UCISA SSG16 Day 2: Boxes, Bees, Dance

UCISA SSG continues to surprise me on day two. There was a bit about shiny stuff, a word from our students, a bit about processes, a bit about bees and some fervent dancing.

Thinking outside the Box. How a little bit of box made a big difference

Chris Dixon, Head of Operations, Lancaster University and Valerie Focke, Head of Education, EMEA, Box.com

Today’s business showcase was a big improvement on yesterdays. Chris shared his experience of implementing Box for the storage, management and sharing of files at Lancaster University. He highlighted the reasons for their decision. Chiefly, staff found the existing file management and sharing services ineffective. Particularly, sharing files outside of the organisation.

Student Panel

I love a student panel. They are always fascinating and it’s nice to hear from them directly.

IT services need to keep up

They talked about the need to make emerging technologies available so that students are prepared for the tech world. By the time they finish their studies the technology has changed so we need to prepare them.

They were asked how they like to be contacted. One said social media as that’s where they get their news. A mature student (that’s how she described herself) preferred email. Most importantly they felt that their lecturers need to be informed about ICT issues/services/tools etc. As often their lecturers are the ones introducing them to the tools.

They were asked about our marketing materials or “communications guff” as it was described. They all said it was overwhelming in induction week. They were bombarded with too much information. It would end up on a shelf never to be looked at again. Their preference would be to search for the information WHEN they need it. Not have it forced on them at every turn.

There was a misinterpretation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, the one with Wi-Fi at the bottom, which meant students were asked whether Wi-Fi was at the bottom of their priorities. Wi-Fi is actually the most important in the hierarchy as it becomes more important than basic physiological needs like eating, drinking and sleeping. They all agreed it was very important but not the be all and end all.

The dreaded lecture capture reared its ugly head. Questions of value for money and other nonsense. The students all said they like the personal interaction of a lecture.

Attendance monitoring arose, described by one student as ‘Big Brother’. One argued they are adults, they pay for lectures and whether they turn up is their decision. This was met with staunch opposition in the audience. My argument would be if they’re not turning up then the lecture needs work. They shouldn’t have to choose whether a lecture is worth their time. It should be to begin with.

The students didn’t feel ICT was approachable. It was described as hidden away, intimidating and they were reticent to interrupt people at work.

Some said 24 hour contact with ICT is important to them. Another said they didn’t need 24/7 they just want to know when their issue will be resolved and dealt with. They liked the use of live chat and video support.

Use of social media was preferred to remain personal and some felt, or were told, it was not appropriate for their studies. I don’t agree but I can see why they wouldn’t want us in their social media.

What did I learn? Students aren’t homogeneous. Don’t treat them that way. Stop saying “our students want” instead go and ask them. Remember, you’re going to struggle to please everyone.

How big business, and a bee, started our customer service journey at Leeds Beckett

Eleanor Draycott, Help Services Manager, Leeds Beckett University

What an animated and passionate team they have at Leeds Beckett. Eleanor told us about their redevelopment of their Service Desk Environment. Old fashioned counters were removed to create an open, inviting, friendly zone for staff and students to drop in to. Eleanor talked about the old counters being barriers between the service desk staff and the users. The work they have done, despite some difficult times in the project, has removed those barriers.

They have open spaces where staff and students can stroll in to. They even have a genius bar. They have principles that all staff have to adhere to and they recognise that the attitudes of the people they employ are just as important as the environment.

Embracing Open Badges: Showcasing staff and student achievement at York St John University

Roisin Cassidy, Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor, York St John University

I have always been a sceptic about badges. It feels faddy. Like the stars McDonalds used to give their staff. A bit…insincere. Rosin has changed my mind. Eroded some of my scepticism.

Open badges are based on a shared standard and contain metadata. The metadata says what the badge was earned for, who issued it and where from. The metadata follows the badges. York St John have been giving badges for participation in their CPD and Roisin shared some examples of uses in the curriculum. Getting the – “what and the why” is important to get right from the start. What is it for, why would people want it, what are the criteria and how will it be evidenced. I can see badges working well if we get that part right from the start. I’m thinking of starting with our CPD offering and go on from there.

Agile tools and techniques

Colin Jones, Web and Applications Team Leader, Robert Gordon University

I must confess to not having concentrated fully during this presentation. Forgive me Colin, it wasn’t you. I had an academic in crisis who needed help. Agile is nothing new. The scrum meeting concept isn’t either. There’s lots online about it. Sorry I can’t say much on the subject.

Marmite: academics and a toast to the IT crowd?

Mark Schofield, Dean, Teaching and Learning Development, Edge Hill University

This was an amazing presentation. Clearly Mark is a veteran. Mark is an academic who has worked in a number of institutions at home and abroad. He had a very insightful (and brilliantly funny) presentation. Which illustrated, as so many have during this conference, that we need to work together to do anything well. He represented the problem as a humpback bridge with ICT professionals on one side and academics on the other unable to see one another. Mark used memes brilliantly. The featured image for this post is one he used to describe ICT Professionals. (Based on this conference, and the passion they demonstrate, they don’t all take that attitude) He acknowledged we are all difficult beasts. But with mutual respect and empathy we can do some brilliant things.

This has to be my favourite presentation. Everyone was transfixed. What a showman.

Process improvement partnerships: continuous improvement at Leeds Beckett University

Clare Wiggins, Continuous Improvement Manager, Leeds Beckett University

I ended the day with some play. Clare talked us through continuous improvement at Leeds Beckett and then let us run riot with the Mr Potato Heads (MPH). The idea was to form a plan then as a team try to construct MPH as quickly and accurately as possible. We recorded our time each go and our accuracy. We then talked about how we’d do it better and tried again. Long story short we had been continuously improving by reflecting on our work.

It was great fun, a nice interjection to the day, but what did I learn? Don’t try. Be rubbish and people will be amazed by the improvement. We had the fastest time but won nothing. I’m not bitter. (I am bitter)

How do you measure up

Sally Bogg, Head of End User Services, Leeds Beckett University

Sally finished the day by sharing the results of this years benchmarking survey. It was really useful to hear about the work other University’s are doing. It’s also useful to know where you stand in the wider community.

If you’d like to look at the report it’s available on the UCISA SSG website here.

Dinner

Dinner was a formal affair. Beautifully decorated with Alice in Wonderland themed tables. Dinner was followed by much dancing. The brilliant Ten Hail Marys played some serious funk, ska and indie classics. I lost my mind when Mr Brightside came on. The night was finished perfectly by the final song:

So throw those curtains wide
One day like this a year would see me right – One day like this, Elbow

We’ve got a lot of change to come. Education is being systematically ripped apart by people so far removed from it they may as well be on the International Space Station. Remember HE is a wonderful profession to work in. Remember why we do it and who we do it for. It will be OK. Keep calm. Carry on.

What did I learn? ICT Professionals + free wine = serious shapes thrown.

giphy

Links

UCISA SSG16 Day 1: People, Service, Duty

UCISA SSG16 Day 3: Thinking, Hacking, Brilliance

Matthew Saunders: Ucisa Support Services Conference 2016 – Learning and Listening

UCISA SSG16 Day 1: People, Service, Duty

This is my first UCISA Support Services Group conference. It has always been, in my mind, “not for me”. It has always struck me as being for ICT professionals. That the presenters and attendees will not speak my language. I imagined it being full of tedious sessions with people droning on about their latest implementation of something or other. So far SSG16 has been quite wonderfully the opposite.

Tech-savvy

This phrase is a bug bare of mine. “Our staff/students are all tech-savvy and want to use xyz”. NO they are not. If you go and sit with enough of them you’ll soon see. It’s dangerous to assume that your users know how to do what you think they should. It’s not just dangerous, it’s arrogant. Stop it. If you’ve not seen the work Jisc has been doing around digital capabilities then go and take a look at their blog Jisc digital capability codesign challenge blog and James Clay’s elearning stuff blog.

Delivering excellence in public services; customers, challenges and collaboration

Aline Hayes, Director of Business Change and Information Solutions, Sheffield City Council

Aline delivered an interesting presentation on the approach to service delivery at Sheffield City Council. She emphasised the importance of engagement and collaboration with the end-user. There was some practical detail about their approach to ‘suppliers’ working as services or partners. She emphasised the important role the council plays in the loves of vulnerable people and how even the seemingly insignificant loss of services can have big consequences.

There was a lot of talk of customers. HE staff shudder at the word (though it’s not surprising for the council to use the term). Let’s not use the word but lets assume the principles that the word invokes. Trust, empathy, service and care. Our students and staff are using our services. Those services should be quality.

Despite being interrupted by a fire alarm evacuation Aline continued her delivery with aplomb.

Problem management on a shoestring!

Garry Hunter, Problem Manager, Northumbrian Water Group

I really enjoyed this presentation. Not only did Garry deliver it with zeal and engagement but he was making sense. Get to the root of the problem, fix it so it doesn’t happen again. Yes please. He’ll know he’s done a good job when they make him redundant.

What annoys staff most is when something is broken, ICT know it is, but they do nothing. They don’t care how long it takes to fix, or how hard it is, they just want it fixed!

Business showcase

The conference is split up by business showcases. The less said about today’s presentation the better. Mainly because I couldn’t hear it and doubt I would have listened even if I could.

Creating user centric services whilst maintaining corporate compliance – is it possible in higher education?

Andrew Howe, Head of End User Services, University of St Andrews

I LOVED this presentation. Andrew was speaking my language. No more technology for technology’s sake. Andrew presented a list of ‘things’ our students use and want. I think this is dangerous. There are a lot of students who don’t use those things and have no interest in them. Try asking them? But remember if you ask them if they want it they’ll say yes. Instead ask what they want to do. Then find the technology to make that happen!

Andrew reminded us that staff are not always capable of doing what ICT expect from them. Thank you. Digital capabilities…they aren’t all Bill Gates…support them…bla bla bla. (Read my other posts)

20×20 More than just a degree

Sally Bogg, Head of End User Services, Leeds Beckett University

This was an incredibly personal, heartfelt and sincere presentation. Sally shared her life experiences and the transformative experience HE has been for her. It was wonderfully refreshing. It reminded me of why I started working in HE. Why I love it. Why I get up every day.

We can touch lives. We can change lives for the better.

20×20 ICT vs academics

Timothy Ingham, Operations Manager, and Kerry Pinny, Digital Education Developer, University of Lincoln

Tim and I presented on the results and subsequent actions of a survey we sent to ICT and academic staff. If you work in HE you will appreciate there is a volatile relationship between the two. To summarise ICT don’t understand academics and academics don’t understand ICT. As a result everyone’s a bit dissatisfied and unsupported. We’re developing a ‘day in the life of’ session so they can share their experiences and develop understanding.

Dinner and Treasure Hunting

Dinner/food is the make or break of a conference. The dinner was informal BBQ style food. Long queue but the English revelled in it. Dinner was followed by a treasure hunt. The image for this post is our team cramming themselves in to a phone box. We were dedicated. The hunt was a walking tour of Leeds with some theft activities thrown in. Great fun and a brilliant ice-breaker.

Links

UCISA SSG16 Day 2: Boxes, Bees, Dance

UCISA SSG16 Day 3: Thinking, Hacking, Brilliance

Matthew Saunders: UCISA Support Services Conference 2016 – Learning and Listening

 

Highlights: UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities 2

I had a fantastic time at this years UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities 2 (USDC) conference. I was so pleased that the Digital Capabilities group put on another event.

People matter

My biggest ‘take-away’ from USDC is the continued belief that people matter. The featured image for this post was an attendees idea of digital nirvana represented in box form. The message felt particularly pertinent given the discussions we had over the two days.

Be just you. Surround yourself with technology, but remember that humans are still the most important thing. USDC attendee May 2016.

I have often been guilty of putting technology before people. Thinking that using the technology is more important than how it will be used and how it will support learning. I think Helen Beetham put it best:

We should be bringing people with us. Finding technology that relates to them and their practice. That enhances their practice and the experiences of their students.

Most importantly we should be careful that our language, attitudes and behaviours don’t alienate those with lower digital skills.

Metathesiophobia

I had never heard of this term until my former colleague Sue Watling mentioned it in her presentation. Follow Sue on Twitter, check out her brilliant blog the Digital Academic and her post Metathesiophobia and other #udigcap take-aways.

My experience of staff attitudes to technology has most regularly been a mixture of fear and irrelevance.

Frameworks

James Clay (James has written several posts about USDC on his blog elearningstuff.net) described the work Jisc has been doing on digital capabilities and reminded is of their framework on day 1. I live blogged about it on this site in the post Building digital capability for new digital leadership, pedagogy and efficiency. I really like the Jisc framework. It is clear, simple and well designed. Helen Beetham wrote a post about her work revisiting the framework in her post Revisiting digital capability for 2015.

Jisc six elements of digital capability
Jisc six elements of digital capability

One thing I wondered, whilst I listened to Fiona Handley from University of Brighton talk about the framework they developed, was whether it is even worth doing? (Read Fiona’s blog on USDC here.)

I have lost the plot with frameworks and frankly I’m not 100% certain what a framework actually is. The definition of framework is:

  • the basic structure of something : a set of ideas or facts that provide support for something

  • a supporting structure : a structural frame

Merriam-Webster

The key word, in this definition, is basic. What I fear happens when we take a framework is that we take it and make it far too complex. That in its adaptation we lose the simplicity that makes a framework so accessible.

I for one will not be adapting the Jisc framework. It will drive our work here at Lincoln but it’s perfect, and most helpful, exactly as it is.

 IT Training Teams

I wrote a full post on the panel discussion Debate: Do we still need IT training teams?. Having been an IT trainer it’s an issue very close to my heart. There is a tendency to believe that resources like Lynda.com can be a replacement for the classroom training team.

 

Lynda is brilliant. It has it’s placed. Particularly for the any-time anywhere learning we are told students so desire. It cannot replace the reassurance and skills of the IT trainer. Lynda can’t pick up on when you don’t understand. It can’t change it’s delivery to suit it’s audience. It can’t answer questions. It can’t ask you questions to see if you understand.

IT Training teams can. We need them.

Employing staff without skills

There was a big debate in the room on why we continue to employ staff who don’t have the existing digital skills. This is something that I will be dedicating an entire post to.

For more tweets and activity from USDC check out my Storify

Edit…| Day Two

Today was dedicated to honing pitches. How do you ensure your audience listens to your pitch? How do you influence your audience? How can you achieve buy in to your idea?

Day two was kicked off by Hil Gibbs who shared her tips for a great pitch. Our teams spent the day honing and practising their pitches ready for recording in the afternoon.

Our teams spent the afternoon working on their pitches. Honing down their ideas in to their simplest forms to create a convincing argument.

Our teams recorded their pitches. We played them at the Jisc Change Agents Network National Meet-up drinks reception. They were very well received and both teams were praised for their hard work and innovative ideas. Here are their pitches:

Analogue Garden – Linford and Tom

My Voice – Jasmine, Laura and Kirsten

We’re really excited to take forward these ideas and run the event again next year.

Edit…| Day one

 

We have been running the inaugural Edit event today. Students and staff are working together to generate ideas and improve the student experience. Here’s a brief look at what we’ve been doing so far.

We began by identifying problems that affect the student experience. We were lucky to be joined by Hil Gibbs who shared some techniques for identifying ideas.

  • Be like a child.
  • Banish fears, uncertainties and doubts.
  • Think about other worlds.
  • Screw-ups.
  • Random pictures.

Reframe problems in to challenges.

Look at other worlds.

Screw-ups and 5 whys

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Transforming space

 

Plant-it society

 

 

Stakeholders and user stories

 

Two ideas will continue to be developed tomorrow:

  1. Students reviewing individual lectures/sessions to help staff to develop their teaching and improve student learning.
  2. Rooftop garden. Looking at the underutilised spaces at the University to develop exciting and stimulating social and learning spaces.

 

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Live blogging the verdict: madness

seagull

Live blogging. How do I loath thee?

How do I loath thee? Let me count the ways.
I loath thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I loath thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I loath thee freely, as men strive for right.
I loath thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I loath thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I loath thee with a hate I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I loath thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but loath thee better after death.

Adapted from How do I love thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

If my poem was too subtle let me tell you how much I have hated every moment of my live blogging experiment today. It was the worst idea I have ever had. I should have listened to those of you who warned me. It was hideous.

I arrived at the venue full of optimism. Although I could have done without carrying the laptop all the way here. Woop woop I thought, there are tables in the lecture theatre, I can use my laptop. I couldn’t find a plug but we’ll return to that later. So I eagerly set up and log in. Connect to the WiFi but wait, the WiFi drops out constantly. I managed to get on to this website for a few minutes before it died.

Let’s not forget the adaptation of Maslow’s hierarchy:

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

It’s tongue in cheek but seriously,we need WiFi to communicate. I had no better connection on my phone but at least I had signal.

So I used my phone. Writing my posts in Google Keep and then pasting it in to the WordPress app. It was the least comfortable thing I have experienced in a while. I am convinced I now have RSI. I kept hitting the full stop or it would auto-correct the words. It was a tiny screen and I was hunched over looking at it. I did this until after lunch.

IT Crowd
IT Crowd

So during lunch someone ‘fixed it’ and I endeavoured to use it. It still dropped out. But we did find the plugs on the inside of the chairs. Phew, POWER. Particularly when I clicked the publish button on my posts. I think this was just the WiFi demons having their fun. As you will see on my Twitter I produced a blog for every session I attended.

I found I couldn’t fully concentrate. Too busy thinking about what to write or trying to capture what someone has said and missing everything afterward. It stopped my participating and enjoying the conference. It probably annoyed my neighbours too. Keyboards are not subtle.

I haven’t read them back yet so can’t comment on their ‘sense’ or ‘quality’. I leave that to you dear readers. But I did what I set out to do. I have experienced live blogging. I’ve practiced what I preach.

Will I be doing it tomorrow?

Dr Evil - How 'bout no
Dr Evil – How ’bout no

Nope. I will go back to micro-blogging with Twitter. My hand hurts.

Tips if you’re thinking about live blogging

  1. Don’t do it.
  2. Make sure you have quality, reliable WiFi access.
  3. Don’t do it.
  4. Use a device you will be comfortable typing on.
  5. Don’t do it.
  6. Make sure you have a comfortable environment. A table preferably.
  7. Don’t do it.
  8. Decide what you’re going to write, your interpretations or a transcript.
  9. Don’t do it.
  10. think about alternative methods. Twitter and Storify for example.
Link

Building digital capability for new digital leadership, pedagogy and efficiency

Jisc six elements of digital capability

I am sat in Birmingham listening to another of James Clay’s greatest hits. If you don’t know what I’m talking about read James’s blog. I am happy to call it a greatest hits keynote because I never tire of hearing it.

(I am writing this on my phone as the WiFi here is awful!)

James talks about the digital capabilities discovery tool. The tool has broken some of his perceptions about his online behaviour. He scored low on promotion. Clearly his perceptions of himself were wrong. The tool will be available to everyone in the summer.

The most valuable thing about the tool will be the development of the resources to accompany it. It’s all well and good showing what you can’t do. But we need to.make sure we have a solution available.

So what does digital capability mean? We need to gain a shared understanding within organisations. For example to some just being able to use Office is capable to some.

We need to understand that people who don’t engage with social media will struggle to use other communications tools. It’s not about Twitter. It’s about the transferable skills gained through its use.

James used the example of the release of HIV patient data to demonstrate that it wasn’t caused by human error, it’s lack of digital capabilities. How can we expect people to know how to deal with data if they’ve never had training?

An interesting observation is that academic staff job descriptions do not include digital or technology. What does that say about our expectations and the seriousness with which we take the digital?

“How do we know what we know?”

James asks “where is Barclay’s biggest branch?”

The answer. Their app. A modern organisation needs to be digitally capable.

It’s so true look at HE. Where is the biggest classroom? It’s the VLE. It is the most visited resource (aside from the pub) at Universities.

We need to take advantage of it and do it well. Staff need support to do that. They weren’t born with those skills. We need to facilitate their gaining them.

Technology, Digital Capabilities and the Language of Change

Communication and resilience are key to change. Here here. We often neglect people and focus on the service. Change effects people differently but all change is disruptive. This is the basis of David Walker’s presentation. How do we avoid alienating everyone?

When we think about technologies we shouldn’t be distracted by the shiny stuff. I like to think of this as not doing stuff for the sake of it. Do we need to change? Is the disruption worth it? How do we support people through? How do we communicate?

David says that HE has taken a developmental approach to change rather than transformational. We’ve been in the brink of transformation for years but we’re yet to take the plunge. The learning curve is only going to get steeper.

How will people react to change? Badly? Well it’s largely down to poor communication. So true. Someone described it as setting the ‘hares running’. The rumours get out, Chinese whispers start and the message is completely different and much more frightening than it was when it was sent out.

Our language doesn’t help. What the heck does excellence mean for example. We need a common language. What works for business won’t work for engineering. We need to understand all contexts to get the message right.

image

So how do we implement change?

image

Benchmarking your students’ digital experience

students

We’re now talking student engagement with Ellie Russell, Student Engagement Partnership Manager, NUS, and Sarah Knight, Senior Co-design Manager, Jisc.

(I am getting RSI from blogging on my phone. I regret this decision. No WiFi so needs must)

So we’re looking at how we involve students in our learning community. It already kinda happens. Students unions, involvement in curriculum design and committees. What I was most pleased to hear was the acknowledgement that sometimes student engagement activities focus more on the warm and fuzzy feeling we get from doing it. Rather than looking at the results and impact.

So how do we involve students in the digital?Consider:

Are students involved from the start? In the design? What about training and support?

So, how do we measure student skills and experiences?

I love that after all the research Sarah Knight has done WiFi is the thing students are most concerned about.

Sarah suggests that we are not taking advantage of involving students in the development of our strategies. There is a real power in this. To persuade staff to improve their digital capabilities leaders said they want case studies, not from the teacher, from the learners perspective. This is something Jisc is working on. I look forward to those.

Jisc have created a student experience tracker. 11,000 responses have been received during pilots. A report will be released within weeks. Interesting that students are not told about how their data is held. Most surprising is that that’s something they are concerned about.

71% of students responded that their learning experience is improved when technology has been involved. We should be shouting loudly about this. Perhaps it will persuade the ‘negative Nelly’s’ to start using tech in their teaching.

Amber Miro Award winner 2015: Lessons from a Learners’ Toolkit

Toolbox

Hamish Loveday is talking about the learner toolkit he’s developed. I am really enjoying this talk. XXX is speaking my language. People first, technology later.

(I’m on the la

Let’s start with people. What do they want to achieve and what can we do to achieve it. Technology is there to serve us and what we do. It shouldn’t drive what we do! So Hamish overcame an issue with the VLE, its inflexibility, by building a platform of their own. Learning gained from the process was more valuable than the building of the tool itself.

It’s important to give people space to innovate. All too often workload gets in the way of ideas. We have them but don’t have time to implement them. YES. So true. So often I think of things I would like to do. They get to the bottom of the list and remain there. Institutions need to understand that progress can only be made when we are given the space to make it. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Never assume anything. Don’t be afraid to test your idea. Make a minimised version and test it out. This is very true but you need the space to create and the skills. ICT departments are often reticent to install something that is not supported by a company. Their fears are legitimate no doubt but it does make innovation very difficult.
The learner’s toolkit collects all the learning materials and training resources in one place. I like the use of profiles to help users navigate to content. The fact that something so simple was achieved by 2.5 people in a couple of months is staggering. It all seems to be down to the fact that the team were left alone to do it. They also knew the value of the long game. There are no quick fixes. The team are now looking at allowing other members of staff to contribute content to the toolkit.