Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Nothing worse than a wet morris dancer....

Back from my annual pilgrimage from Whitby Folk Week, and I know you all look forward to the gratuitous picture of Morris Dancers, but contain yourselves.....

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd been helping  with the University's contribution to a civic event - The Sheffield Fayre.  Well, it's just happened, and I've spent the weekend there. Sunday was glorious, lovely sunny weather.  I only had one team to look after - The Sheffield Giants, who are magnificent.

I love this picture of the porters (who carry the Giants and dance with them), putting on their black large belts to help support them.

So, Monday dawned, on the day that I had 6 teams to juggle, and it rained. Rained, and rained. Threw away the programme, Tried to find dryish dance spots, and the show went on! Ably assisted by beer from the beer tent. So, here's a very wet, bedraggled morris team - actually the one I normally dance with.

So that's it. Your annual exposure to folky things. Normal CiCS service will shortly be resumed....

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Clearing and donuts

So just before I disappear off on another holiday, time to make sure everything is going alright with clearing and confirmation. Very important day as students find out what their A level results are and whether they've got a place in the University of their choice. We set up one of our IT rooms as mission control for the temps to answer the phones and keep track of on line applications. The giant plasma screens are useful to give our temps messages keep them up to date with progress. When I got down there early today it was eerily calm!

We provide technical support for the network, phones, PCs and desktop - here they are working hard :-)

And our colleagues from Epigenesys who wrote the system are there to help and trouble shoot as well.

Of course, the staff need sustenance, and I was asked not to bring donuts, but something healthy. So I took donuts, with some fruit. Apparently it all got eaten....

Great teamwork from everyone across a number of departments, so well done everyone.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Dancing in the Park

So, the end of my first week back after the holiday. It's been a long week :-)  Most of it spent catching up, and looking forward to the new academic year. Perhaps the most important job I've been doing is looking at our budget for next year and how that compares with our financial forecasts. Its fair to say it's not an exact match, and we are looking at how we might manage it in terms of current vacancies. We're identifying areas where we believe the staffing resources needs to be protected, where it could reduce (albeit with a drop in service levels), and where we need to invest. There may be tough decisions to be taken....

Also this week I've caught up with some of the new student sabbatical officers. Always a pleasure to meet them at the beginning of the new academic year, and I'm afraid it only seems like a few weeks since I was was welcoming the previous holders. I don't envy them having such a short period to learn how the University works, and make their own impact on it. It's vitally important that we work together to achieve as much as we can in their period of office. This week we've talked about the design and operation of The Diamond,  how we might encourage students to vote and how we might better analyse our student data to look at the attainment of different diversity groups.

It was really good this week to meet colleagues from another university and exchange information about our strategies, service management implementation etc. It's always time well spent finding out what anther institution is dong, even if they came here to find out what we're doing.

And finally, I did some scheduling for an event I'm helping with - The Sheffield Fayre. To celebrate 20 years of The National Fairground Archive, the University is sponsoring this event.  Given my connections, I'd been asked to get some local traditional dance teams to appear. Yesterday I had to work out the timings for 6 teams, across two stages, making sure everyone had enough time to move between spots, and didn't dance with the same team. A post-it note nightmare :-) Looks like a good event - and it's free. So, if you're not doing anything get to Norfolk Park on Sunday 24th or Monday 25th August.

Thursday, 7 August 2014


While I was off, we successfully moved our VLE (MOLE) to a hosted service.  I missed the fun and games, but by all accounts it went very well - so congrats to all of the team. The only noticeable difference to our users should be that content creation is faster - everything else should be just the same, despite the fact is is now not running here, but on servers in a different country. It was a very aggressive timescale we worked to to get everything migrated in plenty of time for the beginning of the academic year, and I'm really pleased it was so successful.

Technology Enhanced Learning is an important part of our strategy, and this year we are running a
week long TEL festival in September and I'm pleased to see that arrangements for this have really come on in the past few weeks.  TELFest-2014 is designed to give help, guidance and support to anyone develop their skills in this area, no matter how much experience they have. There's workshops, drop in sessions, panel discussions and much more - the agenda looks really interesting, and we hope it will be a well attended event.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Graduation Round Up complete with Google Glass

Sorry for interval to blogging - been on my hols to Turkey for a couple of weeks. A bit earlier than we normally go, and as such I missed Graduation Week for the first time in many years. Very disappointed as I always love it - its the culmination of the year, and always brings it back home to me what our jobs are all about.

As usual, we tried to make it as good a day as possible for our students and family and friends, and our creative media team did a great job again. As well as live streaming of the ceremonies, and recording them on USB sticks and DVDs ready soon after the ceremony, we had out famous handshake videos - those few seconds as the graduand walks across the stage that everyone is really interested in. My favourite one was of Alan - famous for replying to the whole list about not having any robes, and starting the hashtag #prayforalan. He got his robes, and graduated to a huge cheer:

 A great moment!

We also had the gigipixel photos available again thanks to our friend Ed from Business Tours UK which are taggable on Facebook.  A new development this year was The University of Sheffield Yearbook, a set of photos taken during the week of students, staff and family and friends, together with their stories - definitely worth a look, there's some lovely stories.

And finally, our Corporate Affairs department showed what you can do with Google Glass - fantastic film: