NOTES from the FOTE 2013 conference curtsy of James Leahy (VLE Content Developer at Regent’s University London).

Clouds, Crowds and Customers:


Nicola Millard, Customer Experience Futurologist, BT

Tasks and projects are usually not quantified. What gets measured gets done!

These projects can be broken up and assessed in different ways:

  1.  Cognitive effort. In this aspect it is helpful to simplify objectives  and contact points/
  2. Physical effort. This is more obvious.
  3. Emotional effort. What mental/spiritual resources you’re likely to need.

Time is also an important factor. Nicola talks about the younger generation having no patience. Generally if the student’s perception of value for money is exceeded then they are happy.

For younger people email is a dying channel, without doubt.

So there is a need to communicate with younger students on many channels: “omni channel”. There is a need to tie channels together, because one channel, like the website, might contradict the app or the email or the ad.

Certainly smart phones and tablets change our behaviour.

Collaboration is changing and the empahasis we place on it… The ultimate punishment is now to threaten to disconnect the internet.

Under 35’s have been encouraged to share and collaborate, particularly in education. Our generation believes that this is historically called “cheating”. In terms of social networking Nicola maintains some younger people are clearly going to regret what they’ve shared!

With cloud computing, we are no longer “tethered”. We can work anywhere and choice is an important part of when and how we work, especially for younger people. Historically places designated as “work places” and even class rooms, are now beginning to be thought of as primarily for socialising, because it’s the social dynamic that cannot be replaced.

The London School of Business suggests that we are interrupted once every three minutes each and an every days on average.

To operate efficiently Nicola needs:

  • Coffee
  • Cake
  • Connectivity
  • Communication

Based on the idea of successful communication, student computing forums can be more effective for solving issues than an IT Helpdesk!

“From the Cloud to the Crowd.”

Open Access (Challenges, Possibilities, Future Outlook) Alicia Wise, Director of Universal Access, Elsevier

The talk was largely to do with Open Access as mainly to do with scientific journal research content.

Open access is largely to do with opening up communications and with “democratising” information. Research content should be free at the point of use?

Perhaps the technology isn’t the problem, perhaps it’s old business models.

Gold/Green Open Access. These work at scale but the cutting edge is what technology helps us to move to new business models.

Next week global open access week? http://www.openaccessweek.org/Researchers own their value sets. There is a wide spread perception that open access can lead to the faster progress of research etc.?There are 30 million people using downloaded journal content. There are figures to show that people will continue to fund R&D even during times of bad economic funding.

Alicia showed us lists of research exporters and importers by country and discussed these in terms of domestic products.

Because research is inter-disciplinary, collaboration again, is important and it works. Interoperability.

Open Access: UK is leading here, e.g. FINCH group?http://chorusaccess.org/

Webcasts in Education: Mythbusters! Gwen Noteborn, Researcher, Maastricht University

Issues around research on student reactions to lecture captures

Maastricht Uni has an “Education Lab” that handles lecture captures. Apart from dedicated lecture captures, staff and students come to the lab and the MU E-learning team help them solve their issues, like a drop-in clinic.

The Education Lab has a virtual presence called “Mediasite” specifically to deal with lecture capture, and the production of what are to be referred to as “knowledge clips”.


The Education Lab also conducted a survey of lecture captures vs live lectures (students were largely of undergrad age 18 – 25)

Findings were:

  • Video clips do increase pass rates
  • No difference in pass rates for students who watch videos of lecturers as opposed to the live event, just the perceptions of the personalities delivering the lecture
  • Motivated students watch the entire vid whilst less motivated students watch only the sections they want
  • Teachers fear that once they make videos the students won’t want to attend physical lectures.
  • Lectures have a social aspect that students cannot get from videos
  • Plenty of thought needs to go into how the lecture is recorded and the content, the more interactive, the better.

Technology in Education: The Case Against? Lindsay Jordan, Educational Developer, University of the Arts London

“Why so blue, Lindsay?”

Lindsay is dressed in a blue all-over lycra suit with a blue wig to represent “being blue” (sad) because she loves learning and enrolled on a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) but had to drop out because she just wasn’t engaged enough.

Lindsay used examples of how she learned a choreographed skit from a recent movie from a tutorial on YouTube compared to how she could not possibly have learned how to play the piano to, obviously a high standard with a one-off online tutorial and this is largely because the piano, required discipline and regular positive reinforcement from her parents. It is the nature of flexible learning, on demand, that a lot of institutions are using to sell their MOOCs but it is exactly this flexibility that is the enemy of the discipline required to master a long-term course.

Not only this but it completely ignores, or fails to make the most of the social aspects, which in many cases are the best and most effective ways of learning or of contributing to our education.

Lindsay mentioned SPOCs and how online learning doesn’t always help students to complete their course or remain engaged but at least here SPOCs do “privilege the social” which is what is so important in helping the learning whilst helping to maintain that learning discipline that is so important.

Flexibility isn’t always a good thing.

Revolution: Include Me! Martin King, Head of IT, Ealing Hammersmith and West London College

We’re all “Post PC natives” now with the advent and increased popularity of the Smart Phone, as it’s such a tremendous resource, for homeless people a smart phone can be more important than food.

Only 1/3 of the world currently has the Internet and there will be billions more people (minds) on line each year as technology and connectivity catches up.

If “Moore’s Law” roughly states that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers will double every two years then might this also be translated as the “price of computing halves every 18 months”?

Clay Shirkey in his book “Here Comes Everybody” talks about online organisations and the social and, less so, the political power of more people having access to shared ideas, even movements such as Jim Groom “edupunk” is gaining momentum with people enabling themselves, as opposed to educational institutions being the only people to be able to bestow knowledge.

“Can education escape the zombie apocalypse?” Er…

Research Data: Bothersome Burden or Treasure Chest. Kevin Ashley, Director, Digital Curation Centre

With at least 165 Higher Education Institutions in the UK and 43% getting less than less than 5% of their overall budget to spend on research (that could be incorrect), how do we budget for data storage, especially when we don’t know exactly how much data there is. How much data do we have, in terms of petabytes?

There’s the issue of “Moore’s Law” again.

There is likely to be some sort of “data deluge” or “data tsunami” in the not too distant future. In terms of data centres and the Cloud it is not going to be cheaper to store data in the cloud, long term (see Rosenthal).

When a lot of time, money and effort is spent collecting data, and storing data, it’s in nobody’s interest to lock it away.

“Often our data tells stories that our publications do not, stuff that we didn’t know was there!”

Keep your data on display. Store it, show it, share it.