Category Archives: twitter

End of term – Weeknote #198 – 16th December 2022

This was my last working week of the year.

So though I had snow and cold weather in Berlin two weeks ago, it was even colder than that this week in the UK. In the South West we didn’t hit really cold temperatures, though I did experience -6°C one morning this week.

The week started with a Senior Education and Student Experience Group meeting. Originally planned to take place in London, due to a range of unforeseen circumstances we moved the meeting online. It was really useful and interesting to hear about the challenges various universities across the UK are facing.

Some key headlines from the group were (and there are no real surprises here)

  • Personalisation
  • Learning Spaces
  • Assessment and feedback
  • Wellbeing analytics
  • Learning analytics
  • Curriculum analytics
  • Influencing government and regulators on blended learning
  • Importance of support for campus (intelligent campus)
  • Reviewing the curriculum
  • Culture change
  • Digital learning environment review

One thing they did want to see more of, which crossed all those areas was research based evidence to support any advice, guidance, products across those areas.

I asked ChatGTP, an artifical intelligence tool,  what is personalisation of learning was and this was the response. I think tools like this have their place and their uses, but as with any tool understanding what its potential is, is important in knowing how you can use it, and how others might use it.

Disappointed and rather saddened to see the way Twitter is going. Despite that, and though I didn’t plan to, I quite enjoyed the #LTHEChat this week. It was run by an old friend of mine Lilian Soon, and was on accessibility.

One topic which did generate discussion was that of document styles.

I really struggle with getting people to use styles and templates effectively. Most don’t see the point and actually prefer to bold and underline headings throughout their documents and presentations. This is fine for them, but as soon as you need to collaborate on a document, you find that you need to work hard to retain styles and consistent formatting through a document. It’s a similar thing with templates. In theory if you use styles and you change the formatting of the style, then all the instances of the style will be updated. Where people use formatting tools on the actual text, this then doesn’t happen.

Why are styles important, well they are critical for screen readers in navigating documents, but also if a student (or a member of staff) wants to change a document, then styles makes it really easy.

So why don’t people use styles and templates, I don’t know. Maybe it is too hard. I don’t think this is just a training issue.

Also it is not just styles, some people don’t do section breaks instead do lots of hard returns.

Typewriter
Image by Patrik Houštecký from Pixabay

In many of my presentations in the past I have talked about laptop bans, and then ask can I bring a typewriter?

It always gets a few laughs.

So you should not be surprised I laughed at this.

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.

Then the lights went out…

power
Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash

The news is full of stories on the possibility of winter blackouts as the energy crisis continues to hit home.

So I wrote a blog post exploring this.

When I posted the link to my blog post on the Twitter, I did get this response.

I don’t disagree with people spending three hours staring at a flickering candle, but it would be nice if students had a choice about how to spend that three hours. It did though get me thinking, could I last three hours without coffee? Should I get a camping stove and use my stovetop espresso maker?

stove espresso maker
Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

I also ordered a new power bank.

So, would the power just cut out? Well, I later read this from the Guardian: How would three-hour power cuts work if enacted in Great Britain? on how power cuts would work across England, Scotland and Wales.

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

So how it would work is as follows:

… consumers in different parts of the country would be notified a day in advance of a three-hour block of time during which they would lose power. Households in different areas would then be cut off at different times or days, with the frequency rising depending on the severity of the supply shortage.

As a result if this is how it happens, then students probably would get notice that when they would lose power, that would given them time to charge up devices and download activities, resources and other content.

Of course the risk of this happening, according to the National Grid, is low, and dependent on a range of circumstances. Or another way of looking at, it will happen, and probably happen more often than is being reported. Or is that my just being a little too cynical?

Preparing for #altc or where do I buy the decent coffee?

The last time I attended ALT-C in person was in 2018, I missed going in 2019. 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 was cancelled and the 2021 conference was purely online.

Here we are three years later, and four years since I went and I am off to Manchester next week 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.

My first ALT conference was in 2003 in Sheffield, this was also one of the first “proper” conferences I had attended, I wasn’t well prepared and came away a little disappointed, but you can read about that in my ALT-C journey blog post.

I have attended many conferences here in the UK and abroad, but probably not as many as some people. I have attended as a delegate, a presenter, an invited speaker and have had the pleasure of delivering keynotes at various big conferences.

So here is some advice from me, based on those experiences… Continue reading Preparing for #altc or where do I buy the decent coffee?

The VLE is not dead – Weeknote #167 – 13th May 2022

Image by drippycat from Pixabay

Monday morning, I was off to Queen Mary University of London for their VLE Expo. This was very much a QMUL focussed event, though they had invited a range of VLE vendors. I liked how the focus of the event was about, what do we want to do to achieve our strategic aspirations, how will the VLE help us to do that, and which platform (or platforms) will enable us to do that.

There were some excellent presentations from the academic staff on the different ways in which they were using technology including virtual reality, mixed reality and H5P. I sat on the final panel session answering questions from the floor on a range of issues. A lot of the questions were more about the use of technology for learning and teaching, than VLE specific topics. However, I did get into a few discussions about the VLE on the Twitter as a result of attending the event.

I posted another blog post in my Lost in Translation series this time with a focus on the technical aspects of recording videos or audio files.

Most institutions will (probably) have equipment which staff can use, but if there is a strategic approach to building a sustainable approach to the use of video and audio, then universities will need to reflect if they have sufficient resources to support the increased demand for cameras and microphones.

video recording
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Tuesday I was still in London for a briefing session, well as it happened it got cancelled, so I worked in the office.

Apple have announced that they are going to stop selling the iPod once the current stocks of iPod touch run out. So did you have an iPod and if so which one?

iPod
Photo by Cartoons Plural on Unsplash

Wednesday, I did two all-staff briefings for two directorates on the Jisc HE sector strategy. From the feedback I got they seemed to be well received.

I was reminded on the Twitter about when I took my bike to work. I made a video back then.

Mike Sharples posted an excellent Twitter thread on how AI can be used to write essays. I agree with Mike, if we are setting students assignments that can be answered by AI, are we really helping students learn?

I enjoyed the #LTHEchat on images in presentations in the evening.

These two blog posts from 2005 (and 2007) were very influential on my presentation style: Gates, Jobs, & the Zen aesthetic and Learning from Bill Gates & Steve Jobs. I also posted  a link to a presentation from an internal TEDx event about delivering presentations – A duck goes quack.

Thursday, I made my way to Harwell for a drop in session I was running at the Jisc offices there, alas an accident the closure of the M4 meant I spent nearly four hours sitting the car rather than sitting in a room talking to Jisc staff. In the end I had to abandon my visit to the office.

Friday, I had a scoping call about learning spaces in higher education. Interested in the kinds of learning spaces higher education is using, flexibility, technology and the kinds of activities spaces are being used for.

I found this WonkHE article interesting – Learning design is the key to assuring the quality of modular provision in which Nick Mount talks about building quality assurance into the design of modular programmes and micro-credentials.

Traditional providers can expect to find themselves facing the difficult job of rethinking existing assurance processes that are designed for coherent, longitudinal programmes of study, so that they can accommodate a new pick-and-mix landscape of highly portable and stackable micro-credential learning.

My top tweet this week was this one.

…and that was day two

Some of my highlights from the second day of Jisc’s Digifest.

The second day opened with Dr Sarah Jones, associate pro-vice-chancellor education (transformation) from De Montfort University talking about the 2030 learning landscape.

I did enjoy Sarah’s keynote and she covered lots of stuff, I liked how she bought Wordle into the presentation.

It was then time for my session on Powering HE – the HE sector strategy.

In this session, James will showcase Jisc’s HE sector strategy, Powering HE, and why and how we developed the strategy. He will explore what Jisc is doing and planning to do in the HE teaching and learning space. He will bring the session together with the impact the strategy is having on university members across the UK.

I was quite mentally exhausted after delivering my session, and I was just sorting stuff out in the room, so I missed the next session. I went for coffee.

I attended a session from the Jisc Data Analytics team on their products and services and how they can be used and their usefulness for universities (and colleges). Data informed decision making is something that can help and support individuals making decisions about what they need to and want to do.

I went to the AI insights session with Michael Webb, which was really interesting and informative about the work Jisc has been doing in the AI space.

It was good to see that there was a realistic approach being taken with how we could use AI, and concrete activity in delivering services using AI.

The day ended with a keynote panel discussion reflecting on the many highlights of the conference.

Do what were your highlights of the event?

I have to say I did enjoy Digifest 2022, it was nice to be back at an in-person conference, meeting up with friends, colleagues and meeting new people. There were so many of those in-person interactions that are so challenging to recreate online and are often missing from online events I have attended over the last two years. 

It was just two years ago that we were in the ICC at Digifest 2020 with the imminent threat of lockdown, everyone washing their hands to the tune of happy birthday and no one was wearing masks. Two years is such a short time, but so much has happened in that timeframe. We know that the pandemic isn’t over by any means, but not only has so much happened, but we also learnt many things as well.

For me I did notice that there was a lot less usage of Twitter over the event, I don’t know if this is because it was less used during online events that we’ve forgotten how useful a back channel can be, or just a general decline in the use of Twitter because of the noise. Having said that there was an interesting discussion on Twitter just after the conference on digital transformation.

This got me thinking more about how we can both explain this, define it, but also how do you make it happen.

Making it personal – Weeknote #157 – 4th March 2022

For the first time in at least two years (if not longer) I spent three days in a row at our Bristol office. The office was much busier than it has been on previous visits, and there was a (little) bit of a buzz in there. I did have a few in-person ad hoc interactions with people, who I might not interact with online. You can create these online, but it isn’t easy.

I was asked if I preferred working from home, or working in the office. My response was I prefer to have the choice. The challenge I found with lockdown, was that I had no choice. Though I have preferences about space when I have specific things I need to do, I really quite like working in different environments and spaces.

I had to upgrade the Twitter client on my iPad. The old one, which I liked kept crashing and I couldn’t get it to stop. The new one, I do not like.

group
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I posted a blog post on my early thinking about personalisation.

What do we mean by personalisation, what can we personalise, what should be personalise and what are the challenges in personalisation?

I have been looking at how data and technology can deliver a personalised learning journey and we have in our HE strategy the following ambition statement.

We will explore and develop solutions to help universities deliver personalised and adaptive learning using data, analytics, underpinning technologies and digital resources.

We know that there are very different opinions and views of what personalised learning is. One of the things I do need to do is to take that ambition statement and expand it into a clear explanatory statement, so that key stakeholders are clear about what we mean and why this space is important to higher education.

The ICC in Birmingham
The ICC in Birmingham

I have been preparing for Digifest next week where I will be attending both days.

I am also speaking at Digifest on Wednesday9th March 2022 from 11:45 – 12:30 in Hall 7B.

In this session, James will showcase Jisc’s HE sector strategy, Powering HE, and why and how we developed the strategy. He will explore what Jisc is doing and planning to do in the HE teaching and learning space. He will bring the session together with the impact the strategy is having on university members across the UK.

I enjoyed the WonkHE 404 page.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Maybe today is the day you start wearing your mask again – Weeknote #144 – 3rd December 2021

This was a full week back at work and I was in London for most of the week. Over the summer I had enjoyed working in the London office, a change of pace, location and routine compared to the forced working from home we had endured during the pandemic. Having had a fair amount of time off work, sick with covid, it was nice to be back in the office, talking and chatting to colleagues and similarly to the summer having the change of place and routine. The office was much busier than it had been in the summer. It felt quite normal in some respects, a little quieter than it was pre-pandemic.

However it was only a couple of weeks ago that I wrote about the possibilities of in-person teaching now that 90% of university students had had at least one Covid jab. Last week though we saw a new variant of concern of the coronavirus was identified by South African scientists and labelled by the WHO as Omicron.

On Monday I wrote about the impact Omicron could potentially have on the HE sector though my main messages was that universities should prepare for a possible lockdown.

Hopefully the vaccination rollout and mask wearing will reduce the chance of lockdown, but I would still be preparing for the possibilities of another lockdown regardless.

As we reach the end of the week, there have been some stories on the spread of Omicron, across the world, spreading to Europe, as might be expected with global travel and concerns this variant would have on infection rates (being more transmissible) and the subsequent impact on health resources. There were also some positive stories about the potential of vaccination to reduce the impact of Omicron.

Having said all that I would still be preparing for the possibilities of another lockdown regardless.

As you might expect, I ensured I was wearing my mask on public transport and when entering shops, eating places and as I walked around the office.

We had an HE leadership meeting on Monday and the majority of the meeting was discussing key challenges with our new CEO.

One of the things I reflected on was the success of Learning and Teaching Reimagined (LTR) and what we should do next. In order to build on and support the sector to deliver on the recommendation and work towards the challenges, Jisc working with members produced Higher education strategy 2021-2024: powering UK higher education which outlined how Jisc would support the sector going forward.

However LTR with its focus on teaching and learning leaves the door open to other ideas. There are a range of subjects that Jisc could focus on and undertake a similar range of activities and events as we did with LTR. This, like LTR, could be a sector-wide initiative focused on providing university leaders with inspiration on what the future might hold for higher education and guidance on how to respond and thrive in those environments. We could look at the student experience, leadership, the campus… there are a range of areas in which we could focus on in.

laptop and headphones
Image by Regina Störk from Pixabay

I published a blog post about the pandemic response and what we saw though described as online learning, wasn’t online learning.

One of things I have noticed is how often much of what was done during the numerous lockdowns was described as online learning. Let’s be clear you can describe what was happening as an emergency response to a crisis, even simplistically a pivot, but what was happening across schools, colleges and universities could in no way be described as online learning.

Some of my meetings were cancelled this week, which though freeing up time, can be frustrating.

This week was the Ascilite Conference. I really enjoyed attending and keynoting the conference back in 2009. Back then the UK was in the midst of an outbreak of swine flu. I didn’t go this year, but I may think about attending next year (pandemic permitting). This year it took place online and in-person at University of New England, Armidale NSW in Australia.

Martin Bean was part of a panel session and one comment (well tweet) I saw about the session mentioned the importance of authentic assessment, which made me think.

I think there is a blog post in this.

Was reminded this week that I am rubbish at Twitter.

While eating dinner on Wednesday evening, I participated in the #LTHEChat Twitterchat, Decolonising Learning Technology  led by Professor John Traxler.

I participated and did note that so much educational technology is designed for specific sector and its cultural norms, and then adjusted for other sectors and then other cultures. It was a really interesting debate and I enjoyed the discussion.

As it was December, I started tweeting out my advent calendar posts from a few years back. I really ought to spend some time doing new ones.

At the end of the week we had a HE Team meeting.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Day 21: Most used website

This post is part of the #JuneEdTechChallenge series.

chromebook
Image by 377053 from Pixabay

I have no idea. Mainly as I use multiple devices and browsers. 

On Chrome on my iMac, it would be Twitter, but on Safari it probably is something else.

On the iPad it’s probably BBC News, the Guardian or Wikipedia.

Though I didn’t post these posts each day in June (and to be honest I didn’t post it each day on the Twitter either) except the final day, I have decided to retrospectively post blog posts about each of the challenges and back date them accordingly. There is sometimes more I want to say on the challenge then you can fit into 140 characters (well 280 these days).