Who wants change?

Originally posted on lawrie : converged.

Image by Alan O’Rourke

This week I have been preparing for the second residential of the Jisc Digital Leaders course. Whilst the course is premised on role of digital, digital is actually a lens through which we look at institutional strategy and practice. We started off the course with a brief framing of digital and leadership, referring to Ron Barnett’s description of the current education landscape; a time of uncertainty, unpredictability, challenge and change – a situation to which he applies the term “supercomplexity”. The digital leaders programme seeks to both frame the challenges created by digital, and also show digital as providing the capacity and capabilities to respond to supercomplexity.

Responding to challenge and change, one of the workshops we use is based around Schein’s model, sometimes referred to as the onion model, working within an educational context.

Schein’s Onion Model

The model refers to three layers, at the surface there are the artefacts and symbols, beneath that lie the expressed values, and at the core are tacit assumptions and underlying values:

Artefacts and symbols mark the surface an institution; visible elements such as logos, buildings and other parts of the estate, digital platforms (such as the VLE), rooms and lecture theatres, the library, the institutional vision, straplines etc. They are visible not only to staff, but also students, prospective students and the wider public.

The expressed values within the model may include the strategy, reward schemes, the underpinning philosophies, and pedagogical approach of the institution. It also refers to how these values are expressed.

Tacit assumptions and underlying values are deeply embedded in the culture; experienced as self-evident and unconscious behaviour. These are the unspoken rules, these are the things it doesn’t occur to you to explain until something goes wrong, these are the things you wish someone had told you once you first started working at your institution, these are things you might only realise after you’ve left the job. They are not always easy to recognise, they can derail change initiatives and block progress.

All of these layers, and many other aspects, are part of the culture of an institution. In the workshop we get people thinking about the tacit assumptions and underlying values, sometimes we prompt them to discuss their own, sometimes we prompt them to put themselves in a different role in the institution. Almost all of the participants we have worked with engage in this activity with a lot of energy!

We do have prompts (such as below) if we need them, but we rarely do.

Institutional Culture is... Diagram

Thinking about the digital implications and practices can lead to some startling revelations about ourselves, and I have frequently found myself reflecting on my own practices and engagements.

One of the most common digital misbehaviours I indulge in is the abuse of email!

“Can you pop that in an email to me?”

About my person at anytime I have multiple devices where I can make a note and a reminder? What I am really saying is I can’t be bothered to make a note; or I might be thinking I’m too busy to make a note. The reality of that is that I am valuing my time more than that of my colleague. The consequences? Well eventually they will probably stop telling me things or involving me, because it just adds to their workload?

Breaking these habits is hard, but it’s worth it, and if we want digital change, then the key is to model the behaviours you want to see.

What are the tacit assumptions and underlying assumptions in your institution? What are they stopping from happening? There’s a few below to get you started….

Tacit Assumptions

Engaging students in the tracker

Originally posted on Jisc Digital Student.

This post is guest authored by Tabetha and Mike from the tracker team. We thought you might like to see the faces behind tracker.support@jisc.ac.uk. Not only are they keeping the project on the road, they also take time out to think about the bigger issues such as student engagement.










We see the trackers as a way for you to engage – not just monitor – your learners. Students are increasingly concerned about surveys that are imposed on them without explanation, so it is important for you to explain clearly why your tracker can help improve their teaching and learning experiences.

To help with this, you might want to:

  • Engage learners in planning & communicating the tracker project
  • Identify student leaders and ask them to look at the tracker, and consider positive promotion within their networks
  • Engage learners in other conversations about their digital experience
  • Work in partnership with students to respond to the findings

Here are six practical examples for ways you could consider to improve your student communication and engagement.

#1 Have a conversation with your students whilst your survey is live

Our experience has shown that one of the easiest but most powerful things you can do to increase student engagement and response rates is to feed back anonymous results whilst your tracker survey is still live. So, for example, last year we saw some institutions who put the result of single questions onto screens around campus.

Adelaide sign 1

University of Adelaide Library 2017

You can do this by logging into your BOS dashboard and looking at the data as it comes in via the Analyse area. More information available at bit.ly/trackerguide in the ‘Analyse’ section. Your message might say something like: “80% of students rate the quality of this university’s digital provision as good or better than good … what do you think? Join the discussion here <insert your tracker link>”

#2 Promote the tracker widely

Distribute promotional materials via twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, or posters/screens around your institution. You can download and use the graphics at the bottom of this post to include in your promotions.

#3 Read about what other institutions did last year

The Guide: engaging learners includes some quick examples and you could also browse the snapshot case studies from last year’s successful tracker projects. For example, Epping Forest College (p6-7) involved students in designing their own posters to promote participation in the Tracker, and also used QR codes for quick access to the survey.

Epping Forest

#4 Plan how you will share your tracker findings, and continue the conversation with your students

Why not plan some events for next April/May that allow you to liaise with your learners and staff to discuss your tracker findings?

#5 Share your examples of student engagement at CAN2018

If you already have some good examples of student engagement practices then why not submit a proposal for the Change Agents’ Network conference, to be held at the University of Winchester on 19 and 20 April? This is a network of staff and students working in partnership to support curriculum enhancement and innovation. For more information see the CAN18 submission form.

#6 Share your ideas and queries about student engagement on the mailing list

STUDENT-DIGITALTRACKER@JISCMAIL.AC.UK list is becoming an active community of practice sharing. If you are registered to use the tracker you should already be a member of this list – but you can always ask us to add other members of your institution. If you would just like to keep up with the project, you can also request to join. There are over 200 subscribers who work across HE, FE, work-based learning and adult community learning. Your ideas can help others, and help you to connect with like-minded people out there, in roles like yours.

Jisc Tracker four areas graphic

Participate in our study into how HR departments support staff to develop their digital capability?

Originally posted on Jisc Building Digital Capability Blog .

Would you like to contribute to a new Jisc study and shape future developments in this area?

Jisc want to find out what HR departments are doing to support staff in dealing with the challenges and making the most of the opportunities offered by technologies? We are also keen to find out how confident HR teams are of their own digital capabilities to support staff in their institutions?

We have just started our short study and hope to find out from HR staff how their activities link to institutional strategies and activities around digital capabilities.

By participating in the study HR staff will have the chance to inform future developments and to highlight the good practice that is already happening.

We have produced a short (5 minute) online survey to help us create a snapshot of current practice in the UK and to find out about HR staff levels of confidence around digital capability.

Please let your HR teams know about the study and ask them to complete the survey.


Assessing Your Readiness for Implementation of Learning Analytics: Making a Start

Originally posted on Effective Learning Analytics.

Lindsay Pineda

Lindsay Pineda

Patrick Lynch

Patrick Lynch

This is a guest post by Lindsay Pineda and Patrick Lynch. Their bios are at the end of the article.

As an institution, you may find yourself asking, “How do I know if we are ready for learning analytics? Is there a way to ‘feel out’ where we are before having someone come onsite for a more official assessment? What kinds of things can I do on campus to prepare for an on-site Readiness Assessment?”

One of the main advantages of engaging in an on-site Readiness Assessment is that the event is tailored for your institution’s particular requirements. Our clients have confirmed for us that the “gold standard” in this work is to bring in people from outside of the organization to help facilitate this process. Institutions have told us:

  • “This is honestly the first time we’ve had all of these people together in one room to talk about a common goal.”
  • “Bringing someone in from the ‘outside’ onsite allows for an impartial view of the institution and it’s not muddied by an emotional connection to one thing or another. That is extremely valuable.”
  • “I have no idea how I would have been able to convince this many people to be in the same room together for this long without using the pull of Consultants coming in to assess us.”
  • “With someone coming in, no one seems particularly ‘suspicious’ about the intent behind the workshops. People are curious about who is here and what they intend to help us do so they actually show up.”

Making a Start

Through our experiences, we did find that there are activities an institution can undertake as “prep work” for the facilitated on-site Readiness Assessment. Getting people together for a sustained period is difficult. Getting disparate groups together is challenging and organizing senior leadership into any narrow time frame can be near impossible. We experience these obstacles ourselves while planning on-site visits with institutions.

In this article we present two activities that will help an institution better prepare for a shorter, more focused, external engagement with their on-site facilitators. This also provides the facilitators with richer information to help deliver the most value while onsite at your institution.

Areas to Investigate

One of the key elements of readiness is to consider the fit of a learning analytics project within the culture of the organization. This includes policies, processes, and practices that may be affected. Taking a broader view can help identify where existing projects and processes can support the initiative. For example, we have encountered change fatigue in a number of institutions. Wrapping activities together into one broader program is a great way to reduce the perceived number of changes, as well as help realize the advantages of interrelated projects. For example, an existing project at focused on ethics and privacy policies could also include those policies needed to support a learning analytics initiative.

Stakeholder Involvement

Given the broader approach to implementing learning analytics, a wide stakeholder group needs to be involved. Assessing readiness acts as a solid start to the project. It is a way to introduce colleagues to the goals of the project and benefits of implementing the initiative effectively. The assessment also assists with gaining buy in from the start. Key staff groups we have identified are:

  • Learning and Teaching support/development
  • eLearning/TEL
  • IT Services
  • Academic Tutoring/Advisement Services
  • Student Support Services
  • Research and Planning
  • Registrar’s Office
  • Key Thought Influencers
  • Senior Leadership (“Decision Makers”)
  • Faculty/Teachers
  • Library/Information Services

And last, but by no means to be considered least:

  • Key Student Union/Government Representatives

For each area, as appropriate, we would suggest having both academic staff as well as administrative individuals involved.

Having this broad range of departments together offers a good overall representation of the institution and allows for sharing of impact and ideas in a broader manner. Each of these areas brings a different perspective. It includes the individuals who will see the effects on the institution’s bottom line, who will carry out the actual work, who will provide interventions, along with the end users.

Activity Recommendations

The two activities we recommend are:

  • Setting Institutional Goals and Objectives
  • Determining Challenges and Obstacles

The first activity can be used as a starting point for goal setting, which will be iterated upon in subsequent activities. These two activities are specifically aimed at narrowing down the institution’s short and long term goals while identifying any major challenges/obstacles. This allows for the on-site efforts to center around the already identified goals, challenges, and obstacles.

Activity #1: Institutional Goals and Objectives

  • Why Is This Important?

  • Intended Outcomes of the Session

  • Duration

  • Setting and Structure

  • Resources and Supplies

  • Prerequisites

  • Who Should Be Involved?

  • Outputs

  • Summary of Hints and Tips

Activity #2: Challenges and Obstacles

  • Why Is This Important?

  • Intended Outcomes of the Session

  • Duration

  • Setting and Structure

  • Resources and Supplies

  • Prerequisites

  • Who Should Be Involved?

  • Outputs

  • Summary of Hints and Tips

Why Use an Outside Consultant?

While conducting the above activities can be very valuable for an institution to glean some initial insights, it is not realistic for an institution to undertake an entire Readiness Assessment on their own. The outcomes from the “prep work” activities above will provide the outside consultants with baseline information to build upon with institutional staff and students while onsite. Our recommended “prep work” activities above are meant to assist an institution for the preparation of an on-site, facilitated Readiness Assessment; not to replace it. There are several additional activities experienced facilitators will guide an institution through. Institutions have advised us that having someone come from the “outside” creates a sense of urgency and importance around the learning analytics project and the Readiness Assessment activities. This can be valuable to leverage.

Some of the other valuable areas that we provide for institutions as experienced Readiness Assessment facilitators are:

  • Introductions to learning analytics, including real world experience and examples
  • Student requirements scoping
  • Policies, processes, and practices insights
  • Ethics and privacy considerations
  • Technical/data considerations
  • Intervention considerations, guidance, and management

These areas, and many others, are discussed in a guided, collaborative, and facilitated manner through workshops, sessions, and activities. The findings from each Readiness Assessment are shared in a confidential final report format that is meant to provide broad insights into the institution’s collective readiness. There are also recommendations made for next steps in the learning analytics initiative journey.

We heard from several institutions that an on-site facilitated Readiness Assessment is an essential first step to engaging in a learning analytics initiative. One institution told us, “An on-site facilitated Readiness Assessment is an efficient, effective, and valuable part of starting a learning analytics initiative.”

Useful Reading:


ALT Online Winter Conference #altc

Originally posted on e-Learning Stuff.

ALT’s Online Winter Conference, now in its fourth year, is back to showcase some of the best Learning Technology from ALT Members from across sectors.

The conference will take place online from 12 to 13 December 2017, giving ALT Members an opportunity to highlight the work they and their community have been involved with and to gain feedback from peers. This is a fantastic platform for you to hear about innovative ideas as new initiatives are shared in this creative environment.

To see the variety of topics covered in 2016, see last year’s programme.

For more information and to submit a proposal go here.

Deadline: 19 November 2017 for consideration.

To register complete this short form.

The FE & Skills Coalition Meets

Originally posted on Jisc Innovation in Further Education and Skills.

The FE and Skills Coalition meetings have built on the work of FELTAG and continue to offer both colleges and other sector organisations an excellent opportunity to hear the current issues and challenges which colleges and providers are facing.

The latter part of this meeting which looked at the role of  AR & VR tools in FE & Skills was the subject of an earlier blog post.

The meeting heard from Paul McKean, Head of FE & Skills at Jisc about Jisc’s strategic aims in the FE & Skills area, and an overview on Jisc’s current activities in this area.

Paul highlighted the sheer pace and extent of change in the post-16 education sector. A plethora of reports, standards and policies over the last few years has given the sector plenty of challenges, and along with area reviews and mergers has meant much upheaval.

Paul explained Jisc’s key strategic principles for the next three years. These are:

  • Quality of provision – excellence in teaching, learning and improvements in digital capability across the piece
  • Sector transformation – including financial sustainability and more efficient and effective institutions
  • Employer-led training – including better support for work-based learning, apprenticeships and employability of learners

Paul stressed the determination of Jisc to continue to be pro-active in engaging with its members to highlight the benefits of technological solutions and in supporting members in realising those benefits.

Paul highlighted some of the new offerings from Jisc for our members. These included:

  • Digital capabilities discovery tool – which helps individual staff reflect on their capability in the use of digital tools for learning and teaching. This platform will be ready for open pilot in December 2017
  • Student Experience Tracker – The tracker has gathered over 27,000 responses from students since its launch. There are new case studies that demonstrate organisational impact.
  • The Apprenticeship Journey in a Digital Age – This toolkit highlights support and digital approaches for steps along the Degree and higher apprenticeship journey. Currently available as an interactive Powerpoint deck, it will be released as a fully fledged web resource in early 2018.

Paul expands on these points in a recent podcast and blog post.

Designing learning and assessment in a digital age

Sarah Knight and Lisa Gray, Head of Change and a Senior Co-design manager in the Student Experience team at Jisc reviewed Jisc’s activities in the area of technology enhanced curricula, some of which dates back to 2006. The work is essentially designed to help answer the question: “What do my learners need to learn or what skills do they need to acquire to meet the learning outcomes for this lesson, course or module?”

Sarah and Lisa introduced the FE & Skills assessment benchmarking tool  as a really useful framework to enable institutions to see where they are in this area and reflect on their practice and on what they need to do to develop further.

They also drew attention to the Jisc work on employability, where a study of this area has led to the development of a set of guidance materials to help institutions understand the requirements for producing employable students in a digital age.

They also touched on Jisc’s work across the learner analytics space, and the really useful insights and metrics that can come from successfully interrogating the huge amount of data that institutions produce these days.

Learning spaces and the way that effective design of classrooms and other spaces can help facilitate good learning experiences were also highlighted. There are many good examples of this from across both higher and further education including:

  • Interactive lecture theatres
  • Active learning classrooms
  • Multi-discipline laboratories
  • Technology offers new possibilities to simulate work environments

Finally Lisa and Sarah stressed the role of students as change agents, and highlighted guidance for institutions in forging effective student-staff partnerships.

Case Studies in Digital Skills – Ufi Charitable Trust

Katherine Laux is a project manager at the Ufi charitable trust. She explained that Ufi works to:

  • demonstrate the art of the possible
  • create a vocational technology market
  • change the way we learn

Ufi achieve this by funding projects that can provide scalable solutions to improve vocational skills. Katherine highlighted two case studies from the Ufi stable (these case studies are free to users).

Blended learning essentials

This online, interactive course aims to introduce anyone working in further education, skills or vocational training to the benefits of blended learning and the way that technology can support learners to be better prepared for the workplaces that they will be entering.

The course was developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Education at University College London. It is available for free, although for a modest £62 it is possible to access more support and ongoing access to the course.


iDEA (Duke of York inspiring Digital Enterprise Award) is the digital and enterprise counterpart of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. It is completely free and can be accessed on virtually any device. Anyone of any age can sign up and earn badges to show their achievements in four categories: citizen, worker, maker and entrepreneur.

By taking on further challenges, participants can progress to Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. As well as being fun, the badges provide a visual acknowledgement of achievement which can then lead to improved employment prospects in the technology and enterprise sectors.


The presentations from this event are available on the Jisc website.

Thank you to all those who participated and for their willingness to share their practice and ideas with us. Please continue this conversation by using #FELTAG and by joining the FE and Skills Coalition mailing list:  http://www.jisc.ac.uk/FELTAGIMPLEMENTATIONGROUP

Augmented and Virtual Reality for FE and Skills

Originally posted on Jisc Innovation in Further Education and Skills.


There was a really good turn out for the latest in the FE & Skills Coalition series of meeting on the 31st October. There were many issues discussed and debated at the meeting, and some of  these will be covered in subsequent blog posts.

The focus in the afternoon session was on the role that Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR & VR) tools can play on FE and Skills education and training.

Following some hands-on demonstrations from Jisc’s own team who are working with these tools, and from Steve Smith and Frank McHale from Preston College at lunch time, the afternoon session heard from Jisc team, Leeds College of Music and Preston College.

There was a lot of interest in the role that these technologies can play in the FE and Skills sector. The ability to give students access to learning experiences that are either expensive, complicated or hazardous makes one case for exploring their use, as does the possibility of constructing learning opportunities that would be physically impossible in the real world.

Jisc’s activity

Matt Ramirez, Senior Innovation Developer in Jisc’s Digital Futures directorate opened the proceedings. He ran through some of the history of these tools, and their previous and current place on the Gartner hype cycle, and stressed the changing landscape due to the opportunity arising from the ubiquity of VR and AR capability on smart phones. Both Apple with its ARKit and Google with its ARCore are offering developers ease of access in return for entering their particular walled gardens. Standards that allow easy interoperability in this space are needed to break down these proprietary islands.

Jisc is looking at what institutions need to help them get going. Along with advice about how to select particular technologies for  evaluation or use in production environments, Jisc is looking at how to help with advice on things like repositories like SketchFab. Read Matt’s blog post which covers other interesting applications of these approaches to medicine, archeology and technical education. Martin Hamilton is Jisc’s Futurist, and he has written about Apple’s ARKIt, highlighting the way that it is mainstreaming augmented reality.

Preston College

Some colleges are already embracing AR and VR approaches. Steve Smith and Frank McHale form Preston College’s Preston’s College‘s Learning Lab confessed themselves near the start of their journey, and described their initial explorations and paid generous tribute to Matt Ramirez for his help in making some initial good choices in terms of technologies to investigate without spending a fortune and ending up with an expensive white elephant.

Steve and Frank stressed that while the potential of AR & VR tools is immense, their early experiences of talking to vendors was not encouraging. Their recommendation was to avoid the hard sell from the vendors with their ecosystems and explore ‘consumer’ level hardware and explore what can be done with these tools. They both stated that exploring the affordances of these tools had revitalised their interest and excitement in their role as teachers .

They concluded with these thoughts:

  • AR/VR is not a ‘Black Art’
  • It is not a gimmick anymore
  • Don’t be put off by high-value providers with inflexible offers
  • You can make a start for a few hundred pounds

Leeds Collge of Music

Leeds College of Music told us that they were further down the track in terms of implementing and making effective use of these approaches. Being a specialist music college, they have a requirement to teach students to be effective in the studio as well as as performers. They have created an AR resource that helps students get experience of setting up the patch bay (where audio signals are routed to sound processing modules and onwards). Students found this approach really useful, as it gave them the opportunity to fully interact with the patch bay and work things out for themselves.

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 12.46.24

Patch Bay AR

If you missed the session, there is a Periscope recording
Note – this was captured via an iPhone with no external microphone.

Presentations from this session are available on the Jisc Website.

Please continue this conversation by using #FELTAG and by joining the FE and Skills Coalition mailing list:  http://www.jisc.ac.uk/FELTAGIMPLEMENTATIONGROUP

Keep on tracking – update for November

Originally posted on Jisc Digital Student.

This is a short update on the 2017-18 tracker project and a few ‘last chance’ dates for your diary. Whether you’ve already launched your surveys, or are still deciding whether to take part, there’s plenty going on.

Last-chanceOn 21st and 28th November we’re running webinars to help you find out more about the tracker. For the benefit of international partners we are offering different start times for different timezones, but we have made them open to UK institutions as well. Follow this link to register for the time and date you want. As a one-off, we are extending the deadline for UK organisations until 30 November 2017 to allow you to benefit from these webinars. That means you must sign up and complete your confirmation form before the end of this month (international partners have until 31 January 2018).

On 14 December we are repeating the ‘getting started’ webinar we ran on 9 October, which covers a host of technical and logistical issues. You can still download the recording of that first webinar, but if you prefer to participate live, or if you want someone else to attend (for example if you are sharing responsibility for the tracker at your organisation), please follow this link and select the 14 December.

We have over 240 organisations registered to run the tracker this year, including over 30 international universities. There is now a whole area of the site for our international partners, and we are in the process of setting up in-country peer groups (you will be emailed about this once you confirm your participation).

With so much data to be gathered in from students, we are launching a series of expert panels to help us interpret it. Tracker users and students will play a full part in making sense of the evidence and deciding on the key messages. If you’re involved in running the tracker and think you could help, please apply here to take part before 30 November. The commitment extends to two virtual meetings in May/June 2018, and of course some reading and interpretation of summative data. By gaining an early insight into the overall findings, and sharing a high level discussion with experts and other participants, you will be really well placed to understand the data you are collecting in your own organisation.

If you are part of the tracker project this year, you’ll be receiving regular updates via the email discussion list. If you’re one of our international partners you’ll soon be part of an in-country network too. Get in touch if you feel you are missing out on any of these updates and communications. And keep checking this blog!

My first Student Experience Experts Group meeting

Originally posted on Inspiring learning.

Event: Student Experience Experts Group Location: The Studio, Birmingham Date: 17th October 2017-10-20

As the title suggested, expertise from the sector convened, with twitter hashtags at the ready (#JiscExperts17), the event was already brimming with activity and positive signposting.

I’m a new starter at Jisc. The last three weeks have been about getting settled into my Role as a Subject Specialist within the Student Experience team.  Having spent over 10 years within HE, I’m no stranger to Jisc and I have found events like this are always an opportunity to shake hands and chat with as many new faces, old colleagues and experts from near and afar as possible. As always, the main element for me was to listen and engage in knowledge sharing. This event was no exception.
Digital experts meeting

Waiting for the meeting to begin. Reading up on the Digital Student Experience Tracker for 2017

Throughout the day, presentations, activities, discussions (and coffee) led to the real sensation of moving forward. The ‘Tracker’ is known to many in the room. But there is added depth to the project as it moves into the next phase and Helen Beetham and the team gave an in-depth update and signposting to previous data. An interesting activity, including chocolate inspiration and some roleplay, immediately sent the room into a sound of delightful conversation.  ‘What would be the jewel in the data at your institution to act upon?’. The conversations on my table were around digital tools, content capture and the different ideas at various institutions for surveying students (and staff). This set the rest of the day up with breakout rooms, group activity and sharing either side of lunch. Lawrie Phipps and Donna Lanclos took to the stage and began their session on the ’Next Generation of Digital Learning Environments‘. The post-its and sharpies were called upon and one wall was covered in ideas about teaching practice and interview answers.  All were encouraged to engage in some discussion as we added our own to the wall.

It’s clear an event like this keeps connections alive and faces familiar.  The buzz of conversation at any opportunity firms the network across the sector and the knowledge to pass on to each other.  Looking forward to the next one.  See you there.

There are periscope recordings of the sessions which can be found on the twitter hashtag page: https://twitter.com/hashtag/jiscexperts17?f=broadcasts&vertical=default&src=hash   The post My first Digital Experts Group meeting appeared first on Inspiring learning.