York is a place I have visited and lived in over the last forty five years. I first went to York on a school trip in 1979 and we did lots of different things. We went to the Railway Museum, the Castle Museum, went up Clifford’s Tower. We visited Mother Shipton’s Cave and Fountain’s Abbey. I made a return visit to York in the summer of 1987 when we had some Yugoslavian Scouts over.
In October 1987 I studied Economics at York University for three years. I stayed in halls in Langwith College in my first year, rented a house in Osbaldwick for my second year, and stayed at St Lawrence Court in my final year.
I made a return visit to York in July 1993, I stayed on campus and did various things including a return visit to Fountains Abbey.
It was quite a few years later before I visited again, and this time it was a fleeting visit to the university in March 2006 for a meeting. I had flown up to Leeds and hired a car to drive to York and then drove back, all in the one day.
I also was there for a mobile learning workshop in April 2009, and stayed at the hotel by the Railway Station. We did a family holiday to York in March 2013.
This was my first visit back to York since then. We had a team away day at a hotel near the racecourse. Our last two away days had been in Leamington Spa.
This was an excellent away day with lots of engagement and interaction. Sometimes, you can find yourself in passive mode when attending team days, but this time we were discussing, and interacting. Making the most of the time we had in-person together.
As I was up in York, I spent some time exploring the campus and reflecting on how the campus has changed over the last forty years and what the implications of this are for the student experience, infrastructure, and overall campus experience.
I did some planning for a Leadership Masterclass – Operationalising your Strategic Vision that I am running in a couple of weeks.
Had a meeting about a panel session for EDUtech Europe 2023 in October.
Didn’t really tweet this week, travelling, away days, and the such. I think my use of the Twitter which has been declining over the last year or so is approaching the point of asking myself, why am I using Twitter.
Dr Stephanie Coen, assistant professor in health geography at Nottingham University, is eager to get back to teaching in person. But she fears that with students not required to wear masks when classes start in a few weeks, squeezing them like “sardines” into her tiny room for seminars will be unsafe.
I don’t think anyone will be surprised if we see a repeat of what we saw last September when students returned to university. Though the numbers initially back then weren’t high they did start to rise as term continued. What will happen now, we don’t really know.
This tweet from Alejandro Armellini resonated with me.
I invite colleagues to be very pedagogically critical of apparently sexy environments or approaches, e.g. #hyflex or hybrid (which are anything but new). Review the research into and practice with such approaches. Not everything is rosy. #practicalpedagogy1#Highered
It was a thread of tweets about the importance of being pedagogically critical of new ways of delivery such as hybrid. Ale has actually done hybrid and brings that experience and perspective to his views.
The pandemic has also shown us that we do not have to do anything special for the people for whom institutions and systems have been built. Our white male able students are going to be fine, they are the default category of person higher education is already built for.. It is ok–I would argue it is necessary– to start saying to ourselves “my starting point for designing this curriculum, this system, this process, will be to serve those students who are disadvantaged, who are disabled by our institutions.
The University of York is offering students housing an hour’s drive away in Hull due to a shortage of accommodation. The crisis has been sparked by an over-subscription on the university’s courses which has created a surge in demand for student housing.
This kind of situation is one reason why universities might want to consider a more flexible curriculum which takes advantages of the affordances of online and digital so that students don’t have to spent two to three hours commuting to campus five days a week. Though I imagine that students might actually want to go to campus (and the city) as they applied to York not Hull. I went to York as much for the city as for the course.
Thinking that this mobile telephony would never catch on….
Michael Rodd makes a call with an experimental cordless mobile phone. It’s 1979 and time for the telephone to go mobile. In this report from a longer programme, Michael Rodd examines a British prototype for a cordless telephone that allows the user to make calls from anywhere. Also included at the end of this item is a rather nice out-take as Rodd also experiences the first mobile wrong number.
I do recall watching this when it was broadcast.
Of course we don’t really use our phones as phones these days, the mini computer we have in our pockets is now used for way more than just making calls.
Thursday I was off to Birmingham for our all staff conference.
This was my second in-person event in a week. I drove to Birmingham, parked my car. I parked at Five Ways. In the past when I parked there I would generally have to park on the roof, this time I could have parked on level 1, though as there was more room I parked on level 2. I walked to the ICC and showed my covid pass and I was into the event. There were nearly 500 Jisc staff in the event.
This was the final day for Paul Feldman as CEO and the first day for Heidi Fraser-Krauss our new CEO.
The day mainly consisted of talks with Q&A. There was some group work, but overall probably about 30 minutes worth, a missed opportunity I think, but it’s always challenging to design a programme such as this for 500 people. What was nice was the time to connect with people, though we obviously talk a lot through Teams and Zoom, there is something different about meeting in-person.
Friday I had a chat with some consultants about some possible work, and we also discussed the Intelligent Campus concept as well.
My top tweet this week was this one.
Tell us your favourite edtech person without telling us your favourite edtech person.
We know that change isn’t easy, if it was then all we would need to do would be buy a book on the subject and just do it.
When it comes to the embedding of digital technologies into teaching, learning and assessment I have spent over twenty years undertaking this kind of activity at a range of organisations and across different levels.
Going back to when I was a Business Studies and Economics teacher at what was then Brunel College (now City of Bristol College) I kind of fell into the use of technology to support teaching and learning. I was an ILT (or TEL) Champion before even the phrase existed. Going back a little further I was never the kind of techno geek or computer nerd many of my peers appear to be when comparing histories. I didn’t do Computer Science at school. I didn’t own a computer, I didn’t have a BBC Micro, nor the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum or anything like that. I did have a bike though!
At University in the late 1980s we had a VAX system and it was really that kind of got me interested in technology, but it was as a tool to solve problems. I discovered I could use this thing called electronic mail to send letters to a friend at another university instead of using the post! This was quite illuminating, until I got flamed by the administrator at the other university, for not using the correct format for my e-mail… Most of the time however the use of the computers was in many ways pointless as my examinations required me to hand write essays, so why would I use a word processor, having said that I did get introduced to Word Perfect 4.2 and did think that this was better than a typewriter.
After university on a business enterprise course I was introduced to spreadsheets that I used for creating balance sheets and cashflow forecasts. For me that was probably the eye opener that got me into technology, more so than anything I had seen before, well does that make me a boring person?
By the time I was working at City of Bristol College I was using my own PC at home to create presentations, photocopying onto clear acetates as initially we didn’t have a digital projector, and we were still using OHPs. When the college did buy a projector (we had one for the whole college) it was a real effort to use it, it was the size of a small suitcase and we also had to lug the screen around as well. Due to lack of processing power, I would often bring in my own PC box, as the laptop couldn’t cope with the strain of my presentations. My PC also had a Matrox Rainbow Runner video card which I used to show full screen video. There was no internet and certainly no wireless network. My what we take for granted today, looks at his phone which can stream HD and 4K video to a projector using 4G connectivity, things do change. Things did improve and we started to see more technology in classrooms.
One outcome from all this was that as I was seen as something of an innovator in this area I was asked to support and train staff, not just from my faculty, but also other areas of the college. One clear memory of this was the impact, often I would train individuals who would then go off and do their own thing (or not). Sometimes I would train all the staff in a faculty and this is where I would often see not only the most resistance, but also the biggest impact. Where a faculty set expectations about how technology would be used, you would see the greatest impact. One faculty I taught how to use Powerpoint to (probably badly) many of the staff were quit resistant or complained they couldn’t do this technology thing, there weren’t enough PCs, not all classrooms had PCs and projectors, and so on… remember this was 1998 or 1999. The head of faculty though had made it clear that not only were all staff to do the training, and create presentation materials, but that all the presentations would be stored and shared centrally. No presentations stored on floppy disks (we didn’t have USB sticks back then) being used by individuals only.
What was a transformative moment for me was the understanding that showcasing, cascading and piloting really didn’t have the transformative impact that senior managers hoped for. Generally the main impact was that enthusiasts would become more enthusiastic and those more reluctant, would either not do anything, or just pay lip service to any initiative. What really caused institutional change was effective strategy and leadership and clarity about what was going to be done, what was expected from staff and what they needed to do and by when.
This did stick with me over the years I moved into positions where my role was to embed technology into teaching and learning. Though I often used the cascade model for staff development, but knew that this was not the ideal model for systemic holistic change across an organisation. It worked well on some individuals, but it was not transformative.
In a similar vein the use of other people’s research and running pilots was interesting and useful, but did not result in institutional change, it could inform other activities, but the idea that the best way for mainstream transformation was to run a pilot was something that I found never worked and never had the impact that others thought it would.
What I really tried to do was transform the entire institution. I would use tools such as cheeses and models, but one key aspect was culture change. Changing the culture was often about hearts and minds, but also challenging the myths and misconceptions about technology and using learning technology with learners. I would use pilots and research to inform this process.
I also knew that if something didn’t work, then to try again, but this time do it differently. Don’t keep trying to do the same thing again and again.
I know that this isn’t easy, if it was easy then we would all have done it!
One thing that came out of this was the understanding that we often make assumptions about staff capabilities and their ability to know how to embed technology and the potential of what technology can do. Just because a member of staff can has been given the training in how to use the tool or service, it doesn’t mean they know how best to use that tool or service to enhance teaching and learning, and for what function or process of the learning activity the tool would support or enhance.
Having avoided taking part in a MOOC since they became the latest fad, I have now taken the plunge and enrolled on the ALT ocTEL MOOC.
So who am I?
What do I want?
I have been working with using technology in learning since the early 1990s.
Prior to that I used technology as a learner. I remember sending e-mail in 1987 at the University of York and getting “flamed” by a technical administrator at Brunel University for sending the “wrong” kind of e-mail.
I also recall a friend of mine at University creating (what today we would call) a social network on the VAX system, it was very similar to Facebook! That VAX system was also my first introduction to WordPerfect.
After a few different things I settled down as a Business Studies and Economics teacher at colleges in the South West. It was in this role that I started to make use of various technologies to enhance my learners experiences. This started with using DTP programmes such as PagePlus to create engaging handouts, Freelance Graphics (and an early version of Powerpoint) to print off acetates for use with an OHP (no projectors back then). I made my own VLE (okay a website) back in 1998 to enable my learners to access links and resources and have discussions. Due to the sort of things I was doing I started doing a lot of staff development, helping staff at City of Bristol College where I was working to gain new skills in using technology to enhance learning.
From there, apart from working in a museum for a while, I worked for a consortium of FE Colleges all using a common VLE, TekniCAL’s Virtual Campus. Following five years there I got a job at Gloucestershire College as ILT & Learning Resources Manager.
In this role I am responsible for the strategic direction in the use of technology to support learning, the VLE, mobile learning, libraries, use of ebooks, digital and online resources and a fair few other things too.
Over the last few years I have been researching and looking at the use of ebooks and also mobile learning.
Have always had an holistic approach to embedding the use of technology, lets get everyone moving forward and where possible try and avoid shiny things unless they help and support learning. Okay yes I do have an iPad.
news and views on e-learning, TEL and learning stuff in general…