Monday, 29 June 2015

The Diamond

Today I was lucky enough to have a tour of The Diamond - our new teaching and learning space, which is due to open this September. Really exciting to see some of the spaces that I've really only seen on the plans and in this  fly through.

Some really exciting spaces, it will be a great place to study.  Here's some pictures I took.

Friday, 26 June 2015


Well, I'm back, from two glorious weeks in Turks and Caicos. Didn't walk as much as I should have done, but it's really hard work when this is the view you have when you're walking.

Lots of steps to catch up on now! The CiCS team is currently third out of the University's 75 teams in the Global Corporate Challenge, so not bad, and we've walked as far as The Hamptons!

Past couple of days have been spent catching up on emails and what's been happening. Been to a meeting about how we might formally and informally open The Diamond, our new teaching building which is coming along well. I'm also spending a lot of time meeting all Heads of Departments, talking to them about how they interact with us, what their issues are, and how we can work together.

I also had a very productive and interesting meeting with some of our sabbatical officers and one of our students who's developing an app and social network to encourage students to cook together and for each other. It should reduce food waste, and help students meet each other. Called Foodhall, it looks really interesting.
You can see it on our Sheffield Crowd website here and watch a video explaining it.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Keeping the lights on

Well, my talk on Dealing with Innovation at the conference seemed to go down well. Talked about the different ways we can innovate, and how a common thread from CIOs is that we are "too busy keeping the lights on" to innovate, like this article.  Too busy just keeping things going to do anything new, and too fearful of taking risks to innovate. this metaphor has never really rung true with me, and it was while I was doing some research for the talk I came upon this blogpost - "Why it's time for CIOs to kill off the term keeping the lights on". Interesting reading - worth a look.

Right, must dash - I've a holiday to start. Back blogging in a couple of weeks!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Media City and Digital Skills

For the last few days I've been in Manchester, based in Media City. It's a great place, a real buzz about the place. But, have been seriously hindered in blogging, as my iPad blogging app has stopped working after an upgrade, and I've struggled to find a replacement. Let's see how we get on with this one.

Yesterday I was involved in UCISA conference business. A couple of site visits to venues we'll be using including Manchester Central and the Museum of Science and Industry. It's important to get everything right at the venues, layout of rooms, organisation during the event, even menus, coffee etc and you can only really to do that by visiting and seeing the space and talking to the staff. Then we had a conference organising committee where we looked at the programme of speakers, and also some ways of modernising the event. Using video case studies of innovations from our members playing around the venue for example.

Today I'm at the UCISA Digital Capabilities conference, we're I'll be closing the event by talking about Dealing with Innovation. As always, I'll be interested to hear what I've got to say :-)

Opening session this morning has been on the digital capabilities needed by our staff, and reporting on some research currently being carried out by JISC. It is recognised that digitally capable students need digitally capable staff, but on the whole education providers do not reward or recognise digital activity related to learning and teaching. Digital capability is also not normally built into the strategic thinking of universities. The presenter also highlighted the importance of digital wellbeing, concerns over cybersecurity, cyber bullying, harassment, privacy of data, ethical issues, and issues of equality.

Other sessions this morning have been about what frameworks you can use to assess the digital competency of staff and students, and whether you can have a standards based approach. So, can you define a minimum standard of digital literacy which staff should have. If so, what is it, how do you measure it, and how do you up skill people. Interesting things on the list for staff. For example, teaching staff how to use google search for images. Not just in finding images, but in understanding the copyright implications on how you can use them. 

So, in finishing this post am going to include another photo from media city, the Blue Peter studio! Not because it's in any way relevant to this post, but half way through writing this I abandoned the app I was using and changed to a new one and I need to know how to post an image!
Looks like success!