Category Archives: Bursary

Seeking user experience design inspiration

Kat Husbands
Digital Content Officer
University of Glasgow

UX Week 2018, San Francisco

Thanks to the UCISA bursary scheme, I’ve come from Glasgow to San Francisco for UX Week 2018. It’s awfy pretty here, though I have been accused of bringing the Scottish ‘summer’ with me. 
UX Week is a ‘premier’ annual conference, now in its 16th year, with a fantastic reputation for delivering ‘new tools you can put to use immediately’. As a self-taught user experience researcher, and leader of a grassroots project to build a UX Framework for my University, I like the sound of that very much. 
In my work on internally-facing websites and digital systems at the University of Glasgow, I try to employ the UX mindset and methods at all times. This helps me defeat my assumptions and produce data-driven content that solves our users’ actual problems in ways that are intuitive to them.

Levelling up and sharing the love

Over the next four days, I aim to level-up my UX skills and toolkit, and pick up lots of tips on how to communicate the benefits of UX, especially to senior management.
I will channel my new knowledge into my University’s drive towards user-centred services, and share it with other universities through the Scottish Web Folk group, the HE-Digital Slack channel, and here on the UCISA blog.

Learning from the best

The range of speakers looks amazing: as well as UX researchers and designers we’ll be hearing from academics, authors, project managers, CEOs, founders and futurists. Content themes include accessibility and inclusivity, the ethics and social power of design, and how we might imagine the future into being.
As well as two full days of talks, I’ll also be attending four half-day workshops. These promise to be practical, hands-on and pretty intense:
• Maps & Markers: Enacting a Strategy to Transform Your Design Team
• Paying Better Attention to the Problem
• We’ve Done All This Research, Now What?
• Just Show the Data! How to Design Better Data Visualizations.

Community of practice

As much as all the scheduled stuff, I can’t wait to be surrounded by user experience professionals from loads of different backgrounds and industries; in my experience so far, UXers are utterly lovely people.
And of course the organisers of a conference about human-centred experience design, have designed in plenty of fun, human experiences: amongst other things, the social programme includes trips to a street food festival and SF’s Exploratorium…I think it’s going to be a good week.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme. 

The professional advantages of a UCISA bursary

Mia Campbell
IT Support Services
Leeds Beckett University

SITS, June 2018

The bursary I received from UCISA to attend the Service Desk and IT Support show (SITS18) has been a brilliant experience! Providing me with great insight into other IT support services colleagues outside of my own institution from both the UK and worldwide. In addition, it has shown me what changes and improvements companies can provide through their services to our sector.

New developments

We have in fact recently taken on board one of the services that was at SITS18 as we have been going through a new tool transition from LANDesk to Ivanti. For my own personal adjustment to the change, and that of my colleagues, a lot has been learned from feedback from SITS and from analysing what was presented at this event. Insights into how other institutes have customised their tool/workspace, which I learnt about at SITS, have been useful to know about. This information can help shape our new tool, which is being customised to our needs.

Sharing with colleagues

As soon as I returned to the office, I discussed many elements of my findings with colleagues, which was great and I believe insightful to them. As well as talking about lectures and people that I came across during the event, I also talked about the companies I saw too, and the research I carried out at SITS, and the information that they had provided me with. In addition to this, we are actually putting a couple of these systems in place which we are testing to see if they are suitable for our institute. From the knowledge I provided to colleagues, it has given a great insight to those who may be using the systems in the future.
Due to this bursary having an application process from individuals in institutes across the country and the announcement being made on the UCISA website, many people were aware of the scheme and that I had successfully been awarded a bursary. People such as my colleagues would ask me about it and the event, which was an interesting way to stimulate new conversions with others.

Organisational benefits

I had a few interactions with companies that have got in touch with our institute before and had some nice discussions about practices. I took note of what they were also saying about comparing benefits to the methods mentioned. This was great! From one another we both received updates and further awareness of each other, which may aid us both in the future. It was a good way to make the companies who provide assistance and solutions, aware of needs and ideas that they could implement in their company/products.

Blogging with confidence

The blogs I wrote have been a great way to share my findings with anyone who wishes to seek insight into this event. The event provides great knowledge from providers, lectures giving assistance with institutional development, which I discussed in my blogs, and of course, I also mention information on visiting a conference/event from the perspective of an employee in the IT sector and how to make the most of it. In my case, I also gained more additional content by attending the InfoSec event, next door to SITS. The blog is great form of communication – basically an article that those who do not know me personally can still gain from by reading my findings at their convenience.

Early career benefits

Overall, I am very thankful that my bursary application was accepted giving me a chance to attend this conference as it has not only provided some great insight for others in this sector and my colleagues, but it has also greatly benefited me personally and my early career start in IT. Hopefully, this has opened more doors for my future as the insight provided by the event has also given me more knowledge for my role and enhanced my understanding of the sector from both sides; front facing and behind the scenes.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme. 

Identifying common points of failure in technology implementation

Mia Campbell
IT Support Services
Leeds Beckett University

The Service Desk and IT Support Show, June 2018

Attending SITS18 in June, courtesy of a UCISA bursary, has helped me learn about the most common points of failure in an implementation programme. These include:
  • Ineffective coaching program
  • Management not taking ownership
  • No workflow or content standard
  • Wrong metrics
  • Seeing it as just a project.
From one of the SITS sessions, I learnt that Eptica had compiled some interesting stats together this year from customers which are useful to be aware of:
91% of customers report that they become frustrated if they are not able to find answers they are looking for online quickly
75% of customers report incidents where agents haven’t had the right or sufficient information to be able to answer their question
70% say that they often experience inconsistent answers between channels
94% of customers say a high-quality response makes them loyal.
By looking at these statistics, it looks as if communication is the key factor which makes and breaks a successful service.

The role of AI

We must adapt to change and the change in how early/what technology people are introduced to. There were a number of different sessions which looked at AI over the course of the conference including: ‘The role of AI and the automation in the rebirth of IT’ and ‘What AI will mean for ITSM and you’. AI is now a key component in many households, which the newest generations are now experiencing at a very early stage. However, there is still an audience that has not had the same experience and may struggle to adjust. One of the speakers stated that in 2011 it had been predicted that by 2020 customers will manage 85% of its relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. It is quite noticeable today that it is in fact quite close to that already. So with AI, how can it be harnessed as a tool to make an efficient service for the customer?

The importance of individuals

This follows a point on performance of individuals. Although we are human and not robots we should have a uniform/quite identical approach and knowledge database when assisting a customer so that we can provide an effective and positive service. We can all be guilty of cherry picking who we want to deal with to get the satisfaction we need, but all involved should be able to provide that; behaviour and knowledge are very important factors in providing good customer experience. ‘Shift left’ is a great example of this as it reduces the time a customer has to spare to receive a resolution, but also helps the person/people providing the support to be more efficient and productive in their work. This may possibly save time from unnecessary escalation and provide more time on tasks that may require additional focus.
Other points noted regarding what makes a service/tool run well are as follows:
Consolidation, Compliance, Security, Adoption, Optimisation, Integration, Mobilisation, Collaboration, Collaboration, Efficiency, Productivity.
To elaborate on a couple, Adoption is a key element on both user and support side. The service/tool needs to be adopted as smoothly as possible to enable the service overall to be at its constant prime, so that it can resume or start as expected to complete its duties. Mobilisation is also another factor which relates to availability. In order to achieve the optimal service for a customer, such as online remote support, mobility plays an important part providing support no matter where the customer is.

I met with Sally Bogg for a short while on the first day who is the head of our end services at Leeds Beckett and was also talking at SITS on career development for women in IT.  We attended a keynote session on Women in Technology lead by Dr Sue Black OBE. It was quite inspiring and Dr Black had some amazing stories which she kindly shared with us all.

Conclusion

Although my role is not a managerial one and I cannot make decisions regarding the take-up of tools, it was a pleasure to learn about them. It has been a great experience to take this information back for research purposes and also to document in these blogs how we can improve our attitude and processes. I also spoke to the vendors about how colleagues and I have utilised these tools. The vendors were glad to receive feedback at the event which they could take back to improve their provision to us all.
I spoke to many individuals at this event and it has not only been beneficial for my role but also for my own confidence. Thank you very much to UCISA for the opportunity to attend this event – it is one that I’ll keep with me.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Meet the professional

Rhiannon Gillespie
Service Desk Advisor
Cardiff University 

Interview with a 2018 Bursary Winner

Job title: Senior Technician – Networks
Department: University IT
How long have you been in your current role?
3 weeks!
What does your role involve?
Maintaining and supporting the University’s network infrastructure. This includes the wired network, wireless network and telephony systems.
As part of the role I deploy new network outlets, wireless access points and telephones, as well as supporting existing infrastructure and fixing it when it breaks!
To help build my skills, I successfully applied for a bursary from UCISA, which enabled me to attend the CISCO Live IT networking conference in Orlando, Florida in June. This was an amazing opportunity and has really helped my confidence and skills. I was able to attend sessions and talks during the event, including a four-hour session called CISCO Empowered Women’s Network on the Sunday before the main conference.
As a newbie to the world of networks and being the only woman in our team, this session really helped to boost my confidence and expertise. My favourite talk was about women on the front line of the disaster response.
Tell us a bit more about your career history
My first job was as a lifeguard and swimming teacher in Caerphilly followed by a few shop jobs and then working as an administrative assistant for South Wales Police.
I started working at Cardiff University in 2009 on the IT Service Desk. This was my first role in IT and it involved supporting IT services for the whole University, both for staff and students.
While working here I led the project for the online live chat service, which was successfully rolled out this year. I started working with the network team once a week around 18 months ago to further my skills and a few weeks ago was seconded to work with them full time for three months.
Where are we most likely to find you outside of work?
Usually running around after my daughter while she takes part in her million activities! Otherwise I enjoy going to the gym (even though I moan about aching the next day!) or reading a good book.
What makes Cardiff University a great place to work?
I love that the University offers opportunities to all whether it be via standard training or working with other teams. I also love that they care about staff wellbeing and offer various events such as sustainability week and the Positive Health + Environment Week.
First published in the Cardiff University, IT Newsletter
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Learning about the importance of customer feedback at SITS18

Mia Campbell
IT Support Services
Leeds Beckett University

The Service Desk and IT Support Show, June 2018

The seminars at SITS2018, which I was able to attend courtesy of a UCISA bursary, consisted of hour long talks. I have condensed here and in my next blog, information that was mentioned in the talks, which I believe may be helpful to colleagues.

Key points included learning that:
A vision for a project should be: Direct, clear, brief, achievable, believable
The mission for a project should include: What, how, from whom, why
In order to understand requirements, it is important to look at: processes, strategy, functionality, output, future
Future requirements for IT services are likely to include: Shift left testing, self-service/help/healing, AI/chatbots, business relationship management, predictive analytics
Effective research should include: Engaging with experts, engaging with community, demo, SDI intelligence, seminars, software showcase
The following inputs provide opportunities to improve: Customer satisfaction surveys, complaints/compliments and suggestions, management reports, major incident and quality reviews, cross-functional meetings, corridor conversations, social media.
These foundations should help create and sustain success if applied correctly and should continue to be focused on even after the initial launch date. For instance, if maintained, regular performance reviews will help improve services. Another factor that is sometimes overlooked, is when a small and quick addition or change is made. These play a big part in improvement and promotion of the tool.
Other areas that are important to consider include the fact that customers do not necessary want a silent switch out and may like to be informed of improvements being made to the system they use. It is important to advertise the product/tool that is being put in place, inform users why there is an improvement but also underline how it should not be problematic for the users to get the service they require. Customer experience is a huge factor in whether something fails and this should be constantly monitored.
Pictured here is a cycle of processes that I was shown at the conference, which I believe are important from the presentation by Matt Greening, ‘The Naked Service Desk’. It is a good way to further understand satisfaction levels. Correspondingly, another speaker that day underlined that ‘user experience drives improvement’ so keeping, observing and collating this useful data, can help lead to improvements.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

 

Logic Apps and BizTalk Integration

Bryony Lloyd
Information Services Developer
University of Lincoln

Integrate 2018

I was lucky to be awarded a UCISA bursary to attend Integrate 2018 in London, without which I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go. Integrate is the conference to attend for anyone working in Microsoft Integration and is a two day event.
I turned up early to register, collect my name badge and to talk to other attendees from other organisations. They also had an amazing pre-conference breakfast available! Being able to talk to other people outside of your own experiences with integration and BizTalk, was useful in order to be able to gain different perspectives on integration, practices, and design used within the industry. Lunch times again were another opportunity to be able to talk to the experts of the different companies that were exhibiting. This included talking to current suppliers and getting clarification on configuring and using their product in our environment.

Pre-conference preparation

It is always helpful to establish a few things before going to the conference:
  • Check out the conference website for the agenda
  • Do some research on the speakers attending, look at their work and blogs, this will give you some preparation on their listed talk. Plus, if there is any speaker you are unsure about e.g. who they are, you will not be going in completely unprepared.
  • Make sure you have the hotel and the conference addresses as well as any travel information so you know where you are going
  • If possible, go down the day before and visit the venue so you know where you are going
  • Lastly, be prepared by taking a notebook and pen.

Logic Apps and BizTalk integration

After the welcome talk we went straight into the conference about integration using Microsoft Azure,  Logic Apps and BizTalk.
The sessions were led by integration experts, and experts within their own fields, and from different companies who are using Biztalk and Logic Apps within their environments.  They also covered how Azure is helping companies achieve strategic goals. Within these sessions there were also announcements about new features within Azure and BizTalk 2016. It was really good to be able to hear about these, and have the opportunity to talk to experts on how these can be utilised effectively. Having this information, also means I am able to bring back and relay that information to the integration team at the University of Lincoln.  This will help increase the understanding, effective implementation and upgrade to these new features.
It was interesting and helpful, to hear about the real world solutions, and the pros and cons that have been encountered from the experts who have implemented these, as well as the lessons learnt in the process. We also heard about the pros of having a serverless environment achieved through Azure, and of improved costs, and easier and quicker development. Although we will always learn our own lessons in any development process, being able gain knowledge on throttling and access rights was very helpful.  However, I think the biggest lessons learnt from the conference were always use the best tools for the job and don’t try to fit the tools with the solution!

New technologies and practices (to us)

There were a few technologies and tools which we don’t currently use. Getting a basic understanding, and being able to talk to the experts about these technologies and tools, is useful for future development and deployment within our environment. This was helped by seeing these technologies in use first-hand by other businesses and developers in the conference sessions. Development tools I saw included, API Management, and monitoring tools for the environment such as ServiceBus360.  I also learnt about the integration possibilities with an upgraded environment and best practices from industry experts.
Recaps of both days can be found here: Day One and Day Two. This conference was hugely beneficial for me, mainly to be able to find information on other practices, environments, and experiences outside of the university integration team. Going forward this information will benefit the way we carry out integration as a team.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme. 

Getting the best out of the Service Desk and IT Support Show

Mia Campbell
IT Support Services
Leeds Beckett University

SITS, June 2018

My name is Mia Campbell and I have been working in IT support services at Leeds Beckett University for nine months. I applied for the UCISA bursary in order to attend SITS18, to not only help others by providing insights from this event but also for my own development in my early journey in IT. Hopefully, you will find some helpful pieces of knowledge I gathered from this event in my blogs.

Background to SITS

SITS @SITS_UK – The Service Desk and IT support show – is a major event, taking place over two days, which almost four thousand people attend. The intention in attending the event, is to meet with other professionals and companies to learn about best practice, about software/hardware change, and for personal development. The event consists of vendor stands and seminars.

 

How to get the most out of the event

When attending a conference, I would say early is not early enough to arrive, especially if it is on a first come first served basis. Thousands of professionals attend the SITS event #SITS18 , with the same intention as yourself but only a few will be selected to attend the seminars. If you can pay in advance to secure places at the seminars, I would greatly advise doing so. While I attended some interesting seminars, there were a few I could not attend due to capacity. It did give me more time to talk and network, which is just as beneficial.
Some of the interesting talks that I attended at SITS included: Matt Greening’s ‘The Naked Service Desk’; Karl Lankford’s ‘Unlock the power of remote support’; Per Strand’s ‘How to capitalise on the knowledge revolution’; Sue Black talking about her journey to success.   I will be blogging further about what I learnt.
There was also another event/conference in the same building, InfoSecurity, Europe and I was fortunate enough to be allowed access to this with my pass. When I had covered most of the SITS conference, between gaps in my seminars, I had a look at what InfoSecurity had to offer, as security is also a huge part of the IT framework. This was a very informative event and I also met some of the companies that have reached out to us before and some others to potentially, keep in mind for the future. Furthermore, since my event consisted of two days I also had time to attend a few of their short talks, which was helpful.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme .

What is the value of video use in education?

Matt Goral
Educational Technologist
City, University of London

Media and Learning Conference 2018 – Leuven, Belgium

Video assessment, video quality and lecturer performance

Courtesy of a 2018 UCISA Bursary, I was able to travel to Leuven in Belgium for this year’s Media and Learning Conference.  Among the conference’s discussions and presentations, there were several which explored the nature and purpose of video in education and assessment.
A long discussion ensued on why we might use video assessment, why ask students to make videos. There was a general consensus that the main reason is that digital literacy is becoming more important all the time. Tools to produce video are widely available and just as essay writing asks students to think critically, engage with existing literature, etc., in addition to the actual content, video format asks them to learn new software, think about data and formats, consider storage and sharing, etc. The speciality of video is providing an opportunity to learn the many digital skills in an authentic context.

Due to the variety of formats and styles, using rubrics to mark is very important to achieve consistency. Getting students to submit a storyboard or script beforehand that’s graded is also very useful, to help them with planning as the temptation is just to start shooting, and we all know how important pre-production is.

Jeanine Reutemann from Leiden University talked about quality of video. She mentioned it’s quite a hard thing to talk about, that we like watching some people and not others. Performance in front of camera really matters and is a bit unpredictable. It’s a skill. Also clearly there is a close relationship between someone’s performance and the way we shoot, communicate, and direct them. We should be mindful that the speaker will be influenced and potentially thrown by the setup. Bright lights, microphones, potentially many people hanging around. There is an intensity that doesn’t suit everyone. We should be mindful and consider how we can get the most out of someone’s style.
Also, let’s not put PowerPoint slides into VR.

Conference format

A few words on the organisation of the conference as I found it interesting. There were several formats running in parallel. First, is the familiar presentation with questions at the end. Those were limited to about 20 minutes each which was great for concentration. Secondly, there was a cinema which screened educational movies and projects at several points. Next, were the small workshops which focused on specific pieces of software that let you try them out with an expert. Finally, there were the discussion groups. Those were great in theory as the room was setup in a big circle, and the facilitators encouraged discussions between participants. However there were a few people introduced as “experts” who framed the discussion by talking about a few projects of their own. This changed the focus of the room from an open discussion between peers, to a panel session with unusual sitting. It was a wasted opportunity in my opinion, especially as only one facilitator had an activity planned and the rest of the sessions were unstructured. I see a lot of educational conferences falling back on lectures, and ignoring our own advice and not taking enough risks with formats, activities and approaches.
Overall, I think the conference was great. It allowed many new ideas and successes to be shared, but also allowed us to see that we are struggling with very similar issues (such as lecture capture adoption, see this paper ‘Tune up, tune in, don’t drop out by Emily Nordman et al.).

What next?

Please feel free to leave a comment, or email me (matt.goral@city.ac.uk), about anything that resonated with you.
I would also like to ask if you’d be interested in a webinar where you are able to ask me about the conference in more detail. If so, please leave a short comment, or email me saying you would be interested, and what you would like to talk about.

P.S. The featured picture is a photo of an untitled sculpture by Gregg Louis shown as part of the 2018 Grand Chess Tour which happened to coincide with the conference.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme. 

Developing ideas in pedagogical transparency for staff and students

Brandon Davies
Junior Audio-Visual Technician
City, University of London

Spotlight on Digital Capabilities, June 2018

When I applied for the UCISA bursary scheme, I immediately identified “Spotlight on Digital Capabilities”, as an ideal conference for what I feel is a most urgent and interesting point of contention within the higher education system today. The potential and ambition within the realm of future teaching-enhancing techniques is intense, and the conference further embodied this.
In my blog, I’m going to focus on two talks from the conference, with which I most connected. I will then expand that consolidation of information into my own thoughts on digital pedagogical applications.

Certification for IT training: options and approaches – Gareth Johns

The talk by Gareth Johns on options and approaches for IT training was eye opening.  The options presented brought together a vital mix of ingredients essential to constructing a sustainable system for engagement, efficiency and certification validity.
The MOS Course (Microsoft Office Specialist) is an official course run and certified by Microsoft themselves.  Using this as a benchmark for digital capabilities is a fantastic way to give staff and students a goal that is not just useful for working within the university, but an incredibly useful skill as a whole. Having a highly recognized qualification as the goal, helps add to staff and students’ employability skills for their career, as well as increasing the efficiency with which digital technology is used, and furthers the transition into modern teaching spaces.

Employability as a result of proficiency

As an Audio-Visual technician myself, the vastly increasing use of digital technology within teaching spaces, can be bewildering for staff and students.  However, these spaces have the potential to provide an increasingly communicative, inclusive and engaging form of teaching. Simply setting the MOS course as a goal is not enough.  At Cardiff Metropolitan University, Gareth has implemented interactive pages on Moodle, in which a more bespoke and broken down version of the course lessons can be taught. This, as well as regular seminars, creates a far more friendly environment and approach for learning the necessary skills required for passing MOS. Using real spreadsheets that staff and students interact with, helps bring home how useful these skills can be in day to day life. This contextualisation, as well as additional practice software such as G-Metrix, creates the infrastructure necessary for an intuitive and accessible course.

Developing a holistic institutional approach to digital capabilities development – Karen Barton

Karen’s talk opened my mind to a totally different approach to digital capabilities development, an holistic approach. Rather conveniently from my alma mater (University of Hertfordshire), Karen immediately separated herself from other approaches by viewing the situation from a larger perspective.
This picture from her slide perfectly demonstrates the side effects of a non-centralised approach to providing answers. With too many parties providing their own solutions, the result can be an overcrowded and inefficient environment.

 

 

Having a specific investigative objective from senior management, as one would expect, seems to have gone a long way in progressing Karen’s work. The use of a pilot programme as a result of the extensive resources allocated, is a great way to slowly refine the scheme before being finalised.
Five other universities have signed up to Hertfordshire’s pilot, a collaboration benefiting everybody. At Hertfordshire, the total redesign of the VLE has given the team there an opportunity to apply different pedagogical practices into the most commonly used software around the university. This has provided an exceptional opportunity to increase the accessibility and efficiency of the scheme. Such long-term integration of digital capability approaches, enables an accretion of infrastructure to the point where the very fabric of being a part of the university exposes you to the certification course and its requirements. Many different speakers from a variety of universities pointed out the use of Lynda.com and Karen was no exception. I’d recommended my university (City, University of London) consider the use of Lynda. I’ve used Lynda for personal development in the past and can speak only highly of it.
Here are a few ideas I have for increasing the success rate and enthusiasm for an IT certification scheme.

Don’t Fall Behind in the Digital Age

Marketing Ideas:
  • Giving a focus on the employability aspect of the course is vital; certification within digital capabilities is hugely beneficial in the modern job market. Indicate the need to stay ahead in the digital age and not fall behind, reinforce the accreditation from Microsoft. The opportunities for lecturers to save on valuable teaching time by becoming increasingly proficient with digital technology within the classroom, is an additional marketing focus.

Increase your chances of a higher salary!

  • Holding a prize within the course for exceptional students and staff could also be hugely beneficial to providing additional incentives.

Conclusions

Homogenising the wide variety of ideas and approaches from the conference is not an easy task.  However, what I’ve mentioned goes a long way to solidifying my own approach to a task requiring a great deal of re-wiring across higher education as a whole, which has no easy solution.
I’d like to thank all the speakers from the conference and UCISA for giving me the opportunity through the bursary scheme to attend. I hope to share my findings with staff at City, University of London, and encourage conversation on an incredibly interesting and complex subject.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.