Tag Archives: digital capabilities

So long and thanks for all the fish…

Well time for a new job. Having spent just over three years at Jisc as a Senior Co-Design Manager, I have a new role at Jisc as the Head of higher education and student experience.

I have enjoyed my three years in the Futures Directorate at Jisc starting working for Sarah Davies on the digital capabilities project, before moving onto developing the Digital Leaders Programme with Lawrie Phipps, and working in the apprenticeships space and the Intelligent Campus.

I have had the opportunity to work with some great people in Futures and from the sector. I did start to list them and realised that there had been so many I was bound to miss someone out. Thanks to everyone.

As Jisc’s Head of higher education and student experience I coordinate Jisc’s overall strategy for HE learning, teaching and student experience and have lead responsbility for promoting the total programme and value and impact of all HE learning, teaching and student experience products and services delivered by Jisc.

I lead the ongoing review of Jisc’s HE learning and teaching strategy, positioning this work within the organisation’s overall strategy I ensure that Jisc’s portfolio of activity in this area remains in line with Jisc’s HE learning and teaching priorities and work closely with colleagues to develop Jisc’s understanding of the value and impact of all of our HE learning, teaching and student experience activities.

As Head of higher education and student experience I am also responsible for framing how current and future challenges in this area can be resolved by technological innovation and translating the key insights into actionable innovation pipelines that deliver real impact.

I manage the monitoring of national and regional HE learning, teaching and student experience customer and funder priorities, and work with Jisc account managers to examine the value ascribed by customers to Jisc products and services in this area, the join up of intelligence from funders and customers and the internal sharing of this, as appropriate.

I also manage the process of directorates identifying and mapping operational activities to our HE learning, teaching and student experience priorities, and the tracking and measuring of impact, highlighting gaps, challenging work if it is not aligned to priorities and identify emerging opportunities as these materialise.

If you are going to Jisc’s Digifest next week, come and say hello.

Making the move from the radio…

Old Radio

At the recent AELP Autumn Conference I was having a discussion about the challenges that online delivery can be for training providers and employers. Often they have excellent instructors and trainers who work well in face to face classroom situations.

There is often an assumption that is made that because someone is excellent in face to face learning scenarios, they will be able to easily transfer these skills into an online environment, as the scenarios are very similar.

This is quite a risky assumption to make, as though there are similarities in delivering learning in classrooms and online, they are not the same.

It was and can be challenging for radio personalities to move into television, even though both broadcast mediums, and there are similar programmes on both (think News Quiz and Have I Got News For You) the skills for the different media are quite different.

In a similar vein, many stars of the silent cinema were unable to make the move to the talkies. Those that did, certainly thrived, those that couldn’t, didn’t!

If we are to make the move to a truly digital apprenticeship experience for all apprentices, then we need to ensure that the instructors and trainers involved in the delivery of learning have the right capabilities and skills to deliver effectively online.

Having the digital confidence, capacity and capability is something that often needs to be built in those staff who may already have excellent skills in delivering learning in face to face scenarios. Certainly there are many things which are transferable, but the skills in facilitating a classroom discussion are different to those in running a debate in an online forum.

So the question is, how do we build that digital capability? How are you building digital and online skills? What are you doing to ensure the successful transition to online delivery?

Image Credit: Old Radio by idban secandri CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Introducing James Clay and Lawrie Phipps #altc

train

This year I am attending ALT-C 2016 in Warwick and along with my colleague Lawrie Phipps will be running a workshop on the Wednesday looking at digital capabilities and organisational mapping.

Digital technologies are driving some significant changes in the world of work, and are deeply implicated in others.

Effective use of digital technology by college staff is vital in providing a compelling student experience and in realising a good return on investment in digital technology. To help managers and individuals understand what is needed, Jisc have published a digital capability framework which describes the skills needed by staff in a wide range of teaching, administrative and professional roles to thrive in a digital environment.

What does it mean to be digitally capable? Not just for an individual, but from an organisational perspective. How will you lead using the plethora of digital tools and channels available to you?

The Jisc building digital capability project has been addressing these issues for institutional leaders, for those on the front line of teaching and research, and those who support them. Universities and colleges across the UK have been participating in the pilots for the Jisc Building digital capability project This workshop will bring those experiences to the participants.

A person’s capabilities (what they can do) are no longer attested to simply by their certificates and grades. Digital devices and systems have the capacity to: record learning, achievement, and evidence of practice e.g. using digital video; capture data related to learning and achievement e.g. from learning records, learning environments; organise the evidence e.g. using tags, file structures, structured e-portfolios; showcase learning, achievement and evidence of practice e.g. using a blog/vlog, eportfolio, personal web page. We can use mapping to explore a person’s or an institution’s digital capabilities.

Collaboration between academics, TEL teams, professional services, business support and learner support is critical in ensuring an organisation can build digital capability across the institution and help provide a compelling student experience.

This workshop will ask and provide responses to the following questions, through an individual and group mapping exercise.

  • How do you build digital capability?
  • How do you ensure collaboration across the institution to build a breadth of capability to make more effective use of technology?
  • Why is collaboration essential?
  • What is the role of leadership in building capability?
  • Who within an institution needs to be involved?

The Visitors and Residents mapping exercise in the main covers digital communication, collaboration and participation. We then started to think about how we could use a similar concept to map teaching practice and curriculum design. This lead onto thinking about mapping the “learning” of our learners. Where are they learning, is that learning scheduled and formalised? Is that learning ad-hoc? Is it individual, group, collaborative? So the next stage was to map this in a similar manner to the Visitor and Residents. This is the approach that will be used in the workshop.

Structure of the session

15 mins Introduction to what we understand by digital capability and how we can use mapping to explore organisational capability

15 minutes Individuals will map their own institutional contexts in relation to teaching and learning and assessment

10 mins reflection on their maps and the maps created by others in the room. What maps are interesting and what patterns and similarities are their across the maps.

10 mins in groups exploring how collaboration across an organisation could help them to move and inflate/deflate areas on their maps to create an institution where technology supports teaching, learning and assessment more effectively.

10 minutes summary discussion and what next steps individuals and organisations could take and how could they encourage collaboration.

Mapping is an useful exercise to think about practice and though any such map may not be accurate or complete, it does allow you to consider and think about actions and training required to change behaviours or how spaces and tools are used.

Biographies

Lawrie Phipps and I are often invited to give these sorts of sessions on a more regular basis than other speakers that may or may not be at ALT-C.  We thought these biographies might give people a sense of who we might be.

Lawrie Phipps

Lawrie, the son of a politician[1] was destined for business but instead got into the business of souls, preaching to congregations across the southern US[2], also known as “Milk” is a keen follower of the arts and regular helps to organise and attend art and music festivals[3].

Lawrie resurrected the Arapahoe Hunt Club, a prestigious group of horsebacked hunters who, aided by a band of eager foxhounds, pursued coyote as opposed to the English tradition of foxes[4].

A keen naturalist, Lawrie has appeared in several natural history documentaries and BBC Countryfile.

Lawrie managed to beat a north sea cod into second place.[5]

Lawrie is from Dudley.

James Clay

Unknown to most people, James Clay frequently goes by the nickname “Scoot” in his personal life.[6]

James is an expert on the game of whist,  according to the Westminster papers: a monthly journal of chess, whist, games of skill and the drama Clay had been “the acknowledged head of the Whist world” for the last thirty years, spending much of his time and attention on whist and piquet.He became chairman of a committee for settling the laws of whist.[7]

Having been elected MP for Hull[8], he held the seat for six years, when he was unseated after a bribery inquiry. He regained the seat four years later at the by-election and held the seat for another sixteen years.[9]

In the 1980s, Lindeboom became the very first beer James Clay imported after an unlikely introduction to the beer by a local Dutch builder. “It became a cult beer in the local area and we used to keep at least 10 cases in a walk in fridge at the pub for take outs on a Saturday night!”[10]

In 1988 James Clay gained a world record for the world’s largest greetings card. It was nineteen feet high and was sent to BBC’s Children in Need and was shown live on TV.[11]

Using the stage name, Jim Clay, he was a production designer on many famous films including Captain Correlli’s Mandolin, Love Actually and Children of Men.[12]

In 2004, James released an album of music.[13] Though as one of the reviews reads, “Sadly James gave up the music life to pursue playing rock music in local bars.”

James Clay is the 79th ranked of 480 active US West Amateur Middleweights.[14]

In 2011, James Clay has a small part in the film My Week with Marilyn and was later to appear in Financial Crisis in 2016.[15]

James Clay once managed to get funding to go to a conference in Dudley.


Engaging the invisibles

Invisible Man
Image Credit: Invisible Man by James Edward Williams CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Back at the UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event at the end of May we had a discussion on the need for IT training teams.

A casual question to a sector wide mailing list recently about what IT training teams are called resulted in a number of replies of Lynda.com! It seems that a number of universities have done away with their IT training teams altogether, or reduced them to one or two, presumably very busy, individuals. In this session the panel will discuss this shift in institutional provision, consider the risks, and consider how training teams may need to evolve.

Delegates to the event were invited to submit questions in advance and I want to take this opportunity to expand my views and thoughts on the discussion and the questions, including some questions we never had time for. See my previous post that discussed showing value and priorities.

One question that we didn’t get to answer was on how we identify and engage the digitally invisible? Those staff who avoid the digital, won’t engage with the training and are generally invisible.

Now we know that some would call this a generational issue, it’s to do with age, which we know not to be true.

The invisible are, and making some generalisations here, are not going to undertake surveys or diagnostic tools. They are unlikely to attend training sessions or visit training websites. Despite people assuming that everyone reads every e-mail, the invisible will ignore or delete e-mails about digital. These staff aren’t always ignoring digital, they may use some tools, but they aren’t looking to build their capabilities, they are happy where they are and their current level of skills. There will be a spectrum of skills across this group, some will have low capability in using digital, some will have what would be considered quite capable. The invisible are also silent, they are not the kind of people who will be heard complaining about digital.

It’s as though they don’t exist.

So how do we engage with the invisible? How do we ensure that these staff build on the skills they do have and continue to develop their digital skills and capabilities?

There are many ways to do this, apart from obviously not appointing them in the first place!

Kerry Pinny from Lincoln has written two very good blog post on these subjects. Her first post on the subject, Should we employ staff who don’t have digital skills? She says

Why are we employing people who don’t have the digital skills that are needed to cope in today’s ‘digital world’? It’s a question raised with increasing frequency and one that deserves some serious thought. I should start by saying that I fundamentally disagree with anyone who says that we shouldn’t employ people without the digital skills we ‘need’.

In her second post she reflects on the feedback in her post But what about staff that won’t or don’t want to engage in CPD? and provides some ideas on how to engage those staff, who are often invisible.

Employing people without digital skills is still an issue in that is often avoided by organisations for various reasons, usually historical and legacy reasons. Job descriptions rarely mention digital or technology, looking over lecturer job descriptions you rarely see any mention of digital. I have seen requirements for good office skills and a willingness to use the VLE. What does good office skills actually mean? At events we have asked staff if they are good with Word, most say yes, then ask them if they use styles consistently and effectively and for most staff groups the answer is no. As for willingness, if you are applying for a job you probably will no doubt be positive about being willing to use the VLE and other technologies, things may be different once you are employed. One potential solution for this is about been very clear about what is expected from staff and being explicit about what those expectations are. For new staff that willingness could then be transformed into mandatory training to meet those expectations.

Another solution is to focus on taking an institutional strategy and placing the responsibility on delivering on that strategy to departments. Those departments, as in the departmental managers, ensuring that all their staff are buying into the strategy and know what those staff need to do as individuals, to help deliver on the strategy, and what skills and development they will need.

There is also potentially a communication issue, ensuring that these staff get any key messages about the use of digital. If sending e-mail isn’t working, then think about doing things differently. I use to attend meetings in order to discuss issues face to face, another method was a physical paper newsletter on digital and learning technologies. I actually use to take the time to hand deliver this to offices and workrooms.

Finally, understanding the motivations and fears of these staff can be critical to helping them become not only visible, but also start to engaging with their own personal development and building their digital skills and capabilities. Most of these invisibles are actually happy where they are professionally, they like their jobs, they like the culture and don’t really want to be part of a changing culture. Showing them new shiny stuff generally won’t engage them, showing them solutions (that involve digital) that will solve real issues for them, probably have more chance of success.

So what strategies do you use to engage with the invisible?

Do we still need IT training teams?

The Stage at #udigcap

Back at the UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event at the end of May we had a discussion on the need for IT training teams.

A casual question to a sector wide mailing list recently about what IT training teams are called resulted in a number of replies of Lynda.com! It seems that a number of universities have done away with their IT training teams altogether, or reduced them to one or two, presumably very busy, individuals. In this session the panel will discuss this shift in institutional provision, consider the risks, and consider how training teams may need to evolve.

Delegates to the event were invited to submit questions in advance and I want to take this opportunity to expand my views and thoughts on the discussion and the questions, including some questions we never had time for.

One of the questions was how IT training teams show their value beyond the “happy sheet”. Showing your value by showing positive feedback from participants is all well and good if the strategic need for an IT training team is to ensure delegates provide positive feedback. I found the easiest way to do this was to forget the training and provide lunch or cake!

A real challenge for measuring value is understanding both the impact and the value of that impact. This can be difficult to record, measure and assess, hence the often fallback on the happy sheets!

One way in which you can demonstrate value is clearly link the training sessions to the strategic objectives of the organisation or department and explain how the training will support or contribute to the success of that objective.

A further question we were asked was how do we create protected spaces in our workload to support innovation? The issue of time arose well the issue of lack of time; and as you know if you ask me why I don’t have a dog, the reason is I don’t have the time. When people say they don’t have the time, or they need time; what they are actually saying and meaning is: this is not a priority for me, I have other priorities that take up my time.

If people are concerned about the issue of time when it comes to creating protected spaces in their workloads to support innovation, then they are probably more likely concerned about how this will fit into their other priorities. So ask the question, who is responsible for setting the priorities of the staff in your institution? Priorities in theory are set by the line manager, who is operationalising the strategic direction and vision of the institution. If digital is not a strategic priority can we be surprised that staff within that institution don’t consider it a personal priority. How do you make innovation a strategic priority? That’s another question that would take more than one blog post to answer.

On the tech side…

Birmingham

As some will now as well as talking about e-learning stuff, I also like to talk about the tech side of things too. Over the last few months I have been talking about things I have written about on this blog before.

In my blog post Mobile WordPress Theme I have covered the update to WP-Touch, which adds a dedicated mobile theme to WordPress blogs really easily and looks great. If you have your own WordPress installation, then this plug-in is really easy to install.

Mobile WordPress

In another article I talk about how we melted the wifi at the recent UCISA event on digital capabilities. The conference centre struggled to cope with 120 delegates as the wifi, that in theory could cope with 250 wireless clients, failed to deliver a stable consistent wifi connection.

On this blog I wrote about the fickle nature of the web based on the original article which appeared on the Tech Stuff blog. This was in response to the original decision by the BBC to remove the recipes from their BBC Food site.

Weston Village

In addition to the individual post mentioned above, I have also written about my continued issues with getting FTTC at home. As well as my new Three 4G connection, where I am getting nearly 50Mb download speeds.

So if you fancy a more technical read, then head over to the blog.

Digital diversity – UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities

I am currently at the UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event here in Birmingham. I will be live blogging here on elearningstuff.

Sue Watling from the University of Hull kicks off the second day of the conference.

Digital diversity - UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities

Her session is titled: Finding and minding the gaps; digital diversity in higher education

She describes the session in the following abstract:

Digital diversity can lead to digital divides. Digitally shy staff are less likely to read the education technology literature, apply for TEL funding or attend conferences on digital capabilities. As interest in blended education increases, promoting digital ways of working for staff who teach and support learning may need to be reconsidered.

Sue initially covered her own background, where she has come from, what she has done, providing a context to her views on digital capabilities.

She did bring up the medieval lecture painting that gets around a bit, but recognises the cultural, historical and social significance of the lecture which is often why we still use and appear to be stuck with them.

The medieval lecture

Maybe after five hundred years of digital it will be embedded into education?

She discussed the fear of change, which is more prevalent in my opinion than the fear of technology.

Fear of change

People like what they like, they like what they like doing. Sometimes change can disrupt this, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. The key appears to be trusting that the change will be positive. The only real consistent in life and work is change.

She reviews Dave White’s 2011 article on Visitors and Residents and decides to extend it to those who aren’t on the continuum. This I have seen before and disagree with, if they aren’t on the continuum then that’s the issue. No need to extend the spectrum. I also wonder if these really exist in a modern university with all their digital systems in place already, even if that is just e-mail and a USB stick?

Sue asks are we finding the gaps in capability and skills. Sue does make the valid point that basic ICT proficiency is a core capability that needs to be addressed. We need to fill those gaps.

She also makes the point about not making assumptions, something I said in my own presentation yesterday.

There is something about spreading the message to all aspects of the university and working partnership.

Building ICT Proficiency – UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities

I am currently at the UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event here in Birmingham. I will be live blogging here on elearningstuff.

Building ICT Proficiency - UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities

In this afternoon’s session, Kathryn Wenczek, and Silke Prodinger-Leong talked about online learning and digital capabilities – the theory and the reality.

How do theory and reality for development of digital capabilities compare? What is important when offering a practical online solution to up skill digitally, particularly for fast evolving ICT skills? This session aims to give a brief theoretical insight and show a practical example of how an online learning solution has enabled a more flexible model of training digital capabilities.

The session covered an introduction to digital capabilities including a mention of the Jisc work in this area. They recognised the importance of building capability in ICT Proficiency in order to build on the wider digital capabilities.

There is already on Lynda.com a playlist that covers aspects of the Jisc Digital Capability framework. They feel the framework provides an easy insightful way of describing the many training videos and resources that are on the Lynda.com website.

Building ICT Proficiency - UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities

Talking to other organisations I am aware that there are some universities out there that want to point people who have low capabilities in ICT towards their institutional licence for Lynda.com as well as internal IT training. The site now has a lot of training that is appropriate to other digital capabilities as well as ICT.

The talk moved onto Kathryn Wenczek who discussed how they had rolled out Lynda.com and how staff and learners at Oxford have been using it for a range of activities. What I found interesting was how popular Lynda.com was for just in time training.

Building ICT Proficiency - UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities

I have often thought that the key to effective digital staff development is to provide on demand training or just in time. Often you don’t know you need training in something till the point you need it. The ability to be able to quickly access the appropriate training reduces the frustration that having an issue you can’t solve can have on productivity and workflows. There is also the impact those frustrations can have on take up of digital technologies. If you want staff to be capable in using a range of digital tools and services they often need help and support, but they may not know what support they need until they start using the tool on their own. That’s where a tool like Lynda.com can be very valuable.

The importance of language – UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities

I am currently at the UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event here in Birmingham. I will be live blogging here on elearningstuff.

david walker at #udigcap

After I did my session, David Walker from Sussex University delivered a really good presentation on the importance of a common language.

The discourse of transformation frequently frames discussions around the role of technology in learning and teaching. Change initiatives are often pitched as seeking to ‘transform the staff/student experience’ yet the process of change can feel far from transformative, even if the outcomes represents a marked shift from the previous state. This presentation will consider the impact of our communication strategies on digital initiatives and how, through our use of language and approach to engagement, we can reduce perceived levels of threat and resistance when seeking to deliver changes in practice and/or capability.

I found this a really insightful and informative presentation on the importance of language and the impact it can have. The word transform is one that is often used when it comes to the embedding digital technologies, we talk about transformation and assume staff will be motivated and encouraged to transform. Well if that was the case then I am pretty sure we would all be transformed.

I though that the time and effort taken to understand the impact of the language used was important to the success of the project at Sussex.

So are you considering the language use in your change project?

Keynote at UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities

The Stage at #udigcap

I am currently at the UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event here in Birmingham. I will be live blogging here on elearningstuff and will probably post a more in-depth reflective piece on the digital capability blog later.

Last year, just before I started as Project Manager for the Jisc Digital Capabilities project, UCISA ran their first Spotlight on Digital Capabilities and Sarah Davies talked about where the project was and where it was going. Now just under twelve months later I am here in Birmingham at the second conference to talk about the project, where we are at and where we may go in the future.

As the opening keynote in front of well informed audience on the subject I have been immersed with over the last twelve months was quite a challenge. I didn’t want to repeat the story that Sarah delivered last year, I knew I want to let people know where we are, but also to get them to start thinking about once the service is available, what else needs to happen at an institutional level.

The presentation covered where we are in terms of the Jisc Digital capability service and what it will offer universities and colleges, but also some of the challenges and thinking behind the work we have done.

Building digital capability for new digital leadership, pedagogy and efficiency

What does it mean to be digitally capable? Not just for an individual, but from an organisational perspective. How will you lead using the plethora of digital tools and channels available to you? The Jisc building digital capability project has been addressing these issues for institutional leaders, for those on the front line of teaching and research, and those who support them.

I also covered aspects of institutional digital capability and what this may cover and what may need to happen. This area is really interesting, but key to helping universities and colleges to build digital capability. I intend to explore these areas in more detail as the work evolves.