30 September 2019 - Campus for the future at EUNIS 2019

My reflections from EUNIS19, courtesy of ucisa's bursary scheme



Professional Development
The title of this year’s EUNIS, “Campus for the future”, was particularly relevant to me as my role is involved with the digital transformation that IT Services is leading at the University of South Wales. The way we are using and designing campuses is radically changing and our digital technology is contributing to that change.

One of my primary takeaways from the conference is the importance of a good working relationship between Estates and IT. I learnt from HEIs at the conference, from both Estates and IT staff, that the sector has moved from bricks to clicks to a more collaborative and inclusive bricks AND clicks. This strapline has resonated with me since my travel to Trondheim.

My role is to support our users through their digital journeys using innovative technology-enabled projects to improve the way we learn, teach and work. Since attending, I have collaborated with colleagues from our Estates department to work more closely together on current and future IT enabled change projects.

The conference has helped me understand the issues that Estates are experiencing with this massive culture shift in how we teach, learn and work and its impact on our physical estate. How IT projects look to Estates to support the changes in our physical campus in order to leverage maximum impact from the new technology. And how important it is for IT services to engage early on with Estates colleagues to plan our Campus for the Future.

I attended a workshop at the conference led by Heri Ramampiaro, Head of Data & AI and Deputy Head of Computer Science at NTNU, which I found fascinating. The concept of artificial intelligence and machine learning intrigues me. Since returning from EUNIS, I have written an article on AI for the University’s intranet site. IT is working to incorporate machine learning into new feasibility and concept projects we are considering at USW. Looking to the case studies at NTNU, we are working with partners to improve speed, accuracy and resilience together with aiming to reduce risk and errors in our digital processes. The University’s new Digital Strategy looks to augment our support services through robotic technology as part of our horizon scanning.

I have learnt so much from attending EUNIS19, I would recommend anyone involved in IT projects to attend. The scope and breadth of topics and innovative ideas covered by the conference would appeal to anyone who is involved with the planning and management of technology change and transformation in HE. Having had the opportunity to travel to Norway thanks to ucisa, was such a privilege and to be able to represent the University of South Wales and the UK HE sector was invaluable for me. I am already lobbying colleagues to look out for next year’s ucisa bursary scheme as I would encourage everyone to apply for this fantastic opportunity!

HE and FE IT community
Not only did ucisa give me the opportunity to travel to and attend the conference, but they put me in touch with like-minded souls in other HEIs.

As I am relatively new to the HE sector, I have few contacts at other universities. I implement change and improvements in technology and have a mantra of “don’t reinvent the wheel”. I found it helpful to informally benchmark against other HE institutions across Europe at the conference. Asking both quite broad and very technically explicit questions of others with similar experiences of IT in HE – it really helped me and I found it reassuring that with technologies such as Office 365 everyone is going through similar issues associated with the changing technology and culture.

Since returning home, I have connected with other universities and HE specialists whom I met at EUNIS. The requirements of the bursary included sharing my findings via social media. Using LinkedIn and Twitter, gave me a much wider reach and since returning I have reached out to contacts made during the conference, to enable longer-term sharing of expertise and opportunities to collaborate.

USW is currently migrating 22,400 students from Google to Microsoft technology. I have been in touch with other UK universities who have or are going through a similar technology migration and we are learning lessons from each other as a result. O365 has resulted in many challenges and highlighted the question of how we use our learning spaces not only in the campus for future, but right now.

Reaching out to Social Media
My ucisa bursary gave me the opportunity to work with some of our fantastic students and interns at the University of South Wales. As part of my bursary, they were tasked with designing a conference souvenir graphic of my EUNIS highlights, seen below.

The souvenir image received over 5,500 views on Twitter & was used by EUNIS in its newsletter to all HEIs across Europe. A short film was also made, which was brilliantly filmed and edited by our student Francesca Dimitrova which had over 200 views and a social media reach of more than 2000 and was shared by @ucisa, @NTNU and @EUNIS_IT.

You can view more of my bursary and conference takeaways on Twitter: @griffjones10573.

Colour image of conference souvenir graphic