Tag Archives: non-profit

Bursary review – Educause

michelle

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

 

 

 

I applied for and was extremely delighted to be awarded a UCISA Bursary to attend the conference of my choice in 2015. I chose to attend Educause 2015 , based on very extremely good feedback from fellow UCISA_PCMG committee members who had attended in previous years.

Educause is a non-profit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of Information technology. It is based in North America, but has global reach, with members in Europe, Africa and Australasia. Each year the Educause annual conference is attended by upwards of 7000 higher education professionals. Oxford University has been a member of Educause for a number of years, and has presented at past conferences.

The main areas of interest from the Educause programme based on my current projects were in the areas of identity management, smart cards, and risk management. The organization of the event was extremely good; there was a mobile app that you could download and schedule which presentations you wanted to attend, which then formed your own customized conference schedule. The event was vast: with approximately 7000 attendees, you need to be really well organized. The “First timer pit stop” area was a must on the first day of the event after registration. The “International Welcome lounge” became my home from home after attending the presentations. I used the IT equipment in the International Lounge to type up my blogs, ready to be posted onto the UCISA blog site:

The keynote speakers in particular were really inspiring and engaging. I was particularly moved by the closing keynote speech by Emily Pillotan.

Emily runs a non-profit design company and shared a few of her project stories with the audience. These included a farmers’ market public space, a middle school library, two homes for the homeless, creating a space for young girls, and creating items to be used in a domestic abuse centre. After explaining each scheme, Emily provided quotes from individuals that worked on the project. This was by far the focal point which really underlines why Emily does what she does and the value she helps put back into people’s lives and communities.

The general session was presented by Daniel Pink from MIT, who described motivation from the perspective of science. Daniel said that everyone in the room was an expert in motivation, they just may not realise it yet! He also said that we all have an explicit knowledge of physics without having studied it as a major. Daniel discussed when you should reward good behavior and bad behavior, and whether this changes behavior. I think I will be adding one of his books to my reading list: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

One of the sessions that made me think outside of the box a little when it comes to career aspirations was the panel discussion “From IT Support to CIO: A journey of three women” The career path from support to CIO is not a usual one, in my experience; however, the experiences shared by the panel made it clear that if you are motivated and think big, you can succeed to the highest heights!  Originally, I was not planning to attend this presentation, but whilst looking for another room, I came across this, which seemed more appealing!

Since attending Educause a number of Identity Management suppliers have been in contact with me, which is near perfect timing for the IAM programme. I have passed onto the programme manager in charge of IDM all the contact details I gathered whilst attending Educause, which will be used to help source an IDM solution.

I would like to thank UCISA for giving me the opportunity to attend Educause 2015. It has helped me broaden my networking and knowledge base, learn from my peers, gain a useful insight into how International institutions work, and bring all that I have learnt back to Oxford University and UCISA_PCMG to share with colleagues and peers.

Day Type of Session Presenter(s) Title
1 Session 1 – Opening keynote Daniel Pink (MIT) How small wins can transform your organization (blog post)
1 Session 2 – Presentation Lawrence Bobranski (University of SasKatchewan) A practical approach to risk management that delivers results  (blog post)
1 Session 3 –Poster Myles Darson – JISC National BI Service for UK education
1 Session 4 – Panel Clint Davis, Mike Carlin and Thomas Hoover (UNC and UTC) Transforming IT – a tale of two institutions
2 Session  1- Direct poll Randall Albert (AD, Ringling college of art and design) Project Management (blog post)
2 Session 2 – Keynote speaker Andrew McAfee (MIT) The second machine age: work, progress and prosperity in the time of brilliant technologies 
2 Session 3 – Panel discussion Melody childs, Cathy O’Bryan, Wendy Woodward and Sue B. Workman From IT Support to CIO: A journey of three women  (blog post
2 Session 4 – presentation Emory Craig, Mike Griffith and Maya Georgeiva Wearable tech and augmented vision – Pedagogy in the future
3 Session 1 – presentation Ron Kraemer, Kevin Morooney and Anne West Trust and Identity in education and research identity for everyone  (blog post
3 Session 2- Closing keynote Emily Pillotan If you build it: The power of design to change the world  (blog post)

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.