Tag Archives: community

Windows 10 community day

 

On Wednesday 12th April over 50 IT staff from Universities all over the UK, from Glasgow to Brighton, met at Edge Hill University’s central Manchester campus to discuss the shared challenge posed by the move to Windows 10.

The event began with presentations from four organisations ahead of the curve on the migration – Leeds Beckett University, University of Liverpool, Lancaster University and York St John University – all of whom shared the approach they’d taken, the keys decisions they’d made and the lessons they’d learned.

During the Q&A that followed, we were able to dig a little more into shared concerns like admin rights for users, project resourcing and managing applications.

After lunch, we were joined by representatives from IT service provider Softcat, who shared some of their experience and tips in planning a move to Windows 10, delving into some of the more technical questions that need answering such as choosing a branch and the challenges posed by Microsoft’s new update and support model for the operating system.

The day ended with a workshop structured to help delegates think about, discuss and record the key points picked up during the day. Considering questions around planning, infrastructure and ongoing support, small groups produced prioritised lists of the issues that they wanted to take back to the office and consider while plotting their own migrations.

We’d like to say a big thank you to the representatives of Leeds Beckett, Liverpool, Lancaster and York St John who gave excellent presentations during the morning session and continued to offer their expertise throughout the day. Without their input the day would not have been possible.

Thank you also to Softcat for their input and support for the day and to the staff at Edge Hill University for hosting us and making us feel welcome.

Recordings, presentations and photos from the day are available from the Resources page

Gareth Edwards
Head of IT, Engineering Science
University of Oxford
Member of UCISA-SSG committee

Building curiosity

michelle

 

Michelle Griffiths
ITS Project Manager
IT Services
University of Oxford
Member of UCISA-PCMG

 

If you build it: The power of design to change the world

Emily Pilliton began her keynote session by talking about her book, ‘Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower’ which was published October 2009. She then moved onto to say that her presentation would be based around a couple of stories that she would like to share with us.

Emily runs a non-profit company named Project H Design, which practices design and architecture in a more meaningful way. Project H has been involved in various projects, including the re-design of playgrounds, computer labs, and a gym for a local football team. Emily started up the company after finishing her Master’s degree, because she felt that, during the course, she hadn’t learned enough about areas that provided any real value.

Emily then went onto talk about the people/experiences that influenced her through her life and career, including TV secret agent, MacGyver.

'MacGyver's Multitool', via Charles Williams, shared via Creative Commons licence

‘MacGyver’s Multitool’, via Charles Williams (https://www.flickr.com/photos/99652207@N00/366985080/), shared via Creative Commons licence

MacGyver focused on solving problems in unconventional ways, thinking ‘outside of the box’ and using whatever objects that he had to hand.

Other major influences in her life came from her grandmothers, who were both very strong-willed and passionate people. They were both librarians; one was a calligrapher, and the other was a cross-stich artist and part time musician.

The teachers at Emily’s school were also very supportive, and made her feel cool to be a nerd! Being a nerd is useful in architecture school, along with building knowledge in the following areas: maths, science, community, and social sciences. It is also useful for obtaining an understanding of and user knowledge about local areas, and the social landscape of the community that you will be developing or building in.

Experience is more important than content
Emily argued that experiences matter more than content; students remember experiences better if they have to work through a series of problem solving activities. She gave the following example:

First Project  (Farmers’ Market public space) – Project H were invited to go along to a high school in eastern North Carolina, to design a public space in the format of a farmers’ market for the town of Windsor. The town has an agricultural background, high obesity rates, poor public health record, and a stagnant economy. The students built the first set of models, which they took along to present to stakeholders. There were a number of constraints that the project had to work with, which included the following:

  • A $50,000 budget
  • A short time period (three months)
  • The local area being on a flood plain, so the building had to be above a certain height off the ground
  • They could only use construction students who were all under 18, apart from one student who became 18 during the project. Only people of 18 years and above were allowed to legally use power tools, so this one student became the go-to power tool guy!

The construction was made on the ground using manual tools such as mallets, and then the frame was raised up to position. The design of the farmer’s market building came entirely from the teenagers, who expressed the desire for it to be a “bold façade”. The next challenge was to find suppliers to sell their wares at the market. The students set out to find people to sell products such as kale.

The launch of the farmers’ market created four new businesses and fifteen new jobs. Emily mentioned that she asked one of the students involved in the project to provide feedback, and the following quote was given: “I want to come back someday with my kids, and tell them I built this”.

Seeking is more important than knowing
Emily suggested that asking questions, such as how and why, is more important than knowing the answers. Being in a constant state of enquiry is the best position.

Second Project  (Middle school library) – Emily went on to discuss her next project at the charter school in Berkley California, which was a useful exercise to demonstrate that Project H can work at both ends of the spectrum. The principal of the school wanted middle school kids (8th graders) to be involved in the project. The group of kids provided extra sets of challenges, including not being able to speak English, autism, and disciplinary problems.

The kids wanted to build a library for their school as a class gift, to give back to the school community. There had been a space earmarked for a library that was never built due to lack of funding. Emily decided as part of the initial planning process that the kids should visit a library; the feedback from the trip was that libraries are super boring! The following conclusions were reached:

  • The kids wanted the library to be a place of discovery and invention, not reference
  • The library would be designed to accommodate 108 8th graders

The group began to design a bookcase that could be put together in 108 different ways. The design that was chosen involved convex/concave shelves with a wavy design, which could be interlocked together in various ways to keep it as flexible as possible. The project felt unfinished and chaotic, but it was what the students wanted: “In Algebra, X is the unknown; the X-space is where we go to discover the things we don’t know”

Third Project (two individual homes built for the homeless) – Emily told us that Project H knew that, as a team, they could get this done no matter what happened. They did not have planning permission to begin with, and were in full view of the principal’s office, so they were expecting a visit to stop their work; fortunately, this didn’t happen.

When the big day arrived to raise the walls, Project H had up to 25 teenagers all working together, using geometry and trigonometry as core subjects that were applied to the project. Pallet wood was the material of choice to be used for the side walls, which posed problems as the wood was different colour, and often contained odd staples and nails hanging out of them. One of the students related to the pallet wood by saying “It’s all different, just like us, like a tapestry.”

Important design decisions were made as a group, such as, although this was a home for a homeless person, it would not contain running water, toilet or a kitchen. The group needed to address the issue that although it was public space, it also needed to provide a level of privacy.

The initial design the kids came up was that of a traditional house, and the two halves that were built, once placed together, resembled the original pencil drawing. A student that had worked on the project gave the following feedback: “I gave someone a place to live. Oh, and I got an A in this class, and I know how to build a house!”

Fourth Project (to create a space for young girls that celebrated curiosity) – This space was based around ideas to do with curiosity: “Curiosity breeds confidence.”

Project H wanted to create a space for young girls who were part of the Camp H after school summer programme for girls aged nine to twelve.

The first step for the girls to create was to build a bird house as a confidence builder, to get the girls used to working with the materials and some basic tools. The second step was to open up their curiosity, develop what you mean personally in order to express your identity as a person.

One of the favourite lessons was to learn arc welding, which really develops the girls’ confidence to move onto bigger welding projects.  The task set was to weld a symbol using four pieces of steel that represents both your first name and your last name. Emily talked through an example of a student with the first name “Ultraviolet” and a last name involving the word “Taylor” and a synonym for dark. The student created a symbol that featured a light and dark side, representing ultraviolet and darkness, which were stitched together to bring in the reference to “Taylor/tailor”.

Fifth Project (creating items to be used in a domestic abuse centre) – The project focused on creating a number of items that improved the experiences of the people living at the domestic abuse shelter. This included the following: coffee table, play house, shelving units, and a metre square garden.

Conclusion

  • “Curiosity takes you to a place where you can help others.”
  • “Curiosity is incremental, curiosity helps others.”
  • A student involved in the project was quoted as saying “I am a ten year old girl and I know how to weld: what can’t I do?”

Emily went onto to discuss the badge system that project H has created. This is similar to the badge system of the Boy Scouts, but the badges are a little different; they include as badges for welding, using power tools, carpentry, electronics and architecture.

She closed the session by advising the audience to think of themselves as learners, and to nurture their own creativity; that way you can nurture and mentor others.

Resource:
A recording of the presentation will be publicly available 90 days after the conference ends.