This week, due to engineering work, there were no trains between Weston-super-Mare and Bristol. I also took a day’s leave bizarrely enough to travel on a steam train.
Quite a few meetings were cancelled this week, which I find frustrating.
I spent time this week on preparing a session and designing a presentation for a Leadership Masterclass, entitled Operationalising your Strategic Vision. This is an internal ninety minute online session about strategy and operationalisation of that strategy. Some of that masterclass will be based on this blog post on breakfast.
I also made the decision, rather than record the masterclass, it will be a rather interactive session, which a recording won’t capture.
Instead I will create a new and “proper” recorded video of the session that can then be used.
Attended a pipeline call with a team about their current future work.
I went back through and reviewed sessions I attended at ALT-C. This year they recorded all the sessions, so there is an opportunity to go and watch sessions I missed.
Had a call about a proposed session idea at Digifest 24.
I had to undertake various software and security updates. Took the opportunity to update the iPhone to iOS 17.
Had a short meeting on software licensing.
I have been working on some objectives for the next twelve months.
I have been reflecting on what good is, what it looks like, how would we know, what do we mean by good, how would we define good. How do we know something is good. What are the criteria we are using to base that judgement on?
I have decided to call it a day with what was the Twitter. So no more top tweets of the week. There’s a blog post there. Maybe.
I am attending the Association for Learning Technology conference at the University of Warwick this week.
On Wednesday in OC0.02 between 12 and 12:30 I am presenting a session entitled Looking through that digital lens.
The pandemic crisis gave universities serious challenges and required creative thinking to provide solutions. Universities have needed to act at pace and scale. They’ve needed to do this whilst staff and students are coping lockdowns, social distancing, and restrictions. One aspect of higher education that gained more prominence during the emergency response, was the importance of digital. Knowing that digital has been critical to dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, the question now remains: how and what role will digital play in the post-pandemic strategic priorities of the university?
There are two key questions facing universities?
Does the strategy still meet the needs of the university in this new, changing, and uncertain landscape?
What role does digital play in helping universities achieve their [new] strategic aspirations?
Any departmental or methodology strategy should always link back to the organisational strategy and how the objectives and actions will support the organisational strategic aims. If you apply a digital lens to the corporate strategy, you can demonstrate how digital technologies can enable that strategy. So rather than talk about how you are going to increase the use of digital technologies, the strategy talks about how the use of digital technologies will enable the strategic aims (Clay 2018). Digital does not exist in isolation and there may be other strategies, such as teaching and learning, assessment, environmental, wellbeing or community. The concept of a lens can be used here as well. The digital lens approach, as outlined by Jisc (Phipps and Clay 2018) can enable effective and transformational behaviours to emerge by helping staff to understand and develop their capabilities and confidence in the context of their own work. The results can include an improved status quo and the identification of new goals for individuals and their organisations. There is a history of people talking about applying a lens to challenges, to look at things differently. (Phipps and Clay 2018) To give a different perspective on what has been written or talked about. In this session we will reflect on the various ways in which universities can respond to these questions, you may want to create new strategic priorities, which reflect the new landscape in which universities will operate. A question that we will also discuss is, do universities need a separate digital strategy? There are challenges with having additional strategies that are an addition to the core strategic priorities, and with more strategies in place it is sometimes easy for things to fall between them. Additionally, the provision of a new strategy, with new digital priorities, may be seen as some kind of extra or addition to what staff are already doing. The end result is that the digital strategy is often ignored or left to one side (Clay 2018). In the session we will look at how this can be avoided. In this session participants will gain an understanding of the importance of digital in strategic planning and decision making.
After the conference I will provide more insights and an overview of my presentation. The slides will be pretty much useless on their own as I am only using images (again).
The essence of my talk is to provide a retrospective on my own digital strategy journey, the development of strategies in the different roles I have had, operationalisation, and the concept of the digital lens.
If you are interested please join me in my session at the conference.
On Wednesday 30th August there was an #LTHEChat hosted by the ALT-C 2023 co-chairs, Santanu Vasant and Lawrie Phipps.
LTHEchat will host a summer special chat led by #altc23 Conference Chairs Santanu Vasant and Lawrie Phipps. Dual hashtags will be used #altc23 and #LTHEchat. This special summer special takes a look back at 30 years of educational technology as the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) celebrates 30 years, as do Jisc, and the Staff and Educational Developers Association (SEDA). Educational or Learning Technologies have shaped higher education, especially in recent years during the pandemic, but the history of educational technology goes way back. In this LTHEchat, we ask you to remember your first experiences of learning technology in a work setting, what learning technology might be, if we had unlimited financial resources, what new ‘next big things’ didn’t take off and what do you remember from previous ALT Conferences?
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.
As a result I have written six different blog posts.
Q3 What’s been your biggest achievement in learning technology to date and why?
I wrote this on the Twitter
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.
At Gloucestershire College I was asked and I delivered a digital learning strategy, well back then it was called the Information and Learning Technology or ILT strategy. Historically it had come about because of funding from Becta to colleges was given on the basis of colleges writing an ILT strategy. This was often distinct from the IT strategy. The IT strategy was usually focused on the technical infrastructure to support the college business, whereas the ILT strategy was focused on the embedding of technology into teaching and learning. What often happened though was that both strategies weren’t linked together and weren’t always linked to the corporate strategy, of if they were those linkages weren’t always clear. The end result was that sometimes these strategies were at odds with each other.You had an ILT strategy was advocating a student BYOD policy and the IT strategy was clear that non-organisation devices could not be connected to the wireless network. It wasn’t just the IT strategy, I am aware of heated discussions between managers, where the ILT strategy was advocating a student BYOD policy and the Estates strategy was clear that non-organisation devices could not be plugged into the power sockets.
I also wrote this tweet.
Too often I see pilots, limited projects, small scale approaches, champions, and so on. When it comes to embedding digital technology, I approached it from an all-college approach. Everyone doing one small thing has more impact that one person.
Over the years I have written about the problems of having a pilot mentality.
How many pilots do we need? Or is it more a question that we need to run a pilot at our institution before we think about “rolling” it out across all curriculum areas. I am also aware of successful pilots in one curriculum area which have been followed by virtually identical pilots in a second curriculum area… Why? Well the learners are different! Really! How different, they have two heads or something? That actually raises a question on any pilot, well successful pilots have resulted in a roll out across the whole institution?
Much of what I experienced and learnt at Gloucestershire College, as well as other experiences and my work at Jisc, is feeding into my ALT-C presentation next week.
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.
“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.
Back from two weeks leave and 179 emails in the inbox. It was empty when I left and the target for today is it will be empty again. https://t.co/CveLf9Kf0m
Over on my productivity and technology blog I have published a blog post on culture, strategy, breakfast and croissant.
“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.
Spent the best part of the week in London and actually had in-person meetings. Also gave me a chance to try out the new Elizabeth Line which was fast and smooth.
On Monday we had some teach coaching which was, well let’s just say it was interesting.
Tuesday we had the first of our new PVC Education and Student Experience Group meetings. This is an evolution of the Senior TEL Group I use to run, but now with a more strategic focus. I am hoping that we grow and evolve the group over time, but the participants did provide us with useful and valuable insights into the challenges and issues that universities face. There was also an implicit validation of the Jisc HE sector strategy.
The next day I had a meeting with the University of Leeds about their plans for some future collaboration.
Wednesday also saw me running a drop in session on our sector strategy. These sessions are about supporting staff at Jisc to see how their work supports the delivery of the strategy.
Thursday I focused on planning for next year. Looking at various parts of the HE sector strategy that may need further support and development.
Michelle Donelan announced that the government was appointing a student mental health support champion (or wellbeing tsar) in response to findings that mental health is the main reason given by students who are considering leaving university. Universities would be expected to use supermarket customer-tracking software to identify struggling students.
Universities are to be told to electronically track students to get early warning on mental health and reduce drop-out, as the government appoints a new student mental health leadership role. The Times this morning reports that a speech from Further and Higher Education minister Michelle Donelan is expected to respond to findings that mental health is the main reason given by students who are considering leaving university by appointing Nottingham Trent vice chancellor Edward Peck as a student new mental health support champion, who will provide leadership on ensuring students remain supported and engaged with their course.
Donelan is expected to say that a student becoming disengaged with their course is not just a problem in its own right, “student disengagement is a critical warning sign for mental health issues which, as we know, when left unchecked can have devastating consequences. These critical warning signs present an opportunity for prevention, hitting the problem at the source and helping to defend students from mental health issues before they strike. Ensuring that we are focused on combating student disengagement will result in better attainment and better outcomes, too.”
Friday was about preparing papers for a meeting coming up, so that the participants can have the papers in advance.
The use of digital technologies for learning and teaching, doesn’t just happen. Staff don’t always instinctively pick up the skills and capabilities to utilise the range of digital tools and services available to them. In a similar manner the application of pedagogy to mobile, remote and online delivery is not as simple as translating in-person pedagogical practices.
When it comes to digital transformation in education, I wonder if we can look at what happened to the music retail industry and the impact of digital over the last few decades.
I looked at how the retail music industry had moved from vinyl to CD, to mp3 and onto streaming services. So, what does this mean for education? Well don’t make the mistake of equating music tracks with something like a lecture. Digital transformation of education is not about the Napsterfication of lectures or creating an education version of Spotify. What we can learn from digital music is reflecting on the differences between the digitisation of education, the digitalisation of education and then the digital transformation of education.
I participated in the LTHEChat and Advance HE tweetchat about wellbeing in higher education.
So to remind us, when we look at digital transformation, it becomes obvious that focusing on the hardware or technology is actually quite limiting. So when looking at the digital transformation of education, we really want to focus on the transformation of education and how digital can enable and enhance that transformation.
On Friday I attended Wonkhe and Adobe’s Education Espresso event on Pedagogy and playfulness.
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.
Someone just said the VLE is Dead and it wasn’t me… #QMULVLEExpo
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
A1 sometime my presentations are just images, no text, no bullets
A shorter week as there was a bank holiday and I took a day’s leave.
Came back to 70 emails in my inbox, which I cleared quite quickly.
Had a meeting with ALT about plans and collaboration going forward. Next week is the OER 22 Conference and there is a call for papers for the ALT Conference 2022. The ALT Conference 2022 will take place in-person in Manchester.
I attended the HEAnet & EduCampus Group Advisory Forum online. We are planning a strategic meeting that will take place in-person in September.
I spoke to our innovation team about the HE Sector Strategy.
I went to the office in Bristol on Friday, realised it had been sometime since I went to the Bristol office having been on leave, in Manchester and in London quite a bit over the last few weeks.
My top tweet this week was this one.
Well back from leave, a long weekend. There are 70 unread emails in my inbox.
I have never attended the UCISA Leadership conference before, but after the 2020 conference was cancelled, I was given the chance to attend the 2022 event. This was the third in-person conference I have attended since March 2020.
This year’s much-anticipated UCISA22 Leadership Conference will look ahead at the future challenges and opportunities for digital leaders in education. The theme of conference is Digital Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World.
I wrote about day one of the conference in this blog post and day two in this post.
This was the last day of the UCISA Leadership Conference, ending at lunchtime. We were in a different space, which though more impressive, was not as comfortable as the space used on the first couple of days.
Great opening session from Heidi Fraser-Krauss on her role of CEO at Jisc, where Jisc has been, where Jisc is, and her vision for Jisc going forward.
I did like this quote from her presentation.
There is something written by “John” in every university which was created twenty years ago and is crucial to the running of the institution.
There were lots of questions for Heidi at the end of the session, which for me shows that people found her presentation interesting and useful. There were some really positive comments on the Twitter as well.
I did think that the next session, What can your organisation learn from Formula 1? with
Adrian Stalham, Chief Change Officer, Sullivan and Stanley wasn’t going to be my cup of tea, but it was in the end one of the highlights of the conference.
Business models break, new ones develop, technology evolves, regulations are revised and customers alter buying habits. Every industry is witnessing change, and Formula 1 is no different; as a multi-billion dollar sport it has seen unprecedented change in the last 20 years. Above all, Formula One’s leadership teams have had to communicate, manage and implement transformation strategies, bringing their teams with them, ensuring that they make the most from embracing change.
I did a sketch note of his presentation.
Adrian presented some of the key principles from Formula 1 that can be implemented into teams to drive high performance. He opened his talk with a 67 second pitstop from the past and how today the Formula 1 pitstop can be less than two seconds.