Tag Archives: Services

Combating Qualification & Academic Fraud Summit 2013 – Johannesburg 18-20 September 2013

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3 days in a very hot Johannesburg with attendees from agencies, institutions and companies from across Africa – South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, Mozambique, Swaziland, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, to name just a few…

Day 1. Starting off, very much about the problems, not the solutions.

Sebastin Charidza/Zimbabwe School Examinations System. Understanding the Trends of Academic & Qualification Fraud – the African Experience. Qualifications are so important that it’s a matter of qualifications by any means necessary. Under investment in systems & development. Insecure printing. Some electronic marking – less effective at detecting malpractice. Certificates & after sales service <where DARE – Digital Academic Records Exchange – & HEDD – Higher Education Degree Datacheck – come in>. How do you make your certificates tamper proof? Liberation style silence – telling on someone doing wrong is itself wrong.

Mike Hill/Graduate Prospects. Degree Fraud – A European Experience. UK = European capital for bogus institutions. More key now students pay – protects investment of genuine graduates. HEDD (Higher Education Degree Datacheck) = UK solution for online institution & qualifivation verification.

Rosh Maharaj/PC Training & Business College, South Africa. Cross Border Education & Fraud. Refs distance education/e-learning. Major plagiarism problem with PhDs. Parents will do anything to get children qualifications, especially overseas – BAMN. What are students actually doing with their mobiles? <What are students actually doing without their mobiles?> Most anti-social device ever invented. IT solutions – what about hacking? <but more secure than on paper?> Polluting labour market. Overseas qualifications seen as tickets to cross border transnational mobility & labour markets in industrialised countries. E-learning/technology/distance learning introduce new cheating opportunities. Systems with high levels of coursework provide opportunities. Cheating undermines the value of assessment data as an indicator of student learning.

Overall, great start off group of presentations.

Shariffa Miller/CEO Khulisa Business Consulting. Detection & Investigation of Academic & Qualification Fraud. Run through of what to look for in document fraud detection. Use of policies & procedures. National legislative frameworks can help – SAQA etc. Diploma mills proliferating globally.

SF Nyathi/University of Namibia. Academic Fraud, Quality Assurance & Accreditation Regulation. Major springboard for fraud = developments in IT <so solution = developments in IT then?> Clear definitions of academic fraud. The internet is now the leading vehicle for academic fraud <like the internet is the leading vehicle for everything else information based = leading vehicle for information fraud>. Simply, makes it easier. Possible approach to solution: more formative, less summative assessment; alternative approaches to assessment. Strategies: development of reliable information systems listing accredited HE institutions etc <HEDD again> very important ref internationalisation, information on accredited institutions by nation. Academic fraud serves to produce functionally illiterate workforce – gap between education & certification.

Followed by interesting discussion – hard to track who said what – one interesting thought in relation to work going on to combat plagiarism & credentials fraud as they are currently surfaced, referenced to MOOCs etc (fairly close paraphrase I hope): ‘…we may be trying to create solutions for a future that won’t exist’. <Interesting that sychronises with BBC item about FutureLearn, UK HE MOOCs collaboration>

Sunil Kumar Burra. Academic Integrity & Online Resources for Faculty Development. Definitions again. Lots of definitions…Global problem. Potential of internet. Green! Basically, the internet is a major part of both the problem & the solution.

Day 2.

Claudia Naidoo-van der Merwe/MIE Background Screening. Analysing the Benefits of Qualification Verification in Curbing Academic & Qualification Fraud for Recruiters. MIE (Managed Integrity Evaluation) Owners & operators of the National Qualifications Register (NQR) – holds qualifications for biggest South African institutions. 3.1 million qualification records, 30 HEIs – largest in southern hemisphere. Fully integrated with institutions – mirror images of databases. Empowering emerging economies with sophisticated tools. Launching African Qualifications Register (AQR). 14% of CVs ‘contain risk’ – occurrence increases in recessionary times. Fully automated electronic verification services greatly reduce risk. <How will this be affected by new South African Data Protection laws?> Asked the question – planning to be fully compliant with new laws, consent of all parties central to services. How does it work – upload spreadsheet of qualifications data. Generally 2 week turnaround time. Check that institution is legitimate & that student did obtain the qualification – whether the award itself is accredited/legitimate etc is handled by eg SAQA. Can go as far back as institutions are able to provide electronic records.

Joe Samuels/SAQA. The Role of SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) in Combating Fraudulent Qualifications. What is a legal qualification in South Africa? Accredited & registered provider; registered qualification – on national qualification framework; authentic documentation. Also: is the person presenting the document who they say they are? Figures: 11.8 million learner qualification achievements on database. 19,713 accredited providers. Data must be submitted to SAQA. Low levels of fraud in verifications made with SAQA – around 1%, zero in relation to foreign qualifications – as against 14% with MIE – why is this? Shift from paper orientation to paper/electronic verifications – must have both! Groningen Declaration on promoting global student data mobility – SAQA = signatory as digital student data depository for South Africa – must link with other countries.

Alwyn Hoffman/NorthWest University. Protecting the Integrity of the Educational System Through the Authentication of Training Certificates. Digital signatures initiative – funded under government THRIP (Technology & Human Resources) Programme. Problem: physical documents are easy to modify. So – using PKI infrastructure. Size of conventional cryptographic keys problematic for small electronic data carriers – so using Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) instead of RSA. Have produced digital signature small enough to fit on QR code or RFID tag to enable verification of offline paper documents. Smartphone = logical choice for verification. Have developed complete prototype.

Again, very interesting sessions & good to see what’s happening over here in the same arena as DARE/the HEDD & similar initiatives in other countries.

& that’s about it for today – & tomorrow is for me & Paul Naylor from Graduate Prospects to deliver our workshop on DARE, the HEDD etc. – so multitasking won’t stretch to blogging whilst that’s in progress. & then it’ll be goodbye Johannesburg, back to the airport & home.

UCISA 2013 Day 2 #ucisa13

Students as producers of IT departments – Dan Derricott, Lincoln. Student engagement – we need to engage with students. Does your IT service engage with the student voice? Not enough! – but have to recognise that there are student voices, rather than 'a' student voice – engage with the diversity, Students Union can be helpful but probably not comprehensive. 1968 – students became more than students. Could not have imagined what they were going to get – but can institutions engineer this experience? Need to create an environment in which it can happen – but you can take a horse to water…Systematic engagement of students.

A CFO & an IT Director in conversation – Bob Rabone & Chris Sexton, Sheffield. Think about money. What is the point of an accountant? IT joke: people who solve a problem you didn't know you had, in ways that you don't understand: serious point, get better at explaining what you're doing. 3 reasons for doing something: cheaper, better, or income generating. Make sure you can explain in those terms. What do IT Directors want? Budgets that go on for more than a year. A procurement officer who understands IT procurement. Savings that come back to the department. Can get capital but can't get staff – get stuff but can't do anything with it…Thinking, Fast and Slow: Daniel Kahneman

(A thought, apropos of something: the psychopathology of organisations – identify a problem; create a job to solve the problem; perpetuate the problem; go back to the top of the slide (we are in Liverpool, after all…))

 

UCISA 2013 – Liverpool 13th-15th March Day One #ucisa13

Usual rambling commentary, impressions, interventions…

VC's Question Time. Chair: Peter Gallimore, former producer of BBC Today programme, with Nigel Weatherill, Liverpool John Moores, Howard Newby, Liverpool, & John Coyne, Derby.

  1. 24/7 support? John Coyne: critical platform for core mission. Hard to resolve: don't want shift systems. Need colleagues to appreciate the service delivery. Nigel Weatherill: need to ensure that we have resilient, quality systems to minimise downtime. Howard Newby: not what we want, but what students want. Have to operate in different timezones. Question from floor: how do you go about ensuring 24/7, instead of just hoping for it? Weatherill: comparison with 24/7 health support – need to look at new methods of service delivery, interacting with professionals from other sectors. Q from floor: outsourcing? Google/Microsoft. What wouldn't you outsource? Newby: commodity support vs. personalised service. Weatherill: educationally led institution but have to run on business principles. IT can be a differentiator – might outsource the basics, retain that which is specific to values and vision of LJMU for students. Coyne: need to put together set of best-in-class components that meet individual needs (EA perhaps?) – then make decisions about what you contract for & what you keep inside.
  2. Q from Tim Marshall (different subject): need to preserve but also open up information resources – open access. Newby: wholly in favour. Why should work which is publicly funded not be publicly accessible? Weatherill: also in favour; what would keep him awake at night? FOI & research data. When do the outcomes go into the public domain? Research needs opportunity to mature before enters open access. Coyne: direction is open access. Also concerned about FOI industry.
  3. Should IT Director be at the top table? Weatherill: at LJMU that person does sit at top table, but has wider brief – important thing is that they understand the business. Newby: senior team meetings always very large; how to configure academic & service structures. Basically, no. Coyne: should Director have early & influential strategic voice? Yes. Not necessarily helpful to talk about top table; can get Derby senior team round a stool. Consensus: need influence/access, not necessarily seat. Coyne: someone who can understand the purpose of the institution, map it to the capabilities of IT, and articulate it. Transparency of senior team activities? Weatherill: about communication. LJMU cascade approach – senior team to leadership team to staff. Needs middle-up-down management – recognition of key role of middle manager – Japanese approach. Newby: growth of less collegial, more business/competitive approach. All engaging in activities we wouldn't want competitors to have early sight of.
  4. Is HE a business? Coyne: stakeholders (students) are far more important than shareholders would be. Need to be business-like in efficient & effective delivery. Weatherill: educational institution that needs to be run on business principles. Driven by strategic framework. Newby: have to be business-like in terms of being efficient & effective – but also values-driven, belief in greater knowledge contributing to social progress. Need to be increasingly attentive to stakeholders – Ivory Tower is over.
  5. Q from Twitter: how do you get input from student body? & how important is NSS. Newby: embed NSS in more broad ranging/sensitive assessment. Days are gone when we knew what students ought to want. Weatherill: QAA Conference, Edinburgh – a lot about student engagement. Suggestion that student feedback needs to be systematised – but so much formal/informal that just happens. Coyne: unique programme representative system, annual Q&A, University held to account. Ignore the student voice at your peril – students good at holding up honesty mirror.
  6. Q from floor: an avalanche is coming? Newby: MOOCs – threat or opportunity? What is unique to University? Ability to award a degree – apart from that almost everything can be done by somebody else. Also – personalised service difficult to deliver in online experience. Also: what are students buying? Some, information & knowledge; some, a brand – are MOOCs strong enough. Can they address the social objectives of HE as opposed to just the economic ones. Future = blended learning, but be careful how you blend. Weatherill: what is the currency of a MOOC? HE currency: standards & accreditation. Coyne: a destructive technology or just the latest fashion that invites us to question ourselves? Newby: IT does mass bits, Socratic dialogue for rest (at least I think that's what he meant!)

 

UCISA Cloud Computing Review – 31/10/12 Nottingham #uccr

Usual random notes that may be of interest…see Programme for access to presentations.

Simon Marsden/Edinburgh: Introduction

What’s in/what is a cloud? Standard definition. Gartner view: high security, privacy or competitive advantage – otherwise outsourced or offsite. But myths abound:

  • Costs will be predictable – not to start with!
  • Costs will be lower – no!
  • More resilient – if you make it so
  • Disaster recovery – as above
  • Assured performance – or noisy neighbours?
  • Don’t know where data is? – probably do

User perspective: I get what I want; it just works.

CIO challenges: not too many – scale, exit strategy, data loss, how to charge, integration. & need to be seen as part of the solution, not an obstruction to be bypassed.

Things to look at: Coursera, learning platform for MOOCS; Office 365; Unidesk shared helpdesk; elastic cloud; trust; app store; reliability; green.

Agility: key issue. Running MOOCS with Coursera for over 100k students, quick deployment. Important to be there at the start, couldn’t have done it themselves.

Technology Enhanced Learning cloud – hybrid of supported through to non-supported, but provided within app store – flexible way of choosing tools.

Resilience – Site24x7, full scale monitoring.

So Cloud enables: swift innovation, reduced costs, greater choice for users. Not an option: can be difficult to understand, needs leadership.

Great start!

Richard Maccabee/ULCC: Delivering cloud services to the sector: ULCC’s experience of the range of options

Is it good use of public money for every HEI to have its own data centre? (or two…) – probably not, but is it public money anymore? All about services to paying customers, perhaps, perhaps sadly.

Approach: OS; shared services; vendor partnerships; evolutionary; hybrid: supplier, based in the community.

Service portfolio includes middleware & applications: ESB; Digitary (DARE!); Agresso Finance System, for about 10 institutions.

About 300 customers, across the sector & significant number of FE.

Issue: single data centre, in London – not good choice. So second site commissioned for 12/13, & looking at partner for Cloud IaaS. ULCC data centre will become point of presence for the Cloud. First bid submitted for provision of full IaaS for FE college.

MMU: very good student-focused VLE built around Moodle but including distributed services.

Drivers: mobile; BYOD/DIY; increased customer expectations; SOA ref Nexus ESB/DARE/Digitary, important for SaaS. Looking into Student Systems. <oh right, hosted then?>

Good that SOA – & to my mind hence EA – still seen as key component.

Ed Carter/Leeds: YHMAN – A Data Centre Without Walls!

Not Ed’s fault, but have a feeling I may have heard this before!

8 Universities collaborating in shared virtual data centres: enable economies of scale, balance asset utilisation, meet carbon reduction commitments, enable growth, enhance service standards, adhere to stringent security arrangements. Built on JANET/YHMAN network. Not that far away! & JANET6 increases potential reach/scalability. Storage for research, big data; HPC capability.

So essentially, promise of Cloud = ‘EaaS’: Everything as a Service. The Virtual University – the ‘University In A Box’?

Pleasantly surprised, if I’ve understood this right, by transition of technical/network staff into service support. Backed up by supplier support – HP.

It works!

Shan Rahulan/janet: Janet Brokerage

Set up to: promote cloud; reduce hurdles to adoption; create efficiencies. Like YHMAN, applying network approaches to data centres/services.

Usual drivers as previously referenced; also noted that adoption/governance is formative, & integrating clouds not straightforward. Customers are in the Cloud space, institutions/IT depts aren’t (entirely, yet).

Cost savings: not proven; current costs not understood, so savings hard to define. Hard to compare like with like.

Working with BUFDG, UCISA, JISC & UUK on modelling costs – which should be helpful!

Also looking at Amazon & Dropbox to establish a sector offer.

Olly Butters/Leicester: Building BRISSkit on the Eduserv Cloud

BRISSkit – Biomedical Research Infrastructure Software Service kit. Funded by UMF Cloud initiative to deliver in the Eduserv Cloud.

Good practical example of delivery of a service in the Cloud.

Cloud challenges – like ‘Hard to give up hardware – I can’t go and kick it’. Interesting thought – can you kick a cloud?

Working through governance issues/toolkits.

Mini Panel Session: Shan Rahulan; Ed Carter; Olly Butters: Matt Johnson/Eduserv

What are the barriers? People still want their servers on their site (‘Can you kick it?’ ref A Tribe Called Quest, perhaps). Again, internal services not fully costed/full costs not understood.

Simon Marsden: you need a burning platform – agree entirely. For Edinburgh, this is agility. Must be a real business/service driver because otherwise won’t want to meet the costs of change – cost saving not enough.


Stephen Booth/Coventry: A Managed Storage Service on a Hybrid Cloud

Can no longer do ‘just an IT project’ – I thought it was quite a while since you ever could? Business not IT initiative. Business drivers: cost reduction; flexibility; enhanced support; DR. Importance of supplier/partner relationship – joint customer/partner management of project & service delivery – partner will not let it fail: so have to make sure they have some skin in the game.

John Waters/University of West London: The North Face of Office 365

The University formerly known as TVU. 12 years on the HEFCE at-risk register. Rebranded as UWL April 2011. Bit of a mess of overlapping/inconsistent systems for student services.

Wanted to move to functional Cloud-based Student Portal & facilities, rich use, back end integration, SSO, IDM etc.

Approach: generated SMT buy-in through Microsoft-led activities at TVP. Project team. Focus groups. Piloting & proofs of concept. Got some help! (Fulcrum). 3 parallel work streams: infrastructure; IDM & data migration; portal design & back-end integration, Agile/Scrum, .net into O365 Sharepoint.

How does it work? Create accounts in Cloud (SIS = Capita Unit-e) along with authentication. FIM & ADFS. Systems Integration – .net to Sharepoint. Some use of Lync.

What’s in it? See presentation.

Content & administration issues ref content from Schools. Feedback from students – overlap with groups in Facebook. Systems integration: interestingly, no harder than doing on-site.

We did it (within 5 weeks) & students like it. Say no more. & next Phase 2 – mobile, Lync, staff email, SSO for VLE & SIS, distance learning, etc. Phase 3 – August 2013 – further data integration, social features, business portals.

Fulcrum Worldwide for site customisations & systems integration.

Useful day – & now, publish & be damned, & out of here to catch that slow train to Southport…

#SCONUL12 Summer Conference 14th June 2012

Made a brief appearance on behalf of UCISA at the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) Summer Conference, held at the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool, for a panel session on sharing best practice in evaluation strategies – along with Kitty Inglis, University Librarian at Sussex, and Karel Thomas, Executive Director of the British Universities Finance Director’s Group (BUFDG). Plus a surprisingly large – standing room only – and vocal audience, and great chairing from Sara Marsh, SCONUL Vice Chair and Director of Learner Support Services at the University of Bradford.

I expected a rather dry session on what looked like a rather dry subject, but far from it! Each panel member gave their 5 minute view of the area, followed by a surprisingly lively discussion. Following bullet points are the usual vague, inaccurate and repositioned recollection of some of what was said:

  • Kicked off talking about ITIL for Service Management/Evaluation & Programme Management/Benefits Realisation for evaluation of development
  • Projects deliver the capability to do things differently; benefits management tries to make sure that we do do things differently
  • Particular challenge when the benefits have to be realised in changes in ways of working in areas outside of the management control of the project/programme – even more of a problem for JISC programmes where the benefits have to be realised in a different organisation
  • Information services need to be useful, usable and used (thank you JISC) – benefits are in the used part, needs more focus
  • UCISA/SCONUL collect a lot of statistics, but are they the right ones/much use?
  • When we evaluate, are we hard enough on ourselves?
  • Need to look at LEAN – being looked at more in the sector
  • Benchmarking – not enough effort goes into establishing where we’re starting from, which makes it hard to evaluate how far we’ve travelled
  • Strategy maps – important to make sure we retain the connection between institutional level objectives and project/programme outputs (benefits mapping could also be applicable here)
  • Need to get closer to our Finance colleagues – our Finance colleagues need to get out more – investment appraisal, cost benefit analysis and all that stuff needs to be shared venture between Finance, supplier departments and stakeholders
  • Do we make enough use of our suppliers, for their strategic input rather than just the functionality of their products?
  • & finally, pointer to what looks like a very useful report from the US Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) – Value of Academic Libraries Summit White Paper – which I shall read when I get the chance.

So – great session, poor summary from me, looked like a really good conference, and wish I could have stayed…

#UCISA12 UCISA Management Conference 2012 Last Day, Last Post

Session1 – A cloud by any other name… Simon Daykin/CTO, Logicalis

Are we ready for cloud? From a technology perspective, yes. Loughborough – totally cloud. Transition to customer centric experience. janet brokerage. Really excited. Put your arms around that experience. Perfect storm. Immersive. iPad6. No longer central service that you can put your arms around. Lot of putting arms around things. Current approach is no longer viable way of delivering IT. Is this telling me anything? Can’t control the endpoint – so don’t try…liberate our services. Put all our services behind the firewall & then…put our arms around them! Should have seen that one coming. The general internet forms a core part of what we do! Noooo! Really? *fake surprised expression* Private cloud – that you need to wrap your arms around! Going forward. What I would say is. You can’t put your arms around a memory, can you put them around a cloud? Wrap them in a security blanket. Mutual authentication & posture. Collaborative & connected. Cool. Know what to do, just need to do it.

IT services in the HE sector: a private sector perspective, James Salmon/CIO, BPP

Global requirements for efficient, fast, standardised IS. Don’t start with technology – start with process! Actually, don’t start with process – start with people. Have to engage people first. People, process & technology – here we go again. We know the ducks, but can we get them in a row?

Review the data, understand the data, be the data…& then be out of here.

 

#UCISA12 UCISA Management Conference 2012 Day 2 Part 1

Session 1: A good student experience in changing times, Ruth Farwell/VC & CEO, Buckinghamshire New University

Introductory video by John Lynch asking students what they use technology for & what their expectations are. Want to connect their own stuff, use University stuff, about as expected. One comment: downloaded University app but useless so dumped…would be interesting to know why.

Ruth Farwell: kicked off with emphasising the heterogeneous nature of the student body. White paper emphasises student focus – but focus may be on regulation, not students. & the Bill may never happen. But irrespective of the outcome, student expectations have been raised, including greater expectation of engagement in the business. Need to develop an ethos of shared action planning & partnership with students.

In these changing times (as opposed to the time when the times didn’t change?) need to consider the proposition that the student experience should be defined by the students. Hmmm. Needs to be mission specific. Mustn’t see students as consumers – HE is both transactional & transformational. Student engagement must permeate all levels – fact that a good relationship exists at a senior level doesn’t mean this necessarily happens.

Impact on sustainable IT service: financial (increased pressure on resources); environmental – maybe high priority for students; & most significantly, human: does this make us more dependent on having the right people & culture, the right mix of skills? That would be a yes. So need our people to engage with technology in a way that enables them to engage with students in the way they want to be engaged with (?) – I think I know what that means! Refocus the IT department on engagement & relationship management, & away from technical infrastructure – services not systems, yet again.