Monthly Archives: May 2015

Enterprise Architecture Trends and Strategies

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Allister Homes
Senior Systems Architect
University of Lincoln

Gartner EA Summit Day 2

I’ll take the same approach as the blog post for day 1, summarising the sessions I attended.

Top 10 strategic technology trends for 2015

top 10

I thought this session brought together some of yesterday’s themes quite nicely – I’m not sure if that’s how it was intended or whether it was a coincidence (or even just my interpretation), but that’s how it came across to me.

First of all the presenter explained the traits that the Vanguard Enterprise Architect – Gartner’s term for the architect of tomorrow – will need to have:

  • Futurist, trend spotter
  • Business visionary
  • Technology analyst
  • Strategist (social connector)
  • Educator, communicator
  • Vendor watcher
  • Leader, collaborator
  • Evangelist, catalyst
  • Salesman

We were told that if you see trends in a spectrum, the enterprise architect should consider adopting trends, and how they can help the organisation, during their growth phase – after the emerging phase (when disruption is uncertain) and before they become mainstream (when the disruption is happening or has happened).

The top strategic trends Gartner identified as being of greatest important to EA over the coming years are:

  • Merging Real World and Virtual World
    • 1 – Computing everywhere (think mobile people instead of mobile devices)
    • 2 – Internet of Things
    • 3 – 3D printing
  • Intelligence everywhere
    • 4 – Advanced, pervasive and invisible analytics
    • 5 – Context-rich systems
    • 6 – Smart machines
  • New IT reality emerges
    • 7 – Cloud/client computing
    • 8 – Software-defined application and infrastructure
    • 9 – Web-scale IT (our IT world will look more like Google)
    • 10 – Risk-based security and self-protection

Business outcome driven application strategy
The focus of this session was bimodal application strategies, particularly the use of mode 2. Most IT departments are generally seen as good at identifying savings and efficiencies that an organisation can make, but not necessarily as good at supporting new revenue opportunities and taking advantage of new opportunities. Organisations need to take advantage of business moments – that is, opportunities that arise suddenly and are transient – and if the IT department is not good at responding to those opportunities with the business then they will become marginalised and bypassed. We heard how business moments are human-centric, transient, ad-hoc and blur the physical and digital boundaries. The difficulty for enterprise architects is that it is hard to plan the target state for these business moments when we have no idea what the state will look like until the transient opportunity arises. Instead, we have to design the architecture to be able to respond to opportunities rapidly as they arise.

In bimodal IT, mode 1 is the more traditional way of doing things, is consistent, has steady governance controls and does things ‘the right way’; mode 2 on the other hand has no simple path, is flexible and adaptive. Mode 3 looks more chaotic but it doesn’t have to be. Mode 1 might use a waterfall methodology (but might use Agile) whereas mode 2 can only succeed with Agile methodologies.

It was suggested that when starting out with a bimodal approach, we should first pick a specific project or projects to experiment with. Use agile approaches, devops, create an innovation lab and use small vendors. Then, as competence with mode 2 and a more unstructured world grows, mode 2 can start to be applied in more situations. There are significant differences in characteristics between mode 1 and mode 2 approaches, including funding arrangements, which are less predictable but can be less risky with mode 2. In an Agile project it will be known much earlier whether a project is likely to fail than would be the case in a waterfall project (called failing fast), and much less of the budget would have been spent, meaning the financial risk can be lower. Organisations will probably always have some mode 1, but a bimodal approach will start to displace it to some extent.

This session was presented by the same person who presented Application Architecture for Digital Business yesterday, and the information about app and service style application architecture from that session was repeated in this one. It was suggested that the likes of Nginx and in-memory computing are used for scale and performance. There was also a comment that, for integration, don’t assume the ESB is centre of universe. It is still good for core systems, but gateways (e.g. with APIs) can be faster and easier for mode 2 applications.

Orchestrating Ideation: Creating Breakthrough Innovation Opportunities
The ‘nuts and bolts to drive innovation’ were presented in this session, which concentrated on thoughts for an innovation pipeline. Innovation in many large businesses used to be driven by a small group, perhaps a dedicated Research and Development team. Businesses need to, and are, changing this approach now, partly because it is increasingly possible for someone with a good idea to simply go out and build it with tools at their disposal (cloud-based services in the case of IT tools) without the involvement of specialist teams in the organisation and without any kind of governance or approval. The change of approach needs to move from the likes of R&D teams to the wisdom and diversity of the crowd, and from managing innovation to orchestrating, engaging and motivating the right set of people and guiding them through an innovation pipeline.

Gartner has come up with a way of categorising problems according to their nature and applying different methods to crowd-source solutions depending on that categorisation.

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Problems can be categorised as complicated (e.g. putting a man on the moon in 10 years), complex (e.g. climate change) or chaotic (e.g. traffic movement). For each categorisation there are different knowledge scopes, and also different approaches:

  • Analysis for complicated, breaking down the problem into smaller pieces
  • Synthesis for complex, aiming for the best outcome to a problem without a way of necessarily knowing if it is ‘solved’ (see yesterday’s blog post for a session that covered analysis vs synthesis)
  • Selection for chaotic, where the whole problem can’t necessarily be solved but solutions can be selected to solve incremental parts of it.

Stakeholders will also vary according to the problem type. This is all much easier to explain using a series of Gartner’s slides, but I don’t think I can reproduce that much copyright material without falling the wrong side of the rules.

When it comes to the type of crowd used to solve the different categories of problems, complicated problems are best solved with specialist teams, e.g. the DARPA robotics challenge; complex problems are solved best with community co-creation, starting with a goal rather than a problem and then selecting the best option, e.g. the way the city of Porto Alegre involves citizens in setting the use of the discretionary budget; and chaotic problems are best solved using the largest possible target audience and giving the community a broad space to get many different ideas rather than setting a specific goal, and then working through filters of selection, development and final launch, e.g. the Department of Work and Pensions’ staff ideas scheme.

All of this needs to be done by putting rules and recognition/reward around a process. Participants are motivated from having autonomy (being part of the change), mastery (developing skills) and purpose (having meaningful contribution). A pipeline provides creative constraints to encourage creativity, because if there are no boundaries or guidance at all it is harder to think of something to be creative with, and organisations should put in place a way of managing innovation portfolios to make the best of crowd sourced ideas.

Digital Business Architecture Fuels Digital Business
At the very beginning of this session, it was emphasised that if you are not doing business architecture you are not doing EA – you’re doing EITA (Enterprise IT Architecture) instead. It was also emphasised that business architects must be part of the EA team, and even if there are reasons why the reporting lines for personnel are different it is still important for business architects to sit with and work with the rest of the EA team in a virtual team. Gartner estimates that by 2017 60% of Global 1000 organisations will execute at least one revolutionary and unimaginable business transformation effort, and if business architects are not an intrinsic part of the EA team then the rest of the architecture will not be able to respond properly to these transformations.

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My interpretation of this session was that much of it was about what should already be taking place in the business domain of EA, with elements of how to take it a little further. One interesting point is that organisations, people and things (think Internet of Things) will all be equal peers when it comes to digital business designs in future. I thought other aspects, such as how business architects should work on business strategy and goals, fill the gap between strategy and execution, and so on, were what has been suggested for a long time. Business moments were talked about again (see earlier in the day) and likened to lightning strikes of opportunity. The suggestion was made that to gain an advantage and be able to respond more quickly than competitors, business modelling should not stop at the boundary of the organisation; instead, also model the business domain of partners, competitors and customers.

Finally, the presenter urged IT and EA departments NOT to think of, or refer to, the rest of the organisation as customers, because doing so makes IT and EA subservient to the rest of the organisation. IT is intrinsic to most modern organisations and crucial to their futures, and department staff should be thought of as peers.

Three Roadmaps to Guide and Drive Change in Your Organisation
As the title suggests, this session was about roadmaps. The first point was that not every roadmap suits every stakeholder – it’s no good giving a tube map to someone getting the bus. In some cases a particular roadmap might only be relevant to a few technical staff, and there is nothing wrong with that because those people need that roadmap, but it would be a mistake to give the same one to board members. The definition of a roadmap provided by the presenter is that it is graphical, illustrates milestones and deliverables, and shows transition from current to future over specified time. Time is the primary dimension, but additional influencing factors may be shown, and the level of abstraction must be appropriate to the audience and purpose. That leads to the first piece of critical information when creating a roadmap – who and what is it for? By understanding that, an appropriate roadmap can be developed that is fit for the people and for the purpose for which it is being created.

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At this point similar emphasis to that of the previous session was made about the importance of not thinking of the IT department as separate to the rest of the organisation. You wouldn’t typically talk of the finance department and its relationship to the business, for example, so don’t do it with the IT department.

It was also suggested that staff from within the organisation are sought out for how they can help with roadmaps – many organisations have a marketing department with staff who spend much of their time making things look as appealing as possible, so ask if they can help do the same with your roadmaps for example.

A topology of roadmaps was presented covering quadrants of operational planning, operational execution, strategic planning and strategic execution. Roadmaps tend to fit towards the strategic rather than tactical axis, but lifecycle roadmaps cover some of each because they cover the full life cycle of a capability or system over time. Evolution roadmaps show a specific target state and what components are introduced or removed to support the required business outcomes. An enterprise roadmap shows current and planned strategic change at a contextual level, again including the time dimension. It tracks high level business outcomes linked to KPIs, and indicates change across the whole enterprise rather than just one programme or area of it.

Enterprise architecture and digital business

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Allister Homes
Senior Systems Architect
University of Lincoln

Gartner EA Summit Day 1

There are attendees at the summit from all over Europe and it’s probably fair to say that as someone from the HE sector, our EA practice is somewhat more modest than a lot of others represented here; I think that would be the case for almost any HE institution that came here, I don’t mean just Lincoln.

I haven’t seen any information on the number of delegates, but I’d estimate there somewhere in the region of 400-600 and it’s quite a busy summit in terms of the number of people and the number of sessions. I thought the most straightforward way of blogging this would simply be to summarise each session I attended, so here goes.

Architecting the digital business ecosystem
ecosystemsAs Gartner’s opening keynote session, this started by concentrating on the fact that more and more businesses operate in the digital world – not just having a presence, but offering their services and interaction digitally. Garner’s figures are that 22% of businesses operate in the digital world now, and by 2020 that figure will be 83%. Digital business will mean business growth, and those who do not embrace it will lose out to those who do. We heard about the seismic shift happening, caused by the Internet of Things and what Gartner calls the ‘Nexus of forces’.

It is estimated that by 2020 the number of Things connected to the internet will outnumber people by at least five to one. We heard a story of how a connected home might, in a few years’ time, react to a tree crashing into the bathroom during a storm whilst the owner is away by cutting off electricity and water to protect the property, contact the insurance company and start arranging quotes, pass the information to the police and ensure the property is safe and secure. As Enterprise Architects we need to be aware of new technology and innovations so that we can become ‘vanguards’ and shape its use in the enterprise, which will become continually more consumer focused rather than enterprise user focused.

We analyse too much and synthesise too little

This session was focused on trying to change the way EAs think. Rather than always relying on analysis, the suggestion was that we rely on synthesis a little more. We were told how analysis does not work well when there is no data, there is ambiguity and when there are dilemmas, and then a short history of synthesis starting with dialectical reasoning. Some of the simpler examples used where synthesis can were how to cut costs given a particular banking scenario (don’t rely on the distinct possibilities provided by analysis) and the ‘chicken or beef’ question on aeroplane flights (either ask for both or eat before boarding!).

The state and innovation: from fixing markets to market making

state and innovationProfessor Mariana Mazzucato from the University of Sussex presented on innovation led growth and the role of the public vs private sector. She described the cartoon image many have, which assumes all innovation happens in the private sector whereas public sector is rational, boring, has dinosaur bureaucrats and exists (in terms of innovation in markets) to simply level the playing field. However, she went on to explain that science is simply not funded enough without state support, which is needed to fix market problems. In fact, public sector funded innovation is often mission oriented, such as sending mankind to the moon, and massive public sector innovation and investment has led to much of the technology that makes things like smart ‘phones possible – think of GPS, voice recognition, touch screens, cellular communication, signal compression and more.

What can sometimes be forgotten in the public sector, though, is to apply what is taught and used elsewhere, such as the approaches taught in business schools and lessons that can be learnt from great innovators. One particular example highlighted was that of higher investment risk green opportunities which are starved of private funding. In Germany in the early 2000s, when private banks in Europe were reducing loans and the economic crises was in its early stages, the public sector in Germany provided substantial mission-oriented funding for environmental and climate protection innovation.

Application architecture for digital business

This session, delivered by a Gartner analyst, concentrated on new approaches to application architecture for delivering business digitally. It was emphasised that the focus should first be on business outcomes which are then converted to technical goals, which lead to technical characteristics, then principles and then patterns. Most organisations are still using three tier (or n-tier) client/server architecture, which is typically designed with static architecture and linear flow in mind. The approach does not work so well with consumers using various devices and with business that needs to change rapidly, and so an application architecture of apps and services was suggested instead. This takes service-oriented architecture several steps further, and encourages the use of individual apps for particular personas, devices and scenarios rather than one large client application to do everything, uses services to support the apps, and encourages a many-to-many relationship between apps and services. In this scenario services are broken down much more than they typically are in most environments today, becoming microservices for web-scale SOA. Examples were provided of how the likes of Netflix, Facebook and Amazon use the microservices to scale to massive numbers of concurrent users and with the agility to make hundreds of updates per day to production systems by having these very specific microservices which are independently deployable and scalable. The difficulty is that although they provide separation of concerns and are individually easy to understand, you end up with a LOT of services, and have to radically alter the rest of the architecture because there is often no centralised application or data. Third normal form is out the window with this architecture, and a lot of what was done as server code becomes client code again.

Nissan Group: using enterprise architecture to enhance efficiencies and business growth

Enterprise Architects from Nissan presented on their use of MEGA at the Sunderland plant. Nissan had a lot of legacy applications and infrastructure at Sunderland, but not necessarily a good corporate understanding of all of it. Three main drivers led to the need to change this: a security incident, the transfer of some service to third parties, and a corporate objective from Japan to understand and standardise business processes. A project was launched to document 500 applications, the central technology infrastructure and the business processes, and to link them all together into a single EA model. A team of five full-time staff were set the task of doing it, and although timescales turned out to be a little too ambitious, much of the work is now done including the development of an application portfolio outside of the MEGA model and the creation of a bespoke metamodel.

The cloud computing scenario: examining cloud maturity and adoption in the age of digital business

This session looked at the adoption of cloud by businesses, how to make assessments and what to consider with a cloud strategy. Gartner’s analyst explained that cloud delivery options are becoming more varied and complex, leading to a “spectrum of cloudiness” that EAs need to understand in order to make the right decisions for the business. It’s not just the delivery model that needs to be considered (public cloud, community cloud, virtual private cloud and private cloud) but also the execution model, for example whether hardware and software is isolated or not. Cloud offerings are still changing quickly, for example by making improvements to security models, and although maturity is growing it is too early to put a final cloud strategy in place; a strategy is needed, but it will need to keep pace with the constantly maturing cloud technologies and offerings. Vendors sometimes complicate this, and an EA needs to be able to break through the vendor ‘fog and hype’ to understand what is really being offered.

It was emphasised that whether we like it or not, many (not all) vendors are now going cloud first with new solutions rather than traditional software first, which means the decision is shifting from ‘whether and when to go cloud’ to ‘how and how much’ to go cloud. The reasons for moving to cloud solutions is not always cost-based; there is value from agility, the offloading of responsibilities, business agility and the advantages that provider investments provides in terms of scale and security. An interesting element of the presentation was of how business users tend to focus on benefits of cloud such as speed of change (sometimes bypassing IT departments) and that IT and EA focus tends to be on ubiquity, scale and so on; there needs to be a balance and a meeting point between the two views.

In reality most organisations will use a hybrid of cloud services, and the cloud strategy needs to consider the “spectrum of cloudiness”. Comment was also made that not all vendor offerings are created equal, and work must go in to understanding the differences beneath the surface. There are some large vendors, such as IBM, who offer cloud services and will also build cloud solutions, and will often mix both in the same conversation which can lead to confusion and complex, bespoke solutions. The five questions the presenter suggested be asked when defining a cloud strategy are:

  • Where and how should the enterprise consume cloud computing services?
  • Where and how should the enterprise implement private cloud environments?
  • How will we secure, manage and govern cloud services across internal, external and hybrid environments?
  • How does cloud computing factor into our application strategy and architecture?
  • Are there opportunities for the business to become a cloud computing service provider?

Selling EA with stories: start with the end in mind

selling eaEE, the mobile telecoms company, presented this session. EE has a mature EA practice which is engaged with all levels in the organisation. It recently refocused EA into three areas:

  • Technology that underpins enterprise
  • Business capability
  • Business architecture

It has a comprehensive EA knowledge base or model, using Sparx, and has a philosophy of ‘doing just enough, just in time’ because otherwise all the time is spent trying (and failing) to keep everything perfectly finished and fully up to date instead of spending time innovating, working with business users and influencing change, which is where the real EA value is.

An opportunity arose for the EA team to create a vision, sell it to the business and propose a set of new initiatives. The team achieved this by first creating a compelling vision. The vision was rooted in the present day and based on information already held in the knowledgebase (architecture model), and focussed on the main business problems and desired business outcomes. The vision was communicated through personas and stories, which were designed to be both factual and appeal to emotions, by highlighting key frustrations and weaknesses and how the vision would help overcome them. The vision, including stories, was presented on one single sheet, including short biographies of personas, themes in columns and the use of icons and short stories. No formal architecture documents were given to the business at this stage, but the detail had to be ready if the outcomes were positive and the team was invited back to the senior stakeholders for further dialogue on roadmaps, sequence of capabilities, business benefits and costs. The approach was successful with three of five major initiatives being started.

21st Century Learning Spaces: are you in the zone?

Admit it. You read the title and went what’s that got to do with me? Or perhaps you thought actually, we already do learning spaces here at ‘whatever university’ so I’m not really sure what I’m going to get out of this post. It doesn’t really matter what side of the spectrum of interest you sit on because if you think you are already doing it, you’re probably not! Ok, so what do I actually mean?

I’m writing this blog post from within one of the first big purpose built ‘learning centres’ The Saltire centre at Glasgow Caledonian University. Opened with lots of fanfare, JISC supported and bulging with pedagogic research to back up its 5 floor library and learning centre, the space has, and continues to deliver informal learning spaces for its 16,500 students. It has undergone subtle and not so subtle changes over the years, and types of wear and tear that only 40,000 visits a week can inflict on a building. So why should we bother developing the space when it’s quite plainly doing what it set out to achieve? Ask yourself two questions: (1) Is it really delivering what students want, and (2) How do you know? Now hold on to those answers while I digress slightly…

I was fortunate to secure a recent trip to Loughborough University where they hosted an event called Informal learning spaces in the 21st century University. If you haven’t had an opportunity to visit Loughborough, the first thing that hits you is its size. With a campus of over 400 acres it’s posed with the difficulty associated with offering learning spaces to its students throughout the campus, especially those working at opposite sides and not in close proximity to the library. To support their students they have delivered informal learning spaces within other buildings across the campus as seen by the picture below.

learningspace

An ‘epiphany’ moment for me occurred just before lunch and was one of several that happened to make my day quite profitable.

Epiphany 1. The need for departments to collaborate effectively. To that end Loughborough established a cross departmental ‘Project Board’ to manage the spaces on an on-going basis. Ask yourself are you or your team collaborative? Are they pro-actively involved in providing these learning spaces, or do you just attend if the kit fails?

Ephiphany 2. The realisation that although informal learning space has developed over the last decade, with learning commons, cafés and centres all popping up in libraries across higher education, what has changed within formal learning environments over the last decade? Loughborough had one large lecture theatre with group seating which was apparently in high demand (and was very nice as the workshop was held within it) yet this was the only one in operation on their large campus. Personally I had learning space envy as we don’t have one here!

Ephiphany 3. Does your formal learning spaces ‘connect’ with the informal spaces, or are they disjointed and organised separately? There is a need for pedagogy to keep pace with informal developments, so to that end are your academics on board?

Ok back on track. Now going back to my original questions: are you delivering what students want, and how do you know?

We discussed the results of a recent student survey which asked what they wanted from their learning spaces. In the main students identified a need for more privacy or peacefulness within informal study spaces which seems to link well with our student feedback here at GCU.

Ephipany 4. Almost as if we have gone a bit too far down the ‘social’ learning space route. However it was stated that students appeared to find it difficult to identify what they needed when they were asked this question.

Ephipany 5. Work is needed in this area to ascertain what is required by our students and when, and as such this may require more than just your usual survey to get closer to student requirements.

Ephiphany 6. Despite developing ‘self-policing’ and ‘ intuitively’ designed spaces (tends to be design team speak), there is still a need to ‘manage’ the informal learning culture to ensure that different spaces deliver their intended outcomes. It was suggested that a way to achieve this extremely difficult balancing act was to clearly state the areas purpose, or ‘zone’ which would assist learners in remaining within the accepted boundaries without too much restriction. Loughborough have tried to answer the questions by ensuring the consistent delivery of learning space through the development of a ‘standard’ of informal learning space, and each of the areas is assessed and must achieve the relevant criteria to attain the standard. They ensure that students are utilised as skilled assessors in this regard and ensure that they are present as advisors within the Project Board and throughout the institution.

So hopefully that whistle stop tour helps you identify that at the very least learning spaces should be on your radar. And finally as a note of caution, providing informal learning spaces is a journey and not a destination. If you think you are already there, you’re not in the zone, keep developing, keep evaluating and keep going!

Thanks to Sonya Campbell, Customer Service Development Manager at Glasgow Caledonian University and member of UCISA Support Services Group, for this post.

Gartner EA Conference 2015

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Allister Homes
Senior Systems Architect
University of Lincoln

Preparation by a 2015 Bursary award winner

Having been to a number of HE Enterprise Architecture (EA) and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) events over the past few years, I decided I would like to attend one of the major (non-HE) EA conferences. I was aware that UCISA had previously provided bursaries as part of its 21st anniversary to allow members to attend events they would not normally have the opportunity to, and when the 2015 scheme was announced it certainly seemed worth trying as a route to be able to attend the Gartner EA Summit in London.

Fast forward six weeks to the end of April, and I was delighted to hear that my application had been successful and UCISA would provide a bursary for me to go to the summit. The summit is on 20-21 May, so when I put in the application I knew timing would be fairly tight if I was successful and now I needed to get everything booked.

The University started to formally introduce EA concepts three years ago with the introduction of the new role of Senior Systems Architect, which I successful obtained, and an EA approach is part of the ICT Strategic Plan. As I mentioned earlier I have attended a number of sector events over the past few years, and I also gained TOGAF certification as part of my development for my role. I am hoping that the Gartner EA Summit will help me to learn more, progress further in the field and apply knowledge from experts outside the HE sector. Like many institutions, the University is moving towards cloud solutions in some situations and has a need to integrate on-premise and cloud solutions, and acknowledges that the application and infrastructure architecture will be a mix of technologies and approaches for some time to come. I hope that from this summit I am able to learn from an industry understanding of emerging architectural models and how these support business requirements, along with an understanding of the direction of market in respect of cloud and SOA. I’d also like to gain ideas for ‘selling’ EA and using roadmaps to communicate change.

You can find more information about the summit and the sessions here http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/emea/enterprise-architecture and I plan to blog during the two days, so keep an eye out for updates.

UCISA has an Enterprise Architecture community of practice which may be of interest.

Jisc Digital student event

I attended the Jisc digital student data collection and analysis workshop in London on the Wednesday 29th April. It was raining. I was directed to a brightly lit room, mostly due to the large windows with bare white walls. The room was furnished with six large tables, littered with Jisc information, and chairs stationed around them. At 10am it was filled with HE staff from all over the UK. I sat down next to two lovely ladies, one from The Open University and the other from Glasgow Caledonian University.

The day started with Sarah Knight talking about the #digitalstudent project and how Jisc were at phase 3, where they had already consulted with 500 staff and students from HE and 300 staff and 220 learners from further education about students expectations and experiences of technology. The remainder of the day was spent in a facilitated workshop.

We were told that ideas were needed from the sector and that there was no such thing as a bad idea. The day was not going to be laid back. We were going to have to work for our lunch, and work we did. It was filled with analogies, what ifs and concepts.

We were presented with the seven challenges in enhancing the digital student experience, taken from the Jisc strategic approach guide. Then came the Analogy exercise. We were asked us to think of commercial systems that could work well within the HE sector to enhance the student experience. There were many examples as we were encouraged to write as many as we could. One person suggested financial risk planning. The key attributes were profiling customers about their perception towards risk. They suggested that it could be used to profile students’ perceptions towards technology.

We had a noisy break as everyone was chatting to each other. Then the next exercise quickly followed: What ifs. We were given large block of Postit notes to write down our wish lists such as What if … we had a permanent student led (CAN) R&D unit run by student research interns or work placements or What if … we bought Facebook and used it for learning and What if… we could personalised every individuals approach to teaching or learning and enable them to work in their own preferred way. By the end of the session those lovely white walls, were no longer white but filled with our ideas on coloured bits of sticky paper.

Wall

 

 

 

 

 

The day did not end there. We had fun drawing each other with our left hand, for light relief, before the meat of the exercises was served to us. We had to take the What ifs and develop them into concepts propositions. Two from each table were presented to the room and then stuck up on the wall, where everyone was invited to vote on the concepts. I looked out the window and the rain had stopped. After a summary of the day, the facilitators thanked us for our contributions and closed the workshop. It was an enjoyable day that went as quickly as the rain.

Footnote: Initial outcomes from the day are available on the Jisc website

Lorraine Barclay
IT Systems Trainer
St George’s University of London
UCISA-DSDG USG Committee member