Tag Archives: london

Oncoming vehicle approaching – Weeknote #187 – 30th September 2022

Was in London on Monday. I had gone up the night before, so I could avoid travelling on a Monday morning.

Monday was a team coaching day, where we did our insights (colours) thing. I think the most useful aspect is discussion and working together, as for the insights I am always reminded of horoscopes.

Monday evening, I couldn’t see Jupiter as it was cloudy, saw it last week and later in the week, but not on the day it was the closest to the earth in 107 years.

On Tuesday I presented at the GuildHE Policy and Planners Network meeting in London on analytics and student support. This was well received presentation and there was lots of questions and discussion afterwards.

Wednesday I was back in Bristol. I had a constructive meeting on the marketing, event, production requirements for the HE objectives assigned to me, and how these will fit into the planning and campaign processes for 2022-23. We also discussed transformative content (thought leadership) and the planning I have done on producing transformative content that will support the delivery of the HE sector strategy and ensuring it is aligned to the Jisc core strategy.

Read this HEPI blog post at the weekend. The blog says

There is a tendency for the literature to connect innovation and technology in discussions about models of change. Clearly, technology can have a significant impact on activities and practice and can lead to innovation but, if badly designed or implemented, can create unnecessary costs and additional bureaucracy. The key to good innovation is that it leads to better productivity; better work practice; and better delivery of activities. In planning any change, it is important to understand how the innovation that you wish to introduce will deliver those three things: better productivity, better practice and better delivery. 

You could almost rewrite this and replace the word innovation with transformation. It goes onto say:

Innovation is also often seen as a big bang ‘thing’. This is not necessarily the case, small improvements or minor changes can have significant effects…

I was reminded of my butterfly post on digital transformation.

Do you think transformation is something that has a result (we’ve been transformed) or do you see it as an evolving continuing process (we are transforming and continue to transform)?

The Mirror reports that University of Glasgow students are unhappy about having lectures in a church with no internet access.

Though it was July 2015 when Apple Pay was introduced in the UK, I have never actually used it until August this year! I bought some parking on my phone and used Apple Pay to pay for it. It was only on Thursday that I actually used Apple Pay at a till! I paid for some shopping using the system at one of those “unexpected item in the bagging area” machines.

I know I should know this, but it was quite a seamless experience. I did have to double tap, which I didn’t think I would need to do. Well done that now, do I need to do it again? Probably not.

Friday I headed to work in our Bristol office. Had some administration to do as well as catching up with conversations and email.

Why is this post entitled oncoming vehicle approaching? Well when I was driving to London, I did see a fair few warning signs, that there was an oncoming vehicle approaching. I wasn’t sure how much I should slow down by, as there were cars behind and next to me. I wasn’t sure even which lane I should stick to, as I had no idea about the oncoming vehicle, would it be in the outside lane, or on the hard shoulder? There were a lot of unknowns and in the end I tried to ensure that I had plenty of options for moving out of the way, just in case. I never did see the vehicle, but it was quite unnerving. Writing this, it reminded me of how some people feel when it comes to the implementation and embedding of digital technology. People may be unsure of what to do and it might be all bit unnerving as they are doing what they normally do and now they are facing uncertainty.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Back from leave – Weeknote #181 – 19th August 2022

Well after two weeks leave it was back to work, and 179 emails in my inbox. I used an Inbox Zero approach and cleared them out before the end of the day. I left the emails form mailing lists in their folders and marked all as read.

Went to London for me end of year review having finished off the preparation for this earlier in the week. This is where these weeknotes can be useful for reminding me of the different things I have done and events I have attended.

I wrote a blog post on culture, strategy and croissant and strategy implementation.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a famous quote from management consultant and writer Peter Drucker. Reflecting on this quote though, I did start to think about breakfast, and wondered if I could use breakfast as an analogy for effective strategy implementation. As well as strategic objectives, what else do people need to know in order to deliver those objectives successfully.

I had a fair few cancelled meetings and sessions this week. Not too surprising as these were often planned when people were on leave and then other priorities take precedence.

I was in Harwell on Thursday and saw the autonomous self driving bus they have there. It had got slightly confused on one of the roundabouts.

Thursday was A Level results week and the press was packed with news stories about the results. I was reminded that I had written this blog post in 2017, You too can be a millionaire!

I was asked about the future of learning and the role of technology, and I referred back to a piece I wrote on the duality of digital teaching.

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.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Blast from the past – Weeknote #174 – 1st July 2022

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.

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.

Doing the Digifest – Weeknote #158 – 11th March 2022

Well a busy week with travel, an in-person conference and some forward planning and road mapping.

Spent much of the week reflecting on digital transformation. What do we mean by it? What does it look like? Is it a something that happens, you transform, or is it something that continues over time?

Monday I was in Birmingham in preparation for Jisc’s Digifest. I had a fair few online meetings on Monday so had travelled up the night before. Didn’t really want to have long online calls from the services on the M5, or in a hotel foyer. Maybe in a coffee shop, but in the end decided a hotel room was better than all of those.

Tuesday was day one of Digifest 2022.

Two years ago I attended Digifest 2020 on what was the eve of lockdown. There was back then a murmuring that with the imminent restrictions that digital and online would play a huge part in supporting education. I don’t think we really recognised how hard it was going to be.

As I walked around Digifest 2022 it didn’t really feel that it had been only two years since the last time we had done it in in-person. We know that the pandemic isn’t over by any means, but not only has so much happened, but we also learnt many things as well.

This wasn’t my first in-person event since the lockdown, I had attended a Wonkhe event a few weeks ago. However it did feel quite surreal. I have written up my reflections on day one on another post.

Wednesday was the second day of Digifest, again I have written this up as well.

For me I did notice that there was a lot less usage of Twitter over the event, I don’t know if this is because it was less used during online events that we’ve forgotten how useful a back channel can be, or just a general decline in the use of Twitter because of the noise.

After the conference I travelled down to London.

There was a bit of a Twitter discussion about digital transformation following this tweet.

It got me thinking that we don’t really have a consensus on what digital transformation actually is and what it looks like.

I have spoken about this in meetings and events but I am now planning some blog posts on my thoughts.

Jisc does have the following guide on digital transformation. This is derived from the DX work of Educause.

I have some concerns about the linear nature of the definition, as though if you undertake digitisation, then digitalisation, you will then be able to deliver digital transformation. There is much more to the Educase work on transformation, but sometimes people focus on the simplistic interpretations that you see in a diagram.

I also asked on the Twitter:

Do you think transformation is something that has a result (we’ve been transformed) or do you see it as an evolving continuing process (we are transforming and continue to transform)?

There were mixed responses, some thought it was incremental, some thought it was a continual process, few thought thought of it as some kind of “big bang” transformation.

I think it can be incremental. But you still need some kind of vision or end game. Otherwise you may find you have changed but not transformed.

Another perspective is that you make incremental steps, but the full effect or possibilities isn’t immediately apparent. But at some point in the future it suddenly all makes sense.

I need to do some more thinking, research and reflection on this topic. One thing that does come immediately to mind, there is quite a bit out there on digital transformation, does this help, or what kind of help do universities need to undertake digital transformation.

I went to the Jisc office on Thursday and though there were people there it was quite quiet. When I went out for lunch it was a different matter. I’ve not seen London this busy since March 2020. There were so many people, and queues in all my favourite places for lunch.

I had a multi agency meeting on widening participation which was informative, interesting and useful.

Friday I was also in the Jisc office and spent time road mapping

My top tweet this week was this one.

I am not apologising – Weeknote #156 – 25th February 2022

Well, this is three years of weeknotes. I wasn’t sure if I could keep it up, but have found it useful to reflect on the week, but also to review back about what I was doing and reading.

This week Russia invaded the Ukraine. Lots of talk, but very little action from the Western nations.

The week started off for the higher education sector with the Universities Minister saying universities ‘must scrap online lectures’ after Covid curbs are lifted.

‘Online teaching should only be used to supplement face-to-face teaching, not replace it,’ she told the Daily Mail. She went on to add there is ‘no excuse’ for institutions to continue hosting lessons online once measures are lifted,

So though she is saying universities should no longer replace in-person teaching with remote teaching, the press rhetoric and the headlines gives the message that universities should scrap all online teaching. That isn’t what she said, but that is pretty much what people are reading she said.

newspaper
Image by Andrys Stienstra from Pixabay

The week started off for me with a HE leadership team meeting, which was looking at various discussions about what we need to do next.

I spent some of the week working on success criteria for the HE strategy. Part of this is expanding on the strategic objectives. These state what we are going to do, and I expanded them to include the why and the how. I then added what success looked like from an university perspective and what it looked like from a Jisc perspective.

Generally, as with many organisations, in the past we have mapped activity to the strategy. Strategy should really drive activity.

I published a blog post on eventedness.

I was recently reminded of the importance of eventedness when it comes to events and has similar implications in the delivery of teaching both in-person and online.

I published a blog post on my tech and productivity blog about collaboration.

I don’t think anyone thinks they consciously and actively block collaboration, but we often hear cries for more collaboration, so much so that we wonder why we don’t collaborate more than we do. In this post I will explore the reasons for collaboration and some of the blockers that stifle collaboration.

I posted this tweet to the Twitter about an undocumented feature on Jiscmail.

What most people don’t know is that Jiscmail has an undocumented feature which means if you post the same message with multiple lists in the To: field, recipients will only receive one, despite how many of the lists they are subscribed to. No need to apologise then.

I’ve used this feature quite often to send the same message to multiple lists.

It was a response to Simon Thomson who said

‘Apologies for cross-posting’ is the most hollow apology ever.

I agree with Simon that most people aren’t sorry when they apologise for cross-posting, but I also think a lot of people actually ignore messaged which start with an apology for cross-posting as they (rightly) assume it probably is some kind of spam message.

Wednesday I did think about going to the office. I had planned to go to Bristol, but missed the train from Weston Milton with seconds to go, I was literally on the platform. Went back home and decided to work from home.

On Thursday I headed off to our Bristol office on the train. I didn’t check the trains, the one I was going to get was cancelled, however that was because the earlier train was running 24 minutes late. So managed to get that one to Bristol.

It was nice to be back in the office again, something nice about the social aspects of office working. Not sure I could do it everyday, but nice having the option.

I did an online presentation for the Public Policy Exchange on using digital to overcome the funding challenges facing universities.

There was a problem with the meeting room I was using as I couldn’t turn the noisy fan off. So I had to present with the fan on.

My presentation was in the main about recognising that what we’ve been doing over the last two years isn’t the basis for moving forward. I also talked about transformation as opposed to just digitalisation.

At the event there was a lot of talk about the announcements from the Government about access to higher education. Would it surprise you that no one thought this would improve access to higher education.

I took leave on Friday and had a day in London.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Nice to see you, to see Eunice – Weeknote #155 – 18th February 2022

Well the week ended with a red weather warning, our offices were closed, I worked from home and my afternoon online meeting was cancelled because of the weather.

I spent most of the week in London. The last time I was in London was at the end of November.

This was also my first opportunity to take advantage of 5G (new phone and all that). What they don’t tell you with 5G is how slow the upload speeds can be. Fine for streaming. Rubbish for online video conferencing.

I had planned to attend WonkHE’s Making Sense of HE event on Monday, but the end result was I wasn’t booked onto the event, so I headed into the office in London. Our office was relatively quiet and so I did managed to get lots done, but missed the social aspect of the office.

On Tuesday I did attend WonkHE’s The Secret Life of Students. This was a real in-person event in central London. I have not done one of those for a while. I think my last in-person (external) event was Digifest back in 2020.

The opening session was on diversity the key takeaways from the event for me were that diversity needs to be done differently than what we have been doing before. We need to think more about the individual rather than just fixing issues for identified “groups”. It was apparent that there was a need in the sector to think about transforming their approach to diversity. I was reminded of how there have been changed approaches to accessibility and digital in the higher education sector. There is now much more consensus about a whole organisational approach to challenges, and thinking about a more personalised approach to accessibility for example.

There was lots of commentary about unusefulness and lack of evidence for generational stereotypes, therefore we should avoid using terms such as Generation Z or Millenials.

The Pearson report on belonging was interesting and could be relevant to universities as they attempt to rebuild their communities following the pandemic restrictions.

The afternoon sessions focussed on the main on student outcomes. Lots of references to Student Futures report. There were a fair few sessions on digital as well. There are opportunities and concerns about digital.

As you might expect from an event where the audience was very much seated in student support (and SU) the focus of discussion was very much on how universities could and should support wellbeing and mental health. A fair amount of concern expressed about using data and digital to do this, the human factor was seen as critical.

Again feedback about having a shared understanding of key terms such as personalisation, hybrid, etc… This wasn’t so much about having a national discussion on the definitions, but ensuring locally everyone understands what the university is trying to do in terms of hybrid, personalisation, blended learning, etc… The fact that they started referencing multi-modal teaching as an alternative to hybrid, shows again the sector likes to spend time discussing definitions rather than solutions.

There was some discussion about the WonkHE Kortext report which I blogged in last week’s Weeknote.

Institutional technical debt came up in presentations (from people like Mary Curnock Cook) however the audience were not engaged with it so much (probably as they are not directly involved in this. Though we saw it is an issue with many (see Twitter thread) outside the event. There are data and technology legacies out there that are stifling progress, but universities struggle to know how to get out of technical debt.

I found the session on supporting students and enabling them to cope with university interesting. Assumptions are made about their “readiness” obviously links here with digital capabilities and skills.

Overall, I really enjoyed the event, it was nice to experience the eventedness of an in-person event. Something I have found missing from online events. I think part of the reason is that most online events I have attended during the pandemic have been poor translations of physical in-person events Losing all the nuances of what makes those events so engaging and not taking advantage of the affordances that digital platforms can provide. Though the coffee was awful.

Wednesday I was in the London office again, there were a lot more people in on that day, which made it much more social. It was really nice to catch up with colleagues, who I wouldn’t generally interact with much as part of my role. I spoke to one of our service directorates in the afternoon about the HE strategy and what it means for them.

Thursday I had a meeting with the Office for Students as part of their funding of Jisc. I updated them on some of the work we have been undertaking in the teaching and learning space.

Glad to return home on Thursday as there was travel chaos on Friday because of storm Eunice.

I spent part of the week working on how we can improve and enhance our thought leadership offer. I actually don’t like the term thought leadership, so rarely use it externally (there is an exception here for example), however it is a term I use internally (as it is in our core strategy).  It should be noted that many in the HE sector actually don’t like the term thought leadership. However if you ask people from the sector about the actual content that is produced that we would think of as thought leadership, then there is a different story as they find this useful, inspiring and helps them think. Similarly, members will often ask for specific people within Jisc who are experts in their field for help and support. Or they will find presentations and articles from individuals inspiring.  This is something we need to work on further.

I also did a fair bit reflecting on the Student Futures Manifesto. One of their recommendations is for a new national technology infrastructure strategy.

We recommend that Jisc build upon their leadership work first to review the existing technology estate in HE, and then, as a matter of urgency, produce further guidance to help universities more rapidly modernise their systems architecture and applications. While many universities already have ‘digital transformation’ plans underway, further guidance to universities about the basic architectural building blocks and data systems to support a digital university, and how to plan and execute a transformation, would be welcomed.

The recommendation continues

The centrality of technology now means there is a case for this sector leading approach, because this remains a core strategic capability which leadership teams struggle with.

Heidi Fraser-Krauss, Jisc CEO, said: “I wholeheartedly support today’s report by the UPP Foundation, which goes a long way to address the pandemic-related concerns and needs of students. I also welcome the Student Manifesto to help students rebuild their confidence, regain control of their studies and plan for a successful future after graduation.  “The report is right to recommend action on tackling digital and data inequities. Jisc’s digital experience insights surveys of university students and academic staff showed the detrimental effect on teaching and learning experiences from not having access to reliable connectivity, technology and digital skills. “I will be keen to action any Jisc-related recommendations to help support universities in modernising digital infrastructure as well as digitally transform learning, teaching and assessment to improve the experiences staff and students seek. As we move towards established models of hybrid learning, we have an opportunity to transform education through technology. Never have digital, data and technology been so important in meeting the multiple challenges and opportunities that UK universities face.”

My top tweet this week was this one.

Maybe today is the day you start wearing your mask again – Weeknote #144 – 3rd December 2021

This was a full week back at work and I was in London for most of the week. Over the summer I had enjoyed working in the London office, a change of pace, location and routine compared to the forced working from home we had endured during the pandemic. Having had a fair amount of time off work, sick with covid, it was nice to be back in the office, talking and chatting to colleagues and similarly to the summer having the change of place and routine. The office was much busier than it had been in the summer. It felt quite normal in some respects, a little quieter than it was pre-pandemic.

However it was only a couple of weeks ago that I wrote about the possibilities of in-person teaching now that 90% of university students had had at least one Covid jab. Last week though we saw a new variant of concern of the coronavirus was identified by South African scientists and labelled by the WHO as Omicron.

On Monday I wrote about the impact Omicron could potentially have on the HE sector though my main messages was that universities should prepare for a possible lockdown.

Hopefully the vaccination rollout and mask wearing will reduce the chance of lockdown, but I would still be preparing for the possibilities of another lockdown regardless.

As we reach the end of the week, there have been some stories on the spread of Omicron, across the world, spreading to Europe, as might be expected with global travel and concerns this variant would have on infection rates (being more transmissible) and the subsequent impact on health resources. There were also some positive stories about the potential of vaccination to reduce the impact of Omicron.

Having said all that I would still be preparing for the possibilities of another lockdown regardless.

As you might expect, I ensured I was wearing my mask on public transport and when entering shops, eating places and as I walked around the office.

We had an HE leadership meeting on Monday and the majority of the meeting was discussing key challenges with our new CEO.

One of the things I reflected on was the success of Learning and Teaching Reimagined (LTR) and what we should do next. In order to build on and support the sector to deliver on the recommendation and work towards the challenges, Jisc working with members produced Higher education strategy 2021-2024: powering UK higher education which outlined how Jisc would support the sector going forward.

However LTR with its focus on teaching and learning leaves the door open to other ideas. There are a range of subjects that Jisc could focus on and undertake a similar range of activities and events as we did with LTR. This, like LTR, could be a sector-wide initiative focused on providing university leaders with inspiration on what the future might hold for higher education and guidance on how to respond and thrive in those environments. We could look at the student experience, leadership, the campus… there are a range of areas in which we could focus on in.

laptop and headphones
Image by Regina Störk from Pixabay

I published a blog post about the pandemic response and what we saw though described as online learning, wasn’t online learning.

One of things I have noticed is how often much of what was done during the numerous lockdowns was described as online learning. Let’s be clear you can describe what was happening as an emergency response to a crisis, even simplistically a pivot, but what was happening across schools, colleges and universities could in no way be described as online learning.

Some of my meetings were cancelled this week, which though freeing up time, can be frustrating.

This week was the Ascilite Conference. I really enjoyed attending and keynoting the conference back in 2009. Back then the UK was in the midst of an outbreak of swine flu. I didn’t go this year, but I may think about attending next year (pandemic permitting). This year it took place online and in-person at University of New England, Armidale NSW in Australia.

Martin Bean was part of a panel session and one comment (well tweet) I saw about the session mentioned the importance of authentic assessment, which made me think.

I think there is a blog post in this.

Was reminded this week that I am rubbish at Twitter.

While eating dinner on Wednesday evening, I participated in the #LTHEChat Twitterchat, Decolonising Learning Technology  led by Professor John Traxler.

I participated and did note that so much educational technology is designed for specific sector and its cultural norms, and then adjusted for other sectors and then other cultures. It was a really interesting debate and I enjoyed the discussion.

As it was December, I started tweeting out my advent calendar posts from a few years back. I really ought to spend some time doing new ones.

At the end of the week we had a HE Team meeting.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Shorter – Weeknote #131 – 3rd September 2021

Another shorter week as there was a bank holiday on Monday, which of course marked the end of summer.

Term starts for most schools in England (and Wales) this week, though Scottish schools and universities are already back. We are seeing high levels of infection in Scotland where term started earlier, will we see similar levels of infection across the rest of the UK?

With universities ramping up for the start of term, many are now reflecting to the experiences of when the academic year started last year and the challenges of covid infections and self-isolation.

Spent much of the week in London having in-person meetings with people, now there’s something I don’t do very often these days. I drove up to London on Monday evening, had to return home fifteen minutes into the journey as I had forgotten my laptop charging cable. Stopped at Membury Services for a bite to eat. The food court was packed with unmasked queues of people. Felt very pre-COVID. Left with my mask on very quickly. Starbucks drive thru was much quieter inside so grabbed a flat white and left hungry.

Did some thinking about innovation and published a blog post on this.

For me true innovation in educational technology is change which has significant impact across the whole organisation. However this isn’t always exciting and shiny! Too often we focus on the new and the shiny and less on those innovations, that are holistic, organisation-wide and would have a greater impact on the learner experience.

I left London on Thursday after having some (in-person) meetings in the London office. Stopped off at Starbucks at Membury Services. Place was empty. However I still wore a mask as I ordered my flat white and only took it off when I was sat drinking it.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Equity of experience – Weeknote #130 – 27th August 2021

A shorter week as I was on leave for a couple of days this week.

Spent the weekend in London, visiting relatives and seeing places. Really impressed with the eduroam availability at Kew Gardens. I wasn’t actually expecting there to be eduroam, I wasn’t even expecting there to be wifi. However using the phone to take photographs, I realised that I was connected to wifi and eduroam. It struck me how seamless and transparent the experience was for me, compared the recent experiences of connecting to hotel and train wifi.

I also bumped into Rod Stewart as one does…

As might be expected in the middle of August, lots of people on leave, taking breaks, as a result very few meetings and e-mails.

We did have a thought leadership meeting on Wednesday and we discussed dual-mode or hybrid teaching. I asked the internal group at Jisc what their definition of hybrid teaching was and as expected there was little consensus and a range of definitions.

Firstly, what is it? Well Durham has a nice definition.

At its best, dual-mode teaching combines the face-to-face and online experience into one cohesive whole. It keeps the class together, providing a shared learning experience that works for students who are on campus and those joining remotely at the same time. It allows you to include and draw on the full diversity of your students and their experiences to date.

They add though…

The challenge is to provide an equitable experience, to engage with the people in the room and those joining remotely, using spaces and technologies that were not designed for this.

That final thought is really what we need to think about, the equity of experience. This is challenging to do at the best of times when doing separately, doing is synchronously in-person and online is really, really challenging. A simple solution is that that the lecturer or presenter is online and the students can either be together in-person, or online. Together could be small groups or one large group. You certainly then get the equity of experience.

Thursday I was in the Bristol office, we had a wash-up meeting about the last year. It reminded me how different in-person meetings can be compared to the Zoom calls we’ve had over the last 18 months. I do miss the online chat that you have in online meetings when meeting in-person, but having had so many Zoom and Teams calls, to do an in-person meeting was a real refreshing change.

My top tweet this week was this one.