Tag Archives: learning spaces

Space, the final frontier – Weeknote #259 – 16th February 2024

It was half term week in North Somerset, so I was off to the office for most of the week.

I posted a blog post What makes an intelligent campus? which was about the differences between a smart campus and a campus which is intelligent.

A dumb campus is merely a series of spaces and buildings. For example the heating comes on at 8am, off at 5pm, and is only switched on between November and March, regardless of the external temperature.

A smart campus uses data from the spaces and buildings to make decisions. For example, a thermostat controls the heating, as the room warms up, the heating turns off.

An intelligent campus uses data from across the organisation to make decisions and make predictions. For example, a team is out on an away day, so the intelligent campus, switches off the heating and lighting on that floor for that day.

I also updated a blog post I had written about the links between the university smart campus and the smart city (or smart community).

So how does the intelligent campus slot into the smart city? The reality is in many cities the campus and the city are not distinct spaces, and for many people they will move between city and campus across the day. If a university with an intelligent campus does not integrate or work with the smart city, then they won’t have the full picture and in some cases could be at odds with each other. Bringing in the full picture, all the data, a better understanding can be drawn from the experiences of the students and the city population at large.

Following on from the Intelligent Campus workshop I ran in January, the university has been back in touch to discuss planning a two day workshop with a wider range of stakeholders.

I had my Q2 review. As always, these notes come in useful for writing up that review.

I spent time reviewing the personalisation space I have on Dovetail and identifying gaps and further research required. The plan here is not to create the definitive guide to personalisation in higher education, but reflect on a shared understanding, the needs of the sector in this landscape, and where and how Jisc can help and support universities in moving to a more personalised student experience. I worked through a potential workplan and what the next steps are.

lecture theatre
Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

I have spent time working on learning spaces, and I undertook a second analysis of learning spaces scoping study we did last year, adding tags and insights to Dovetail space I have on learning spaces.

Cylinders of excellence – Weeknote #250 – 15th December 2023

I had various meetings this week and spent time in our Bristol office, as well as working from home.

I wondered if silo working is another word for non-strategic working? People often complain about silo working and the resulting challenges that can arise. I think part of the reason why there are problems with duplication, conflict, and lack of communication, across silo working, is teams are working to their own objectives and aren’t necessarily working towards common objectives.

Silos
Image by marcson from Pixabay

The NSA in the US talks of silo working as cylinders of excellence. You can have outstanding or excellent teams, but not necessarily have an excellent organisation. See this blog post I wrote about that. I think I might expand on this on a future blog post.

stove espresso maker
Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

I attended the Adobe and Wonkhe Education Espresso event on supporting pedagogical development and innovation.

I had a meeting on licensing development and links to intelligent campus and student experience.

I had a meeting with organisers of on possible speaking opportunity and possible session ideas for EDUtech Europe 2024.

I had an Intelligent Campus meeting with the Honeywell PoC team at Jisc.

I also  had a meeting for planning a workshop on building a smart or an intelligent campus.

Had an informal discussion with colleagues in Jisc on learning spaces. I have been looking at how Jisc can support universities in the learning spaces space. What help and support do universities need, and what help and support do we want from Jisc. We also discussed the compromise that is a flexible learning space. Often, we see universities building flexibility into their learning spaces, as that is often seen as easier than building flexibility into curriculum design and timetabling.

Continued my work on a concept for supporting institutions in the smart campus space. This included reviewing the Higher Education Reference Model with an intelligent campus lens.

I recorded some content for an internal podcast. I used my Snowball microphone using Quicktime. I did a test recording, which sounded fine, and then did the actual recording. After sending it off I got some feedback that the audio recording was noisy. I checked my recording and there was a lot of interference. I had written a script for the recording, so it was quite easy to re-record the piece. This time though I used Garageband to record the podcast clip, and then checked that it sounded okay before sending it off.

Microphone
Image by rafabendo from Pixabay

I attended the UCISA Event – Digital poverty and digital capability – a vicious cycle?

Remembering Eventedness – Weeknote #235 – 1st September 2023

A shorter week this week as there was a Bank Holiday (in England).

I had planned to be in our Bristol office and even visit our London office this week, however due to some mechanical issues with my car, I spent the week working from home.

I had my Q4 review for 2022-2023, I do find that these weeknotes are useful in preparing for those kinds of meetings. I did reflect that I haven’t been doing much writing in the learning technology space, so for next year I am planning to do some more researching, thinking, and importantly, more writing.

I spent time preparing for ALT-C next week, my presentation is on Wednesday and I am chairing a session on Thursday. Due to a variety of reasons and compounded by the car problems, I am having to sort out some logistical issues.

I also attended an internal Jisc briefing on ALT-C, there are quite a few Jisc sessions at the conference, as well as two stands and some afternoon tea.

On Wednesday 30th August there was an #LTHEChat hosted by the ALT-C 2023 co-chairs, Santanu Vasant and Lawrie Phipps. I had initially planned to participate, but in the end, I went to the cinema instead. So the following morning I did some responses to the prompts from the chat. I thought though I would expand on some of my answers to the different questions in a blog post to go beyond the character limit on the Twitter.

What was your first experience of learning technology in a work setting?

How do you define learning technology? I used a laptop in 1992 to create learning materials using Aldus PageMaker. Does that count? 

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you change in learning technology?

What has always frustrated me has been the focus on consumer technology fads or jumping on the latest bandwagon.

What’s been your biggest achievement in learning technology to date and why

I still think what I did at Gloucestershire College in changing the culture and approach to the use of technology in the organisation. Approaching it from a holistic whole college approach. Lots of small steps from everyone. Anchoring the change.

Which ‘next big thing’ that didn’t quite take off do you most remember?

I probably have a list….

What would be one piece of advice you’d give yourself in the past about learning technology?

It’s always about the people. Always.

Which talk, presentation, workshop or person do you remember from previous ALT Conferences and why?

There is one talk though that has stuck in my mind and even many years later was from ALT-C 2020 and was given by Dave White.

I did think that this process was useful in preparing for ALT-C next week.

The medieval lecture

I have been looking at learning spaces, so spent some time reflecting on ideas for learning spaces thought leadership and content. The focus on interdependencies and the compromises that flexible learning spaces bring to the student experience. I made some notes and planning for a blog post on the flexible learning space compromise.

I have been planning a Leadership Masterclass – Operationalising your Strategic Vision session that I am delivering later in September.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Is this appropriate? – Weeknote #205 – 3rd February 2023

Spent a lot of time this week reading, digesting, reviewing, and reflecting. Also attended a few meetings and spent time having conversations on Teams.

On Tuesday I went to our Bristol office. The train was delayed, so I started attending a meeting on my phone, which I find weird, but it worked.

Attended an internal meeting about Microsoft – Mixed Reality (MR) and Metaverse. There is some excitement around the Metaverse. As I said last week  industry perspectives on the metaverse and immersive platforms are varied. Meta, Google are all laying off technical staff in this space, Apple have delayed their AR/VR product again. Lots of confusion between immersive games and the Metaverse. Apart from some niche areas (such as education) what is the unique selling point of the metaverse? As Paul Bailey in a recent blog post said, the “effective” metaverse is probably decades away…

Had an interesting discussion about the Office for Students and its future. There is criticism that they have been receiving from members and member organisations (such as GuildHE and the Russell Group). Labour (who are likely to win the 2024 election) have been quiet on HE and the OfS. Also found and read this  Can Labour de-Commodify Higher Education? It has a Minor Problem.

The education system in Britain is in the mud. That is scarcely news. But would Labour have the courage and values needed to revive it? The trouble they would have if they win the next General Election is due partly to their Party’s legacy and partly to a personal problem.

Attended Monthly sector strategy leads meeting and discussion. We had an interesting discussion on scenario planning. Thinking about a workshop on this. Continue reading Is this appropriate? – Weeknote #205 – 3rd February 2023

Spaces and Wellbeing

Group working
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Could we use space utilisation data to support wellbeing?

As students frequent and move about the campus, the spaces in which they study, learn and relax can have an impact on their wellbeing.

Student wellbeing is a key priority for the Higher Education (HE) sector. The Stepchange framework, created by Universities UK, calls on all universities to make wellbeing a strategic priority which is “foundational to all aspects of university life, for all students and all staff.”  We know, as discussed in a recent Jisc blog post, that good data governance provides the foundation to build new wellbeing support systems that can respond to the needs of students – helping more people more quickly while maximising the use of available resources.

As well as the usual suspects that universities can use to collect engagement data, such as the VLE, library systems and access to learning spaces, could universities use space utilisation data to, enhance and improve the spaces (formal and informal) on campus to deliver a better student experience and support wellbeing?

Could we use data from how spaces and when spaces are being used to deliver a better student experience and maximise student wellbeing.

Space utilisation

 Currently universities will use manual and automated methods to measure space utilisation. Often this data is used to for self-assessment reports and proposals for expansion. Few are analysing that data in real time and presenting the information to students.

We know that measuring usage of space, tables and desks can be fraught with ethical concerns. It is critical when measuring space usage that the university is transparent about what it is doing, how it is doing it and why.

group
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The importance of space

 You can imagine the scenario when a student who is facing challenges on their course, and decides to visit the campus, expecting to find space to study, but the library is busy, the study areas are noisy and even the café is closed. This disappointment can lead to annoyance. This small negative experience could potentially impact on the wellbeing of the student. They are probably not alone, as other students (and staff) are equally frustrated and disappointed. If they had known about the current (and predicted future) utilisation of that space, they may have made different plans. They could have left earlier, or arrived later.

Using data on spaces to support wellbeing

Analysing the data on space utilisation could provide a valuable insight into ensuring that when students need space to study that space is available, and can support wellbeing.

Universities could use the data to ensure that when space is unavailable, for example for cleaning, so that this is done at the best possible time, for the minimal impact on student wellbeing.

 Space isn’t the answer

Of course, when it comes to improving student wellbeing, just having data about the spaces students use is most certainly not going to be enough. Data on how students interact with online systems and services, the resources they engage with, all provide a wealth of engagement data. We know that engagement is one measure that universities can look at to understand if there is a story behind a student’s dis-engagement with the university and work to improve that student’s wellbeing.

As Jisc’s Andrew Cormack and Jim Keane said in their recent blog post on data governance,

If their new university does not use data intelligently to improve their day-to-day experience, students could be disappointed, which reflects badly on the institution.  

Universities should reflect on all the data they collect, and decide what the data can tell them about the student experience, and importantly what interventions they need to make to positively impact on student wellbeing. Running out of coffee isn’t the end of the world, but combine many small negative impacts on the student experience, students will not be happy and wellbeing could suffer as a result.

Read Jisc’s framework and code of practice for data-supported wellbeing – which outlines how to promote ethical, effective, and legally compliant processes that help HE organisations manage risk and resources.

Review time – Weeknote #193 – 11th November 2022

I had my quarter one review this week, I had a productive review meeting with my line manager. I have made good progress against my objectives for this year. I was commended for the content of the review document. This is of course quite easy to fill, as I use JIRA and Confluence to plan and implement my objectives. In addition, I have these weeknotes to refer to for other things I have done. I also made use of the blog posts I published this quarter in addition to the weeknotes. I am reminded though I have published less this quarter than I have in previous quarters, so time to get that typewriter out and get typing.

Typewriter
Image by Patrik Houštecký from Pixabay

Elon Musk started to impact on the Twitter, so much so that lots of people were talking about moving off the Twitter and onto other similar services, with Mastodon getting much of this traffic. We had some discussions about Mastodon at work. I went out and created an account on mastodon.cloud and then discovered I had already created an account before, well back in August 2018, on mastodon.social. So, I went back and deleted the new account and started to use the original account.

Though I had been on Mastodon since 2018 the recent influx has got me back on the app. Though my stream of stuff is mainly people telling people how to use Mastodon and what and what not to do. Reminds me of Twitter in 2009 when there was a similar level of new users starting to use that service.

We had a sector strategy meeting to discuss future strategy and planning.

lecture theatre
Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Had a learning spaces meeting with our Advice Team on their forthcoming project on learning spaces. Gave background to the scoping work we did last year and provided insights into their brief.

Had a Funders and Public Affairs catchup meeting.

Chaired our bi-weekly HERLT meeting – as we develop the ways in which we work, this was an useful exploration of the purpose, function and need for the meeting. It raised a lot of questions over what and when we discuss activity across the directorate. I do feel we need to reflect on the spread and breadth of what we do and how we incorporate that into our future meetings.

Had an excellent discussion on the concept of a teaching and learning service wrapper for Content & Discovery. Reflecting on an offer for members and customers that incorporates community, advice & guidance, thought leadership, other (transformative) content, different audiences across an institution and reflecting about what this could look like. Next step may be to workshop this into a plan of action.

Had a meeting with a university where we discussed the history of Jisc’s previous work in the intelligent campus space. We explored what Jisc is currently undertaking in the smart campus space.

campus
Image by 小亭 江 from Pixabay

I did some preparation for the Learning Places Scotland presentation I am delivering next week. I also worked on my Moving Target Digitalisation keynote.

Setting up a meeting to provide advice on strategy development with an internal team.

Read GuildHE’s briefing paper on how OfS could be a better .

My top tweet this week was this one.

Another one – Weeknote #191 – 28th October 2022

This week we saw our third prime minister this year take office and a new cabinet and another new education secretary. So how long to the next one then?

Well I go on leave last week and come back to a full and bursting inbox (which was empty when I left) with over 140 emails to read, review, and act upon.

I had some more thoughts about what universities could do in the event of blackouts or on the impact of the energy crisis on changing student behaviour.

I spent most of the week in London.

I had some discussions on future content (what we use to call thought leadership) that would inspire digital transformation, provide insights into current practice and imagine what the future possibilities are. As a result, I spent some time scoping out some concepts and ideas on what this could look like, across our HE strategy.

Our HE strategy says for example

We will, in partnership with universities, develop approaches and digital solutions to improve and enhance the student experience and greater equity in access and participation in the UK and abroad.

If we think about insight, this is what is happening now, case studies, exemplars, commentary from sector, review, what good looks like now. So, for an insight into enhancing the student experience, university could explain how they are reviewing the student journey, so  to enable them to use digital tools and services to enhance the student experience.

As for inspiration, this is what you could do in the near term, what you need to do to achieve the potential of digital and technology, what good could look like in the next 2-5 years. So, an overview of the near future student journey illustrated with specific examples from the sector of how digital solutions are enhancing and improving that experience.

As for the future, we can imagine through horizon scanning, visions for the future, what good would look like in the next 5-10 years, what could be different, why would it be different. An example of this could be the 2035 student experience? How can digital and data enhance that experience and what does this mean for universities?

What was important to me, was to provide some scope and ideas on what we could do, not necessarily what we will do. Across the strategic themes and the concepts of insight, inspire and imagine, there are lots of opportunities for developing inspirational transformative content. Of course this had to be all backed up with toolkits, frameworks, support, advice and guidance, and a range of products and services that enable all of this.

On Tuesday I had a planning meeting, which demonstrated the importance of underpinning foundations and a clear vision to enable functional and effective planning.

One of my reasons for being in London, apart from some meeting was to undertake some research and ideation in the Intelligent Campus space. This involved some conversations, desk research, and field work across various campuses (in this case) across London.

I had some more conversations about learning spaces, for further scoping and research.

I continued with the Senior Education and Student Experience Group logistics and preparation for our meeting in December and further meetings next year.

I also continued with my preparation and planning for events in Scotland and Germany in November.

I did a quick skim of the OfS Blended Learning Review, might spend some time on this next week.

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.

The VLE is not dead – Weeknote #167 – 13th May 2022

Image by drippycat from Pixabay

Monday morning, I was off to Queen Mary University of London for their VLE Expo. This was very much a QMUL focussed event, though they had invited a range of VLE vendors. I liked how the focus of the event was about, what do we want to do to achieve our strategic aspirations, how will the VLE help us to do that, and which platform (or platforms) will enable us to do that.

There were some excellent presentations from the academic staff on the different ways in which they were using technology including virtual reality, mixed reality and H5P. I sat on the final panel session answering questions from the floor on a range of issues. A lot of the questions were more about the use of technology for learning and teaching, than VLE specific topics. However, I did get into a few discussions about the VLE on the Twitter as a result of attending the event.

I posted another blog post in my Lost in Translation series this time with a focus on the technical aspects of recording videos or audio files.

Most institutions will (probably) have equipment which staff can use, but if there is a strategic approach to building a sustainable approach to the use of video and audio, then universities will need to reflect if they have sufficient resources to support the increased demand for cameras and microphones.

video recording
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Tuesday I was still in London for a briefing session, well as it happened it got cancelled, so I worked in the office.

Apple have announced that they are going to stop selling the iPod once the current stocks of iPod touch run out. So did you have an iPod and if so which one?

iPod
Photo by Cartoons Plural on Unsplash

Wednesday, I did two all-staff briefings for two directorates on the Jisc HE sector strategy. From the feedback I got they seemed to be well received.

I was reminded on the Twitter about when I took my bike to work. I made a video back then.

Mike Sharples posted an excellent Twitter thread on how AI can be used to write essays. I agree with Mike, if we are setting students assignments that can be answered by AI, are we really helping students learn?

I enjoyed the #LTHEchat on images in presentations in the evening.

These two blog posts from 2005 (and 2007) were very influential on my presentation style: Gates, Jobs, & the Zen aesthetic and Learning from Bill Gates & Steve Jobs. I also posted  a link to a presentation from an internal TEDx event about delivering presentations – A duck goes quack.

Thursday, I made my way to Harwell for a drop in session I was running at the Jisc offices there, alas an accident the closure of the M4 meant I spent nearly four hours sitting the car rather than sitting in a room talking to Jisc staff. In the end I had to abandon my visit to the office.

Friday, I had a scoping call about learning spaces in higher education. Interested in the kinds of learning spaces higher education is using, flexibility, technology and the kinds of activities spaces are being used for.

I found this WonkHE article interesting – Learning design is the key to assuring the quality of modular provision in which Nick Mount talks about building quality assurance into the design of modular programmes and micro-credentials.

Traditional providers can expect to find themselves facing the difficult job of rethinking existing assurance processes that are designed for coherent, longitudinal programmes of study, so that they can accommodate a new pick-and-mix landscape of highly portable and stackable micro-credential learning.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Quiet – Weeknote #110 – 9th April 2021

Well the week started later (as might be expected) with Easter Monday. Also with it being a school holiday and people taking leave, it was also a rather quiet week with very few meetings. This allowed me to crack on with a few things that were in my to do list.

The Guardian started the week with this article – Universities are angry at PM’s failure to include reopening plan in Covid roadmap.

University leaders said it was deeply unfair that students could get haircuts or work in pubs next week but still had no idea when their campuses would reopen, as the government announced that school pupils in England will be expected to wear masks until the middle of May.

mobile phone
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The BBC News reported on Gavin Williamson wanting to ban mobile phones in schools.

Mobile phones should be banned from schools because lockdown has affected children’s “discipline and order,” the education secretary has warned. Gavin Williamson told The Telegraph phones should not be “used or seen during the school day”, though he said schools should make their own policies. Phones can act as a “breeding ground” for cyber-bullying and social media can damage mental health, he added. “It’s now time to put the screens away, especially mobile phones,” he wrote.

I was reminded of a blog post that I wrote back in 2008.

Does your institution ban mobile phones in the classroom? Does it just ban the use of mobile phones in the classroom? Or does it just ban the inappropriate use of mobile phones in the classroom?

The key with any great learning process is the relationship between teacher and student, get that right and you are onto a winner. Disruption happens with that relationship breaks down, not when a phone rings.

My experience of school policies today, is that they actually already ban mobile phones….

I also liked this response from @Simfin who is an expert in this space.

I did like this article on Wonkhe – Where next for digital learning? by Julie Swain. She says that the key pillars of action to support staff and students need to focus on are:

  • Digital poverty
  • Digital Learning Spaces
  • Mental Health Support
  • Digital Learning Skills

In the article Julie recognises that digital poverty isn’t just about connectivity and hardware, it’s also about space and time.

She says about space: Space has proven to be a major issue. There were assumptions that students and staff had “study spaces” at home where they could shut off and dedicate themselves to learning. Again that is just not the case for many and it is not uncommon to be “inside someone’s spare room or even bedroom “.

Though I also think we need to consider low bandwidth and asynchronous learning activities as well as space, connections and hardware.

My top tweet this week was this one.