Monday I was spending time planning and working on the Intelligent Campus community event for the 24th May 2023 and the Intelligent Library community event for the 21st June 2023. I also did some more planning for Senior Education and Student Experience Group Meetings on the 20th March and 21st April, including producing slides for the meeting I am planning some internal and external personalisation events.
The government got slammed on the Twitter for talking about innovation, through the use of a QR code and some weirdly animated AR text.
One day, we’ll have the technology to embed links directly in tweets without the need to embed QR codes that you then need a second device to scan. One day… https://t.co/09RB9W2sAF
I published this in 2011 which was a little while ago, though for some I guess it only feels like yesterday… Ten ways to use QR Codes.
Sorry, this is not a blog post on ten ways to use QR Codes, but it is a blog post about what you actually can do with QR Codes. Once you know what you can do with QR Codes then you can build learning activities round those functions.
Remember holding your phone whilst driving is illegal.
In the middle of the week, I was in Birmingham this week for Jisc’s Digifest conference.
I did a few sketch notes of some of the presentations.
I undertook a fireside chat with Dom Pates on the Intelligent Campus, early indications were forty plus people attended the session. It was also recorded. In case you were wondering where the slides are, well we didn’t use slides, we literally had a chat, with a video of a fireplace on my iPad.
Many colleges and universities are working on ways to improve their students’ experience, business efficiencies and environmental performance by better utilising data. This data can be directly related to learning and part of the overall campus experience.
In the article, Alexander Hanff, a computer scientist and leading privacy technologist who helped develop Europe’s GDPR and ePrivacy rules, talks about how ChatGPT killed him off and even tried to fabricate URLs to a fake obituary. A scary thought on how relying on AI could result in you trying to prove to people that you’re alive, though the AI says you’re dead!
The emergence of chatbots and other writing tools powered by artificial intelligence may pose a far greater threat to the future of essay mills than legislation has proved to be, experts said. There are early signs that firms which specialise in selling assignments are already having to shift their business models in the face of more students using the likes of ChatGPT to generate answers of a similar or better quality to what they may have been tempted to buy previously.
At the end of the week I was doing some logistics for future travel and events.
My top tweet this week was this one.
Just got an email which starts with…
“Today’s students have grown up as digital natives.”#sigh
Repeat after me.
There is NO such thing as s digital native!
There is NO such thing as s digital native!
There is NO such thing as s digital native!
I had a quiet week in terms of meetings and events, but did go to the Bristol office for three days this week.
Monday was spent catching up with email and Teams messages from last week when I was mainly on leave. Also on Monday was our monthly leadership meeting.
I was failing miserably to use the campaigns function of Salesforce for one of my community groups as I don’t have the necessary profile to do specific actions in relation to the campaign function. Escalated the problem, but the person I need to chat with, is on leave this week.
I went through my research and notes for potential Intelligent Campus Member Stories for our communication team to accompany the publication of the Guide to the Intelligent Campus.
As well as updating the Guide to the Intelligent Campus, we have also updated the use cases, which were on the project blog. I spent some time mapping these to the guide, so that the use cases, which will be in PDF format can be linked to from the guide. Started thinking about the next generation of use cases, especially in the light of AI tools such as ChatGPT.
Had a meeting with the Professional Development Manager at UCISA on various ideas, submissions, and activities.
Invited by IGPP Institute of Government & Public Policy and University of East London to talk at their event on Advancing Blended Learning in Higher Education.
Undertook some research and development time on personalisation and intelligent campus.
Published some blog posts on the Intelligent Campus
Started planning the next of the Intelligent Campus community events.
If you are working in the area of the intelligent campus and have an interest in the work being undertaken in this space, we would like to invite you to attend the next in our series of community events. This community of practice gives people a chance to network, share practice and hear what various institutions are doing. You will have the opportunity to discover more about intelligent campus projects and Jisc’s work in this space.
I use to run these when I was project manager for the Intelligent Campus project, then they were taken over by a colleague, before being run by RUGIT for a while. However, since the lead person there left the sector, and the Intelligent Campus is a key part of our HE strategy, I have decided to start running the community events again.
It will take place in London at the Jisc offices on the 24th May 2023.
Planning the Intelligent Library community event for the 21st June 2023.
The DfE HE sector emergency planning liaison group meeting on Friday was cancelled. However, I did some preparation work for the meeting, and have been asked to provide current Jisc guidance for senior leaders on cyber-attacks.
My top tweet this week was this one.
This week is a quiet week for me. However from next week it all goes busy, busy, busy.
I use to say things like “I can teach anywhere”. What I meant by this, wasn’t that the environment or space I was using wasn’t important, but I could overcome the disadvantages of the different spaces I had to play with, and still deliver an effective session.
So though I might be able to teach anywhere the reality is that all those challenges and issues I face in an inappropriate space, may well result in poor quality learning, despite the quality of my teaching.
Big news this week was that the QAA was to step away from designated role in England. Over on Wonkhe, David Kernohan tries to make sense of it all.
The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) will no longer consent to be the Designated Quality Body (DQB) in England, as of the end of the current year in office (March 2023). The reasoning is straightforward – the work that QAA does in England, on behalf of the OfS, is no longer compliant with recognised quality standards – namely the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) as monitored by the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR). For this reason, the QAA registration with EQAR was recently suspended – a decision that highlights international concerns about procedures in England but has an impact in the many other nations (including Scotland and Wales) where QAA needs that EQAR registration in order to fulfil a statutory quality assurance role.
Once more we are seeing more divergence across the UK for higher education.
I revisited and revised a blog post on voice assistants I had written back in 2018.
Voice assistants have become widespread and are proving useful for a range of uses. The cost has fallen over the years and the services have expanded.
The use of voice assistants and smart hubs has certainly continued, and they have become embedded into many digital ecosystems. Their use in education though is still limited and I will be looking at that in a later blog post.
Attended a session on impact this week, which was interesting, but not necessarily that useful. How do you evidence impact of what you do? I wonder for example of the 1,828 blog posts published on this blog have had any impact on the way in which people work, support others or plan their work. For example one of the most popular blog posts on the blog, which though written in 2011, is still regularly viewed, is this one 100 ways to use a VLE – #89 Embedding a Comic Strip, which was one of a series of blog posts on improving or enhancing the use of the VLE.
One use of graphic that can enhance the look of a VLE course or as a mechanism to engage learners is to embed a comic strip into the VLE course.
What has been the impact of this? Has is changed practice? Has it improved the student experience? Has it improved student outcomes? How would I know?
I don’t think I can evidence the impact of this, but other work I have done I can sometimes see the evidence, however I don’t know if their has been actual impact.
I quite liked these tweets from August 2021 from people who had attended the digital leadership consultancy I had delivered for Leeds.
Me too! I’m crediting this partially to my participation in the Jisc Digital Leaders programme. @DigitalJisc
I had as part of the programme delivered a session on e-mail. It incorporates much of what is in this blog post on Inbox Zero and this follow up post. Always nice to see the impact that your training has had on the way that people work, they didn’t just attend the training, engage with the training, but are now acting on what they saw and learnt.
However what I don’t know is, has the change had a positive impact? And what was that impact?
I spent some of the week reviewing our new guide to the Intelligent Campus, and the revamped guide to the Intelligent Library. The library guide was never published but has been updated for 2022. I also reviewed our updated use cases, as well as drafting plans for some additional use cases. I am aiming for publication of these in the autumn.
I started off the week with a cross-sector agency meeting on widening participation.
I spent most of the week travelling. I was visiting various places and universities as part of a scoping piece of work I am doing in the Intelligent Campus space. It was also an opportunity to look at the physical campuses of various universities following two years of conversations over Zoom.
Dave Foord on a mailing list posted a link to a blog post he had written last month on three organisations he was supporting to return to Moodle having switched to a different VLE and then finding that the “problems” that the new VLE was supposed to solve, hadn’t actually been solved. It reminded me of many similar conversations I have had in the past about changing VLEs. Often lack of engagement with a VLE is placed at the door of the VLE, so the conclusion is that switching the VLE is the answer. It usually isn’t.
Jim Dickinson (of WonkHE) created and crowdsourced a really interested and useful Twitter thread.
OK folks let's do a bit of crowdsourcing on how universities might help reduce students' costs this coming year. All ideas – big and small – welcome. Let's get this thread to 100 policy ideas.
I spent some of the week reviewing our new guide to the Intelligent Campus, and the revamped guide to the Intelligent Library. The library guide was never published but has been updated for 2022. I am aiming for publication of these in the autumn.
My top tweet this week was this one.
Supporting organisations who dropped Moodle, but are now switching back – Dave Foord’s Weblog https://t.co/GVmP8e0j9b
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.
I am losing count of how many resignations we have had, and I suspect by the time I have finished typing out this tweet, we might have had a few more….
This week I attended the Learning at City Conference, an in-person event in London. It was like a blast from the past, as I travelled up on the day on the train and went across London. Easier though than on previous visits to City, as the Elizabeth Line is much smoother and faster than the Tube trains I would usually take. One of my reasons for attending was to find out more about their approach to hybrid teaching, which I had read about online.
It was a good conference and I enjoyed it, I am writing a more detailed blog post about the day. I did managed though to do one sketchnote on the opening keynote on assessment.
I am currently working on reviewing, revising and developing a range of reports related to the intelligent campus. This includes an updated version of the Intelligent Campus Guide, which we originally published back in 2017. A lot has happened in this space since then. We also took the opportunity to update the many use cases which were on the blog. Still thinking about the best format for these going forward. One thing we did draft back in 2017 was an Intelligent Library Guide. In the end it didn’t get published, but this time we have updated and revised the guide ready for publication later in the year.
I am also working on an Intelligent Campus Learning Spaces Scoping Study. Looking at how learning spaces are being used, and what are the issues are in the context of the intelligent campus.
I attended an HE & Research Leadership Team Coaching session. We looked at our internal processes, systems and structures, and reflected on how we would work going forward.
I published a blog post, Predicting an uncertain future about thinking about the future. Predicting is hard, and we can get it wrong. Actually, most of the time we do get it wrong.
Today we can also talk about possibilities and what it could mean for the student experience in the future. The purpose of this is not to predict what the university of the future will be but provide an envelope of possibilities that would allow us to plan for that potential future and build in appropriate resilience and responsiveness.
I attended Wonkhe’s Education Espresso – Telling the story of changing pedagogy event online. It was a stark contrast, from an experiential perspective to the in-person City event I had attended earlier in the week.
My top tweet this week was this one.
My original thinking about “chunking” of video into shorter sessions, I did think, don’t students have a pause button? I was later reminded about the importance of being able to update “chunks”, rather than having to update the whole video. #LearningAtCity22
After a week in Manchester I spent this week working from home. I took the time to work on the implementation of our HE Sector Strategy and more on our internal communication plan to continue to raise awareness of the strategy.
I wrote up my reflections on the UCISA Conference.
Overall, I enjoyed the conference and found that it exceeded by expectations. Despite being labelled a leadership conference, I was expecting to see and hear much more about the operational side of higher education IT but was pleasantly surprised by how many sessions were on leadership and transformation. I will be planning to attend the UCISA Leadership Conference next year.
I also wrote up about sketching at UCISA 22 with some thoughts about sketches from earlier conferences. My sketch notes are really for me, rather than other people. The process of sketching allows me to digest for myself what is been talked about and demonstrated. The sketch note provides me with a mechanism that provides a process for my interpretation of what is being said and what I understand from the talk.
The process of sketching engages me in the talk in ways in which note taking does for others or conversing on the Twitter. They are not done for other people, if other people find them useful then that’s just a bonus. So if you want some sketch notes for your conference, why not get in touch.
First up, every student’s favourite way of working – group work!
He is working on a series of blog posts about online learning.
Like many of you I’ve been getting rather exasperated by the “online = bad, face to face = good” narrative that seems to have arisen post-pandemic. So I thought I’d try a series on some of the ways in which online learning can be done effectively. I mean, I know it won’t make any difference, but shouting into the void can be therapeutic. They’ll be a mix of research and my own experience.
I worked on some reports and guides we will be publishing later in the year on the Intelligent Campus and the Intelligent Library. We originally published the guide in 2017. This was at the time well received by the sector and continues to be the core guidance in this space. Since then, universities across the UK have been exploring how they can make their campuses smarter and intelligent. Since the guide was published, there have been many changes to the landscape, as well as the covid-19 pandemic, there have been advances in smart campus technologies, and a new range of use cases. We know from sector intelligence, member voice and Learning and Teaching Reimagined that the future of the campus is an important component when it comes to digital transformation. This has shown the need for Jisc to update their advice and guidance in this area.
Continuing our research into the Intelligent Campus is outlined in Jisc’s HE strategy.
We will continue our research into the intelligent campus, learning spaces and digital platforms, and how these improve a seamless student experience. This includes how digital and physical estates work together so that they are responsive to student journeys and interactions as well as to help universities achieve their net zero targets.
I was interested though (from an FE perspective) to read about Gloucestershire College’s move to ensure that their campuses function on fully renewable energy. They are digging bore holes for a heat exchanger. For a site that is in the heart of the city centre I did think that this was an intriguing solution to moving to net zero.
When we talk about online and in-person many of us think of this as a dichotomy, either we are online, or we are in-person. The reality is though as we know, that this can be more of a spectrum, a range of possibilities, with varying depths to which online or digital can be embedded into an in-person experience.
I did think that this Twitter thread on academic presentations was interesting and useful to read on six useful things.
A year ago, a non-academic friend listened to a talk I gave. I thought it went great. My friend disagreed.
She said that academics are experts at making interesting stuff boring—and that we should all take a speech class.
So I did. And here are 6 most useful things I learned.
I did like the sixth thing was interesting and useful.
Academic talks often end with a Q&A. But this can mean that the last thing you audience hears is a subpar question or an awkward “No more questions?” You can ensure that things end on a high note if you prep a post-Q&A conclusion.
This is something I am going to start doing in my talks and presentations.
On Monday I was off to London. I was originally planning to be in a workshop, but that didn’t work out, so I made the most of my trip to touch base with some key people in our London office. I spent some time planning a training and development session on presentations. This follows a talk I gave at an internal TEDx event.
The talk was about designing powerpoint slides and presenting information.
For the training and development session on presentations I will expand this into an interactive session that will cover presenting and presentations in more depth. The participants will need to design and deliver a five minute presentation as part of the session.
I will be helping them to understand what makes an effective presentation, some important aspects to consider when trying to communicate a message, how to focus on and reinforce key aspects of that messaging, as well as how to manage a Q&A session after presenting. I will be mentioning fonts and images. I will attempt to not mention clip-art!
Tuesday was another trip to London to meet with some consultants be part of a workshop to discuss and plan our messages for current and future public affairs. In order to get to the meeting I caught the tube to Blackfriars and crossed the Thames to Southwark. I have not been to that part of London before so was curious to see what was around as I walked to the meeting. The railway bridge over the Thames had a huge crest not quite attached to it which I found quite fascinating.
The bridge was once part of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway network. This rail company was formed in 1859 and the crest is dated five years later 1864. It formed a union with the South Eastern Railway and though not formally merged they operated as the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. In 1923 it was merged with other rail companies to form Southern Railway. The line became part of British Railways following nationalisation in 1948. It remained part of British Railways (and from 1965 when it traded as British Rail) until re-privatisation in 1992. Services are now operated by Thameslink.
I used the phrase “not quite attached to it” as the original structure of the original Blackfriars Railway Bridge deteriorated until it was unsound. In 1961, two tracks were removed from the bridge to ease its load. The bridge was eventually removed in 1985. The current “bridge” is in fact Blackfriars Station now. The crest, which was restored in 1990, and the abutments are a listed building.
Wednesday I was in the office in Bristol for my end of year review, which I feel went well, despite it being an odd year with a role change mid-year. The office was packed and there were lots of people I hadn’t seen in a while, so it was good to catch up.
I spent quite some time reviewing operational plans in the context of the higher education strategy that we have which was an interesting exercise.
I have been given the task of leading on an Education 4.0 roadmap and it has been challenging to find suitable time in people’s diaries during the summer, as a lot of people are taking holiday.
Thursday I was off to London again, third time this week, an earlier train as I was travelling over to Queen Mary, University of London in East London. This was another part of London I had not been to before. It was a bit of a trek on the underground from Paddington to Mile End, but at least I didn’t have to change tubes.
We were having a round table discussion on how Jisc supports TNE for Jisc members. I gave a short presentation on how Jisc works in the HE learning and teaching space. We did though branch out into a wider educational technology discussion and I spent some time discussing the concept of the Intelligent Library. This I have spoken about before at various events across the UK.
An aspect of the discussion was use cases that could then drive how such a concept could be implemented. One we discussed was providing assessment information to libraries in a way that would support them in their provision of the library service.
I spent the afternoon working in our office in Fetter Lane.
Friday was a time to participate in a meeting about the Learning and Research Technical Career Pathway I am developing at Jisc. I have made some progress, but still have some way to go to. I also took the time to undertake some planning.
So what is the intelligent library? What is the future of the 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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
news and views on e-learning, TEL and learning stuff in general…