On Monday evening I went up an old North Sea gas rig on the seafront of Weston-super-Mare. The See Monster is an art installation. It certainly is an interesting place.
Tuesday I was in Birmingham for a team away day. A bit of double booking, late trains for people and other stuff, meant that it wasn’t as constructive as I hoped it would be. However, we did an excellent communication exercise which I really found illuminating.
Wednesday I was in Birmingham at the ICC for the Jisc Staff Conference. Nice to see people from across Jisc in-person. Some useful sessions and some fun ones as well.
Thursday I was down to London for a meeting with a Finnish delegation from the CSC, which is a NREN (like Jisc). Colleagues and myself presented on the work of Jisc across the UK and answered questions on various aspects of our work.
Friday I was working from home. I spent time sorting out stuff from the week in preparation for going on leave next week.
Some of my highlights from the first day of Jisc’s Digifest.
It was a nice start with the opening keynote from Jim Knight, director of Suklaa Ltd.
His personal reflections of the pandemic resonated with many in the audience, as did his vision for the future. There are things we want to keep and there are things we know we need to work on for the future. I did a sketch note of his talk.
I thought his presentation was nice, not inspiring, just nice.
Over the day we saw many sessions about building and changing for that future.
Stacy Vipas, head of digital learning, Askham Bryan College talked about her college’s use of an action research framework and a roadmap for the future of digital learning. She spoke about bringing together the changes in spaces needed, the digital skills of students, to bring about that future vision.
Tom Farrelly from Munster Technological University brought over his real life experiences of working with marginalised communities and how others could benefit from the lessons they learnt.
I attended another session, where a full room of delegates wanted to find out more about how Teesside used a learning design toolkit, underpinned by a framework, with academics across the university. They talked about how staff were initially hesitant, but the process of going through the toolkit was illuminating and transformative.
A highlight for me, on what was International Women’s Day was the panel consisting of inspirational female leaders and their views and reflections on their personal journeys to success and what this means for the sector to ensure that we can remove the barriers to inequality and support an equal future for women in the sector. We still have a way to go.
The climate emergency was the subject of an international panel discussion. We need to be thinking about greening agendas, carbon neutrality or even going carbon negative.
With two of the panel coming in live from the US, this was a great discussion on the importance of the education sector both responding to, but also been seen to be responding to the climate emergency.
This did mean I missed a, according to others, a great session from Rob Bladgen from the University of Gloucestershire in his session titled “Education: the great changemaker”. This session, saw Rob telling the story of Gloucestershire’s purchase of the city centre Debenhams building, with a plan to create an educational hub for students. Recognising the need for such a place to be a place for community and belonging.
We have as a sector seen real challenges over the last two years, but I did feel that now we have a (potential) roadmap to a better future.
However despite thinking about the future, we need to reflect on the past. This was the essence of Audrey Watters final streamed keynote, hope for the future. This was a thought provoking discussion about the importance of history and the future of edtech.