Tag Archives: heanet

Back in the office – Weeknote #267 – 12th April 2024

Back to a full week, after a couple of shorter weeks. It’s still school holidays in the West, so the roads were quieter as were the trains. Well there was a few issues with the trains, but not big issues.

As it was the holidays I was in the office every day this week. Some days the office was busy and noisy, and on other days it was quieter. Friday it was very quiet.

Most of the week was researching reading, thinking, and writing.

On Tuesday I attended the HEAnet Group Advisory Forum, which is a group which supports HEAnet in Ireland. I attend as an international expert.

There are numerous stories across the press now about the financial (and other) challenges that various universities are facing. The Guardian reports on The Goldsmiths crisis: how cuts and culture wars sent universities into a death spiral.

Arts education is essential – yet on both sides of the Atlantic, the humanities and critical thinking are under attack. With massive redundancies announced at this London institution, is it the canary in the coalmine?

The article notes how what is happening at Goldsmiths is reflecting what is happening elsewhere in the sector.

Yet in many ways, what’s happening at Goldsmiths is a vivid thumbnail sketch of the crises, both accidental and deliberately manufactured, hitting the entire sector, bar a very few stunningly well-funded universities from the high-profile Russell Group.

Despite the sector being very collaborative and mutually friendly, underneath there is a fierce competitive streak. Changes in how university education was funded exposed this. As the article notes when fees were set at £9000 per year.

…Andrew McGettigan, author of the Great University Gamble and expert in university funding and finance, says: “Suddenly classroom subjects were getting a lot more than the cost of delivering teaching, so you could fund research time in your department out of the money you were getting from your students.” You could also cross-subsidise more expensive subjects. This led to what he calls “a great sucking sound” as larger, more prestigious institutions pulled in humanities students because they were very lucrative. 

The sector is facing huge challenges, and they will need to change. What that change is and what it looks like, we don’t’ really know.

Spent some time discussing our away day which is happening later this month, I am doing a session on the challenges that the higher education sector is facing.

Storm Ciarán – Weeknote #244 – 3rd November 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image by 小亭 江 from Pixabay

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

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

Started thinking about my Q1 review documentation.

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

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

Preparation – Weeknote #240 – 6th October 2023

A lot of this week was about preparation for stuff I was doing this week and next week.

I prepared my presentation for The Blended Learning in Higher Education Conference. I didn’t use slides, but still wrote some prompts and notes to support my presentation. When presenting online, I now try and avoid using slides, and focus on just speaking to the camera. I do that partly, as my usual practice with slides of using images, doesn’t always translate well to an online presentation, and mainly, as other speakers use slides, and I want to be different to that, okay so I can stand out a little.

Later in the week I delivered my keynote for The Blended Learning in Higher Education Conference: Integrating Blended Learning into Course Design to Make Maximum Use of Hybrid Learning Techniques.

I also took the time to listen to the other sessions at the conference. It was good to hear that the issues facing universities in the design of blended learning echoed much of what I have been saying and hearing from across the sector.

Next week I am off to Amsterdam for EDUTech Europe 2023 and spent time planning and organising my travel. I had considered going by train (to avoid flying) but couldn’t make the times work.

As I am part of a Smart Campus panel session at EDUTech Europe 2023 I spent time going through the discussion notes, and reminding myself of some of the core issues.

Image by 小亭 江 from Pixabay

In order to get ahead of myself I also booked travel and accommodation for November where I am travelling and attending events.

I did the pre-reading for HEAnet Group Advisory Forum which is happening next week.

I attended the JNC for Jisc and UCU in my capacity as deputy chair of the UCU branch at Jisc.

I have been involved in the design and delivery of shared services over the last twenty years, as well as being a key collaborator of shared services as well. I have been researching and reflecting on those personal experiences. Thinking about how the identification of blockers and challenges in relation to shared services. LAlso looking at the advantages and opportunities in relation to shared services.

Friday I made it into the office in Bristol.

Joined Bluesky, thanks to an invite code I got. Reminds me of the early days of the Twitter. I have noticed that with the slow demise of Twitter, how much Threads (which I am also using) is starting to morph into a Twitter clone. Not so much in terms of functionality, but more in terms of the types of posts and content I am now seeing on Threads.

In Dublin’s fair city – Weeknote #185 – 16th September 2022

Famine sculpture
Famine by James Clay

Well, a week like no other.

I spent Monday having internal meetings discussing various things. One meeting was how our Directorate could communicate more effectively what we do, with the rest of the business on our intranet. I do think that often people assume that others in an organisation know and understand what other parts of the organisation do. Of course, when you are immersed and close to what you and your team do, it can be easy to assume that others are also just as clear about your role and the work of your team. Most times they’re not. I am thinking about how I can communication the work I do, to the rest of the organisation. In some ways these week notes do that in one way.

Another meeting was about setting some priorities in the public affairs space. With all the changes that are taking place in Government, it can be dynamic and changing landscape. A new prime minister, a new secretary of state and new ministers; does mean making new connections and new relationships. It is also very likely that there will be no policies as well.

I spent time on Tuesday preparing for a presentation that I was delivering in Dublin. It did involve reviewing existing presentations and documentation; as well as designing and producing a presentation.

I flew out to Dublin on Wednesday.

Dublin Airport
Dublin Airport by James Clay

I have been to Dublin four times before. I was there in August 1998 when I was on a day trip, we were camping in Pembrokeshire and caught the ferry to Rosslare and then the train to Dublin. I do remember going on an open top bus, and then visiting the Guinness museum.

When I went to Edtech 2020 in Athlone, caught a flight to Dublin. Before catching the train to Athlone I did explore some of Dublin. Didn’t have a huge amount of time back then.

I went to MoodleMoot 2012, which was in Dublin, however I never go further than the conference hotel which was next to the airport.

My last visit to Dublin was in 2016, where I was keynoting at LiLAC 2016. I saw many different parts of Dublin on that visit. Mainly as I was out at University College Dublin and staying at the St. Helen’s Hotel which was quite far south of Dublin. We did have a nice conference dinner at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. However I did not make it into the city centre on that visit.

So arriving in Dublin and catching a bus to the hotel, I did have time before the dinner in the evening to explore the heart of Dublin.

In the evening I was at a dinner with the HEAnet Advisory Group.

On Thursday I was attending and presenting at the HEAnet Advisory Group.

After a presentation on the strategic direction of HEAnet and EduCampus, we had a presentation from Dr Orla Flynn, President of Atlantic Technological University (ATU), called Digital transformation from the perspective of institutional leader. ATU is a multi-campus technological university in the west and northwest of Ireland that delivers a rich combination of academic and research excellence. It covers a wide area, over 37% of the geographical area of Ireland. It was a really interesting talk and the issues of digital transformation echoed many of the experiences I have heard about in the UK.

I delivered my presentation, Digital transformation: Analytics to support student experience and success; a perspective on good practice in UK HEIs, to the group was well received and opened possibilities for further collaboration, provision of services, consultancy, as well as invites to institutions to share UK experiences and practices.

My presentation focused on what Jisc is doing in the learning analytics space, and then the core requirements that UK HEIs need to address in delivering in this space. I also covered some of the core challenges and issues that UK HEIs face, such as privacy and ethics.

After an interesting workshop on digital transformation, and a lunch,

Dublin GPO
Dublin GPO

I had some time before my flight back to Bristol. What I didn’t realise, until I was pass security, was that my flight was delayed, so I had to wait in Dublin Airport for over five hours. This was exhausting.

I think next time I will catch the boat.

The energy crisis is starting to impact on educational providers. One college is moving to a four day week to reduce energy costs. This is something I have been discussing with colleagues.

With the energy crisis, what is the potential impact of shorter weeks on education, also enery blackouts. How do you deliver digital and online learning when the students lack connectivity or power. Something I think I will write about in the next few weeks.

I had an interesting meeting on the original background to the history of HE thought leadership at Jisc over the last two years and where we are, and the current situation. It was agreed that past work using the term thought leadership wasn’t what thought leadership is, using the accepted term for Thought Leadership, but was much more about inspiring transformative content. This is the start of a conversation about where Jisc goes next in this space.

My top tweet this week was this one.

I am not going to resign – Weeknote #175 – 8th July 2022

This week I was working from home. Politically it was a chaotic week, as from Tuesday evening, there were multiple resignations across the government, which culminated with Boris Johnson standing down as leader on Thursday morning. We had three Education Secretaries of State in three days, and at one point there were no ministers in the Department for Education.

I took some leave this week, and spent much of the rest of the week planning for next week, next month and the next year.

I published a more detailed blog post about the Learning at City conference I attended last week.

Overall I had a really good day and enjoyed all the sessions I attended.

I have been reviewing the drafts of the revised Intelligent Campus guide, which was originally published in 2017. This revised version is updated and sets the scene, potentially, for future guides and reports in this space. The first of these will be likely a guide to the Intelligent Library. We have also been revising the many use cases we published for the Intelligent Campus.

Going forward there are lots of opportunities, and this will be led by sector need after scoping and researching the space. I am planning a series of community events and workshops across this space for next year.

One area I think has potential is the intelligent learning space. I did write about this two years ago, in a blog post.

An intelligent learning space could take data from a range of sources, not just the physical aspects of the space and how it is being used, but also the data from digital systems such as attendance records, the virtual learning environment, the library, student records, electronic point-of-sale and online services. This joined-up approach can provide insights into the student experience that we would otherwise miss. These insights can inform and support decision-making by individuals across the campus, including students, academic and professional service staff. By using live and dynamic data, decisions can be made that are based on the current state of the different learning spaces across the campus.

Is this something we need? Would it be useful, or would it only result in marginal benefits to the overall student experience?

Had a scoping call about a possible presentation to HEAnet in Dublin in September, which will be good.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Shorter – Weeknote #164 – 22nd April 2022

A shorter week as there was a bank holiday and I took a day’s leave.

Came back to 70 emails in my inbox, which I cleared quite quickly.

Had a meeting with ALT about plans and collaboration going forward. Next week is the OER 22 Conference and there is a call for papers for the ALT Conference 2022. The ALT Conference 2022 will take place in-person in Manchester.

I attended the HEAnet & EduCampus Group Advisory Forum online. We are planning a strategic meeting that will take place in-person in September.

I spoke to our innovation team about the HE Sector Strategy.

I went to the office in Bristol on Friday, realised it had been sometime since I went to the Bristol office having been on leave, in Manchester and in London quite a bit over the last few weeks.

My top tweet this week was this one.