Learning Analytics Purchasing Service

Originally posted on Effective Learning Analytics.

From the outset of the Jisc Learning Analytics project we were aware that institutions were likely to have requirements that went beyond what Jisc could offer. With this in mind we developed an architecture and service structure so that complementary services from other suppliers could easily be added on top of the services provided by Jisc.

In addition, we were seeing the learning analytics sector undergo rapid development with new products, services and suppliers regularly entering the marketplace. As a result, we also wanted institutions to have the opportunity to exploit new innovations as they became available.

Earlier this month Jisc launched a new procurement mechanism, the Learning Analytics Purchasing Service, so that institutions had access to a ready-formed marketplace for innovative learning analytics solutions, services and infrastructure that could be used alongside the core Jisc Learning Analytics Service.

The Learning Analytics Purchasing Service operates as a fully electronic Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS). New suppliers can join at any time during the term of the service, thereby allowing buyers swift access to new innovations in the marketplace. The Learning Analytics Purchasing Service also reduces the timescale, and therefore cost, of procurement, when compared to traditional static frameworks.

Buyers and new suppliers can access the Learning Analytics Purchasing Service via the Jisc procurement portal at http://tenders.jisc.ac.uk. Use the find opportunities feature and select ‘JISC’ from the list of portals. Look for ‘Opportunity Id: DN289989 Title: Learning Analytics Purchasing Service’

Further background about the service is available here: http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:292294-2017:TEXT:EN:HTML

The service is currently live with two suppliers confirmed at this time and a further batch of 8 or so in the process of being added over the coming weeks. Once the initial batch of suppliers has been added we’ll post an update to this blog with details about them. We’ll also regularly update the suppliers list as new suppliers get added to the service over time.

Institutional Buyers can view the Buyer’s Guide, which has more details about the range of services available and how mini-competitions are run.

If you’d like more information about the service please drop us a line at setup.analytics@jisc.ac.uk.

Mark Harrington, Jisc Learning Analytics Service

Digital student tracker – time to commit!

Originally posted on Jisc Digital Student.

Today we’re launching the confirmation form for the Digital Student Experience Tracker 2017-18. You’ll automatically receive this form if you completed the first sign-up form. If you complete that first form now you’ll get the confirmation form within days – so if you haven’t committed yet, now is a good time to take the plunge.

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 22.28.44‘Confirmation form’ may not set your pulse racing, but we are feeling pretty excited about it. Here’s why.

First, we already have over 100 institutions signed up. There has been so much interest that we are considering extending the sign-up window to the end of October. We have been asked to present this data at a number of national and international forums, and to support the Welsh Government in exploring the digital experience of college students across Wales. So we expect this year’s tracker to provide a bigger and richer picture of the student digital experience than ever before.

Second, with so much valuable data from learners, we’ve decided to collect some organisational data to put alongside it. That way we can see what universities and colleges are doing that relates to the student digital experience. We can create powerful messages about what makes a difference. And you as participants can compare your approach with those of your peers.

Student digital experience tracker 2017: the voice of 22,000 learners

Student digital experience tracker 2017: the voice of 22,000 learners

So as well as asking which tracker surveys you want, and clarifying data responsibilities, the second sign-up form asks ten new questions about issues in your organisation. You only have to answer four, but we hope you’ll like them enough to go further. You’ll get your results by email, so you can compare them with your student responses later, and start using them to have conversations with your colleagues straight away.

We haven’t pulled these questions out of the air. We’ve spent the summer doing a literature search, reviewing other international surveys, and consulting with a panel of tracker users about the issues they think are important (thank you to everyone who took part). We also wanted to know what issues can be assessed by our lead contacts without them having to leave their desks. Many of the existing surveys are long and detailed. Producing something compact but meaningful has been a challenge.

Institution four areas smallFinally, as we were developing the latest version of the tracker questions (blog post follows), we grouped the questions into four new categories. We have followed these categories through into the data we collect from organisations, and we will also be using them to shape the new staff tracker we are designing for this year. So we are offering three ways you can collect data –  from staff, from students, and at an organisational level – that build into a rich picture of how the digital environment supports learning and teaching.

Here you can explore the ten key questions we are asking:

  1. Which best describes the state of your digital learning/technology-enhanced learning (TEL) strategy?
  2. How many full-time equivalent TEL support staff does your organisation employ (including centrally located and in departments)?
  3. Which best describes the state of your ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy?
  4. Which best characterises your organisation’s approach to adopting new technologies for learning and teaching?
  5. How do you usually engage your students in improving the digital environment for learning?
  6. How do you usually prepare students for using digital technologies on their course?
  7. What percentage of your learning and teaching staff have undertaken TEL-related CPD over the past 2 years?
  8. What percentage of the courses you offer make effective use of the functions available in the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)?
Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 22.18.38

Sample questions from the Tracker sign-up process

9. What percentage of the courses you offer make use of industry-standard and up-to-date digital software and systems

10. What percentage of learning spaces have been designed or adapted to support effective digital learning?

This year, also for the first time, we are bringing together panels of experts from the different sectors to review the evidence coming out of the tracker. This will include data from the sign-up process. If you have an interest in the questions we’re asking, and if you want your students to be part of this big conversation, please join us in the Tracker programme. Also you could consider joining our expert review panels later in the year.

Sign up for the 2017-18 Tracker here

Find out more about the tracker project here

Read about how others are using the tracker and explore the key findings from 2017 here

You can also contact Tracker Support for more details of the sign-up process, or Helen Beetham if you’d like more information about the background research that informed these questions.

Opening and Closing at #altc

Originally posted on e-Learning Stuff.

Bonnie Stewart

The opening keynote at the ALT Conference this year was by Bonnie Stewart.

Bonnie Stewart is an educator and social media researcher fascinated by who we are when we’re online. An instructor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Founder/Director of the media literacy initiative Antigonish 2.0, Bonnie explores the intersections of knowledge, technology, and identity in her work.

Bonnie’s presentation was entitled, The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the keynote, as I do like to be surprised, so hadn’t read the abstract. For those that do want to read it, here it is.

This talk opens up the intersection of learning technologies, open practice, and the idea of “norms” in learning and education. An exploration of the tensions around gatekeeping in higher education, the keynote examines our histories of norms and gatekeeping and the current trajectory and possibilities that openness offers learners and scholars, via learning technologies and digital practice. It also examines some of the dark corners of society opened up by the digital, and considers what this “new norm(al)” means for higher education. The talk frames our current moment as one of constant confrontation, and offers ideas for navigating confrontation overload while still preserving the spirit of openness and learning.

For me there were some key messages that came out, one of the main ones was that just saying you work openly doesn’t necessarily mean you are open to everyone. That open can sometimes be a solution, but can also sometimes be a problem. Listening to Siân Bayne the following day, the importance of anonymity (by definition not open) is something we need to recognise.

I do share much of my work openly, my Flickr images are Creative Commons licensed CC BY-NC 2.0 for example. However I also recognise as a white middle class, middle aged male that I have privileges and opportunities to be open that may not be available to others.

Bonnie recounted her early career up in the Arctic Circle and she said one thing struck her when she started was that she was white!

The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

This resonated with me and reminded me of my early teaching career. I was bought up in Cambridge (not a real place) and at the time in the 1970s and 1980s wasn’t a culturally or ethnically diverse place. I started teaching in Somerset, first in Weston-super-Mare and then Bridgwater, both these places (back in the early 1990s) were predominantly white working class cohorts. I then got a job at Brunel College (now City of Bristol College) which is based in Ashley Down, literally a stone throw from the inner city district of St Pauls in Bristol. I don’t know why I didn’t realise but I was surprised when 90% of my students were not white. Like Bonnie did, I suddenly realised I was white!

The keynote also reminded me that the “norm” isn’t necessarily the “norm” for some people. Normal may be familiar, but reflecting on my time working in Bristol, the norm there was not familiar to me. My teaching needed to change to reflect the diversity and background of my learners and not my own background, which would have been inaccessible and unknown to the people I was teaching. We don’t always fit under a bell curve.

The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

Another thing that came out of her keynote for me, was the essence of open working in a closed bubble. I know that my network, which is made up of lots of people who work openly, is very much a bubble and for many outside that bubble, despite the protestations of openness is as much closed to them as if the people were working in a closed manner. Even within the bubbles, open practice can be a barrier for many. Some people do not have the advantages or privileges that many have and can not afford to share and be open.

I also liked her slide on technical problems versus adaptive challenges and is something I recognise from working with academic staff in various colleges and embedding the use of learning technologies.

The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

It was never about the technology, it was always about the people. Interestingly I also found it was never about the pedagogy either, it was always about the people too.

As with other keynotes at the conference I also did a sketch note.

Keynote: Bonnie Stewart – The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

Her keynote was recorded and out on the YouTube.

What did you get from Bon’s keynote?

Drawing at #altc

Originally posted on e-Learning Stuff.

CB_ALT_WED_38 https://flic.kr/p/XRVcwY CC BY-NC 2.0
CB_ALT_WED_38 https://flic.kr/p/XRVcwY CC BY-NC 2.0

I spent the last week at the ALT Conference in Liverpool where I listened and participated in a range of sessions on learning technologies. As I did the previous year I did manage to make some sketch notes of the keynotes and some of the sessions. I was using the iPad pro, Paper by 53 and an Apple Pencil.

My sketch notes are really for me, rather than other people. The process of sketching allows my to digest for myself what is been talked about and demonstrated. The sketch note provides me with a mechanism that provides a process for my interpretation of what is being said and what I understand from the talk. The process of sketching engages me in the talk in ways in which note taking does for others, or conversing on the Twitter. They are not done for other people, if other people find them useful then that’s just a bonus. Having said that I do share them online, through Twitter (and Flickr).

Quite a few people came up to me to ask what I was doing, what app I was using and if I was sharing them. I had similar questions on Twitter as well.

The first sketch note was of Bonnie Stewart’s keynote.

Keynote: Bonnie Stewart – The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education

Bonnie Stewart is an educator and social media researcher fascinated by who we are when we’re online. An instructor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Founder/Director of the media literacy initiative Antigonish 2.0, Bonnie explores the intersections of knowledge, technology, and identity in her work.

Her keynote, The new norm(al): Confronting what open means for higher education, was recorded and out on the YouTube.

I really enjoyed this talk about the meaning of open and how though we may think we are open, that may not necessarily be true of what we do, or how others perceive us.

My next sketch note was from Lawrie Phipps and Simon Thomson’s session, VLE to PLE – The next generation of digital learning environment, which was a forty minute session. One of my children called it, after seeing the sketch note, the Vile Pile.

VLE to PLE – The next generation of digital learning environment

This was a challenge to draw, partly as it was very much discussion based, but also it was quite a short session. My sketch note was very much about drawing out some of the main themes that came out, the core for me was about how the VLE is getting bloated (becoming a Swiss Army Knife, lots of tools, but not good at doing anything well) and that maybe we should move to a learner centred “system” which the VLE could be part of – this reminded me very much of the VLE is Dead debate we had back in 2009.

At Leeds Beckett University they are exploring the development of a PLE “space” through a HEFCE funded research project into Personalised User Learning & Social Environments (PULSE). This project explores the development of a hub for connecting students’ existing spaces with institutional spaces and empowering students to take ownership of their “content” within and beyond their learning.

The difference here is that they do not seek to develop an entirely new learning platform, but just an architecture through which to connect existing spaces.

On the Wednesday I did a sketch note of Siân Bayne’s keynote, The death of a network: data and anonymity on campus.

The death of a network: data and anonymity on campus

I did initially wonder where the talk was going, as Siân recounted her tale about a research project involving Yik Yak, but I found the end of the keynote fascinating as she spoke about the importance of anonymity in a world of big data.

This keynote will talk about a recent research study which traced the slow death of the anonymous, geosocial app Yik Yak at our university. I will provide a description of its use and decline but, more importantly, use it to understand what is at stake in the loss of the possibility of anonymity within universities in an age of data profiling, extraction and personalisation. Linking to the conference theme which explores issues at the forefront of innovation, I will use theory drawn from literatures on surveillance capitalism and the data economy to focus on developing our institutional values surrounding anonymity through and within our learning technologies.

I really enjoyed sketching this talk it just worked for me from a sketching perspective, I think drawing the gravestones was the heart of I what made the drawing for me.

You can watch this keynote on YouTube.

I think this is something that needs to be considered by all looking at the use of data and analytics, and will certainly inform my work at Jisc on the Intelligent Campus.

I also did a sketch note in the session, Kevin Costner is a liar: Field of Dreams and other EdTech fallacies, led by Kerry Pinny, Marcus Elliott and Rosie Hare. This was another forty minute session and I also was “forced” to participate, so it was a challenge to do and complete the sketch note in that short time. This is the reason why I didn’t do sketch notes for shorter 20 minute sessions I attended.

Kevin Costner is a liar: Field of Dreams and other EdTech fallacies

I had originally intended to “paste” an image of Kevin Costner into my sketch note, but I don’t think that this is a feature available in Paper 53.

The session was really interesting and I don’t think my sketch note really amplifies the content of the session.

Kevin Costner has a lot to answer for and so do we. In ‘Field of Dreams’ he was told that “if you build it, they will come”. This parallels the approach to innovation in educational technology, “if we install it, they will use it”. Given ‘At the forefront of innovation’ is one of this year’s themes it is the right time to ask whether limited innovation, impact and staff engagement is our fault?

The main focus for me was about “who is to blame” for the lack of use of learning technologies, something I might come back and explore in a future blog post.

I was looking forward to Peter Goodyear’s keynote on learning spaces, entitled Shaping Spaces.

Shaping Spaces

This talk is about new learning spaces in universities and the scope for learning technologists to help shape better learning spaces. I will focus on design knowledge: knowledge that is useful in (educational) design work. Two ideas are core to my argument. The first is that the analysis and design of complex learning spaces – and learning situations more generally – must pay close attention to students’ activity: what it is they are actually doing. The second is that we need a shared set of actionable concepts that can connect human activity to the physical world (material/digital/hybrid), recognising that activity can be influenced, but is rarely determined, by features of its setting.

I found this quite a challenging keynote to sketch, often when sketching, key ideas and concepts make the whole process just work. With Peter’s keynote I struggled to create a coherent sketch note and capture the keynote.

Overall I was pleased with my sketch notes, I think they were much better than last year’s efforts. So did you do any sketching at this year’s conference?

Notes and presentations from the 11th Jisc Learning Analytics Network event at Aston University

Originally posted on Effective Learning Analytics.

Aston University kindly hosted our latest learning analytics network event last week in central Birmingham. This one involved fewer presentations and more group work, which seemed to work well. The workshop part was focussed on developing strategies for carrying out interventions.

Paul Bailey updated the group first of all on how the Jisc effective learning analytics project is progressing. [Slideshare] The project is evolving into a fully-supported beta service from October. Jisc is providing the facility for 20 new institutions to come on board for 6 months at no additional cost. The full service will be available from Aug 2018.  See Paul’s presentation for further details.

Rob Wynn Jones

Rob Wynn Jones then discussed technical developments with the learning analytics warehouse, such as the new Unified Data Definition and the online data validator, the integration of library data and data from Turnitin, and planned integration with Canvas. See Rob’s presentation [second part of Slideshare] for further details including updates to Data Explorer and Study Goal.

We had two group working sessions during the day. The first one, before lunch was about student-facing interventions. I kicked it off with a presentation [Periscope recording, PPT 1.74MB], and then people worked in groups through a scenario with various reports in order to draw conclusions about how interventions should be taken. This was a cut-down version of the workshop I’ve described in an earlier post.

After lunch we did a session on using analytics to enhance the curriculum, also a cut down version of the previous workshop Paul and I had carried out.

We then had four really interesting presentations from different members of the group. First up was Manuel León from Southampton University, who discussed the fascinating work he and colleague, Adriana Wilde, have done to build a dashboard to analyse various aspects of MOOC participation [PPT 4.51MB] [Periscope recording – first 20 mins].

Next we had Sarah Parkes from Newman University, presenting on their Catalyst-funded project: ‘Collaborative development of pedagogic interventions based on learner analytics’ (PPT 1.42 MB) [Periscope recording, about 20:50 mins in]. Sarah was talking specifically about what students want from interventions. Two semi-structured focus groups were held with students, who were happy overall with the proposal. As has been found elsewhere, while staff believe that students will be concerned about the data collected about them, the students were relatively comfortable about it, though did have some specific concerns about who would have access to the data and what opt-outs would be available. Another interesting finding is that students didn’t want to be contacted by someone they didn’t know. The conclusion was that interventions should comprise tutor and peer-led activities.

Ed de Quincey from Keele University presented next on work he’s been doing with colleague, Chris Briggs, around student centred design of learning analytics systems [slides at Speakerdeck] [Periscope recording from about 36:00 mins in]. Around 11 reports on student activity were available using Blackboard – they were in inconsistent formats and took ages to run. So they identified and reviewed 22 learning analytics systems, finding that very few of these were aimed at students themselves. Ed’s slides show what the students at Keele came up with as requirements and what’s been done to build a new student-facing analytics dashboard.

Finally, Linda Hanna from Essex updated us on the University’s learner analytics project [Periscope recording from about 36:00 mins in] She discussed some of the current issues around student support, the multiple systems available and what Essex is doing to try to integrate these – with their business school leading the way in providing better data to academics who are supporting students: some useful lessons for institutions embarking on a similar journey.

After coffee, Kieron Stanley and his colleagues from Aston discussed the many aspects of their own institutional learning analytics project. Unfortunately the Periscope recording of that session didn’t work. I’ll upload the slides here when I get them.Group shot of participants

Our next meeting will be on 23rd Nov at the University of Greenwich. Hope to see you there!

Jiscmail lists for learning resources

Originally posted on Inspiring learning.

It’s vital to keep up to date and well-informed when you’re running a library or learning resources service. Jiscmail lists have long been one of the tools of the trade for library and information professionals, but for some college staff who are new to their roles, it can be difficult to know how to get started. This post is not a full ‘how to’ guide but offers a few tips to help new learning resources managers get to grips with Jiscmail.

Chest labelled mail

Image source: Pixabay

What are Jiscmail lists?

Jiscmail lists (sometimes called groups or forums) enable subscribers to send emails to each other and share information on an area of common interest. Jiscmail is a service which hosts over 9000 lists for UK further and higher education and research, including dozens on library and learning resources topics. They are often set up by special interest groups, regional forums, research groups, committees and projects. New lists are being added all the time, but many have existed for years and have become a core part of professional practice.

What can you use them for?

Good practice in library and learning resources management involves a great deal of keeping up to date, networking and collaboration. Jiscmail lists are good for all of these things. Some are used sparingly for announcements while others are active discussion forums for the exchange of information and problem-solving. Here are just some of the things you can do with a Jiscmail list:

  • Receive announcements about services you use
  • Be alerted to new resources for your students and staff
  • Find out about upcoming CPD opportunities
  • Get solutions from peers to questions or problems
  • Invite participants for research
  • Raise awareness of a project
  • Promote an event
  • Participate in professional discussions.

Which lists should I join?

With so many Jiscmail lists for every subject under the sun, it’s impossible to give a standard set of recommendations to suit everyone. Whichever lists you choose, it’s a good idea to review your subscriptions for time to time, to check they are still of use. Below are some well-established lists that you may find helpful for FE learning resources management.

Before exploring further, it’s recommended that you create a Jiscmail account if you haven’t already done so. This will ensure that you can easily navigate the Jiscmail site, join lists which interest you and explore the full features.


Primarily or announcements about the Jisc e-books-for-fe service as well as occasional news about other Jisc FE and skills content. This one is essential.


For announcements about the Jisc hairdressing training service. Another important one if your college teaches hairdressing/barbering.


For announcements about Jisc Collections agreements for HE-in-FE (sometimes known as college based higher education). Essential if your college offers higher education courses.


The list for the CILIP Multimedia and Information Technology Group. Like many CILIP group lists, you don’t have to be a CILIP member to join. The group is currently active in areas like digital literacy which are very relevant for FE learning resources staff.


The list for the CILIP Information Literacy Group.


The list for the CILIP Academic and Research Libraries Group (which also has many local groups for the regions and nations of the UK).


The list for the CILIP International Library and Information Group, and an example of one of the many international lists on Jiscmail.


A very general list for anything and everything library.


Discussion about accessibility and inclusion issues in libraries.


A list mainly relevant to UKSG members in libraries and the scholarly communications supply chain. As well as university libraries, it may be of interest to larger college libraries particularly those supporting higher education, as many of the posts involve crowdsourcing solutions to problems accessing e-journals, academic databases etc.


The list for the open education SIG of ALT (Association for Learning Technology). Includes discussion on open educational practice and sharing of open educational resources.


This is the list for people interested in the Jisc building digital capability project. Includes resources, events and project updates.


I haven’t included here any confidential lists (e.g. for any members-only groups your college is part of) or the many regional forums which exist around the UK. Talk to colleagues to find out which ones they recommend.

If you’re interested in the wider library and/or education community, there are dozens more specialised lists. On the Jiscmail site you can find lists by using the Groups tab on the home page, or browse by category or A-Z. Luckily, many library-related lists begin with the prefix LIS- to make them easier to spot. There is also a keyword search box on the Jiscmail home page: this works best if your term is very specific.


Lists without tears

Jiscmail is popular with many librarians: it fits into workflows, it’s accessible and offers a lot of flexibility. However, as with any communication tool, it’s helpful to have some strategies to ensure that you get the best out of it. Here are some personal tips. If you need instructions, check the help pages.

Get to know the list archives

If you go to any list home page on the Jiscmail site you’ll see the list archives (past messages). Here’s an example:

Screen snip of HE-in-FE list archives

Example of a Jiscmail list archive: the HE-in-FE list

You can:

  • Keyword search to find answers to questions if they have been discussed in the past
  • See the type and frequency of discussions that take place.

Send helpful requests

If posting a query to a list, there are things you can do to help your chances of receiving replies:

    • Be relevant: check your topic is within the scope of the list
    • Be clear: specific requests are more likely to succeed
    • Be realistic: don’t expect people to spend hours composing lengthy replies and don’t expect them to share sensitive information with the list. It’s common to request that people send replies to you privately, and offer to summarise the information for the list

Save time

Yes, really! There are ways to control the flow of Jiscmail messages to your inbox. You can do this from any list home page by clicking on the subscribe/unsubscribe button and changing your settings. You can also amend settings for multiple lists simultaneously by going to Subscriber’s Corner (under Quick Links on the home page). Options include:

  • You can receive a digest which may be daily or weekly, rather than individual messages. You can also use your email filtering options to syphon messages into folders and read them when you have time
  • If you don’t want to receive incoming mail (eg when going on holiday) but still want to be able to post and search the archives occasionally, you can set a list to ‘no mail’
  • Develop the habit of skim-reading. Rather than save messages locally you can use the archives if you need to find something later, freeing up your inbox.

Be popular

Many lists have thousands of members, so it’s a good idea to take care not to fill up all those inboxes by mistake:

    • Lists are set to handle replies in one of two ways: either replies go to the sender or they go to the whole list. If you reply to a message, check the ‘to’ box before hitting send (if it’s automatically set to ‘reply to list’ then you can easily amend this to reply only to the sender if that’s more appropriate)
    • If you decide to unsubscribe, you can do this easily (here’s how) rather than broadcasting your intention to the whole list

More good tips on list etiquette are available here.

Graffiti reading 'Please be nice to people'.

“Please be nice to people” by Exile on Ontario St, on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Jiscmail is just one of the tools needed to stay up to date and collaborate, and I’ll be looking at some others in future posts. The most important thing is to connect with people, whichever combination of tools you decide to use.

The post Jiscmail lists for learning resources appeared first on Inspiring learning.

What drives student satisfaction with their digital experience?

Originally posted on Jisc Digital Student.

In reviewing the data from two major Tracker pilots, and other work done by the Digital Student projects, we have developed a deeper understanding of the elements of the student digital experience.


We know that it centres on the course of study. Confident teaching staff, relevant learning activities, and up-to-date digital systems all contribute to learners’ sense that they are developing  sound digital skills for the future. Students who have a regular experience of digital technology in their learning are more likely to say they benefit from it.

We know that important elements of the digital experience also happen beyond the curriculum. Student-facing services can have a profound influence – particularly library and IT services, but also learning support, accessibility, careers and outreach. Students gain digital confidence from work experience and from informally sharing their skills. Just having the freedom to experiment and explore is valuable.

For those explorations to be productive, learners need a sound digital infrastructure and support for using their own devices. Also they need to feel that their digital practices are valuable and worth investing time to develop. They need opportunities to talk about their digital practices and ideally to engage with staff in changing the conditions of their digital learning.

We have collected plenty of case study evidence that these issues matter, and that using the Tracker can help organisations to understand them better. But we still need to know how organisations succeed in building student digital confidence and satisfaction. In times of financial constraint, where should precious resources be invested? Where should digital champions direct their attention?

To address this challenge, the 2017-18 Tracker survey will ask more direct questions about student satisfaction. We are also, as reported in our last blog post, gathering data at the organisational level to give context to the findings from the Tracker. This is where you can help. What factors have you found to make a difference? What drivers of the student digital experience do you think we should assess?

We have already approached our most experienced pilot institutions with these questions. Now we are asking you to join in. Follow this link to a short survey that asks for your views. The second sign-up form for this year’s Tracker will be released in mid-September, so there are just a couple of weeks to influence the data we ask for. Thank you for your insights and experiences, and for any input you can give.

Get involved: complete the surveysign up for the next open pilot of the Trackerfollow developments on the blog.

Looking through the (Johari) Window on Technology Use

Originally posted on Inspiring learning.

My mother bought an iPad recently.

I know – there’s nothing ground breaking about that. According to recent estimates Apple have sold over 360 million since 2010.

Did I say my mother is also in her seventies and that she has never really experienced the internet first-hand before?

(Photo by Ryan McGuire, available on Gratisography under a Creative Commons Zero licence).

(Photo by Ryan McGuire, available on Gratisography under a Creative Commons Zero licence).

How do you explain to someone how they can make use of something that has so many applications? Well, with so many possibilities the last thing I wanted to do was overwhelm and discourage her by having her believe that there’s too much to learn. We all have to start somewhere – regardless of our age, right?

Some of the earlier digital learning theories, such as Prensky’s debunked digital natives and immgrants theory, have perhaps helped to cement the idea that technology is predominantly the arena in which younger people thrive. Although attitudes are changing, the Office for National Statistics still reports a lot of disparity in internet use between younger adults (16-24 year olds) and the over 75s. In the article 10 ways to help older people use the internet in the Telegraph Kazimi cites “apathy and fear” as two reasons why the internet turns older people off, but I’d add a third dimension – that of “not knowing what you don’t know.”

In short, it’s difficult to see the relevance of something when you’re simply not aware of what it has to offer.

When thinking about something that’s on the scale of the internet Ingham and Luft’s Johari Window model for self-awareness and personal development has a lot of resonance for me.  The Johari window model is a really useful way to map out our understanding of a given topic (or lack of) with others and helps individuals to recognise the gaps in their knowledge and share experiences. The Business Balls site (link above) provides a detailed overview of the theory, but the model itself breaks down a topic into four key areas, represented by the window diagram below:-


The first section of the window is the ‘Open/free area’ and this represents what an individual, in this case, my mother, already knows about the internet and what I know too. Given that my mother’s understanding is based on anecdotal evidence rather than first-hand experience, there’s lots of opportunities here to dispel some commonly held myths about the internet. Yes, it can be the horrible and nasty place that the media often presents it as, for all sorts of reasons, but it can also be a place that brings people together. It’s only by adopting a balanced view can people hope to tap into the many benefits, rather than letting ‘the fear’ Kazimi alluded to earlier prevent older people from even trying it out in the first place.

The second section, the ‘Blind area,’ represents the area where I can probably help the most, as it’s that area where I have some knowledge to bear, but she doesn’t. This is where I didn’t want to let my enthusiasm run away with me and focus too much on the things that I find useful, which may only serve to further baffle and confuse a newbie.

To address this, I gave some serious thought to what she might find useful – things like photography, the TV programmes that she likes and keeping in touch with the family.

  • Photography was an instant quick win – the camera options on the iPad 3 gives plenty of features for the novice to ‘wow’ and ‘ooo’ over, but doesn’t have so much that it’s too difficult to learn. Simple techniques, like cropping, removing red-eye from people and being able to zoom easily (my mother wears glasses and struggles to see detail) were instant quick wins.
  • Being able to watch her favourite TV shows at a time and place that suited her was also a revelation for someone that has been bound by the constraints of terrestrial TV. iPlayer, the ITV hub and so on all provided her with the flexibility to watch at a time and place that suited her – again, quick wins.
  • Social media plays a big part of my internet use, but the weird and wonderful world of microblogging, photo sharing and social networking might be a step too far for my mother. However, I do know that her sister (who, incidentally lives in a different city in the UK) uses WhatsApp to contact her family, so that might be a good starting point. Starting out with close family and friends first on a site like WhatsApp, which is relatively basic and intuitive compared to many other social networking sites out there, was a good introduction. Baby steps.

The final two sections of the Johari window are worth highlighting too – the hidden section refers to things that my mother knows and can share with me that I don’t know. I don’t think that we are at that stage yet, as she’s still finding her feet, but in time I look forward to her sharing things she has learnt with me that I didn’t know.

And finally, the ‘unknown area’ of the Johari window represents that part of the topic that neither of you know about. This may sound a little odd and you may wonder why we need to have this section, but sometimes I think we need to remind ourselves that we, as regular users of the internet, still have much to learn too and it is only by sharing our experiences with others that we grow 😊


The post Looking through the (Johari) Window on Technology Use appeared first on Inspiring learning.

Autumn update

Originally posted on Jisc digital capability codesign challenge blog.

Now the summer holidays are over and the start of a new academic year is upon us, our thoughts are turning to new developments with the Jisc digital capability project over the coming months.

Firstly, for those of you attending ALT-C this week, the digital capabilities team will be running a workshop exploring organisational journeys towards digital capability, in collaboration with two of our pilot institutions, the University of Hertfordshire and Cardiff University. Please do join us if you are there, the session is on Tuesday 5th September, at 13.30 in the Mandela room (session number 1852). The team will also be on the stand throughout the conference so do come and find us.

Discovery tool – what we learned, hear from pilots and sign up to pilot the next version of the tool
The initial pilot of the digital capability discovery tool which ran from February – June 2017 is now complete, and the feedback and responses from our 14 pilot institutions has been analysed. You can find out more about what the feedback told us in a new post from Helen Beetham on what we learned. You can also read more about the journeys towards digital capability using the tool taken by six of the 14 pilot institutions in a post from Clare Killen on our six new ‘institutional stories’.

The next few months will be a busy time redesigning the tool in the light of the feedback, enhancing the question sets with more tailored options (as a starting point offering different question sets for teaching and non-teaching staff), and moving the tool to its new home (the Potential.ly platform).

The new tool will be ready for December 2017, and we’re now looking for institutions who are interested in working with us to pilot the new and improved tool and associated resources with staff from December – May 2018 so that we can continue to learn from your experiences. If you would like to get involved please complete this sign up form to register your interest, by 31st October 2017. Please note a student-facing version of the tool will also be available for initial testing as part of this pilot, from early 2018.

Community of Practice event – date now confirmed
We’re pleased to announce that our next digital capability Community of Practice event will be taking place on the 30 November 2017 at Maple House, Birmingham.

We would welcome any thoughts on what you would like to see on the agenda for this, our second community event. If you have insights you’d like to share on approaches that are working well for you, developments that you’re taking forward or issues that you’d like to see discussed please let us know at digitalcapability@jisc.ac.uk. In particular, if you would be interested in running a short 5 minute ‘pecha kucha’ style presentation on an approach you are undertaking please get in touch (by the 31st October). We’ll be in touch in the next few weeks with details of how to register for the event.

For more information on what happened at our first event, see a previous post.

Piloting the digital capability discovery tool: six new institutional stories

Originally posted on Jisc digital capability codesign challenge blog.

Earlier this year 14 universities and colleges took part in a pilot of our digital capability discovery tool (beta). The discovery tool has been designed to support individuals and managers in a range of roles by helping them to identify and reflect on their current digital capabilities and make plans to improve these using a customised playlist of resources.

A collection of institutional stories is now available that show the approaches taken by six of the participating pilot organisations, the outcomes, key lessons learned and the next steps that they intend to take.

Image depicting institutional stories

Discovery tool institutional stories

What does a digital college or university look like?
The pilot has highlighted the fact that digital capabilities impact on, and are relevant to, all areas of university and college business. Supporting the development of digital capabilities is therefore vital as the vision, ambitions and expectations of organisations, staff and students evolve in line with the changes technology makes on both working processes and the nature of work and knowledge practices (H Beetham, Deepening digital know-how: developing digital talent. 2015).

Digital capabilities are an integral element in building a digital workplace at Coleg y Cymoedd and to realising their digital vision. The college wants to ensure that learners achieve beyond their core learning experience, gaining transferable skills that will equip them as digital citizens.

The Open University is currently engaged in a ‘radical redesign’ process with a focus on digital innovation as a means of transforming teaching and achieving organisational efficiencies. The pilot process has raised awareness of how central digital capabilities are to more agile ways of working.

Using data to inform strategic interventions
The ability for institutional leads to view anonymised data based on the self-assessments of individuals for analysis at organisational and departmental levels was valued by those participating in the pilot (although please note this isn’t automated in the current version of tool but is being explored for the future).

Participants from a wide range of roles took part in each institution highlighting differences in confidence and capabilities across the six elements of the digital capabilities framework for individuals.

At The University of Derby, the pilot of the discovery tool complemented a range of other initiatives already underway including the launch of a new technology enhanced learning strategy and participation in the student digital experience tracker in 2016. The data from all the initiatives is being gathered and analysed to identify target areas where dedicated support is required and the development of additional resources.

Participation in the pilot helped to raise awareness of the importance of digital capabilities at The Hull College Group and provided an insight into the current capabilities and confidence levels of staff and their training needs. Staff felt the questions were good at encouraging reflection and liked the visual overview of their individual capabilities along with suggested areas for action and links to resources.

Starting the conversation … creating new opportunities
The discovery tool provided an opportunity to engage staff at all levels in discussions about the importance and relevance of developing digital capabilities.

Establishing a collaborative approach for investigating the appetite for digital capabilities development across the was the focus of pilot activities at The University of Hertfordshire. A digital capabilities scoping group helped to engage as many people as possible across the university at a strategic level and engaged staff from 14 subject areas, professional services personnel and senior managers.

“Using the discovery tool is a great way of starting a conversation around digital capabilities”
Matt Smith, eLearning project manager, Wales Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education, School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University

The pilot process at Cardiff University has opened up communication channels with individuals and teams, creating opportunities to discuss digital practices that can be embedded in new courses, raising awareness of the expertise available within the Wales Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education and reaching out to staff beyond the ‘usual suspects’.

Some innovative and creative strategies were used to engage staff including the writing of love letters/break up letters by The Open University which elicited some very reflective responses and library and computing staff at the University of Hertfordshire took part in a buzzy ‘speed dating’ exercise post-pilot to find out what ‘digital superpowers’ their colleagues had as well as share their favourite apps.

Hitting the ground running – the value of a ready made tool
The value of participating in a national pilot, contributing to the co-design process and having access to a tool developed using the expertise of Jisc colleagues and associates was acknowledged by all six organisations.

“I found the discovery tool really well put together. It is clear and concise and arguably has more traction and weight having been developed by an external organisation. It would have taken weeks or months to engage staff with something similar had it been devised in-house.”
Richard Fullylove, strategic ILT manager/rheolwr TDG stretegol, Coleg y Cymoedd

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