Monthly Archives: October 2013

Educause 2013

Educause 2013

Educause 2013 was held in Anaheim, California, and I am very grateful to Regent’s University London to have been able to attend. It was held at the Anaheim convention centre almost opposite the first Disney, so as you would expect quite busy. Not exactly my destination of choice but the mountains in the far distance at least lent some exotica to the event. I was told that about 4,100 delegates attended so yes it was busy albeit I understand attendance was slightly down on previous years.

The Hall set aside for trade exhibitors was huge and some of the ‘big hitters’ had massive stands, I must congratulate the UK based CampusM (a mobile app for Universities) with whom I’ve worked with in past did a very good job on the conference app, I really hope it results in some North American customers.

I attended a few really good sessions and a few that made me seriously think if the world had turned since the last time I went to Educause. Sometimes it takes a while for concepts to evolve but I was rather surprised that some were still thinking about service structures and values.

I also personally found the conference to be less relevant to the role that I currently have. In North American Higher Education a CIO in the majority of cases is the highest ranking IT officer, it is not someone who has management responsibility for other key Departments such as the Library, E- Learning, Media & AV sSupport, Students records, MIS/Bi and all IT Staff Development.

I enjoyed meeting some old acquaintances from the USA and colleagues from the UK, it was useful to exchange stories and experiences about the conference. Towards the end of the conference I was asked to participate in ‘The CIO minute’, which was basically a short video cast about ‘burning issues’ in a very brief Q&A session.

Here’s a brief rundown of some of (in my opinion) the best sessions;

Sir Tim Robinson (Keynote)
Funny, engaging and in part quite serious especially the issues around world population growth, a cause of great concern for our children’s children.Will we all have to become like the Culture Citizens in the late Iain M Banks Books and ‘store’ ourselves so we can be backed up and restored as needed. How will we find several new Earths so that in 4 or 5 generations time we will have room to grow.

CIO Constituent Group Session
Good opportunity to just sit and discuss the Top Ten issues as determined by the Top Ten survey that Educause carries out annually. I enjoyed a discussion on funding and strategy, which in turn led to a lively debate.

Campus Computing IT Campus Survey 2013
Very useful session on general IT computing from across the USA, over 3400 institutions took part so some comprehensive views and indications of direction of travel.

Jane McGonigal (Keynote)
A brilliant keynote, which examined the role of gaming and how that influences lives and how in turn ‘gamiification’ could be used in Higher Education. Fascinating statistics such as the time playing World of Warcraft (over 6 million years).

The State of E-Learning in Higher Ed
The results of another very comprehensive survey, this time focusing on E-Learning, all good stuff, some stats reflecting exactly what I expected some not.

Disaggregation & Innovation in Higher Education; Charting a Course through Turbulent Times (Keynote)
A really interesting keynote on the power of Higher Education to change lives mostly through a competency based style on-line degree courses that also relied on Apel to get learners onto the courses, not unlike some of the great work done by IWBL. This to me is one of the great game changers in Higher Education in order to create social mobility then Higher Education has to create accessibility. Its how you make the opportunity available and affordable with great peer support that matters. Interesting use of sales force in managing the programmes rather than a traditional LMS.

All in all it’s always good to get out there and get to meet other colleagues from around the world and Educause is great for that, using those conversations and reflections is a key part of personal and professional growth. It also draws in alternative views and aspects that perhaps hadn’t been considered before and questions previously held views.

Communications, Students & Videos

Here at The University of Sheffield, IT is centrally managed by CiCS (Corporate Information and Computing Studies), and within CiCS we have a comms team dealing with internal and external comms relating to all the services we provide.

For a while we had wanted to make steps into creating comms through videos, but due to a number of factors the furthest we had got, was to produce screencasts.

We wanted to try and bring skills and fresh ideas into the team to help and so we put a bid in for a 100 hour student intern place being funded centrally within the University.

It was partly experimental but also a planned journey into getting students involved in helping create comms that were hopefully more relevant to other students than we would have created.

So with one first year Chemistry student recruited, the launch of our new portal imminent (which was conceptually hard to describe in words) and we released the following

Over the duration of the 100 hour placement a number of videos were created to deal with subjects such as printing:

…and staying safe on line:

You can find more of our videos at and we are also experimenting with Vine with short videos such as this one on connecting to Eduroam on a Mac

The experience of having a student working within our comms team brought so many benefits, not just in the finished articles but also in bringing new perspectives and understanding to the team as a whole.

We were sad to see our student intern leave us, however building on the success we have had approval for a further 2 intern posts, one to carry on working on creating video and the other to help us generate images for our website and publications.

We can’t wait for them to join the team!

Post by Rob Needham,
Head of Customer Service
and Communication
University of Sheffield