Tag Archives: networking

Learning behaviours and the development of new digital systems

Alice Gallagher
Senior Product Development Manager
The Open University

 

Making the most of the OEB conference


In December I was lucky enough to be awarded a UCISA bursary to attend OEB in Berlin, Germany. It is a vast, international conference that I would otherwise not have had chance to experience.

What is OEB?

OEB (formerly Online Educa Berlin) is an international learning and technology conference that spans corporate, education and public service sectors. It lasts for three days and attracts more than 2,000 participants and over 100 exhibitors. There are more than 100 sessions across the three days, including hands-on workshops, plenaries, interactive breakout sessions, discussions and debates, labs, demos and performances.
What most attracted me to the 2017 conference was the conference themes of ‘Adapting for Action’, ‘designing to Engage’ and ‘Enhancing New Skills Learning’ and how these relate to the work I am currently involved with. Most notably, research into learning behaviours to inform the development of new digital systems and tools at the Open University.

Where is it?

It is held at the Hotel InterContinental, on the western side of Berlin, around 20 minutes from Tegal Airport. It’s quite a busy area, with shops, restaurants and Berlin tourist attractions not too far away. In December there are also the Christmas markets nearby, which are well worth a visit at the end of a busy day of conferencing.

What’s it like?

In a word, big. It is a packed programme of events, with thousands of delegates descending on the Hotel InterContinental. There’s a great, buzzing atmosphere and loads of opportunities to connect with people who have different perspectives on learning and technology. The sessions are really varied and there are tons of stands to visit. The hardest part is working out where to spend your time.

 

Getting the most out of it

If you can, arrive the day before the main conference starts. You need a bit of time to acclimatise, and read the conference programme in detail. There are also pre-conference events the day before, but you need to pre-book those. Some are free, but most are extra on top of your conference ticket price.
The app is really useful, so download that when you arrive. You can choose your session and create a timetable for yourself. You can also find other delegates on there. Really useful for when you’ve forgotten the name of the person you’ve just been talking to!
I was able to attend on an OEB-plus ticket, which enabled me to attend extra sessions, as well as access to a quieter lounge and restaurant. Perfect for networking opportunities!

OEB 2018

The overall theme of the 2018 conference is ‘Learning to Love Learning’, with a focus on its changing role in our future society. Some of the more focused themes include ‘Instilling curiosity’, ‘Dynamic learning, training and future-oriented skills’, ‘Nascent technologies to change learning’, ‘Developing learning professionals’ skills and implementing complex change’ and ‘Measurable results and data collection pay-offs’. The keynote speakers have been announced as Ulrich Boser (The Learning Agency), Geoff Mulgan (NESTA), Ben Williamson (University of Stirling) and Esther Wojcicki (Educator, journalist and IT and OER consultant). It looks a fascinating conference.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.
UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

IGNITE Expo mission – to network

Tristian O’Brien
SharePoint Technical Specialist
University of Brighton

Microsoft IGNITE Expo 2017

Tristian O’Brien was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

Mission today, is to network and try to get the low down on some issues that my team and I are interested in.  This means that we go to various Expo stands and talk with vendors such as ShareGate, Microsoft, Zerto and take demos from SPorganizer amongst others:

  • what’s the throttling situation in Office365?
  • approaches in Microsoft Teams governance
  • but more importantly, collect swag such as SharePoint socks the team are gonna love these.

This blog post first appeared on http://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/tristianobrien/

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Benefits of a UCISA bursary – six months later

Allister Homes Profile pic - small

 

 

Allister Homes
Senior Systems Architect
University of Lincoln

 

 

 

I have attended a number of HE-sector EA events over past few years, and applied for the UCISA bursary hoping that the Gartner EA summit would help me learn more from experts outside the HE sector, and perhaps help me to consider different perspectives. I didn’t see official figures, but I estimated that there were roughly 400-600 attendees. The same summit also takes place in the USA on different dates (with, I would imagine, an even larger number of delegates). As you would expect, there were a lot of sessions running in parallel, so it was impossible to get to everything, and I cherry picked what I thought likely to be the most interesting and useful sessions.

It wasn’t surprising to find that the EA practice of universities is more modest than that a lot of other organisations represented by delegates at the conference. I mentioned in the reflections blog post that there was often an unvoiced assumption that delegates were part of teams with significant numbers of architects and developers, with suggestions such as “when you get back, why not assemble a small team of 5 people to go and investigate X, Y and Z”. It’s good to see how EA is being done outside the sector, but equally important to remember that we need to use it appropriately by learning and adapting from billion-pound organisations, rather than hoping to replicate.

I found the summit helpful to maintain my thinking as an architect on how the architecture we implement now can support the changes that we will need to implement in coming years. Nobody knows exactly what these changes will be, but nonetheless we need to make the best decisions we can now in order to be flexible for whatever change comes along later.

Cloud maturity

Gartner’s views on cloud maturity were interesting and seemed sound. Things such as breaking through vendor fog and hype to get the real information about what offerings are available, the fact that many vendors now offer new services as cloud first, the need to frequently update cloud strategies, and the fact that it’s a case of the “degree of cloudiness” rather than whether to take a cloud approach or not, all ring true.

There was useful insight into changes that Gartner Analysts expect to see over the next few years. Information about strategic trends was also interesting and useful as background information to keep in mind when considering enterprise architectures over the next few years. So too was the session on making sure the architecture is flexible enough to respond to business moments as rapidly as possible; in a setting such as HE, I think getting to that point of the intuition’s architecture being flexible is itself a significant undertaking that will take a long time to achieve, and has to come about gradually, but with deliberate direction, as things are introduced, removed and changed.

Software architecture

In retrospect, I’d categorise several sessions as being about software architecture rather than enterprise architecture; for example, more than one session looked at designers splitting applications into smaller applications and using micro-services for massive web-scale SOA.  Cases in point included Netflix and Facebook, but I think the enterprise architect would be more interested in the services Netflix delivers, how it interacts with other services and how people interact with it, than the detailed software architecture of how Netflix works internally.

Networking

Unlike many of the HE events I’ve attended, I didn’t make any useful contacts at the conference with whom I could occasionally keep in touch to share information. I mentioned in the reflections blog that conversations appeared to be mainly limited to people who already worked together, and a bit of people-watching seemed to reveal that others who, like me, tried to strike up conversations with ‘strangers’ didn’t get much of a flow going. This may well be the norm for a large conference with people from diverse organisations, the vast majority of which would be profit making entities less inclined to openly share.

Attending the summit has not fundamentally changed what I (or we at the University) do or how I think, and it’s a conference that would be useful to attend every two or three years rather than annually, but overall it was beneficial and an interesting experience.

Perhaps one of the most thought-provoking things was that Gartner estimates that by 2017 60% of global 1000 organisations will execute at least one revolutionary and currently unimaginable business transformation effort. Of course, there are no universities in that list, but I wonder – what the proportion of universities that will undergo such a transformation by 2017 will be, and what that transformation will be?

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme 2018.