Category Archives: Bursary

International inspiration and useful tools at Lean HE

Leah March
Process Improvement Facilitator
University of Sheffield
Mark Boswell
Business Enhancement Manager
Middlesex University London

Lean HE 2018 Conference, Tromsø summary guide

This summary guide (pdf available Leah March and Mark Boswell guide for Lean HE) was created following our attendance to the Lean HE Conference Tromsø in November 2018. The aim of the guide is to highlight useful tools and topics shared throughout the conference and to provide some tips on making the most of the conference experience. We give some possible next steps in relation to both attending the Lean HE 2019 conference and applying for the UCISA bursary funding which allowed us to attend.

Keynote speakers

Professor Tove Dahl, Professor of Educational Psychology at The Artic University of Norway

Professor Dahl’s session started with a powerful story from her own working life about the difficulty of adopting new technology when she had not been equipped with awareness about the change nor the skills to readily use it, and the frustration and rework it resulted in. She also spoke about the need for courage to adopt change and the importance of equipping people with the necessary desire and tools to make mustering that courage and overcoming the difficulties easier.
You can read more about Professor Dahl’s blog about courage here.

Niklas Modig, Author, inspirational speaker and researcher in Lean and operational excellence

Niklas Modig’s inspiring presentation was split into two halves. The first concentrated on explaining the ‘efficiency paradox’, and the challenge of achieving flow efficiency alongside resource efficiency, across an extended process.
The second half was focussed on how he facilitated the first half of the session in a way that enabled his audience to reach their own conclusions, rather than provide conclusions for them, ensuring greater buy-in to the outcomes.
You can watch Niklas here explaining the efficiency paradox and other key areas of Lean.

Professor Torbjørn Netland, Head of Chair of Production and Operations Management, ETH Zurich

Professor Netland’s session talked about the close relationship between Lean and digitisation and that Lean and digitisation should collaborate in order to deliver effective process innovations. He also spoke about the power of Open Process Innovation and the importance of breaking down silos both within our organisations and between our organisations in order to utilise the wide range of knowledge and expertise to drive innovation – the more ideas there are the higher chance there is of good ideas.
You can read more about Torbjørn’s work by visiting his website ‘Better Operations’ to find out more about him and access useful links to his publications and blogs.

Key Tools

  • General

Pecha Kucha Lean HE Style

For those that have not seen or delivered a Pecha Kucha before, the concept originated in Japan whereby twenty slides are shown for twenty seconds each. It is a clever way to ensure that presentations are concise and fast paced. Several different institutions (Edinburgh Napier University, Leicester University, University of Twente) delivered presentations in this way, all telling their story.
You can read more about the Pecha Kucha presentation style here PechaKucha.org.
  • For you and your team

Inspiring Lean in Your Organisation – University of Strathclyde and CQUniversity

The session explored four key elements of the Lean Leadership model, which acted as a useful model to encourage others to brainstorm how they can both adopt lean themselves or encourage others to do so. We also completed a Lean Leadership Development plan with activities that we were going to undertake as individuals. You can see a template of the tool in the presentation via the ‘Key Tools’ link above and a summary by Graham and Graeme here.
  • For your projects

No Flip Charts Required! – University of Cambridge

Linda Spinks introduced us to a tool called SIPOC Extra that she has been using in recent workshops. The tool encourages workshop participants to consider key process steps one by one and answer questions incl. ‘who is involved’, ‘what is produced’ and process metrics. It was a useful tool to encourage thinking and discussion amongst staff unfamiliar with thinking about process, and allowed for quicker write-up and feedback. You can see a template of the tool in the presentation via the ‘Key Tools’ link above and a summary by Linda here.

Using Lean to Address Institutional Risk – University of Waterloo

A really helpful session which demonstrated how institutional risk can be calculated and used to evidence the need for improvements and as a way to encourage (particularly senior stakeholders) to drive change institutionally. I particularly thought their Risk Management Reporting Template and associated quantifiable metrics to be a useful tool to demonstrate and inform key stakeholders of risks and help plan for the future. You can see a template of the tool in the presentation via the ‘Key Tools’ link above and a summary by Kimberley and Kim here.

The Games People Play – Christine Stewart, Macresco Ltd/Cardiff University

Christine demonstrated the use of the ‘penny game’ to engage groups in activity which demonstrates the challenges we create for ourselves when batching work during multi-step processes.

Useful software

Menti: Laura Hallett from York St John University used Menti throughout her presentation to encourage audience participation and gather feedback on the session. It was really easy to join the session and Laura had a really good response rate. If you would like to learn more about Menti you can do so via their website.
Padlet: All sessions, including keynote speakers, were created within the conference Padlet in the order of delivery. Throughout the conference delegates were able to use Padlet to provide instant feedback linked to the sessions they attended. This was then immediately available to all other delegates to review, enabling follow up either with presenters or attendees to learn more where comments sparked interest or ideas. If you would like to learn more about Padlet you can do so via their website.

Value of networking

The team at The Arctic University of Norway did a brilliant job of fostering a relaxed, open and supportive atmosphere throughout the conference. This made networking with other delegates (of which there were 150 from around the world) much easier. Networking can be a really useful way to hear and share ideas, tools and techniques. Many people at the conference also remarked that it renewed their energy through the contagious passion of enthusiasm for the work. It can also allow you to make invaluable contacts for the future, be that for coaching, support or to call on if facing a similar problem or project.
Tips for effective networking
  • Don’t be afraid to sit with/talk to people you don’t know
  • Don’t assume because institutions are very different there aren’t things you can learn from one another
  • Follow people on Linkedin
  • Join mailing lists like the one managed by UCISA PCMG which are great in helping you to reach out to colleagues in the sector to ask for support and advice. You can join the UCISA PCMG mailing list hosted by JISC via the JISCMail website.

Next steps  

Finally, we would like to say a huge thank you to UCISA for enabling us through their bursary the opportunity to attend such a wonderful, engaging, thought provoking and interesting conference.
If you would be interested in attending the Lean HE 2019 Conference in Michigan, you can find out more here or if you would like to be part of the Lean HE community, you can join their regional mailing lists via the Lean HE webpages.
 Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Bursary gives winner the courage to innovate and take up new challenges

Leah March
Process Improvement Facilitator
University of Sheffield

Lessons learned from the Lean HE Tromsø conference

In October 2018, I received a UCISA bursary to attend the Lean HE 2018 Conference in Tromsø thanks to being one of the very lucky beneficiaries of the UCISA bursary scheme. It was a brilliant week with many informative, interesting and applicable sessions.
The conference brings together many people working in change and improvement roles within HE around the world.

On a personal note

I found attending the conference thoroughly invigorating. It reinforced my pride and passion for working in business improvement and confidence in my skill set and its place within the sector. It also provided me with the ‘courage to change’ my own situation (Professor Tove Dahl spoke powerfully about courage in her key note). I applied for and accepted a new role within another HE institution.

My team

It encouraged me to devise with my team new approaches to stakeholder engagement, particularly in light of the recurrent theme of reducing stakeholder time for project/improvement activities and stakeholder exhaustion with ‘change’ projects. I have adapted my approach to rely a lot less on conventional workshops, instead embracing user shadowing, stakeholder interviews/drop-ins and project showcase events. This has been more time heavy on me but has allowed me to better fit around the requirements and workloads of the project stakeholders.

Institutionally

A recurrent theme of the conference was the importance of combining different but complementary methodologies. I was recently made responsible for creating The University of Sheffield’s approach to service design and I took my learning from the conference and made sure that I incorporated best practice from different methodologies (Lean, Systems Thinking, Six Sigma, Service Design) and other industries rather than allowing it to become too wedded to a single one.

More widely

I have shared my experience and key take home messages via a UCISA blog and have also recently created a summary guide with fellow bursary winner and conference attendee, Mark Boswell. The aim of the guide is to highlight useful tools and topics shared throughout the conference and some tips on making the most of the conference experience. It also includes possible next steps in relation to both attending the 2019 conference, and applying for the UCISA bursary funding which allowed us to attend.
The conference really showed me that there is a huge support network within HE both UK based and across Europe, Australia and the Americas, and the value of reaching out to this network, which can provide you with great insights, reassurance and ideas about how to optimise your work. I am still in touch with some of the people I met at the conference via Linkedin and email and feel like I have a bigger network of support than before.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Learning how to future proof integrations at Integrate

Bryony Lloyd
Information Services Developer
University of Lincoln

Integrate 2018, London, 4th– 6th June

In June 2018, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Integrate 2018 conference, run by Biztalk360, thanks to the UCISA bursary. This consisted of three days of talks from Biztalk experts and also industry leaders who are utilising this technology. Being able to listen to these industry experts about how they utilise the technology in their environment, as well as the draw backs and the advantages, has enabled me to adapt the developments in order to make the most out of the Biztalk environment.
Other benefits of the conference included learning about the direction Biztalk is going in from their developers. Bringing this back to the team has ensured we can plan for how we future proof our integrations. Personally, being able to hear about the direction and new features being introduced has been far more effective than just reading about it on the internet. This has enabled me to widen my knowledge of their plan which again has allowed us to start discussions within the team on how to future proof our integrations. Although nothing immediate has happened since, the knowledge gained from the conference has enabled me to participate in discussions within the department and with Microsoft about the best way forward for our setup.
After coming back from the conference, I spoke to the team about the options we have. We have also started looking into other options presented at the conference such as Logic Apps on Microsoft Azure. At the conference, the interface and the basics of how the interface works were demonstrated with hints and tips on how to use certain features and how to get the most out of it. This has put me in a better position to share my knowledge and experience with the team.
In the next six months to a year, we will be looking at how the Biztalk environment is set up and how we are going to ensure we are getting the most out of it. This might be changing to or incorporating other technologies such as Logic Apps and Microsoft Azure in order to achieve this.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Educause inspires an Agile approach for bursary winner

Richard Goodman
Learning Technology Team Manager
Loughborough University

Educause 2018

In 2018, I was one of the lucky recipients of a UCISA bursary, which enabled me to attend the Educause conference in Denver, Colorado. The Educause conference is something that has been on my radar for 20 years, and it’s no coincidence that it is celebrating 20 years this year. The younger me would have been overawed at the sheer size of this event, but after having presented at and attended conferences for the last 20 years, I felt ready for it.
It is an absolutely enormous event, with around 8,000 attendees registered this year. That’s over ten times larger than most of the UK conferences in this area, which is why they need a venue the size of the Colorado Convention Centre to host it. I sought advice from past attendees (including past UCISA bursary recipients), and one common theme was “don’t be overwhelmed” as well as being prepared for very long days.
Educause brings together all of these thousands of people under the broad heading of technology in education, with a broad mix of attendees from junior learning developers through to project managers and all the way up to CIOs and CTOs. UCISA very helpfully hold an informal networking event for UK attendees, and this was very useful for putting faces to some of the people that I had been interacting with on Twitter in the weeks leading up to the conference.
I threw myself in headlong to each day, up at silly o’clock every day to take part in “braindates”, sharing experiences of learning technology with international colleagues from universities and colleges, and a nice guy from a start up company who are looking to get into the world of online learning with an interesting web tool.
The conference schedule was absolutely crammed with loads of conflicting sessions, and it’s the sign of an engaging conference when there’s so much to go to and too much to choose from. Sessions on learning analytics dashboards, student data, accessibility, ITIL, change management, projects and relationships, privacy and ethics and onboarding were certainly a varied bunch, with a good mix of listening and more interactive sessions where I made some contributions to the topic. The conference was utterly exhausting but hugely rewarding.
I came away from the conference with a head full of ideas, many of which will take some time to implement, but some of them formed the basis for some 2019 resolutions in terms of running projects and building relationships. My team are looking to run more Agile projects in 2019, and one of the key challenges is getting buy in from other areas of the university for this methodology. An Agile approach provides multiple opportunities for engagement throughout the project lifecycle. A “business ambassador” from the area of the business where the solution will be used is assigned to the project. The role provides the business perspective for all decisions related to the way the solution’s fitness for business purpose is defined and implemented. Working closely with the solution development team, the business ambassador guides the evolution of the solution, bringing other users’ input and ideas to the project as required.
As a true ambassador, the role is responsible for the day-to-day communication channels between the project and the business. The business ambassador must have the desire, authority, responsibility and knowledge to be able to ensure that the right solution emerges to meet the business need. This does not necessarily imply a senior position within the organisation, but a level of empowerment during the project to fulfil the role and an allocation of time to fully participate in the project as required. It was very useful to hear stories from other institutions about their approaches to this.
The conference hashtag #edu18 was a very busy one, and many of the conversations have continued long after the conference. I’ve expanded my personal learning network and have some new contacts on Twitter that I’ve been interacting with since the conference. During the trip, and since my return, I have shared my experiences of the conference on the ALT EMLT blog, the UCISA blog and on Twitter via my own account and the UCISA DEG account. I also spoke to a number of attendees at the recent UCISA DEG event on Immersive Environments about my experience and some of the technologies I had seen in Denver.
I have met with colleagues at various levels within the institution since my return, and have encouraged many of them to apply for a future UCISA bursary so that they might be able to take advantage of it in 2019 or beyond in order to help them with their own development goals. The UCISA bursary presents a unique opportunity for recipients to attend an event which can benefit themselves, their team, their department, their institution, and their wider network with the HE sector.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Bursary winner shares learning from InfoSec 2018 with colleagues and future IT professionals

Haydn Tarr
IT Service Development Manager
The University of Chichester

 

InfoSecurity Europe 2018 Conference

Back in June 2018, I was very fortunate to be offered the UCISA bursary to attend InfoSecurity Europe conference in London. InfoSec as a conference offers attendees insights into the latest trends surrounding information security, and largely focusses on cyber security threat prevention and mitigation.
Attending this conference was refreshing for me in two ways. I was exposed to a number of new and emerging themes and it was great to meet new people with exciting ideas, and a real drive to provide a safe, digital environment for colleagues and customers. I hope that with this blog post, I can give you a sense of my overall experience and share some of the information from the event.
Throughout the years I have supported The University of Chichester’s IT infrastructure journey from being based solely on site, to having a blend of both hosted and on-premise deployments. As Chichester grows both in terms of its IT deployment but also in numbers of students, staff members and other types of users, it is inevitable that our cloud footprint will grow too. With this, my role is focussing more and more on security whilst enabling digital transformation projects, which, by their own nature have implications when it comes to protecting the data of our user-base. One of the things I value most from being able to attend InfoSec was being able to share Chichester’s story with other representatives from both commercial and non-profit organisations and learn that they were too, facing the same challenges.

It’s not a case of ‘if’, but ‘when’….

A common discussion point which came up regularly at InfoSec was prevention and mitigation methods against cyber-attacks. However, vendors and consumers generally agree that total prevention isn’t guaranteed and that it’s only a matter of time until an organisation’s next cyber incident. One session that I attended, had determined the average time taken to expose a breach is 191 days. For some organisations this presents potential cultural challenges as the workforce isn’t always empowered to blow the whistle when a breach is identified. Should a breach be discovered from outside the organisation however, the repercussions could be irreparable. One of my personal takeaways from InfoSec from the sessions was using repositories such as ‘haveibeenpwned.com’ and cross referencing these with our global email address lists to determine if any of email addresses had been leaked. Someone was even so kind as to point me in the direction of the PowerShell script which carries out the comparison, which we’re still using regularly now.

Old tricks are still the most effective

In the sessions and general conversations, email continues to thrive as the primary threat to an organisation’s information security. Email attacks have been at play for over twenty years now and yet commercial, education and non-profit organisations are still struggling to deal with these attacks. It was reassuring to hear that we weren’t alone in this battle.
I took many technical recommendations away with me from the conference, such as providing banners on external emails, identifying cloned addresses and recommendations to use Office 365’s security assessment, which identifies any vulnerabilities in your tenancy and makes the appropriate recommendations.

In light of the above, what was promising to hear is that many organisations are attempting to strike a balance between prevention measures and training. Implementing proactive measures to prevent threats is the immediate go-to action, however, both commercial organisations and HEIs are investing more into providing user training and assessing their security vulnerabilities within the workforce. I came out of InfoSec in high spirits, knowing that in the absence of an unlimited budget for investing in security measures, we are fortunate to have at Chichester an open dialogue with our students and staff with regards to awareness of cyber threats and good digital security practice in a modern University.

Reflections and future prospects

InfoSec really broadened my horizons to information security in a way that I hadn’t been exposed to previously. So much so that it has had an impact on my academic studies where leadership in cyber security forms the main subject area of the final year dissertation for my master’s. Recently I have been invited into teaching sessions to talk with degree apprenticeship students about some of the subject areas covered at InfoSec in the hope that it could have a positive impact in their professional lives.
Lastly, I would like to extend my gratitude once more to UCISA for providing me with the opportunity to visit InfoSec.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Digital and society – true love or an unhealthy obsession?

Rachel Drinkwater
Senior Business Analyst
University of Coventry

Reflections from a bursary winner

In his book ‘The Rise of the Humans’, Dave Coplin  expounds that technology is neither good, nor bad. It is simply an amplifier of whatever we, as society and individuals, choose to use it for.

The media however certainly seem keen on amplifying the negative aspects of our relationship with technology, with often rather sensationalist reports of children as young as seven ‘sexting’ , a mental health “epidemic” in young people being directly attributed to social media usage, a decrease in the age and an increase in the severity of reported loneliness  an increase in divorces attributed to gaming addiction and claims of reducing memory and attention spans in young people and adults alike. Indeed it’s not just the media reporting these bad news stories. Numerous academics and researchers have produced literature reinforcing this rhetoric. I myself spent six months researching the impacts of digital technology and devices on ‘millennial’ learners and their ability to learn and retain information for my Master’s degree. Whilst my findings were not as negatively polarised as those of writers such as Nicholas Carr, Sherry Truckle and Susan Greenfield, I did conclude that there could be significant impacts on individuals and wider society if we fail to exercise caution, control and discipline when using digital technologies and if we fail to pass these skills onto new generations.
I feel I must defend myself a little at this point. I’m not anti-technology or anti-digital. I work in the field of IT, I have a passion for digital technology and I love the convenience of my digital devices and streaming services. I fully-support Coplin’s theory – it is our adoption and attitude towards and use of digital technology that is causing issues in society, not technology itself.
Positive applications of technology can save lives, help us to protect the planet, bring people together and introduce all manner of convenience and efficiency into our working, social and family lives. I don’t believe that we’re creating a new generation of zombie-like device-users incapable of building real life human relationships or employing critical thought. I have met twelve year olds that have astounded me with their common sense, intelligence, curiosity and yes, technical capabilities. The student who gave the opening and closing speech for Coplin’s lecture at Warwick School could have stood in front of any corporate board room and held his own.
I genuinely believe that today’s young people have as much talent, promise and potential as any other generation but that the technological advancements and the amount of information readily available to them, literally at their fingertips, gives them both advantages and disadvantages. Indeed Pew Research Centre concluded their in-depth 2012 research study into the future of technology with the somewhat inconclusively titled report “Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives“.
In my research, the evidence suggested that those who are able to efficiently use social media and other technologies and practice ‘multi-tasking’ when it is appropriate to do so, stand to do well in today’s digital society and workplaces. However, it is also apparent that if left unchecked and unmanaged, the issues we are seeing in society could continue and increase in prevelance and severity, creating negative knock-on impacts and detracting from the positive impacts.

I attended a talk by Adam Thilthorpe of the BCS at Business Analysis Europe 2018 in September courtesy of a UCISA bursary, in which he discussed what he termed the ‘unintended impacts’ of technology – those negative impacts discussed above. He raised the question of where the responsibility lies in pre-empting, identifying and mitigating against such impacts. When companies develop their media and communications platforms, I think we can fairly safely assume that they are not doing so with the intention that 11-year-olds will use them to send ‘sexts’; this is an unintended impact of the technology they have created. On the other hand, there are organisations who may exploit anxieties such as fear of missing out (FOMO), self-esteem issues and device addiction to market and sell products and services.
This raises a number of questions. Who should – or could – be responsible for identifying, pre-empting and mitigating against unintended and/or potentially unethical impacts of emerging technologies? Is it the responsibility of technology companies? Businesses? The Government? Educational Establishments? Parents? Individuals? Pressure groups? All of the above? And how do we begin to pre-empt such impacts when we are dealing with new, disruptive, previously-unseen technologies being released into an ever-changing society?
As a society we are experiencing an unprecedented rate of technological change. We are innovating incredibly quickly and have adopted digital technologies readily and intrinsically into our everyday lives. However, our legislation, regulation, educational systems and social and cultural norms are still changing at the same rate; comparatively slowly. It seems that we have been somewhat blindsided and as such have possibly not put in place measures to enable digital technologies to always be adopted and integrated into people’s lives in a productive, safe and useful manner. At the same time, we are so enamoured with our digital devices and applications and the convenience and opportunities that they bring, that we may not be pausing to consider the unintended and long-term impacts and effects of them.
In her 1979 book ‘Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love’, Dorothy Tennov coined the phrase ‘Limerence’, which she defined as “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person.” It’s that period of a relationship where your brain is producing a heady cocktail of Dopamine and Oxytocin and the object of your attention becomes your sole focus. It’s the stage where strange habits, bad behaviours and the wider impacts of focusing on one person to the exclusion of all else seem insignificant. That wonderful phase where their window-rattling snores seem adorable and your friends barely see you for six months.
It seems that as a society we are in a state of limerence with technology. We overlook the wider impacts, the bad habits, the potential problems, the metaphorical duvet-stealing, because we are hooked on those little hits of dopamine and oxytocin that are released every time we get a ‘like’ on a photo on Facebook or a connection request on LinkedIn – the exact same checmicals that are released during the limerance stage of a relationship. Indeed neuro-economist Adam Penenburg’s research centres on drawing parallels between the chemicals released when using social media and those released when falling in love. Interestingly, just like with limerence, there are also elements of addictive behaviour displayed when using digital platforms such as social media. Indeed Smartphone and gaming addiction are now recognised as distinct social issues with 73% of the 2016 OFCOM report’s 16-24 respondents professing to be ‘hooked’ on the device they use most to go online and ‘gaming disorder’ being recognised as a mental health condition by the World Health Organisation.
The question this raises is what happens when we fall out of limerence with digital technology? When we come down from that heady chemical rush, will we still be in love and will the relationship still be sustainable?
The media spotlight on some of the social issues in recent years and the acknowledgement by health organisations of some of the health impacts of unhealthy technology suggests that we’re starting to edge out of limerence and into the stark reality of our ongoing relationship with digital technology. Perhaps we’re starting to want to reconnect with our old friends ‘Walk in the Countryside’ and ‘Conversations around the Dinner Table’ who we dropped in favour of the alluring blue glow of our smartphone screens in the late 2000s. Perhaps we’re starting to assert our independence a little, creating screen-free times, rather than being slaves to our devices 24/7. Perhaps we are thinking about how we can strike a balance between our online and offline lives.
As Stephanie Sarkis states: “Time heals the intense pleasure (and suffering) of limerence… in a long-term relationship, it’s when things start getting real.” It’s safe to say that this is a long-term relationship, a multi-generational one in fact. That’s why it’s so important that, as with any relationship, we work out what we want from it, how we can manage and balance it and how to ensure that it is a long, beneficial, happy and healthy partnership for everyone involved.
This article first appeared on Rachel’s blog.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Thinking outside the box with CPD

Rachel Drinkwater
Senior Business Analyst
Coventry University

The Business Analysis Conference Europe 2018

Following on from my earlier posts about convergence, creativity, customer focus, and empathy, this article looks at another of the themes which was prevalent throughout the Business Analysis Europe Conference 2018: Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
As the first month of the year draws to a close, with the threat of freezing temperatures and snow, many of us may find our resolve to stick to a new year programme of healthy eating, more exercise and quitting our vices of choice tested. The desire to curl up in front of the fire with a drink and some comfort food may well become harder to resist as temptation knocks on the snow-laden window.
But not all resolutions are about quitting bad habits. Many of us will have started the year with goals to learn a new skill, gain a new qualification or simply to learn something new and certainly many of the speakers at last year’s Business Analysis Conference 2018 appeared to advocate this as a personal goal.

CPD outside the box

Indeed much of the focus of Sir Clive Woodward’s inspiring keynote talk on the morning of Day 2 was on ‘relentless learning’; a lifelong practice of curiosity, seeking out new knowledge and dedicating time and energy to Continuing Professional Development (CPD). However, Sir Clive advocated thinking outside of the box with your learning as skills and knowledge which may initially seem irrelevant to your role, may give you unexpected benefits. I believe that this is particularly true today, with an unprecedented rate of technological change and new entrants to almost every industry seeking to disrupt the status quo, it is difficult to predict what skills any job role will require in the future.
Further to my earlier blog on convergence, I find it quite exciting that twelve years ago, the job roles of ‘Digital Marketing Manager’ or ‘Social Media Content Producer’ didn’t really exist. Where traditionally marketing and IT were somewhat separate entities, technological developments and the adoption of web technologies and digital marketing, have caused the two to converge. Many marketing roles require more technological knowledge and business-facing IT roles require more of an understanding of customer behaviour than perhaps ever before.
Sir Clive’s example of developing skills outside of your immediate field, was his experience of managing the England rugby team. When he took over management of the team, he bought a laptop for each team member and insisted that they learned how to use it; an unusual ask perhaps in an era where device ownership was significantly less pervasive than it is today. Facing scepticism from the team and critics alike, Woodward argued that ‘those that win at technology, tend to win’ and he was proved right.
In due course, a sophisticated sports monitoring software package arrived on the market, enabling video playback of a match, overlaid with data and analytics which could provide insight into player behaviour, strategy and tactics from both teams. With their new-found IT skills, the entire team were able to analyse, learn and understand their – and the opposing team’s – gameplay and input recommendations for improvements to tactics and strategy based upon this. Had the team constrained their skills development to the core skillset needed for playing rugby, it is likely that they would not have been able to embrace this technology, leverage its capabilities and collectively gain so much benefit and competitive advantage from its use.

Time and cost hacks for CPD

When it comes to finding ways to develop your skills, particularly when self-funding, it may seem that cost is prohibitive, but learning doesn’t need to be expensive. Platforms such as FutureLearn and the OU’s OpenLearn have a plethora of free, online courses at all levels, many of which are modules taken from current degree courses. There are also a number of free conferences and networking events for many industries and areas of interest. Jisc’s annual Digifest the Education sector is a personal favourite. Tools such as Eventbrite, Meetup or simply Google can all help you to find free events near you. Viewing videos on YouTube or TED can be another way of learning quickly and informally.
Time may be another factor that poses a barrier to CPD, but this is where digital technologies can really help. Many courses are now delivered digitally and can be consumed in bite-sized chunks at a time to suit you. This micro-learning is one of many trends towards digitisation and consumer-centred demand in learning technology and is brilliant for busy people to squeeze in some structured personal development throughout the course of the day. Do you find yourself scrolling endlessly through Facebook or LinkedIn? Why not switch one of those scrolling sessions to viewing a short training video? Better still if ‘spend less time on social media’ was one of your new year’s resolutions!
Learning doesn’t need to be structured either. The old adage ‘you learn something new every day’ is quite true, but often we don’t realise that we’re picking up new skills and learning new things. Putting aside a few minutes at the end of the day to consider what you’ve learnt and how you can apply it helps to identify these ‘on the job’ development opportunities. But what if you’re finding that you’re not learning anything new? Well, perhaps it’s time to start looking for new opportunities in or out of work to stretch, develop and grow yourself. Learning a new skill as a hobby can also open doors or show you new paths. You may enjoy your new sport, art or community hobby so much you may decide to make a career from it, or find a way to incorporate your new skillset learned from your hobby to enhance your job and career. For example, in my spare time, I perform as an actor in a theatre group. At work, I use the skills I’ve learned in my acting training when approaching public speaking or facilitating workshops. I also run training courses on this for my colleagues in order to share my somewhat unconventional skillset!
So to summarise, learning doesn’t necessarily need to be related to your day job. All new skills are valuable and as demonstrated by Sir Clive and the England rugby squad, you never know when you will use something that initially seems completely unrelated to your job. Take control of your own development by being mindful of opportunities when they present themselves to you and using digital platforms for free, quick micro learning that can fit into your life when and where it suits you.

Coming Soon…

We’re nearly at the end of my series of ‘Top Takeaways from the Business Analysis Conference 2018’, so thank you to everyone who has been following these blogs and commenting. For the final instalment on the theme of ‘Catastrophising’, I will be trying something a little different and not only creating my first vlog, but doing so from Death Valley in California and Red Rock Canyon in Nevada! Watch this space and all will become clear!
This blog first appeared on Rachel’s Linkedin blog.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Bursary helps winner gain Erasmus funding and secure a new role

Sarah Ames
Library Learning Services Support Officer
University of Edinburgh

Digital Humanities Congress 2018 – UCISA report

I was fortunate to be funded by UCISA to attend DHC2018 in Sheffield this year – the UK’s biennial digital humanities conference, which draws together a range of researchers, cultural heritage professionals and IT support workers.

Why DHC2018?

With the increasing use of computational methods in academic studies, research and teaching requires new modes of IT and library support, as well as new approaches to dealing with data: traditional divisions between technical services and libraries are conflated, leading to new ways of working and new areas to support.
I wanted to attend this conference to find out more about digital humanities research currently underway, and to learn about the new technologies, methods and approaches that characterise the field. The event provided an opportunity to hear from researchers and students working in this field to learn about their needs, as well as the chance to learn from other IT and library professionals, to share ideas, solutions and current best practice. Furthermore, I wanted to further understand the collaborative nature of digital humanities work, and how it could provide opportunities for Edinburgh’s converged library and IT services (‘Information Services Group’).

Professional development

The huge range of papers presented at the conference – from vast, collaborative research projects, to smaller individual studies – and the range of methods and technologies used by researchers, reiterated the many challenges and opportunities of this area for libraries and IT support.
The conference has inspired me to learn more about many of the tools and technologies being used, and to consider uses for these within the library, and as such has been a brilliant CPD opportunity – as it has helped me to identify even more CPD opportunities! Talking to people at DHC2018 highlighted other conferences in this area that I’d like to attend, and papers using programming languages such as Python and discussing issues cleaning large datasets have encouraged me to revisit and further my understanding of these topics. Furthermore, the event enabled me to meet other library and information professionals, including from Oxford and the British Library, and to discuss the similar challenges we all face, as well as to gain a greater understanding of researchers’ needs when accessing and using library and IT resources.

Sharing the experience

As well as testing my succinctness with tweeting from the event, UCISA encouraged me to blog about the event, which proved to be a really useful experience as this provided a useful opportunity to reflect on the main topics of the conference and sort through the wide range of topics presented.
Despite the variety of studies, a number of key themes emerged within the papers presented and discussions afterwards, enabling me to apply the topics at the conference directly back to work and discussions currently underway in the Library at Edinburgh University about how digital scholarship should be supported and considering potential uses of our new Digital Scholarship Centre.
Furthermore, the event has inspired a group of us from Edinburgh University to apply for and secure Erasmus funding to visit library ‘labs’ setups in the Netherlands (library labs are spaces – physical or digital, or both – which encourage and support the innovative use of library digital collections), to learn even more about how we can support the types of digital humanities research presented at DHC2018. And, as of 2019, I’ll be starting a new job working in digital scholarship and libraries: this has been a brilliant opportunity to learn more about the field and its challenges.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Sweet Phone Chicago – innovation and disruption at mLearn 2018

Dominic Pates
Senior Education Technologist
City, University of London

Reflections on the 17th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning

Opening keynote: on innovation and disruption

The keynotes for mLearn 2018, which I was able to attend courtesy of a USICA bursary, were given by Drs Tom Jandris, Helen Crompton and Rob Power (IAmLearn President). Jandris gave the opening address, on innovation, disruption and mobile technologies, inviting delegates to make his presentation more of a conversation than a monologue. Crompton spoke on integrating mobile devices into teaching and learning, packing her keynote with useful considerations and frameworks. Power closed proceedings with a call to action, pointing out that the technology was already sufficiently advanced to be transformative in education, and suggesting that now was the time to fully harness the affordances of mobile devices in teaching and learning.

Opening keynote by Dr Tom Jandris

Opening keynote by Dr Tom Jandris

Jandris had been in teaching for over 50 years and recalled having seen enormous changes in educational technologies during that time, suggesting that the technology had finally caught up with the theory. Citing Clayton Christenson, he deconstructed the term ‘disruptive innovation’, pointing out that the idea of disrupting something is to break it apart, and that innovation means to make something new where it previously didn’t exist. He spoke extensively about differentiation in teaching, and what mobile brought to this, suggesting that ‘mobile learning’s greatest gift is differentiated instruction’. Proposing that gifted learners tend to fall through the cracks right across the educational spectrum, he quoted Jesse Jackson, who supposedly once stated that ‘In this country, we educate like we slop the hogs’. Equating industrial era educational practices with feeding pigs was quite the rich metaphor!
He listed nine ways that he considered mobile as disrupting learning, as follows: 1) personalisation, 2) transformed environments, 3) adaptive environments, 4) accelerated, 5) relevant, 6) real-time assessment, 7) convenient, 8) engaging, and 9) connected. Jandris also talked about pioneers as those that follow in the tracks of the real innovators, suggesting that it was better get in second with new initiatives, in order to allow someone else to make the mistakes first. This certainly chimed with me – while there can be a degree of kudos with being first through the door with something new, it can also be highly risky and it’s rare to get the credit for doing so. It is also demonstrated by Apple’s lateness to smartphone development only to go on to dominate the technology category, as outlined in my ‘Towards Wireless Collaboration’ blog. Learning from others’ mistakes can be a helpful path towards affecting meaningful and sustainable change.
His keynote ended with the suggestion that mobile learning accelerates ‘everything’, and imagined an example of a TED Talks audience watching a newly published video, with an AI-driven interface that reacted to the interactions that emerged around the video and then developed learning materials in response to those interactions. In an event likely packed with enthusiasts, he sounded a helpful word of caution too. Given that ‘mobile learning natives’ (as he called them) get most of their learning through connected devices, he suggested that it was important to consider the distance that personalised learning in a digital format can create between learners and their instructors. He also cited the impact that mobile learning has on the ‘tangibles’ of learning, from the touch of paper to the presence of instructors. This is something that, in my experience, can apply to many digital technologies when applied to teaching. The loss of tangibles following a move to more digital approaches to teaching is really quite hard to quantify, much less explain by those feeling the loss.

Crompton’s frameworks

Second keynote, with Dr Helen Crompton

Second keynote, with Dr Helen Crompton

Crompton’s keynote was loaded with useful tools and frameworks for effective integration of mobile devices into education. She opened with her take on the unique affordances of mobile computing that differentiates them from tethered technologies, suggesting that they are contingent, situated, authentic, personalised, and context-aware. She reminded the audience present of the value of the TPACK and SAMR frameworks, as well as a few of her own too – her mlearning integration framework and mlearning integration ecological framework, and a set of co-developed ISTE Standards.
The TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge) framework looks at the complex interplay between three primary forms of knowledge, and can be a way to think about effectively integrating technologies into learning environments. SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) is a model for determining the impact that introducing a technology can have on learning, looking at both enhancement and transformation. Both of these tools can be used for educator development and learning design purposes, and can be used as complements to each other or as standalone tools.

Image of TPACK model (Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge)

TPACK model

 

Crompton’s own mlearning integration framework comprises four main categories: beliefs (what beliefs does the educator hold toward technology?), resources (what physical and mental resources does the teacher have at their disposal?), methods (what teaching methods are chosen for class type or personal choice?) and purpose (what is the technology being used for and can other non-technologies be used instead?). Although these are listed separately, she suggests that they are highly interconnected. The mlearning integration ecological framework is based on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Framework for Human Development, which shows how the development of a child is mediated by various systems. Her version puts the educator at the centre, with concentric circles to represent how different systems determine how that educator integrates technology into their teaching. Both of these frameworks can be useful for institutions looking to better integrate mobile learning into their educational offers, with useful insights into the educator perspective.
Finally, the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Standards are a framework for implementing digital strategies in education to positively impact learning, teaching and leading. They have been designed to work with models such as TPACK, and are often affiliated with educational approaches like blended learning or the flipped classroom. Each standard is accompanied by a series of indicators, and seem to be applicable across the educational spectrum. In signposting these particular models and educational approaches, Crompton gave enough rich source material for those looking to better support the integration of mobile devices into teaching and learning to last several years.

A closing call to action

The future is already here…’ Power claimed, stating that ‘we have everything in our pockets to do what we want already’ as he opened his closing keynote. His talk centred around where he saw mobile learning should be going next, and how to get there. Citing Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation theory that breaks technology consumers down into five distinct categories (Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards), he pointed out that critical mass for acceptance of a new technology is reached within the Early Majority category and that there are big challenges for getting to critical mass for mobile learning.

Dr Rob Power and the Diffusion of Innovation categories, from the mLearn2018 closing keynote

Dr Rob Power and the Diffusion of Innovation categories

Key amongst these challenges, Power felt, were educators abilities, confidence and pedagogical knowledge in making more effective use of mobile devices in teaching and learning. ‘Early adopters must share more what they’re doing’, he went on, adding that ‘we need to share more stories of how it can work’. This included sharing failures as well as successes. Referencing Crompton’s address on the previous day, he suggested it was important to move beyond the substitution stage (of the SAMR framework) in order to fully use mobile technologies for transforming teaching. I felt that addressing the mobile learning paradox is another one of these challenges.
Power acknowledged other constraints and challenges that he saw as holding educators back from harnessing the affordances of mobile technologies in teaching. Highest amongst these is that teachers across the educational spectrum simply have far too much to do besides teaching, with ever-increasing administrative burdens. There was a need to both target the policy makers and to gather more large-scale qualitative evidence that mobile learning works. He also addressed practises like the banning of laptops in class (see my previous post for more on this), suggesting that it was far more effective for supporting learning to use tech in class and be ‘on task’ with it rather than either banning it outright or allowing a free-for-all. Power concluded that there was plenty of social rhetoric about digital citizenship, but this counts for little without more or better usage.
These three keynotes provided much food for thought. The next post wraps up the mLearn review, with reflections on some of the other sessions and a little more on the visit to Chicago.
This blog first appeared at the Learning at City blog.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Sweet Phone Chicago – mLearn 2018

Dominic Pates
Senior Education Technologist
City, University of London

Reflections on the 17th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning

Back on unfamiliar ground

Chicago skyscrapers, seen from the train tracks

Chicago skyscrapers, seen from the train tracks

What are you doing in the United States?’ asked the border guard at O’Hare International, after I’d passed through some initial electronic checks. ‘I’m here for a conference…’ I offered, continuing with ‘…on mobile learning’ when prompted for more information. The border guard softened his tone and started telling me about his wife delivering English lessons to students in China, via her smartphone. Evidently a technological development that a man like him was somewhat taken aback by. And with that exchange, I was back into the United States for the first time in 25 years and all set for a mobile-phone-driven adventure, and the next stage of my wireless collaboration quest. The path for getting there had been laid courtesy of a very generous bursary from UCISA, a fund that allows members to travel to an event that they would not usually have the opportunity to travel to. These reviews of the conference are therefore for the benefit of the UCISA community as much as for the Learning at City readership and my own reflections.

Academic poster shrinkwrapped to a suitcase, in a motel.

Still life on a Chicago motel floor

I was heading to the 17th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (hereafter mLearn), where I’d managed to also get myself onto the event line-up with my first poster presentation. Aside from presenting, I was driven to find out more about how mobile devices are being used in teaching and learning, particularly in HE.
In the run-up to the event, it was a race against the clock to get everything completed on time, which also meant some rapid upskilling in both Adobe InDesign and Premiere Pro. The next challenge after that was figuring out how to take the printed poster with me in such a way that it wouldn’t get damaged. After multiple alternative considerations, it turns out you can shrink wrap these things to your suitcase. So that is just what I did.
The US felt very much like terra incognita at first, having been away from it for so long. The airport was clearly showing its age, but friendly faces welcomed me back onto American soil and I began to feel a little more settled. With a little help from Google’s Search app, I managed to get myself onto a Chicago Transport Authority train and out to Oak Park, the outer suburb where I was staying. As I’d been led to expect, it was bitterly cold on the streets of Chicago, made all the more evident by the faint flurries of snow that the sidewalks were dusted with. I checked into my motel, got my bearings, settled down for a big plate of food nearby, then slept for almost ten hours – much needed after the intensive preparations beforehand.

A conference on mobile learning

mLearn describes itself as the ‘leading international conference on mobile and contextual learning’, and is organised by the International Association for Mobile Learning (IAMLearn). Having previously been hosted as far apart as Australia, South Africa and Finland, in 2018 it was the turn of the United States to host an event.
mLearn is not the only event of its kind. Hamilton, Ontario, welcomed the 12th International Conference on Interactive Mobile Communication, Technologies and Learning in 2018. The 14th International Conference Mobile Learning also happened last year, in Lisbon, Portugal, an event seemingly organised by the International Association for the Development of the Information Society (IADIS). UNESCO runs Mobile Learning Week annually in Paris, as the UN’s flagship ICT in education conference, an event dedicated to using mobile devices to accelerate learning for all, and with a particular focus on development issues. mLearn appeared to have the longest pedigree as a specialist conference dedicated to mobile learning, however. It turned out that I’d cited items from their previous conference proceedings in the Compass piece linked to in a previous post. I was also drawn to visiting a conference in North America, plus the date of the conference coincided nicely with my own timings.
For a gathering dubbed as a world conference, mLearn was surprisingly smaller than I’d anticipated, with 13 people in the initial workshops and only about 25 overall for most of the event. Part of this was reflective of the fact that IAMLearn was trying to build up some capacity in North America and of course that Chicago in November is a very cold place to be. It was also perhaps indicative of the struggle a relatively niche academic event can face in keeping going, particularly having been doing so for this long.

Conference freebie - a 3D-printed robot phone holder, plus iPhone 6s

Conference freebie – a 3D-printed robot phone holder

It did actually mean though that I was able to have a really quality experience, see almost all of the sessions, get to know people well, and go deep into the themes. It also meant that the event was able to deliver a nice attention to detail. A 3D-printed robot phone holder was given free to delegates. Delegates were encouraged to go into Chicago and learn more about the city for small group workshop activities that ran as a strand throughout the event. Early on, a meet-and-greet was arranged at a restaurant on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center Building, affording spectacular night time views across the city whilst getting to know other delegates. I was also able contribute to the AGM, through voting on new positions within the organisation and contribute to the discussion on sustaining and growing the organisation.
The next post covers the three keynote talks by Drs Tom Jandris, Helen Crompton and Rob Power.
This blog first appeared at the Learning at City blog.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.