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  • Will edtech take-up in further education produce the digitally-savvy workforce the UK needs?
    When I first started to develop a learning technology strategy for my then college employer, edtech was in its infancy.  Today, more than 15 years later, the latest tech has more power than ever to be transformative, both to college business and the student experience.Our new report, breaking through: stories of effective digital practice from UK further education (FE) and skills, showcases the brilliant uses some colleges are finding for tech in teaching, especially emerging tools such as augmented and virtual reality.Sadly, such best practice examples are not yet the norm in the further education (FE) sector. Many colleges have yet to begin the necessary journey to a digital-first strategy, so the positive influence of edtech is not available to all students. Lack of funding has much to do with this.Keeping up with technologyResults from the recent AoC college IT and digital technology survey show, for example, that 36% of devices in colleges are already more than five years old, and, by 2020, 33% of devices will be obsolete.If any of you have five-year-old iPhones or iPads, you’ll know how frustrating it is to use something so slow and clunky.We believe that, if the sector is to survive and thrive, and colleges are to meet the government’s expectations for upskilling today’s and tomorrow’s workforces, investment in technology must be a priority. So, what’s the hold-up?Overcoming obstaclesThe two biggest obstacles, of course, are lack of funding and time – which in turn impact staff skills.[#pullquote#]only 35 colleges felt digital technology was a budget priority[#endpullquote#]The AoC’s survey (with results from 75 colleges) found that only 35 colleges (48%) felt digital technology was a budget priority, and 33 (44%) admitted to having to downgrade planned IT investments for 2018/19.When asked to list the main barriers to the use of edtech, 93% cited practitioners’ lack of confidence and digital skills, 77% cited a lack of practitioner time and 54% blamed a lack of money. Jisc helps its members get the best value from technology and we can also help plug the staff skills gap, too, through our new service, building digital capabilities.What do students think?It’s not all doom and gloom though. Jisc’s digital experience insights survey of 2018, with answers from more than 14,000 FE students, showed that 74% rated their college’s digital provision as above the midpoint in the scale, and 72% rated the quality of digital teaching and learning as above average.[#pullquote#]64% agreed they are more independent in their learning when digital technology is used.[#endpullquote#]However, about a third (32%) of FE students wanted digital technologies to be used more on their course and 64% agreed they are more independent in their learning when digital technology is used.A further 57% of college students agreed that digital approaches help them to fit learning into their life – remote access to the virtual learning environment, digital resources and online assessment, for example. Technology like this allows students to learn independently at a time, pace and place to suit them, which is just as important, if not more so, for adult learners, especially those who work and need to juggle study with earning.Plugging the skills gap through technologyAmong the aims of the AoC-led Love Our Colleges campaign is to increase lifelong learning opportunities for adults. Jisc is already engaging with the government on the role technology can and should play in delivering adult education and the new T-levels, and we also advocate digital apprenticeships where, again, the maximum use of online study and assessment builds a flexible learning model that suits apprentices and their employers.As things stand, we know there is a clear demand for technology in colleges – most responders to the AoC’s questions (73%) say it’s important for data management and for teaching, for independent learning and course content (68%), assessment (66%) and learning management (65%).[#pullquote#]the government has put FE front and centre in the race to plug the UK’s technical skills gap[#endpullquote#]Through its industrial and digital strategies, the introduction of T-levels and Institutes of Technology, the government has put FE front and centre in the race to plug the UK’s technical skills gap and give the economy the shot in the arm it needs to keep pace on the world stage.Colleges are trying to respond positively to government demands, but without sufficient funding, they won’t be able to keep pace with the changes in technology and will not, therefore, be effective in producing the digitally-savvy workforce the UK needs.
  • Campus visitors come in from the cold
    Within the Nordic languages is a concept that could be called a "hierarchy of foreignness". Someone not from your own family or village, but whose background largely overlaps with your own might be classed as utlänning ("foreigner"). A person from the same culture, but with differences of background, such as a visitor from a distant city, would be främling ("stranger"). Someone from a completely alien culture with no shared language or traditions would be described as varelse ("being").Historically, where unexpected visitors fell within this hierarchy determined the strength of welcome they received, from shared shelter to swords drawn.Our "hierarchy of association"Something like this hierarchy maps rather nicely to the way Jisc provides connectivity to people who visit our members’ campuses. Our particular "hierarchy of association" might look something like this:1. Local membersStaff and students on their own campus enjoy the maximum levels of trust and might use organisation-only production wireless local area networks (WLANs) for day-to-day connectivity.2. Federated visitors - "utlänning"Visitors from the public sector associated with colleges, universities or research centres, who are bound by similar policies of acceptable use and device management, can be connected via a federated roaming service such as our eduroam or govroam options.The benefit of federated roaming is that the absolute minimum of personal information is required to grant access, so the overheads of achieving General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance are minimal.3. Associate visitors - "främling"Somewhere between federated visitors and the public are visitors who have some association with the college or university, such as a delegate to an academic conference.You might know something about them in advance and could offer a more comprehensive network experience than you would to a stranger.The litmus test here is whether they are visiting because yours is an education organisation – for example attending a conference you are hosting.If, however, they are on campus to visit a café or to stay in student accommodation during holidays, then presumably any other café or hotel locally would do just as well. You can’t argue that providing enhanced connectivity services to them is linked to your educational mission.If an associate visitor passes this test, then it is likely that you may provide them with extended network services, such as eduroam Visitor Access without risking your status as a private network. Were you to provide such services to a member of the public, you risk your network as a whole being classed as public, and incurring various legal responsibilities as a result.4. General public guest - "varelse"Members of the public may be passing through campus on a right of way, or visiting campus shops or recreational facilities.They can be provided with a connectivity option that is appropriate to their limited level of association with your organisation. You choose the degree of personal data you gather from them when providing such services under the GDPR. For example, you might request contact details so that you can follow up with a satisfaction survey, or you might require sufficient information to charge for the connectivity provided.These categories do not have rigid boundaries - you might choose to treat people who log in to eduroam from your own organisation differently than you do eduroam visitors from elsewhere. Similarly, the prospective student visiting for an open day might be an associate visitor,  but you might not extend that same level of access to accompanying family or friends.Here’s how our portfolio of network access services map on to this new model for visitor and guest provision:[[{"fid":"8201","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Janet support for visitors to your campus","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Janet support for visitors to your campus","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"height":507,"width":729,"class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]]Unwanted visitorsThere’s a final category in the hierarchy of foreignness - the djur ("beast") - a hostile thing that lacks rationality and self-awareness and can’t be befriended.Perhaps that can stand as a reminder that however we structure our connectivity solutions, there may be wolves at the door who will do harm if we let them in. Understanding our visitors and their relationship with us, and providing the right access for their needs will go a long way towards keeping the wolves at bay.To find out more about Jisc’s connectivity services, contact your account manager.
  • Government shows further education is key to closing the UK’s technical skills gap
    Through its industrial and digital strategies, the introduction of T-levels and institutes of technology, the government has put further education (FE) centre stage in closing the UK’s technical skills gap. Last week’s announcement from government to create a package of measures to support business to boost skills, growth and prosperity in the economy, may well help meet some of the challenges in these policies. For example, the National Retraining Scheme (NRS) is promised a £100m boost, which presents an opportunity for investment in technology and blended learning.Edtech will enable the current workforce to access the focused, flexible, micro learning opportunities which will help them upskill while they continue to work. Technology within pedagogy will be critical to making the NRS a tool which can be embedded within FE.[#pullquote#]Edtech will enable the current workforce to access the focused, flexible, micro learning opportunities which will help them upskill while they continue to work. [#endpullquote#]The government has also announced a new careers guidance service, where again, technology will be key to providing up-to-date information, advice and guidance for the current and future workforce. This kind of service should also create a snapshot of local, regional and national skills gaps, and the job opportunities therein...As a sector, FE could link this data to educational pathways, ensuring that courses arm students with the right skills, knowledge and behaviours they will require for jobs of the future.Understanding the skills employers needEnabling people to understand the qualifications and skills current employees in a particular professions have (and what they earn) is vital for debunking myths around careers. Clarity and openness around job roles will enable UK citizens to explore the types of occupations they would prefer, as well as understanding how many likely vacancies there will be.As we read the stories in the media about AI robots taking our jobs in years to come, shining a light on the reality of employment opportunities can only be a good thing.Investing in technology for a thriving workforce of the futureJisc is already engaging with the government on the role technology can and should play in delivering adult education and the new T-levels, and we also advocate “digital apprenticeships” where, again, the maximum use of online study and assessment builds a flexible learning model to suit apprentices and their employers.We believe that, if the sector is to survive and thrive, and colleges are to meet the government’s expectations for upskilling the workforces of today and tomorrow, investment in technology is another priority.[#pullquote#]the recent survey from the DfE and AoC identified 33% of digital devices in colleges will be obsolete be 2020.[#endpullquote#]In fact, the recent survey from the department for education (DfE) and the Association of Colleges (AoC) identified 33% of digital devices in colleges will be obsolete be 2020.As education secretary, Damian Hinds, said in his speech at the Conservative party conference this week: “If you think about artificial intelligence, voice computing, the internet, advanced robotics, any of these on their own could constitute a revolution. But right now they are happening all at the same time. And so we’ve got a pace of change that is truly unprecedented.”Supporting colleges to achieve this visionFundamentally though, FE and skills providers need to be fully supported in order to keep pace with such change, and meet the target of 500 apprenticeship standards by the end of 2019.As part of our efforts to support further education colleges, we’ll be looking to see that the £38m funding boost for equipment and facilities for the first T-level providers makes the best of technological solutions, and we are already in discussions with the DfE.Whichever route learners take, a digital-first education that supports them both now, and in their careers to come, is going to be increasingly important for students, colleges, and the economy.
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about chatbots (but were afraid to ask)
    Building a chatbot may be cheaper and easier than you think – but it needs careful planning to get it right. Last month, Jisc’s London office was invaded by chatbots during a hackathon attended by developers from universities and colleges.At the event on 24 September, three of the leading vendors of chatbot platforms - Amazon, Google and IBM - demonstrated in detail how their technology could tackle typical challenges facing colleges and universities.It is part of a project Jisc is running with UCISA to help further and higher institutions to get started with chatbot technology. Using anonymised data from the Jisc service desk as a basis for their workshops, each platform demoed their technology and how it can be used to help create a virtual assistant to front conversations with website users.What we learned at the hackathonThe next step is for developers to start the task of creating a chatbot to work in their own institution. They will no-doubt be reflecting on some of the take-away messages from the hackathon, which provide valuable lessons for anyone considering this type of technology.1. It really is easy to get up and runningAll of the platforms shown were able to ingest question and answer documents and conduct simple support calls using the information they contained.2. Automating conversations with people exposes the gaps and inconsistencies in your informationStaff providing first line support can “paper over cracks” using their own knowledge and common sense. An automated agent probably won’t, so there may be work to do to complete the knowledge base for the chatbot.3. Time needs to be invested in planning and architecting the solution to get it rightOnce you get beyond the simple FAQs, you need to clear where information is coming from and how it fits together.4. Training the system can be where the real investment is … but it pays offThe more time your staff, and sometimes willing volunteers (“guinea pigs”) spend with the system, refining the language it understands and uses and how it conducts conversations, the better the service will be.5. People have no tolerance for a broken robotWhere we are prepared to forgive another person for a mistake or a pause, we are not with an automated system - our patience and trust disappears in an instant…6. So… think carefully about where to start with chatbotsChoose a good service area to begin, where you have a sound source of information. Don’t be over-ambitious: if the chatbot can only reliably handle one in three calls, then that has to be the basis for the service, otherwise look elsewhere.A detailed report of this phase of the project will be published in the coming weeks.Come and meet a chatbotThe next step is for a more detailed look at each of the main vendor platforms in one-day events hosted by an institution that has implemented services using each of these platforms, which can share the lessons they have learned. 23 October at Lancaster University - focusing on the use of Amazon chabot technology, which started with a chatbot aimed at staff dealing with questions around their development and training procedures, and now focusing on development of bots to support parts of their student experience.29 October at the University of Portsmouth, who are using the Google toolset to develop a chatbot to support open days, to automate the high-volume queries to free up people for the high-value queries. Hear about how they are addressing the human-interactive, business and technical perspectives.9 November at Bolton College, where a small team have developed a comprehensive set of services using IBM’s Watson toolset at the core, Amazon’s Echo devices, and Apple’s iOS mobile platform to provide voice interaction. The team is now looking at automated assessment and support for online tutorials.To register for these free events, visit the events pages.
  • Bringing augmented and virtual reality to the classroom on a budget
    It’s easy to think that augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) are only for organisations with hefty budgets and cash to splash. It’s true that a top-of-the-range piece of tech, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, is certainly impressive and could set you back thousands of pounds. However, there are opportunities for organisations on a budget, such as colleges, to take advantage of immersive edtech without breaking the bank.  Using what you already haveLast year, I was put in touch with Preston's College, and set the task of arming it with some budget-level, but still impressive edtech.I took along the HTC Vive (a VR system), and demonstrated a virtual reality version of a futuristic Bodleian library. I also showed off a Structure Sensor, which can scan objects and load them into a repository like Moodle, so they can be displayed as 3D objects.We also discussed other 3D and VR software that might suit the college, and how existing resources and technology could be used to best enhance teaching, rather than forking out for expensive new kit. This approach will save a fair amount of money in the long run. The team invested in some 3D cameras, and I left feeling excited to see what they might produce.Putting skeletons onlineI returned to Preston's College to attend an e-learning day and was incredibly impressed with what I saw. Old anatomical models that had previously been gathering dust had been scanned into the virtual learning environment (VLE). These can now be accessed online by students, wherever they are.The models had even been made interactive, so they’re not only excellent for flexible learning, but are immersive and engaging, too.Watching back drama assessments in 360Practical music performance assessments were recorded in 360 VR, allowing invigilators to annotate the recordings and pinpoint moments that needed feedback or praise.[#pullquote#]Students can now review their assessments in an immersive way[#endpullquote#]Students can now review their assessments in an immersive way, while linking feedback to their performance, allowing them to improve more rapidly.Creating VR environmentsVR can help organise and plan learning spaces too, and I worked with the college to design a new learning space for a dormant room, using virtual reality.[[{"fid":"8341","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Example of a virtual classroom","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Matt Ramirez","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"3":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Example of a virtual classroom","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Matt Ramirez","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"height":473,"width":1280,"class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"3"}}]]This sort of technology really helps the designer to see what the new space might look like, allowing furniture and teaching paraphernalia to be placed in a way that works for everyone who might use the space. It also allows students to experience the learning space and to make sure it is appropriate for their use.[[{"fid":"8342","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Example of a virtual classroom","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Matt Ramirez","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"4":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Example of a virtual classroom","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Matt Ramirez","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"height":473,"width":1280,"class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"4"}}]]Why should we integrate edtech?The feedback from staff and students at Preston's College when it came to these new technologies was truly great – they were full of energy and appreciative of what the new tech could help everyone to achieve.[#pullquote#]Today’s students will probably be using technology that is just emerging now when they start their first jobs[#endpullquote#]Today’s students will probably be using technology that is just emerging now when they start their first jobs after graduating from college or university, so it’s important that they get to grips with it now.While VR and AR can sometimes be seen as futuristic, they’re actually very much of the moment and are already being used to train surgeons, for example. The initial cost of a VR camera might seem daunting, but take a look around you, I bet there’s so much you could do with one to enhance the learning experience for students and staff alike.Get in touch with Matt (matt.ramirez@jisc.ac.uk) if you’d like advice on what your college could do with AR and VR.
  • What does best practice look like for using learning technology in colleges?
    Five years on from the Further Education learning Technology Action Group’s (FELTAG) first report, my colleague Ros Smith and I have been talking to leaders and practitioners in colleges across the UK to see how they have implemented the report’s recommendations and how today’s use of technology is helping to improve student experience and prospects.   Many colleges have put foundations in place for a successful digital strategy, such as renewing learning management systems and the way that they make use of student information.Some have made great strides in innovative use of emergent technologies such as augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) for teaching and learning.As an update to the original FELTAG report, we have put together a new guide showcasing the many examples of best practice.[#pullquote#]making sure that the appropriate technology is in place to support learners is a challenge that never ends! [#endpullquote#]It is clear from our conversations with the further education (FE) sector that making sure that the appropriate technology is in place to support learners is a challenge that never ends! This is in partly due to the ever changing legislative and policy framework that surrounds FE. As Debra Gray from the Grimsby Institute Group puts it: “For many years now, change has been the only constant in FE – so keeping agile in essential.”Colleges must also keep up with the tech tools their students are already using. David Jones, from Coleg Cambria, puts in succinctly: “We need to catch up with our learners.”David and Debra both believe that college leaders should lead by example and are visible in their engagement with digital improvement initiatives and in sharing their own digital journey.[#pullquote#]colleges need to be agile in the way they tailor the kind of digital solution they put in place for their courses. [#endpullquote#]It is also clear that colleges need to be agile in the way they tailor the kind of digital solution they put in place for their courses. The use of emergent technologies such as AR and VR for wide-ranging courses such as food processing, land studies and welding allows students to develop skills and experience without exposing them to hazardous situations, or using expensive materials.If your college is considering a journey of digital transformation, there’s a very important aspect to get right before you start. Ken Thompson, principal at Forth Valley College, points out that although infrastructure isn’t the most exciting part of introducing new tech, it is “crucial to get the information management systems right – they are the rock on which other initiatives can be built”.Our thought leadership and case study examplesThe guide kicks off with six thought leadership articles by senior leaders that set the strategic scene. David Jones OBE, DL, chief executive, Coleg CambriaDebra Gray, principal, Grimsby Institute for Further and Higher Education, and deputy chief executive, Grimsby Institute GroupDr Ken Thomson, principal and chief executive, Forth Valley CollegeSimon Barrable, principal, Portsmouth CollegeJamie Smith, formerly director of strategy and infrastructure, South Staffordshire CollegeGraham Razey, principal and chief executive, East Kent College (EKC) GroupDetails of how digital technologies can make a difference in the delivery of an excellent student experience are covered in more than 25 case studies and vignettes covering six subject areas, below:Strategy and visionForth Valley College – making learning workGrimsby Institute Group – becoming an entrepreneurial organisationBelfast Metropolitan College – laying the foundations for college-wide blended learningColeg Cymoedd - building a digital workplace: a whole college approachEngaging learnersSolihull College and University Centre - bringing the impossible into the classroomBasingstoke College of Technology - GCSE revision with a differenceDundee and Angus College - inspiring exploration, innovation and creativity with 21st century technologyHarlow College - engagement is the key to successNorth Lindsey College - Digitally-enhanced learning and teachingBuilding digital capabilityMilton Keynes College - digital capabilities for a digital worldEpping Forest College - digital voice experts (DVX), a student-staff partnership to improve digital capabilitiesSouth Eastern Regional College (SERC) - a whole college approach to developing digital capabilitiesCity and Islington College - student digital ambassadors set the paceCardiff and the Vale College - designing accessible learningPlumpton College - 21st century digital tools raise the stakes in land-based learningHarlow College - Developing digital capability in partnership with staff and learnersEmployabilityCity of Glasgow College - transforming the image of construction through games-based learningGoole College - enhancing the employability of vocational learners with technologyPortland College - mobile tech boosts student progressionGrimsby Institute Group - mixed reality brings a new dimension to trainingAssessment and feedbackBlackburn College University Centre - digitally informed assessment designBasingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) - closing the feedback loop with social mediaISA Training - the Learning Assistant e-portfolioBarnsley College - rethinking assessment of work-based learningSupporting a flexible curriculumDoncaster College and University Centre - a tutorial programme for the digital ageIsle of Wight College - a digital environment that works for allHeart of Worcestershire College - a holistic approach to embedding technology in curriculum designBolton College - the future is conversationalWeston College - digital innovation in adult educationThe real apprenticeship company (TRAC) - a paperless apprenticeship journeyTo sum up, there are a few straightforward themes: plan ahead, get the infrastructure right, lead from the front and keep up to date with what your students are using and expecting to use to support their learning.Having ticked those boxes, empower your staff to experiment and to learn and help each other to develop excellence in their practice. And never forget the reason for all this good work is to equip students with all the skills they will need to be successful in their studies, to thrive in their careers and make a meaningful contribution to the UK economy.  
  • Learning analytics and GDPR: what you need to know
    Universities and colleges are having to adapt their policies and processes to meet the requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Worried about the impact of GDPR on learning analytics?Well I have some encouraging news - it’s perfectly possible to carry out learning analytics in the interests of students while complying with the new legislation, though careful consideration needs to be given to issues such as whether you should ask students for their consent.  Here are some questions that you might be asking: Do you need consent from students under GDPR to collect their data for learning analytics? You’ll already be collecting much of the data used for learning analytics. Much of it is necessary for providing students’ education or for statistical purposes - date of birth, prior qualifications, modules studied, grades and use of IT facilities, for example. Often, it’s simply not possible for students to opt out of collecting such data, so asking for their consent isn’t meaningful and is not acceptable under GDPR. [#pullquote#]You must ensure though that the collection is justified under one of the lawful bases for processing provided by GDPR. [#endpullquote#]You must ensure though that the collection is justified under one of the lawful bases for processing provided by GDPR. For example: Meeting a legal obligation  Collection is in your institution’s legitimate interests  Required to fulfil contractual obligations with the studentAre there any exceptions? While consent is not needed for collecting most of the data associated with learning analytics, if you’re collecting data specifically for that purpose (such as asking students how much time they’re spending studying), you must ensure that students have consented to this. Also, if you plan to collect special category data , such as students’ ethnic origin, you must first obtain consent.Do students need to give consent to carry out learning analytics on their data? The UK's Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is clear that organisations should avoid over-reliance on consent to justify data processing.Using a justification such as “legitimate interests” for the processing of student data instead requires the institution to minimise the risk to individual students and therefore provides students with better safeguards than when using consent. There are, however, two circumstances when consent must be obtained: Where special category data is used When you make interventions with individual students based on their analyticsWhen do you need consent to make personal interventions with students based on learning analytics data? The analytics may, for example, suggest that a student is at academic risk.[#pullquote#]Initial contact with the student can be justified under the legitimate interests of the institution [#endpullquote#]Initial contact with the student can be justified under the legitimate interests of the institution, without consent. But when you intend to carry out an intervention based on this data then, yes, you do need to request the student’s consent. Examples might include: An email to the student (justified under legitimate interests) which offers an informed choice of whether to attend an extra class. The class is the intervention to which they would need to give their consentDiscussion in a routine tutorial meeting (legitimate interests) suggesting that an extra class could be helpful (consent needed)How should you ask students for their consent? The requirements of GDPR for requesting consent include: Keeping consent requests separate from other terms and conditionsGiving clear and specific information to students about what they’re consenting toInforming them of any third-party data controllers who will rely on their consentMaking clear the consequences of either providing or withholding their consent. Requiring clear, affirmative action by the student; the use of pre-ticked boxes  is not be acceptable. As students have the right to withdraw their consent at any time, putting in place mechanisms to enable them to easily do soKeeping records of any granting, withholding or withdrawal of consent by studentsWhat should you tell students? You need complete transparency about the processes of learning analytics and the data because it is important to ensure legal compliance, as well as acceptance by staff and students.Jisc has produced a code of practice which can be adapted for institutional use and discussed in relevant committees with student representation. You should provide additional information to students when inviting them to provide special category data, or when seeking their consent to carry out interventions based on learning analytics.
  • Seven quick wins with e-books for FE practitioners short on time
    Like any teaching and learning resource, the great library of free e-books available to further education colleges is only of value when it's in use, books are being read and learners' needs are met. The opportunities presented by e-books are great.They can fulfil shortfalls in libraries' physical resources (and budgets), provide up to date and curriculum-focused titles at no extra cost, and make texts accessible to remote learners as well as those on site.Getting used to using e-books and encouraging learners to do the same, however, might feel like just another thing for the to-do list, another thing to look at when you get a spare five minutes (ie never).[#pullquote#]we've been speaking to our FE members already working extensively with e-books to solve challenges across their colleges[#endpullquote#]So, we've been speaking to our FE members already working extensively with e-books to solve challenges across their colleges, to find and share simple ways to turn free e-books for FE from a resource with potential to one that delivers great value.1. Ready-made visualsDiagrams, tables, graphics or text can be projected on to the whiteboard to annotate and build on throughout a lesson.This can save time creating a presentation, plus you'll be using a resource that learners can access themselves at a later date.2. Flipped learningE-books make it easy for learners to access texts ahead of a lesson, particularly if you rely on a number of different textbooks throughout the year. This means you can set learners the task of reading the relevant material before the lesson, increasing contact time in class. This frees up valuable time in lessons to teach effectively, and students will become more competent independent learners.3. Printed editions as sign-postsIf you have a printed edition of the book, a QR code or URL on the cover can direct users to the e-book so that, when they go to read it or check it out of the library, they'll see how to access it online - ideal when an entire cohort needs access to the same text and you only have one or two copies.4. Mobile handouts without hassleReplace photocopying pages of textbooks with sending learners a URL and a page number.This saves time and resources, plus it'll make the materials easier for learners to access and harder for them to lose.Learners with tablets and smartphones can access them from their own devices, helping them to become more confident with studying independently.5. Accessible revision resourcesFor learners who spend the majority of their time off site, or tend to choose the twilight hours to start revision, not having access to books straight away can be a significant obstacle.Revision plans that include resources in e-books remove those barriers and encourage more non-conventional learning.This can also maximise your time spent teaching and supporting students by reducing time spent creating revision resources that already exist.6. Posters for the classroomMaterials for promoting e-books to learners are freely available from ProQuest. Print them out, put them up. This will help students get the most out of this free service.7. Join the JiscMail list for e-booksA simple way to stay up-to-date with the latest news about e-books for FE is to join our JiscMail list.As well as a monthly newsletter from Jisc, you'll also become part of a FE community of e-book users sharing success stories and suggestions for best practice.And one for students…The better students' digital literacy, the more effective their independent study will be. Being well-versed with the e-books on offer can reduce the amount of time students spend on Google sifting through a range of blogs, wiki pages and texts to find reliable material.Many online resources can be helpful, but they do not always provide the information that students need for their exam board. With e-books for FE, you can be certain that your students are accessing high quality, reliable, academic information that is tailored to their required exam board, and often endorsed by the exam board too.
  • Cyber attacks on colleges and universities: who, when and why?
    It’s notoriously difficult to identify individual cyber criminals, but data that Jisc has collected over the past few years has built up a picture of who may be launching attacks on the UK’s colleges and universities based on when they do it.  When the data is collated into graphs, clear patterns emerge.This graph, below, shows the number of DDoS attacks (designed to slow down or disrupt our members’ networks) that have been seen on the Janet Network past year. It also shows the peaks and troughs within the year.The troughs, when the number of attacks decreases dramatically, always appear during holiday times.[[{"fid":"8243","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Graph showing cyber attacks over time"},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"3":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Graph showing cyber attacks over time"}},"attributes":{"alt":"Graph showing cyber attacks over time","height":1991,"width":3050,"class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"3"}}]]Black bars indicate holiday times – summer 2017, Christmas; Easter, May half term, summer 2018[#pullquote#]This pattern could indicate that attackers are students or staff [#endpullquote#]This pattern could indicate that attackers are students or staff, or others familiar with the academic cycle. Or perhaps the bad guys simply take holidays at the same time as the education sector.Whichever the case, there’s no point sending a DDoS attack to an organisation if there’s no one there to suffer the consequences.Finding patterns in attacksAnother interesting finding is that the usual dip in attacks during summer 2018 started earlier than the same time last year.The heat wave weather this year could have been a factor, but it’s more likely due to international law enforcement activity - Operation Power Off took down a ‘stresser’ website at the end of April.Stresser sites basically sell DDoS packages to customers who want to attack internet services under the pretence of “testing” them to see how well they would cope with a DDoS attack. Operation Power Off also targeted owners and customers of the stresser service, leading to other similar illicit businesses going offline as well.This resulting dearth of attacks for hire, alongside the deterrent effect of the police operation, could explain the reduction in attacks we have seen on the Janet Network since April.In the graph below, the distribution of attacks over the day shows that it’s quieter at night, while the number of attacks start to ramp up at 08:00, peak between 09:00 and early afternoon, and then die off again.[[{"fid":"8245","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Graph showing times of cyber attacks per year"},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"4":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Graph showing times of cyber attacks per year"}},"attributes":{"alt":"Graph showing times of cyber attacks per year","height":893,"width":1367,"class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"4"}}]]Interestingly, when comparing the time distribution for the first eight months of 2018 to January to August 2017, there have been slightly fewer attacks starting in the early hours, but more in the core of the day and also the peak continues for longer. Last year the number of attacks started to wane from 13:00, this year it is 14:00.Part of our role is to monitor the network and we noticed several attacks at a college earlier this year, which started at 09:00 and finished at 12:00, began again at 13:00 and finished at around 15:00-16:00. This suggested that the perpetrator was someone who wanted to get online at lunchtime, but didn’t want to do any work during the day.Could a member of staff get away with that, or was a student to blame?Why do people carry out these attacks?We can only speculate on the reasons why students or staff attack their college or university - for the “fun” of disruption and kudos among peers of launching an attack that stops internet access and causes chaos, or because they bear a grudge for a poor grade or failure to secure a pay rise.Occasionally, we can pinpoint the exact reason for an attack.A while back we noticed a DDoS attack against a university, so we activated the mitigation service, which reduces the impact of an attack. A couple of hours later the same institution was targeted again.The attacks went on for four days and most were occurring at night, so we worked with the university to identify the target. This turned out to be the halls of residence, which raised further questions. We looked at what else was happening on the network at the same time as the attacks and we found a lot of traffic going to online gaming websites.Further investigation showed that a student in halls had been playing an online game and had attacked another gamer to try and secure an advantage. What we were seeing coming over the network and into the hall of residence was a revenge DDoS attack.[#pullquote#]There are several examples of students attacking colleges or universities, and their motivation varies.[#endpullquote#]There are several examples of students attacking colleges or universities, and their motivation varies. One student convicted of offences connected to the TalkTalk incident in 2015 stated he was “just showing off to [his] mates”. That student had also targeted the University of Manchester and Cambridge University Library.Adam Mudd was also prosecuted for cyber attacks against his college. Mudd admitted to attacking West Herts College, where he was a computer science student. This attack also affected 70 other institutions in the region, including the universities of East Anglia, Essex and Cambridge. Mudd’s explanation for one of his attacks is that the college had not acted when he had reported that he had been mugged.PunishmentIf a student is caught engaging in illegal online activity like this, it would be up to the college or university to discipline that student. If they want to try and prosecute, they can ask us to help provide evidence, but this doesn’t happen often.[#pullquote#]Most of the time when cyber attackers are caught and convicted it’s because they make mistakes.[#endpullquote#]Most of the time when cyber attackers are caught and convicted it’s because they make mistakes. For example, a former student from Stockport who was in court last year for attacking the Janet Network, the National Crime Agency and several multi-national businesses was identified because he failed to cover his tracks.We operate a zero-tolerance policy to attackers and gave evidence to the police which helped trace and convict this young man. In his case, the motivation was money: Jack Chappell was working with a criminal gang.Time to get seriousSo, there is evidence both circumstantial and from the justice system to suggest that students and staff may well be responsible for many of the DDoS attacks we see on the Janet Network.Jisc’s security operations centre is there to help mitigate attacks on our members, but colleges and universities are responsible for their own cyber space and should not underestimate the potentially huge financial and reputational impact of a network outage.[#pullquote#]some of these more sophisticated attacks are designed to steal intellectual property, targeting sensitive and valuable information[#endpullquote#]Unfortunately, there are far more serious criminal players at work that organisations ignore at their peril. It’s likely that some of these more sophisticated attacks are designed to steal intellectual property, targeting sensitive and valuable information held at universities and research centres.The blame could lie with criminals intent on selling information to the highest bidder, a business wanting to uncover a competitor’s secrets, or a foreign power trying to gain political leverage. Security agencies, including the National Cyber Security Centre and the FBI, have already warned of state-sponsored attacks by countries including Russia, and the education sector is just as much at risk as any other in the UK.However, despite these very real and serious threats, our 2018 security posture survey among members showed such cyber attacks were not considered a priority by our members, and they should be.[#pullquote#]When it comes to cyber security, complacency is dangerous.[#endpullquote#]When it comes to cyber security, complacency is dangerous. We do everything we can to help keep our members’ safe, but there’s no such thing as a 100% secure network.
  • The potential of Education 4.0 is huge – the UK must take the lead, now
    We can own the opportunity created by Industry 4.0 in education and our UK universities are ready to be a global leader in making that leap into the future a reality. While it’s hard to avoid the hype around industrial revolution 4.0, behind this is a real shift in technology capability that will change the world around us; just as previous revolutions transformed our ancestors’ lives.A key difference with this revolution is the impact it will have on intellectually intensive jobs rather than the manual activities that were affected in the past - 95% of accounting tasks, 94% of paralegal jobs, for example, are predicted to be impacted by technology.So what could Education 4.0 look like? There are early examples across the world of these technologies being deployed in this space.Nexus of trendsWe see a number of trends that are driving this change, based primarily on the nexus of artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, internet of things and mixed reality applied to education.As with any technology trend there are alternative futures, some which bode less well for this sector.[#pullquote#]One dystopian future trend could see students plugging in and a year or so later, unplugging fully qualified[#endpullquote#]One dystopian future trend could see students plugging in and a year or so later, unplugging fully qualified with all their learning being managed by machine – life imitating the Matrix, but potentially feasible.More near-term, is universities becoming learning hotels and concierges, helping their students get the best learning from across the world, accumulating credits and I suspect quite a different - and less attractive to the institution - fee regime from today.This may seem a bit extreme, but we are already seeing moves in this direction. The Stanford spinout Udacity, launched a self-driving car engineering nanodegree in autumn 2016. There are no academic institutions involved in this course – learners are assigned industry mentors and most of it happens online over several months. Almost overnight, Udacity had over 30,000 people from all over the world wanting to take this course.Lifelong learningWhile we do see a place for this ‘unbundled’ university, we think it is in addition to mainstream degree education, probably having a bigger place in lifelong learning. Flexibility and pace are what students want and it’s critical we adapt to their needs.In mainstream first-degree education we see a much more positive scenario than either of these two. It is not a far off utopian dream but firmly grounded on technology we have today. It’s the one we are working with universities to make happen and it’s something I firmly believe we can achieve together in coming years.[#pullquote#]we predict the end of the predominance of the lecture[#endpullquote#]In this world, we predict the end of the predominance of the lecture - lecturers will rarely lecture because the new technologies can teach the knowledge better.Learning is immersive and interactive and most importantly responsive to students’ needs. The technology understands how each student learns best and adapts to them. It pinpoints where they are struggling and intervenes to help them succeed. It also challenges students to try activities they are less confident in; supporting them to take risks that pay off. And not only that.Assessment is no longer causing heavy workloads and stress for staff and students because the technology knows how to mark consistently and will probably do it continuously.Virtual assistantsStudents are free to explore the most meaningful tasks to them; virtual assistants support students to navigate this world of choice and work with them to make decisions that will lead to future success.Staff spend more time with students, to help those in need and, most excitingly, to really focus on ensuring their years of wisdom are passed on.In this world there are paradoxically more contact hours, focused on working with students to embed their learning, and critical thinking; adding human value to the machines. In many ways this is a democratisation of higher education, so every university can afford to be closer to the tutorial systems of the elite.[#pullquote#]this is a democratisation of higher education, so every university can afford to be closer to the tutorial systems of the elite.[#endpullquote#]The immersive learning is experiential; mixed reality gives students experiences they can’t have in the real world - and it may even allow them to collaborate globally. Because the learning of knowledge is covered by the AI-led teaching, active, student-centred learning such as project work and problem-solving prevails.This is a university campus where staff are liberated from the daily grind of essential administrative tasks - to do what they do the best– engaging with their students when and where they most need it. Data even works out how to automatically optimise learning spaces, adjusting lighting levels for the tasks taking place. Lecturers are notified when the systems notice a student is starting to show signs of suffering from mental health or other wellbeing issues and preventative action is taken immediately. You can’t get more human than that.The potential of Education 4.0 is huge. Imagine if we all pulled together to harness the power of this technology for good in our institutions? A lot of this is already in motion. It’s now up to us to take the lead. The time really is now, as otherwise we risk being left behind.Science fiction?In case you are thinking that this is a bunch of hyperbole and science fiction nonsense, other sectors have undergone this radical transformation. Indeed, I’ve personally been involved in many of the banking techniques we take for granted today. I regularly pay for things with my watch – I know it would have been laughed at only ten years ago when one of my teams pioneered the payment technology used.So what are the implications for universities and how will lecturers evolve to acquire the skills and attitudes they will need in this world? That’s primarily as mentors/wisdom givers, comfortable with bought-in teaching content. And what about university campuses? Or the curricula? How will they enable Education 4.0 to thrive? Then there’s lifelong learning – is this something universities want to embrace? How about micro-credentials?Most importantly, how will universities differentiate themselves in this new world when technology could be a driver to uniformity? Indeed, there’s lots to think about.[#pullquote#]It is education’s time to be transformed[#endpullquote#]It is education’s time to be transformed – students will expect it and if we in the UK don’t, someone else in the world will. I’ll be astonished if there aren’t Chinese universities working on this as we speak. So, at Jisc, we are working to make this happen, and we encourage universities to join us to get their institutions ready to start on this journey. If we assume it will happen and remain in control of the change, we will not only remain top of the league tables but make education in this country brilliant.This blog is based on Jisc chief executive Paul Feldman’s speech to Universities UK’s annual conference on 5 Sepetember 2018.
  • Announcing the results of our student digital experience survey
    This year, universities minister Sam Gyimah opens our student digital experience survey. Launched today, the report contains the opinions of 37,000 students on their digital experiences in further and higher education. Here's what the minister has to say in the foreword. "I am delighted to share with you a summary of the findings from the Jisc 2018 student digital experience survey. This report provides a unique national picture of how students are using technology in universities and colleges across the UK."With over 37,000 participants drawn from 83 higher and further education organisations, it is the largest sample of data looking at students’ digital experience of its kind. A welcome increase in the number of organisations taking part this year also demonstrates a growing commitment to engaging students in meaningful discussions on their digital experience."This year’s analysis builds on the 2017 report, delving even deeper into areas such as how students rate the quality of their institution’s digital provision and the digital teaching and learning on their courses."Key findings include the importance of digital in supporting the transition of learners into different stages of education, as well as into work. The need for universities and colleges to offer further support around digital wellbeing, online safety and data privacy is also prominent. Ensuring students’ mental health and wellbeing is one of my priorities. This report makes clear the need for universities and colleges to take steps to ensure technology continues to be employed in the best interests of students, not exposing them to further risk.[#pullquote#]Most importantly, students continue to express concerns that their courses do not fully prepare them for a digital workplace. [#endpullquote#]"Most importantly, students continue to express concerns that their courses do not fully prepare them for a digital workplace. This issue must be addressed as a matter of urgency if universities and colleges are to deliver for students, employers and the country as a whole."I want all educational leaders to look closely at this report and consider how they can improve their own provision through the effective use of technology. I also urge them to take full advantage of the expert advice and ‘on the ground’ support provided by Jisc to take a fully digital approach to issues such as curriculum design and the learning environment."Finally, I call on all universities and colleges to work in partnership with their students to ensure they are providing the best possible education experience – one in which digital technology is fully integrated and offers opportunities for all learners to develop the skills they need to thrive in today’s ever-changing world of work."Find out moreRead the digital experience insights 2018 report (pdf) Read the summarised "at a glance" report (pdf)Register your interest in our digital experience insights serviceLearn how we help you improve the digital experience for students and staff
  • Good digital teaching practices support easier learning for disabled students
    While a virtual learning environment (VLE) is a vital resource for all students, it can also be an effective assistive technology for disabled students allowing them to be more independent learners. Getting the best use from such technology is dependent on the ability of lecturers to be creative and innovative. Teaching staff with good digital skills can have as much of a positive impact on the progress of disabled students as the quality of the specialist support on offer.As far back as 2010, Ofsted research identified that where the best teaching was noted, “the need for excessive additional interventions was reduced, enabling the most specialist staff to have more time to provide additional support for the smaller group of…young people who were the most in need”.Inspiring best practiceJisc’s accessibility and inclusion specialists visit member organisations up and down the UK giving their advice, not only to help members comply with legal obligations to support disabled students, but also to inspire best practice in this area. They cover elements including the website and prospectus, but here we concentrate on the attributes of the VLE.[#pullquote#]One of the benefits of being a member of Jisc is that best practice can be easily shared across the sector [#endpullquote#]One of the benefits of being a member of Jisc is that best practice can be easily shared across the sector, so we’ve collated a few examples of how VLEs have been put to good use for the benefit of all students.1. A range of mediaDifferent media suit different learners, so, when collecting information on the VLE, teachers should include a range of media and ensure that each is as accessible as possible.For example, Word documents or pdfs should be easily accessible via the navigation pane or bookmark panel respectively. Podcasts and videos should have accompanying transcripts or key point summaries.Bishop Aukland College's media-rich VLEThe Bishop Auckland College VLE incorporates media-rich resources with integrated questions and pause/start elements. As well as providing learners with “stopping points”, this interactive approach helps break down learning into digestible chunks and promotes engagement and active learning. [[{"fid":"8157","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of ClickView - Bishop Auckland College VLE","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"13":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of ClickView - Bishop Auckland College VLE","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"height":300,"width":729,"class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"13"}}]]Glasgow Kelvin College's use of videoGlasgow Kelvin College presents a video-based introduction to support services on the VLE and its website. Accurate captions/subtitles are embedded as a core feature rather than less accurate auto-generated captions.2. Step-by-step learningIt may be obvious to teachers how one topic leads to another, but it may not be obvious to all learners, especially those from diverse educational or cultural backgrounds or neurodiverse students.[#pullquote#]The VLE should be a story, not a store cupboard. [#endpullquote#]Use the VLE to make links to prior learning, or to build complex ideas step-by-step. The VLE should be a story, not a store cupboard.The University of Westminster's weekly resourcesThe University of Westminster's construction technology and innovation course has clearly identified week-by-week resource collections, with an overview of the content.[[{"fid":"8158","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of the University of Westminster's course resources","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"14":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of the University of Westminster's course resources","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"height":300,"width":729,"class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"14"}}]]The University of East London's traffic light systemThe University of East London sports therapy skills course has a simple but highly effective traffic light system to help students identify requirements for different outcomes.3. Clear languageEnsure assignments are accompanied by plain English marking criteria.[#pullquote#]A range of model answers related to the marking scripts helps all students[#endpullquote#]Exemplify not just model answers, but weak answers as well. This is especially imcportant for those who lack confidence, or come from diverse backgrounds. A range of model answers related to the marking scripts helps all students develop metacognition.The University of Staffordshire's table of tasksThe University of Staffordshire’s course - introduction to law and practice - has very clear expectations that involve both self-assessment and reflective journaling.[[{"fid":"8162","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of the University of Staffordshire's learning materials","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"15":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of the University of Staffordshire's learning materials","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"height":300,"width":729,"class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"15"}}]]Anglia Ruskin University's useful announcementsAnglia Ruskin University's digital marketing communications course uses the announcements feature in the VLE to reinforce deadlines, provide feedback and disseminate opportunities.[[{"fid":"8163","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of Anglia Ruskin University's announcement feature","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"5":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of Anglia Ruskin University's announcement feature","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"height":300,"width":729,"style":"font-size: 13.008px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"5"}}]]4. Active learningUse the VLE creatively so that students don’t merely consume content, but they adapt, improve and critique it, too. Creative tasks play to the skills of different students. For example, a student with dyslexia or ADHD may struggle with passive consumption of reading lists yet excel in active tasks that demand more than simple notetaking.North Shropshire College's interactive activitiesNorth Shropshire College's anatomy and physiology in sport module makes elegant use of Word documents to create active drag-and-drop exercises from what might otherwise have been passive handouts.[[{"fid":"8164","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of North Shropshire College's drag-and-drop exercises","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"6":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of North Shropshire College's drag-and-drop exercises","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"height":300,"width":729,"style":"font-size: 13.008px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"6"}}]]Glasgow Clyde College's collaborative podcastGlasgow Clyde College collaborated with other organisations to work with teen asylum seekers, refugees, ex-prisoners and mental health survivors who do not have English as a native language.Students worked collaboratively in English to create their own "sound art" podcasts.5. Collaborative learningMost VLEs provide tools for learners to work together on discussion threads. Alternatively, link out to external collaborative tools like Google Docs/Slides/Spreadsheets, or Office tools. Collaborative tasks can develop peer support networks, especially if the groups are created by the tutor, not chosen by students, which can be isolating for some. Tutor-allocated groups can help include students with disabilities, anxiety issues etc, and collaborative work allows disabled students to play to their strengths. For example, a deaf student may be good at research or organisation, but feel vulnerable when making presentations.The University of Wolverhampton's discussion forumThe University of Wolverhampton's song writing course uses a discussion forum to engage students in group work on song analysis.5. Reflective learningGive students confidence by using feedback effectively. This might include generic feedback on assignment submissions, self-testing opportunities, discussion-list reflection or links to external blogs for reflective posts. This benefits all students, especially those with short term memory issues or anxiety.The University of Reading's group feedbackThe University of Reading's neural networks course uses information from individual feedback to provide a generic summary. This is a highly effective way for students to learn from the strengths and weaknesses of others as well as their own.The University of Portsmouth's useful news feedThe University of Portsmouth’s social context of policing course has direct links to relevant news, helping students reflect on course materials in the light of current affairs.[[{"fid":"8165","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of University of Portsmouth's useful news feature","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"12":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Screenshot of University of Portsmouth's useful news feature","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"height":219,"width":232,"style":"width: 232px; height: 219px;","class":"media-element media-left file-default","data-delta":"12"}}]]How can we help?To get the most from your investment in the learning platform a number of things need to work together:A robust and reliable digital infrastructure, including good wifi connectivity, and a simple and quick log-on processAn organisation-wide strategy for teaching, learning and assessment so that student experience is consistentThe student experience needs to be at the heart of planning and investmentA range of high quality digital resources need to be availableOur subject specialists can help you pull all this together. For more information, get in touch with your account manager.
  • How we’ve been helping universities and colleges to improve the digital experience for their students
    Last year 20,000 students from higher and further education told us about their digital learning experiences in further and higher education. This year we’re back with the results from over 37,000 students and 83 organisations, in our digital experience report set to be published next week...  But publication isn’t the end of the road for the data, as those who piloted the digital experience insights service (formerly the student digital experience tracker project), are now taking forward the findings and working in partnership with their students to build a better digital environment.What makes this survey so different?Well, it’s the only survey that focuses on students’ use of technology for their learning, and as technology is absolutely integral to the learner journey it’s essential for college and university leaders to have insights like these. The data is uniquely valuable in allowing organisations to explore the digital experiences of their students, highlighting what makes a real difference to them.[#pullquote#]it’s the only survey that focuses on students’ use of technology for their learning[#endpullquote#]Our digital experience insights service enables colleges and universities to collect evidence from students and staff about their digital experience, compare their data over time enabling better informed decisions to be made about the digital environment and targeting resources for improving digital provision. The service also supports organisations to demonstrate quality enhancement and active student engagement to external bodies and to students themselves.What we’ve been up to since last yearAhead of this year’s report findings, I thought it timely to celebrate some of the work we’ve done with universities and colleges over the past year. It goes without saying that we’re greatly looking forward to releasing our new report next week, and are hugely impressed by all the work done by organisations involved.Canterbury Christ Church UniversityTheir findings are enabling Canterbury Christ Church University to make improvements and take the blended learning agenda forward in a way that works for their students. Quick wins in response to their data include reviewing and improving wifi coverage across all campuses, redesigning VLE templates to make navigation via mobile devices easier and more consistent and fast tracking the introduction of a new lecture capture recording system.The approach taken by Canterbury Christ Church University is ensuring the democratic student voice is heard in full – all students on all campuses have an opportunity to let the university know about their needs and expectations and how well these are being met.“The data we have from the insights service makes a significant difference to where we are moving digitally as an institution. This lends a credible voice to decisions being made and provides us with a level of confirmation that we are taking actions that are of direct benefit to students” Project lead: Duncan MacIver, technology enhanced learning (TEL) managerCity of Wolverhampton CollegeCity of Wolverhampton College wanted to take the views of their students into account when making decisions about the development of their digital strategy, and the learning environment and resources provided by the college. They wanted to know the impact of initiatives already in place, and whether these initiatives were achieving a positive return on investment.Using the data the college has been able to:Work with curriculum managers and teams to identify more opportunities for digital activities within the curriculum and learning activitiesIncrease chances to develop the digital skills of students, with the planned introduction of a workshop on the digital aspects of learning (for all full time students during the first six weeks of their learning journey at the college)“Learners and staff now have a voice in decisions in purchasing and improving the digital experience for everyone in the community.  We can show that we have taken forward suggestions in terms of practice as well as software, hardware and equipment.”Project lead: Conrad Taylor, e-learning managerHow can I get involved?If you’d like insights into your digital environment through the eyes of your staff and students, sign up for our digital experience insights serviceKeep an eye out on Twitter for our latest report into the digital experiences of over 37,000 students, it’s going to be launched on 11 September 2018
  • Staff and students can learn from each other to develop digital capabilities
    Digital technologies are turning the working landscape on its head. As traditional jobs are becoming extinct while others are being transformed, many of today’s learners will find themselves competing for jobs that don’t even exist yet. If they want to thrive in today's job market they’ll need to start working life with digital skills that meet employers’ requirements. And they’ll need to be confident about their abilities to adopt and exploit new digital technologies as these emerge.Ensuring students are skilled for the workplaceFor the past three years we’ve been tracking students' experiences of their digital environments to uncover what works well and what doesn’t, and to help our members plan and prioritise improvements.It’s clear from this ongoing research that millennials generally feel comfortable and confident with using technology in their personal lives.[#pullquote#]around half of [millenials] aren’t sure that their course is equipping them with the specific digital skills they’ll need in the jobs [#endpullquote#]However, the report from the 2018 digital experience insights work shows that around half of them aren’t sure that their course is equipping them with the specific digital skills they’ll need in the jobs they expect to go into. What’s more, the majority say they rely on teaching and support staff both to give them guidance on what skills they’ll need and help in getting them to a proficient standard.This is an important issue. Inevitably, given the pace of technological change, a significant proportion of staff in most organisations lag behind learners when it comes to digital skills and capabilities. Brought up and trained in a pre-digital environment, they are often slower to integrate technologies into their lives and their working practices.How can staff help students develop digitally?So, what can colleges and universities do to ensure that staff can help learners to get themselves noticed in the jobs market? How can we make sure they emerge from their learning environment into the workplace as fully-fledged digital butterflies?[#pullquote#]The solution is to take a thorough approach to developing the digital capabilities of staff right across the organisation.[#endpullquote#]The solution is to take a thorough approach to developing the digital capabilities of staff right across the organisation. It’s important to give them not only specific skills that they can pass on to their learners, but also the know-how and the enthusiasm about technology to explore its potential in new ways and, in turn, excite learners. When organisations start to do this, the results can be transformative - as Doncaster College and University Centre is discovering.The college has plenty on its plate at the moment, including a campus closure and merger with North Lindsey College in Lincolnshire. As part of the change process, the newly merged DN Colleges Group is developing its digital vision and worked with us to develop and pilot our digital discovery tool intended to give staff and students a framework for:Exploring their current digital capabilitiesIdentifying strengthsHighlighting areas that need improvementLimited initially to academic and support staff, the work at Doncaster was essentially a "pilot within a pilot", but the positive responses of those who took part have now encouraged the college group to extend the work to other staff in the organisation.[#pullquote#]they saw real value in an approach that emphasises digital confidence as well as specific competences[#endpullquote#]Feedback from participants shows that they saw real value in an approach that emphasises digital confidence as well as specific competences. Many have been spurred on to use and share the resources that their individual reports have suggested to them. I look forward to hearing about developments as they take the next steps in their journey.Using student digital ambassadorsBut while learners do look to college or university staff for guidance and help to develop their digital abilities, it is by no means a one-way street. I’ve already referred to the fact that learners often have confidence with technology and Lancaster University is putting this confidence to work.For the last three years, Lancaster University has appointed student digital ambassadors to work in partnership with academics in their departments, developing new digital approaches to various aspects of learning and teaching. If their confidence and their enthusiasm is running ahead of the digital skills they’ll need, they can quickly be paired with a learning technologist to plug the gap.[#pullquote#]this initiative is a great opportunity to learn about digital from learners and to gain insight into what they want and need[#endpullquote#]For staff, this initiative is a great opportunity to learn about digital from learners and to gain insight into what they want and need; for the digital ambassadors, getting paid for their efforts is an obvious attraction.They also develop their own digital skills as well as softer collaborative and leadership skills that will help their CV to stand out. The results of the projects (there have been around 30 so far) are cascaded to staff and learners via events and a case study that the ambassadors have to complete.At the same time, Coleg y Cymoedd has been taking a whole college approach to building digital capabilities as a means to transform management of the organisation, which has four separate campuses across a large area of South Wales. Initiatives to support development of staff competence across the college have made possible recent innovations such as new data dashboards to make it easier to monitor student progress and wellbeing.Richard Fullylove, Coleg y Cymoedd’s strategic ILT manager, told us:“The success of the college and its learners isn’t just about learning and teaching. Everyone has a part to play. Digital capabilities are just as relevant for business support staff as they are for academic staff.”I couldn’t have put it better myself.
  • Want a bot of your own? Learn how to build one
    Think chatbots could do a job at your college or university? A joint Jisc and UCISA event in September aims to equip schools and colleges with the knowledge to develop their own bots. FAQs and other online information can sometimes be dense and perplexing for website visitors, but what if you could create a digital assistant to guide users through it all?Chatbots are already employed by lots of companies to front conversations on smartphones and other computing devices. Live chat options are emerging on many websites, including at universities, and some have reported that a significant number of clearing enquiries came through live chat rather than telephone calls during August.[#pullquote#]a significant number of clearing enquiries came through live chat rather than telephone calls during August.[#endpullquote#]A recent survey conducted by Jisc is reporting a growing number of UK further and higher education institutions are deploying bots in their live environments to support parts of the student journey, and staff activities - both administrative and academic. There are also some spectacular medical research case studies emerging.Prototype botsMany institutions are investigating how to build prototype bots into their business processes. In response to this, Jisc, UCISA and four of the major platform vendors - Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft - have joined together to organise a hackathon on 24 September to help developers get started on building their own chatbots.We’re allowing vendors to use Jisc’s service desk data and FAQs to create chatbots for their platforms before the hackathon. On the day, developers from colleges and universities will be able to choose one of the platforms and get to know how the chatbot was designed and built. Once back at their institution, the developers will be supported by the platform vendors while they build their own bots.There will be an unusual cost to attend this event: every attendee must have been authorised by their line manager to spend up to five professional days, within one month of the event, to build a chatbot based upon their own institutional data and information. The purpose is to encourage institutions to investigate how this technology could be adopted in their own environment. Hence, only developers who have the active support of their department will be able to attend this initial event.Computer labsLater in October, Jisc and UCISA will host several “computer labs” for institutions which have already deployed chatbots. There will be a separate event for each of the platform vendors hosted at one of the leading institutions. The purpose is to develop some communities of practice through which developers can quickly share techniques for developing these new channels.[#pullquote#]we may well see a rapid expansion of chatbots in different parts of each institution[#endpullquote#]With luck and a spirit of collaboration, we may well see a rapid expansion of chatbots in different parts of each institution. And, hopefully, UK education can become an exemplar of this new technology.Find out more about the hackathon on 24 September or register now.
  • What can universities learn from boarding schools' digital pastoral care systems?
    Through their portrayal in literature and cinema, public schools have gained a reputation for being traditional, but their approach to pastoral care is firmly in the digital age. The impact of being away from home to those new to boarding school at 13 years old is not to be underestimated.Oundle School has a full range of pastoral care and this year we added digital monitoring to the range of tools we use to identify and support pupils. My school is not alone in doing this - the use of digital technology to address pupil wellbeing and mental health is becoming common across leading UK public boarding schools.Using digital pastoral care in schoolsAt Oundle, pupils complete online cognitive bias screening tools at regular intervals during the year. The results are combined with wellbeing analytics by Steer, providing the school with information that allows staff to intervene at an early stage if it looks like an individual pupil may have an issue.[#pullquote#]By creating targeted individual action plans to support identified pupils within the course of ordinary school activities, those at risk can be effectively supported.[#endpullquote#]By creating targeted individual action plans to support identified pupils within the course of ordinary school activities, those at risk can be effectively supported. This use of wellbeing analytics technology, coupled with early intervention, can really make a difference to individuals trying to settle into the boarding school experience and throughout their school career.Supporting university studentsThe Department for Education has recently launched a review of the transition between school and university to ensure that students receive adequate support in their first year when they are particularly vulnerable.I read with interest Professor Martin Hall’s thought-provoking report and associated blog regarding the use of learning analytics and how it may be used to positively impact wellbeing and mental health of students at university. [#pullquote#]what is happening at universities - with some exceptions - is some way behind the approach schools are taking[#endpullquote#]As a parent with a child at university, it appears to me that what is happening at universities - with some exceptions - is some way behind the approach schools are taking to digital pastoral care.For university students adapting to their first experience of living away from home, the sudden removal of the emotional support network that friends and parents provide can have devastating effects, which can result in serious mental health problem and lead to tragic consequences that make news headlines.While visiting various university open days as prospective consumers, the question of how students were pastorally supported was addressed at each and every open day we attended. However, the methodology of how this would be done was extremely diverse, with little commonality, other than a general absence of data and analytics in the approach.[#pullquote#]we should expect their pastoral support to be sustained.[#endpullquote#]As our children make the challenging transition from pupils at school to being students away from home at university, we should expect their pastoral support to be sustained. I believe the new digital approaches to wellbeing being pioneered by the UK’s public boarding schools, suitably adapted, would work well in our universities.
  • Student ideas become a reality following two app development challenges
    We only asked for prototypes – but two student teams in our development competition gave us app store-ready solutions to tackle common campus annoyances. Events where participants are challenged to come up with ideas for a digital solution in a few days are nothing new for Jisc.But rarely have we been in a position where several ideas have been ready for the market at the end of a challenge. In fact, two were in the app store around the time they delivered their final pitch.This year's challengeLast week’s five-day challenge at Conference Aston brought together 12 teams to explore digital solutions to problems on campus.Seven of the teams took part in our annual student ideas competition. Teams had to bring their own idea for how technology could improve education, research and student life, often based on their own experiences.Students often have a different set of priorities to university staff. And these students are the ones that see an issue and are prepared to put time aside to solve it. They don't want to walk down to the laundry with a basket to find that the machines are full and have to go the way back up to their room. They are the ones asking, "how do I best make notes so when I get to the end of the course I can revise most efficiently and effectively?"[#pullquote#]They are experiencing these problems first hand and they see a technology as offering a solution.[#endpullquote#]They are experiencing these problems first hand and they see technology as offering a solution.Student ideas teams 2018 Citation GeckoApp to the FutureTransArtSurveyTandemHigherarchyStudBudAuthorencitySee the pitches on PeriscopeCampus of the futureThis is the sixth student ideas competition and it saw a big focus on research and career choices.This year, the ideas competition ran in tandem with the intelligent campus hackathon where student teams designed, developed and built “something” that would benefit students in a campus of the future. We were generously supported here by Panintelligence, who provided expertise plus a real time data capture and visualisation engine.Having two competitions running at the same time helped. We had a design sprint programme, including sessions where we brought participants in the two challenges together. We mixed up the groups and the participants fed off each other quite well. While they started off separately, by the end, they worked so well together, they used each other for user testing.The amount of work people did in a week was immense - I was really impressed with the application and hard work and how people worked together. It was a competition, but with a positive, constructive atmosphere.The estates team from the University of Birmingham came to see us on the penultimate day of the hackathon to see how the ideas were progressing. They said that all the solutions the students were exploring were things they are considering themselves – that was some validation for those students.Hackathon teams 2018 Alpha - "Seat Seeker"Lough BrosHackstreet BoysDaedaTeesside Test DummiesSee the pitches on PeriscopeThe team behind the winning hackathon pitch, Seat Seeker, started without an idea and used the programmable computer Raspberry Pi to help students find free seats in the library.Team Alpha, from the University of Bath, even saw how Seat Seeker could be integrated with existing cameras in computer suite and libraries.By the end of the week it was in the app store, as was Daeda, a quiz app to promote interaction and monitor students’ receptiveness in lectures.Finished solutionsThe student ideas competition also generated finished solutions.Higherarchy, which seeks to address problems around collaboration in many current TEL tools, and the research app Citation Gecko, were both working products by the final day.[#pullquote#]The basic problems that inspired all these products came from real user experience [#endpullquote#]The basic problems that inspired all these products came from real user experience, and this is what allows students to think about solutions differently to institutions. That's the main reason we do these challenges.The second reason, is it gives us the opportunity to work with students - they just expect the hurdles and sail over them.I left on Friday feeling full of enthusiasm and inspired by the adept technical and creative skills of these impressive students.You can read more details of the competition in our edtech launchpad blog.
  • Are FE colleges underestimating the risk of cyber attacks?
    A new survey[1] of cyber security attitudes across the further and higher education sectors indicates that colleges are overestimating their ability to guard against cyber attacks. When asked to assess their perceived level of protection, 43% of colleges scored their organisation eight or more out of ten. The mean score was 7.1, which was more optimistic than universities’ mean score of 5.9. This optimism is despite the fact that the survey also found colleges have less in the way of budget allocation and specialist staff than universities, and are far less likely to have achieved the government’s Cyber Essentials standard. On the plus side, many more colleges this year (29% compared to 3% in 2017) are working towards Cyber Essentials.[#pullquote#]Colleges still appear to be unrealistic about the risk[#endpullquote#]The survey results are released just a couple of months after Jisc’s CEO, Paul Feldman, warned that a lack of resources and investment meant colleges are not as well defended against cyber attacks as they should be, and colleges still appear to be unrealistic about the risk.[#pullquote#] in the first six months of this year, colleges were targeted by 225 DDoS attacks[#endpullquote#]Our data shows that in the first six months of this year, colleges were targeted by 225 DDoS attacks (designed to bring down the network). This represents an increase of 35% compared to January to June 2017. Jisc’s security operations centre also handled almost three times as many other security incidents or queries from FE colleges over the same period.Through regular meetings with members, we know colleges have concerns over security, so the relatively high posture assessment was surprising. On the other hand, colleges know that Jisc is here to support them – preventing some attacks and helping them to recover from breaches – so they feel secure. We are concerned that their optimism could be due to the lack of security specialists working in the FE sector, leaving colleges in the dark.What are the biggest threats?Lack of awareness and accidental breaches – such as emailing sensitive data to the wrong recipients – are considered by colleges to be the biggest threat to their cyber security, according to the survey.Ransomware/malware comes in at number two. This is followed by phishing and social engineering, such as clicking on dodgy email links or being tricked into giving away passwords.External attacks aimed at the college and DDoS attacks complete the top five threats.Colleges are right to be concerned about the risk of human error to cyber safety since duping staff and students is the most common method employed by criminals to infiltrate systems, steal data and commit fraud and other crime. Phishing attacks and social engineering are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to spot, so good security training and using a second factor for authentication for users is essential.From Russia without loveA surprising outcome of this year’s survey is that our members seem unconcerned about one of the threats that is big in the media and high on the list of priorities for security agencies. Earlier this year, the National Cyber Security Centre took the rare step of publicly naming a nation state when it published a document in collaboration with US security agencies stating that Russian state-sponsored cyber actors were targeting network-based intrusion detection system (NIDS) devices.However, only one person who responded to our survey listed the threat from nation states as a worry.[#pullquote#]the education and research sector is just as much of a target as other sectors in the UK[#endpullquote#]Perhaps that is understandable, given the multitude of more common threats to the education sector, but complacency is dangerous: the education and research sector is just as much of a target as other sectors in the UK.It’s true that, if a specific threat actor is determined to attack your institution, then there may be little you can do, but if they are trying to find an easy victim to use to attack another site (whether inside or outside the education sector) then there is much you can do to make your organisation an unattractive target.Make a racket about protectionOne of the most effective ways to guard against the top threats is to educate users.Of those taking part in this year’s survey, 55% of colleges provide compulsory staff security training and 31% insist students undertake a course. There is optional training for staff at 18% of responding colleges, and for students at 10%. But there is still room for improvement: 24% said there was no system of security awareness training for staff and 43% failed to teach students.[#pullquote#]we would like to see compulsory training for all staff and students.[#endpullquote#]While it is encouraging to see the proportion of respondents reporting compulsory staff and student security awareness training has increased since 2017, we would like to see compulsory training for all staff and students.One of the most effective methods of discovering how good, or not, college defences are is to ask an independent expert to conduct a penetration test.Many more colleges have decided to do this in 2018 (only 14% don’t) than in 2017 (when 41% did not test). We are also pleased to note that colleges are far more interested in security assessments this year (76% in 2018, up from 59% in 2017).[#pullquote#]colleges think they are in a better place than may in fact be the case.[#endpullquote#]We can draw the conclusion from this survey that colleges are taking cyber security seriously and acknowledge the risk of human error and the value of expert advice. However, there is still an air of complacency that needs addressing – colleges think they are in a better place than may in fact be the case.Footnotes[1] The survey was conducted over six weeks from the end of March until the middle of May and collected responses from 49 colleges and 65 universities.
  • How we can make the government's edtech vision a reality
    The government has signalled its ambition of realising the untapped potential of technology across the education ecosystem - we fully support those aims. Writing in yesterday's Telegraph, secretary of state for education Damian Hinds outlined his vision for education technology - or edtech - talking about the “revolutionary ways” he has seen it in use.Students “are able to explore the rainforest, steer virtual ships or programme robots” from their classroom, Hinds notes. Meanwhile, teachers are able to access training, share best practice with colleagues and update parents on a pupil’s progress whilst keeping their main focus on teaching.[#pullquote#]We’ve seen first hand how nuanced use of digital technologies in education can reduce teacher workload, enhance student success and boost learners’ mental health[#endpullquote#]At Jisc, we welcome this high level focus on the potential of edtech to support innovation in teaching and learning and were glad to be a part of the discussions with DfE and other industry bodies that led to this high level vision. We’ve seen first hand how nuanced use of digital technologies in education can reduce teacher workload, enhance student success and boost learners’ mental health and wellbeing.The results speak for themselves, and sometimes in the most unexpected ways.For example Goole College, part of the Hull College Group, has found that its virtual welding app lets learners on NVQ and BTEC engineering courses progress faster towards their employment goals, making welding training enjoyable, risk-free and even accessible to younger learners on the college’s 14-16 programme.What can make the secretary of state’s vision a reality?First and foremost, it is crucial to establish a level playing field across the education ecosystem in terms of ICT infrastructure.Learners at school and college should have a high standard of broadband and wifi, and access to the devices that will let them use it.A recent BESA survey found that only 33% of secondary schools and 60% of primary schools consider that they are sufficiently equipped with ICT infrastructure and devices.Jisc’s high-power Janet Network already connects nearly half of UK schools to the internet, working with NEN – The Education Network. We’re keen to explore the scope for how technologies that universities and colleges already benefit from could also be used by schools, such as single sign-on (one user name and password for everything) and eduroam wireless roaming.Tackling the digital skills shortageWe need to embed digital skills into the curriculum and give educators the support they need to teach them.[#pullquote#]75% of UK firms are facing a digital skills shortage[#endpullquote#]The British Chambers of Commerce spoke to businesses and found that 75% of UK firms are facing a digital skills shortage. There has been some great work done here by the devolved nations, and the Welsh government’s Digital Competence Framework nicely complements the English curriculum’s focus on coding.But this isn’t just about schools. Jisc’s student digital experience survey in 2017 found that only half of further and higher education learners felt that their course had prepared them for today’s digital workplace.[#pullquote#]It’s time to get smarter about supporting edtech innovators and "edupreneurs" [#endpullquote#]It’s time to get smarter about supporting edtech innovators and "edupreneurs".According to Private Equity Wire, the edtech sector is one of the fastest growing digital sectors in Britain with over 1,200 companies and UK schools alone spending some £900m on edtech every year.Approximately 25% of Europe’s edtech firms are UK based, and the UK is Europe’s number one in edtech venture capital, responsible for a third of all investment.But even then the edtech startups and scaleups that we work with as part of the Jisc edtech launchpad accelerator tell us that they struggle to sell into the fragmented UK market of some 25,000 schools, and hundreds of multi-academy trusts, colleges and universities.Working to cut teachers' workloadsAs we use apps, devices and websites for work and play, we generate a trail of data. If handled carefully, this could be used to help reduce teacher workload and even nudge learners and tutors - like a virtual sharp elbowed parent.[#pullquote#]we’ve been working to harness this "data exhaust" [#endpullquote#]At Jisc, we’ve been working to harness this "data exhaust" through our national learning analytics service, which has just gone live with 30 universities and colleges in its initial cohort.We think there’s ample scope for learning analytics to automatically gather data that would previously have required laborious manual work by teachers to capture and moreover, will make a big difference to student success and wellbeing.What's next?I hope you can see that there’s a recurring theme here - edtech isn’t a silver bullet for student success, a magical and sparkly sci-fi solution looking for a problem. It’s here and now, but as author William Gibson once famously wrote, “the future isn’t evenly distributed”.Our job now is to help translate what works from one setting to another, from schools to colleges, from universities to lifelong learners.It’s a very exciting time and it’s great to see that the government is lending its support to this work which will be so crucial to the future of the UK.
  • Could the research data lifecycle be the engine to drive open science?
    We want to make the UK the most digitally advanced research nation in the world. There are some strong foundations to build on, but one area that needs continued support is how we manage, and make the most of data produced in the process of research. This is where Jisc can help. The useful life of research data doesn’t grind to a halt when it’s created. That’s just the start of its journey. It has a whole lifecycle that takes it from creation through to discovery, reuse and citation; and understanding this process is key to unlocking the potential that research data can have outside of university walls – the goal of open science in a nutshell.The data we’re talking about here is vast in scale, scope and complexity. We’re on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, data is big business, and there is potential in this data for life changing discoveries which could change the future of humanity. With this opportunity come concerns about how we manage research data, but focusing on the research lifecycle can help.[[{"fid":"2495","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Research data lifecycle diagram","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_additional_information[und][0][value]":"Research data lifecycle diagram","field_rights_owner[und][0][value]":"Jisc","field_resource_home[und][0][value]":"","field_other_license[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"height":702,"width":700,"class":"media-element l-shift-right file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]]Current challengesFor researchers, whether or not the data they inherit or produce is interoperable can make or break careers; it’s also an expectation within many funding agreements that research data is shareable. Perhaps more importantly, the impact of research in the wider world is limited if it’s not held in a format that can be reused. So right at the inception of the lifecycle, there’s a challenge ahead to keep in mind.But before we even know whether data can be reused effectively, we need to address the issue of discoverability – this is where the lifecycle both begins and ends.[#pullquote#]By incorporating data as part of the research achievements, making data open will become part and parcel of the citation process.[#endpullquote#]Our research data discovery service is all about breaking down the data silos and linking data to other research outputs, which means the impact and potential impact of research is easier to ascertain. By incorporating data as part of the research achievements, making data open will become part and parcel of the citation process."Discoverability isn’t just about reuse and impact.  Delays in disseminating research and data can be economically devastating and even life-threatening. Early research on Avian flu published in Chinese in 1998 “…attracted very little attention…”. The opportunity for an early global research effort was missed."Webster, R. G., Hakawi, A. M., Chen, H., & Guan, Y. (2006). H5N1 Outbreaks and Enzootic Influenza. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 12(1), 3-8Past progressThe concept of keeping research open really isn’t new – The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 called for ‘observations and results to be made freely available’ and those within the academic community have been calling for this to be the default position for many, many years.The Panton Principles, famously created in a pub in Cambridge, came as a call to action for the academic community to take on the mantle of making research open; data and findings from publically funded research should be available in the public domain. The newest principles within the community link us back to the lifecycle at each stage; research needs to be FAIR - findable, accessible, re-usable and interoperable – more on this to follow in our recent report, FAIR in Practice. [#pullquote#]we need to take a sector-wide approach, covering the research lifecycle in its entirety.[#endpullquote#]This report is part of a growing conviction amongst researchers (and policy makers) that the fruits of our labour deserve to be shared as widely as possible. When it comes to the melting pot that is cross-disciplinary, global research, it’s not enough for individual researchers or university departments to be doing things right, we need to take a sector-wide approach, covering the research lifecycle in its entirety.Data championsAs sponsors of the UK’s Research Data Champions, we are working to support colleagues from across the sector so we can share best practice, and help institutions manage their research outputs as effectively as possible.To create a launchpad for UK open science, and enable more powerful, impactful research, managing and storing research data is essential for both publication and collaboration – a buzz word in the research press as we await the impact of Brexit. This movement is also enhanced by the new disruptive publishing initiatives that challenge the traditional commercial routes to publication, with universities and academics 'doing it for themselves'.[#pullquote#]managing and storing research data is essential for both publication and collaboration[#endpullquote#]And infrastructure matters as much as policy. Considerations such as whether or not the software we use has source codes freely available so that data can be redistributed and modified according to the users’ needs – in this case the researcher or research data manager – need to be factored in.It’s great to see the likes of UKRI and the research councils addressing these types of barriers, and looking for sector-wide solutions, but we need this work to pick-up pace if the expectations placed on the UK’s future research economy are to be realised.Future milestonesThe pilot phase of our research data shared service (transitioning to a fully-fledged service later this year) is all about enabling researchers to easily deposit data for publication, discovery, safe storage and preservation. This means that we’ll be able to provide sustainable access to research data for the long term so it can be re-used, overcoming one of the significant hurdles of producing FAIR research.Our work on this project with member universities and research institutes has given us a persepctive on the challenges and the reality of research which is allowing us to shape services that support the lifecycle, and make research data both as open as possible and as closed as necessary.[#pullquote#]we expect that open science – especially where research is publicly funded - will become the norm[#endpullquote#]In the future, we expect that open science – especially where research is publicly funded - will become the norm, with a sector joined up to support UK researchers at every stage of the cycle, but as our data champions explain, '…we’re not quite there yet'. Within our daily roles however, all of us in the research sector can drive the open science agenda at each stage of the research lifecycle, and bring the possibilities of open research to life.Read our guide on managing research data in your institution.