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Report on the Seminar

The first Innovation Seminar feeding back the lessons learned from the Institutional Innovations Programmes was held on 16th November. The seminar focussed on lessons from projects that have implemented emergent technologies – such as mobile technologies, podcasting and lecture capture – at a corporate level (i.e. across the institution rather than local innovation by individuals).

The seminar can be viewed in elluminate at Emergent Technologies 16 Nov 2010 and a copy of the presentation is available for download here http://ssbr1110.inin.jisc-ssbr.net/files/2010/11/Seminar1-Emergent_Technologies.pdf

Six Lessons

The seminar presented six key lessons around the implementation of emergent technologies, which were selected from a set of draft briefing information for senior managers that is available from http://ssbr1110.inin.jisc-ssbr.net/briefings-for-consultation/

The first lesson was that the integration institutions information systems are necessary to support the roll-out of mobile services. In looking for a solution for mobile services institutions may consider open source, commercial vendor solutions or products offered by existing suppliers of learning environments or management information systems.

The second lesson was the opportunity that the implementation of mobile services offers for an institution to engage with a wider community and business. Providing more open services (as well as secure services for staff and students) allows the interaction of a local (or international) community with the institution.

The third lesson related to the choice of systems to support podcasting type applications whether marketing an institution, lecture capture, learning and teaching, feedback on assessments.  The choice of system and the implementation is dependent of the business case, one system will not necessarily meet of the possible uses of podcasting services. Institutions looking for podcasting solutions should also consider alternatives such as the open source project Matterhorn, being trailed by several institutions.

The fourth lesson was one of scalability of an innovative technology across an institution. In some cases scaling from a small scale implementation required a complete redesign of the systems used and the in some cases the choice of actual software used. However for mobile services to be delivered via a smart phone, an iterative development starting small and introducing news services as they became available and demand by users was found to be effective.

The fifth lesson was around the need to engage staff in the process of implementing emergent technologies. Not only stakeholder engagement to ensure all necessary parts of an institution are consulted and consider, but also the need to train staff, encourage sue and plan for any  changes in practice (such as developments in learning and teaching).

The final lesson was around the increasingly technical expectations of students entering institutions. Although it is still the case that not all students have a smart phone (around 30-50%), the figure is increasing. Some students are also becoming more technically enabled, emergent technologies are allowing these students to use downloadable applications and develop their own applications that use existing information services (feeds), provided institutions make these available.

Feedback and comments

The participants at the seminar were invited to comment and provide feedback based on their own experience.

There is a need to realise that community engagement may be different for some institutions, for example when providing mobile services. Being located in a city with a large population and several institutions will provide different challenges and opportunities compared with a distributed university such as the Open University, or those located in less populated regions. Accessibility issues will also need to be considered.

The institutional model does not seem to recognise that most people who work and learn at a university are not on campus, and the mix on campus is multi-modal and dynamic. These emergent technologies provide an opportunity to highlight some of the issues within institutions. 

Participants provided several examples of where the use of emergent technologies impacted institutional systems, processes and business case.

  • An Estates and Building Maintenance Strategy required inter-relations between all elements in the sector: pedagogical, research-focused, virtualised administrations. The changes in working patterns and in work-flow paradigms in the HE system are driving policy adaptation.
  • Emergent Technologies can provide the opportunities for Location independent working (LIW), but this may be hindered by responsibility for provision of a safe place of work or to teach freely, or to provide the Internet or social learning spaces, or libraries or interactive whiteboards, or lecture capture facilities, VLEs, wikis, repositories, and so on. New work-flow paradigms both drive and are driven by technology and standards: mobile and cloud computing; podcasting and lecture capture; multimedia production and feedback/forward.
  • Distance delivery requires a different model of implementation for emergent technologies, with less reliance on the need for physical spaces. This could be seen as a specific business case for the use of podcasting systems and would need to be planned from the outset.

The digital literacy of staff and students was highlighted by the participants and several issues and examples were provided.

The lessons around staff and student digital literacy were seen as very important.  Ownership may be increasing, but students are less comfortable using the technology for learning than they are for personal and social uses. The opportunities for use of new technologies for learning, demonstrated the on-going need for staff and students to develop these new skills, although traditional training methods may be only one alternative to increasing digital literacy.

The HEFCE/NUS report on student perspectives of technology (what students really want) http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/rdreports/2010/rd18_10/ strongly supports the need for more support for staff and students in adopting the use of emergent technologies. The case studies from the JISC Study of how UK FE and HE institutions are supporting effective learners in a digital age (SLiDA) http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning/slida.aspx also provides examples of where students have been used to mentor staff in the use of new technology.

International students were also seen as requiring special consideration when it came to the use of new technologies, particularly in delivering distance learning.

Discussions supported the need to encourage more student autonomy in the use and selection of a learning environment and a move way from institutionally provided applications such as VLEs.

The development of community is an important development with the web2.0 social networking and increased in mobile technologies. Students are gaining greater autonomy.

Not forcing learning communities and a move away from institutions putting learning environments in place but allowing students the autonomy to develop their own both f2f and virtual.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the seminar and providing us with feedback and comments.

Please email me paul@jis-ssbr.net with any further feedback or comments around the briefings on emergent technologies or the issues raised in the seminar.

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