Monthly Archives: September 2014

Summary of the second day of IPMA 2014

Simon Hogg
IT Portfolio Manager
OBIS (Oxford Brookes Information Solutions)
Oxford Brookes University
Member of UCISA-PCMG

Day two of the congress was opened by Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands who talked about her work with children, starting off many years ago with an idea to reduce illiteracy. This work has now expanded and a current project is using children’s councils, working with businesses such as Unilever, to reduce energy use. Their plan is to reduce the average time spent in a shower from 9 minutes, to 5 minutes. Although she admitted her work was not that relevant to the congress, she gave us some useful insights. From a child’s perspective adults always miss the first step in something, they often forget why they are doing something and they take steps which are too big. It fits very nicely into the theme of the congress. The point about forgetting what you are doing has been repeated throughout the day. A casual observer would conclude that project managers know all of this stuff, but everyone else involved in a project doesn’t know it, or simply seems to forget it, resulting in all the usual problems.

Two other sessions had a US slant, a sharp contrast to the mainly European presentations I have seen so far. A view shared by many other delegates: what was probably intended as a small joke, the use of military force, didn’t go down too well. However, although the language in use is English, that particular speaker perhaps overlooked the cultural and political differences. So an unintended lesson in communication, which is the primary theme of the conference.

Speaking to other delegates the academic theme seems to be the weakest, which I would agree with. This is perhaps unfair as you cannot compare academic research/experience with that of a bank, for example.

It is a shame it is such a packed programme, it could easily be run for much longer as there is a huge interest in nearly every session.

IPMA 2014 World Congress, Rotterdam – Day 1

Simon Hogg
IT Portfolio Manager
OBIS (Oxford Brookes Information Solutions)
Oxford Brookes University
Member of UCISA-PCMG

The full programme can be found here, as you can see a very difficult choice as none of the sessions are repeated. Thus you have to hope your choice is a good one. The conference started with an opening address  by Tom Taylor (President of APM). A very good speaker who soon had all the 1000 delegates laughing.

This was followed by a keynote presentation titled ‘The Luck Factor’ by Professor Richard Wiseman. He used a mixture of magic and humour to explain many years of research he’s done into how people consider themselves lucky or unlucky.


I then started on my chosen programme of talks. The first was ‘Captain Hindsight strikes again’, which was about the rapidly growing software development team in Dutch Railways and the problems that has brought.  The second was titled ‘The four disciplines of execution’ which was how you fit in new stuff when you are flat out doing current stuff. The third session was titled ‘expanding personal influence and impact’. This was about the psychology of personal and inter-personal behaviour and how it hinders work, especially project management. The fifth and sixth sessions were not that good, the last one felt like a sales pitch and also a test for one of the courses run by IPMA.

The venue is very good and the event is very well organised, although it’s taken 50 people volunteering their time over the last 18 months to realise it.

A pre-conference takeaway



Sally Bogg
IT Help Desk Manager
University of Leeds
Member of UCISA-SSG


I’ve been in Orlando for three days now and in that time I’ve managed to pack quite a lot in. I’ve taken a boat ride through the Everglades, visited Miami and eaten breakfast in an American diner.

Have A Nice Day  – putting customer experience at the heart of everything

Yesterday I was lucky enough spend some time in one of the Universal theme parks. It was great fun, lots of roller coasters, shows and experience rides. Thankfully it was an exceptionally quiet day and we were fortunate that the queues were short, the longest we waited was twenty minutes. However the twenty minutes didn’t feel like it was very long because the Americans put a lot of effort into making the queue part of the ride, the attention to detail is phenomenal and this is something that is consistent throughout the park. Each ride has its own staff, with their own uniforms, they pump particular smells out into the different areas of the park (smells of sweeties and popcorn in Dr Zuess Land) and each section has its own theme music. There were no queues for the toilets or food stations and there were plenty of taxis waiting at the exits to take people back to their hotels. It was all very slick. Another thing that has really stood out to me is that there is free wifi everywhere. There was free wifi available in the theme parks, in the service stations (which only had very basic amenities, not like our huge ones with Starbucks and Tescos etc.) and most surprisingly on the coach we took to Miami.

There is really a lot to learn from the American way of doing things. It’s not all “have a nice day”, they really do put customer experience at the heart of everything and I think I’ve found my first conference takeaway already!

Sally Bogg

EDUCAUSE Thoughts – Pre conference

Gareth McAleese
Head of Corporate Applications
University of Ulster
Member of UCISA-CISG

I was excited when I heard that I was successful in being awarded a UCISA Bursary to attend EDUCASE in Orlando.  I have always wanted to attend having heard from others that have attended previously that it was a superb learning experience.

I decided to make a bit of a short holiday alongside attending EDUCAUSE by taking a few days extra either side of the conference and bringing my wife along.  We’ve spent a bit of time doing some shopping and doing a Disney park to get in the holiday mood.  It’s very warm but unfortunately very wet which is not so good.

I decided to register today to avoid the rush on the first day of the conference;  it was quite a slick process though I can imagine it being hectic as the hoards arrive.  A pleasant surprise was that EDUROAM just worked (something I must thank our networking team for when I get back).  It was also amazing the actual size of the conference venue, it’s simply huge and EDUCAUSE is only using a part of the venue.

The main sessions that I want to attend are around strategy, governance and project prioritisation.  There are also a few around how to become a CIO which could be interesting. Hopefully these will spark some thoughts and discussion at my own organisation and also the work of the UCISA CISG committee.

As a UCISA Bursary winner I intend to blog throughout the event and provide some thoughts that might contribute to discussions at my own institution and my role of secretary of the CISG committee.  I also intend tweeting throughout the sessions from both @ucisa_cisg and my personal @gmcaleese Twitter accounts. Expect some food related posts as well.


Students at the heart of the system


Luke Taylor
Assistant Director
University of Bristol



A status update via Educause

With many students paying £9,000 per annum in tuition fees and significant competition among universities to attract students, there is a greater than ever need to provide students with an excellent service, from prospect to alumnus.

Unfortunately, UK universities are faced with operating archaic student records systems (SRS) which, rather than putting the student at the heart of the system, focus on the recording of formal records in order to meet statutory and institutional administrative needs. A current SRS that can provide student self-service optional module selection is still considered leading edge!

UK universities need next-generation SRS solutions that can deliver true customer relationship management (CRM) underpinning support throughout the student life-cycle, and analytics also, to help guide each student individually through their journey at university, and assist the institution in reacting to and planning its way through this rapidly changing environment.

Is the UK alone in this predicament? Is there anything we can learn from our colleagues overseas? I applied to UCISA and was awarded one of their 21st Anniversary Bursaries to travel to an overseas conference. I have chosen to attend Educause to learn what U.S. and other international colleagues are doing to improve their delivery of systems to support students during their time at higher education.

Here is a list of some of the conference sessions I intend to get to (although many do overlap), which I hope will help me build a picture of the state of play overseas, and will form the basis of future blog posts:

Disruptive Innovation and the Future of Higher Education
Examining the Advancing Technology Market for Competency-Based Education
The Students of 2020
Adaptive Learning and the Quest to Improve Undergraduate Education
Student Systems Ascend to the Cloud: The Continuum of Solutions That Will Get You There
Behind the Curtain: Technologies Supporting Student Success
Building Institutional Capacity for Learning Analytics
Designing an Adaptable Evaluative Tool for Educational Technologies
Improving Student Graduation Rates Using Data Insights and Predictive Modelling
Kuali Student: Student Systems Solutions Already Making a Difference
Student Success Is Everybody’s Business
Organize to Get Analytics Right: Integrating Institutional Teams and High Speed to Improve Student Success
Learner Centric: The New Normal
Assessment with Learning Analytics: Combining Multiple Sources of Data to Support Student Learning with Educational Technology



Looking forward to Educause

Julie Voce
E-learning Services Manager
Imperial College London
Chair, UCISA-DSDG Academic Support Group




Next week I will be attending the Educause conference, thanks to a bursary from UCISA. It will be my first time and I am both excited and daunted about going. Over the years several colleagues have told me what an excellent conference it is, especially for learning and teaching, so I am excited about finding out more about the use of technology for learning and teaching from a US perspective. With around 7,000 delegates, it is also quite a daunting prospect, especially given the size of the conference agenda, which required several hours’ consultation to plan my schedule.

As the E-learning Services Manager at Imperial College London and Chair of the UCISA Academic Support Group, my areas of interest are the strands on ‘learning and teaching’ and ‘e-learning/connected learning’ and there certainly appears to be a number of interesting sessions. Popular topics include mobile devices, flipped classroom, learning spaces, learning analytics and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). I’m particularly interested in the following sessions:

As part of the conference, Peter Tinson and I will be presenting a poster on Tuesday afternoon on the UCISA Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Survey. With my TEL survey hat on, I’m also keen to attend the sessions by the Educause Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) as they run a survey on student and staff use of technology.

I’ll be tweeting throughout the conference and we’re hoping to spark some discussion around the TEL survey so please do follow me at @julievoce.

Pre- Educause thoughts from a UCISA bursary award winner



Sally Bogg
IT Help Desk Manager
University of Leeds
Member of UCISA-SSG


I was thrilled when I heard that, as part of the UCISA 21st birthday celebrations, I had been awarded a bursary to attend Educause, not only because it is in Orlando, Florida (what a fantastic venue!) but because the overall programme for this conference is jam packed with topics and sessions that I am really passionate about.  I generally find conferences and events useful and I always come back fully energised with loads of ideas and things to implement.

The topics on the Educause programme that have so far sparked my interest are those that align closely to the work of the UCISA Support Services Group and my own role as the IT Help Desk Manager at the University of Leeds. I am really keen to find out more about accessibility, the consumerisation of IT, mobile computing, IT Service management and support services.

Two specific areas have really jumped out at me, and that is because they were identified as key strategic challenges for IT in the UCISA Strategic Challenges for IT report that was published in September 2013:

Accessibility – the potential to make learning technologies more accessible to students living with disabilities and to support the widening participation agenda by supporting a range of other learners
This is a completely new topic for me and the Support Services Group. Support Services staff are on the front line and may often be the first point of call for students with specific access requirements and needs. I would love to be able to pull together a Best Practice Guide around the topic of accessibility and the widening participation agenda.

Consumerisation of IT – the need to fully understand student expectations, particularly those of a generation that has grown up with superfast broadband and ubiquitous IT
This area is of great interest to me as it was also a key challenge that we highlighted during the recent UK HE Benchmarking report. This is a great opportunity to seek out international contacts and broaden the scope of the Service Desk benchmarking exercise to include Universities from across the globe.

Hot topics for Support Services Conference

So what do I hope to get out of this conference? I want to be able to feed the hot topics from Educause into the programme for the UCISA Support Services Conference 2015 – the whole Support Services Group works tirelessly each year to keep the event fresh and interesting and this is a great opportunity to pick up some ‘hot topics’. I am also hoping to network and make new contacts with Service Desk support staff to see if we can expand on the benchmarking report and take it global!

I love tweeting at conferences! It makes the whole experience much more engaging and lively, so for those of you that follow me on Twitter expect to see a steady stream of Educause related tweets over the coming week or so. I have also made a commitment to UCISA and to my own organisation to regularly blog about my experiences and I am hoping that I can pull everything together at the end into an action plan so that I can implement some of the good practice that I get to learn about.