Category Archives: Communications

#fote13 Future of Technology in Education 2013

October 11th, Senate House, University of London, for this year’s FOTE. Random commentary:


Nicola Millard/Customer Experience Futurologist, BT: Clouds, Crowds & Customers. @docnicola. Customers. Students = consumers? The ‘Why can’t everyone be as easy as Amazon?’ syndrome. Critical: reduction of effort in things that have to do but don’t really value. Can we be as easy as Amazon to do business with? What is easy – what is business. Easy: reduce cognitive effort (finding stuff); physical (going places); emotional (frustration); time (ubiquitous impatience). Easy impacts vfm. Omnichannel customers – how do we manage customers who skip around channels. Link app, website, phonecall, email, F2F? How? Crowds. Collaboration – used to be called cheating. Ref: the prosthetic mind. No longer send naughty child to their bedroom, just where they want to be – <but wasn’t that the case years ago? Need to be very clear on what is really new, & what just appears new but fundamentally isn’t…definition of new?> Clouds. F2F can’t be replaced. <but who says it can/should be?> Seeing incredible flexibility in workspaces <but are most people seeing this? Again, have been hearing this for years…>

Alicia Wise/Director of Universal Access, Elsevier: Open Access: Challenges, Possibilities, Future Outlook. Developing business model. Rapid rise in R&D leads to rise in research, need for easy way to get it all out there <paraphrase!> Research = increasingly interdisciplinary; internationally collaborative & mobile; big data intensive.

Gwen Noteborn/Researcher, Maastricht University: Webcasts in Education: Mythbusters! Head of edl@b. Using mediasite/sonic foundry. Video collaboration software…The truth about webcasting! Is knowledge lost in translation? Research found not. Appreciation of/connection to teacher may be. Afraid seems to be just churning out a bunch of research results – most of findings intuitively available anyway. Will online recording replace F2F? No – social aspect. <Well, no, not comparing eggs with eggs, chalk & cheese, apples & pairs & all that – should have learnt from myth of TV replacing cinema – they are different things!>

Q&A: I only have one so far that I really won’t ask – “So, what else is new?”

CIO Fireside Chat. Yousuf Khan/CIO, Hult International Business School (Chair); Adrian Ellison/Director of IT, UWL; Richard Maccabee/Director, ULCC; Heidi Fraser-Krauss/IT Director, York; Cathy Walsh, Principal & CEO, Barking & Dagenham College. RM: trends – tensions between IT & T&L perspectives? HFK: can do technology change, but behavioural change hasn’t happened. <Doing Digital> AE: does Cloud change behaviours? <IT Governance/Weill & Ross – ‘to encourage desirable behaviour in the use of IT’> Staff – have encouraged behavioural change in students without changing themselves. CW: modelling value-based behaviours, senior management walking the talk. HFK: deliver systems, don’t think about what the person at the other end is doing, enough. AE: be sure that you really have senior management (& other) engagement. How do we decide what technology to choose? CW: not about technology. HFK: only interested in what it can do for me, just want it to work. <Useful, usable, & used> What’s exciting? HFK: ease of use. AE: gap between choice of tools/new students & tools in use in HE. HFK: death of email? Can twitter/facebook replace? What can? CW: simplicity & openness. Open access. HFK: easy & just works = requirement. AE: technology & stress. Stress – when delivered without ease of use. RM: factors for success. Formula for change: dissatisfaction with status quo, vision of goal, tangible first step. Advice for changemakers: AD – engagement & communication. SAMO. HFK: the way we see the world isn’t necessarily how recipients of solution see the world – solve their problem, not yours. Shouldn’t assume you know. CW: communication. Don’t just engage with one set of stakeholders. RM: humble & brave; single-minded & flexible. Avoid bunker mentality. Q&A: should we be less flexible? RM: in danger of losing flexibility but need to deliver services. Tricky balance. Innovation: management & staff blame each other for lack of innovation, but technology has changed everything, how do we shift? IT role to tease it out & play it back. <probably management want efficiency & staff want effectiveness> CW: senior management humility, again walk the talk, don’t take themselves too seriously, senior management disconnected = huge blockage.


<insert photograph of woman in blue lycra bodysuit & wig>

Technology in Education – The Case Against/Lindsay Jordan, Senior Lecturer, University of the Arts. The Cup Song from PitchPerfect – wasn’t expecting that…demonstrates how great the internet is for short bite-sized focused bits of learning. Then piano! – not learnt on internet, impossible (?) & also parentally not self-motivated. Some loss when not in an F2F environment. So what’s the difference? With F2F:

  • Space for the purely social. Time off task. Architected social spaces.
  • Forging (forcing) relationships, very hard to hide.
  • Reduced flexibility/reduced choice. Flexibility about when & where do stuff is not always a good thing. How to focus in the age of distraction.
  • Very hard to resolve problems online.
  • Online communication can bring out the worst in people. Lack of presence makes it easy to be a bit rubbish. Alone Together – Sherry Turkle.
  • Eventedness: synchronicity, uniqueness, movement, difference, aesthetics. One night only.
  • Sacrifice/commitment

How do we bring it back? Harvard – SPOCS (Small Private Online Courses) not MOOCS. Interventions in physical world.

Interesting stuff!

Revolution – Include Me!

Martin King/Head of IT services at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College (EHWLC). Enabling the disconnected to get online – here comes everybody. Biodiversity versus monoculture – education fosters the latter. Average is not normal. <but Steve Vai is not a great guitarist imho> Anyone can play guitar? Mmmm – yeah, but…anyone can learn how to play guitar, not the same thing. A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work unless it’s open – Frank Zappa. What happens with technology mediated culture? Exponential effects of network connectivity. Different, anyway!

Research data – bothersome burden or treasure chest? Kevin Ashley/Director, Digital Curation Centre.

Data deluge will oustrip the ability of technology to deal with it. Data must be recoverable to be reused.

A game of two halves – afternoon much more interesting stuff. & that’s me done & off down t’pub…


UCISA Management Conference 2011 – Day 3

John Mahoney/Gartner – Leading Effective Transformation. The overlapping circles slide – nice to see that old chestnut again. Technology, processes and people – often look at any two, but not all three. Anthropologists understand how people work together to get stuff done – we need digital anthropologists. Is this the new job title for Business Analysts?

Can’t help but imagine that Gartner must have a department just for producing fancy diagrams.

Stakeholder segmentation chart – so that’s what they’re called! Here the segments are early adopters, reluctant majority & resistant laggards. We have ‘Obstruct/Let/Help/Drive’ – which includes more of the approach of positioning people where they are now, working out where you need them to be, & then taking steps to get them there. Good point on not leaving these things lying around – they can be very incendiary devices.

& then the Homer Simpson fugu fish moment – Kubler-Ross – ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish’, another global traveller anecdote, & we’re done.

Chris Bishop/Microsoft Research. Embracing Uncertainty – The New Machine Intelligence. The data revolution: stand-alone to cloud plus client; applications to services; isolated data to fusion; hand-crafted to automated. Information is the degree of surprise ie new data that doesn’t conform to expectations creates new knowledge; data that conforms confirms rather than creates. At least I think that’s what he meant!

Anthony Salcito/Microsoft. Embracing Uncertainty – developments from around the world. Student expectations. Employability. More with less needs different more. Instead of continuing to squeeze the lemon, figure out where the grapefruit is! Innovative teaching & learning, online assets, digital content. Priorities: unified communication, digital content, education analytics, virtualisation, cloud, social, mobility, identity integration. Move from basic, to standardised, to rationalised, to dynamic. Agility & service. Dog bites man again. Montage – interesting looking tool for aggregating data sources.

Paul Golding/Wireless Wanders. Current & future trends in mobile. “Future” guy – so what is he currently? Mobile is “everyware” – he’s an “intrapreneur” – so many nice new words. Slides. Won’t be long before can rely on all students having a smartphone. iOS or Android. Great slides, & different. Moving from info snacking to feasting on mobile devices – that sounds a bit strange, eat your iPad! Which is also a paradigm shift, escaping the PC. From utility to experience – from something you use to get a job done, to something you engage with because you want to. Blurring of boundaries between the real world and the virtual world – always have a problem with that, surely the virtual world must be real? The internet of things – by 2020 everything that can benefit from being connected will be connected. But who defines “benefit”? Everyware – defined as individual connected to a range of right-time streams. The new world is open!

& having said that, time to head back into the real old world, where I will be going mobile, by rail.

UCISA Management Conference 2011 – Day 2 Part 2

The New Age CIO – Martyn Harris, Cardiff; Steve Williams, Newcastle.

Chaos. Unprecedented rate of change. Trust. Empowerment. Relationship management. Enablement. Vision. Objectives. Leadership. Just enough Governance. Speak the language of the business. IT is the business. Make the right technology choices & deliver. Manage performance. Focus on the benefits. Technology changes rapidly. Technology is part of the solution. Be the change. Paradigm shifts! Dog bites man.

A Janus Moment

Looking back, looking forwards, looking random, & maybe trying to look sideways at the same time.

Back: highs & lows from the last year, from an IT in/& HE perspective:

  • very pleased at the take up on the JISC FSD Programme (& the website is great!) – didn’t expect as much engagement as we’ve got, still think it’s a really important initiative, do have some concerns about things getting a bit diffuse/amorphous/unfocused but Alex Hawker & the Programme team are doing a great job so should be OK. I’m personally still adamant that taking an Enterprise Architecture approach is core/key to the Programme rather than being an optional add-on, so I’ll keep banging away at that; & we really need to clearly tie down how we want suppliers to engage, but I think the last STG meeting made progress on that front so it’s at least heading in the right direction
  • quite pleased also at progress being made internally with the EA approach being both embedded in projects & adopted as a tool for developing strategy/change management; hampered as always by resource issues but it’s on the agenda/understood at senior levels so that’s a result
  • as blogged before, disappointed at reactions to the ‘changing world’ agenda ie everything is changing fundamentally, driven by economic & environmental realities & catalysed/facilitated by new technology – so let’s do some SWOT analysis, dust off the five-year plan, & do what we’ve always done because that’ll work won’t it…I wonder
  • picked up some good tips from presentations at EDUCAUSE 2009, particularly from Jim Collins & on Leading the University as a Platform – stop doing lists, questions to answer ratios, Stone Soup…
  • a bit disappointed with the new JISC Strategy – would have liked to see something more radical/less timid, although fully understand why it isn’t
  • started on our first steps towards introducing Mobile Applications, looking at CampusM
  • disappointed internally that we haven’t done more to publicise the great things we’re doing within our new Information Management Governance framework – communication, communication, communication of course being the key – but will fix that in the new year
  • & finally delighted & amazed that over the last 12 months we’ve managed to go live with Oracle HCM/Payroll – including bringing Payroll in-house from a bureau service – & Oracle Financials, got off to a good start with Oracle Campus Solutions, introduced a Student Administration for Staff portal using Oracle technology, a Student Portal in Blackboard, & loads of other stuff too numerous to mention, with (almost) the same excellent set of staff we started with – & the wheels still haven’t (quite) come off

Forward – things that are/maybe/might be coming up:

  • at LJMU, significant changes in the senior management of the IT function make the future interesting, uncertain, loaded with threats & opportunities – but then, isn’t the future always like that?
  • everything cluttered with financial doom & gloom – which sadly is the reality we have to deal with; new government old government blah blah blah, if you go by the IFS analysis of the PBR then HE is looking at reduced government funding of 8% pa year on year from 2010 – which makes looking at 10% budget cuts seems a little conservative, & it isn’t going to get any better whatever. Plenty of unknowns – who will be ‘governing’ us? what will happen to student fees? – but the basic picture stays the same
  • Shared services – the train keeps a rollin’, best to be on board. FSD is setting the groundwork/ground rules but we really need to see some significant HE/supplier partnerships with some skin in the game on both sides. Hopefully this will arrive soon – the promise is still of savings, but they’re needed in the short-term.
  • Enterprise Architecture – I still think that economic conditions/the need to be lean, mean, green etc will bring EA into its own – the recognition that it’s not necessarily about buying new stuff, but about getting a better understanding of what you can do with what you’ve already got, & building a strategy for doing it, is key – I mean, if we’re saying that it can enable you to do more with less, who’s going to say no?
  • Benefits Realisation – will be a very big thing. As will mobile applications, service disaggregation, service aggregation (we need both!), & general cloudiness.
  • The Way We Work – I can almost feel a new Programme coming on – raising our game in terms of the capacity of our staff to engage with new ways of working at all levels/in all ways is just basic to everything. It’s the people, stupid.

Don’t follow leaders, watch the parkin’ meter. Happy New Year!

Change Academy Day 3

The change goes on…

Excellent first session with David Robinson, founder of Community Links, on Unconditional Leadership. As usual, my selection of random quotes/notes/recollections & my own thoughts…

Very much emphasising the need to be grounded in reality, & always stay close to the reason why we are making the change/transition – interesting to note here that when you get into the meat of why, it always turns out to be not quite what you thought it was. Be wary of the tendency to systematise everything & stifle human creativity (process compliance?) Be aware of the value of useful failure – reminds me of Samuel Beckett (Worstward Ho) – “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”. A lot of resonance with the Appreciative Inquiry approach I was hearing about yesterday – definitely some mileage in this. Not ‘you/it is broken, this will fix it’ but ‘you’re great, let’s get even greater’. Key question in change – who is going to have to give stuff up? Who will lose power/control? Who will this be in our project? It could be you! Values more important than vision – well there’s a thing. Strategic planning can be the problem not the solution – similar to the tendency to systematise everything – becomes a substitute for purposeful activity. Quote from Mandela (?not sure?) ‘Vision without action is just daydreaming, action without vision is just passing time’. Japanese proverb: ‘Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare’.

Then on to further team discussion – (too) detailed about scope, how to communicate, interpreting/marketing/embedding the vision. What we want: a ‘system’ (in the holistic sense) that is: Useful, Usable & Used. Energy levels unsurprisingly low during the morning which I think is why things started to get bogged down.The afternoon session in the great outdoors was much better/more creative – some really good/innovative/’borrowed’ ideas about how we might communicate which I’m actually not going to share on this public blog as they might get reappropriated. In thinking about how we might do structured brainstorming without death by post-it notes, downloaded Cmap to see if this might provide an alternative.

& finally definitely a shame that Claire unavoidably had to leave early/last night – one thing that really has happened, through a lot of effort/energy, is that we do have a team which means  we have equal needs for all the members, and I think, whilst I’m sure we’ll get to where we want to be, this morning’s sessions will be lacking something.