Category Archives: weeknotes

You can only have your files if you buy a coke! – Weeknote #170 – 3rd June 2022

A short week this week due to the bank holidays. Most people were on leave this week, so it was quiet as well.

At the weekend we went to see the Emergency Services Day that was taking place on the Beach Lawns in Weston-super-Mare. I did confirm with one of the crew there, that the Weston Fire & Rescue Service are the only service in the country with a hovercraft. Merseyside use to have one, but no longer. I often use this story when introducing myself in presentations and mentioning that Weston-super-Mare has the second longest tidal range in the world, as a result there is a lot of mud at low tide and people get stuck. They have to be rescued by hovercraft. The Weston hovercraft is 14 years old and is due to be replaced.

I did have a meeting about the security challenges of the intelligent campus. I was reminded of a story I wrote about in 2017, Hijacked vending machines cause chaos.

A university had been receiving an increasing number of complaints from students across campus about slow or inaccessible network connectivity. It turned out that hijacked vending machines (and 5,000) other Internet of Things (IoT) devices attacked the university network and slowed it right down.

I still have this image of a member of staff trying to access their files and finding a hijacked vending machine responding, you can only have your files if you buy a coke!

vending machine
Image by jplenio from Pixabay

I did some planning for meetings happening next week.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Why don’t you – Weeknote #169 – 27th May 2022

I was in Manchester this week, running various meetings and sessions relating to the Jisc HE sector strategy.

Had an excellent planning meeting with our Student Services team.

sweets
Image by El Sun from Pixabay

I published a blog post reminiscing about the short and sweet sessions I had developed and delivered at Gloucestershire College when I worked there.

The use of digital technologies for learning and teaching, doesn’t just happen. Staff don’t always instinctively pick up the skills and capabilities to utilise the range of digital tools and services available to them. In a similar manner the application of pedagogy to mobile, remote and online delivery is not as simple as translating in-person pedagogical practices.

Do we have a shared understanding of what we mean by digital transformation? It was on this point that I wrote a reflective piece on the digital transformation of music.

When it comes to digital transformation in education, I wonder if we can look at what happened to the music retail industry and the impact of digital over the last few decades.

cassette tape
Image by snd63 from Pixabay

I looked at how the retail music industry had moved from vinyl to CD, to mp3 and onto streaming services. So, what does this mean for education? Well don’t make the mistake of equating music tracks with something like a lecture. Digital transformation of education is not about the Napsterfication of lectures or creating an education version of Spotify. What we can learn from digital music is reflecting on the differences between the digitisation of education, the digitalisation of education and then the digital transformation of education.

I participated in the LTHEChat and Advance HE tweetchat about wellbeing in higher education.

The next day I wrote a very similar piece to my music post (I think a better one though) on the digital transformation of the television watching experience.

So to remind us, when we look at digital transformation, it becomes obvious that focusing on the hardware or technology is actually quite limiting. So when looking at the digital transformation of education, we really want to focus on the transformation of education and how digital can enable and enhance that transformation.

television
Image by Panyapat Rattanaprom from Pixabay

On Friday I attended Wonkhe and Adobe’s Education Espresso event on Pedagogy and playfulness.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Sweet reminiscing – Weeknote #168 – 20th May 2022

A busy week with travel and stuff.

Tuesday I headed off to Cheltenham to run the first drop in session on our sector strategy. These sessions are about supporting staff at Jisc to see how their work supports the delivery of the strategy.

sweets
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I was reminded on a mailing list of the “Short and Sweet” sessions I use to run at Gloucestershire College.

Someone was asking about TEL staff development and getting staff involved, and engaged. Often they would not attend staff development sessions.

Back in the day, when I worked at Gloucestershire College I faced similar problems. The solution for me was to take the staff development sessions, shorten them to 15 minutes and take them to the practitioners. These sessions were then delivered in their team meetings. I kept to time and also made a note of requests for further follow up training sessions.

Short and Sweet” sessions lasting fifteen minutes were  not the only model of development we delivered, there were also sessions lasting an hour, half a day and the odd whole day development. They were a little techno-centric, but they could cover anything, so as well as technology they could be pedagogy as well. It worked really well and many other teams started to use the term, saying things like “should we “short and sweet” this training?”

I am aware of a couple of universities that “borrowed” the concept for their own training, for example the University of Oxford.

Also there is this week note of mine which reminisces on the concept.

On Wednesday and Thursday it was off to Birmingham for a lunchtime to lunchtime away day for our leadership team. This was the first time we had all met in-person as a leadership team.

We were looking at our priorities for the next year (and beyond) and how we would work together.

I was on leave on Friday and off to London for the day.

My top tweet this week was this one.

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.

More connecting – Weeknote #166 – 6th May 2022

The early spring bank holiday meant a shorter working week for me.

Most of the week was being involved in Jisc’s Connect More 2022 event. I was chair for one day and a virtual host for another day. I wasn’t presenting as this was very much a practitioner focused event.

Some great and inspiring sessions.

Politics against entered the debate about in-person teaching and blended learning.

Universities could be fined for failing to return to in-person teaching, minister warns

Michelle Donelan has warned that if universities fail to return to face-to-face teaching, they may face large penalties. The universities minister told The Mail on Sunday she plans to “put boots on the ground” and send teams of inspectors to check staff attendance rates at campuses across the UK. Where universities don’t meet the required standards, they could “potentially be fined…

Helpful rhetoric? No, of course not.

Was involved in a few discussions about how students wanted to return to campus, but not necessarily to attend lectures.

Friday I went to the office in Bristol. It was quite busy compared the last time I was there.

The sector still appears to be reflecting on the concept of hybrid (or hyflex) teaching I read the following summary of ‘Hybrid Teaching and Learning in HE: a futuristic model or a realistic model for the future?’ was a question addressed at a workshop held by the University of Nottingham in early 2022, when universities were ready to turn the pandemic corner. More than 150 participants from around the globe were brought together to share their practice and learn from a community of academic and technical colleagues who had experienced hybrid teaching.

clocks
Photo by Ahmad Ossayli on Unsplash

I published a blog post on time. Do you have enough time to read it?

Though I have written about time lots of times over time (well at least the last twenty years); across the sector we are still discussing that we need to provide academics and practitioners with more time. There are still many voices out there, saying that the challenge with engaging practitioners with learning technologies is about providing them with time The trouble with talking about time, is that it is a somewhat simplistic perspective over what is a complex and challenging issue.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Down in the harbourside – Weeknote #165 – 29th April 2022

A busy week. In the morning I published a post, Go and be more innovative which was discussing how we often conflate innovation with improvement.

For me true innovation in educational technology is change which has significant impact across the whole organisation. However this isn’t always exciting and shiny! Too often we focus on the new and the shiny and less on those innovations, that are holistic, organisation-wide and would have a greater impact on the learner experience.

Monday afternoon we continued the review of our HE Directorate looking at what we do and how we operate.

I went into our Bristol office on Tuesday which was quite quiet.

It got me thinking about how do we make better use of the offices spaces we have without resorting to the leaving of little notes saying sorry to have missed you and looking forward to seeing you in the office. Most, okay all my meetings were online and in theory I could have done them all from home, but I did like the change in routine and scenery that going to the office allows. It was nice to have the few in-person social interactions I did have. I was once asked if I preferred working from home or working in the office, my response was I prefer to have the choice. Pre-pandemic the choice was very much about what I was doing which influenced where I would choose to work.

Earlier in the week there was an interesting Twitter thread on returning to the office and hybrid working.

I did think that this assertion on micro coworking was an interesting insight.

I can certainly see the rise of shared offices that don’t require long commutes or want a space to collaborate or I think important work in a social environment with others, even if they aren’t working on the same thing, or even for the same company.

I also think we could potentially see micro co-learning for universities being developed as well. Allowing students to learn locally without necessarily travelling to campus everyday or even at all.

Wednesday I did work from home and we had some briefing sessions about Connect More which is happening next week (online).

Thursday I was in Bristol, though this time at the Mshed supporting a team away day. It was nice to deliver a session in-person and chat with people over coffee.

I did some extra work in between sessions in a local coffee place.

I read this article, ‘Bossware is coming for almost every worker’: the software you might not realize is watching you in the Guardian.

Many companies in the US and Europe now appear – controversially – to want to try, spurred on by the enormous shifts in working habits during the pandemic, in which countless office jobs moved home and seem set to either stay there or become hybrid. This is colliding with another trend among employers towards the quantification of work – whether physical or digital – in the hope of driving efficiency.

The reliance on surveillance software to check if people are working, I do think misses the point about what work is. Work is something you do, it isn’t somewhere you go, and it isn’t something you can always be seen to be doing. Focusing on presenteeism and computer activity isn’t really an effective way of ensuring work is done.

I can certainly see some people looking at the potential of such kinds of surveillance technologies to measure learning. As if it could actually do that, by looking at computer activity and interactions with systems.

Friday was the last day of the week and I spent it at home working. I had an introductory meeting with a couple of new people in our public affairs team, talking about the HE sector strategy.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Shorter – Weeknote #164 – 22nd April 2022

A shorter week as there was a bank holiday and I took a day’s leave.

Came back to 70 emails in my inbox, which I cleared quite quickly.

Had a meeting with ALT about plans and collaboration going forward. Next week is the OER 22 Conference and there is a call for papers for the ALT Conference 2022. The ALT Conference 2022 will take place in-person in Manchester.

I attended the HEAnet & EduCampus Group Advisory Forum online. We are planning a strategic meeting that will take place in-person in September.

I spoke to our innovation team about the HE Sector Strategy.

I went to the office in Bristol on Friday, realised it had been sometime since I went to the Bristol office having been on leave, in Manchester and in London quite a bit over the last few weeks.

My top tweet this week was this one.

I am not that old – Weeknote #163 – 15th April 2022

I was mainly on leave this week working just a couple of days.

Was in London on Monday for an in-person meeting. I don’t mind meeting online when required, but after two years of online meetings, there is something about meeting in-person. The change in routine and scenery is very welcome. The focus of the discussion was an offshoot of the UPP Foundation report on the Student Futures Manifesto, notably recommendation one.

We were discussing the challenges that universities face in modernising their IT infrastructure and architecture.

Attended a meeting reviewing Digifest that happened last month.

…and that was day one

…and that was day two

If you attended the event, what did you think about the festival? What worked well for you and what would have made it better? Did you any sessions stick out for you? If you didn’t go, why was that, and what would have needed to be different for you to change your mind?

My top tweet this week was this one.

Everyone loves group work – Weeknote #162 – 8th April 2022

After a week in Manchester I spent this week working from home. I took the time to work on the implementation of our HE Sector Strategy and more on our internal communication plan to continue to raise awareness of the strategy.

I wrote up my reflections on the UCISA Conference.

Overall, I enjoyed the conference and found that it exceeded by expectations. Despite being labelled a leadership conference, I was expecting to see and hear much more about the operational side of higher education IT but was pleasantly surprised by how many sessions were on leadership and transformation. I will be planning to attend the UCISA Leadership Conference next year.

I also wrote up about sketching at UCISA 22 with some thoughts about sketches from earlier conferences. My sketch notes are really for me, rather than other people. The process of sketching allows me to digest for myself what is been talked about and demonstrated. The sketch note provides me with a mechanism that provides a process for my interpretation of what is being said and what I understand from the talk.

The process of sketching engages me in the talk in ways in which note taking does for others or conversing on the Twitter. They are not done for other people, if other people find them useful then that’s just a bonus. So if you want some sketch notes for your conference, why not get in touch.

Group working
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

I enjoyed Martin Weller’s blog post on group work.

First up, every student’s favourite way of working – group work!

He is working on a series of blog posts about online learning.

Like many of you I’ve been getting rather exasperated by the “online = bad, face to face = good” narrative that seems to have arisen post-pandemic. So I thought I’d try a series on some of the ways in which online learning can be done effectively. I mean, I know it won’t make any difference, but shouting into the void can be therapeutic. They’ll be a mix of research and my own experience.

I worked on some reports and guides we will be publishing later in the year on the Intelligent Campus and the Intelligent Library. We originally published the guide in 2017. This was at the time well received by the sector and continues to be the core guidance in this space. Since then, universities across the UK have been exploring how they can make their campuses smarter and intelligent. Since the guide was published, there have been many changes to the landscape, as well as the covid-19 pandemic, there have been advances in smart campus technologies, and a new range of use cases.  We know from sector intelligence, member voice and Learning and Teaching Reimagined that the future of the campus is an important component when it comes to digital transformation. This has shown the need for Jisc to update their advice and guidance in this area.

Continuing our research into the Intelligent Campus is outlined in Jisc’s HE strategy.

We will continue our research into the intelligent campus, learning spaces and digital platforms, and how these improve a seamless student experience. This includes how digital and physical estates work together so that they are responsive to student journeys and interactions as well as to help universities achieve their net zero targets.

I was interested though (from an FE perspective) to read about Gloucestershire College’s move to ensure that their campuses function on fully renewable energy. They are digging bore holes for a heat exchanger. For a site that is in the heart of the city centre I did think that this was an intriguing solution to moving to net zero.

I wrote a blog post on the duality of digital teaching.

When we talk about online and in-person many of us think of this as a dichotomy, either we are online, or we are in-person. The reality is though as we know, that this can be more of a spectrum, a range of possibilities, with varying depths to which online or digital can be embedded into an in-person experience.

I did think that this Twitter thread on academic presentations was interesting and useful to read on six useful things.

  1. Practice speaking in your natural voice
  2. Break up your talk
  3. Don’t cram in material
  4. Research the setting
  5. End early
  6. Prepare two conclusion statements.

I did like the sixth thing was interesting and useful.

Academic talks often end with a Q&A. But this can mean that the last thing you audience hears is a subpar question or an awkward “No more questions?” You can ensure that things end on a high note if you prep a post-Q&A conclusion.

This is something I am going to start doing in my talks and presentations.

My top tweet this week was this one.

I see you BoatyMcBoatFace – Weeknote #161 – 1st April 2022

Spent most of the week in Manchester where I was attending the UCISA Leadership Conference. I am posting my (more in-depth) reflections and thoughts on the conference in separate blog posts.

Though the conference kicked off on the Tuesday, I had quite few lengthy meetings in my diary on Monday so I went up earlier to Manchester.

I went to the Jisc office in Manchester which was the first time in nearly three years. Since I was last there in September 2019 for a fleeting visit it has been refurbished.

I have never attended the UCISA Leadership conference before, but after the 2020 conference was cancelled, I was given the chance to attend the 2022 event. This was the third in-person conference I have attended since March 2020.

This year’s much-anticipated UCISA22 Leadership Conference will look ahead at the future challenges and opportunities for digital leaders in education. The theme of conference is Digital Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World. Recognising our sector continues to operate in an unprecedented period of sustained change, the programme seeks to empower our leaders to not only navigate current turbulence, but overcome the challenges you face, such as cybersecurity, sustainability, and recruitment.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I kind of expected that this would be a highly technical conference, about how technology can deliver transformation and I can say that what I experienced was not what I was expecting.

There was a great range of sessions, I did like the one What can your organisation learn from Formula 1?

Business models break, new ones develop, technology evolves, regulations are revised and customers alter buying habits. Every industry is witnessing change, and Formula 1 is no different; as a multi-billion dollar sport it has seen unprecedented change in the last 20 years. Above all, Formula One’s leadership teams have had to communicate, manage and implement transformation strategies, bringing their teams with them, ensuring that they make the most from embracing change.

Some great reflections on leadership and strategy.

Another highlight was the session by Mark Simpson, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning & Teaching, Teesside University entitled What’s your narrative? Building a compelling vision and dancing in the field.

As with previous conferences I got the Apple Pencil out and did some sketch notes on my iPad.

With three days at the conference, I didn’t have much time for other things. I missed the Wonkhe session on assessment, but have now got the slides and the recording.

Also I did see BoatyMcBoatFace making the news again.

On its first outing to the Antarctic, the £200m polar vessel – popularly known as Boaty McBoatface – has been smashing through thick frozen floes.

It reminded me of the fun we had with that back in the day when I was leading the digital capabilities project and how you should never ask the internet for anything.

My top tweet this week was this one as noticed by Adam Shoemaker.