I was mainly on leave this week working just a couple of days.
Was in London on Monday for an in-person meeting. I don’t mind meeting online when required, but after two years of online meetings, there is something about meeting in-person. The change in routine and scenery is very welcome. The focus of the discussion was an offshoot of the UPP Foundation report on the Student Futures Manifesto, notably recommendation one.
We were discussing the challenges that universities face in modernising their IT infrastructure and architecture.
Attended a meeting reviewing Digifest that happened last month.
If you attended the event, what did you think about the festival? What worked well for you and what would have made it better? Did you any sessions stick out for you? If you didn’t go, why was that, and what would have needed to be different for you to change your mind?
Monday I was focusing on one of the projects we are working on with an university looking at various scope areas and how technology and digital can make a difference. I was reminded of the NSA quote of cylinders of excellence when it comes to silo working. The concept of excellent departments, but not an excellent university came to mind, but also about the inefficiencies of silos working in isolation and not thinking about the impact of their development and change on the rest of the university.
At the end of the day we were discussing assessment. What is happening with assessment in higher education now and what changes made as a result of Covid-19 are now in place, but also the wider issues of assessment as well.
Tuesday saw me back to our office in Portwall Lane for an in-person meeting with my line manager, our first meeting in-person since August last year. It was actually nice to be both in the office and in an in-person meeting.
Something that keeps coming to my attention is the future of teaching, especially the concept of dual mode or hybrid teaching. What are peoples’ experiences of “dual-mode”, “muti-mode”, hybrid teaching? What has the student feedback being like? Something I have been reflecting on this week.
Students want universities to prioritise a return to in person teaching and are missing face-to-face interaction around their wider student experience.
This is something which isn’t too surprising and is also something that has come out of our recent research into the student experience. Though digging deeper for us, it was more the in-person interaction students were missing and less the teaching.
Wednesday afternoon myself and Isabel Lucas of HEDG and the University of Cumbria hosted a share shop, facilitated by Advance HE, on how universities can support students transitioning in HE. We looked at both new students and returning students.
In September, third year students returning to HE will not have had a normal year in higher education and it is likely that their third year will not be like it was before.
We discussed a range of issues, focusing on the known knowns and the known unknowns. More difficult to discuss the unknown knowns and the unknown unknowns!
We are aiming to share the findings from the shareshop in June.
Thursday was a light day in terms of meetings, but got even lighter, as one meeting was cancelled five minutes before it was due to start, with the other meeting, two people who had accepted were in fact on leave, so in the end the meeting lasted only five minutes.
The future of the office keeps getting discussed, with those who own offices explaining why going back to the office is so important and those who don’t explaining why it isn’t. For me a lot is about the kind of work you do, I don’t do the same thing everyday, so there isn’t a single kind of space I need all the time. Before Covid, sometimes I would be working alone, sometimes I would be in meetings, sometimes we would be collaborating and sometimes I didn’t know, so it was useful to have other people around to bounce ideas off and chat over coffee.