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.
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.
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 morein 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.
“Oh, but we cannot compromise excellence for diversity.”
This is a statement that I have heard many times at faculty meetings when trying to hire minoritized scholars (heck, even women scholars).
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 newline 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.
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.
London folks, where’s a good spot (fairly central) that I can just go and sit with my book most of the day and don’t have to buy endless food or drinks?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last week I was in London (oh and a bit of Bristol). This week I worked from home at the beginning of the week and spent the end of the week working in our Bristol office. I think this was the first time in ages that I had actually spent three days in a row working out of the office. Well it was warm.
I spent some time this week organising and planning the Jisc Senior Education and Student Experience Group. This meant organising attendance at meetings, expanding the group, responding to queries, booking rooms and locations. Also rejigging and renaming the Jiscmail list for the group.
I am organising a cross-Jisc conversation to discuss and join up activity across Jisc in the intelligent and smart campus space. We have quite a few projects and ideas in this area.
The news is full of stories on the possibility of winter blackouts as the energy crisis continues to hit home. With the continuing prospect of restrictions in gas supplies across Europe, there is a strong chance with a extreme cold spell in the UK that there will be power rationing. This means that some parts of the UK will be dark. Students will face learning without light, power, heat or connectivity. How can you deliver high quality online learning without power or connectivity? So I wrote a blog post exploring this.
People in England, Scotland and Wales are braced for the possibility of rolling power cuts this winter after a warning on Thursday from National Grid. The electricity and gas system operator has said households could face a series of three-hour power cuts…
Wonkhe was reporting on the cost of living crisis.
The cost of living crisis will be worse than the impact of the pandemic for some students, a Welsh university Vice Chancellor has warned. Ben Calvert, vice chancellor at the University of South Wales, made the comment as he gave evidence at the opening of a Senedd committee inquiry into mental health in higher education. Calvert told the committee: “I actually think for some of our students that will be harder, particularly where we have got populations of students who are older.”
These concerns have been expressed by many universities at meetings I have attended. What could universities do, and what should universities do?
We potentially could see shifts in attendance patterns on campus by students, as they take advantage of the warm rooms and opportunities to charge devices away from their rented student homes.
We noticed that many articles tend to mislead in similar ways, so we analyzed over 50 articles about AI from major publications, from which we compiled 18 recurring pitfalls. We hope that being familiar with these will help you detect hype whenever you see it. We also hope this compilation of pitfalls will help journalists avoid them.
This sentence implies that AI is autonomously grading and optimizing coursework. However, it is only being used to assist teachers in a small part of grading: identifying the answer that a student wrote and checking if it matches the answer provided by the teacher.
I think that the article and analysis is not just useful for journalists, but anyone looking at AI in education (and beyond).
I have been thinking about the keynote I am delivering for Moving Target 2022 in Berlin in November. Planning a short video for the conference organisers social media for next week as well.
My top tweet this week was this one.
Is it just me, but weren't cars more brightly coloured in the 1980s?