropriate training in the wider context of their overall skills and capabilities. You can’t just give people new digital systems and expect them to be able to use them from day one or with specific training. Familiarity with digital in its wider context is often critical, but is equally often forgotten.
Whilst writing a blog post about online learning I wrote the following
Conversations are really hard to follow in e-mail, mainly as people don’t respond in a linear manner, they add their comment to the top of their reply.
When I first started using e-mail in 1997, well actually I first started using e-mail in 1987, but then got flamed by the e-mail administrator at Brunel University, so stopped using it for ten years….
When I re-started using e-mail in 1997, there was an expectation when replying to e-mail that you would respond by writing your reply underneath the original e-mail, bottom posting, which really was something that I got from using usenet newsgroups. This from RFC 1855.
If you are sending a reply to a message or a posting be sure you summarize the original at the top of the message, or include just enough text of the original to give a context. This will make sure readers understand when they start to read your response. Since NetNews, especially, is proliferated by distributing the postings from one host to another, it is possible to see a response to a message before seeing the original. Giving context helps everyone. But do not include the entire original!
By the early 2000s lots more people were using e-mail and most of the time they were replying at the start of the e-mail, top-posting. There were quite a few people in my circles who continued to bottom post their replies, which made sense when reading a threaded conversation, but confused the hell out of people who didn’t understand why someone replied to a conversation, and from what they could see, hadn’t written anything!
Today top-posting appears to be the norm and I can’t recall when I last saw someone responding to an e-mail by replying at the end of the quoted reply.
Here is the blog post I wrote, about how online learning doesn’t just happen.
Friday was about planning, planning and even some forward planning. One thing that has puzzled me for a long time was the difference between forward planning and planning. Thanks to Google I have a better idea now.
Forward planning is being pro-active, predicting the future and then planning to achieve that prediction.
The opposite is backward planning, which is more reactive, you wait until you get a request or management decision then create a plan to achieve it.
So what is plain and simple planning then?
Wikipedia says that planning is the process of thinking about the activities required to achieve a desired goal.
So some of what I am doing in my planning is responding to both requested goals and planning for some predicted goals.
We had our weekly meeting about the Technical Career Pathways we are developing at Jisc. I am responsible for the Learning and Research Technical Career Pathway.