Tag Archives: education 4.0

This is all my own work – Weeknote #34 – 1st November 2019

Thames House in London

You can tell winter is coming, but I did enjoy having an extra hour on Sunday. I watched this video on Sunday morning about how university students in Europe and the US are paying Kenyans to do their academic work for them.

The global market for academic writing is estimated to be worth $1bn (£770m) annually.

I recalled earlier this month looking at this Australian study on contract cheating or collusion. The findings make for interesting reading.

Findings from the largest dataset gathered to date on contract cheating indicate that there are three influencing factors: speaking a language other than English (LOTE) at home, the perception that there are ‘lots of opportunities to cheat’, and dissatisfaction with the teaching and learning environment (Bretag & Harper et al., 2018).

These influencing factors could be mitigated, could we assess in the learner’s native language? Culd we improve satisfaction with the overall teaching and learning environment? Often easier said than done.

This contract cheating or collusion is a major headache for universities in the UK, but I wonder if the answer isn’t about creating systems or processes that can identify when cheating or collusion is taking place, but ensuring that assessment is designed in a way that means there is no incentive to chat, collude or pay someone else to undertake the assessment.

However as indicated in the Australian study:

It would be a dream to be able to individualise assessment tasks or have an innovative approach where students can be assessed in class doing individual oral presentations. We make do…

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I took some leave early in the week, so it was a shorter week than normal. Even so, it felt like a quieter less busy week that previous weeks, but I think it was about undertaking focused work.

I finished an article on Education 4.0 which I started last week and sent it off for editing (and approval).

Image by Pexels from Pixabay
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I wrote up our workshop that we did at the Jisc Board Away Day. For some people, the message of Education 4.0 is confusing. There is a disconnect between the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution and the four themes of Education 4.0 in the messaging. We talk about the technologies as though they are Education 4.0, when they are in fact the technologies that will enable Education 4.0, but still clarity needed on what Education 4.0 looks like. The more immersed you are in the Education 4.0 space, the less confusing it looks, but for others looking in form the outside, you might not know what is being said.

I have been focussing my recent presentations on the four core themes of Education 4.0

  • Transforming teaching
  • Personalised adaptive learning
  • Re-Imagining assessment
  • Digital and fluid campuses

Underpinning these are things like leadership and the overall student experience.

Part of my current work is thinking about the foundations that institutions need to start building to prepare them for the future which is Education 4.0.

Image by dewikinanthi from Pixabay
Image by dewikinanthi from PixabayImage by dewikinanthi from Pixabay

The Register always has interesting articles and a tone that I like. I enjoyed reading this article:

Here’s our latest summary of AI news beyond what we’ve already covered. It’s all about two favourite topics in machine learning today: facial recognition and deepfakes.

Many organisations are looking not to use facial recognition. Which isn’t surprising as it still doesn’t really work, unless you are a white male.

Amazon’s facial recognition tool fails on black athletes: Amazon’s controversial Rekognition software mistook the faces of 27 black athletes competing in American football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, as suspected criminals in a mugshot database.

Wednesday I was off to London. I had been invited to be part of the Office for Students Safeguarding and Welfare Expert Advisory Panel, and we had our first meeting at their offices in London. Part of the discussion was about agreeing some terms of reference for the panel. Due to purdah, some of the outputs from this group will not happen until after that election.

coffee

Thursday I was back into our Bristol office for a meeting, but it was nice to touch base with a range of people from different parts of the organisation. Though I might not get as much work done when working in isolation, I sometimes like to be in the office to have those informal an adhoc conversations which are challenging to re-create virtually. Part of the reason to be in the office was to access our finance system to book myself onto some events.

When I got home from work I carved a pumpkin for Halloween,

pumpkin

Seven years ago this week I wasn’t happy about the use of the word “appropriate”.

Missed Opportunities

I spent part of the week working on the career pathways and assessment criteria, which is always more challenging that I think it should be. What does appropriate evidence look like for a specific outcome?

I also reviewed some earlier Jisc work on portfolios as part of this work. Staff who are part of a technical career pathway need to demonstrate evidence of their outcomes and assessment criteria.

Here are some of the work I looked at.

A portfolio involves skills essential for 21st century learning – organising and planning material, giving and receiving feedback, reflecting, selecting and arranging content to communicate with a particular audience in the most effective way.

My top tweet this week was this one.

The bells, the bells… – Weeknote #33 – 25th October 2019

Wedding Car by James Clay

I spent the weekend at a family wedding down in Sussex and I got my first taste of campanology, when I was asked to ring the bell in the church at the end of the wedding service, why I was asked I have no idea, but my family now have an amusing video of me being pulled up and down by the bell rope! The wedding was lovely and we had a great time.

Nine years ago on the 19th October 2010 I took this photograph of one of the offices in the college I was working in.

Office space

We had been having a lot of discussions about desks and offices. One particular group of staff were adamant they needed their own desks to work on and that they didn’t want their space changed.

What you should notice from the photograph above was that though everyone had their own desk, what they were actually using them was for, was storage. No one was really using their desks for working at. The result was a room which was not conducive to working, so no one worked in there. No one could find anything… well some could.

I remember having discussions about replacing the space with fewer desks, more storage and some nicer seating and comfortable areas. The reaction was (as expected) no, I need my own desk.

The staff in this office spent the majority of their working week teaching in classrooms, when they were not teaching, they wanted space to mark and prepare, research as well as somewhere to relax, drink coffee and discuss stuff with colleagues. They also needed space to store materials and resources, as well as student work. Their needs were being overshadowed by the need for their own space, a space they could call their own.

For me the key lesson here was that people didn’t think about the space in the context of what they needed to do in that space, but more about having a space to call their own. In terms of space planning you do need to balance those things out. Continue reading The bells, the bells… – Weeknote #33 – 25th October 2019

The tyranny of the timetable

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

What is a timetable?

An academic timetable is a way co-ordinating four elements:

  • Students
  • Academics or teachers
  • Rooms
  • Time

Currently the timetable is something that is often done to teachers, academics and students, over which they have minimal input or control.

In the world of Education 4.0 where we want to transform teaching, provide a personalised adapter learning experience and re-imagine assessment, all within a fluid digital and physical campus, the timetable as it stands now is something that constrains and blocks this potential vision.

As a student at school, college and university I had no control or influence over my timetable. When I first started teaching, I was given my timetable, I wasn’t asked to input into the process. It told me what I was going to teach, who I was going to teach, where I was going to teach and when I was going to teach..

As a programme manager in another job I had a bit more input into the whole process. We didn’t have a system or mechanism for creating the timetable, just large sheets of graph paper. It felt like some kind of three dimensional chess combing the four elements outlined above. What I do remember about the process, the first static aspect was the rooms, then the part time cohorts, after that everything else was just fitted into what was left.

Back then following student feedback, it was apparent that some of our timetables for our full time students weren’t exactly student friendly. They were expected to be in every day, and there were large gaps in the day between lessons. The end result was a fair bit of absence and a fall in retention.. So one year we decided to build the timetable around the student, we condensed their week into three (longish) days. Then we fitted in the rooms and teachers into the process. The end result was an improvement in attendance and retention.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

These days we have timetable systems, some are based around Excel, others databases and some proprietary timetabling systems. There main focus is to avoid clashes, and enable people to discover when to if rooms are free. However in my experience they are still quite static systems that are still done to students and academics.

You have a cohort of students, you have a number of weeks to deliver your subject and you are assigned a room or space for that year. If you want to do something different than you normally do, you sometimes have to make do, and undertake it in the same space, or you have to struggle to find a space, do things out of hours or just give up. You want to deliver online, then you still find you have to retain using the space, because otherwise you might lose it!

We need to build an intelligent timetable, one that adapts and changes to the changing requirements of different subjects, teachers, spaces, cohorts and individual students. This is easier said than done.

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

So what is the current landscape like? Most timetable systems operate in a silo, a fixed point in time. It is hard to make dynamic changes to the timetable, as it is rather inflexible. Once it is set up, because the fact it inflexible, only very small changes can be made, but making a large number of changes wouldn’t be possible.

So could we build a smart timetable? A smart timetable would be able to flex and change as the demands placed on it allow rapid shifts and changes. I need a larger room, the timetable would be able to accommodate it, whether it be for one week or the rest of the year. A smart timetable would inform decisions about space.

An intelligent timetable would be able to make changes in advance, based on information gathered from across the college. It could predict what spaces would be available and what changes would be needed, based on data and make changes as required. So as a cohort increases, it would automatically assign a bigger room. As a curriculum changes, they change the cohort to the most appropriate space.

There are some challenges on this, especially if the campus is diverse and large. Students may not know where specific spaces are, going to a different space each week. A smart timetable would need to know how long it can take to move between different rooms to accommodate room changes. Students would need some kind of way finding process to find the rooms. So in order to build a smart or intelligent timetable you need to have already created a digital map of your campus. You need to have already identified route mapping, timings and accessible routes.Similarly students may need to receive notifications about which rooms they will be in, how will these be sent?

If you are changing the curriculum, how would the intelligent timetable system know what the space needs are for different kinds of activities? So you then need to be able to define the curriculum in a way so that the timetable can interpret that and make appropriate decisions about spaces.

What spaces are appropriate for what activities? How do we know this? Does the space have a huge impact on learning? How do we describe this from a digital perspective?

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

When you start down the road, moving from a static timetable to a smart timetable, and then onto an intelligent timetable, you start to realise that the timetable is actually a small part of the work involved. There is a whole lot of data needed to enable the timetable to make smart or intelligent decisions.

Of course with a whole lot of data, you can then start to think about timetabling analytics. Can we start to use our spaces better? Can we improve the timetable for students? Can we improve the timetable for staff? Can we utilise resources for efficiently? What interventions do we need to make to enable this?

We need more detailed advice and guidance on why we need an intelligent timetable and how it could support the future that is Education 4.0.

We need to design the data infrastructure required to feed into any future intelligent timetable product.

Could we even build a prototype of a smart timetable, or even an intelligent timetable.

How do we overcome the tyranny of the timetable?

Reflecting on the informality of learning – Weeknote #30 – 4th October 2019

The view from St Philip's Bridge in Bristol
The view from St Philip’s Bridge in Bristol

Over the weekend I saw this article on WonkHE called  Learning in the spaces in between,

The final paragraph said:

With institutions re-evaluating their teaching and thinking how best to invest, it’s a great time to consider whether we really understand how students are using informal educational spaces outside of the classroom. The student perspective combined with novel use of occupancy data is bringing us closer to answering that conundrum.

Reminded me of this blog post that I wrote this back in 2017 on designing informal learning spaces that would encourage informal learning.

 Well the key really is to think about what actually facilitates and encourages informal learning.

It’s a combination of factors and can include design of learning spaces and the learning activities undertaken by the learners.

Creating the right contexts and environments for informal learning, will ensure that the concept of learn anywhere and anytime is encouraged and enhanced.

Though I wouldn’t have called it ethnography (and I certainly wouldn’t call it ethnography today) my blog post was based on my experiences in designing and running libraries, as well as developing the use of digital and virtual learning. I would spend a lot of time observing how learners would use our spaces, what they were doing in those spaces and I felt importantly what they weren’t doing as well. I would talk to learners, more importantly I would listen to learners. We would also measure space utilisation and activity in our spaces and all this would inform how we would design and change the space.

Sofa's in the library at Gloucestershire College
Sofa’s in the library at Gloucestershire College

When we originally designed the spaces, an important aspect to me was flexibility, being able to change the space as demands on that space changed, in how people wanted to use it and how many wanted to use it. All our shelving for example was on wheels, could be moved easily and quickly around. So following observation and listening, we would adjust the space accordingly.

That blog post was inspired by another one I had written in 2010 on designing informal learning.

The premise of that article was you couldn’t design informal learning (as that would formalise it) but what you could do is create spaces that would encourage informal learning.

It is more challenging to create learning spaces that encourage informal and social learning. As demands on space continues to grow and demand for more learner-led learning, it is important that institutions consider much more how their spaces can be used for informal learning.

Victoria Street in Bristol
Victoria Street in Bristol

Monday I was into the office in Bristol for various meetings and some training on culture. One of the things I did finalise was my performance objectives for the year ahead. One thing which I ensured was that my objectives were derived from the strategic objectives of the organisation. This way everything I do is contributing to the organisational strategic priorities. This process was something we did on the Jisc Digital Leaders Programme and I also illustrated in this sketchnote.

Vision

I also had a discussion about writing an article about Education 4.0, but with a copyright lens. At this time we’ve not really looked into the copyright implications of the changes that could happen in the world of education.

Alas when leaving the office later that day, it was pouring rain and I got rather damp walking back to my car. I realised my waterproof coat was in fact no longer waterproof.

Illness in others and terrible rain, meant that meetings were changed, so I was able to change my plans from going into the Bristol office to working from home on Tuesday and avoid the rain.

I saw a video in the Twitter on the fourth industrial revolution which I thought was rather good so I blogged about it.

What is Industry 4.0?

Wednesday saw an interesting anniversary, as ten years ago on the 2nd October, I was at the ULCC Event, The Future of Technology in Education.

James Clay presenting at FOTE09
James Clay presenting at FOTE09

Little did I know the impact that this presentation would have on me, my future career and education in general. I wrote a nostalgic blog post looking back at the event, my presentation and the impact it had.

The future of learning… ten years later!

Group working
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

I spent a lot of time on Thursday interviewing prospective student partners for Jisc. We like to know what is important to students regarding their use of technology in education and research. What skills they think they need and how they want to learn. So every year we get a group of students from across HE and FE and work with them in a variety of different ways. Some attend our meetings, others our events, they participate in podcasts, panel sessions and workshops. I have always felt it was important to listen to the student voice to inform my work.

Friday I had various meetings, but managed to make a lot of progress on our Learning Technologist technical career pathway. We will be piloting this with individuals over the next twelve months.

My top tweet this week was this one.

In front of the board – Weeknote #30 – 27th September 2019

Lion at Longleat Safari Park
Lion at Longleat Safari Park

We spent Saturday visiting Longleat Safari Park and the weather was great. However on Monday I was, as a result of a last minute change, off to London, I had intended to catch the train, but due to problems with our online travel system (affecting just me it appears) meant that in the end I drove to London.

My diary that day included a relatively early morning conference call. So I stopped at the services, and with only a minute to spare, missed getting coffee and I took the call sitting in my car over 4G. The connection was pretty good and the video I was getting was quite high quality so all was well. I was quite pleased not to have to do the call on the train, as previous experience has shown that generally it works, but too many tunnels and blackspots means that participating in a conference call (especially with video) can be problematic and a bit of a nightmare. I rarely drive to London, usually I take the train, so I parked in West London and took the tube to the office, just in time for my second conference call.

Fleet Street in London
Fleet Street in London

I was in London to meet with the Consultant who had undertaken the University of Hertfordshire Value Study back in May prior to a presentation later in the week.

Understanding the value more – Weeknote #12 – 24th May 2019

Tuesday I was off to our office in Bristol. I had no meetings, but my colleague Lawrie was down in Bristol so it was a good chance to catch up and see what was happening in his area.

He is organising an event at Keele, I was intending to attend the event, alas I now have to be in London on that date.

This one day event will explore the use of Microsoft Teams to support learning and teaching practices in universities, and the ways in which students want to communicate, collaborate and learn in a modern university.

He also blogged some early thoughts on his blog.

radio microphone

Published on the Jisc website was a podcast I was involved with which I spoke about in a previous weeknote.

Podcasting in Liverpool – Weeknote #25 – 23rd August 2019

What the Edtech?! Series two, episode two: process improvement – people before technology

In the podcast, John Cartwright, director of computing services at the University of Liverpool, talks about how his team are improving the student experience and saving staff time with technology. In the episode we explore the world of data, looking at how better use of it can transform teaching and power technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence.

However the key message I wanted people to take from the discussion is that, transformation is about people first.

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

Wednesday I was presenting in front of the Jisc Board on Education 4.0 and what universities and colleges need to do to start down the road to the vision which is Education 4.0. Is say presenting the majority of the session was an activity discussing the issues and themes of Education 4.0.

As with the podcast the key feedback from the Board was the importance of the human element when it comes transformation.

I think the challenge we face in preparing for a roadmap, is the expectation that the roadmap delivered will be complete. If we knew what was needed and what was going to happen, then I suspect we would either a) already have a roadmap or b) not need one! So the first phase for the roadmap is researching and developing the roadmap. I did think should we even be using the term “roadmap”?

Thursday I spent some time reading the Advance HE report, On the Horizon.

Advance HE Report Cover

This report focuses on the perceptions of change and challenge for the learning and teaching agenda in higher education (HE) providers around the world over the next five to ten years. A selection of people with executive or senior leadership roles in both the UK and overseas were interviewed about the challenges their institutions faced.

There was one section on evidence of effective practice, which reminded me of a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago.

Show me the evidence…

In the report it states there is a lukewarm enthusiasm for change in teaching practices.

This is something we covered on the Jisc Digital Leaders Programme about change.

Part of the challenge, according to the report, is a lack of interest.

Some colleagues express worry about a general lack of interest in pedagogy from academics more comfortable with the established practices of their particular discipline.

But others show a definitive lack of faith in the evidence, because it is often based on small-sample studies.

Others wonder whether the quality of such research really matches up to the high standards expected elsewhere, not least because the research findings often derive from small-sample studies.

However all is not lost…

Many think there are real opportunities now for a step-change in pedagogy and improved student learning: ‘it’s time to start thinking much more seriously about the collective will for real pedagogical innovation and how it can be sustained.’

Friday I had a couple of online meetings and spent a fair amount of time developing the assessment criteria for one of our Technical Career Pathway paths.

My top tweet this week was this one.

What’s a lightboard? – Weeknote #28 – 13th September 2019

The Old Bailey

So it was off to London on Monday for a couple of meetings. The weather on Sunday had been lovely, Monday it was raining.

I don’t think I would like to commute to London on a regular basis, as in every day, but don’t mind the fact that I am there three to five times a month in my role. I nearly said new role, I have been doing this job now for just over six months (Weeknote #28 is a bit of a giveaway), when does a new role, become just my role? Other parts of the country differ in their accessibility with public transport, so sometimes I drive.

The failings of the CIA over 9/11 have been well documented, though on Tuesday morning I did read the following BBC viewpoint article – Viewpoint: The CIA, 9/11 and collective blindness

These two quotes are what I really took from the article.

We are unconsciously drawn to people who think like ourselves, but rarely notice the danger because we are unaware of our own blind spots.

This applies to groups as well as organisations. We employ people that are like ourselves rather than think about the whole. You can measure diversity within an organisation, but that only tells you what you already know that your organisation isn’t diverse. Sometimes your organisation needs to be more diverse than the population, but how do you know that?

You may feel you have fair employment recruitment practices, but who decides what is “fair”, sometimes you will want to recruit people that wouldn’t be recruited if you were to be fair.

I am also reminded of unconscious bias, and the fact that this is easier to say then sometimes to actually do something about. This was echoed in the second quote from the article.

There is a science to putting together the right minds, with perspectives that challenge, augment, diverge and cross-pollinate rather than parrot, corroborate and restrict. This is how wholes become more than the sum of their parts.

There isn’t an easy solution to this, you could think outside the box and put together teams that are not like ourselves, but that is not as easy as it sounds. The rewards though, as the article says mean wholes become more than the sum of their parts.

Rochdale Canal in Manchester
Rochdale Canal in Manchester

Wednesday I caught the train to Manchester, to attend an internal product meeting where I was presenting on the drivers within the draft Jisc HE strategy.

It was quite along train journey there and back in a day, and though I did manage to get a fair bit of work done, the lack of connectivity did annoy me as it has before.

Rochdale Canal in Manchester
Rochdale Canal in Manchester

I wrote a blog post on making digital a choice,  in response to a BBC news article about a branch of Sainsbury’s in Holborn in London where the only choice to pay was via an app.

Digital should be a choice…

University of Leeds - Leeds Business School
Leeds Business School

Friday I was in Leeds to deliver a keynote on Education 4.0 for the Leeds Business School, I had travelled up the day before.

Leeds Business School Active Learning Studio
Leeds Business School Active Learning Studio

I showed a presentation, which is all photos. In the presentation I talked about who is Jisc, what do we mean by the Education 4.0 and some of the challenges we face in moving down the road to Education 4.0.

I also showed the Jisc Education 4.0 video we showed at UUK last year and at Digifest.

https://youtu.be/aVWHp8FsV1w

Frances Noble from the University of Leeds did a fantastic sketch note of my talk.

Education 4.0 Sketchnote

I attended a couple of sessions following my keynote including a demonstration of ClassVR.

ClassVR demonstration

I was also shown a piece of technology I had never heard of or seen in action.

The Lightboard (a.k.a. learning glass) is a glass chalkboard pumped full of light. It’s for recording video lecture topics.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Podcasting in Liverpool – Weeknote #25 – 23rd August 2019

Mont St Michel

On Monday I was still on leave, so it wasn’t until Tuesday that I was back at work and then it was off to London for some meetings. I had expected a fair few e-mails in mu inbox, but in the end there was just over eighty. I managed to clear them all by 2pm (including all the extra ones that arrived after I started). I follow an Inbox Zero approach which works well for me.

Do you do the Inbox Zero?

There were a few other online places to check as well, Teams, Yammer and Slack. I also checked my Jira boards as well.

After being away on leave I find it usually takes me a day or so to re-adjust to work mode, catch up with what I am doing, what I have missed and what I need to do, including those urgent things. I haven’t yet found a quick way to do this. So when attending a 9:30am online meeting in Teams that morning, I wasn’t really in the zone… It certainly didn’t help that I was trying to attend the meeting whilst travelling at 125mph on a train. The connectivity wasn’t great, and as a result I missed some stuff, sometimes people sounded like a Dalek and the latency issues meant that I was unable to participate fully.

Farringdon Station development

Wednesday morning saw me in the Bristol office attending various meetings in my role as Head of HE and Student Experience. Various items were discussed both external facing topics as well as internal processes.

After a morning in the Bristol office it was up North to Liverpool where I am recording a podcast on the following day.

Thursday I was in Liverpool recording a podcast with John Cartwright at the University of Liverpool, no spoilers, but we discussed a range of topics and issues on digital, data as well as the student experience. We had a really good conversation and I hope this is captured in the podcast recording. I will link to the podcast once it is published.

University of Liverpool

Reflecting on that conversation on the way home, I was conscious about how some universities approach change. Often the focus is on a small number of big effort improvements, large changes, as opposed to a large number of small effort quick changes. Often organisation prefer big change, as it is often linked to strategy. It can be easier to ask for larger sums of money for high profile projects than lots of smaller sums for projects which will result in a small improvement.

I was reminded of marginal gains analysis. The marginal gains theory is concerned with small incremental improvements in any process, which, when added together, make a significant improvement.

Can the same be gained though one big improvement? Something for further reflection.

Friday I was back to the Bristol office for various calls and meetings. One of the things I have been working on was a roadmap to Education 4.0, which is proving somewhat challenging.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Student Experience 2030 – Weeknote #09 – 3rd May 2019

Telephone boxes in London

The week started off in London with a day looking at and thinking about next generation learning environments. Before I got there, as I sat on the train I thought and reflected about what we even mean when we say next generation learning environment. Are their generational changes in learning environments, as in big changes from one generation to the next? Or do they merely evolve gradually over time? Could we enable these big shifts? Do we even want big shifts?

In London we discussed a range of challenges and issues in relation to next generation learning environments. What is the future of education? Will teaching be transformed? How can create personalised adaptive learning? How do we re-imagine assessment? How do you enable a merged digital and physical learning environment? What are the foundations that need to be put into place before you can start building the infrastructure, the design, the staff development required to enable those future challenges?

In order to understand what needs to happen, we framed some questions independently, so see what commonality there was and what differences there were.  This is an useful exercise when deciding that question needs to be answered.

Some of my questions included:

  • What does adaptive learning look like from the view of students and staff?
  • Is personalised learning possible? Is it desirable?
  • How do you enable a merged digital and physical learning environment?
  • What are the differences between the student experience of 2020 and that of 2030?

coffee

Wednesday  morning, after some coffee,  I was in the office and had an initial discussion was had about possible themes for Digifest 2020, though this event won’t be happening until March 2020, like most big events the planning started almost after the last one finished (if not just a bit before).

The afternoon was off to the University of Bristol for a meeting about the One City Bristol project, elements of which are very much in the realm of the smart city. In my previous role I did do some initial research into the various smart city initiatives across the UK and we published a smart city use case on the Intelligent Campus blog.

In January 2019 Bristol published its first ever One City Plan.

The interdependent challenges of growing an inclusive, sustainable city that both breaks down our social fractures and inequalities and reaches carbon neutrality sit at the heart of the future we must deliver. They are stitched throughout the plan.

In the plan there are six themes, one of which is connectivity.

The lifeblood of Bristol is connectivity. Our connectivity is considered the template for contemporary city living. Whether our people connect in person or in virtual spaces, whether they connect in their physical communities or their global communities, our city infrastructure helps bring them together. Bristol connectivity means multimodal connectivity – we designed our infrastructure around the human condition. Anchored yet free, our people are able to draw on the experience of others in their communities and peer groups, and live independently and spontaneously.

Connectivity is synonymous with productivity and Bristol is the regional epicentre of productivity. The South West Economic Region grew on the back of investment in transport and digital connectivity.

The Bristol-Cardiff high speed, high frequency rail link benefits both cities equally – time and travel no longer impinge productivity as they once did. Talent, ideas, energy and enthusiasm flow between the cities and across the region. High-speed rail links connect Bristol with other cities and when the mass transit system was completed in the 2030s, connections between Bristol, Bath, Bristol airport and North Fringe and East Fringe were complete. Our traffic management has cut congestion times and many of our deliveries are made by driverless freight vehicles.

Throughout the 2020s ultrafast broadband was rolled out without exception to social housing, businesses, in public spaces and through city Wi-Fi services. Tactile and immersive virtual and augmented realities reduce the need to travel and are commonplace at work and at home. They also bring together like-minded communities for shared social activities and entertainment.

Our city has managed bus lanes, cycle lanes, congestion controls and programmes to educate school children about safe travel. More than half the city cycles and active travel is the preferred mode of transport for many commuters. Domestic deliveries often arrive by drone. Nobody has been killed or seriously injured as a result of an avoidable road traffic accident in Bristol for years.

We strategically removed the obstacles and barriers to people connecting. The city moves on renewable energy, our people are free to create their own pathways, connected in person or virtually. Our lifeblood flows locally, regionally and globally.

This certainly is an aspiration that hopefully will come to fruition.

Following a request, based on my experience of working on the Jisc Digital Apprenticeships project, Thursday saw me working on some desk research on the current provision of Digital & Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeships across the UK.

One thing that was apparent was how “popular” this degree apprenticeship is.

Chartered manager and digital and technology solutions are the two most implemented standards across each English region, with at least 43 and 33 institutions, respectively, providing them.

 Source

You can find more information about this specific degree apprenticeship on the government’s apprenticeships website.

One of the key requirements of my role is engaging with the Office for Students and the funding they provide Jisc to support higher education. As a result I attend and participate in various meetings that enables us to demonstrate value for money for the OfS, as well as how Jisc is supporting their strategic aims.

I spent some time this week reviewing the Office for Students Strategy 2018 to 2021 and their business plan for 2019-20 in preparation for a meeting on Friday morning.

One thing that I noticed was the target to Launch and oversee a ‘what works’ centre, Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education.

The Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education (TASO) will use evidence and evaluation to understand and show how higher education contributes to social justice and mobility. TASO will exist as an independent hub for higher education professionals to access leading research, toolkits, evaluation techniques and more, to help widen participation and improve equality across the student lifecycle.

It made me think about how this could be done, how it will probably be done and what the actual impact will be.

I tweeted out about the Jisc Futures R&D quarterly learnings webinar for summer 2019

This is the third in a series of update webinars for Jisc members to discuss the progress of our R&D work and share what we are learning during our projects.

 Each webinar will consist of two presentations on recent lessons learned, followed by an open Q&A session which will offer an opportunity to question or discuss any of our R&D work.

    • Launch of the step up programme – making it easier and less risky to work with edtech start-ups
    • Building digital capability service demo including new features for library and information professionals
    • Q&A on all of our R&D projects

Details of the event and registration are here.

We had a debrief about the Agile Implementation Workshop I helped run last week. One outcome from this workshop was to run a knowledge call or workshop on using Jira for projects and business processes.

I spent part of Friday, clearing the inbox, reviewing my scrum boards and planning work for next week.

Following my post about Alexa last week, I read this blog post Maybe Universities Shouldn’t Be Putting Amazon Echos in Student Dorms from Inside Higer Ed which explores the problems and concerns some have about “listening” devices in students’ rooms.

Amazon Echo
Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

In a tragic twist to the end of the week, someone at Castlepark office broke my Cambridge University Press Academic mug that I got at the UKSG 2011 conference in Harrogate ten years ago.

broken mug

I’ve had that mug ten years, through four jobs, three employers, three cities and numerous mugs of coffee. I liked that mug, but it holds no sentimental value.

So who broke it and why?

My top tweet this week was this one.

Is Teams a VLE? – Weeknote #07 – 18th April 2019

coffee

Monday I was off to London for a workshop looking at Education 4.0 as well as a meeting discussing strategy. The workshop was looking at Jisc’s work in the Education 4.0 space and what others are doing in this space.

I published another couple of use cases for the Intelligent Campus blog.

Use Case: Intelligent Catering

Use Case: Intelligent Meetings

Working from home on Tuesday I had a couple of calls, though technical problems with VScene meant I didn’t get into one conference. I have no idea what the problem was, usually I don’t have an issue with VScene.

Wednesday I was into the office for an early meeting to discuss progress and objectives for my new role. I will be continuing some existing objectives on thought leadership (I know, I also hate the term); looking at the learning and research technical career pathway in Jisc; increasing member understanding of Jisc’s learning, teaching and student experience portfolio. In addition I am reviewing the HE and student experience strategy for 2020 onwards. Review our portfolio for the OfS and support a value study at the University of Hertfordshire (I discussed this back in March).

I had similar technical problems with VScene again, I was even using a different computer and browsers.  I think I may have narrowed down the problem to my Bluetooth wireless headset. So next time I am going to use a wired headset and see if that makes a difference.

Had a meeting to discuss some future ideas in a space that is new to me and to Jisc. Where could we apply our work in digital capabilities and analytics in new spaces.

Most of the afternoon I was doing a dry run through the Agile Implementation Workshop I am helping run next week in London. I am talking about reporting and also doing an introductory demo of JIRA.  Sometimes the value of a tool such as JIRA is not the value it adds to the individual using the tool, but the combined and added value you get when everyone in a team uses that tool. Reporting is something else that often is seen as a process between two people, but aggregated reports are valuable to a range of stakeholders in an organisation.

Had an interesting discussion with Lawrie on Thursday morning following a demonstration he had seen the day before.

Microsoft Teams is the digital hub that brings conversations, content, and apps together in one place. Create collaborative classrooms, connect in professional learning communities, and communicate with all staff – all from a single experience in Office 365 Education.

I’ve not looked in detail at all aspects of what makes Teams a possible VLE, though there are some key aspects of Teams that make it appealing as a VLE or LMS. It has all the functions you expect from a VLE or LMS, such as content, communication (individual and group) and assessment. You can connect a wide range of apps to Teams, you like using Twitter for tweetchats, connect it in.

This reminds me of the concept of the VLE I proposed at  the infamous VLE is Dead debate at ALT-C in 2009 (was that really ten years ago now). I saw the VLE still being the centre of the student online learning environment, but other tools and services would plug into it.

Today we have the technology to make that a reality. It can be done with Teams, but similar connectors and connnections exist for tools such as Moodle. From a student perspective, they will be using a tool (and a suite of tools connected to that) they will potentially be using in the future. Yes of course the skills that you gain using tools such as Moodle and Blackboard (and Google Apps) are skills that are transferable, but not everyone sees them in that way, both students and employers.

There are already universities and colleges out in the sector using Teams as their VLE, I am interested in not just who is using Teams as their VLE, but also how they are using it, and how embedded it is into practice.

One thing that I noted was that, it’s all very well having a great tool, it’s quite another thing to understanding and knowing the potential of the functionality of that tool to enhance and enrich the student experience. It’s also another thing to have that functionality exploited by staff and students.

I spent some time setting up a Confluence Site and JIRA project for the Agile Implementation Workshop next week, I didn’t want to do something “not real” so will be using the sites and boards for work I am doing for our Learning & Research Technical Career Pathway.

A shorter week this week, due to the Easter holiday weekend, so also means a later start next week as well.

My top tweet this week was this one.