UCISA bursary – one of the most rewarding experiences of my career

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference 2017 and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

Attending the Audiovisual and Education Technology Management Conference (AETM) in Australia, made possible by a bursary from UCISA, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career to date.

Learning from peers

USICSA’s bursary scheme has supported the development of my career by giving me exposure to a conference where the other delegates have management responsibilities for audio visual technologies and the development of AV in teaching and learning spaces. This was a great opportunity to meet and network with AV teams from across Australia and with AETM members attending the conference from New Zealand.
The support from UCISA also gave me the opportunity to see how AV and IT technology is being converged to make effective and efficient use of technology in education outside of the UK.
During the trip and since my return I have shared my university visits and AETM conference experience via social media (Facebook and Twitter), the UCISA blog , via photos, 360º VR photos and interviews with members of the AV teams at each of the universities I visited. This information has been shared with others within higher and further education, including the UCISA community – for example, I am in touch with another bursary winner interested in AV developments, Ed Stout – as well as members of AETM in Australia. My UCISA blog posts have been shared via internal communications at the University of Greenwich. I have also shared the information about the social media pages I have been blogging to with my team and the first and second line teams at the university.

Insight into implementation of AV

The first week’s visits to five universities gave me an insight into how AV is implemented in Australia. The universities I visited were: Deakin University, Monash University, RMIT, Swinburne University and the University of Melbourne.
The differences in AV implementation ranged from which manufacturers had been used (some of which was due to geographical location and distribution), through to the remote equipment monitoring systems and the development of AV systems (in some cases, using universities’ own IT/AV teams and converging their skill sets). It was also interesting to see the mix of support models in use, with AV supported by internal teams in some institutions and by external companies in others.

AV projects

The AETM conference gave me yet more exposure to AV projects that have been undertaken and how they are managed in universities across Australia and New Zealand, as well as presentations from AV manufacturers. The conference also included presentations and tours around the teaching and learning spaces of the host university, the University of the Sunshine Coast, to show case their AV installations. This included a tour of the CAVE2TM, which provides a near-seamless 320-degree, immersive and panoramic 3D virtual environment, USC Nursing, Paramedic, House Simulation clinics and Law Moot court.

IP solutions

Of particular interest from a personal development point of view was that IP (internet protocol) based solutions are either being trialled or have been established at all the universities that I visited: IP solutions for wireless BYOD, audio over IP via AES67 for lecture capture, AV over IP to replace tradition HDBaseT and assistive hearing technologies over Wi-Fi. They seemed to be ahead of UK institutes, however I have seen this to be more and more the case in the UK from visits to other institutes and round table events, where AV over IP has been discussed as well as the development of AV IP technologies showcased at Integrated Systems Europe show (ISE).

Next steps

With this in mind, I am hoping to improve my knowledge of network infrastructures to help think about AV projects from both an AV and IT/IP point of view. The bursary has given me the opportunity to see how the AV world is moving further into the IT world and has influenced my decision to investigate the possibility of applying for a place on a Master’s Degree course in Computer Systems and Network Engineering.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Coping with research data access and security challenges

Universities and colleges harbour a great deal of sensitive data which should be protected. But they are also encouraged to be open and make maximum use of the data they hold through personalisation and open access to research data. Here, UCISA’s Executive Director Peter Tinson looks at the issues for institutions in balancing the need to be open and yet secure.

 

 

 

BALANCING AGILITY, OPENNESS AND SECURITY

The challenges of providing effective services for the research community while supporting open access are many and varied. Researchers need access to both short-term storage and computational resources but the requirements of research funders are moving toward long-term preservation and archiving.
There is resistance to openness – researchers see the data as ‘theirs’ and there is a reluctance to place data in institutional repositories until all the research opportunities have been realised and the results published. Open access to research data requires that data to be tagged with appropriate metadata in order to be discoverable. However, few researchers possess the skills to tag their data and there are few incentives for them to do so.
The demand is for easy to access services provided free of charge at the point of use. While a number of institutions are starting to provide high volumes of storage for their researchers, there are few, if any, effective costing models for long-term storage and preservation. The absence of a cost-effective model provides the opportunity for a shared service; it is hoped that Jisc’s embryonic Research Data Shared Service will provide an effective solution for the sector.
Where there are no centrally provided services, or where researchers find those services too difficult or too costly to use, researchers sought alternative solutions. These included free or low-cost cloud services to store and share data, cloud services for computational resource, and the use of ‘personal’ devices such as removable hard disks or memory sticks. Information security rarely features in decisions to use easily accessible cloud services – this is due in part to the ease with which such services can be purchased but is also indicative of a lack of awareness amongst researchers. This challenge has now been recognised by many institutional IT services who are now providing supported access to cloud storage solutions and computation.
Data management is relatively immature within institutions. There is growing recognition that the data and information that an institution holds are assets and poor management of those assets represents an institutional risk. However, a one size fits all approach is not appropriate – information and data needs to be classified to determine the level of security that needs to be applied to it. The HESA Data Futures project, and HEDIIP before it ,has surfaced the lack of maturity in this area. Although there has been some improvement, we are still some way from data management being an established discipline.
Effective support of research and research data management requires a cross-institutional approach yet this is not readily understood by senior university management. This is all the more frustrating given that a briefing paper jointly produced by UCISA, SCONUL, RLUK, RUGIT, ARMA and Jisc highlighted the need for an institutional approach over three years ago.
A lack of understanding is sometimes reflected in diktats being issued and a resultant poor take up of services. Meeting the demands of both researchers and research funders requires resourcing, both in terms of staffing and services, and an understanding of how cloud services can be used effectively to meet the storage and computational demands securely. The planning process needs to be responsive to long-term trends but also to changes in policy, legislation and technological developments that may require quicker response.
The threat of cyber attack is a major concern; there is growing evidence that state-sponsored attacks primarily aimed at accessing research outputs and institutions’ intellectual property are on the rise. Yet the threat often comes from within as a result of a lack of awareness and poorly maintained systems within the institutional perimeter.
It is important that all staff in the institution realise and accept that information security is their responsibility. The institution’s management needs to recognise that information security is an institutional issue and requires a coordinated and risk-based approach. Where there are policies established to mandate information security awareness training for all staff, it may be necessary for senior institutional management to oversee the enforcement of that mandate, although such enforcement may be detrimental to building understanding and acceptance of individual responsibility.
In conclusion, managing the conundrum of being open in a secure environment requires effective governance, and a central coordinated approach that supports both research and information security. There is likely to be no one solution applicable to every research discipline but shared services such as Jisc’s RDSS should have a strong role to play.

Strategic questions to consider:

  • How mature is your institution’s information management capability? Does your institution have a business classification scheme? Are records management processes embedded in normal operations?

  • How influential is your internal audit function in determining or supporting information security policy and implementation?

  • What mechanisms do you have to learn from information security incidents, whether internal to your organisation or external?

  • Do you have an institutional approach to research data management?

 

UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

UCISA bursary leads to new role

Kathryn Woodroof
Business Analyst
University of York

 

 

 

Lessons from the IRM UK Business Analysis Conference Europe 2017

In September 2017, I received a UCISA bursary which enabled me to attend the annual Business Analysis Conference Europe. This conference brings together over 500 Business Analysts from a range of sectors across the continent. At that time I was one year into my first formal BA post and I was excited about an opportunity to fine tune my practice and learn from others. I came back to work with a Padlet board full of conference notes, photos, ideas and contacts. Six months later I’ve been reflecting on the benefits of receiving a UCISA bursary.
For me as an individual, I came away from the conference with a sense of pride in my profession and confidence in the skills and strengths that I can bring to any IT project. I have used new tools and techniques that I learned at the conference, such as systems thinking and prototyping. I’ve also been following my manifesto for fun at work, which I spoke about in my UCISA blog post. Ultimately, the conference motivated me to aim higher and in March 2018, I was appointed to the post of Portfolio Manager for Enterprise Systems. This new role gives me the opportunity to leverage my business analysis skills to facilitate strategic decision-making at the University.
My learning from the conference has also been shared with my immediate team and it’s enabled us to improve our BA practice. We now meet fortnightly to share knowledge and work together on problems. In particular, we’ve been focusing on how we can support agile development practices; this was a hot topic at the conference and the discussions I had with other BAs have informed our thinking here at the University. I’ve also worked with my team to improve the Business Analysis section of our project toolkit, which is a shared resource open to everyone at the University.
I’ve shared my insight from the conference with others outside of our team, for example in a presentation at YO10, our community of practice for staff interested in business change. I’ve also used my conference learning to support Sarah Peace in preparing for a workshop on IT communications with the UCISA Support Services Group.
I also presented my conference takeaways at the Higher Education Business Analyst Forum in London so that my peers in HE could benefit from my experience. I’m still in touch with some of the BAs that I met at the conference via LinkedIn and Twitter and feel that I have a bigger network to tap into than I did before the conference.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.
UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

Interview: How Deakin University caters for BYOD and wireless collaboration

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

 

In this final blog covering the AETM Conference Australia and a series of interviews with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team, Deakin University, I talk to Jeremy about BYOD provision at Deakin and how they are looking at solutions to allow students to interact in lectures via BYOD. Jeremy also talks about the extensive wireless collaboration across the university’s estate.


In my series of interviews with Jeremy, we discussed a wide range of AV areas including:

A big thank you to Jeremy and the team at Deakin University for showing me around their estate and giving me the opportunity to see how their AV solutions work currently and with an eye to the future supported by the eSolutions team.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

Interview: Lecture capture at Deakin University and the Echo solution

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

During my visit to a number of Melbourne universities in November, I carried out a series of interviews with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team at Deakin University. Alongside attending the AETM Conference, the trip allowed me to visit not only Deakin University but Monash University, RMIT, Swinburne University and the University of Melbourne to explore further their AV solutions.

In this penultimate interview of the series, Jeremy talks about the lecture capture solutions at Deakin University including streaming of lectures, the use of tracking cameras and source switching. He also discusses how much of the teaching and learning spaces are covered by the Echo solution they have in place.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

Learning behaviours and the development of new digital systems

Alice Gallagher
Senior Product Development Manager
The Open University

 

Making the most of the OEB conference


In December I was lucky enough to be awarded a UCISA bursary to attend OEB in Berlin, Germany. It is a vast, international conference that I would otherwise not have had chance to experience.

What is OEB?

OEB (formerly Online Educa Berlin) is an international learning and technology conference that spans corporate, education and public service sectors. It lasts for three days and attracts more than 2,000 participants and over 100 exhibitors. There are more than 100 sessions across the three days, including hands-on workshops, plenaries, interactive breakout sessions, discussions and debates, labs, demos and performances.
What most attracted me to the 2017 conference was the conference themes of ‘Adapting for Action’, ‘designing to Engage’ and ‘Enhancing New Skills Learning’ and how these relate to the work I am currently involved with. Most notably, research into learning behaviours to inform the development of new digital systems and tools at the Open University.

Where is it?

It is held at the Hotel InterContinental, on the western side of Berlin, around 20 minutes from Tegal Airport. It’s quite a busy area, with shops, restaurants and Berlin tourist attractions not too far away. In December there are also the Christmas markets nearby, which are well worth a visit at the end of a busy day of conferencing.

What’s it like?

In a word, big. It is a packed programme of events, with thousands of delegates descending on the Hotel InterContinental. There’s a great, buzzing atmosphere and loads of opportunities to connect with people who have different perspectives on learning and technology. The sessions are really varied and there are tons of stands to visit. The hardest part is working out where to spend your time.

 

Getting the most out of it

If you can, arrive the day before the main conference starts. You need a bit of time to acclimatise, and read the conference programme in detail. There are also pre-conference events the day before, but you need to pre-book those. Some are free, but most are extra on top of your conference ticket price.
The app is really useful, so download that when you arrive. You can choose your session and create a timetable for yourself. You can also find other delegates on there. Really useful for when you’ve forgotten the name of the person you’ve just been talking to!
I was able to attend on an OEB-plus ticket, which enabled me to attend extra sessions, as well as access to a quieter lounge and restaurant. Perfect for networking opportunities!

OEB 2018

The overall theme of the 2018 conference is ‘Learning to Love Learning’, with a focus on its changing role in our future society. Some of the more focused themes include ‘Instilling curiosity’, ‘Dynamic learning, training and future-oriented skills’, ‘Nascent technologies to change learning’, ‘Developing learning professionals’ skills and implementing complex change’ and ‘Measurable results and data collection pay-offs’. The keynote speakers have been announced as Ulrich Boser (The Learning Agency), Geoff Mulgan (NESTA), Ben Williamson (University of Stirling) and Esther Wojcicki (Educator, journalist and IT and OER consultant). It looks a fascinating conference.
Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.
UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

Interview: How Deakin University is working towards an excellent user experience

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference 2017 and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

Ben Sleeman was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner
As part of my series of interviews with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team at Deakin University, we discussed the support structures and teams in place at the university in terms of AV support. In this interview, Jeremy outlines the teams involved in the running of the AV systems, how problem resolution is managed, and how the different teams are working together to lead to an excellent user experience.

Other areas I discussed with Jeremy in separate interviews included:
I will be blogging further about my conversations with Jeremy on other AV developments at Deakin.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.
UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

Interview: Digital signage solutions and content management at Deakin University

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference 2017 and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

Ben Sleeman was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner
As part of my trip to Australia to attend the AETM Conference, I was able to visit Deakin University. In this interview with Jeremy West, Senior Audo Visual Engineer and Tech Lead, eSolution Team, at Deakin, I discuss the university’s digital signage solutions. Jeremy outlines how the signage is managed across the university from a content and integration point of view.

Below are the other areas we discussed during my visit:
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.
UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

GDPR and IT support community day

Lots of work has been put in across the sector understanding the impact of GDPR on areas such as staff/student records, alumni relations, fundraising and marketing/communications – but little thought has been put into what it means for the provision of IT support. Gareth Edwards, Head of IT, Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Rachel Fligelstone, Head of Service Strategy and Communications, Lancaster University and Jenny Jordan, Customer Services Manager, Edge Hill University ran a community day for UCISA members.

ROUND UP FROM UCISA-SSG COMMUNITY DAY ON GDPR

GDPR is everywhere at the moment. As we’re now less than a month until the 25th May implementation date the topic is almost inescapable – the dire warnings about fines we’ve been hearing for so long (€20 million or 4% of the company’s global annual turnover!) are now being complimented by a steady stream of emails from suppliers and services informing us about updates to their privacy policies.
Outside of FE/HE much of the focus has been on marketing activity (and perhaps Facebook!) – but inside the sector how much time was being dedicated to understanding and acting on what GDPR means to how we provide IT support in our Universities and Colleges?
On Friday 13th April over 40 IT and Data Governance staff from Universities across the UK gathered at Edge Hill University’s central Manchester campus for a Community Day to explore the topic further, with the goal of taking back a greater understanding of the regulations’ impact and their responsibilities under the new legal framework.
The day featured a number of workshops, first looking at what we already understood about GDPR and its impact through brainstorming Stakeholders, Services, Data and Dangers.

This was an interesting exercise, revealing a good grasp of not just data protection “fundamentals” such as Data Protection Impact Analysis, Consent and Privacy Notices, but also of where this data might exist and the ways in which it could all go horribly wrong.
This was followed by a GDPR Refresher course provided by Alex Daybank of University of Manchester (very kindly stepping in at the last minute), a useful high-level reminder of the fundamentals of GDPR.
Delegates then took part in an affinity mapping exercise – an opportunity to brainstorm their worries, concerns and questions around GDPR and IT Support, followed by discussing and grouping into topics we would vote on and discuss later in the day. James Bull of ITSM tool supplier Wendia then joined us to give a suppliers eye view of the topic.
After lunch we had the opportunity to hear from representatives from Keele University, University of Glasgow and University of Oxford on their preparations for GDPR, giving some useful insight into some of the issues that have already been considered.
For the closing session of the day we returned to the list of questions we came up with earlier in the day, which delegates had voted on over lunch.

We had the time to discuss the top 4 voted topics:
  • Understanding what GDPR might mean for using and retaining data in an ITSM tool;
  • IT’s role in helping with GDPR
  • Staff and Students – New Starters, Moving Around and Leaving
  • Data Management – Retention Policies and Minimising data gathering
The discussions are documented in more detail here, but the two key themes that emerged are listed below
We wrapped up a full but enjoyable day with one last opportunity to catch up with colleagues, before heading home.
We’d like to say a big thank you to the representatives from Keele, Glasgow, Oxford and Manchester Universities who very kindly offered their time and expertise and gave excellent presentations, as well as Wendia for their input.
Thank you also to Edge Hill University for once again hosting a Support Services Community Day and making us feel welcome.
And a final thank you to the delegates, from Strathclyde to London, who took part and made the day a success.
Presentations, photos and notes from the day are available from the resources page.

Key take-outs:

  • The importance of having, understanding and enforcing data retention policies – this came up initially in discussions about ITSM tools, but was a recurring topic.

  • The need to work closely with other parts of the organisation, particularly where they might be sources of information (e.g. identity and access management, staff/student records) for systems like an ITSM tool.

 

UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

The truth about data and analytics

The driver for many institutions’ use of analytics has been improving retention. The worried well, high achievers looking to improve, may also benefit from monitoring their own performance. But is that a lost opportunity? Can improvement be achieved across the board? UCISA Executive Director, Peter Tinson highlights a different approach.

 

 

STUDENT SUPPORT – THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL ANALYTICS

The recent report from UCISA and Sero HE, The truth about data and analytics notes that institutions’ primary aim of investing in learning analytics is to improve retention. Interventions triggered as a result of students failing to meet prescribed checkpoints lead to a discussion with the student as to the reasons for their lack of engagement and, generally, a subsequent improvement in student performance. But is an interventionist approach the only way? Are there ways to improve the performance of all students rather than focus on those at risk of failing?
Temple University in Philadelphia takes a different approach. Their Fly in 4 programme was devised to improve both retention and the number of students graduating in the minimum four years. The drive for the programme came from the top – Temple’s President wanted an initiative that focused on affordability as a result of on time graduation.
A cross-campus partnership was formed to deliver the initiative including staff from the student admissions, finance, student support, marketing and IT departments. The partnership first considered student behaviours and institutional barriers to progression and on time graduation. This review led to some process improvements and eradication of inconsistencies in the application of policies across the institution. With regard to student behaviour, it was recognised that it was relatively easy for students to drift; those who made a commitment to their studies were more likely to graduate on time.
The result was effectively a contract between the student and the institution. Each student makes a number of commitments to study and check in at key stages. This clearly places a high demand on advising staff and requires an investment in those resources to ensure that the programme is going to be effective. Advising staff were engaged in the programme at an early stage and throughout its development to shape messages and identify strategies to monitor checkpoints. On the other side of the contract, the institution commits to providing the necessary academic programmes and advice and support.
Fly in 4 has been a success with retention rates improving and numbers graduating in four years increasing. The initiative is not compulsory but over 90% of first year students signed up and are achieving demonstrably better results. It caters for all students and not just those at risk of failing or dropping out. The Fly in 4 agreement heightens student awareness of their responsibilities as well as identifying how the University will support them through the process.
Although data underpins the initiative, it is clear that student support is the key element in the programme. Without that support, the initiative would founder and the advising staff were engaged at all stages of the project to help drive success. Senior executive support led to a coordinated programme with the necessary resources for support.
The Truth about data and analytics report identified the need for senior leadership and recognised that the deployment of analytics required much more than deploying a technical solution. The Fly in 4 initiative shows how a data approach, underpinned by strong support, can deliver improvements across the piece.

Key take-outs:

  • Senior executive support is essential in developing data driven approaches to student performance

  • Data driven approaches need to be underpinned by quality support mechanisms

  • A ‘contract’ between the student and the institution improves student understanding of their responsibilities

 

UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA