‘Financial challenges – digital opportunities’ was the theme and focus of this year’s JISC event which attempted to frame the latest technical advances within the current financially stretched HE context.
The keynote address from the VC of Bristol University, Professor Eric Thomas, set the economic scene and made the political case for charging students full fees on a loans basis. He also imagined a near-future HE landscape of private provision, two-year degrees, and institutional mergers and failures. Finally, JISC was placed as a specialised service provider for the sector with an assured future.
The eLearning Unit was well-represented at the conference so we were able to attend quite a few of the sessions over the one and a half days. Below are brief reports and links for the sessions attended.
Three of the sessions and the keynote, which were live-streamed on the day, are available to view at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/jisc11 (as well as a few bonus extra interviews, director’s cut, etc). These are viewable in both Mediasite Silverlight and Classic player. Click on the small i icon (bottom left) and then the Chapters link (top right) to find a particular clip.
There is also a “JISC11 Virtual Goody Bag” to be had which is jam-packed with free digital resources directly related to sessions run at the conference. Those we thought most useful or interesting are highlighted in the body of this post.
Monday Afternoon Sessions (Mini Interactive Workshops)
“Introducing Mediahub, the definitive academic video, image and sound resource” Presentation and Q&A on JISC’s development project to bring together the various JISC media databases (and plans to license further repositories) offering them as a subscription service for full access: http://mediahub.blogs.edina.ac.uk/ The wealth of these repositories is quite inspiring and it is worth a quick look at the above blog for a sneak preview of the service.
“Introduction to the Historic Books Platform and JISC e-Journal Archive services” Report on the early-stage development project to create a fully searchable archive and a brief demonstration of the current user interface.
“Web tools for social simulation” Demonstration and overview of the NeISS project, and some of the online tools that can be used to take social data and return simulation modelling, data fusion and visualisation.
“Cloud solutions – risk or reward?” A very useful session on what cloud computing is, how it can be utilised by institutions (particularly where research groups find themselves requiring large scale computing facilities on an on-demand, agile basis) and how middleware can be developed to remove the need for a layer of technical expertise to harness cloud computing (either at the institutional or research team level). This was a streamed session which can be viewed under the chapter Parallel Session 1. There are also some slides for the individual session presentations.
This session has generated a few interesting comments amongst UoL attendees at the end of this post.
“Effective assessment in a digital age – how technology can enhance assessment and feedback for learners and practitioners”. An evangelical session reminding us of some of the fundamentals of learning technology’s potential role at every stage of the cycle of an effective assessment and feedback process. Further, how technology can be deployed as a part of a strategy of learning and teaching change, using it as a tool to rethink assessment and feedback to make it a meaningful, learning experience for students and instructors.
Lots of useful materials from this session are available in the JISC goodybag including the JISC effective assessment guide (with case studies) and the JISC infokits on change management and process review.
“Preparing for a digital future – digital literacy for students, researchers and teaching staff”. Three diverse presentations which tackled what digital literacy means to students and to institutions presented from the SLiDA project. The presentations exemplified a hardware-led path to embedding the acquisition of digital literacy in daily learning and teaching activity, and an institutional, strategy-led path via curriculum-review and course re-design type processes.
This will be of particular interest to anyone involved in curriculum review activities, and useful, relevant materials can be found in the goody bag area for this session.
Venue – the BT Convention Centre – Liverpool
The conference was held at the Liverpool BT convention centre, an incredible, vast, riverside building next to the Albert Dock. Excellent venue, excellent food!
This conference seemed to recognise and publicise the strategic integration necessary between the Higher Education sector and JISC in the future.
The theme of the conference and the tone struck by the keynote address did have the effect of the day coming across as an organisation explicitly wanting to promote a rationale(s) for its own existence and also sounding a sales bias in some presentations for the services and facilities it has developed over its lifetime. Fair enough given the envisaged rough road ahead.
Paul, Dan and Tünde