Tag Archives: birmingham

All together now – Weeknote #31 – 11th October 2019

Birmingham
Birmingham

A busy week with travels to Bristol, Reading and Birmingham this week.

Monday I was in Bristol for a meeting with the Office for Students, one of the funders of Jisc. Following that I was back in the main office for further meetings.

There was an interesting long read on the Guardian website.

‘The way universities are run is making us ill’: inside the student mental health crisis

A surge in anxiety and stress is sweeping UK campuses. What is troubling students, and is it the universities’ job to fix it?

We know that there is a student mental health crisis and the reasons for this aren’t necessarily clear. We know there has been increase in the demand for mental health services at universities. The article notes that there has been research into the causes of this, but lays the blame for the crisis on the way in which universities are managed and run, leading to students not being in control of what they do and saddled with debt.

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay
Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Another article I read this week was this one.

Exams could be replaced by artificial intelligence in the future, private school chief predicts 

Rather than being awarded grades for individual GCSEs, 16-year-old students could in the future be given performance reports which contain far more detailed information about their abilities.

“Rather than a grade summarising your ability in science, it might be that it is much more precise,” Mr Buchanan said.

“A report could talk about your knowledge of science but also your capacity to hypothesis, to assimilate and synthesise evidence, and your ability to present orally.

Generally from what I have read, technological change may start in that way, but before long there are new ways of doing things.

The printing press replaced the way in which bibles were published, moving from handwritten copies to printed copies. Though the real benefit of the printing press was not the mass production of bibles, but books, then newspapers. It made information and knowledge more accessible.

I think we will see similar step changes with artificial intelligence, moving away from fixed problems with current assessment methods and thinking differently about what assessment actually is and what it is for.

Problem of course with the article is that it is easy to say what could happen, much more challenging to understand how to make it happen.

University of Reading
University of Reading

Tuesday I was off to the University of Reading. I was accompanying one of our Account Managers and met with their TEL lead and their IT (now called Digital Technologies) team. It was nice to be in a university and talking about what they do and how they use technology. I would like to visit other universities, so let me know if you want to invite me in, to talk and chat about how technology can enhance and improve the student experience, as well as learning, teaching and assessment.

The ICC in Birmingham
The ICC in Birmingham

Wednesday was our all staff conference in Birmingham at the ICC. It was nice to see all (well a lot of) our staff together in one place. Got a chance to chat to a range of different people.

Thursday was a time for catching up with stuff and preparing for some events and meetings next week.

I did attend an online demonstration of PebblePad and it reminded me of how the concept of the e-portfolio is a difficult thing to narrow down and define.

I did have a chance to reflect on one of the questions I was asked earlier in the week on how students can connect their Alexa devices to Eduroam. The simple answer is they can’t.

I had initially forgotten that I had blogged about this earlier this year.

Alexa, what’s on my timetable today?

The current solution is for managed devices, ie the university centrally manages the Alexa devices as in this case study.

Amazon Echos to be installed in dorms

Amazon have WPA2 Enterprise support for shared echo devices. However it does require the devices to be centrally managed.

This is how some universities have put Echo devices on their campuses. There is another (much larger) piece of work on creating the data structures and content to answer the questions students would be asking their devices.

I planned, designed and created a presentation for a conference next week. It got me thinking about how I (currently) design my presentations and started to document the workflow, which I will hoefully post to the blog.

Friday was a day to discuss our technical career pathways. I feel we have made significant progress on this and will be launching by the end of the month.

My top tweet this week was this one.

The Intelligent Science Park – Weeknote #05 – 5th April 2019

I was in the Bristol office on Monday morning, firstly I was discussing the panel session I had agreed to attend at Jisc’s Networkshop event in Nottingham next week. The end result was I found myself seeking out some panellists for the session and to find myself chairing the whole thing.

The session is entitled, What will the university look like in 2030? What we hope to discuss and share our views on is about what the student experience will look like in 2030? What are the challenges students and staff will face in the future. Our panel of experts will discuss which  emerging technologies offer the most promise in helping with the challenges universities and colleges face. The session will highlight the horizon report and Jisc’s view of education 4.0.  This  session is aimed at helping managers understand the future student experience, and what it potentially could look like and the challenges that may arise. What emerging technologies will help to meet these challenges, and how do they integrate these into the current and future institutional strategies. As you might expect with a somewhat technical audience some of the panellists will focus and discuss the technical aspects. How do we ensure we have the infrastructure and bandwidth to meet these challenges? How do we ensure security of the growing network, which takes advantage of the cloud and the internet of things?

Following that I was in a meeting with my fellow sector strategy leads updating our progress and what challenges we were facing. This was the first of these meetings I had attended in my new role, so was both challenging and informative.

The afternoon saw myself and colleagues from my new directorate attend a tone of voice workshop. This was an interesting diversion and though there was a lot to take in, the key message for me was to collaborate more in my writing. I often pass draft blog posts to people for comment, but sometimes I am impatient and publish straight away. I know the value of a good proof reader and copy editor as well as collaborators.

On Tuesday I was off to the University of Birmingham for the UKSPA conference.

The mission of The United Kingdom Science Park Association (UKSPA) is to be the authoritative body on the planning, development and the creation of Science Parks and other innovation locations that are facilitating the development and management of innovative, high growth, knowledge-based organisations.

I had been invited, before I took on my new role,  to talk about the Intelligent Campus. I took my usual presentation on this and gave it a Science Park wrapper, so it was called The Intelligent Science Park.

The presentation as you can see is mainly, okay all, photographs. I use Pixabay and Unsplash a lot now to find images for presentations.

Lego Unicorn
Lego Unicorn – Image by Joakim Roubert from Pixabay

To a packed room I talked about the difference between the smart campus and the intelligent campus. I discussed the potential of an intelligent science park and the benefits this could provide organisations on those parks and for the people working there. I adapted our Intelligent Campus slide to convey what a hypothetical intelligent science park data infrastructure could look like.

I also went through the challenges that arise, the ethical considerations, the legal aspects (including GDPR), the importance of security, as well as the key challenges of technical and validity. There were lots of questions and interest in the topic.

Wednesday was an opportunity to catch up on missed e-mails and other communications.  I also finalised the plans and details for the panel session at Networkshop. I had a meeting to catch-up on the discovery work being undertaken in the area of curriculum analytics. Initially this had been tied up into the intelligent campus work, before been separated and worked on independently. It was good to see where it had got to and the potential for the future. This work was then presented later in the week to the Jisc Student Experience Experts Group.

The afternoon was catching up on the work being done by Jisc in the area of wellbeing and mental health. I think it’s important that when we say something like…

Working on how data and analytics and other technology related approaches can support mental health and well-being for staff, students and researchers.

That what we’re actually saying is something more like…

Working on how data and analytics and other technology related approaches can provide insight, intelligence and inform those staff and services that work in this space and support the mental health and well-being of staff, students and researchers.

This isn’t about just using data and analytics in the field of wellbeing, but using data to provide insights for people that work in this space, that may otherwise be missed, allow for earlier interventions, but also understand the impact of those interventions.

Thursday saw another meeting with a member of the Jisc ELT discussing the HE and student experience strategy. I am having a series of meetings with key members of the Executive to discuss the strategy.

On Thursday and Friday I had some administration to do, both for the new role, but also some legacy Intelligent Campus admin to sort and send out. Despite trying to maintain detailed notes on the Intelligent Campus Confluence site, you realise as you leave a project how much is buried inside the odd e-mail, in your head or was passed to other people in the team. We are recruiting a replacement for me to lead on the Intelligent Campus project, and I am sure that there will a lot of handover discussion as they bed into their new role.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Down at the Festival

JISC Digital Festival

After a brief absence, the JISC, sorry Jisc Conference, sorry Jisc Digital Festival is back. The last JISC Conference was a couple of years ago and it has evolved in the Jisc Digital Festival.

It was a two day event in Birmingham looking at many different aspects of technology enhanced learning. There was stuff for learning technologists, library people and IT managers. For someone in my role there was a lot of choice.

In some ways it was reminiscent of past JISC Conferences and in others it was very different and new. There was a lot happening and it can be challenging to find the stuff you want to see and listen to.

I did like the festival theme, which really gave the event a very different feel. Two days also made a difference to the rushed single day there use to be.

With such a packed programme it was inevitable that there would be some clashes. I was torn for example about going to the digital storytelling session or the one on visitors and residents.

I was pleased with the vast majority of the sessions I attended, they were stimulating, interesting, informative and made me think. There was a lot of stuff to take away. With recordings and resources online, there’s a substantial amount of stuff to refect on and take away.

One of the key benefits for me of attending a conference such as this is making contacts, talking and networking. There wasn’t a huge number of people from FE, but I certainly spoke to many of them. Finding out what they were doing, the issues they faced and what they were planning. Finding out what others are doing is a critical factor when implementing change, for benchmarking and aiding discovery.

It was also useful to speak to contacts at Jisc, Janet, TechDis, as well as some of the exhibitors. I have a bundle of business cards, flyers, web links and even the odd QR Code.

JISC Digital Festival

I got a lot out of the conference, I took a lot away and it has made me think. I am glad to see the return of the conference and in many ways I think it was much better than previous Jisc conferences. Now that’s back, I hope that Jisc will also bring back the online conference, as I really missed it this year.