Tag Archives: qaa

Record temperatures – Weeknote #177 – 22nd July 2022

This week saw record temperatures as a red warning heatwave hit the UK. I spent the week working from home, as trains were cancelled or delayed and there were problems on the roads.

I wrote a blog post on how I can teach anywhere

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.

Alexa
Image by finnhart from Pixabay

I revisited and revised a blog post on voice assistants I had written back in 2018.

Hey Siri, what’s my day like today? Alexa when’s my next lesson? Okay Google, where are my library books?

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.

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.

letters
Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay

If you are going on leave over the summer, you may want to look at this blog post on managing your summer e-mail.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Expanding our understanding of personalisation

typing
Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

In my role at Jisc I have been looking at how data and technology can deliver a personalised learning journey and we have in our HE strategy, Powering UK Higher Education, the following ambition statement.

We will explore and develop solutions to help universities deliver personalised and adaptive learning using data, analytics, underpinning technologies and digital resources.

We know that there are very different opinions and views of what personalised learning is. In exploring and developing solutions for universities, the key is not necessarily to come up with a definitive definition, but what definition you use is understood and shared with others.

So one of the things I do need to do is to take that ambition statement and expand it into a clear explanatory statement, so that key stakeholders are clear about what we mean and why this space is important to higher education.

So why is this space important to the sector? When we developed the HE strategy, we listened to what the sector was saying, what it was telling us, what we saw, and we also looked at the wider sector context, the regulatory space, the political space and importantly the student voice in all this.

We know that universities are wanting to put the needs of the student are at the heart of the student experience. They want students to benefit from a personalised learning experience, one that effortlessly melds the context, preferences and needs of the individual learner. It recognises who and where a student is on their journey and is a combination of human and digital interactions and interventions.

group
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Though we have yet to come to a shared understanding of personalisation of learning, I do find an adaptation of the QAA definition somewhat compelling. 

Personalised learning is an educational approach that aims to customise learning for each student’s strengths, needs, skills and interests. Students can have a degree of choice in how they learn.

Over the next few years Jisc will explore how universities can deliver personalised and adaptive learning. Jisc will start to develop solutions that help universities deliver personalised and adaptive learning. These solutions will take advantage of data, analytics, underpinning technologies and digital resources. As well as exploring the potential of current and future technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). We will consider some of the advantages, as well as the challenges, the ethical and legal issues and how we will need to be aware of the bias that can be found in algorithms.

Of course personalisation is only part of the challenge, can we make the experience adaptive? Well that’s another blog post on understanding what we mean by adaptive.

Transforming – Weeknote #159 – 18th March 2022

According to a study museum visits do not improve GCSE results.

A family trip to the theatre or an afternoon at a museum may be a fun day out, but new research suggests that such cultural outings will not actually help children secure higher grades.

I love the implication that the only reason to do some cultural stuff is to secure higher grades at GCSE. Sometimes we as a family do stuff because it is fun, enjoyable or makes you think. A couple of weeks back we went to London for a day out, my daughter and I headed to the British Museum to see the Greek galleries. She had been reading the Percy Jackson series and now has a serious interest in Greek mythology. We both really enjoyed viewing the exhibits and reading the background and history of the different things we saw. Will this help her secure higher grades? To be honest we weren’t thinking or worrying about that. It was a great day out.

So how was your week? Mine, well I upset Spain with a photograph of the dish I cooked on Saturday night.

After a busy week travelling I was working from home on Monday. I finished my blog post on transformation, this is an area where I have been presenting and discussing and I wanted in this post to finalise some of my thinking on (digital) transformation.

Well, I have been thinking about what we understand mean by digital transformation and in some discussions, I have been using different kinds of explanations to explore what I see and understand digital transformation is.

In the post I went through the possible digital transformation of requesting and approving leave.

Tuesday though I was back to our Bristol office, for various things. Bristol Temple Meads that morning was full of Peaky Blinders types, suits and flat caps, all on their way (probably) to the Cheltenham Races. If Digifest (which was last week) was the same week as the Cheltenham Races, I would avoid the trains and drive to Birmingham. When I worked at Gloucestershire College, I would avoid our Cheltenham campus those weeks as well. Mainly as the trains were usually full and crowded of very drunk people out to have a good day, and it usually wasn’t even 9am!

I did some work on presentation formats for some ideas we are working on for online events and thought leadership content. Too often when it comes to online presentations, we see talking slides or talking heads. I have been reflecting and thinking about how we can be more creative, more innovative in the ways in which we deliver content during events or on the website. A lot of my thinking is based on the translation posts I did during the pandemic.

Thursday, I ventured back to the Bristol office again. It was much busier today with a couple of teams doing a co-location day. We also had a coffee and cake morning for charity.

The OfS are to launch a review of blended learning.

The Office for Students (OfS) has today launched a review of blended learning, amidst concerns that the poor quality of the online experience for some students during the pandemic has undermined the positive potential of mixing in-person and online course delivery.

It will be interesting to see the outcomes of the review in the summer.

Having defined the success criteria of our HE sector strategy I started detailing what this meant for one of our ambition statements and what Jisc could potentially do in this space to achieve the strategic aspiration.

I also started working on a second communication plan for the strategy. We did one last summer, but listening and talking to staff across the organisation, we have felt that we need to do more work to explore, explain and reflect on the HE sector strategy to the rest of the organisation. One challenge I am facing is what do we even mean by strategy?

butterfly
Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash

I did another blog post on transformation, this one was on the nature of transformation.

In the world around us the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies is a marvel of nature. Though technically referred to as metamorphosis rather than transformation, the process for butterflies (and all insects) involves a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change. This got me thinking about digital transformation in organisations.

HEPI and QAA published a new report that unpacks the meaning of quality in a complex and rapidly changing higher education sector.

Quality is a slippery term, not least because it is in part practical, in part philosophical and (almost) always relative. Yet it underpins higher education provision and is central to policy debate and regulatory approaches across the UK. So how do we define quality? An understanding of the different mechanisms at play can provide context to the debate.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Personalisation

group
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The process of making something suitable for the needs of a particular person.

What do we mean by personalisation, what can we personalise, what should be personalise and what are the challenges in personalisation?

Across higher education over the years many have spoken about personalisation.

The QAA in their digital taxonomy define personalisation as follows:

Personalised learning is an educational approach that aims to customise learning for each student’s strengths, needs, skills and interests. Students can have a degree of choice in how they learn as compared to the face-to-face lecture approach.

The document explores different levels of personalisation through the use of digital and arrives at this view of personalisation

The entire learning experience is designed to be personalised by the student. Students will determine how they engage with every aspect of teaching and learning to meet their expectations. While all digital resources will be available to students, not all students will engage with those resources in the same way. Teaching is designed to be experienced by a cohort asynchronously with students learning at their own pace.

Advance HE back in 2017 said this about personalised learning

Refers to a range of learning experiences and teaching strategies which aim to address the differing learning needs interests and the diverse backgrounds of learners. Often described as student centred learning this approach uses differentiated learning and instruction to tailor the curriculum according to need. Learners within the same classroom or on the same course work together with shared purpose but each have their own personalised journey through the curriculum.

Emerge and Jisc published a report in 2021 that promised:

Universities can deliver students a truly personalised learning experience by 2030

Another view of personalised learning is this perspective from the University of Oxford.

Oxford’s core teaching is based around conversations, normally between two or three students and their tutor, who is an expert on that topic. We call these tutorials, and it’s your chance to talk in-depth about your subject and to receive individual feedback on your work. Tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. They offer a very rare level of personalised attention from academic experts.

In my role at Jisc I have been looking at how data and technology can deliver a personalised learning journey and we have in our HE strategy the following ambition statement.

We will explore and develop solutions to help universities deliver personalised and adaptive learning using data, analytics, underpinning technologies and digital resources.

We know that there are very different opinions and views of what personalised learning is. In exploring and developing solutions for universities, the key is not necessarily to come up with a definitive definition, but what definition you use is understood and shared with others.

So one of the things I do need to do is to take that ambition statement and expand it into a clear explanatory statement, so that key stakeholders are clear about what we mean and why this space is important to higher education.

So what does personalisation mean for you?

Video of shaping our future campuses

Back in May I was presenting at the QAA Conference, my presentation was entitled: How will the growth in online learning shape the future design of learning spaces and our campuses?

The physicality of online learning is an issue that will impact on university campuses as more institutions move to a blended programmes containing elements of online and digital learning and physical in-person learning. In this session James Clay from Jisc will explore the challenges that growth in online learning will bring to learning spaces and the university campus. He will explore what is required for, in terms of space for online learning, but will also consider the space and design implications of delivering online teaching as well. He will discuss what some universities are doing today to meet these challenges and requirements. He will reflect on a possible future where we are able to maximise the use of our space as students have the flexibility to learn online, in-person and across a spectrum of blended possibilities.

The video of my presentation is now available.

Affordances of digital – Weeknote #115 – 14th May 2021

earth
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

On Monday I was reflecting with an international lens on our HE strategy. Jisc is not funded to support non-UK universities, but we do work closely with other NRENs overseas, sharing practice, advice and where we can collaborating on projects.

Tuesday I delivered a formal presentation to a university executive about a project we have done for them, they were very pleased with the final report, the presentation and the work we had done.

Later I was doing another presentation to another university with some thoughts about digital governance. My main point was that digital isn’t just a thing, nor does it just within its own silo within an university. Often the benefits that digital brings to a department or professional service won’t be within that service but will benefit the university as a whole. For example, when you bring in a digital HR system, the real benefits of such a system are not for HR, but for the efficiencies it brings managers across the university. However often those benefits are not always realised, and the affordances of such systems are also not realised.

Wednesday I was catching up with stuff and preparing for other meetings.

Universities could face fines over free speech breaches as reported by BBC News.

Universities in England could face fines under new legislation if they fail to protect free speech on campus. Visiting speakers, academics or students could seek compensation if they suffer loss from a breach of a university’s free speech obligations.

To be honest I am not sure how much of a problem and issue this is in higher education that it requires legislation.  There was then a kerfuffle as the Universities Minister and Downing Street debated about what was allowed (as in free speech) and what wasn’t (as in hate speech). To be honest if the Government can’t work this out, what does this mean for universities?

Wonkhe asked the question Should student recruitment stay digital-first post Covid?

On Thursday I was presenting at the QAA Conference, my presentation was entitled: How will the growth in online learning shape the future design of learning spaces and our campuses?

 The physicality of online learning is an issue that will impact on university campuses as more institutions move to a blended programmes containing elements of online and digital learning and physical in-person learning. In this session James Clay from Jisc will explore the challenges that growth in online learning will bring to learning spaces and the university campus. He will explore what is required for, in terms of space for online learning, but will also consider the space and design implications of delivering online teaching as well. He will discuss what some universities are doing today to meet these challenges and requirements. He will reflect on a possible future where we are able to maximise the use of our space as students have the flexibility to learn online, in-person and across a spectrum of blended possibilities.

So true Lawrie, so true.

So next week our offices re-open, not quite a normal reopening, but we can now go into the office. I will be visiting our offices for various meetings, but also for a change of scenery.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Shaping our future campuses

I was presenting at the QAA Conference, my presentation was entitled: How will the growth in online learning shape the future design of learning spaces and our campuses?

The physicality of online learning is an issue that will impact on university campuses as more institutions move to a blended programmes containing elements of online and digital learning and physical in-person learning. In this session James Clay from Jisc will explore the challenges that growth in online learning will bring to learning spaces and the university campus. He will explore what is required for, in terms of space for online learning, but will also consider the space and design implications of delivering online teaching as well. He will discuss what some universities are doing today to meet these challenges and requirements. He will reflect on a possible future where we are able to maximise the use of our space as students have the flexibility to learn online, in-person and across a spectrum of blended possibilities.

Update 2nd July 2021

The video of my presentation is now available.

Spring forward – Weeknote #109 – 2nd April 2021

clock
Image by Monoar Rahman Rony from Pixabay

Sunday morning saw the clocks going forward, I am reminded of this classic Giles cartoon about this.

“Sorry Mum, I put all the clocks back instead of forward and Uncle Charlie and all of them have arrived for lunch.”

With Good Friday it was a shorter week than normal.

I liked this article on Wonkhe, How to build back student community and opportunity between now and the new year.

Jim Dickinson and Rosie Hunnam interrogate the student opportunities lost to the pandemic, and gather intel on what it would take to build them, and the student community they support, back higher.

This reflects a lot of conversations I have been having over the last few weeks on the importance of building student communities across the current covid-19 restrictions in place. Too often universities assume students can build their own online communities, but discussions with students reflect that this more than not doesn’t happen. Even where it does, it is often based on previous in-person communities. Going forward with potentially restrictions still in place in September, the importance of community building is there and how you do this online is still a real challenge.

After a range of virtual events, meetings, lectures, etc, often the last thing we need is more screen time on a virtual coffee break.

Lens
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

On Tuesday I was along with Doug Parkin and Lawrie Phipps presenting a a session on digital for a Spotlight Series for Senior Strategic Leaders. I was mainly talking about how to look at and embed digital into strategy. It was a good session.

On Wednesday I presented to the DigiLearn community about Learning and Teaching Reimagined.

 

This seemed to go down well with the attendees.

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has shared outcomes of their work to explore the links between good practice in digital pedagogy and improved student engagement, progression and achievement.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Data does matter

…but then again, so does privacy and ethics.

laptop
Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay

Last year I was responsible for bringing the programme of Data Matters 2020 together. The event was going to be held in May 2020 in central London. However, no surprise that we decided to cancel the event. We did consider running it online, however due to the timing, the pressure that our prospective audience was under and translating an in-person conference to an online event quickly, we decided that we would reschedule the event to January 2021.

We did think by July that we might even be able to hold the event in-person, but the realities of the world hit back. So the decision was made to still hold the conference in January 2021, but build it as a holding event and run it online.

The existing theme was very much about putting in the (data) foundations to deliver the vision of Education 4.0 that Jisc was promoting. We could have run with that theme again, but the landscape had changed so much that we created a new more general theme on the uncertain future.

archives
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Data Matters is jointly run by Jisc, HESA and QAA, who are the UK’s higher education digital, data and quality experts. This partnership brings these three perspectives together in a two-day conference to discuss the topical issues around data and its use in shaping the future of higher education.

This year’s theme will focus on ‘enabling data certainty’.

The UK education sector is moving towards an uncertain future. The sector needs to transform to meet the requirements of industry 4.0 and student expectations. With COVID-19 having such a huge impact on the operation of the higher education sector now and in the foreseeable future, the entire student experience has been and will be disrupted by the restrictions in place to mitigate the risks of the virus. This has impacted on the use of formal and informal learning spaces, as well as an increasing reliance on online platforms and digital content.

It has also impacted on student recruitment, domestic as well as international. Universities have a responsibility to support all students to thrive and achieve, and it is increasingly recognised that students’ experiences are very different depending on a large number of factors, including background and personal circumstances, type and subject of their course. The mental health and wellbeing of students is an increasing concern for universities and sector bodies.

The role of data, analytics, data modelling, predictive analytics and visualisation will be a core aspect of this uncertain future, but the uncertainty will bring new challenges for the sector in how they utilise the potential of data. Public scepticism about algorithms and data use is creating new ethical and legal challenges in the gathering, processing and interpretation of data.

CCTV
Image by Stafford GREEN from Pixabay

So if you have an interest in data then Data Matters will be the place to be in January.

Book your place now.

Good afternoon Professor Phipps – Weeknote #87 – 30th October 2020

This week saw the continual increase in covid-19 cases, sadly increasing deaths and many areas of the UK entering Tier 3 lockdowns. The threat of a national lockdown was getting discussed, whilst in Wales they were already in lockdown.

Monday I went into the Bristol office to work, it was quiet and I managed to get some work done.

Tuesday I spent the day writing, but I did find it hard that day to be creative. The weather was frightful.

Wednesday I was back into Bristol and in our office to work, I did meet up with a couple of colleagues as well for working meetings.

In local news, UWE lecturers said that they ‘don’t feel safe’ due to lack of mandatory face masks.

Concerns have been raised over a lack of mandatory face masks for students and staff at the University of the West of England (UWE). One lecturer said staff “don’t feel safe” and he felt “insulted” at the suggestion staff were “happy to go to Sainsbury’s and the pub but not work”.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic, local lockdowns and social isolation was across higher education, having a continual impact on students and student wellbeing. This was echoed in this guardian article: ‘I was just sat in my room all day’: lonely students seek mental health support.

University students are struggling with loneliness and anxiety due to campus lockdowns, with the risk that their mental health will deteriorate further unless urgent action is taken, counsellors and charities are warning.

The issue of Christmas and students was being treated differently across the UK with plans afoot in England to let students escape at Christmas.

Covid tests with results within an hour are being piloted in universities – which could help students in England get home for Christmas.

Whilst in Scotland the story was that students may not be allowed home for Christmas.

Students could be told not to return home at Christmas if the spread of the coronavirus has not been controlled, the deputy first minister has said.

Amongst all this I have been planning the programme for the Jisc, QAA and HESA Data Matters 2021 conference which is taking place in January and will be an online conference. I have a history of doing online conferences and I am planning to take advantage of the affordances that an online conference can bring to such an event. I am hoping to do podcasts, pre-recorded presentations, blogs and more, as well as streaming live keynotes and presentations. Find out more here about the conference.

Thursday I was on leave. It was nice though to see this tweet from Lawrie. Excellent news.

Friday I was working from home. Having left an empty inbox on Wednesday I was quite surprised to see 51 unread e-mails in my inbox. It actually didn’t take too long to process the e-mails. Some I read and then deleted, others I marked as spam, from some I created Jira tasks, and some I just did what was being asked.

My top tweet this week was this one.