Tag Archives: review

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.

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.

Inauguration – Weeknote #99 – 22nd January 2021

99 Flake
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

I have been working on proposals this week, which is always a challenging activity for me, as I need to be concise and succinct, whilst my default when it comes to writing is to be extended and I make extensive use of redundant terms.

In researching some news and links for a presentation on digital poverty I discovered this blog post by Daniel Stanford from March on low bandwidth teaching, which resonated with some of my thinking.  I had the day before published a blog post on my experiences in using consumer technology for teaching and learning, which looked at low bandwidth and synchronous teaching.

In the post I reflected that the key issue is rethinking the curriculum and the pedagogy. We have designed courses for in-person face to face teaching. Most of the time this has been converted (or translated) into a remote delivery format. It has not been converted to reflect the opportunities that online pedagogy can bring to the table. Even if it has then often the mobile pedagogy isn’t even thought about. Teaching and learning remotely is one thing, online teaching and learning is another, and mobile teaching and learning is different again. The solution appears to be a combination of redesigning the curriculum, to be a combination of low bandwidth, asynchronous type activities, alongside traditional live streaming, with option to deliver content to learners to access on their devices at a time and place to suit them.

Understanding where your learners are and how they will access teaching and on what device and connection is critical when it comes to successful curriculum design.

Daniel illustrated this idea of Bandwidth versus Immediacy through the following graphic.

Wonkhe on a similar note published this article on the same kind of subject.

Asynchronous learning gives students the chance to treat modules like box sets, bingeing or skipping as they see fit. Tom Lowe wonders what this might mean for learning.

I read this by Peter Bryant, which was published last week, on the snapback. He reflects on the changes that the pandemic has brought into higher education, but wonder what would happen when we can go back to in-person face to face teaching?

Whilst all these changes were borne out of the pandemic, would I want to go back to large didactic lectures, social isolation, mass exams and tutorials driven by repetition and memorisation? Firstly, that was never the exclusive way we taught, so many colleagues were doing amazing, innovative social pedagogies before and during the pandemic. But across the sector I reckon face to face lecture/tutorial/exam was a pretty dominant pathway for learning pre-pandemic. So, what happens when we can do those things again, face to face? What happens when we don’t have to worry about Zoom bombing, invasive proctoring solutions and the impersonality of online learning? Will we learn from this mess and value the ‘human interaction’ that a two-hour lecture using PowerPoint or a three-hour handwritten exam affords us?

Jisc offices in Bristol, December 2019
Jisc offices in Bristol, December 2019

With new safety protocols prompting design changes, traditional office spaces may be a thing of the past and this was explored in this article in The Guardian.

The pandemic has shown us that work can go on without a workplace. If it can be done online, it can be done from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. At the same time, however, the move to remote work has revealed the value of the workplace, as many employees hanker to return to the office. In light of these two opposing trends, what might the office of the future actually look like?

Jisc offices in Bristol, December 2019
Jisc offices in Bristol, December 2019

I had my mid-year review this week, and as with other reviews, these weeknotes have been useful in referencing some of my work. Seemed to go okay, which is nice. We reviewed my objectives, deleted a couple and added some more.

I had to write some notes for the Data Matters Conference, these I edited and published as an article on my blog.

Wednesday saw the inauguration of a new US President and hopefully a more positive future.

Private Eye Cover

In 2018, the government launched a review of post-18 education and funding, with the aim of ensuring that post-18 education gives everyone a genuine choice between high quality technical and academic routes, that students and taxpayers are getting value for money, and that employers can access the skilled workforce they need. This week the Government published a paper, that sets out an interim conclusion of the review, which responds to some of the key recommendations of the report of the independent panel led by Dr Philip Augar.

Coventry in January 2018

On Thursday I spent most of the day judging the University of Coventry Post-Graduate Researcher of the Year award. This did mean spending most of the day on Zoom. Quite exhausting, but quite a rewarding process. There were eight finalists, and each had to prepare a written statement, deliver a presentation and be interviewed. Challenging for this at the best of times, but more so with everything happening on Zoom. Hats off to Jennifer and Heather for some excellent organisation of the event, which made my contributions much easier to do.

discarded mask
Image by Roksana Helscher from Pixabay

It’s sobering to think that this week saw the highest daily death rate recorded from Covid. In the last seven days, 8565 people have died within 28 days of positive Covid test. On Wednesday we saw 1820 deaths. Putting that into perspective, that is more than 50% of the total deaths in The Troubles in Northern Ireland over thirty years! It is more deaths than the number of people who died on the Titanic in 1912. These are troubling times and it looks like it will be some time before we can think that the pandemic is over.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Nokia N810 – it’s not a phone!

A week or so back I managed to get my hands on a Nokia N810 as part of our MoLeNET project, one of many mobile devices we have got to support the project. These devices are for two main reasons, firstly from a learner support perspective, if they have them, how do they work and how does our mobile content play on them? Secondly to evaluate them from a college perspective so that if and when we get more mobile devices for our learners we can go with a device we have used, checked and know works. We can also use that information to advise and recommend devices to learners.

So what do I think of the Nokia n810?

Nokia N810 - it's not a phone!

So far I have been quite impressed with the Nokia N810, it is a neat smart device, which works as you expect it to work.

Browsing is good, as are other internet applications. It either uses wi-fi or you use a Bluetooth connection to your phone and use your phone’s 3G data connection. Thing to remember is that it is not a phone!

I found the keyboard though small, much easier and better than any mobile phone keypad for typing in text and the predictive text entry means you can go quite fast.

Haven’t yet tried video on the device as in an actual video file, tried it with an online video, BBC’s iPlayer, and the Flash video playback was very poor, jerky and unwatchable. I am guessing that is a similar reason why Apple have not implemented Flash on the iPhone and the iPod touch – though I have also heard it was more down to PDF reading and implementation!

Battery life is good and much better than a lot of UMPCs out there, so it has that going for it.

The Register has a really detailed and good review of the Nokia n810 on their website.

Nokia’s approach for the N810 is pretty simple: phone screens are too small for decent web browsing, so surely a separate portable device that has a bigger screen and Wi-Fi connectivity is needed for serious portable web access.

Their verdict?

Taken at face value, Nokia’s N810 not a bad box of tricks. For surfing the web, email and as an internet communication device it is a handy little gadget, while the operating system is easy to use, feature rich and robust. The relative abundance of software is another plus. But that lack of a SIM slot does niggle just a bit.

I believe that the Nokia n810 is a great portable internet device for learning and I really like it.

I don’t believe it is suitable as a device to give to learners, for two main reasons, number one it is expensive for what it does, two, it is too “delicate” and “stylish” and I don’t think it is robust enough to be given out to students in the way that a PSP or even an iPod touch could be given out.

“it’s too flawed to be anything other than a novelty”

The Guardian has reviewed the Sony VAIO UX1XN and found that though a wonderment of design, it is somewhat fiddly to use.

But delightful though this notebook is to look at and hold, it’s too flawed to be anything other than a novelty.

UX1XN

The review also mentions issues with the keyboard and the tablet input, which I both agree with.

… there’s the first disappointment – the keyboard. You wouldn’t want to do much more than tap out an email on it, as the size of the keys make it no good for touch-typing. Double-thumb input is feasible, but the tiny keys make it hard to be accurate.

and

The touchscreen is a nightmare. Fiddly to calibrate, it failed to retain its settings and eventually refused even to acknowledge that it was in fact a touchscreen. So I resorted to the pointing device.

I still think it is useful and not as flawed as the review makes out, and the more I use it, the more uses I find for it.

BBC Review Four Wifi Media Players

The BBC has published a review of four of the top wifi capable media players currently on the market.

The Sony PSP, the Nokia N800, the Archos 605wifi and (of course) the Apple iPod touch.

Gadget lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to portable media players, with an increasing number offering web access through wi-fi connections. We take a look at four different players – Sony’s PSP Slim, Archos 605wifi, Nokia’s N800 and the Apple iPod touch – and assess their strengths and weaknesses in different categories.

Their winner, well it’s only fair that you check out the article, but it doesn’t surprise me.