Saturday, 30 July 2016

The digital tipping point is about to hit Higher Education!

We in Higher Education are woefully ill-prepared for the disruption that lies ahead. We've seen other industries in tumult.  Our researchers have published papers about the 'Digital Future' as it pertains to them. Yet our own world remains a bastion.

I see four tipping forces coming together.  As these strike with simultaneous impact, the University as we know it may have to change rather fast.

  1. Tech 
The technology now works! A limitless cloud of stuff and apps really is available from any device, anywhere, any time.  Innovations are coming faster than ever.   

  1. Pedagogy
We now understand how learners learn online.  The best MOOCs have shown that it really is possible to educate at scale - for peers to help each other towards mastery - for online relationships to be real and meaningful.

  1. Culture
Bright young people are increasingly resentful of the debt associated with their 'boarding school degree'.  They want more choice and flexibility as they move on and up. They advise others - their younger siblings - to seek different routes to career fulfillment.     

  1. Regulation
The HE bill is opening up the UK market to new entrants - new suppliers of degrees.  And employers will want value from the big new Apprenticeship Levy they now have to pay.  Will they start bringing in the talent through this different door?

We had better hold on tight! 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

A digital strategy for Nottingham!

We've made it! IT Strategy Board has approved our strategy. It's been 18 months in the oven but is all the better for the slow cook.

The vision will be unsurprising for generation Z. Indeed they may be surprised this needs saying at all - so immersed are they already in the digital world.

But it does need saying, because funding this is going to take a radical shift of investment from the physical to the digital. There are some XXL items here. Once we've delivered our immediate priorities - Project Transform , the Research Information System, the move to Office 365 and our Smarter Computing Programme we'll be ready for the next big thing. Where should our focus turn next?

'e-strategy' has become 'digital strategy' but that's not all that's changed in 16 years!

So it's 16 years since I joined the University of Warwick to write it's 'e-strategy'.  The new century had started and the age of the internet was upon us.  What did this mean for Universities? 
I recently found a dusty old copy of that e-strategy.  Reading something you wrote 16 years ago can be uncomfortable - such naiveté!  We missed some things that now seem obvious (there's no mention of WiFi) but we made some good guesses too:
  • Ubiquitous mobile devices
  • Any time anywhere learning
  • Tools for rich collaboration
  • Video streaming and On demand multimedia content 
  • Student portal
  • Digital library
  • Dynamic web presence
  • High performance computing and large data - (not 'big' data!)
And we certainly have seen huge evolutionary change in all of these areas.
Now of course, we have a 'Digital Strategy' but this is more than a name change.  It predicts much deeper change.  It responds to the 'why's not just the 'how's of University life. 
The real disruption - the big revolution - is still ahead and my life in Higher Education could be about to get even more interesting!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

A working culture worth striving for!

As part of our IS Renew Programme we've been consciously creating the kind of IT service we want to be - capable, reliable, trusted, agile.  We've designed our target operating model. We've eaten the manuals - TOGAF, ITIL, PRINCE2... We've recruited the talent and built the 'know how'.  

At the same time, we've been consciously creating the culture. The right working culture doesn't happen by accident. This is where our Pathfinder programme came in.  It gave us a collective approach and language for coaching each other, facing fears and doing it anyway.  It gave us the foundations for a new culture in which every individual brings the best of themselves to work. We aim for a richly collaborative environment in which ideas grow and people excel.     

I was reminded of this when I read this article about a young tech company called Slack. If you want to know the culture we're striving for in Information Services, here it is..

Monday, 28 March 2016

Three ages of IT - where do we need to be?

Held a great workshop with our executive team. We've talked a lot about the three ages of IT and the need for 'digital' to be part of the thinking so this was a good chance for a progress check. I asked each of them to place a  red sticker where we are now, a yellow one for where our students need us to be, a green one indicates the target for researchers and a blue one for business operations. 

It seems we are firmly in the age of the service provider. We've managed to 'put the suit on IT' but we've got a long way to go to meet the needs of generation Z!   

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Choose a device that's right!

How do we please everyone, keep the auditors happy and minimise cost? Counter-intuitively, we need to let people choose the deal that works for them!
Here's the Bring-Your-Own deal:

Use your own device - whatever you happen to be on today. Office 365 is the heart of our digital workplace and it's open to all on any device.  We are one community!

Here's the Choose-Your-Own deal:

If you need a service warranty for all our software, opt for the fully managed Windows service.  Choose one of the 'standard' laptops or desktops with a wide range of standard software. You can be sure your data is safe. Additional applications can be downloaded and installed from the application store. 

Here's the Do-It-Yourself deal:

If you are an academic with advanced IT skills and sophisticated needs  you can opt for the DIY deal.  Buy whatever you need (or convince your boss to buy it).  With freedom comes a little responsibility. It's down to you to read and meet those information security policies.  Sign here please!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A digital workplace that works for everyone

The vision is simple. Office 365  will be the heart of our digital workplace - providing the everyday tools for communicating and collaborating that everyone uses.   Anyone, anywhere across our global community will use these from any device using Eduroam Wi-Fi. 

My stuff goes in One Drive.  Our stuff goes in Sharepoint.  It all goes in the cloud! 

Most specialist applications will be part of our 'flexible desktop'.  Anyone, anywhere  will use these from any device.  Application data will go in One Drive too. 

Others are already part way there. I like what this team at Deakin University are doing with Office 365.