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EUNIS 2017 Day 1 Digital Insights

 

 

Ed Stout
Support Services Manager
Leeds Beckett University

 

So, day 1 of EUNIS 2017 in Münster and I packed a lot into a very busy but great day!!
It started with a brisk walk from my hotel to the University of Münster campus, made all the brisker through a slight error of direction on my part. No problem, I just got to see a little more of this beautiful city than I’d bargained for at that time of the morning. That said, it was worth reminding myself to be mindful not to get run over by the hundreds of cyclists whizzing around in “the wrong direction”

 

 

 

 

Opening addresses

Following an early registration session we were straight into the programme at 9AM with the conference’s opening addresses  from Professor Johannes Wessels, the Rector here at University of Münster, EUNIS President Ilkka Siissalo and Dr. Raimund Vogl, the IT Director and CIO at University of Münster.

Prof. Wessels set the scene nicely for those of us unfamiliar with Münster. The university, he tells us, has 45,000 students and approaching 8,000 staff! That’s a bit bigger than I’m used to at Leeds Beckett (for reference we suggest we have approximately 30,000 students and 3,200 staff). The University of Münster has a not unsubstantial €610M budget, 15 departments and 238 buildings which make the their claim of “The City is our Campus” seem not far off the mark. See the campus map

Ilkka Siissalo is the CIO at Helsinki University as well as current EUNIS President and made reference to the state of a growing EUNIS community. He also identified upcoming EUNIS events including two analytics workshops  in Lisbon this December and a Rectors conference due to take place in Porto next spring.

Dr. Vogl opened his address with a look at the University of Münster’s IT Governance which has been in place in some form since the 1990s. A diagram of this can be found below:

 

 

 

 

 

Key points of the IT Governance structure are that:

  • The IT commission acts as a parliamentary institution (a larger body with members nominated by the senate of the university). It also allows them to obtain wider feedback inclusive of the student point of view.
  • IT steering decisions are formed within the IT Board which previously acted effectively as a commission CIO but;
  • A CIO position was recently created and subsequently filled by Dr. Vogl alongside his position as IT Director.

 

Keynote 1: NMC’s Higher Education Horizon

Eden Dahlstrom – Executive Director at the New Media Consortium 

Eden offered some very interesting insights into the findings within the ‘NMC Horizon Report’ detailing the developments, trends, challenges and anticipated time to adoption of technologies within higher education over the next 5+ years. The report can be found here with additional related resources here.

 

 

 

 

 

I suspect we all recognise that actively making change within organisations can be very difficult. Eden referenced a quote by Dr Peter F. Drucker which seemed only too fitting:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Get the attitudes and everyday principles right and the intended changes can become easier.

No paper available

Keynote 2: Digital Humanities 

Dr. Torsten Hiltmann – Associate Professor at the Institute for Medieval History, Münster University

I understand that this was a late addition to the EUNIS 17 agenda  but you wouldn’t have recognised it, Dr. Hiltmann certainly proved that he knows his area of specialism well. Now, Digital Humanities  or Digitale Geisteswissenschaften as I believe the locals call it is new to me but I certainly feel like I came away from this Keynote having learnt something.

Digital Humanities is “the use of computer-based tools and methods to answer existing questions to elaborate new questions in the domain of Humanities”. It is believed to have all started as far back as 1949 with data being transferred onto punch cards before making the transition onto magnetic tapes in 1955. Prior to the digitisation of information, projects had to be digitised in order to be able to be processed. Now, however a large portion of material is already accessible in a digitised form and thus making it much easier, quicker and more efficient to use.

Dr. Hiltmann went on to cover the importance of some of the methods in Digital Humanities with reference to mediaeval coats of arms. Understanding that there were over 1 million different coats of arms in the Middle Ages, it’s important to recognise and understand the differences. Dr. Hiltmann very knowledgeably broke down the anatomy of a coat of arms and identified the importance of a standard to describe them.

 

 

 

 

 

No paper available

Parallel Session 1: Leadership & Management – Building a Digital Roadmap for Greater Engagement and Success

Chris Bridge – ITS Director Queensland University of Technology 

This was quite literally a standing room only session…

 

 

 

 

 

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is another substantial university by students and staff numbers with over 47,000 students and nearly 13,000 staff and in 2013 its IT strategy had expired. Chris informs us that there was an appetite for change, having recognised a shift in the sector and QUT took a new strategic approach to digital leadership.

QUT positions itself at the forefront of technology and innovation and identified that it needed to be agile in order to respond effectively to new challenges. It was therefore decided to build a new Digital Roadmap to ensure its competitiveness in the HE market. Their Digital Roadmap focused on three key areas; Students, learning and teaching; Research and innovation; People, culture and sustainability.

Chris referenced that the successes of the Digital Roadmap have been the improved alignment between IT investments and business strategy, funding now better balanced between innovation, strategy and BAU also common and well understood business language has been adopted across the roadmap in place of technical language ensuring that all parties understand it clearly.

A link to Chris’ “Building a Digital Roadmap for Greater Engagement and Success” paper can be found here. 

Parallel Session 1: Leadership & Management – Digitalization of Higher Education from a Student’s Point of View 

Anne Thoring – Centre for Information Processing, University of Münster

Anne and colleagues at the University of Münster have undertaken qualitative interviews with small groups of students to gather information on service requirements. The 3 categories identified as priorities for students related to IT were: study organisation, online literature and software provision.

Interestingly (although potentially not too surprisingly), findings from the interviews identified that students’ most important requirements from IT solutions are that they offer integration and standardisation with existing university services. Additionally, students identified that IT Services should simply enable them to focus on their studies and ensure that relevant resources are easily accessible. The study also asked students to rate services and systems such as Münster’s e-learning platform, exam administration system and 3rd party provided cloud based services https://www.oclc.org/en/news/releases/2017/201701oberhaching.html on a positive, neutral or negative scale whilst allowing them to pass additional comments.  It became clear that students are keen for IT departments to utilise services such as those available from Microsoft and Google as opposed to bespoke in-house offerings. The overall findings though allowed Anne and colleagues to make an assessment that students are taking a more pragmatic view on digitisation developments than has been suggested by a range of professional parties.

 

 

 

 

 

A link to Anne’s “Digitalization of Higher Education from a Student’s Point of View” paper can be found here.

Parallel Session 1: Leadership & Management – Essential IT capabilities for a Successful Digital Transformation in Higher Education 

Pekka Kahkipuro – Chief Information Officer at Brunel University London

In order to successfully complete a digital transformation in HE, Pekka proposes a 3 layered capability model for structuring the required IT capabilities.

  • Basic capabilities – current best practices in traditional IT form the foundation for digital transformation.
  • Standard capabilities – needed to maintain competition with other HE peers.
  • Advanced capabilities – institutions looking at using digital business as competitive advantage.

Pekka illustrated the typical IT function using Gartner’s “Four Futures of IT Organisations” model as below and recognised that whilst undoubtedly we work within all four quadrants, we commonly focus more regularly within the bottom left “Engine room” as in Figure 2. In here we are too commonly internally focused around operational activities (BAU) and in order to successfully complete a digital transformation it is important to look outside of this quadrant (Figure 3).

 

 

 

 

 

Digital transformation provides different options for different institutions and so, no two implementations will be the same. At the advanced capabilities level however is where the main differentiation will occur. These may be related to elements of the institution and not simply IT but if you get it right here you can maximise the competitive benefit.

A link to Pekka’s award nominated “Essential IT capabilities for a successful digital transformation in Higher Education” paper can be found here

Parallel Session 2: ICT Infrastructure & Security – Achieving a Trust Relationship Model in eduroam – The Case of an RadSec Pilot Implementation in Portuguese Higher Education Institutions 

Pedro Simoes – FCCN, Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT)

Now it would be very fair to say that this was a technical session!! Not one my expertise are specifically aligned with, however I thought it would be useful to learn more. In truth, this may have been a technical step too far for me… read the paper linked below if you don’t believe me, Pedro knows his stuff

 

 

 

 

 

Eduroam  originated as a service in 2002 and spread rapidly across 85 countries allowing students, researchers and educational staff free, secure wireless access at any participating institutions. Pedro and colleagues have been piloting RadSec (Secure RADIUS)  in Eduroam.pt amongst a subset of Portuguese institutions. They have taken a heterogeneous approach across the piloting institutions as a model for best practice for adoption nationally. Alongside this they’ve also been trialling Radiator, FreeRadius  and RadSecProxy  for authentication.

To really get to the depths of the study without the limitations of my understanding I would recommend checking out the paper as below.

A link to Pedro’s “Achieving a trust relationship model in Eduroam – the case of an RadSec pilot implementation in Portuguese Higher Education Institutions” paper can be found here.

Parallel Session 2: ICT Infrastructure & Security – Device Specific Credentials to Protect from Identity Theft in Eduroam 

Bernd Decker – RWTH Aachen University

As I always seem to personally be interested on the scale of an institution, here is RWTH Aachen University by numbers:

  • Approximately 45,000 students
  • Approximately 8,500 international students
  • Approximately 9,000 staff
  • Approximately 540 professors
  • 9 faculties offering 152 courses

This study was initiated due to the threat / possibility of Eduroam credentials being retrieved by a man in the middle attack. Mobile devices were identified as particularly vulnerable due to them persistently trying to find known WLANs and with the ever increasing growth of the Eduroam userbase combined with the fact that account passwords are too commonly used for non-university accounts, it was deemed a valid objective at RWTH Aachen University.

A web app was developed that allowed students and staff to create unique device based credentials. It was highlighted though that the drawbacks of this, whilst more secure, would require a uniquely generated username and password to be applied at the point of connection to the Eduroam service. This method allows devices to be granted/declined access to Eduroam and through a web interface, devices/location/time logs could be accessed for the last 14 days connections where it was possible to revoke access.

 

 

 

 

 

This was certainly a new method of Eduroam connection to me and whilst the security aspect was certainly improved, it left me with concerns (rightly identified by Bernd) that it was not intuitive and that students/staff would find it complicated to configure. It is certainly one for the security vs usability debate and whilst I, as a techie may come down on the secure side of the argument, being pragmatic I suspect it might be a tough sell to students, staff etc.

A link to Bernd’s “Device specific credentials to protect from identity theft in Eduroam” paper can be found here.

Parallel Session 3: Parallel Session 3: Sponsor Track – Panopto: Using Video to Enhance Informal, Formal and Blended learning approaches 

Denis Staskewitsch – Area Sales Manager DACH, Panopto

Adrien Bourg – Account Executive at Panopto 

The focus of this workshop was on the use of video with Panopto when used as a capture tool to enhance the formal, informal and blended learning approaches in HE. The session was low on attendees but this allowed for greater interaction between those of us that were present. At this session, and indeed as it has felt throughout the conference so far, I was one of a few representing institutions from the UK. Scandinavian institutions seem to be here at EUNIS17 in quite some number and this was evidenced by 75% of those at the session representing institutions from Norway and Finland.

Video is becoming a standard which our students are expecting or even demanding. Within the next 3 years, 80% of all internet traffic will be video content online. YouTube as an online social video sharing platform now has more than 1 billion users and over 300 hours of video content being uploaded to it every minute. To scale Panopto, it hosts more than 2 million videos within their cloud offering and actively streams more than 100 years’ worth of video every month. They also serve more than 5 million end-users all around the globe. This is clearly a growing market and not one that we within HE should sidestep.

Panopto have conducted a poll which identified over 90% of its users use the service to enhance their overall student experience. They recognise that it enables them to engage with distance learners (43%) and also see it as a tool to help increase student recruitment and retention (33%). Given how students use the service, it was also recognised by nearly 50% that it helps them improve their grades and can be used to train staff and enhance CPD (24%).

A breakdown of how it is being used in universities offers some interesting insights:

 

 

 

 

When students were surveyed regarding those views on technology to enhance their learning, 89% agreed that technology helps them improve their ability to learn. 75% had used an online platform such as YouTube or Vimeo to learn a new skills. Another interesting finding was that students felt almost in equal measure, that a formal and informal mix of learning approaches was most desirable:

 

 

 

I certainly see the use of video for educational delivery, whether via a lecture capture service alone or complimented by other means, continuing to grow and given some of the findings discussed, HE institutions would be wise to invest and reap the multitude of benefits.

No paper available

Parallel Session 3: Sponsor Track – Inspera: Digital Assessment in Norway – A Case Study from the University of Bergen 

Sofie Emmertsen – Executive Education Consultant, Inspera 

So, as it turned out I didn’t know a hell of a lot about digital assessments, at least not on the scale that seems to be commonplace across Scandinavian HE institutions. Sofie referenced that there are currently very few UK HE institutions that have taken up the digital assessment offerings from Inspera or any of their competitors. That said, I was advised that fellow EUNIS17 speaker Pekka Kahkipuro has encouraged / supported the adoption as CIO at Brunel University in London.

A case study of the University of Oslo in Norway referenced that 6,000 students sat digital assessments in 2014. This figure rose to 45,000 in 2017. It is certainly a fast growing market within the HE sector.

What are the benefits??

  • Markers and moderators have fast and secure access to all submissions
  • Reviewers and externals can be easily included in the assessment process
  • Markers can offer better feedback
  • Students use a media that they are used to during assessment exams
  • Student satisfaction is increased
  • Administrative work hours are reduced
  • Management have better control and insight into the assessment process

The University of Bergen, faculty of Maths and Science have gone from 48% of assessment digitised over 7 disciplines in 2015 to 55% of the assessments digitised over 35 disciplines in 2016. They also have the aim to have 100% of assessments digitised by the end of 2017. Bergen are seeing very swift movement in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biology whilst the Department of Maths are slower to take up the digital assessments. This in part was referenced as being due to the mathematical workings being commonly made by hand on paper and requiring of inclusion within the assessment. So, there are some limitations/challenges (namely those in red below) but please note the faculty strategy to overcome them below:

 

 

 

No paper available

 

 

Keynote 3: Digital Campus Management and Student Information Systems – A Customer’s Perspective 

Dr. Malcolm Woodfield – Global Vice President and Head of the Higher Education and Research Industry at SAP

Björn Kemmoona – Director of Marlin Consulting

Eva Mundanjohl – Head of the Department for Academic and Student Affairs, University of Münster

Unfortunately, I was tied up in conversations with other conference delegates and so did not make it to this session however, a summary of what was covered is outlined here.

Keynote 4: Maximizing Productivity and Learning Time – Fundamentals and Requirements in the Usage of AV Technology 

Frank Boshoven – Sales and Key Account Manager at the Crestron (Germany) & Crestron EMEA Education Program Manager

Now, I had wondered if Frank was coming to sell us a particular brand of kitchen appliance but it turns out he’s a bit of an AV evangelist so I quickly got over that and focussed on his keynote… Sorry, getting the obvious jokes out of the way first.

Frank started out in the AV business back in 1982 as an R/F technician but subsequently moved into sales. Crestron are big players in the AV market and with their headquarters in New Jersey and a range of global offices in over 90 other countries. As a company they were established in 1969, and now employ over 4,000 staff and have had the same management team for 40 years. Frank went on to offer us a journey through Crestron’s innovative company history. Since the first graphical programming language and colour touchscreen control panels were introduced in the early ’90s, through with the integration with PDAs, tablets and computers in the early ’00s and more recently the distribution of scaling of 4K/60 content.

Crestron have taken on the challenge of combining different manufacturers products and platforms into a centralised AV management solution. Crestron Fusion  is intended to maximise productivity and reduce overall costs through remote monitoring and management and control of all classroom AV technology. Live data feeds into Fusion allow relevant parties to identify room occupancy and through appropriate power management seek to offer maximum energy-efficiency / environmental gains.

A typical installation in a lecture theatre was suggested to consist of more than 30 power supplies, a multitude of connections and the requirement for time and effort to be spent programming devices. It was referenced that this places unnecessary expense on the business. Standardisation in hardware and configuration is the way forward to obtain maximum efficiency and usability.

Frank summarised the challenges within a professional AV business as below:

 

 

 

No paper available

 

Civic Reception – Historical Town Hall, Münster

It was a very enjoyable end to a very busy first day at EUNIS17. The event opened with some short speeches and allowed to delegates to mix whilst enjoying a little food and drink. The location could not have been more beautiful in the Historic Town Hall in Münster. This is the location that the “Peace of Westphalia” was signed in 1648 ending the Thirty Years’ War and marking the beginning of a long period of peace in Europe. We were even fortunate to be offered a formal tour of the building to gain some real insights into the history that it held.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This blog post first appeared on http://www.edstout.co.uk/blog/

Embarking for EUNIS

 

 

Ed Stout
Support Services Manager
Leeds Beckett University

 

Today is the day…I’m all packed and ready to go! I can’t wait to get over to Münster and get started. Sadly my flight is getting in pretty late this evening meaning I’m unlikely to make it to tonight’s Fusion event but will be up bright and breezy in the morning ready for registration before the 9:00AM opening addresses. Hope everyone is enjoying today’s workshops; they’re looking great from what I’m able to see on the #EUNIS17 twitter hashtag.

 

 

 

This blog post first appeared on http://www.edstout.co.uk/blog/.

Windows 10 community day

 

On Wednesday 12th April over 50 IT staff from Universities all over the UK, from Glasgow to Brighton, met at Edge Hill University’s central Manchester campus to discuss the shared challenge posed by the move to Windows 10.

The event began with presentations from four organisations ahead of the curve on the migration – Leeds Beckett University, University of Liverpool, Lancaster University and York St John University – all of whom shared the approach they’d taken, the keys decisions they’d made and the lessons they’d learned.

During the Q&A that followed, we were able to dig a little more into shared concerns like admin rights for users, project resourcing and managing applications.

After lunch, we were joined by representatives from IT service provider Softcat, who shared some of their experience and tips in planning a move to Windows 10, delving into some of the more technical questions that need answering such as choosing a branch and the challenges posed by Microsoft’s new update and support model for the operating system.

The day ended with a workshop structured to help delegates think about, discuss and record the key points picked up during the day. Considering questions around planning, infrastructure and ongoing support, small groups produced prioritised lists of the issues that they wanted to take back to the office and consider while plotting their own migrations.

We’d like to say a big thank you to the representatives of Leeds Beckett, Liverpool, Lancaster and York St John who gave excellent presentations during the morning session and continued to offer their expertise throughout the day. Without their input the day would not have been possible.

Thank you also to Softcat for their input and support for the day and to the staff at Edge Hill University for hosting us and making us feel welcome.

Recordings, presentations and photos from the day are available from the Resources page

Gareth Edwards
Head of IT, Engineering Science
University of Oxford
Member of UCISA-SSG committee

UK vs. US HE – Blockchain and student engagement

liz_ellis

 

 

Elizabeth Ellis
Product Development Manager
Learning Innovation, Learning and Teaching Solutions,
The Open University

Cross-pond impressions from EDUCAUSE 2016

EDUCAUSE 2016 in Anaheim was a really valuable and thought provoking experience, especially as a stranger in a strange land.  I’ve wanted to attend this conference for a long time – having been to ALT C a number of times and attended EDEN, this felt like it would provide me with a trifecta. Because of my role as a product development manager in Technology Enhanced Learning Innovation, I often find myself with a foot in both the technology camp and the pedagogy camp of learning and teaching (I don’t actually think they’re camps – I think they’re symbionts and crucial to students being successful in their higher education careers, but I digress).

I have attended other US-based conferences, and it’s always a bit of a culture shock. The sheer scale of EDUCAUSE was quite unnerving: 8000 colleagues from 1800 institutions across 46 countries. The queue for lunch was terrible.

The conference hashtag provided an invaluable backchannel for discussion and arguments, and is worth a visit (#EDU16). If you would like to see the day by day account of my experience, then do feel free to grab my notes. But this article is more a personal reflection on the three things that stood out for me from EDUCAUSE – where the US Higher Education sector is ahead, where the UK Higher Education sector is ahead, and where we are about level.

Where the US Higher Education sector is ahead

One of the most attended and talked about sessions was on ‘Why the blockchain will revolutionise credentials’. One of the speakers was Chris Jager from Learning Machine. A transcript is available from the link.

It struck me that the presentation and ensuing conversation about blockchain certifications was far more developed than the conversations that have happened locally to me at The Open University, or from what I have gathered in the UK sector. The work that the Knowledge Media Institute at the OU has been doing on blockchain is still in the realms of research and innovation, whereas the HE sector in the US appears to be already beginning to tackle the cultural shifts of implementation. The temperature on blockchain credentials in the sector is still lukewarm in places, with some claiming there is a fear that giving students control of their credentials may undermine those credentials. A more mercenary view is that HEIs are loathe to transition to blockchain certification as there is a market for transcripts and money to be made when students request theirs.

MIT’s Open Standards for Blockchain Certificates are being used, and the advent of interoperable standards represents a shift from idea to reality, and a new infrastructure of trust between students, institutions and employers. This is interesting when compared with criticism of the Open Badges movement, which employers have been fairly sceptical about. UK HEIs have made more use of badges, but predominantly in informal learning spaces or for soft skills.

Blockchain certification could be more compelling within the US HE sector, by virtue of its legacy of for-fee qualifications, and also the high degree of transfer between community, state and private colleges.

In the UK, with the recent advent of tuition fees, the onus has perhaps been less for more mainstream HEIs. However, The Open University has always charged a fee, and is also seeing an increase in student transfers both in and out of the institution. OU students are also more unconventional in routes through education and employment, and blockchain certifications could be a valuable string to the University’s bow.

In an article in the Times Higher Education magazine, Martin Hall points out that blockchain certifications ‘could be an effective way of providing Britain’s Advanced Apprenticeships, for which components of the programme have to be delivered by a number of organisations’. (THE, 28 November 2016)

In The Open University’s Innovating Pedagogy 2016 horizon scan, Blockchain has been identified as High Impact but with a long timescale (4 plus years). The US feels ahead in this particular game.

Full disclosure: I have become borderline obsessed with student engagement, partnership and co-creation this year. I have been co-administering and organising a student consultation and engagement panel, running Hack Days to get students involved in future developments, and generally trying to find ways to not only give our students more direct access to the creation of learning and teaching content and tools, but also to give the Open University’s academic and academic related staff more direct access to students eager to be involved in practical ways.

My colleague David Vince and I published a paper on our work on this in September, outlining our approach to involving students in Technology Enhanced Learning Innovation, referring to the key frameworks that underpin ‘student as partners’ and ‘students as change agents’ in UK HEIs, from Jisc, the Higher Education Academy, and covered in the Teaching Excellence Framework.

‘The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a catalyst to rethink the role of the student in modern Higher Education Institutions. The Higher Education Academy in the selection criteria for the National Teaching Fellowship defined personal excellence as ‘evidence of enhancing and transforming the student learning experience’ (HEA, 2015).

Part of teaching excellence should therefore be the proactive engagement of students in matters relating to their learning experience, beyond assessment outcomes. More recently within the higher education sector, engagement initiatives such as ‘students as partners’ and ‘students as change agents’ have emerged.

Students as partners is characterised by active student engagement and collaboration ‘[…] in which all involved – students, academics, professional services staff, senior managers, students’ unions and so on – are actively engaged in and stand to gain from the process of learning and working together. Partnership is essentially a process of engagement, not a product. It is a way of doing things, rather than an outcome in itself.’ (Healey et al., 2014)

Students as change agents sees students being actively involved in the change process. In 2015, Jisc launched the ‘Change Agents’ Network’ which is a ‘highly active community of staff and students working in partnership to support curriculum enhancement and innovation’. (Jisc, 2015)’

In two sessions during the conference where I would have expected a robust argument for the involvement of students in the design and implementation of educational technology, there was no mention from presenters, and even the floor seemed largely truculent about the idea when it was brought up.

Design Thinking Process: Edtech Adoption’, an otherwise useful session from Edsurge, didn’t refer at all to the importance of testing new tools and technologies with students in implementation, much less involve them during ideation.

It was a similar experience in the ‘Trends Spanning Education’ session, despite having a great quote – ‘Democratisation of education innovation, it’s starting to happen with people rather than to people’ – people in this sense appeared to be academic and institutional staff rather than students.

Several comments that emerged during out of conference conversations and the Twitter backchannel featured the kneejerk reaction of students not knowing what they need, a conversation that has evolved now in the UK to understanding the balance between need, want and institutional responsibility towards them.

Some US colleagues talked about consultancy processes that include students, but there does not appear yet to be the drive to formalise student partnership as an approach. The emphasis is on institutional collaboration and partnership for student success, rather than partnership in the sense of student engagement as co-creators and co-owners of their learning experiences.

Where the UK and US Higher Education sectors are about level

Almost as soon as I hit the pre-meetings and the Twitter backchannel at EDUCAUSE the term NGDLE started to permeate. Not a new term, certainly, but Next Generation Digital Learning Environments as a concept suddenly seemed to be everywhere. And then I returned home and almost immediately fell in with an online consultation activity being coordinated by Lawrie Phipps, senior co-design manager at Jisc, using a combination of Twitter and blogs, on what NGDLEs and by extension co-creation could mean for the future of learning and teaching.

It also corresponds closely with my work, which is focused heavily on digital learning environments, as well as student engagement in learning and teaching tools and platforms development.

The UK and US higher education sectors appear to be level on this concept, as the discussion moves further way from current vendors and current platforms and tools, and more towards the use of technology in its purest sense for the furthering of learning and teaching, and how students are both key users and contributors in that space.

The key questions for me around this important and innovative concept are:

  • What does next generation mean for online and distance education, and what does it require of it?
  • How can NGDLEs be a vehicle for the best parts of online and distance education: the open web, co-creation, student engagement, technology, and digital capability?
  • What does student success look like in a NGDLE?
  • What do NGDLEs signify about innovation in online education?
  • How is the Teaching Excellence Framework creating a space for NGDLEs and how is it restricting it?

None of which I have any answers for yet, but I’m enjoying the conversation, and it’s allowing me the space to stop and consider the opinions of colleagues, the layering of experiences over my own, and generally the ongoing realisation of that best part of attending conferences: being part of a community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A version of this blog post originally appeared on the Learning Innovation blog

What kind of Business Analyst are you?

sarah-cockrill_head_jpg

 

 

Sarah Cockrill
Business Systems Analyst
Coventry University
Member of UCISA-PCMG

Day Two

The keynote speaker on day two of the Business Analysis Conference 2016 was Bjarte Bogsnes from Statoil  who gave an interesting talk titled Beyond budgeting – An Agile Management Model for the New Business and People Realities. The premise of his talk was how, if we remove the concept of budgets in the workplace and empower people with their own spending power, they would take greater ownership. Transparency was a key part of this process which encouraged people to make smarter spending decisions. While I found this an engaging talk and interesting idea I don’t feel many UK HE institutions are ready for this as yet.

Next up was Adrian Reed, President of the UK chapter of the International Instituteadrian-reed-_blog_1_image4 of Business Analysis  who gave a fun talk on what Business Analysts can learn from the world of magic. The talk even included a couple of successfully pulled off magic tricks from Adrian himself. Adrian questioned whether as Business Analysts we too often focus our efforts on reaching the end goal successfully and forget about the journey we take both ourselves and our stakeholders on to get there. He asked us to consider the whole performance and not just the “wow” of the trick at the end. If we involve our stakeholders in the journey every step of the way, then we will reach the end together, and even if the end isn’t quite as planned, the stakeholders will be comfortable with the process and come back to work with us time and time again. He reminded us of this by saying, “You can deliver the best system in the world but if you deliver it in a bad way then users will hate it forever.”

To iiba-bcs_blog_1_image5finish the morning off, I attended a talk from Allianz on the IT BA and Business BA.  The speakers discussed how, at Allianz, the IT and Business BAs successfully worked together to eliver solutions. During the lunch session Lucy Ireland from the British Computer Society and Stephen Ashworth from the IIBA gave a fireside chat on how the BCS and IIBA want to work together in the future. One of the main questions from the floor was how as Business Analysts we decide on which, out of the qualifications they both offer, we should do, and whether we see a time when they will bring the two together? The response was that they felt both offered and suited a different set of skills and experiences, that for the time being they would stay on separate paths, and that you, as a Business Analyst, would have to decide which route to take.

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Nigel Risner kicked off the afternoon session with a very lively presentation titled How to create massive impact and be an effective zookeeper.  Nigel’s presentation style was a cross between Michael McIntyre and Alan Sugar. It certainly revitalized the audience and woke us up for the last afternoon of the conference. Nigel gave two key pieces of advice:

1) If you are in the room be in the room. Give whoever you are speaking to your full attention as, for that moment in time, they are the most important person in your life.

2) You can spend all the time in the world analysing who you are and what type of person you are but in business it doesn’t really matter. What matters is walking into a room of stakeholders and quickly being able to recognise what type of person they are and how to communicate with them in a style that will suit them.

Nigel breaks people down into four categories;

  • The visionary, single-minded lion
  • The playful, extroverted monkey
  • The careful, analytical elephant
  • The caring, supportive dolphin

Next up was Ryan Folster from Britehouseryan-folster_blog_1_image7 who talked about being The indispensable BA This was another talk about how as Business Analysts we often reach for solutions without fully understanding the requirements, which just goes to show what an important topic it is for the community.

 

To finish off the conference I attended a talk by Simon Lynch from Aviva Health on Impact Mapping.  Simon’s talk was agile focused, explaining how before creating your epics and then breaking those down into stories, you should start with a session impact mapping. The impact maps should show why you want to do something, how it will impact a stakeholder and what you want to achieve. Simon explained that while this had taken them awhile to get the hang of, it has really helped them when creating the epics and user stories to consider all aspects of the impact.

And that was the end of my first ever IIBA Business Analysis conference. I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience of attending the conference from meeting other Business Analysts to hearing all the interesting and somewhat rather lively presentations. I can thoroughly recommend attending this conference to any fellow Business Analyst, and if you get the chance to apply for the UCISA Bursary, it is well worth the effort. I hope I will be able to attend in future years and may even pluck up the courage to speak and share a story of my own to a future audience.

Listening to customer need

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Sarah Cockrill
Business Systems Analyst
Coventry University
Member of UCISA-PCMG

Day One

As a UCISA bursary winner for 2016 I attended the Business Analysis Conference 2016 hosted by IRM. The conference was attended by over three hundred and fifty Business Analysts from a diverse range of industries: there was a mixture of experienced Business Analysts and people fresh to the industry. As a Business Analyst with over ten years’ experience in the HE sector, I often get to meet colleagues from other institutions to share knowledge, different experiences and best practice. This conference, however, gave me a chance to meet analysts from outside my peer group. I really enjoyed hearing about the projects they were working on and what they consider to be their best practices, as well as the usual horror stories of being bought onto a project too late in the day and customers’ requirements changing part way through a project. The benefits from these opportunities to chat with other attendees between sessions are hard to quantify, but I personally find them one of these best parts of attending a conference.

The conference was opened by keynote speaker Gavin Esler.gavin-esler_blog_1_image1
Gavin is an award-winning broadcaster, author and journalist and gave an engaging speech about ‘trust’. Trust is something we give to people every day, whether it be in our personal or professional lives. We place trust in leaders who tell us what is in our best interests using facts and figures to back up their arguments. The question is why do we place our trust in some people and not in others? Why as Business Analysts should we expect our customers to trust us when presenting our results and analysis? As Gavin said, “If facts were king, then Spock would have been captain of the Enterprise.” How we deliver a message is just as important as the analysis and facts of our case. As great leaders have shown us we need to become storytellers when presenting our case to the business, so we connect with our audience and gain their trust.

Virgin Media presented the next session titled Share Knowledge, Perform Stronger, Better Together – Evolving a BA practice. They explained how they had developed their BA practice over the years and survived several organisational restructures and rebrands. They had developed a BA toolkit which included templates, tools and techniques that supported their delivery framework as well as also utilising the SFIA capability model for developing their team.

mohamed-bray_blog_1_image2Next up was Mohamed Bray from Saratoga Software who came all the way from South Africa. Mohamed’s talk was titled Think like an Analyst, Act like a Consultant.  Mohamed was an engaging speaker who told us a real life story of when he failed to think about the customer needs first; how he had assumed what they wanted and what he had learned from this experience. As Business Analysts we often fall into the trap of thinking of solutions before we really understand what the problem is and what the customers’ needs are. Often we jump to a technology that we think will solve a problem when technology should only ever be the enabler of a solution, and not the solution itself. If we fail to listen to our customers and truly understand their problem, we will fail to engage them in our solutions. By actively listening to their problem the customer will become the co-creator of the solution taking ownership of the change and become the catalyst driving it forward in the organisatkim-bray_blog_1_image3ion.

After a very tasty lunch, we were welcomed to the afternoon session by a keynote from Kim Bray from Nationwide. Kim took us through her thirty-year career as a Business Analyst. Kim explained how she may not have always held the job title of Business Analyst, but that did not stop her from undertaking business analysis activities for her organisation. Kim described herself as being ‘professionally nosey’ and at the start of her career her naturally inquisitive nature meant she was capturing information on issues and analysing the data before presenting solutions to her organisation without even knowing what a Business Analyst role was. However, one of the key messages Kim left me with was ‘You don’t get something if you don’t ask.’ How often in both our professional and personal lives do we not pluck up the courage to ask for something we want or need simply because we are scared of hearing the answer ‘No!’

The afternoon session was, for me, dominated by Agile.  I attended a talk from Ashley Watson of the NHS Blood Transplant service and Menaka Priya Shanmugavadivelu from Aviva. Ashley talked about UAT and Menaka talked about delivering Agile development when your customers, business, Business Analysts and developers are spread across the globe. Menaka stressed the importance of visiting your dispersed teams to get to know them and build relationships, finding common ground and continuing to build on the relationship after your return back to base.

 

Is end-user training for Windows 10 needed?

Gareth Johns
IT Skills Development Advisor
Cardiff Metropolitan University

The autumn IT training schedule at Cardiff Met includes a Working with Windows 10 course. It doesn’t need to. We have never run training sessions for operating systems before, so why should Windows 10 be any different?

In many ways there isn’t any need for Windows 10 training; it is easy and intuitive to use. Unlike its predecessor, Windows 8, the Windows 10 user experience is good. The attempt to unify tablet and desktop UIs has largely been abandoned – there are no more hidden menus, windows are back to being windows that can be moved and resized and, most importantly, the Start menu is back.

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The Windows 10 Start menu at Cardiff Met

 

The Windows 10 Start menu does look different to the Windows 7 version, it incorporates live tiles for example, but it will be familiar to a Windows 7 user. The Start menu “skills” (perhaps muscle memory would be a better description) developed when using Windows 7 will be transferable to Windows 10. The same applies throughout the operating system. Windows Explorer is now File Explorer. Windows Favorites have been replaced with Quick Access. They look and behave differently, but they feel the same.

So why are we running a Windows 10 course? Firstly, there are some features of Windows 10 that will help users work a bit more efficiently that are not easy to discover. Jump Lists, for example. Jump Lists provide shortcuts to recent documents and sometimes also include other actions associated with that program (e.g. Internet Explorer includes Open New Tab). Jump Lists are accessed by right-clicking on a tile on the Start menu or Taskbar and can save users a few seconds when opening documents (the cumulative effect of which is considerable). But few users are aware that they exist, our training course will remedy that.

Secondly the course will give Cardiff Met staff time to acclimatise to, and build confidence in, the new OS. Frequently we use new software similarly to the old version. We proceed in the way we also have, because we don’t have time to step back to see if there is a better way to do it. The Working with Windows 10 course will hopefully give staff the time they need, with help available if they have any questions.

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OneDrive for Business is part of the Windows 10 upgrade at Cardiff Met

The third reason for developing a course is that our Windows 10 software “build” includes new software and services, so the training is not just about Windows 10. We are offering Skype for Business for the first time, Office 2013 has become Office 2016 and, crucially, OneDrive for Business replaces SharePoint My Sites. Our training course includes all these elements and allows staff to see how these new services work together in the Windows 10 environment.

The course also addresses one of our long-standing goals, sharing IT “Best Practice” with existing staff. Our IT induction programme achieves this for new starters; we advise them where to store documents, alert them to issues around account security and share practical tips for managing email. But up until now there has been no avenue for sharing this advice with existing staff – Working with Windows 10 allows us to do that. Hopefully staff will view the software upgrade as an opportunity to adopt Best Practice, and will finally find time to move their documents from hard drives to OneDrives!

The training will be available as an e-learning module, created using the excellent Adapt Builder and as a face-to-face course. Staff will be required to complete one form of training as part of their upgrade to Windows 10.

If you are interested in finding out how the training is received, I’ll be running a webinar for the community towards the end of the year, keep an eye on the Events page for details. In the meantime if you have any thoughts or comments, please share them below or catch me on Twitter @GarethPJohns

Getting into the zone for Educause 2016

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Elizabeth Ellis
Product Development Manager
Learning Innovation, Learning and Teaching Solutions,
The  Open University

So, here I am, in a hotel in Anaheim, California, getting into the zone for my first Educause experience. To say that Educause has been a bit of a holy grail for me conference-wise would be an understatement. All the information I’ve received about the conference from colleagues who have attended before has been that it is a unique intersection between edtech, IT, and learning and teaching practice.

I’ve identified already the tracks

that I’m going to focus on and which have the most immediate relevance to my work. I’m hoping to bounce between ‘Driving Innovation in Teaching and Learning’ and ‘Transforming the Student Experience’. As a product development manager in Learning Innovation/Technology Enhanced Learning at The Open University, you get used to having to slightly squint to see the direct relevance of approaches, methods, and findings to your own situation. But increasingly over the last few years, that squinting has had to become less and less as the sector has moved more into the OU’s realm of Supported Online Learning (SOL). So, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the sessions have to offer.

My work in particular over the last year has come to focus not just on the development of new tools and technologies for our students to use, but also on new methods to involve them in that process, in an appreciative and empathetic way.

Perhaps the most challenging part of these types of events is running the vendor gauntlet. But this time I’ve come prepared, and have put some thought into the sorts of criteria I can use to make assessing new technologies more useful over the long term (and also make reporting back to my colleagues more helpful).

  • Is this technology a disruptive or incremental innovation
  • Does this technology support:
    1. Participative learning (students contributing in non-assessment ways)
    2. Learning to learn (students becoming more digitally confidence and creative)
    3. Deeper engagement with learning materials (new strategies for immersive learning)
    4. Collaborative learning (the ongoing curse and joy of group work)
  • Does this technology demonstrate:
    1. Improvements in student attainment
    2. Improvements in student progression
    3. Improvement in student retention

At the very least, it will hopefully spark a useful conversation or two.

 

UCISA TEL Survey

Key messages from the 2016 UCISA TEL Survey

At this year’s ALT-C conference, Richard Walker led a discussion session on: ‘Open and flexible learning opportunities for all?  Findings from the 2016 UCISA TEL survey on learning technology developments across UK higher education.

The slides for the workshop are available here and as the title of the workshop suggests, they cover some of the key messages emerging from the 2016 Technology Enhanced Learning Survey of the UK higher education sector. The full report for the Survey has been published on the UCISA website at:  https://www.ucisa.ac.uk/tel

The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Survey is the eighth of its kind that UCISA has conducted, and offers a longitudinal perspective of TEL developments over a 15-year period within UK higher education, focusing on the provision already in place within institutions and the current, emerging and planned patterns of learning technology use across the HE community. Of particular interest in this year’s Survey was the progress that institutions were making with the implementation of lecture recording and learning analytics services, as well as developments in open learning provision. The Survey also sought to keep track of longitudinal developments in strategies and drivers for centrally managed TEL services, focusing on the range of TEL tools used by students, as well as staffing provision in support of these services. The Survey is typically completed by institutional heads of e-learning and for this year’s Survey 110 out of a possible 160 UK higher education institutions responded – a response rate of 69%.

So what were the headline findings?

(i) Drivers and barriers to institutional TEL development

The principal institutional driver for TEL development remains unchanged since 2003 with a continuing focus on the use of learning technologies to enhance the quality of learning and teaching.  Unsurprisingly student expectations have a key influence on strategic thinking when it comes to the development of institutional TEL services. Meeting student expectations, improving student satisfaction and establishing a common user experience for TEL services all appear in the top five list of driving factors for institutional TEL development.  Indeed Student learning experience and engagement strategies now represent the second most commonly cited category of institutional strategy informing TEL development after the Teaching, Learning and Assessment strategy, and have a higher profile than Corporate, Library or dedicated TEL strategies in this respect.

Lack of time continues to be the leading barrier to TEL development, with departmental / school culture rising up the list to second place. Institutional culture also features, along with Lack of internal sources of funding and Lack of staff commitment in the top five barriers to TEL development. Lack of support staff remains one of the lowest ranked barriers  with the majority of institutions reporting an increase in TEL support staff since the last Survey; further staffing changes are foreseen over the next two years, primarily relating to increasing numbers as well as the restructuring of their services.

(ii) Modes of course delivery supported by TEL services

How then are TEL tools being used by institutions to support the various modes of course delivery?

Blended learning delivery, focusing on the provision of lecture notes and supplementary resources, remains the most common mode of course delivery using TEL. The key change from 2014 has been the increasing institutional engagement in the delivery of fully online courses, with over half of the responding institutions to the Survey now supporting some form of delivery through their schools or departments.  This represents a key change from previous Surveys, where fully online delivery has previously been reported as a niche activity conducted by specialist distance learning providers.

In contrast, institutional engagement with open learning delivery has not progressed from the picture recorded in 2014, and only 11 institutions confirmed that they have an open learning strategy. The most popular open online learning format is online courses for all registered students at an institution – commonly referred to as OOCs! Despite the increasing adoption by institutions of open learning platforms such as FutureLearn and Open Education by Blackboard, less than half of responding institutions to the Survey are currently engaged in the delivery of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Where MOOC delivery is taking place, it tends not to be integrated with campus-based course delivery, with the majority of institutions opting to use a separate platform from the main institutional VLE to deliver their public courses. For a fuller discussion of the TEL Survey findings on open learning developments, take a look at the YouTube summary video by Martin Jenkins (Coventry University).

(iii) Centrally supported TEL tools and services

Have there been any notable changes in the range of TEL services that institutions are now offering to support the student learning experience since the last Survey?

The key change since the last Survey has been the increasing deployment of e-submission tools within HE institutions. After the main institutional virtual learning environment, e-submission tools are now the most common centrally-supported TEL service across the sector, rising above text-matching (plagiarism detection) services in the list of supported services. Over half of responding institutions now deploy e-submission tools in 75% or more of the courses that they deliver to students. There have also been notable increases in the adoption of formative e-assessment and document sharing tools and a broader implementation of lecture capture solutions across the sector since the last Survey, with at least 50% of members from all university mission groups now supporting such a system.

In contrast to these developments, only 20 institutions reported that they have established learning analytics services which are used by students, with 17 institutions linking their services to the main VLE. These services typically have only been deployed across 1% – 4% of their courses, representing a small-scale implementation at this stage. However, we may expect further developments in service provision in the future, with 29 institutions confirming that they will be reviewing analytics systems over the next two years. If you would like to find out more about what the Survey tells us about learning analytics developments across the sector, take a look at the following YouTube summary video. (For a summary of the discussion on Day 1 of the 2016 ALT conference on the current state of play with learning analytics across the UK higher sector, take a look at the following blog post.)

(iv) Approaches to TEL service management and support

Outsourcing of institutional services continues to grow, primarily for student email, e-portfolio systems, VLEs and staff email. The type of outsourcing model is dependent on the platform being outsourced, such that institutions are more likely to use a Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud-based model for email services, and to use an institutionally managed, externally hosted model for TEL related tools, such as e-portfolios and the VLE for blended and fully online courses.

There has been little change since the last Survey in the optimisation of TEL services for access by mobile devices.  The percentage of institutions optimising access to lecture recordings has stayed at the same level as 2014, despite the steady investment in lecture capture systems which has been taking place across the sector.  This may be largely due to commercial solutions providing users with their own mobile app, as is the case at York with our own hosted Panopto service, which comes with a dedicated app for iOS and Android devices to support the viewing access and the upload of video recordings.  Course announcements, email and course materials are the leading categories of services which have been optimised for mobile devices (iOS, Android and Windows), with Russell Group institutions leading the way in optimising access to library services.

(v) TEL developments making new demands and future challenges for TEL service management and support

Finally, what are the TEL developments making new demands on support services across the sector? Taking the increasing implementation of e-submission services into account, it comes as no surprise to see that the electronic management of assessment (EMA) now tops the list of TEL developments making new support demands.  Lecture capture is the second most commonly cited development making support demands, with mobile technologies dropping down to third place. Distance learning and fully online course provision and learning analytics enter the top-five list of developments for the first time, with MOOCs dropping out of the picture.

Staff development is identified as the leading challenge to TEL development over the next two to three years, and no doubt this is related to increasing academic staff engagement with new TEL services such as EMA and lecture capture, which are becoming central to learning and teaching activities across the sector.  As we observed after the 2014 Survey (blog post here), teaching staff are now expected to use a wide range of technologies as part of their academic practice, well beyond the uploading of course notes to the institutional VLE platform. This finding underscores the importance of investment in staff development in future years – specifically with the development of digital literacies for teaching staff.

To access the full 2016 UCISA Survey findings, please download the report at: http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/tel

here.

TEF and digital capabilities – do you measure up?

The second Digital Capabilities Survey will be open for responses in early October. It will be interesting to compare the results with the 2014 Survey and see what now influences the development of digital capabilities within our institutions.

One possible influence (although it may have come too late to have a significant impact on this Survey) is the Teaching Excellence Framework. The Technical Consultation outlined the number of criteria that institutions will need to demonstrate that they are meeting if they are to achieve Excellent or Outstanding ratings. So what are the areas where policies and activities relating to digital capabilities are likely to have an effect?

The first criterion listed under the Teaching Quality aspect is Teaching provides effective stimulation and encourages students to engage. Student satisfaction surveys are listed as a key piece of evidence, not only to demonstrate that the students feel that their teaching is stimulating and engaging, but also to demonstrate the way that such surveys and other student feedback relate back to staff development. Students expect lecturers to be able to teach using current technology; how good is the institution at equipping those lecturers with the skills they need? The need to provide continuing professional development for both academic and support staff is also highlighted in another criterion, that the Institutional culture recognises and rewards excellent teaching.

The focus of the TEF isn’t entirely on staff skills and abilities – there is a significant focus on student outcomes too. Two criteria in particular focus on this area – that students achieve their educational and professional goals and that they acquire knowledge, skills and attributes that prepare them to their personal and professional lives. Whilst the evidence for the former will be largely based on employment outcomes (I would expect the replacement for the Destination of Leavers return to be a key measure here), suggested evidence for the latter includes employer engagement in the curriculum, course accreditation by professional regulatory or statutory bodies and extra-curricular activities designed to enhance employability and transferable skills. Digital capabilities are an essential part of the skills and attributes a graduate will need – the emphasis an institution places on digital capabilities may depend on the level of external influence on employment outcomes. As the TEF matures, it will be interesting to see whether those institutions with a strong focus on student digital capabilities will achieve better ratings than their peers.

Finally, the TEF reinforces the Government’s commitment to widening participation. Institutions are required to demonstrate that Positive outcomes are achieved for students from all backgrounds, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who are at greater risk of not achieving positive outcomes. In this aspect disadvantaged can have a multitude of meanings – institutions will need to identify and make provision for those who are digitally disadvantaged.

It may be too early for the TEF to have a major effect on digital capabilities strategies and activities. The 2017 Digital Capabilities Survey may identify those looking to steal a march on their competitors by implementing measures to improve their students’ and staff skills levels. Alternatively it may show that the TEF is not going to be a major influence with institutions already having measures in place. Time will tell. The survey opens in early October and we are currently identifying the lead respondent for each institution. If you are unsure as to whom the lead respondent is for your institution, please contact admin@ucisa.ac.uk.