It was a really BIG Crane – Weeknote #246 – 17th November 2023

I spent the best part of the week in Glasgow where I was attending and presenting at Learning Places Scotland 2023. Next to the Scottish Event Campus Centre is the huge, okay BIG Finnieston Crane, which I walked past every time I went from my hotel to the conference centre and back again.

It was an interesting conference, though the focus was very much on schools and from the nature of the exhibitors, furniture.

My presentation was in a session on sustainability, and for me specifically on building the intelligent campus.

Universities and colleges spend billions on their campuses, yet they are frequently underutilised and are often a frustrating experience for students. In this session, James Clay will describe the campus of the future. How does a traditional campus become a smart campus? What are the steps to make a smart campus, an intelligent campus? The intelligent campus builds on the smart campus concept and aims to find effective ways to use data gathered from the physical estate and combine it with learning and student data from student records, library systems, the virtual learning environment (VLE) and other digital systems. This session will describe what data can be gathered, how it can be measured and explore the potential for enhancing the student experience, achieving net zero, improve efficiency, and space utilisation. It will demonstrate and explain to the delegates what the exciting future of the intelligent campus. James will also ask delegates to consider the ethical issues when implementing an intelligent campus as well as the legal requirements.

I was supposed to attend a pre-conference planning call, however my flight up to Glasgow was delayed by over ninety minutes, so the call took place whilst I was in the air. We eventually did the meeting in person over coffee.

I had various conversations with key SFC stakeholders, Jisc colleagues at the Learning Places Scotland 2023 conference. This kind of informal ad hoc conversation is much harder to undertake in an online conference, not impossible, just harder, or just different. In the past at an online conference I would probably have had these informal conversations on the Twitter. As I have now stopped using Twitter (or X) and though Threads and Bluesky are spaces I frequent now, they don’t yet have reached an optimal size as a viable community for online conferences.

Thursday, I had originally planned to be in our Bristol office for a meeting with the Office for Students. However last week the decision was made to have the meeting online, so I worked from home and attended the meeting online.

On Friday we had another meeting of our Research Evidence Advisory Group at Jisc. As more and more teams and staff across Jisc undertake and utilise research, we are ensuring that moving forward we have a more consistent way of working.

I had planned to attend the UCISA Enterprise Architecture: a culture, not a project webinar, but it clashed with my flight plans, but I now have access to a recording, which I aim to visit next week.

Did some preparation for Leadership Masterclass – Operationalising your Strategic Vision which I am delivering next week.

What Was Wonkfest – Weeknote #245 – 10th November 2023

I was mainly in London this week trying to avoid the rain.

I was attending the WonkHE Festival of Higher Education, this is the conference previously known as WonkFest. The name change was more about the challenge in delegates getting funding to come to the event… so you want to go to a conference, that should be fine, what’s it called. Seriously?

It was a rather good conference, some really good sessions, too much choice sometimes. Only downside was, one of the rooms for the parallel sessions, was too small, so as a result lots of people who wanted to attend the session were turned away (including me).

I enjoyed the session, “in conversation with David Aaronovitch“ I did have a question about the Remembrance of the Daleks… but a quick check of Wikipedia and I realise that Ben Aaronovitch wrote the Daleks and is David’s brother… So won’t be asking that question then!

I did a few sketch notes.

What do the UK’s places want from their universities?

How do you solve a problem like HE regulation?

What might the future of education technology hold?

Not as many as I might do at other conferences, as the format of some of the sessions, didn’t lend themselves to sketching.

There was a couple of good blog posts on the WonkHE website about the event.

I had to spend some time reviewing and collating materials, and writing briefing note and bullet points for a panel session at HEAnet on Navigating the Challenges and Opportunities of the Modern Campus. As the considered expert on the intelligent campus, I often get asked to provide a perspective on the future of the university campus.

It is the intelligent campus that I will be speaking about, next week at Learning Places Scotland 2023 in Glasgow. I am doing a presentation on building the intelligent campus.

Universities and colleges spend billions on their campuses, yet they are frequently underutilised and are often a frustrating experience for students. In this session, James Clay will describe the campus of the future. How does a traditional campus become a smart campus? What are the steps to make a smart campus, an intelligent campus? The intelligent campus builds on the smart campus concept and aims to find effective ways to use data gathered from the physical estate and combine it with learning and student data from student records, library systems, the virtual learning environment (VLE) and other digital systems. This session will describe what data can be gathered, how it can be measured and explore the potential for enhancing the student experience, achieving net zero, improve efficiency, and space utilisation. It will demonstrate and explain to the delegates what the exciting future of the intelligent campus. James will also ask delegates to consider the ethical issues when implementing an intelligent campus as well as the legal requirements.

I had to plan in a call to discuss the presentation.

video recording
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

On Monday before heading off to London, I had a great discussion with colleagues in the office about broadcast and recording capabilities within our Bristol office. The reality is that though I would love to have a proper TV studio in the office I really need to plan and deliver some initial content first, to provide some foundations to a proof of concept.

There was a discussion on the possible future of the office, as in redesigning the space to reflect the current (hybrid) working practices. So more collaborative spaces, more occasional spaces, more spaces for online conversations and meetings, and so on…

Continued doing more work on the planning, reflection, and researching concept of optimisation of operations and data.

I had a great meeting with Josie Fraser discussing digital skills and digitisation.

We had some great old person digital transformation reminiscing.

Had a pre-meeting for Jisc OfS meeting next week. As a result I have some preparation to do.

I did miss using the Twitter at the conference this week, though I did post to Bluesky and Threads, it wasn’t quite the same, and very little engagement. I did look at the Twitter and there were some posts, so I do think even if I had engaged, there wouldn’t have been a serious amount of traction and discussion.

What might the future of education technology hold?

Senate House

I am attending the WonkHE Festival of Higher Education 2023 at Senate House in London.

Originally called WonkFest I have attended the conference before, and it’s a great event to learn about higher education policy and the impact on the university sector.

I attended the session titled: What might the future of education technology hold?

a view of the stage

Beyond the hype, and the sales pitch, beyond digital transformation and digital natives – this session will explore how technology is likely to shape higher education provison in the years ahead, what changes universities can realistically expect to learning and teaching, and how they might work with technology providers to get ahead of the curve.

Despite the abstract this was alas something of a sales pitch. As well as the advertised PVC, Claire Pike, Mark Simpson, the PVC from Teesside was also on the stage. However in a thirty minute session, over twenty minutes was devoted to telling us how “wonderful” one specific product was. I think this was a missed opportunity. Yes, I know you sponsored the conference, do provide an insight into the product, but that would have been much more authentic and valuable if it had come one of the PVCs.

I also felt thirty minutes was quite short for the session, so there wasn’t time for question or further discussion.

Jisc did get a mention for their report on student perceptions of generative AI.

This report looks at how students are currently using generative AI and explores its potential impact on their learning experience.

Even so I did do a sketchnote.

How do you solve a problem like HE regulation?

I am attending the WonkHE Festival of Higher Education 2023 at Senate House in London.

Originally called WonkFest I have attended the conference before, and it’s a great event to learn about higher education policy and the impact on the university sector.

I attended the session titled: How do you solve a problem like HE regulation?

Can any higher education regulator realistically be expected to balance the interests of students, providers, government, and the nation – and not get itself into hot water? With regulatory divergence and reform across the UK and criticisms from a House of Lords committee over the efficacy of English regulator the Office for Students, our panel will assess the options for HE regulation and think through what might be done to make it work.

I did a sketchnote which shows the breadth and depth that was covered in the session.

What do the UK’s places want from their universities?

Senate House

I am attending the WonkHE Festival of Higher Education 2023 at Senate House in London.

Originally called WonkFest I have attended the conference before, and it’s a great event to learn about higher education policy and the impact on the university sector.

The opening panel session was entitled What do the UK’s places want from their universities?

“Levelling up” may no longer be the current buzzword in government, but long standing issues of inequitable economic growth, public health, cultural assets, and education outcomes across the UK haven’t gone away – nor has universities’ and colleges’ commitment to their places. As Britain gears up for a general election, how might “place” shape the next generation of policy thinking – and how can universities best meet the needs of their communities?

I did a sketchnote which shows the breadth and depth that was covered in the session.

Revisiting Visitors and Residents

I was in our Bristol office for an in-person workshop. I was attending a community manager training understanding behaviours workshop in Bristol. The workshop was led by Dave White. The focus was on digital practice and involved looking at visitors and residents and mapping your online activities.

I have done this workshop before quite a few times, and have even delivered a version of it as part of the Digital Leaders Programme and at the ALT Conference. So it was very familiar territory for me.

Despite having participated before in these kinds of workshops, I still threw myself into the process.

It was interesting to map my internet activity, as my online behaviours have changed quite a bit over the last few years (and even over the last few months).

One of the interesting observations as I reflect on the map, is what is missing. I use Google to search everyday, and I think that has become so normalised in my behaviour that I didn’t even consider putting it in. Having said that I am using search in Google Maps a lot more these days and that is something I didn’t use to to (and it is on the map).

I also reflected that Wikipedia is not there either, and this is a site I use on a regular basis for both finding out stuff and checking information, but I also use it to read about stuff that I find interesting, sometimes going down a Wikipedia rabbit hole of articles.

WordPress, a tool I use all the time for blogging was also missing in action.

On previous maps I did, Twitter was huge bubble or square on the map, today X is over on the left side of the map. Whereas before I would consider my behaviour to be resident in Twitter, these days it is a place I visit rarely and stopped engaging with the site last month. My replacements of Bluesky and Threads are there, but from a personal social perspective Facebook has become more dominant.

After using Flickr album at ALT-C in September, I have been thinking about re-engaging with the service and paying the subscription. ALT-C was also where Discord became my conference tool of choice, I think though that my use of that will decline over the next few months.

Another service, which I use to use a lot, Google Docs, is now a much smaller part of my digital footprint. I certainly don’t use it like I did a few years ago. Maybe that is the nature of the work I am doing, but I think also the use of Office 365 at work has changed how I collaborate on shared documents.

The work stuff is there, Outlook, Teams, (what was Yammer) and Dovetail. Though I personally use JIRA and Confluence, the rest of the people I work with don’t. I think what is interesting for me is how Outlook is a place I visit, but don’t necessarily use as a key communication or engagement tool, that’s where Teams comes into play.

Overall I did enjoy doing the mapping exercise and then reflecting on my practice.

Blue Skies

blue skies
Image by Mint_Foto from Pixabay

I managed to snag an invite code for Bluesky, which I am now using alongside Threads as a micro-blogging platform instead of X (what as the Twitter).

I haven’t quite engaged with my community on Bluesky, still more lurking (listening) than participating and engaging.

As with Threads, I will give Bluesky for time and engagement as experience tells me it takes time for a social media platform time to bed in and become part of people’s lives. I worry though as it is in beta, will it scale, but more importantly as it isn’t that easy and simple to sign up to (you need an invite code) will that mean people won’t join and seek a home elsewhere. Without a community, then there is a chance that people will stop visiting and not engage.

Storm Ciarán – Weeknote #244 – 3rd November 2023

I was in the office this week, continuing to work on various pieces of work. The only day I didn’t go into the office was Thursday and that was mainly down to Storm Ciarán. I had originally planned to visit a university campus in Southern England, but after the storm warnings for Storm Ciarán, I decided to change my plans, however with possible disruption to roads and rail, I also made the decision not to go to the office to work.

I was invited to and attended a focus group to support an investigative study of higher education delivery models in Wales. I was reminded of the work I had done on translation and transformation.

Continued the planning, reflection, and researching concept of optimisation of operations and data. Researching and analysing the background, exemplars, benefits, issues, challenges, and barriers to shared services across higher education. Continued the planning report structure on the background, exemplars, benefits, issues, challenges, and barriers to shared services across higher education.

Had a discussion with Paul McKean on FE digital elevation tool and how it is being used by FE colleges. This inspired me to rethink about approaches to various pieces of work I am doing.

Did the first scoping of an Intelligent Campus Elevation Tool to support members in their development of the smart and intelligent campus concept. Based on the work done on Jisc’s FE digital elevation tool, this could be something that universities and colleges might find useful as they navigate the smart and intelligent campus landscape. Also started to reflect on the use of the concept of the digital elevation tool for the optimisation of operations and data.

Wednesday I was in the office for an in-person workshop. I was attending Module 1: Community manager training understanding behaviours workshop in Bristol. The workshop was led by Dave White. I have done this workshop before and have even delivered a version of it as part of the Digital Leaders Programme. So it was very familiar territory for me.

It was interesting to map my internet activity, as my online behaviours have changed quite a bit over the last few years. Back in 2015 for example, Twitter was huge for me, today, well I left X in September. Might write about this a bit more.

Had a meeting with our Public Affairs team about providing the supporting information for a panel session at HEAnet on Navigating the Challenges and Opportunities of the Modern Campus. Much of the work I have done on the Intelligent Campus is appropriate in this area, as are the original use cases that we wrote back in 2017 and 2019.

campus
Image by 小亭 江 from Pixabay

We had our Directorate Monthly call covering change management and information governance.

The official photographs from EDUtech Europe 2023 were posted to Flickr. As per usual I did not manage to avoid the photographer.

Started thinking about my Q1 review documentation.

Continued with my planning and preparation for presentation for Learning Places Scotland 2023 happening in two weeks time.

Next week I am in London for the WonkHE Festival of Higher Education.

Photographs from EDUtech Europe 2023

They have published the photographs from the EDUtech Europe 2023 conference at the Amsterdam RAI that I attended earlier this month.

As is usual I did not manage to avoid the photographer…

These photographs were from the Smart Campus session where I was discussing building the smart campus and what we understand by an intelligent campus.

I had been invited to participate in the Smart Campus panel session at EDUTech Europe 2023. I had proposed that in the discussion I would chat about the following.

    • How do we move from a smart campus to a smarter or intelligent campus? Bringing in more data sources to get deeper insights and understanding.
    • What are the ethical and privacy considerations we need to be aware of before building a smart campus? Do we need to consider algorithmic bias in our planning?
    • A campus does not exist in isolation, how could we integrate the smart campus into the smart city (or smart community).

Here I am doing a sketch note during a session on the pillars for a successful digital strategy.

Here is the sketch note.

On Thursday I was invited to participate in the Assessment panel session at EDUTech Europe 2023, after someone had dropped out.

This was an interesting session looking at the role of assessment.

There was also a drinks reception.

See all the photographs from the conference.

Busy, not packed – Weeknote #243 – 27th October 2023

I went to the office quite a bit this week, travelling to Bristol. Our offices are busy, not packed, but busy.

Most of the week was continuing the planning, reflection, and researching concept of optimisation of operations and data. I was also researching and analysing the background, exemplars, benefits, issues, challenges, and barriers to shared services across higher education. I then started planning a potential report structure.

We had our monthly HEIRLT Leadership Meeting, and I also had my monthly one to one.

I did some planning and preparation for presentation for Learning Places Scotland 2023. I am doing a presentation on building the intelligent campus.

Universities and colleges spend billions on their campuses, yet they are frequently underutilised and are often a frustrating experience for students. In this session, James Clay will describe the campus of the future. How does a traditional campus become a smart campus? What are the steps to make a smart campus, an intelligent campus? The intelligent campus builds on the smart campus concept and aims to find effective ways to use data gathered from the physical estate and combine it with learning and student data from student records, library systems, the virtual learning environment (VLE) and other digital systems. This session will describe what data can be gathered, how it can be measured and explore the potential for enhancing the student experience, achieving net zero, improve efficiency, and space utilisation. It will demonstrate and explain to the delegates what the exciting future of the intelligent campus. James will also ask delegates to consider the ethical issues when implementing an intelligent campus as well as the legal requirements.

I was asked to conduct an initial ‘triage’ review of Jisc online advice and guidance that I am responsible for. There isn’t a huge amount on the Jisc website, so didn’t take long.

Did some preparation for Investigative study of higher education delivery in Wales session I am attending next week.

Starting to realise how over the last few years (but not really over the last few months) how much stuff I would get and learn from what was the Twitter. I made the decision to disengage from the Twitter and though not gone so far to delete my account, I haven’t posted there since September, I haven’t really got the same engagement and traction with Bluesky and Threads. I also realised that by tweeting out links and news, I would have a mechanism for remembering these stories and websites. Currently I don’t think the answer is Threads or Bluesky, but it might be in the future. I think I will need to rethink my workflows for news and content. I have done this before when Google Reader stopped working.

news and views on e-learning, TEL and learning stuff in general…