Today I've been in London at a workshop organised by JISC, to work with
them to put together a programme of Innovation projects.
A bit of an unnerving start to the day to hear reports of a helicopter crashing into a crane and bursting into flames, and it was across the river from where we were meeting. Tragic news and of course my thoughts are with the people and families involved.
JISC have £2m to spend over the coming year and are working with four agencies, UCISA, RUGIT, SCONUL and RLUK to co-design the programme.
I was there as one of 6 representatives from RUGIT, and by the end of today they will have run a workshop with each of the groups.
JISC provided a list of possible innovative projects, and we had a chance before today and during the workshop to suggest others. Following the workshops JISC will be setting up a Futures Forum to oversee the programme of work. We agreed that we and the programme needed to be focused, user centric, open, agile and willing to experiment. Some risks will have to be taken, or the programme will not have been innovative. We also need to work together in a collaborative and pragmatic way with a joint commitment to making this work.
I'm afraid I did have to question whether we were the right people to be discussing innovation in the use of digital technologies, when the amount of digital technology in use in the room was minimal - paper, pens and notebooks seemed to rule :-).
However, we did have a very good discussion, with lots of good ideas which we had to prioritise. One of the major themes was the Digitally Enabled University, with projects particularly around technology and students. This theme included ideas around putting technology in the hands of students and seeing what they do with it, assessing the use of BYOD, the mobile student, use of technology by academics and how technology can can improve processes.
My top rated idea, (well it would be, it was mine) was to set up a team of creative people including students with different IT skills, lock them in a room for a few weeks, figuratively speaking, and see what they come up with. Don't constrain them by giving them a problem and ask them to solve it, just let them do some blue skies thinking.
I would love to do this, and am having some thought about setting up an innovation team in Sheffield, possibly using student interns.
Altogether a very good day, and I look forward to seeing the results and to being further involved.
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