Tag: JISC infoNet (page 2 of 2)

Weeknote #21

This week I have been mostly…

Delivering on projects

I launched two new things yesterday:

Finding out more about mobile learning

Wednesday was a 17.5 hour working day for me, but worth it! I was down in London for the MoLeNET conference and awards ceremony because of the JISC mobile & wireless technologies review I’m currently undertaking.

Such enthusiasm! Such transformational projects and learning experiences! Awesome.

Playing around with video

After reading about the importance of online video for, well, everything, I thought it was time I played around with it a bit more. Hence:

Looking after my son

I’ve been looking after Ben for the last three Fridays as my Mam is currently visiting my Dad in the United Arab Emirates. (Happy 61st Birthday Dad!) For the first two of these that meant dropping him off and picking him up from school nursery then spending the afternoon together. However, he was running a temperature yesterday, so didn’t go in and wasn’t up to doing much active stuff apart from the inevitable ‘Calpol half-hour’ after taking some medicine…

Weeknote #19

This week I have been mostly…


We’ve had our quarterly planning meeting at JISC infoNet. I wasn’t that involved in preparations for it but was absolutely overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of the video – called ‘The J Factor’ – that the Operations Team put together. Truly an inspiration to us all in terms of how something as potentially tedious as transferring files from one location to another can be made so engaging! 😀


Before the first day of the planning meeting some of us met to present on a topic of our choice. I’ve explained the ins and outs of this in #uppingyourpresentation (including video of me delivering a presentation on dandelions!) :-p


The mobile and wireless technologies review I’m undertaking for the JISC e-Learning team is going to inform a publication in 2011. I was down in Birmingham on Thursday to discuss the latter publication with a range of people involved. It was an extremely positive meeting and I’m excited about the potential of the final result!


I took a day’s annual leave to look after Ben on Friday as Hannah was at work and my mother is visiting my father in the United Arab Emirates. He started school nursery this week, so it was my first time dropping him off and picking him off from the morning sessions he does. Excited doesn’t even begin to cover it – he loves it! I really enjoyed spending the afternoon with him in park, wrestling and playing games. In fact, I’ve got him all weekend as Hannah’s off visiting university friends! 🙂

Go to conferences? Use Lanyrd.


Lanyrd: the social conference directoryBefore entering the realm with JISC infoNet, I really didn’t understand why there were so many conferences in Further and Higher Education . Now I understand:

  • The whole academic system is predicated upon papers, which need to be presented somewhere.
  • Lots of (usually JISC-funded) projects have to disseminate their outputs.
  • Some subject disciplines/specialisms can be narrow. People need to meet to discuss things.

Hence, conferences.

The Problem

There’s many conferences that may be useful to your research interests and specialism(s) but you may not hear about them until it’s too late. That’s particularly true if, like me, you’re given a brief in a topic to which you’re fairly new.

Up to now, I’ve been following influential people on Twitter, reading blogs and generally scouting around for a place I can find information about relevant conferences.

It’s far from ideal.

The Solution

I was delighted, therefore, when James Clay alerted me to a website that is focused on solving exactly the above problem. Lanyrd describes itself as ‘the social conference directory’ and works very well.

The idea is simple:

  1. You sign in using Twitter’s OAuth mechanism (so you can revoke access at any time)
  2. It finds out which conferences your friends are attending (you can indicate that other people are attending or speaking, you see…)
  3. You add yourself to conferences you’re attending or speaking at. There’s also the option to ‘track’ a conference.
  4. The (conference) world becomes a better place.

The thing about it is that, like Academia.edu, it’s a great idea that needs to gain traction through use. So please do have a look at it!

Feel free to check out my profile and follow me:

Weeknote #9

This week I have been mostly…
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Weeknote #8

This week I have been mostly…
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Open Educational Resources infoKit

As this post goes live I’m at the Higher Education Academy Conference 2010. Last night I helped launch the OER infoKit on behalf of JISC infoNet which is something I’ve been working on ever since I started my new role at the beginning of April this year. 🙂

The above video is simply a rolling demo (no sound), but I’d encourage you to visit the OER infoKit itself. If you’re involved in education, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something worthwhile in it! 😀

Short URL: http://bit.ly/oerinfokit

Weeknote #6

This week I have been mostly…

Attending #cetismob

I was down in at the University of Bolton at a mobile technologies event hosted by JISC CETIS. Mark Power did a great job at making sure it was a relaxed affair with really quality sharing and networking opportunities. Well done! 🙂


It was the home stretch this week before the launch of the Open Educational Resources infoKit I’ve been working on since I started at JISC infoNet. So there was plenty of delegation to do, especially to Lou McGill, who’s worked tirelessly and to a consistently high standard on it!

Getting back to my productive self

My productivity took a hit after my indecisiveness over the Dell Streak. Now that I’ve settled on it, I’ve learned my lesson in terms of making my mind up and sticking to it! Turns out every decision I make is a productivity decision…

Starting marking scripts

Ever since I, along with a few others, was recruited during my PGCE course at Durham I’ve marked History examination papers for Edexcel. I used to do AS Level Russia, then they moved me to AS Level Germany, and this year I’m marking GCSE Germany.

I’ve got absolutely no problem with the online marking system itself: it’s quicker than doing it on paper and suits me. Of course, I’ve got to virtualise Windows XP on my Macbook Pro so I can use Internet Explorer 6 and some proprietary software, but that in and of itself is no big deal.

What really winds me up about Edexcel is their organizational inefficiency and the general lack of anyone knowing what they’re doing. The emails they send out force you to spend half an hour figuring out what they mean and, of course, not understanding means you are obviously morally or organizationally deficient in some way. Gah.

The sheer horror of the obviously-doing-it-to-save-costs online standardisation procedure could be a whole other post in itself, but I’ll spare you that. Suffice to say that, given my experience yesterday (for which I took annual leave) and the fact that I’m not teaching History at the moment, I’ll not be marking for Edexcel again in the near future!

Weeknote #5

This week I have been mostly…

Planning for planning

I was asked to help put together the agenda for our upcoming quarterly planning meeting. This will be my first experience of the two-day events. I’ve proposed session titles including really bad puns – e.g. ‘Getting JISC-y with it’ and ‘Plone Ranger’ (Plone powers our website…)

Being trained

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. A friend of a friend, Ben Mawhinney, came to give us some training on Google Analytics at my invitation on Friday. It was really kind of him to share what he knows and help us to better focus on our core audience!

Making the most of my flexi-time

With the sunny weather and spending all week in the office, I’ve been leaving at 15.30 and using up some of my flexi-time. What. A. Great. System!

Getting the go-ahead

My proposal for a review of mobile and wireless technologies was accepted, so I’ll be spending from next week until about the end of October on a review which will inform an upcoming JISC publication.

Returning my Dell Streak

It would appear that for everyone who knows me (however slightly) my decision to return the Dell Streak on Friday after a week was entirely predictable. What can I say? I’m a sucker for well-designed tools that increase my productivity. Like the iPhone 4…

10 things I’ve learned since starting work for JISC

My 'official' JISC photo

I started working for JISC infoNet on 1 April 2010. It’s amazing how two jobs within education – Director of E-Learning and Researcher/Analyst – can be so different. More on that when I compare and contrast them in a future post. :-p

I’ve learned lots of things since joining JISC. Here’s my top ten:

  1. Virtually nothing is done on an ad-hoc basis. Things are planned, documented and rigorously organized.
  2. Despite the above, they’re flexible. Very flexible.
  3. As in any large organization, sometimes the left hand doesn’t talk to the right hand.
  4. “We’ve had a strong steer on this” means “someone insinuated something that I want you to crack on with.”
  5. Microsoft Outlook sucks. And not just a little bit.
  6. There’s a massive push towards openness – not just Open Source but things like Open Access and Open Educational Resources (check out the draft OER infoKit I helped produce!)
  7. JISC is well-funded (well, at the moment anyway…)
  8. Many things that I thought were innovative in schools are standard practice and well-known in the FE and HE sector.
  9. Wikis are by far the best way to organize internal documentation and plan stuff. Really. (JISC infoNet uses PBworks)
  10. Consultants aren’t that bad. In fact, they’re pretty necessary actually.

So there we are; more updates as I learn new stuff. As I mentioned above, once I’ve settled in a bit more I plan to compare and contrast my work in schools with my new role. There’s pros and cons for both. 😉

The end of the beginning.

I suppose it’s a bit of a random day to start (April Fool’s Day, the last day before a public holiday…) but I begin a new job today that I’ve very excited about. I’m delighted to announce that I’ve signed a two-year contract (I sound like a professional footballer!) with JISC infoNet as Researcher/Analyst:

JISC infoNet aims to be the UK’s leading advisory service for managers in the post-compulsory education sector promoting the effective strategic planning, implementation and management of information and learning technology.

The team are a great bunch who I’ve already been in to meet since my successful interview a couple of months ago. I’m looking forward to extending my knowledge and experience in education up to FE and HE level!

JISC infoNet is one of eight sub-sections of JISC Advance, which is funded by the UK taxpayer through the Research Councils. I’ll be researching (duh!), putting together infoKits and helping facilitate workshops in colleges of further education and universities around the country. I’m based at, although not actually part of (despite the new @northumbria.ac.uk email address) Northumbria University.

I’m happy to answer any questions you’ve got about the move by email – use this contact form. I’ll reproduce the most commonly-asked questions over at Doug’s FAQ. 🙂