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

Get involved

Stay up-to-date

Discovery tool – what we learned and where we go next

Originally posted on Jisc digital capability codesign challenge blog.

From February until June this year, fourteen institutions ran a pilot of Jisc’s digital capabilities discovery tool (beta) with members of staff. If you are interested in joining an open pilot of a new version of the discovery tool, you can sign up on behalf of your institution here.

A quick recap on the discovery tool (beta) pilot

The discovery tool allows individuals – working under their own initiative – to reflect on their digital confidence. Through a series of questions they explore different areas of the Digital Capability Framework. Through their answers they are made aware of digital skills they already have and new ones they might try. screenshot1

Feedback includes a digital capability profile, a summary of suggested actions to build confidence further, and links to more detailed resources.


In this pilot version, users were asked to provide their own feedback on the experience at different points in time: immediately after completing the survey, after receiving their results, and two weeks later.

Organisations receive summary data about the number of staff in different areas completing the discovery tool, and broadly about their capability scores (remembering that these are self-assessed and so reflect confidence rather than competence). Individual staff are never identified, but pilot sites have been giving their staff opportunities to share and talk through their results, and to identify further development needs they have or interests they want to develop. We have also been helping organisations to take a broad approach to developing the digital confidence and capability of their staff, with resources such as the digital capability profiles and organisational guide. Many pilot organisations attended our community of practice launch and shared their experiences there. CoP-launch-3We have also been following up with contacts in the pilot institutions and evaluating their experience with the discovery tool.

Findings from the pilot evaluation

Overall we collected 907 responses from a pop-up question completed immediately after the reflective questions, and 265 responses to a more reflective survey completed at the end of the process (about half were completed after a two week delay). Feedback from the survey was very positive, with over 70% choosing to ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ with all six positive statements suggested to them. The closing summary of their personal digital capabilities was rated the most positive element overall. From qualitative feedback, the three benefits most often cited by users were:

  • Analysis of personal skills (‘strengths and weaknesses’)
  • Better understanding of digital capability as a concept or group of concepts
  • Targeted feedback/resources for development

However, there is considerable room for improvement in some areas of the user experience, especially the interface through which the questions and feedback are delivered. Many users found the discovery experience ‘somewhat useful’ but had suggestions for improvement. Only 36% followed up the resources suggested to them at the end of the process, although these users found the resources to be useful (90%) and relevant to their personal needs (80%). Around a third of users said they were planning to do something new or different as a result of the discovery experience.

Organisational users were positive about the way the discovery tool had raised awareness of digital capability, encouraged conversation, and help staff to understand the range of capabilities they might need in their digital practice.

  • The great benefit for us in being involved in the pilot is that it has increased awareness of the need to engage with these capabilities.
  • Using the diagnostic and the other resources helps grow the understanding around the topic
  • Provided opportunities for digital discussions which can then lead on to more engagement
  • Using the pilot as a ‘fun’ way into digital capabilities and getting the conversations going with key influencers

However, organisational contacts were less convinced that the process had allowed them to identify staff strengths and weaknesses clearly enough. Some wanted to be able to customise the questions and feedback to suit their own systems, while others wanted a finer-grained discrimination of staff in different roles. There are clearly some difficult trade-offs between generic and specific digital skills, which need to be managed in any tool of this kind. There are also tensions between personal engagement – a tool that is self-directed and rewarding to use –  and organisational development – a tool that can help identify the development needs of staff. These are questions we have shared and discussed with the pilots.

Some unanticipated benefits were identified, such as:

  • Saves us time and effort rather than having to develop our own materials
  • Offers the credibility of Jisc’s backing and support
  • Signposts high-quality resources (there were only positive comments about these)

There were a wealth of useful suggestions from the pilot organisations – both through the evaluation process and through engagement in webinars and the community of practice. These are summarised in the following section as recommendations, many of which we are following up already, and all of which will be put in place as the pilot continues.

In July we also tested a specific set of questions for FE & Skills Teaching, which received a positive response from our pilot institutions. Feedback from this evaluation is informing the development of teacher-specific questions and feedback for the open pilot version.

Recommendations for further development

We can see that there is a demand for a discovery tool, but that we need to build and improve on the first pilot if it is to be really beneficial. We are therefore running a second, open pilot with a completely new platform and further development of the content and concept. You can sign up for the open pilot here.

Discovery tool

Discovery tool

  • Clarify who the discovery tool is aimed at and how it can be of value: the tensions between personal self-reflection/self-development and organisational planning need to be worked out. This being addressed in how we explain and contextualise the tool in the future.
  • Modern design interface with better chunking of content, visual design, navigation etc. This has already been addressed with the decision to use Potential.ly as the platform for delivery.
  • Develop a version for students. This was an overwhelmingly popular recommendation and is being pursued in the open pilot.
  • Work on an institutional data dashboard with advice on how to use the discovery tool for organisational development.
  • Provide a coherent framework of guidance and resources for institutions, including quick links to the capabilities framework and other background material found to be valuable.

We are also reviewing and updating the questions, feedback and resource links in the light of the detailed comments we have received. if you are one of the people who has been interviewed, surveyed or asked for your opinion, we’re very grateful. Some of the changes we are proposing – though not all will be available immediately – are these:

  • offer different, role-specific versions – to include teaching staff in HE and FE, possibly also research staff and professional staff in student-facing and other roles.
  • focus on ‘the capabilities I need for work’ with less emphasis on personal and social uses of digital media
  • revise and fully user test the feedback, considering more finely-grained feedback depending on responses to specific questions
  • provide feedback more progressively

Some of these changes will already be available when you sign up for the open pilot: others will be made available over the coming months. Please consider joining us on the discovery journey and having a say in its future.

Next steps

Sign up for the open pilot (more details available from September)

Hear more from six of the fourteen pilot institutions about their use of the discovery tool

Join the Jisc digital capabilities JiscMail list and via the list, get involved with the community of practice (next meeting 30 November 2017 – details to follow)

Review some of the digital capability resources available on the project page.

Sketch noting at #altc

Originally posted on e-Learning Stuff.

One thing I did at last year’s ALT conference was some sketch noting and I am hoping to do something similar at this year’s conference.

Last year I was using the iPad pro, Paper by 53 and an Apple Pencil and I am expecting to use the same technology again. My original sketch notes were done with a single colour pen. When I moved jobs I invested in some Stabilo colour pens and a notepad and got some more interesting results.

One thing that I will be doing is preparing the canvas in advance, so that once the talk starts I can get straight into the writing, drawing and painting.

The Dave White and Donna Lanclos “Being Human” keynote from last year provided an opportunity for a range of styles in using the app.

Each sketch comprises various components and aspects. The title and the conference are there, and as the talk progresses key features of the session or highlights are added to the canvas. Sometimes added as text, sometimes as a drawing. Despite what other people say I don’t think I can draw, so most of my drawings are more interpretive sketches than actual lifelike drawings. I use a thin black pen for the outline of the “thing” before colouring it in using the brush tool. I also add iconography where appropriate.

I was also pleased with this note from the 1MinuteCPD session at last year’s ALT conference.

This one demonstrates the use of broad “washes” of colour to enhance and add to the sketch. You can see how I have added shadows and highlights to certain drawings within the sketch.

The various tools in Paper by 53 take advantage of the pressure feature of the Apple Pencil and so I can draw thinner or thicker lines (or text).

It is quite a focused task, so I do take advantage of the undo feature when I have either made a mistake or used the wrong brush or tool.

One aspect I have found with some keynotes or presentations is that the talk is so filled and jammed with stuff that a single canvas isn’t enough. With Ian Livingstone’s keynote last year I covered three pages.

Ian Livingstone’s keynote

I haven’t really worked out how to do a bigger canvas on Paper by 53, so in the end I did three different pages.

So why do I do this?

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.

Looking back at the sketch notes I have used in this blog post has reminded me of those talks I sketched and what I got from them.

They are not done for other people, if other people find them useful then that’s just a bonus. I am not sure how useful they are for other people, but having posted them to the Twitter I did receive some nice comments about them.

So are you going to be sketch noting at the ALT Conference this year? What tools do you use? Why do you do it and what value do you get from the process?

Making preparations for #altc or where do I buy the decent coffee?

Originally posted on e-Learning Stuff.

I do think it is worthwhile taking the time to prepare for attending a conference, such as the ALT Conference in Liverpool in September

My first ALT conference was in 2003 in Sheffield, this was also one of the first “proper” conferences I had attended. After that conference I have attended many conferences here in the UK and abroad, but probably not as many as some people. I have attended as a delegate, a presenter, an invited speaker and have had the pleasure of delivering keynotes at various big conferences.

Now when attending a conference I make some preparations that will ensure I have a productive, informative and interesting time.

Attend it all…

Going for just a day may be all that is possible, but I would recommend attending all the days of the conference, so you can fully immerse yourself in the experience. It will also provide the time to do everything you would like to do at the conference.

ALT-C 2009

Try to arrive before the conference starts and don’t leave until the end. There is nothing more frustrating and stressful than arriving late for a conference and sneaking into the back of the opening keynote. Wondering what you missed and probably a little flustered having rushed from the station and needing a decent cup of coffee.

Likewise, plan your travel so you don’t need to leave early and miss the final sessions and keynotes. Nothing is more soul destroying when presenting a session at the end of the conference and to find three people attending. I do recognise that the realities of life can mean you need to leave early, but planning in advance to attend all of the conference means that usually these can be avoided. You may miss something really useful and relevant.

Dave White

Don’t bring work to the conference.

You may be away from the office and you may have stuff to do, but a conference is not the most conducive environment for working. You have paid a fee to attend, it makes sense to use that time for the conference and not catching up with stuff. A conference is quite a tiring affair, so even if you decide not to partake in the social side of things and get work done in the evening you may find that this isn’t that productive. I once struggled to finish an urgent report at a conference, it was a horrible experience as I struggled with poor wifi connectivity, phone calls and focused writing. The report seemed to take twice as long and was half the quality of my usual writing. My approach is to block the time out in the diary, ensure and deadlines are either before (or well after) the conference. Ensure everything is done before I go and avoid taking things on just before the conference. I also ensure everyone knows I will be away and will say “no” to things that I know I won’t be able to complete successfully because I am at the conference. I also put an “out of the office” notification on my e-mail account, so people will realise they won’t get a response from me.

There is a flip side to this, when you’re in the office and a colleague is at a conference, let them get the most out of the conference, don’t send them e-mails, requests, etc…. Wait until they are back!

Helen Beetham

Plan your day

Do review the programme and find stuff you want to attend, make a note of it and write it down (or use the conference app, add to your calendar). There is almost a separate blog post discussing what sessions to choose, so will focus on the planning side of things. Having reviewed the programme I make a note of not just the title of the session, but also which room it is in. If you want to move between parallel sessions, it is useful to check the distance between them, nothing worse when wanting to see two interesting sessions, but missing one of them as you hiked across to the other room.

Some sessions will be very popular, so make sure you arrive on time (or before). I have delivered some sessions where there was standing room only.

Prepare for sessions

I like to be engaged with sessions, this can be simply by using a notebook and pen and make notes. These days I generally do one of two things these days, I either tweet about the session, not just posting images and quotes, but also ask questions on the twitter which have come out of the session. I try and remember to always add the hashtag #altc. More recently I have been sketchnoting the session, which to be honest is more for me than for others, but I do publish my notes on Flickr (and on Twitter). See this post by me on sketchnoting.

If you have questions, write them down, otherwise you may forget them. You probably won’t get picked to ask your question in a popular session, so why not post them on the Twitter or on the relevant session page on the conference website.

If you are presenting then have a look at my presentation tips in this previous blog post.

Prepare to chat

If you are shy and retiring like me, it can be challenging to engage people in conversations. I think it’s worth coming up with strategies to do deal with this. In sessions I always try and make the effort to introduce myself to the other people on the table, ask them where they are from and what they have enjoyed about the conference so far. Also come along to the ALT stand in the exhibition area where there will be ALT Trustees and valued members, who are more than willing to talk and chat (and make introductions if necessary).

Also engaging on Twitter before and during the conference can also make connections for good conversations and chats.

Decent coffee

If you like decent coffee then for most conferences be prepared to be disappointed. Most conference coffee has been made in advance of time and left to stew for a while. It may have been made from instant coffee, or possibly filtered. Whatever way it was made it will taste like mud! Rather than try and guess where I can get a decent coffee from, I now do a quick search around to find somewhere I can go either before the start of the conference day, during a break or afterwards. These coffee places can also be great locations for ad hoc conversations and chats. You also don’t need to stand in that everlasting queue for coffee.


I can say I am looking forward to trying the coffee at this local roastery.

So how are you preparing for the ALT Conference.