Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Research, analytics and ideas

Yesterday I was at a meeting of RUGIT - the Russell Group IT Directors. We meet several times a
year to discuss matters of common interest.  Some interesting topics. Support for research is something a number of us are trying to improve. Teaching and Learning has always been more straightforward to support because it is more generic, but research is more specialised.  We looked at what others are doing, and one University had recently surveyed researchers  to find out what they were using to support their own research, and what they needed. Top of the list was information and support - information on what was available, and support in how to use it.

Another area we looked at was Learner Analytics. Analysing data sets to get more information out of them is a big  thing at the moment, and learner analytics involves pulling together many different data sets to find out more about students. This has a number of applications - spotting students who might be dropping behind for example, and intervening quickly to get them back on track. For students, it can help them track their own progress. There's a JISC project under the Codesign Programme looking at this, and JISC have  just produced a report on the state of Learner Analytic int he sector - makes for very interesting reading.

We also shared experiences yesterday on progress in delivering IT support to faculties and depatmetns by staff based locally, but managed by the central IT department. This is the model in many Universites and has been for some years, and most of the rest are moving towards it. Interesting sharing experiences, and looking at how this model has been implemented in different Universities. General concensus is that the benefits by far outweigh any challenges.

This morning I traveled to Oxford for a meeting about the UCISA conference in March which is shaping up nicely - we now have a full programme and some great speakers confirmed.  This afternoon was the Oxford University IT committee on which I sit as an external representative. Very interested in their pilot of an innovation and ideas platform which is soon to be rolled out across the University. Their pilot has generated 26 ideas with 143 people discussing them. they've set aside a proportion of their budget to fund innovative ideas which come through this process - something I want to introduce this next year.

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