Tag Archives: block teaching

The digital camera is back – Weeknote #206 – 10th February 2023

A busy and unbusy week, in the sense, fewer events and meetings in my diary, but lots of things to get done.

According to a BBC report, digital cameras back in fashion after online revival.

Digital cameras from the early 2000s are becoming must-have gadgets for many young people because of a burgeoning trend online. And in the past 12 months, videos with the hashtag #digitalcamera have amassed more than 220 million views on TikTok.

…and to think I still consider this *new* technology!

One of my favourite photographs. Taken with a Sony Cybershot Digital Camera in 2004.

BR Class 4MT - 80136 at Minehead Railway Station

On Tuesday I headed off to the Bristol office by train. My usual train use to be a GWR Castle class HST train, but today it had been replaced by one of the newer GWR Intercity Express Trains (IET). I believe that the HSTs on GWR are being slowly withdrawn from the services they currently do as they are expensive to run, and also produce more emissions than the IETs.

Attended an Intelligent Campus guide launch and engagement planning meeting. We reviewed the complementary materials to go alongside the launch of the second edition of the Guide to the Intelligent Campus. We clarified that this was not a big launch. Also discussed potential sessions for Networkshop on the foundations required for the Intelligent Campus. I am doing a fireside chat at Digifest in March, and we will launch the guide there. I spent some time reviewing and proofing the  Guide to the Intelligent Campus.

Had an interesting conversation in our office on issues around the concept of the Intelligent Campus including security of IoT devices and smart devices. There are lots of smart devices out there, and across many institutions, people are plugging them into the network, without necessarily thinking about the security implications. I am reminded of the chaos caused when a series of soda vending machines and lamp posts hijacked the network of an American university. In my own home I have a smart washing machine, have I attached it to my network, no I have not.

Google’s AI search bot Bard made a $120bn error on day one. This does demonstrate that we are at early days with AI supported search. Also, this week Microsoft added AI search to Bing. This will make it easier and simpler for students to utilise AI when making (internet) searches for content related to their studies. I do think we need to start thinking about both academics and students understanding these tools, and the potential of these tools and what it means for teaching and learning. The essence of assessment is something else that will need to be rethought.

Image by mohamed ramzee from Pixabay

Read this article Block teaching advocates team up after ‘explosion’ of interest.

Advocates of “block teaching” are teaming up in an attempt to hasten its adoption by universities worldwide.

This isn’t new, as the article says, it has been around for fifty years.

Read this tweet responding to the article

I have to agree that this isn’t a one or the other situation, it’s about doing both, a spectrum of teaching. Back in the day when I was teaching at City of Bristol College (in the 1990s) we designed a GNVQ programme that was a combination of block and linear, for those very reasons. Some areas benefited from a deep dive and others were about building knowledge and skills over time. We had to design the whole programme to then fit the timetable. The main challenge was that we couldn’t devote one person to deliver each subject block, so we shared the teaching. The students had block learning, we had linear timetabled teaching.

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay
Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Booking events and conferences for April. I am attending the UCISA Spotlight 2023 and LILAC 2023. Various issues with the LILAC booking, so had to redo the whole purchase order process for this conference.  Spotlight 2023 is in Leeds, so will be nice to be back there. The last time I was in Leeds, was in January 2020 just before the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Also booked into an online event, UCISA Starting the year on the right foot happening next week.

Sent out information on next Senior Education and Student Experience to members of the group, and inviting new members to the group. The group in the main consists of PVCs in the Education and Student Experience space, but also has some DVCs and VCs (or equivalent) on the group as well.

On Thursday I attended a technology for teaching discussion meeting with the Department for Education. It reminded me that a research informed evidence base is critical for many conversations in this space.

IFTTT let me know that changes to the Twitter API means that some of my IFTTT applets will probably stop working.

Starting Monday, February 13th, 2023, Twitter will no longer support free access to their API. As a result, we expect that any Applet that connects with Twitter will stop working.

I am mainly using IFTTT at the moment to post native images from Instagram to Twitter. However in the past I have used IFTTT to collate tweets to specific hashtags.

We’ve not seen the complete collapse of Twitter as many were predicting a few weeks back, but we have seen problems this week and many other issues as well. I am still using Twitter, but also drop in on Mastodon as well.

Most Kipling cakes come in sixes. Why do the Battenberg cakes only have five in the box? Is someone at the Kipling factory eating that extra Battenberg cake?

My top tweet this week was this one.

Disruption – UCISA 22 Day #2

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.

I wrote about day one of the conference in this blog post. This post is about the second day of the event. This was a full day of sessions, conversations, exhibition and networking. Certainly not enough coffee, but then again conference coffee is never anything to write home about.

For me the day started with the 9am session, From The Workshop to The Disruptor: Strategic Online Planning During the Pandemic which was delivered remotely by Adam Shoemaker, Vice-Chancellor & President, Victoria University.

In 2021, enduring significant lockdowns meant we had to be creative and authentic in the way we engaged with staff. This became especially significant during our new strategic plan development – as we wanted our staff to be involved in the process in a way that had never been done before. Utilising a crowd-sourcing platform that we named The Workshop, we harnessed people power and digital enablement to create something truly unique. This has led to a new way of imagining our senior leadership and designing our teaching, research and partnering future.

I did a sketch note of his talk.

Victoria University took a very different approach to their strategic planning. This was not a top down approach, the process initially involved nearly a thousand staff. This was a highly collaborative approach bringing in ideas, thoughts and visions from across the university.

Continue reading Disruption – UCISA 22 Day #2

And we’re back – Weeknote #149 – 7th January 2022

Happy New Year, hope 2022 will be a good year for you.

Working from home this week as our (physical) offices are closed this week. So that makes a nice change from normal…

So went back to work on the 4th January. I had 83 e-mails in my inbox. Most of them though were advertising emails, so didn’t take too long to clear the inbox.

I have had a few meetings this week, mainly about planning for various things going forward.

Spent a fair amount of time discussing, thinking about and reflecting on digital transformation. Part of the challenge is what do we even mean or understand by the term digital transformation?

There is a Jisc definition of digital transformation, that I do think we need to revisit now.

The definition says digital transformation:

  • Is the cultural, organisational and operational change of an organisation, industry or ecosystem through a smart integration of digital technologies, processes and competencies across all levels and functions in a staged way 
  • Leverages technologies to create value for stakeholders, and to enable greater agility and resilience in the face of changing circumstances 
  • Is not primarily about technology adoption. It is first and foremost about transforming the mindset and culture of an organisation to ensure that technology can be deployed as a multiplier of impact

There is a diagram on that page that I think is too simplistic and though the accompany surrounding text says different, the diagram implies that transformation is a linear journey.

It isn’t. In many ways what you did with digital before may prepare you for digital transformation, but the reality is that you probably need to throw out what you have done before you can move forward.

The definition continues with a statement which I broadly agree with:

Similarly, digital transformation should not be conflated with prior technological shifts, which focused on digitisation (moving from analogue to digital formats, for example paper forms to webforms) and digitalisation (deploying technology to attain transactional operating efficiencies, or localised benefits).

I know that many confuse digitisation and digitalisation with digital transformation, but transformation is so much more than just merely going digital. I think I might need to expand on this in a future blog post.

Image by mohamed ramzee from Pixabay

Back in the late 1990s when I was teaching business studies and economics, I was a programme lead for a level 2 Intermediate GNVQ programme for 16 and 17 year olds. When I took over the programme we had a long thin course design. Students would undertake different units simultaneously and then we had the challenge of all the assessment being bunched up at the end of the modules. This resulted in stress for students, poor outcomes and shedloads of marking for staff. So what we did was convert the course design into a programme of short fat topics. Students would focus on one thing at one time, but intensely. They would focus on that one thing and there would only be one assessment at any one time. It was challenging for staff, but it was of real benefit to the students.

So when I saw this tweet on block teaching I was reminded

At higher levels, I think the in-depth immersion in a topic would be beneficial and most universities would have the flexibility to deliver this, however it does have implications for staff workloads and timetables as well. Something again I might think about especially as with the iGNVQ programme we did a lot of mapping across the curriculum (and the core skills) so that similar topics were “bundled” together.

girl with mask
Photo by Thomas de LUZE on Unsplash

Despite the rising covid infection rates I’ve not had much or seen much discussion about the impact this will have on higher education and students.

My top tweet this week was this one.