I had planned to go to the office on Monday, but with 31°C plus temperatures forecast and an Extreme Heat warming decided that though the office was air-conditioned and would be fine to work in, the thought of driving and then walking, or catching the train and then walking in the heat wasn’t very appealing.
Had a couple of meetings with universities, both via Teams. I do wonder if I will ever be invited to physically attend a meeting at a university in the next twelve months.
The OfS published today a consultation setting out proposals for new conditions of registration for quality and standards. The proposals clarify the focus of our regulatory interest. We care about high quality courses – the courses themselves, rather than the processes institutions have in place to produce their courses. And we care that rigorous standards are maintained in practice, with degree classifications reflecting student achievement.
I delivered the final digital leadership session for Leeds this week, which has gone really fast, but the delegates did provide some really positive feedback.
I had planned to go to the office on Thursday, but as with Monday, with 31°C plus temperatures forecast and an Extreme Heat warming decided that though the office was air-conditioned and would be fine to work in, the thought of driving and then walking, or catching the train and then walking in the heat wasn’t appealing.
I wrote an abstract for a presentation I am delivering in November, which is planning to be an in-person event in Scotland.
The physicality of online learning is an issue that will impact on university campuses as we move to a blended programmes containing elements of online and digital learning and physical in-person learning. This session will explore the challenges that growth in blended learning will bring to learning spaces and the university campus. What is required for, in terms of space for online learning, but will also consider the implications of delivering online teaching as well. Examples will be given of what universities are doing today to meet these challenges. The session will reflect on a possible future maximising the use of our space as students have the flexibility to learn online, in-person and across a spectrum of blended possibilities.
I delivered the final (final) digital leadership session for Leeds on Friday, this went well.
My top tweet this week was this one.
It happens so often in my Sainsbury’s that they have had special shelf fillers printed so the shelves don’t look empty. pic.twitter.com/Ji9vP8kSoI
Though I didn’t post these posts each day in June (and to be honest I didn’t post it each day on the Twitter either) except the final day, I have decided to retrospectively post blog posts about each of the challenges and back date them accordingly. There is sometimes more I want to say on the challenge then you can fit into 140 characters (well 280 these days).
Well a shorter week for me, as Monday was a Bank Holiday and I took leave on Wednesday. As it was half term, I has planned to go to the office for the other three days. So it would have felt in some ways like a normal working week. However personal circumstances resulted in working from home instead.
As we start to emerge from this prolonged period of change, many university leaders are thinking about how to keep the best elements of digital and embed them in future practice; “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” is a mantra we’ve heard on many occasions. This reflection is necessary and welcome: something we must do as we develop a “new normal” after the heady pace of change over the past year-and-a-half. However as we reflect, it is important to remember that more has changed about how we teach than the digital tools we use. To torture the metaphor somewhat, we might need to take a whole new approach to baby hygiene.
I took a day’s leave on Wednesday and we went to Legoland, which we haven’t done in a few years now. In theory they were limiting numbers, but it felt very much to me busier and more crowded than visits in previous years.
…Prospect is calling for the government to give employees a legally binding “right to disconnect”. This would ban bosses from “routinely emailing or calling” outside set working hours.
The long hours and out of hours culture we see in many organisations is rife and the pandemic has made this worse.
When I managed a large team I was always keen to point out to my staff that though I was e-mailing early in the morning or late into the evening, I never expected them to do this and I never expected them to respond either. My reason for the odd hours was that I was commuting to Oxford back and forth and spent about 4-5 hours on the train. I worked quite a bit and did a lot of e-mail during that commute, as I was catching an early train and arriving home late, the timing of those e-mail was out of hours. What I did do was manage expectations of my staff about responding or not to those e-mails.
Now in a very different role, we have quite a flexible approach to working, and though less so recently (down to the pandemic) when I was travelling I would often work in the evenings in hotels if I was away from home. Again I had not expectations about responses, e-mail is for me an asynchronous form of communication and that is its main feature. Even in pandemic lockdown, working flexibly allows me to do stuff in the middle of the day and catch up either first thing or later. I don’t expect other people to work in this way.
I have a few things I do to keep my e-mail in check. I absolutely keep home and social e-mail separate from work e-mail. I turn off that notification feature on e-mail so I don’t have badges with ever increasing numbers. I don’t check e-mail when I am not working, so when I am on leave or at weekends, but I have the choice if I want to.
The issue I have with legislating e-mail sending is that it doesn’t actually solve the real problem. You need to solve that problem first.
Spent a lot of the week working on a couple of bespoke Digital Leadership Development programmes. One will be a series of online sessions, alas no in-person sessions for this, the other will be a self-directed study programme.
Since last working in this space, a lot has changed, the elephant in the room is obviously the impact of covid, lockdowns and the emergency response to all this. However much of what digital leaders need to do is still there as it was before. It is about becoming an effective digital leader, modelling the behaviour you expect in others and leading and influencing digitally-driven change.
Interviewed a member of academic staff about their digital practices this week and it was interesting to see the parallels and reflections of their practice which I have also seen across other interviews at other HEIs. The importance of effective (digital) support was brought up again, and this is a wide ranging issue for academic staff, for whom the support might be technical support, application support or practical support. This tool isn’t working, how do I do this with this tool and how can I use this tool for teaching and learning? In most universities this support is provided by different teams, the question you need to ask, does the academic know who to ask when they need support?
At our regular Higher Education monthly team call I talked about our experiences with consultancy, some of our wins and some of our challenges.
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?
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.
One thing I have noticed in some presentations is that some academics will often report "their" success when an innovation in teaching works, and also "students failed to engage with it" when it doesn't work.
Well the week started later (as might be expected) with Easter Monday. Also with it being a school holiday and people taking leave, it was also a rather quiet week with very few meetings. This allowed me to crack on with a few things that were in my to do list.
University leaders said it was deeply unfair that students could get haircuts or work in pubs next week but still had no idea when their campuses would reopen, as the government announced that school pupils in England will be expected to wear masks until the middle of May.
The BBC News reported on Gavin Williamson wanting to ban mobile phones in schools.
Mobile phones should be banned from schools because lockdown has affected children’s “discipline and order,” the education secretary has warned. Gavin Williamson told The Telegraph phones should not be “used or seen during the school day”, though he said schools should make their own policies. Phones can act as a “breeding ground” for cyber-bullying and social media can damage mental health, he added. “It’s now time to put the screens away, especially mobile phones,” he wrote.
I was reminded of a blog post that I wrote back in 2008.
Does your institution ban mobile phones in the classroom? Does it just ban the use of mobile phones in the classroom? Or does it just ban the inappropriate use of mobile phones in the classroom?
The key with any great learning process is the relationship between teacher and student, get that right and you are onto a winner. Disruption happens with that relationship breaks down, not when a phone rings.
My experience of school policies today, is that they actually already ban mobile phones….
I also liked this response from @Simfin who is an expert in this space.
I did like this article on Wonkhe – Where next for digital learning? by Julie Swain. She says that the key pillars of action to support staff and students need to focus on are:
Digital Learning Spaces
Mental Health Support
Digital Learning Skills
In the article Julie recognises that digital poverty isn’t just about connectivity and hardware, it’s also about space and time.
She says about space: Space has proven to be a major issue. There were assumptions that students and staff had “study spaces” at home where they could shut off and dedicate themselves to learning. Again that is just not the case for many and it is not uncommon to be “inside someone’s spare room or even bedroom “.
Though I also think we need to consider low bandwidth and asynchronous learning activities as well as space, connections and hardware.
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.
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.
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 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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
The promising vaccine news is making bosses think about the return to work. But when it does happen, the office won’t ever be the same again.
I had a good discussion on Tuesday about the future university campus. I have worked on an intelligent campus project in the past, back then we had a vision. However the current landscape has changed and will continue to change. This has implications for campus planning and usage.
Wednesday saw the publication by the Government of guidance for universities on students returning in the spring.
Apologies I am on leave today, I will be unable to respond to any questions or requests on Twitter. I will not be posting pictures of my breakfast either. I will send replies and retweet interesting stuff tomorrow when I am back on the Twitter.
Friday was a full day of meetings and events. I actually have very few days where I spend most of the day in Zoom and Teams meetings, but today I had nearly six hours of online meetings. The key for me was to move away from the computer when I can.
The US election continues to dominate Twitter though seeing less of it on the mainstream news. Saw a number of people on Twitter claiming to have won the election!
Five years ago this week myself and Lawrie were delivering the second residential of the pilot for the Jisc Digital Leaders Programme at the Holland House Hotel in the heart of Bristol. We had spent four days delivering that week. We also had some great cakes and pastries.
Even the coffee was nice. We learnt a lot from the process and spent the next few months iterating the programme, dropping and adding stuff based on the feedback we had from the pilot delegates.
Less than a year later we delivered the programme to paying delegates in Loughborough, again we reviewed what we did and adapted the programme again, before delivering to groups in Manchester, Belfast and Leicester.
High case numbers in the early autumn have led some to conflate the second wave with students and universities. For David Kernohan, the data doesn’t show that.
This was an interesting article that looked at the data behind the second wave and how some people have been conflating the wave with university attendance and blaming students.
I spent a good part of Monday working on some internal documents for various projects, as well as some presentations for future events.
Tuesday I was on a panel session for the QAA looking at academic integrity. I don’t mind online events, but it can be really hard to read the audience compared to being on a panel at a live in-person face to face event.
On that note there was a discussion on Twitter about the term we use for that compared to online sessions.
I responded about how Jisc used the term in-person in their recent LTR report.
In the most recent Learning and teaching reimagined report https://t.co/jZZMtEOjxh we have been using the term "in-person". Language is always changing and we recognise that no single term fits all needs and practice. We try and ensure clarity in our communications.
Personally looking back over my recent blog posts I have been using the (slightly clunky) term physical face to face For some it is a real issue and in some cases how it is interpreted by employers and the press. I personally think we might be spending a little too much time over thinking this.