Tag Archives: braindates

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.

Learning from US institutions at Educause

Richard Goodman
Learning Technology Team Manager
Loughborough University

Educause 2018 – Day One

If you haven’t been following my series of posts, then I’ll just mention that I was one of the very lucky recipients of the UCISA bursary scheme, which has allowed me to be in Denver for the 2018 Educause conference.
Wednesday, Day One, is the big day, when Educause 2018 opens to everyone. My day started at 7:30am with the first in a series of “braindates”. This is a new concept for the conference this year, very simple but very effective (in my opinion). The idea behind a brain date is two-fold. Firstly, you can search through the “market” of existing brain dates, where conference attendees post topics that they are knowledgeable about, or topics that they want to find out more about. Secondly, you can add your own topics, and offer yourself up for brain dates. This was my approach, and I had offered myself up to talk about lecture capture and Moodle use.
So this morning, at a rather unfamiliar hour (I’ve usually just got out of the shower at 7:30am), I found myself in a little corrugated cardboard booth with someone from Arkansas State University, talking about lecture capture, and my experiences of our summer 2017 project to migrate to a new lecture capture system, roll it out across all pool teaching rooms on campus, and then introduce a new “opt out” lecture capture policy. All in three months. If you can avoid doing all of those things at once, you’ll probably have less grey hair than I do.
We had a really good chat, and it was interesting to learn about the receptiveness of the staff from Arkansas State University, and their willingness to try this campus technology for themselves. Our half an hour was over in a flash, and it was off to the main “Bellco Theatre” for the opening keynote.
As you might be able to tell from the photo, this is no ordinary “large lecture theatre” that you might normally go to for an opening keynote at a UK based conference. You don’t normally have a venue with a capacity of 5,000 that has seen Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross, Elton John, Neil Young and Tori Amos taking to the very same stage.
(click on image to enlarge)
Michele Norris was today’s opening speaker, talking about the Race Card project, and how six word snapshots can paint a vivid picture of American attitudes to, and experiences of, race at this fascinating moment in American history. A lot to think about!
After a first brief visit to the Exhibition Hall (we’re talking Birmingham NEC size as opposed to a few tables around the side of a dining room), it was time to get immersed into the full conference programme. Just 27 parallel sessions to choose from for the first part of the day. I went to a session on learning analytics dashboards, a hot topic here in the USA, to hear about the approaches from three US institutions, and how they are using analytics to help with student retention.
After another session, it was soon time for lunch. At 11:30am. It runs for 2 hours, but that’s far too early a start for me, even if I’ve already been awake for 5 1/2 hours. There’s plenty of time to meet and talk to new people and share stories, as well as exploring the vast exhibition hall. It will take several visits to get around every stand in a logical and methodical manner.
One other quick observation about lunch. Despite there being thousands and thousands of people here, the queue moved with alarming speed. They really know how to cope with mass catering and keep things organised and moving along.
After lunch it was time for more sessions, this time on student data and then accessibility. There’s definitely an emerging theme around retention coming through, and there’s lots of work being done around spotting students who might be at risk of dropping out of university or college here in the US.
The conference day finishes with a networking opportunity in the exhibition hall again, the chance to meet more exhibitors, and chat to those exhibiting posters in a dedicated area of the hall. Lots of interesting stories being shared in the poster session, from really technical stuff about SSL to innovating with an online information literacy course. Definitely something for everyone.
This first appeared on the East Midlands Learning Technologists’ Group blog.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.