I have decided to take next week as leave, not that we’re going anywhere, but apart from the odd long weekend (bank holidays) I’ve not had any time off working since the lockdown started, actually I don’t think I’ve had leave since Christmas! I had planned to take some time off at Easter and go to London for a few days, as we had tickets for the Only Fools and Horses musical at the Royal Haymarket. I had bought tickets for my wife as a Christmas present and it was something we were all looking forward to. Then all this lockdown happened and the theatre cancelled all the performances as required by the Government.
I did consider keeping my leave, but with leading a taskforce, it was apparent that I might not have the time to take some (and where would I go).
So this week I was winding down slightly as I wanted to ensure I had done everything that people needed before I was off.
I published a blog post over the weekend about making the transition to online and to not make the assumption that though there are similarities in delivering learning in classrooms and online, they are not the same.
If we are to make the move a combination of online, hybrid and blended than we need to ensure that the staff involved in the delivery of learning have the right capabilities and skills to deliver effectively online.
For me Monday was very much thinking about how HE will need to plan for the unknown for the Autumn.
The BBC reported on how students would still need to pay full tuition fees.
University students in England will still have to pay full tuition fees even if their courses are taught online in the autumn, the government has said.
We know many universities are planning for either full online degree programmes or hybrid programmes, but also that many are planning for potential coronavirus second (or even third) wave of infections and subsequent lockdowns.
It got me thinking about how this looks from a prospective student perspective, and the impact on those universities which are reliant on local (and commuting) students and those for whom it’s a place where students travel to study there.
We already have an understanding of the impact of the massive fall in the international student market on some universities, but the domestic situation is still highly volatile and unknown. Some surveys say 5% of prospective students have already decided not to go to university this autumn, and another 20% who are changing their plans. If we see a loosening of lockdown measures between now and September, then maybe fewer will change their plans, but we could see lockdown come back and enforced more stringently; this will of course impact on those prospective student plans.
At the recent Jisc Learning Analytics Community Event at Newman University in Birmingham I was a last minute addition to a panel discussing some topics in analytics. One question that was offered, was, will Curriculum Analytics merge with Learning Analytics?
A simple answer is yes.
Learning Analytics can be defined as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs.”
In the same context then Curriculum Analytics could be defined as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about the curriculum and the context, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs.”
We might need to think how we define curriculum, but if you think of learning analytics as one side of learning, then curriculum analytics is the other.
Understanding that data may tell us a narrative about a learner, then without the data on the curriculum side, means that the whole picture isn’t clear. Not that data will ever likely to provide the whole picture.
If we think of curriculum as the design of the course, the activities undertaken, the subjects covered and how the learning is delivered.
Trying to figure out what this looks like from a data perspective is challenging.
Take something as simple as the lecture, that should be easy to define? Well…
What is a lecture? How long is a lecture? How many people are in that lecture? Where is the lecture? What time is the lecture? Where does that lecture fit into the day, the week, the semester? Is it in the first year of the degree course or later in the course?
We call many things a lecture, but for some people it will be a monologue, for some it will involve going through equations and proofs on a series of blackboard and for others it will not be just talking, but will include interactivity and engagement with the students. We know lectures vary across disciplines as well.
So if we find it challenging to define what at first appearances is a “simple” lecture then you can start to understand the challenges of defining the curriculum overall, such as tutorials, seminars, group work, labs, field work and so on…
Throw in digital as well, that adds another layer of complexity, is a webinar a lecture, what about lecture capture in all that as well.
Then could we incorporate self-study into the mix? Could we ever define informal learning in a curriculum analytics system?
So, will Curriculum Analytics merge with Learning Analytics?
The simple answer is yes, but it isn’t as easy as it may first appear.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A surge in anxiety and stress is sweeping UK campuses. What is troubling students, and is it the universities’ job to fix it?
We know that there is a student mental health crisis and the reasons for this aren’t necessarily clear. We know there has been increase in the demand for mental health services at universities. The article notes that there has been research into the causes of this, but lays the blame for the crisis on the way in which universities are managed and run, leading to students not being in control of what they do and saddled with debt.
So it was off to London on Monday for a couple of meetings. The weather on Sunday had been lovely, Monday it was raining.
I don’t think I would like to commute to London on a regular basis, as in every day, but don’t mind the fact that I am there three to five times a month in my role. I nearly said new role, I have been doing this job now for just over six months (Weeknote #28 is a bit of a giveaway), when does a new role, become just my role? Other parts of the country differ in their accessibility with public transport, so sometimes I drive.
These two quotes are what I really took from the article.
We are unconsciously drawn to people who think like ourselves, but rarely notice the danger because we are unaware of our own blind spots.
This applies to groups as well as organisations. We employ people that are like ourselves rather than think about the whole. You can measure diversity within an organisation, but that only tells you what you already know that your organisation isn’t diverse. Sometimes your organisation needs to be more diverse than the population, but how do you know that?
You may feel you have fair employment recruitment practices, but who decides what is “fair”, sometimes you will want to recruit people that wouldn’t be recruited if you were to be fair.
I am also reminded of unconscious bias, and the fact that this is easier to say then sometimes to actually do something about. This was echoed in the second quote from the article.
There is a science to putting together the right minds, with perspectives that challenge, augment, diverge and cross-pollinate rather than parrot, corroborate and restrict. This is how wholes become more than the sum of their parts.
There isn’t an easy solution to this, you could think outside the box and put together teams that are not like ourselves, but that is not as easy as it sounds. The rewards though, as the article says mean wholes become more than the sum of their parts.
Wednesday I caught the train to Manchester, to attend an internal product meeting where I was presenting on the drivers within the draft Jisc HE strategy.
It was quite along train journey there and back in a day, and though I did manage to get a fair bit of work done, the lack of connectivity did annoy me as it has before.
I wrote a blog post on making digital a choice, in response to a BBC news article about a branch of Sainsbury’s in Holborn in London where the only choice to pay was via an app.
Friday I was in Leeds to deliver a keynote on Education 4.0 for the Leeds Business School, I had travelled up the day before.
I showed a presentation, which is all photos. In the presentation I talked about who is Jisc, what do we mean by the Education 4.0 and some of the challenges we face in moving down the road to Education 4.0.
I also showed the Jisc Education 4.0 video we showed at UUK last year and at Digifest.
On Monday I was off to London. I was originally planning to be in a workshop, but that didn’t work out, so I made the most of my trip to touch base with some key people in our London office. I spent some time planning a training and development session on presentations. This follows a talk I gave at an internal TEDx event.
The talk was about designing powerpoint slides and presenting information.
For the training and development session on presentations I will expand this into an interactive session that will cover presenting and presentations in more depth. The participants will need to design and deliver a five minute presentation as part of the session.
I will be helping them to understand what makes an effective presentation, some important aspects to consider when trying to communicate a message, how to focus on and reinforce key aspects of that messaging, as well as how to manage a Q&A session after presenting. I will be mentioning fonts and images. I will attempt to not mention clip-art!
Tuesday was another trip to London to meet with some consultants be part of a workshop to discuss and plan our messages for current and future public affairs. In order to get to the meeting I caught the tube to Blackfriars and crossed the Thames to Southwark. I have not been to that part of London before so was curious to see what was around as I walked to the meeting. The railway bridge over the Thames had a huge crest not quite attached to it which I found quite fascinating.
The bridge was once part of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway network. This rail company was formed in 1859 and the crest is dated five years later 1864. It formed a union with the South Eastern Railway and though not formally merged they operated as the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. In 1923 it was merged with other rail companies to form Southern Railway. The line became part of British Railways following nationalisation in 1948. It remained part of British Railways (and from 1965 when it traded as British Rail) until re-privatisation in 1992. Services are now operated by Thameslink.
I used the phrase “not quite attached to it” as the original structure of the original Blackfriars Railway Bridge deteriorated until it was unsound. In 1961, two tracks were removed from the bridge to ease its load. The bridge was eventually removed in 1985. The current “bridge” is in fact Blackfriars Station now. The crest, which was restored in 1990, and the abutments are a listed building.
Wednesday I was in the office in Bristol for my end of year review, which I feel went well, despite it being an odd year with a role change mid-year. The office was packed and there were lots of people I hadn’t seen in a while, so it was good to catch up.
I spent quite some time reviewing operational plans in the context of the higher education strategy that we have which was an interesting exercise.
I have been given the task of leading on an Education 4.0 roadmap and it has been challenging to find suitable time in people’s diaries during the summer, as a lot of people are taking holiday.
Thursday I was off to London again, third time this week, an earlier train as I was travelling over to Queen Mary, University of London in East London. This was another part of London I had not been to before. It was a bit of a trek on the underground from Paddington to Mile End, but at least I didn’t have to change tubes.
We were having a round table discussion on how Jisc supports TNE for Jisc members. I gave a short presentation on how Jisc works in the HE learning and teaching space. We did though branch out into a wider educational technology discussion and I spent some time discussing the concept of the Intelligent Library. This I have spoken about before at various events across the UK.
An aspect of the discussion was use cases that could then drive how such a concept could be implemented. One we discussed was providing assessment information to libraries in a way that would support them in their provision of the library service.
I spent the afternoon working in our office in Fetter Lane.
Friday was a time to participate in a meeting about the Learning and Research Technical Career Pathway I am developing at Jisc. I have made some progress, but still have some way to go to. I also took the time to undertake some planning.
I was reminded today by Amazon Photos that twelve years ago in 2007 I had attended a Jisc (or should that be JISC) Pedagogy Experts Group meeting in Bristol.
I did blog about the meeting. This was one of the first blog posts I wrote for this blog, but I had been blogging for a few years on my old Western Colleges Consortium blog.
The meeting brought together people from across the UK.
The aim of the meeting is to inform the group of the current issues and investigations into many of the JISC e-learning Learners’ Experience projects, also to consult the experts own expertise in relation to learners’ experiences.
It was not a meeting, much more a discussion and not a series of presentations with a few questions.I was on a panel in the afternoon looking at how can we help to meet learners’ changing needs and expectations.
I remember one session, where we were split into groups, and we were discussing learner experiences. We were challenged to provide feedback using a single PowerPoint slide. I decided that this didn’t give us much choice, so myself and Alistair McNaught decided to give our feedback as a rap. I used Garageband on the Mac and provided the background drums and music, and Alistair did the rapping. Luckily for everyone it wasn’t recorded, so the rap is now merely a memory….
On this day nine years ago I was presenting and giving anoverview of the current state of play of mobile tech and MoLeNET for the JISC Cetis Mobile Tech Event on the 15th June 2010 in Bolton.
Here are the presentation slides I delivered.
I created the slides in Apple’s Keynote application before saving them as images which I then imported into Powerpoint.
I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what we thought then was the state of play then and what the current state of play is.
June 2010 was just two weeks after the iPad was available in the UK and people were still wondering what to do with it and what it’s potential was, I used the image of iPad boxes to show that this was going to be a “something” and I think we can say it certainly had impact.
Not just putting the tablet as a mobile device into the heads of consumers and educators, but also the influence it had on smartphones as well. I don’t think we would have the huge large screen smartphones we have today if it wasn’t for devices such as the iPad and notably the iPad mini.
In most of my presentations I usually put a slide like this in.
There was still a culture of presenters asking people to turn off devices, give me your full attention and all that. Today I think we have more idea of if we want to use our device or not at conferences and presentations. I certainly wanted people to think about what I was saying, but also join in the conversation using new tools such as the Twitter!
In the presentation I started to look at the news headlines of the day
Apple had released their iPhone in 2007, now three years later it was having a huge impact on the market for phones.
Today the figures are somewhat different, there is no more sign of Nokia, RIM, HTC or Motorola, but look how Samsung dominates that market along with Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers.
Another headline was the success of the iPad.
What was interesting was how much the iPhone (and the iPad) were used to browse the mobile internet back in 2010.
Today most smartphones are capable of web browsing, mainly as most websites are now mobile optimised, making it a much easier experience than trying to navigate a desktop enabled site on a mobile browser. The other big change has been the growth of smartphone apps.
Back then the data limits with mobile contracts was really limiting.
Though these limits are still here today, having an unlimited data contract is no longer the realm of business accounts, consumers and students can access contracts with unlimited data more easily and quite cheaply as well. The data landscape has changed as well with 4G speeds being widespread and we are on the edge of the 5G world as well. The other factor that has changed is the widespread availability of wifi.
I really find these data usage patterns for the O2 network for 2010 incredibly low compared to today.
This report describes the results of a series of discussion workshops where experts and experienced practitioners explored visions of how mobile technologies and devices will influence practice in Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) in the near future. The workshop series was funded by the UK’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) as part of the Emerge Community within JISC’s own Users and Innovation research programme. This exploration focused on identifying emerging issues for the sector arising from the increasingly likely large scale use of Smartphones, PDAs and camera phones by learners in HE and FE, both on campus and in the workplace.
One of the things that is apparent from the report is how different mobile learning was back then compared to now. The main difference is the increase in bandwidth and connectivity. Then there was quite a bit of reliance on offline mobile learning and SMS texting. Today we see the use of mobile optimised web sites and apps.
However some of the issues in the report, highlighted in my presentation are still relevant today.
Training is still an issue, and not just with the technical side of things, understanding the affordances of mobile devices and mobile learning as well isn’t something that just happens and people instinctively know.
As discussed above, the issue of connectivity. Luckily today we have much better and more reliable wifi and mobile connectivity. This allows for mobile learning without the learner having to worry about being connected. Faster speeds allow for real time video chat, as well as streaming high quality video whilst on the move.
Collaboration back then often meant asynchronous textual conversations, as poor or expensive connectivity meant that real-time chat and conversations were not a possibility. Today collaboration is so much easier and can be done with audio or even video chat.
I also mentioned the Twitter.
As well as issues I also in the presentation talked about the fears that practitioners often felt when it came to mobile learning.
The cultural shift towards the use of mobile devices and learning whilst mobile, was something that hasn’t really gone away.
There is still resistance to change despite advances and increases in the use of mobile technology. Often though people are happy to discover and use mobile devices for their own stuff, using mobile devices for learner is still a step too far for some.
One reference I think still stands is how as learning technologists we often think we come over as Luke Skywalker, here to “save you”.
We do need to remember that others mainly see us as…
Resistance is futile.
One important aspect that is equally important today was privacy.
With the increase in data gathering, location data gathering and increase in analytics, what was a real issue in 2010 is a much bigger issue today.
Having discussed the state of play back in 2010, I then went into discuss the MoLeNET project.
It’s interesting to see what has changed and what has remained the same.