Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas

And so another year comes to an end, marked by the annual event which is the famous CiCS Christmas Party.  I hope everyone enjoyed it, and has a good break. Here's some pictures:

Friday, 19 December 2014

December round up

Myself and the Assistant Directors went away for a couple of days last week. to look at two main items. First was an analysis of how we interact with our major stakeholders, whether we have it right, and what can we do to improve it. Before we went we did a survey of some of our senior stakeholders, and their responses were extremely useful. We got some very good feedback, and some that was more constructive :-) What was obvious were some big differences in different parts of the University. We used the following grid to map our stakeholders which plots how much power and influence people have, and how interested they are in our services. It was quite illuminating :-)

I'm not sure I agree with some of the labels, but it did show us where we were not engaging appropriately in some areas. So, we've come up with a plan which we are putting in place in the new year.

The other big discussion we had was about the future shape of the department, something that we've been looking at for a while. I use the phrase shape, rather than structure deliberately. We're looking at how we can improve our planning and architecture, the design and building of services, transitioning them then into delivery. I am keen to get it right rather than do it quickly, so a lot more discussion still to be had.

I also attended an open forum with the Vice Chancellor, other members of UEB and a selection of staff from across the institution. This was one of a series of workshops as part of the consultation on our strategic plan, and was about Our Strategic Partners. Some good presentation and lively discussion about what partnership meant, who we should partner with, and who we shouldn't.

Almost my final meeting was Senate Budget Committee (SBC) where I represent the Professional Services, and we had our annual meeting with the Vice Chancellor. SBC looks at the budgetary processes in the University, and we were discussing with the VC what its future role should be. SBC makes public all of its discussions, and has a webpage of very useful resources about University finances.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Thank you...

Thursday I spent in London at a UCISA executive committee meeting, As well as the normal business, especially looking at what the many UCISA groups have been up to, we had a visit from the Chief Executive of HESA.  HESA is the body that collects and collates data from Universities in many areas - from the student record on how many and what sort of students we have from finance on what we spend our money on, and on HR.  This data is then sent to various agencies - including our funding bodies.  At the moment HESA is undergoing a transformation programme - looking at all of its processes and how it collects this data, and as we are are heavily involved in this, it will affect us. so we will be watching with interest, and taking part in the consultations.

Friday saw our annual thank you party for staff - some drinks and food and what has become a bit of a tradition, the annual charity raffle. Over 130 prizes donated by our staff and our suppliers,

and we raised about £1,000 for two charities - Diabetes UK and Roundabout, a local charity which helps homeless teens in Sheffield. Many thanks to everyone, for your hard work throughout the year, for donating prizes, buying raffle tickets or helping on the day. Much appreciated.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Diamond and MOOC hype

Our new building, The Diamond is really coming along now - it looks fantastic. The base layer of the cladding is on, you can see the pods inside, and the spiral staircase has been installed. hopefully the aluminium cladding will start to go on in the next few days. There's a great webcam of the construction site here. This screenshot taken a couple of minutes ago shows the huge study pod from the east of the building, and the cladding panels stacked up ready to go on the left.

We're on target to open for September 2015, and this week we've been having discussions about commissioning and fitting out the building. There's a lot of work for us to do!  The network to commission - this building will increase the size of our campus network by 10% - the teaching technologies in the pool teaching space to install and commission, over 700 PCs to install, and all of the creative media spaces to be kitted out. We'll be looking to dedicate people to work on this to make sure everything goes to plan.

Also this week we've had an call with a Gartner analyst about the future of technolgies in teaching. Some of the up and coming ones including Learning Analytics and Adaptive Learning, and existing ones such as MOOCs. Interestingly Gartners latest education hype cycle have MOOCs heading off into the trough of disillusionment, and disappearing before they ever reach a plateau. That's mainly due to a lack of a sustainable business model for them, and their view is that once the hype surrounding them has gone, they will transform into something different. This year's hype cycle has some interesting stuff on it - must find time to study it in a bit more detail.