Tag Archives: intelligent campus

The Intelligent Science Park – Weeknote #05 – 5th April 2019

I was in the Bristol office on Monday morning, firstly I was discussing the panel session I had agreed to attend at Jisc’s Networkshop event in Nottingham next week. The end result was I found myself seeking out some panellists for the session and to find myself chairing the whole thing.

The session is entitled, What will the university look like in 2030? What we hope to discuss and share our views on is about what the student experience will look like in 2030? What are the challenges students and staff will face in the future. Our panel of experts will discuss which  emerging technologies offer the most promise in helping with the challenges universities and colleges face. The session will highlight the horizon report and Jisc’s view of education 4.0.  This  session is aimed at helping managers understand the future student experience, and what it potentially could look like and the challenges that may arise. What emerging technologies will help to meet these challenges, and how do they integrate these into the current and future institutional strategies. As you might expect with a somewhat technical audience some of the panellists will focus and discuss the technical aspects. How do we ensure we have the infrastructure and bandwidth to meet these challenges? How do we ensure security of the growing network, which takes advantage of the cloud and the internet of things?

Following that I was in a meeting with my fellow sector strategy leads updating our progress and what challenges we were facing. This was the first of these meetings I had attended in my new role, so was both challenging and informative.

The afternoon saw myself and colleagues from my new directorate attend a tone of voice workshop. This was an interesting diversion and though there was a lot to take in, the key message for me was to collaborate more in my writing. I often pass draft blog posts to people for comment, but sometimes I am impatient and publish straight away. I know the value of a good proof reader and copy editor as well as collaborators.

On Tuesday I was off to the University of Birmingham for the UKSPA conference.

The mission of The United Kingdom Science Park Association (UKSPA) is to be the authoritative body on the planning, development and the creation of Science Parks and other innovation locations that are facilitating the development and management of innovative, high growth, knowledge-based organisations.

I had been invited, before I took on my new role,  to talk about the Intelligent Campus. I took my usual presentation on this and gave it a Science Park wrapper, so it was called The Intelligent Science Park.

The presentation as you can see is mainly, okay all, photographs. I use Pixabay and Unsplash a lot now to find images for presentations.

Lego Unicorn
Lego Unicorn – Image by Joakim Roubert from Pixabay

To a packed room I talked about the difference between the smart campus and the intelligent campus. I discussed the potential of an intelligent science park and the benefits this could provide organisations on those parks and for the people working there. I adapted our Intelligent Campus slide to convey what a hypothetical intelligent science park data infrastructure could look like.

I also went through the challenges that arise, the ethical considerations, the legal aspects (including GDPR), the importance of security, as well as the key challenges of technical and validity. There were lots of questions and interest in the topic.

Wednesday was an opportunity to catch up on missed e-mails and other communications.  I also finalised the plans and details for the panel session at Networkshop. I had a meeting to catch-up on the discovery work being undertaken in the area of curriculum analytics. Initially this had been tied up into the intelligent campus work, before been separated and worked on independently. It was good to see where it had got to and the potential for the future. This work was then presented later in the week to the Jisc Student Experience Experts Group.

The afternoon was catching up on the work being done by Jisc in the area of wellbeing and mental health. I think it’s important that when we say something like…

Working on how data and analytics and other technology related approaches can support mental health and well-being for staff, students and researchers.

That what we’re actually saying is something more like…

Working on how data and analytics and other technology related approaches can provide insight, intelligence and inform those staff and services that work in this space and support the mental health and well-being of staff, students and researchers.

This isn’t about just using data and analytics in the field of wellbeing, but using data to provide insights for people that work in this space, that may otherwise be missed, allow for earlier interventions, but also understand the impact of those interventions.

Thursday saw another meeting with a member of the Jisc ELT discussing the HE and student experience strategy. I am having a series of meetings with key members of the Executive to discuss the strategy.

On Thursday and Friday I had some administration to do, both for the new role, but also some legacy Intelligent Campus admin to sort and send out. Despite trying to maintain detailed notes on the Intelligent Campus Confluence site, you realise as you leave a project how much is buried inside the odd e-mail, in your head or was passed to other people in the team. We are recruiting a replacement for me to lead on the Intelligent Campus project, and I am sure that there will a lot of handover discussion as they bed into their new role.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Brave New World – Weeknote #03 – 22nd March 2019

In my previous role I spent a fair amount of time working from home, this week I was out every day, three days in London and two days in Bristol. This was unusual, but was mainly as I am stlll transitioning from one role to another. Two days were focused on the Intelligent Campus, three in my new role.

The week started in London. I was leading a Senior TEL working group that advises and informs the work of Jisc. I see talking and importantly listening to the sector an important aspect of my role. This meeting was a great opportunity to introduce myself to some key stakeholders, but also find out the challenges they currently face and what their priorities are.

On Tuesday I had an initial meeting about a future Education 4.0 and student experience internal workshop. I also did some planning for a keynote presentation I am doing next week.

Wednesday was another visit to London, the main reason for my visit was to be available for an overview meeting of the Intelligent Campus, which in the end I did not need to participate in. I find our new London office a really nice place to work, with a variety of spaces for different kinds of working. Though some of the chairs in some of the spaces are not conducive for long term working, which I guess is a good thing.

I made my way to the Bristol office on Thursday to have a meeting with Axians to discuss Jisc’s work in the Intelligent Campus space. A key part of the project is to work with vendors and others who work in this space, to see how we can collaborate.

Despite having a new role, there is still a phased transition from my previous role, in regard to my work on the intelligent campus. I published some new use cases in the intelligent campus space. 

Intelligent equipment sharing 

Is it lunchtime? 

As I said in a previous weeknote, these use cases which have been written in collaboration with Hapsis provide universities and colleges with an insight into the potential of the possibilities of the intelligent campus. In the same way you should reflect on the pedagogy before hitting the edtech, with the intelligent campus it’s useful to know what you want to do, before thinking about the technical possibilities.   

Here is East

The week ended in London, where I was participating in an Advance HE event, Brave New World: Is the HE Sector ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

AdvanceHE Brave New World event

With my colleagues Martin Hamilton were part of the world café session of the event which allowed participants engage in debate around 4IR and understand some of the current good practice and thinking in this area. We were talking about Education 4.0 in the context of the fourth industrial revolution. Made me think about how we take this discussion further in the future.

So there’s me thinking hopefully next week will be less busy, no it isn’t.

My top tweet this week was this one.

First week – Weeknote #01 – 8th March 

University of Hertfordshire

The week started first thing on Monday morning with a meeting at the Hatfield campus of the University of Hertfordshire.  This was the initiation meeting for a project that is looking at how universities use services provided by Jisc. I had gone up the night before as it was a 9am meeting and to be honest to get over to the other side of the country first thing Monday morning isn’t that practical.

Understanding the relationship between Jisc and its funders was the subject of various meetings I attended this week, meeting key people in Jisc who I will be working with in the new role. Despite having a new role, there is still a phased transition from my previous role, in regard to my work on the intelligent campus.

I published three new use cases in the intelligent campus space.

It’s too noisy! 

Congestion ahead 

Intelligent energy 

These use cases which have been written in collaboration with Hapsis provide universities and colleges with an insight into the potential of the possibilities of the intelligent campus. In the same way you should reflect on the pedagogy before hitting the edtech, with the intelligent campus it’s useful to know what you want to do, before thinking about the technical possibilities.

Spent some time discussing a World Café session myself and Martin Hamilton would run at an AdvanceHE event in a couple of weeks time about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We decided our focus would be on Education 4.0, the Jisc response to the challenges of the  Fourth Industrial Revolution.

I also found myself being invited to keynote at the forthcoming AoC/ETF Data Sciences Conference at the end of the month.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Talking Intelligently at #Digifest19

Digifest

Next week it’s time for Jisc’s Digifest and I am doing a one hour interactive presentation on the Intelligent Campus.

The smart campus is already here; the technology, sensors and data analysis capability is all available, but it isn’t all joined up and so has limited scope in terms of what we can learn and how we can use the knowledge.

In order to enhance the student experience, allow for more effective and efficient use of space, could we take the smart campus and make it intelligent?

Universities and colleges spend billions on their campuses, yet they are frequently underutilised and are often a frustrating experience for students. In this session, I will describe the campus of the future. How does a traditional campus become a smart campus? What are the steps to make a smart campus, an intelligent campus? We have an opportunity to provide our members with a service that can help them address that problem. If we extend our learning analytics infrastructure to collect data from a wider range of institutional software and devices then we can deliver novel insights to institutional managers to help them make their campuses more efficient, improve student experience and deliver higher quality teaching.

The future intelligent campus service aims to find effective ways to use data gathered from the physical estate and combine it with learning and student data from student records, library systems, the virtual learning environment (VLE) and other digital systems. This session will describe what data can be gathered, how it can be measured and explore the potential for enhancing the student experience. It will demonstrate and explain to the delegates what the exciting future of the intelligent campus. Importantly I will also ask delegates to consider the ethical issues when implementing an intelligent campus as well as the legal requirements.

The one hour session takes place on there 12th March, at 11:30 in hall 9.

To read more about what is an intelligent campus have a read of this article, What makes an intelligent campus?, in Educational Technology written by me.

To find out more about the Jisc Intelligent Campus project – Using data to make smarter use of your university or college estate – see this webpage.

Jisc have published a guide for universities and colleges who are interested in venturing into the Intelligent Campus space.

In order to understand the potential of the Intelligent Campus space we have published a series of use cases.

For regular updates on the project and what is happening in the Intelligent Campus space then visit the project blog.

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.

Going down the #altc road again

This is an updated version of this blog post from 2016. It now includes details of the 2016 and 2017 conferences.

#altc in Liverpool

Reading Maren Deepwell’s recent post about her #altc journey, it reminded me of the many conferences I have attended and like her the impact that they had on my life and professional practice. Going back to my experiences of my first ALT-C I was surprised I even went again!

Continue reading Going down the #altc road again

The Intelligent Library #CILIPConf17

So what is the intelligent library? What is the future of the library?

library

At the CILIP Conference in Manchester this year, on Thursday 6th July, I am delivering a high level briefing session on technology, specifically looking at the library within the intelligent campus space. The session will explore the potential technologies and the possibilities that can arise from the developments in artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

There has been plenty of hype over artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Is it time to put aside the cynicism that this kind of hype generates and look seriously at how we can take advantage of these emerging technologies to improve the student experience and build an intelligent library?

library

The internet of things makes it possible for us to gather real-time data about the environment and usage of our library spaces. It is easy to imagine using this data to ensure the library is managed effectively, but could we go further and monitor environmental conditions in the library, or even, using facial recognition software, student reactions as they use the library so that we can continually refine the learning experience?

Most smartphones now make use of artificial intelligence to make contextual recommendations based on an individual’s location and interests. Could libraries take advantage of this technology to push information and learning resources to students? If we could, it offers some interesting possibilities. On-campus notifications could nudge students to make best use of the available services such as the library. Off-campus notifications could encourage them to take advantage of the learning opportunities all around them. Could we use approaches like this to turn student’s smartphones into educational coaches, nudging students towards the choices that lead to higher grades and prompting them to expand their learning horizons.

As we start to use a range of tracking technologies, smart cards, beacons, sensors we are facing a deluge of data in the use of buildings, spaces and equipment across a college or university campus. We are faced with a breadth and depth of data which can be challenging to use effectively and have greatest impact. These tracking technologies are already widespread in environments such as airports and retail. Often using wifi tracking to track users via their wifi enabled devices and smartphones. In addition sensors are used to track space utilisation and occupancy. Interpreting the data is fraught with challenges and difficulties, as well as potential ethical and legal issues. However this wealth of data does offer the potential to deliver more satisfying experiences for students and staff as well as ensuring the library is used as effectively as possible.

books

Looking in more detail we can outline some potential use cases for the intelligent library, and we may want to think which of these are desirable, but also which are possible with the current state of technology.

We can imagine an intelligent library which not only knows what seats and PCs are free, but can learn from history and predict when the library will be busy and when it will be emptier. The library then provides this information to students via an app, pushing the library when there is more availability of places and computers.

Having a deeper understanding of the utilisation of the library, will allow for more effective and efficient use of space. Could this also mean we have a flexible library that expands and contracts as demand for space in the library changes over the day or over the year?

Could we use wireless technologies, such as RFID, not just for issue and return, but also track those resources as they are used within the library itself? Could we also use the same technologies to track resources across campus to identify areas where they are being used or stored (or even lost)? Could we then enhance those spaces to improve learning?

Could we use facial recognition to monitor regular users of the library and provide insight and data into learning analytics? Could we go one step further and use facial recognition technology to discover when students are “troubled” or “in need of help” and then make appropriate interventions to support them in their studies?

books

If the library is getting full, could we identify those students who have been in there a long time, and push a notification, incentivising them to take a break with a free coffee from the library coffee shop? Could we go one step further, and promote wellbeing, by doing the same, but with a free coffee on the other side of campus, so they have to go outside and get some air and exercise?

using a mobile phone and a laptop

Is there any benefit in providing a platform to help gather this data from a range of systems in a standard format that makes it easier to analyse and act upon? Would it be useful to have a national view over this data? Would that enable us to find new patterns that could help us discover the story behind the data, to make appropriate interventions and improve the use of our libraries? Could we build the tools and practices an institution would need to use to gather, organise and push this data to student’s smartphones as well as exploring novel user interfaces such as chatbots?

Of course all this tracking and data collection has huge implications from an ethical perspective. We already gather large amounts of data in the library, sometimes this is anonymised, but sometimes it relates to individuals. At a basic level, we have seen physical counters to determine the number of users in the library, as well as using library management systems to gather data about the usage of resources and the borrowing behaviour of library users. The intelligent library as outlined above takes all this initial tracking of users one step further.

library

As the technology in the intelligent library space grows, we need to consider various questions on why we want to use these technologies, how we use them and if we should. We already use a range of systems to collect data, do we want to put in new systems to gather even more data? Some data we need to collect regardless of our concerns, a library management system by definition will collect and store huge amounts of data about resources and users. What happens less often now, but may increase in the future is the processing of that data. This is the analysis of that data and displaying that data in a way that shows a picture. The next step is taking action about what that data shows. It could be an organisational action, but could equally be action related to an individual user. How do we ensure that we have consent to collect data (sometimes this is implicit by using the library), how do we ensure we have consent for us to process that data and finally do we have constant to take action on that data?

What is the future of the library? This session at the CILIP Conference will explore the potential technologies and the possibilities that can arise from the developments in artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Can we build an intelligent library? Do we want to?

Open the pod bay doors…

People are not fearful of algorithms, they’re fearful of agendas that the algorithms represent.

2001-a-space-odyssey

Over the last few weeks I have been discussing and listening to people’s views on the intelligent campus.

One topic which has resulted in a fair bit of controversy is the concept of using artificial intelligence to support teaching and learning. This isn’t some kind of HAL 9000 computer running the campus and refusing to open the library doors until Dave the learner has finished their essay. This is more about a campus system being able to learn from the users, take that data, do some analysis and make suggestions to the user on potential ideas for improvement and useful interventions.

Imagine a learner arriving at campus with the intention of writing an essay, needing a quiet place in which to do this. They check their Campus App on their smartphone and it recommends a location based on the ambient noise levels and the type of environment the learner has used before. It could take into account the distance from the coffee shop, depending on if coffee is used as a distraction or supports the learner in writing their essay. The learner can of course ignore all this and just go to where they want to, the app provides informed guidance and learns as the learner does more learning activities and which spaces they use.

Another scenario, is a teacher planning a session, with some relatively interactive and engaging learning activities. They ask the intelligent campus where is the best place for this to happen! The system takes on board the preferences of the teacher, the availability of rooms, information from previously successful similar sessions and any feedback from learners. The teacher can then make an informed choice about the best space for this session. After the learning, the system asks for feedback so that it can learn from and improve the decisions it makes.

I think some of the issues (or should we call them problems and fears) that people have with a concept such as this is they feel any such algorithm is secret and hidden and will have a built in bias.

hal-9000-reflecting-daves-entry-in-stanley-kubricks-2001-a-space-odyssey

As I wrote in my previous blog post on open analytics I said

So if we are to use algorithms to manage the next generation of learning environments, the intelligent campus, support for future apprenticeships and data driven learning gains, how can we ensure that we recognise that there is bias? If we do recognise the bias, how do we mitigate it? Using biased algorithms, can we make people aware that any results have a bias, and what it might mean?

People are not fearful of algorithms, they’re fearful of agendas that the algorithms represent. But if we make these algorithms open and accessible, we could mitigate some of those concerns.

So if we are to use algorithms to support teaching and learning, could we, by making the algorithms open, ensure that, we remove some of those fears and frustrations people have with a data approach? By making the algorithms open could we ensure that staff and learners could see how they work, how they learn and why they produce the results that do?

This does bring up another issue that people have mentioned which is the bias any algorithm has, bias which comes from the people who write it, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. There is an assumption that these algorithms are static and unchanging and written by people who have an agenda. As we know from using Google and other algorithms, these are constantly changing and being tweaked.

Could we go one step further and allow people to edit or even create their own algorithms? Allowing them to make suggestions on how they could be improved, creating new analytics that could benefit the wider community.

We need to embrace the benefits of a smart campus, because the technology is already here, but we need one which learns from the people who use it; we need to ensure that those people are the ones who inform and guide the development of that learning. They are able to and can decide which intelligent campus decisions to benefit from and which they can ignore. By making the whole process open and accessible, we can provide confidence in the decision making, we can feel we can trust those decisions. We mustn’t forget that giving them that literacy in this area, is perhaps the most important thing of all.

Remember that in both scenarios above the learner and teacher both, ultimately, have the decision to ignore the intelligent campus decisions, they can decide themselves to close the pod bay doors.

Opening the algorithms: Could we use open analytics?

globe

Do you remember when the Google algorithm wasn’t that good, well it was good, but today it’s better!

Many years ago if you searched for a hotel on Google, so you could find out if there was car parking, or to find the website for the restaurant menu, the search results most of the time were not the hotel website, but hotel booking sites offering cheap hotel rooms. Pointless if you already had a room, and all you wanted to know if you had to pay for car parking, or what time you could check out. The problem was that the hotel booking sites worked out how the Google search algorithm ranked sites and “gamed” Google search.

Today, the experience is very different, the algorithm usually results in the actual hotel website being the top hit on any search for a specific hotel.

Google had worked on the algorithm and ensured what they saw as the correct search result was the one that was at the top.

One thing that many people don’t realise was that Google not only worked on the software behind the algorithm, but that they also use human intervention to check that the algorithm was providing the search results they thought it should be. If you wonder why Google search is better than search functions on your intranet and the VLE this is probably why, Google use people to improve search results. Google uses people to both write the algorithms and to tweak the search results. Using people can result in bias.

laptop

So if we are to use algorithms to manage the next generation of learning environments, the intelligent campus, support for future apprenticeships and data driven learning gains, how can we ensure that we recognise that there is bias? If we do recognise the bias, how do we mitigate it? Using biased algorithms, can we make people aware that any results have a bias, and what it might mean? If we are to, like Google, use human intervention, how is that managed?

The one aspect of Google’s search algorithm that some people find frustrating is that the whole process is secret and closed. No one, apart from the engineers at Google really knows how the algorithms were written and how they work, and what level of human intervention there is.

So if we are to use algorithms to support teaching and learning, could we, by making the algorithms open, ensure that, we remove some of those fears and frustrations people have with a data approach? By making the algorithims open could we ensure that staff and learners could see how they work, how they learn and why they produce the results that do?

Could we go one step further and allow people to edit or even create their own algorithms? Allowing them to make suggestions on how they could be improved, creating new analytics that could benefit the wider community.

Is it time for open analytics?

Thank you to Lawrie Phipps for the conversations we had after the Digital Pedagogy Lab: Prince Edward Island conference and this blog post.

Hey Siri, how am I doing on my course?

Of course if you ask Siri today, her reply is, well it depends…

siri002

Another response to the same question…

siri001

As for tomorrow…. well could it be different?

However for other things intelligent assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Google Now can be a really useful mechanism for finding things out, things you need to do and in many instances fun stuff too.

I have been wondering if we could utilise these technologies and apply it to learning.

We know that most (if not all) people can usually tell when using a chat function on a website when they are talking to a chat bot and when they are talking to a real person.

Could we just not even try and think that the intelligent agent is real and actually play up to the fact it is artificial. Give it a name and even create a personality for it?

This way we could avoid some of those ethical issues about a piece of software trying to pretend to be human. The students know it is not real and it is advertised accordingly.

But could such a tool be an useful thing for students to have access to? One that could learn from its experiences and fine tune it’s responses and interventions?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be voice controlled, users could use text entries.

So what kind of questions could learners ask?

What is the best book for this module?

Where is a quiet place to study on campus?

What other questions could we expect learners to be asking?