Tag Archives: edu18

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.

Getting the best out of Educause

Richard Goodman
Learning Technology Team Manager
Loughborough University

Conference round-up

As I sit on the A-Train (officially called the University of Colorado A Line for sponsorship reasons) from Denver to the airport, I’m reflecting a little on the events in Denver at Educause, which I was able to attend courtesy of a UCISA bursary. It has been the most rewarding conference experience. 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.
The backdrop to this conference is of a world which has various parts in chaos. In the UK HE sector, it’s been a tricky year, with a once-in-a-generation strike affecting much of the sector (concerning pensions), and institutions looking for more and better systems to support and improve their student experiences. Blockchain is background noise. Cloud is commonplace now. The MOOC bubble has burst a bit (in the UK at least).
One of the big themes of the conference was around diversity, equity and inclusion. These are areas that have resonated in many places in the last few years, with politics in the UK and the US appearing to veer off in the opposite direction to this right now.
I’ve thrown 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 a nice guy from a start-up who are looking to get into the world of online learning with an interesting web tool. The tables and chairs inside the corrugated cardboard booths were perfectly pleasant. The 1970s “Barbarella” style swinging chairs were less conducive to a friendly chat.
However, nothing was as bad as the chairs made out of skis, which were massively uncomfortable and almost impossible to get out of! You might also spot some swings in the background – it’s hard to talk about serious subjects when wobbling around on a swing.

 

 
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. I hope I made the right choices, but I’ll never know. 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.
The exhibition was enormous. There were 333 of them to choose from, with multiple Google stands (including half a basketball court), an enormous Service Now stand and plenty of the usual suspects with massive stands. Technology has become a tool which guides change.
Far more interesting to talk to the smaller providers and those in “start-up alley”. Once you’ve seen the latest laptop from Lenovo or Dell or a Microsoft Surface once, you’ve seen them enough. Some familiar faces on the Moodle stand and there were a few other suppliers there to chat with about existing projects. It was very handy for one project we were currently working on, as I could show something to the supplier which they could relay back to their implementation team, as we both happened to be in the same time zone for once!
There’s so much still to reflect upon and that will happen naturally over the next year when thinking back to some of these conference experiences and the presentations that were shared. There’s been a very lively social media community on the #edu18 hashtag too. Communication and collaboration have been key themes that I will try to take into 2019.
I’ll leave you with a last image of Colorado, a slightly blurry view of the Rocky Mountains that have always been visible from somewhere each day. This was the view from the train on the way to the airport.
A fantastic conference experience in an amazing city. Before coming here I would never have put Denver on my “cities to visit” list. Having been here, I’m eager to come back and explore more. It’s very much an “outdoor city” with so much provision for walking and cycling, far more than I’d been expecting. You can explore so much on foot, or catch trains, buses and trams.
Au revoir Denver. Thanks again to UCISA and the UCISA bursary scheme for giving me this opportunity. Look out for the 2019 edition of the scheme around February/March for your chance to attend an event that you might otherwise be unable to attend. You can read all of my posts here.
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.

Reflecting on change in IT

Richard Goodman
Learning Technology Team Manager
Loughborough University

Educause 2018 – Day Three

Day Three of Educause, I say “day”, it’s more of a half day, and the numbers are rather thinning out after yesterday. With exhibitors packing up and going home (or taking half day trips to the mountains in the case of those I had dinner with last night) we are down to the hard core of attendees. We’re still talking a couple of thousand people, but the 8am (a lie-in!) session on change management was sparsely attended compared to the standing room only at some of the other sessions in the last few days.
Change management is an ever important topic, and it’s a process that is evolving and maturing at many UK universities. If it is introduced in a way that appears too heavy-handed to your IT specialists, you risk disengaging them, so it is something that needs to have a nuanced approach, with changes around certain times of year subject to more scrutiny, and a lot of team/service manager discretion built in to the process for more regular/routine changes. A robust and engaged change management board is important, and if they are not paying enough attention to changes then this kind of negates their usefulness. It’s a process that needs to be designed with the input of many stakeholders in IT, not just those at senior management level. There was plenty of lively debate during this session.
The next session was on the topic of “onboarding”, or in plain English, “what happens when someone joins your organisation/department/team”. This is something that I’ve been interested in for a while. Thinking back to my own experience way back in 1996 (yes, I’ve been with the same organisation for over 22 years, in different roles), I think it’s fair to say that this is one process that hasn’t really moved with the times. This was an interesting session from Dartmouth College. That’s in Hanover, New Hampshire, as opposed to the one that I’ve been to, the town on the western bank of the estuary of the River Dart in Devon.
Dartmouth have some famous alumni, with perhaps the most notable being Nelson Rockefeller (Gerald Ford’s vice president). The journey that they take their new staff on is quite an interesting one, and certainly seems to be an enriching experience for new employees. How much of it might translate to a smaller country and institution is something to reflect upon, but there was plenty of food for thought. I’ll come back to food in a moment.
After a break to grab a final coffee, we find ourselves back in the Bellco Theatre, and the wings are not as full as on the first morning.

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We are here for Alexis Ohanian, aka Mr Serena Williams, aka the co-founder of Reddit. His presentation was entitled “Make Something People Love” and was a very interesting delve into the olden days of the modern web (some of us are old enough to remember the 1990s web), featuring lots of early screenshots of popular sites and social media platforms. Do you remember the first days of Twttr (when it had no vowels)?
Alexis had a lot to say on this, and lots of insight. Nowadays we can go out to lunch, take a photo of our smashed avocado on rye presented on a slate, and then share that using an app with a beautifully designed user experience.
When we get back to lunch, we then have to interact with an ugly HR or finance system which seems to have had no thought given to the user experience. Why is it that Instagram is a more pleasurable experience than Oracle E-Business Suite Financials?
A genuinely engaging keynote, so much to think about. Maybe over lunch which can then be shared on social media? Not today I’m afraid, as this was the close of the conference. No lunch today, so several thousand delegates streamed out of the Bellco Theatre, and in to the surrounding streets to find something to eat, whilst digesting the conference proceedings. I’ll digest them and produce a brief summary tomorrow.
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.

Key themes at Educause

Richard Goodman
Learning Technology Team Manager
Loughborough University

Educause 2018 – Day Two

So Day Two of the main Educause conference and it feels like it’s been going for a lot longer after Wednesday’s Day One, and events on Tuesday too.
Another 7:30am “braindate” kicked things off, and then the opening session in the big Bellco Theatre at 8am on AI.
In the blink of an eye, it’s 9:45am and the parallel sessions are up and running again. As the holder of an ITIL Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management (quite a mouthful), I was interested to attend the IT Service Management session, to see where other institutions are at on their ITIL journey. Lots of people (including me) stood up to share plans, stories, issues and achievements in this area. It’s fair to say that a lot of people are adapting ITIL to fit with their processes in order to try and get the best out of it. No-one really seems to be using it “off the shelf”.
Unfortunately, the end of that session clashed with the start of some of the next sessions, so there were around 12 parallel sessions that were then not available. That did leave time for another braindate, this time talking about our ten plus years of Moodle experience, and the different activities and their uses in relation to the electronic management of assessment. It was interesting to reflect on how far we have come with our Moodle journey (being one of the early adopters in UK HE) and where other institutions are at.
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After another efficient lunch (see my previous post), it was on to the next session, which was around relationships and working with lots of groups across an institution in order to drive projects forward with informed decision making.
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The theme of IT Services as a trusted partner came up quite a lot, and it seems to be a key area for institutions who want to deliver projects with stakeholders from around the institution.
There was another session around privacy and ethics in relation to learning analytics, and this is going to be a big topic in 2019. There’s lots of data that we might already hold, or be able to collect, on our students, but should we use this data, and how do we form a partnership with the student voice in order to explore a way forward?
The conference continues tomorrow, but the exhibition hall closed this evening, so it will be rather odd to go back tomorrow with an enormous part of the overall experience missing. The queues for the UPS Store (inside the convention centre itself) were enormous as we were leaving this evening. Everyone is clearly keen to get their exhibition equipment packed up and shipped out as soon as possible!
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.

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.
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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.

Lessons learnt from US institutions at Educause 2018

Richard Goodman
Learning Technology Manager
Loughborough University

 

 

Educause 2018 – day zero

As I mentioned in my opening post, this year, 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.
Today is the day before Educause 2018 gets underway in earnest. The Tuesday is characterised by a mixture of pre-conference workshops (additional registration required) and user group meetings. The workshops cover a diverse range of topics such as GDPR, digital storytelling, procurement, portfolio management and many more.
My day began with attending a CampusM user group meeting. CampusM are one of Loughborough University’s educational technology partners, supplying the Loughborough University mobile app to give students access to key information on their mobile, including the University VLE, lecture capture, digital registers and mobile timetables.
It was interesting to compare and contrast approaches to the mobile app with universities in the US who were in attendance, and the different drivers for using a mobile app with students. The supplier also shared some highlights from the product roadmap, and the audience were discussing some of the potential uses for the new features, as well as sharing stories and experiences from our implementations of the product. A very useful session and I hope that all of the international attendees found the unique chance to share experiences with very different institutions as useful as I did.
Following on from that I attended the Oracle Executive Summit. Oracle powers some of our key corporate systems, and this panel session featured experiences from a range of US universities, telling the story of how IT and business leadership collaborated to leverage the process of migrating key enterprise applications to the cloud to build their overall capacity for innovation and achieve substantive change. We heard what prompted the innovation, how they transformed their institutions, and some of the benefits that they have achieved so far. A number of US institutions appear to be moving away from on premise computing, so it was interesting to hear their cloud migration stories.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about that photo above, one of the meetings was held in a Denver hotel that was built inside the former Colorado National Bank. During the renovation, they added two new floors to the building, whilst retaining most of its features, including the three-story atrium with classical marble colonnades and 16 large murals depicting the life of Native Americans on the plains. Three of the bank’s massive vaults were also retained, including the basement meeting room where we spent some of the day. The thought of doing some kind of Ocean’s 11 re-enactment did cross our mind.
Tomorrow, the conference begins, with over 8,000 people here in Denver ready to attend. That number is just a little bit mind boggling, and it has increased by 1,000 since my estimate yesterday, as the official figures have become available…
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.