Today I am at the Connect More with Jisc in Scotland, at Napier University, where I’ll be liveblogging but also presenting so this will be a partial capture of the day. As usual any comments or corrections are welcomed.
Introduction – Jason Miles Campbell, Head of Jisc Scotland and Jisc Northern Ireland
I am the head of Jisc Scotland. We have moved to a new model for support recently, but we’ll be saying more about that during the day.
During the day there will be a range of parallel sessions taking place across three strands of Capabilities, Connectivity, and Student experience. We hope you will come and speak to us and ask us questions. We have also had the announcement of the Herald Higher Education Innovation Technology Excellence Award shortlist today, with four Scottish institutions represented there which shows the quality of innovative technology work in Scotland.
I’ve got to remind you of why we are here as Jisc today. Our vision is “To make the UK (and today, Scotland) the most digitally advance education and research nation in the world”, and for that to also reach out beyond the UK. And in Scotland we have the highest number of top 100 research institutions per head of population in the world, and that is something that we don’t shout enough about.
Our Mission is “To enable people in higher education and further education to perform at the forefront of international practice by exploiting fully the possibilities of modern digital empowerment, content and connectivity”. But technology doesn’t do anything by itself, it’s about the people using and supporting it. And hopefully today’s sessions will help you think about things you may want to do in the days, weeks and months ahead.
I really enjoy my job and this is partly because when I was at University technology really wasn’t up to much. I’m a lawyer by training originally… I had the fun of using the early version of Lexus, which required a dial phone, and a physical key for security. But using that technology gave me a real advantage – I won a case by being able to cite a judgement made the day before a case using that technology! But over the last 10 years I have been the head of Jisc Legal. We have seen huge change in that time but we still have more to do to ensure that every student, every staff member, across the board makes the best very deal from technology. I want to do that and to help you to do that to. And it is also about making the best difference.. We have limited resources so we have to concentrate on those things that will truly make the biggest difference to teaching, learning and research. We also have limited time, so we have to best focus what we have to make the best possible. But we also have to also be realistic about the time and resources that you have available.
We are prioritising engagement. We need to work with you. There is no point Jisc deciding what you need, we are here to serve you, we are owned by you, so we need to work based on your priorities.
And we also want you to think about what your institutions provision will look like in 2020. What will the physical space look like, will degree programmes still be there… What will that provision be like?
Historically Jisc was operating lots of sub contractors. We have moved on from that with a much more coherant structure as one organisation with one purpose: to support you. We provide trusted advice for your benefit, scales to meet your needs, working in partnership with you, and hopefully efficiently. We also want to save a lot of money for institutions through economies of scale, and we save you around £200 million per year.
Jisc does essentially four things: Network & Technology – including Janey and security and technical support. That network is only for education and uncontended; Digital Resources – some we negotiate, some we broker, some we buy and some we advise on – all on your behalf; Advice & Engagement – as well as having those resources we need to understand the pedagogies behind their use and we are grateful to our speakers today from the community; Research & Development – we aim to take risks and innovate, and to do that on your behalf.
So what does Jisc Scotland do? We used to have a Regional Support Centre, but rather than being advisors we are now your interface to Jisc, to a whole lot of advice. Jisc is an organisation with a whole lot of things in it to benefit you. Jisc had a lot available but you had to seek them out, but now we will be that conduit for you, find the websites, projects, services for you. And every University and College will have an account manager to do that for you. And also to feed your views into Jisc about what you will need in the future. Well we are about championing the customer, it is about a fully managed relationship with Jisc. We handle account management – we have 3 account managers. We also have Scottish subject specialists, but beyond that there are 20-odd subject specialists also serving Scotland, as well as the rest of the UK, and further expertise to tap into.
I want to say a bit about Community Engagement. We have a range of physical and online opportunities to have shared conversations with one-another and Jisc on issues that matter, focusing on: Network and IT services; Digital resources; Student experience (including learning, teaching and assessment). We will continue to engage in local partnerships seeking to collaborate with key stakeholders for the benefit of the sectors as a whole. We have to focus on where that really makes a difference though, what has an impact. Jisc has less funding than it did so we really want to make a difference and focus on what has real impact.
Some of your questions:
– Where did the RSC go?
Well it is now part of a better structure, and a model that recognises your priorities and meets those. Regional support is still there, Support is still there.
– How can we bid for Jisc funds?
Well Jisc used to put out invitations to tender. Some organisations were good at bidding. Some projects did not have a good impact across the sector, sometimes for the organisation that had the funds. So instead we are moving to a model of co-design, that should much better benefit the sector.
– Can we get someone from Jisc to visit us?
Your account manager is there for you, and there will be events as well. It would be great if we could all visit you across the year, but that isn’t possible. But that direct engagement is still there.
– How do I contact Jisc now?
Well there are a number of ways – lots of information on that available here. Before there used to be a plethora of helpdesks and they were each good but didn’t join up all the expertise of Jisc, so now it is for us to connect you to that expertise so you only have to go to one place.
So now… To today’s first parallel sessions.
Parallel Sessions 1
I am presenting on Jisc MediaHub as part of a joint session with my colleague Anne Robertson, who is talking about Digimap for Colleges. So light blog post updating likely in this session!
Digimap for Colleges – Anne Robertson
I will be talking about Digimap for Colleges today, but also touching on other Digimap services as well. Digimap for Colleges is a new service so this is a chance to get an overview of this.
You may well have heard of Digimap, it’s been around for 15 years and has been available to HE and Colleges in that time. It is a functionally rich service which allows you to access mapping tools online, but also download that data for use in desktop GIS. There are Ordnance Survey, historic, geology and marine data sets from a range of data providers. More recently we created Digimap for Schools, which includes Ordnance Survey and historic online mapping for schools with Key Stage 1-4 and Curriculum for Excellence curriculum materials. But in launching that service we became aware that there was a gap for colleges, for more vocational courses. And that is why we created Digimap for Colleges. It is a simpler service to use, along the Digimap for Schools model. And it provides OS online mapping for colleges for GCSE and A level curriculum and vocational course support. It does not included data download but as a college you can have both Digimap and Digimap for Colleges if you would like.
The mapping available in Digimap for Colleges is Ordnance Survey including digital map projects for all of Great Britain, and includes MasterMap which has fantastic details, which is superb and is one of the reasons this mapping offers so much more than what is available through Google Maps. You can annotate maps with text, markers, areas, photos, graphs to the maps. You can also undertake quite sophisticated map analysis techniques, such as measuring distance, areas, buffer points and lines, but all in an easy to use interface. You can save annotations, and you can also create maps as pdf and jpg for printing and linking.
This is not a service just for geographers, it is useful across the curriculum, a great starting point for presentation of many types of information and use of ICT in learning. And it is all browser based so there is no software installations to do, no data management. It works with all up to date browsers: Chrome, IE, Safari, FireFox. We have curriculum materials. We also have both written and video help and support resources. The videos are much easier to use than verbose instructions so we offer a wide range of these. The interface has a simple start button to begin with, the annotation tool is straightforward and easy to use, and you can see that the annotations you can make allow you to look at landuse, route planning, etc. And you can click a selected area to measure the size, which allows you to think about population density etc. Using the buffer tool you can select but also set up concentric circles around areas of interest – simple but very useful. And you can upload images, and information.
And you can use Digimap for Colleges for College use too – when hosting an event, sharing information etc. The licence allows you to create your own maps and publish these too.
We have some very happy users already, showing that once you have raised awareness, students and staff find it simple to use. But I did also want to talk about a specific example as, at Jisc Digifest earlier this year I was presenting with David Scott of Kirklees College, and he talked about how it had been useful for construction students to look at the orientation of buildings relative to North South facing. And there is a reasonably high drop out rate for these courses, but Digimap for Colleges really engaged them. At Kirklees they used Digimap for Colleges quite strategically, they focused on where it would be most useful and identified construction as important, though they also hope to roll it out to other courses. It also helps contribute to FELTAG.
For your students coming through colleges and university understanding spatial information, how to present data and information on the map, is hugely important across many different industries including transport, planning, industry, renewables, etc. It is not just about geography, and these spatial skills are increasingly important across the workforce.
It is easy to get set up for Digimap for Colleges. There is a simple subscription process for instance campus access. You subscribe via the Jisc Collections Catalogue. You’ll receive email from EDINA helpdesk once set up. And you can always add Digimap later as you start to want some of those additional richer features. And we already have 189 subscribed colleges, including 11 in Scotland.
And next was my presentation. I’ll share a link to the slides for that very shortly.
Parallel Sessions 2: 2015 – A year to remember in TEL – Suzanne Scott, Borders College
Mark Owen, Jisc Scotland Account Manager, is introducing this presentation on the lessons learned from embedding the TEL team at Borders College. For the last three years Suzanne has been embedding TEL at Borders College.
Suzanne opens with a slide asking us the connection between Alice in Wonderland, fish fingers, Elvis, mobile phones… Well they are all celebrating anniversaries this year… But all of these things got me thinking about what we have been doing at Borders College, as it has been a momentous year for us. I’m going to talk about what I have been doing, and what our future plans are.
We have come a huge way since our first elearning project at Borders College in 2011, which was called Transform. That was about working with local SMEs to identify training needs and consider an online solution. It started us thinking more deeply about what we were doing within the college. It was quite an externally facing project but it got us reflecting on what we did internally, and how we could support our staff and students.
We then moved to BOLT, a Jisc funded project to create a toolkit to enable the college and other organisations to embed e-learning as core. We received £113k for this work and for a college that is a huge amount enabling a major and ambitious project. Initially it was about a better online provision. We’d had Moodle since 2009 but how could we make it more than just a repository of teaching documents? That was about changing the culture. We grew the team supporting the system, so now 6 (and soon 7) staff members bringing together technology enhance learning specialist, audio video production staff – enabling us to create our own materials rather than having to deal with copyright issues, developer roles, etc. There were so many tools and options… so we went through the pain of finding out what was needed. In FE we felt like it was useful for us to answer those questions and producing a toolkit to support that to benefit the wider sector. As a result of that we established the new Technology Enhanced Learning Unit, just at the end of the project.
Now that we are embedded we have had a lot of things to work out. We have had to identify our own remit. We have had to work out our relationships with others – for instance we didn’t expect to be working with Marketing but we do. We had to restructure some job descriptions. The way we are funded is that the college funds half our salary, and the other half has to come in through commercial activities. That is a huge pressure but what we actually do is 100% curriculum, and 75% commercial activities. A lot of my role is sourcing funding, looking for new projects… but that also means being part of projects we might never have been involved in. So for instance we worked with a partner who wanted to set up a media training unit – we set up a mobile bus set up as a library/archive and with training provided etc.
We have also been really involved in FELTAG. In England and Wales FELTAG is the be all and end all. That report requires 10% of content to be delivered online. That’s huge. And it means there is a lot of up-skilling to do, and funding to do that. And as a result a MOOC has been set up on FutureLearn with a consortium of colleges involved. The aim is for it to reach the staff, it’s a great opportunity and we are designing the curriculum for it. That’s an opportunity that arose from BOLT. We are constantly involved in being out and about, working with others, looking for the new big opportunity.
But we have also had real challenges in terms of technologies. As a team we have been making requirements for internet connections, wifi, softwares. And just last week there has been an announcement of restructuring that will see closer links between the library and ICT and that further highlights the role of TEL as core to the college.
And we are also now working on open badges, and the first video resources around that will be live soon.
This year we have seen a real growth in resources, with a graphic designer and instructional designer as well as in-classroom technology support office joining us. We have our own digital asset management system – to manage
And I’ve just established the Scottish Learning Technology Network, with representation from most colleges and some of the universities, to identify common concerns, share best practice, etc. So Open Badges for instance is an area we have been looking to collectively raise awareness, standardise our approach. And basically getting a lot done through short intense workshops to achieve a new solution etc.
And we have become part of the Fujitsu Ambassador programme, which is about the classroom of the future. And we want to deal with the skills gap around technology enhanced learning, but also to properly rethink what the classroom should look like, to query why we teach in such traditional spaces, with students in rows… etc.
We are always pushing boundaries, and looking at new opportunities. We are also thinking about ambitious ideas around having a day of remote learning next year [more details to follow as this is still being confirmed, I’m not scooping Suzanne!] to act as a focal point for staff skills and teaching materials being ready. To support that we are introducing a Digipals scheme to encourage students to come in and support staff with implementation of mobile learning. We have a huge amount to learn from our students.
We are also considering areas such as adaptive learning system development and increased use of learning analytics, to identify struggling students etc. And we are talking to Jisc about this and whether it could be a college wide system. We are also working with SQA to look at a Mahara template project. We are looking at open badges across the curriculum. And also thinking about Modern Apprenticeships in Learning Technologies. I think there need to be a clearer idea of the role, of what it could be, and a clear progression path. And that obviously feeds into the FE MOOC work as well.
We were a small college but anyone can do this stuff. We are all short on funding and time and face challenges around culture and infrastructure, but these can be overcome.
In terms of lessons learned one of the most important is that you have to have senior management buy in to drive things forward. You need to identify small and easy wins. You need to work with champions to share good practice and raise profile. And you have to engage students. But you can also never underestimate the importance of good ICT infrastructure.
You have to work smarter not harder with the funding that you have. You have to be clever about things. For us that commercial income requirement is really useful in giving us flexibility, new opportunities, and then chances to reinvest in the team. In terms of resourcing secondment opportunities can be hugely beneficial, as can shared services. In terms of time you have to get TEL on the timetables, which means that you have to secure CPD time and attention. Culturally you have to identify influencers, recruitment and key skills are crucial, and we also have to incentivise good practice. One of my concerns about the MOOC is about availability of time, so that learning technologists can actually participate and learn.
Internally it is important to have a strong TEL team with clear roles and responsibilities. On a recent away day we came up with our own team rules. There needs to be continuous CPD. The team is core.
More importantly, why do we do this? Well because we owe it to ourselves and to our students. Our students need to have a digital experience that is worthy of what they deserve, so that when they go into the workplace they are digitally literate, they deserve that.
One thing to do today… Some ideas to take away:
- Ensure the TEL team has a clear remit – produce a service offering
- Establish a process for new TEL related projects – links to policies and procedures are important
- Create opportunities for staff engagement – with multiple channels of communication to keep them abreast of TEL work
- And do join us in the Scottish Learning Development Network
And as we look further into the future we have to thinking about evangelising, collaborating and being more joined up across education at all levels, we also need to future proof what we do – keep up to date but be critical too. And we need to keep trying with an ongoing programme of improvements.
Q1) Thinking about your day of virtual learning, will all the students be equipped with the right technologies to take part?
A1) Many will but the university would be open to enable them to use central resources as needed.
Q2) Its a shame that it is hard to recruit learning technologists but there is also the issue of what the skills to be a learning technologist is – since there are social, technical, and all sorts of other skills required including being personable and persuasive. I am also interested in the Digipals scheme…
A2) We are excited about our Digipals scheme, and also thinking that they may eventually become our learning technologies modern apprentices in time. But the curriculum for that programme will have to cover a huge range of materials. At the moment it is so much about technologies but it also needs to be about negotiating, managing relationships, and all of that stuff beyond the technologies.
Q2) If the technologists are looking at pedagogies, people and technologies… what role does the academic hold?
A2) I would love to see more academics being learning technologists but it can too often be seen as a backwards step and we need to change that. But they have to understand the why of doing this, of using technologies.
Q3) That last comment is so important. I’m an academic working with academics and they are trained to query, and to be critical. And saying this is 21st century teaching, that our students are demanding it, those aren’t enough… So I wondered if you had any ideas about the why? and how to answer that.
A3) It is really difficult to do. Champions are great but you need to move the masses forward. I don’t like force from above for “you must” but sometimes with learning technology that’s the only way to do it – and that’s the idea of something like our Virtual Day, which states the importance and vision of the College. But the student voice is really powerful.
Q3) Maybe the classroom of the future work is part of the way to do that as well…
A3) It is exciting… but also scary. Taking chairs and PCs out of the classroom is challenging. Aberdeen have set up 2 very different rooms. Some staff love it, but others are confused by it. But you have to keep trying.
Comment) I think it’s really interesting what you say about the voice of the institution… For those of us who do want to teach with digital technology, there can be a disconnect about what we want to do and what we can do with the available technologies, feeling held back by the idea that we aren’t all there yet.
A) I think we also have to properly recognise where good things happen. “Champions” are a great thing but… I tried to set up a scheme where students would award a badge to staff to recognise effective use of learning technology. That proved very controversial. But you see academics doing great projects doing action research, but they are not that different from their learning technologist colleagues.
And we close this session with a reminder that the new Borders railway opens soon – so there’ll be a scenic route to visit Borders College direct from Edinburgh!
Parallel Sessions 3
I am presenting on Social Media and Managing your digital footprints, so again no blog post updating.
Parallel Sessions 4: Starting App: literacy development from iPhone to Youtube – Willie McGuire, University of Glasgow
I teach at the University of Glasgow and I want to talk to you a bit about a company who develop apps which we had specifically asked to look at literacy teaching. I’ve been thinking that digital technology is something that we need to look at in a lot more detail.
The recently appointed Scottish Minister for education, Angela Constance, described the literacy results of the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numberacy as “not as good as they should be”. Looking back further there are regularly written SQA Principal Assessor reports on national examinations, and I did some work looking over the last decade to identify recurring issues. These included technical errors around Grammar(ghhhhh!). I call it that because they really are perennial issues, I’m going to test you in a minute but when I’ve done this with post graduates and even examiners most get some of these grammatical issues wrong. Now issues like muddling I/me, We/were/There/their/Gone/went/Who/whom and so on… They don’t matter individually but when these are recurrent issues having over and over again, that is an issue. These are long running issues and difficult to solve.
I had been looking at these issues for a very long time. And a few years back we decided to make an app (back when fewer than half a million apps in the App Store). And we wanted to create literacy apps for secondary students that tackle the perennial issues. In the state schools though there is a huge resistance to paying for this stuff, and they are not free to make. You see a different attitude in the private sector but in state schools it’s almost in the blood that you shouldn’t pay for these sorts of schools. So there were some challenges here… Technically it is challenging, not only the coding but how to make this grammar stuff small, simple, workable on a phone.
Producing the apps (Appscool) was bloody murder: costly, difficult… So we thought lets ask the students about this, to look at other available tools and technologies… And we wanted a simple retro look… because something all complex and shiny isn’t what seems to be needed… So we will work through some examples here… And we use a sort of binary system: everything is right or wrong. These are horrifically complex grammatical issues… So our first example “It’s between John and me” – should that be “I” and “Me”… Actually to know why it is correct goes back to the Latin and nominative and accusative case. But we handle these in a very simple binary way.
Let me know you one other thing here… When you give explanations you can’t make reference to extraneous grammatical point, you have to explain through examples and simple explanations. And it has to be clear on this small screen.
Let me show you another app here… This is about “tricky words”. And in this case It’s or Its… The uncertainty in this room also happens when you try this with postgrads too… But actually asking the question means you start to see students figure out the rules and work this stuff out…
So, things that we learnt… Creating an app when you’re over 50 isn’t easy! It was really time consuming to do. We were kind of playing tricks using that binary approach… grammatical explanations are very complex and only cover one grammatical point, and overcomplicates itself all the time. But this approach hits the key issues, the common recurrent problems.
And why did we do that? It was partly to see if we could and because we thought it was important. We wanted to stimulate interest from younger audiences, and to try engaging those audiences. Trying to get into those minds and focus in a kind of fun way on grammar matters. The thing about grammar in the past is that it is painful and public… But actually an app is actually very private, that is something the students have picked up so student teachers understand to present the app in that way, to meet those concerns of students who don’t want to expose their errors. We also wanted to encourage the students to be creative when dealing with this difficult topic…
But we also wanted to think about how we could repurpose the app content in a different way, so we wanted to create videos for YouTube. They can’t use YouTube in the classroom but they can at home – like homework but not nearly as offputting! It’s a really well known format, accessible, “young” and it obliges the creators to think in terms of simple solutions to complex problems. It is about making difficult concepts accessible. See the PGDE English Glasgow channel on YouTube. For example, a video on lonely verbs… And another on using venn diagrams to understand analogy.
Q1) Is there a game mechanic in the app, or do you just move through.
A1) We thought about it. The quick answer is no. Partly it is tricky to code… but it is also distracting… the music on that video can distract you away from the focus. This is kind of a prototype of a game… It’s very old fashioned and I appreciate that… But you can’t move too far away from written script when you do this sort of thing… But then it looks traditional.
Q2) I like it like that… There are so many apps for primary schools now… all bright and shiny
A2) These days you’ll find thousands of primary school apps if you search for literacy apps… But so little for secondary. Difficult to prevent and manage those issues. It is quite a hard grammatical function, and they have to focus on that.
Q3) Are they available for Android?
A3) For iPhone, iPad and iPod only. Not Android. But you can go and buy
Q4) Have you trialled these with the students they are aimed at – you mentioned trainee teachers – and I was particularly wondering about the equality of access associated with internet access at home, and access to mobile devices.
A4) This was really a proof of concept thing… We were trying it out… It is difficult to do because of costs and timing. So probably funding up front and then making available free would be OK. But Glasgow City Council will not fund you to do that, say, because the App Store sells all over the place, it’s not just for their authority. The platform is tricky… And we also had a communication from Apple at one point requiring a fax. A fax! That issue of equality of access is always an issue… I am well aware of the digitally dispossessed… All you can do is try to make it available to students to try. My own background means I’m very aware of that…
Closing Session – Jason Miles Campbell, Jisc
I’ll be quick here and have brought out the voting gadgets to liven it up!
So I want to talk a bit about what we are working on at the moment. We are connecting with you and your institution – we have, as account manager, been reading your institutions corporate plans, strategies, etc. to ensure we are appropriately placed to help you meet those aims. We are also making sure that you’re getting the most of Jisc to meet your priorities – indeed also identifying free or already paid for resources where you may not yet be taking best advantage. We also want to identify those making great use so we can show you examples of best practice.
We are also translating our activity for the Scottish context. So you will have seen the FELTAG recommendations and how we ensure we meet that can be translated elsewhere, and in Scotland. We will also be delivering an online community of practice on young workforce development, and if you have anyone in your organisation working on that area we will be holding a webinar on that, and possibly other events too. We are also looking at other UK-wide subjects. We are ensuring we’re working best with other agencies, we have our offices (or at least hot desk) in Stirling, including the Scottish Funding Council.
So, some questions for you now…
Have you found at least one thing to implement in your institution out of today? (voting pads at the ready!). 85% say “yes”, 15% say they are “unsure” (or very polite). 0% say “no”. I would recommend that you schedule an email to yourself for the future with some of those good ideas!
What is your main barrier to realising digital opportunities at your organisation? 58% say “time”, 25% say “buy-in”, 17% say “other” (and no-one says “no barriers).
How would you describe your own (personal) engagement with Jisc up until now? 30% each say “occasional/sporadic” or “rare”, 10% each say “useful but could do more” or “fully engaged”, 20% say “none”.
Where do you think Jisc could have most future impact in your institution? 55% say “enhancement of teaching and learning”, 27% say “digital resources and content” and 18% say “network and infrastructure”.
To wrap up… Do keep in touch. You can reach us via Twitter, Jisc Scotland Jiscmail lists (we are reviewing the right cross section of those so that we don’t have too many), our website, email, telephone etc.
Finally, huge thanks who have been contributing and organising for today. And a huge thank you to all of you for attending – there have been some great conversations!