Today sees Jisc launch registration for the Jisc Digital Festival 2015.
Simon Nelson, chief executive of FutureLearn, the social learning platform set up by The Open University as the first UK-based provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), is confirmed as one of four keynote speakers at the festival, taking place on 9-10 March 2015 at the ICC in Birmingham.
The festival will showcase the very best in UK digital talent. Celebrating the theme of ‘connect more’, the event will bring people together through digital technology across UK education, research, skills and enterprise, to position the UK at the forefront of international practice.
Martyn Harrow Jisc’s chief executive said:
“We aim to transform the traditional conference feel and build on our festival experience. By ‘connecting more’ delegates can take advantage of the personalised spaces to share best practice with their peers, take part in the interactive sessions, hands-on demos, speakers corner and debates, and feel very much part of the festival action.
Our vision is for the UK to become the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world, and the Jisc Digital Festival will be a great place to showcase how far along that road we already are.
We know that this event is pivotal in facilitating the sort of information sharing, decision-making and shaping of the digital agenda that will help to take FE, HE and skills to new heights. In creating an open atmosphere that promotes intellectual curiosity and sharing of resources, we are providing a unique platform for achieving excellence through digital technologies for the benefit of all.”
A number of leading organisations in the learning technologies space have already confirmed as exhibiting, including software and technology company Digital Science, media streaming and archive solution service, Planet eStream, and Figshare, a cloud repository where users can make all of their research outputs available in a citable, shareable and discoverable manner.
Also at the festival will be the Jisc Fab Lab, which will showcase the latest advancements in digital technologies for education and research through a series of live talks and demonstrations.
Creative Commons attribution information Simon Nelson©FutureLearnAll rights reserved
Simon Nelson is the first of four keynote speakers to be announced.
Martyn Harrow continued:
“Simon Nelson epitomises a spirit of digital exploration and innovation that is helping the UK to stand out as a leader in global higher and further education. He is the perfect person to kick-off the line-up for this year’s Digital Festival.”
With a background in digital disruption across a range of sectors, Nelson has won multiple awards for digital innovation and product development, including several Emmys, Webby and BAFTA awards for his work at the BBC, where he was a key figure in the development of the corporation’s online and digital services, including the Radio Player and the BBC iPlayer.
“Free online courses are just one example of how the internet is transforming higher education and its traditional pillars. The notion of connecting people to ideas lies right at the heart of what FutureLearn does, so I’m looking forward to sharing and debating ideas about the future of the sector with this important audience, using MOOCs as the starting point.”
The Jisc Digital Festival is open for registrations on Monday 24 November at www.jisc.ac.uk/digifest. Early bird tickets are available until Monday 5 January 2015.
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Free digital mapping service for colleges launches to support FE sector and help students learn online
Today Ordnance Survey and Jisc are set to release Digimap for Colleges. The secure, free and easy to use online mapping service supports further education (FE) institutions and staff, and aids students in their studies.
Designed to complement the national curriculum Digimap for Colleges features a range of Ordnance Survey’s current maps. These include OS MasterMap, the most detailed map of Great Britain, as well digital versions of Ordnance Survey’s famous paper maps, the OS Landranger and OS Explorer Maps.
Skills Minister Nick Boles MP said:
“This innovative online tool will bring mapping to life for FE students. Technology is set to transform education over the next decade and I am delighted to see Ordinance Survey and Jisc developing new online tools that will benefit learners of all ages.”
The launch of Digimap for Colleges follows on from the success of Digimap for Schools and Digimap for higher education, and represents a continuation of the national mapping agency’s support for the teaching of geography at all levels. The service - developed by EDINA, a Jisc designated centre for digital expertise and online service delivery based at the University of Edinburgh, will be available through the Jisc Collections catalogue, a central source of online educational resources. A series of ‘how to…’ guide films, helping users make the most of Digimap for Colleges, have been posted on their YouTube channel.
The detailed maps available through Digimap for Colleges offer complete coverage of Great Britain. Students are able to create their own maps showing different detail depending on what they’re studying, including building outlines, streets, roads and natural landscapes such as woodlands and rivers Students can customise their own maps by adding points, lines, text and images, as well as using colour to represent different types of land use and building.
Peter Burnhill, director at EDINA said:
“Digimap for Colleges puts access to Ordnance Survey mapping capabilities firmly into the toolkit for students and their tutors. We expect this to enhance a broad range of subjects making use of ICT, as we know to have happened from uptake of Digimap in universities and schools: ensuring modern skills in business, leisure and tourism, construction and the built environment, as well as in computing, maths and geography.
This is a key part of the offer that Jisc is making in its response to the FELTAG recommendations and in its role as an ICT champion.”
John Carpenter, Ordnance Survey director of strategy, says:
“Digimap for Colleges presents students with a comprehensive set of digital maps to explore and learn from. In the classroom, Digimap goes beyond geography - feedback from teachers and pupils is that the service is relevant to learning and studies across a whole range of subjects. Mapping can help add context to history, provide a backdrop for art, or used to plan suitable transport networks in town planning and business studies.
There is an array of annotation tools that give power to teachers and students to use the maps how they want and to create. We are delighted to be able to contribute to making a saving in the FE sector and to support colleges by making Digimap for Colleges available at no cost to them.”
Creative Commons attribution information Screenshot of Digimap for Colleges website showing annotation toolsAll rights reserved
The Digimap for Colleges service runs on all up-to-date browsers and is available at digimapforcolleges.edina.ac.uk.
Following a rigorous pre-screening, Box is now available through a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) to higher and further education institutions and researchers in the UK.
Dan Perry, director of product and marketing, Jisc said:
“Research and education organisations across our community are calling for access to sync and share facilities that aid collaboration, while also meeting the sector’s increasingly stringent security requirements. Through the File Sync and Share DPS, institutions have access to a range of flexible options that will help them better share and manage their content.”
David Quantrell, Box senior vice president and general manager of EMEA said:
“Advancements in technology and new ways of working can mean legacy IT solutions are not always suitable for today’s educational institutions, which often need to manage critical documents easily and securely from anywhere and on any device. Our partnership with Jisc removes the barriers to cloud adoption within the education sector by delivering a platform that supports education programmes and strategies.”
Box makes it easy for more than 27 million individuals at 240,000 businesses around the world to share and collaborate across devices, while providing IT departments with unparalleled insight and control. With today’s announcement, Jisc joins a growing number of industries that have agreements with Box, including the UK government, which deployed Box to its G-Cloud portal in 2013.
Box is available to HE, FE and specialist institutions as well as research councils in the UK through the DPS.
Contact email@example.com for more information.
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Staff and students are celebrating today as Heart of Worcestershire College has won a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award for the 'Effective Use of Technology in FE'. The award, sponsored by Jisc, was announced at the AoC Annual Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday 18 November.
The college has introduced a complete blended learning model, where some of the teaching is delivered online, across the whole of its curriculum. It has allowed it to create a culture where the use of online learning is expected and normal, and has let the students develop independent and autonomous learning skills.
Through this approach, the college can better monitor students’ work; when it is completed and submitted and then assessed online. It provides personal study and technical support as well as support to teaching staff, allowing them to develop e-learning content through accredited training.
The assessors for the award felt that other further education (FE) colleges would benefit from learning about the approach at the Heart of Worcestershire College.
Pete Scott, director Jisc group customer services said:
“This is the second year that Jisc has sponsored this award, and yet again, we are honoured to recognise the innovation and creativity inherent within the FE and skills sector. All submissions were of the highest standards, and the assessment panel had an incredibly difficult task in shortlisting and selecting our esteemed winner.
“Witnessing first-hand the application of technology in our shortlisted applicants gives me great confidence that our vision of supporting the UK to be the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world is not only achievable, but in some cases, is already there. The FE and skills sector is truly an incubator for innovation and excellence that we must share.”
Peter Kilcoyne, ILT director, Heart of Worcestershire College, added:
“This award recognises the many ways in which Heart of Worcestershire College leads the sector in the use of digital technologies. We do this to enrich and enhance the experiences of our students on their learning journeys across all curriculum areas.
“The information and learning technology team have been presented with this award for the work they have done in supporting our teaching colleagues in embedding online learning into the curriculum. The award also recognises their efforts in supporting other learning providers across the country in developing online learning opportunities, and the work that’s been done in partnership with computer aid international to support online learning in a number of African universities.”
Chair of the AoC Beacon Awards, Dame Pat Bacon, said:
“Heart of Worcestershire College represents one of fourteen outstanding initiatives which have been granted a prestigious AoC Beacon Award this year.
“Each year, the calibre of the winning applications increases and I am always impressed by the innovative and creative ways in which colleges continue to help students reach their potential.
“As the sector as a whole continues to support the economic recovery of this country, these Beacon Award winners are helping to shine a spotlight on the outstanding means by which colleges are embracing new technologies and partnerships to achieve this. These colleges are showing the way for others to emulate their excellent work.”
Roger Marriott, AoC Beacon Awards chief assessor, said:
“I have the privilege of reading all shortlisted applications and assessors’ reports for these awards and there are some truly inspirational initiatives which are enabling colleges to better support students, businesses and their communities.
“The quality of the shortlisted applications has been outstanding and all are to be congratulated. It was tough deciding the winners for the awards and Heart of Worcestershire College can be rightly proud of its achievement.”
Heart of Worcestershire College will host a local celebration event in the New Year and will be presented with its award by Nick Boles MP, minister of state for skills and equalities at a national presentation ceremony due to be held at Westminster on 4 February 2015.
Visitors to this week’s Association of Colleges (AoC) Annual Conference and Exhibition will be able to learn about how augmented reality (AR) can be used to transform learning and teaching in further education (FE).
Jisc will be showcasing the latest in AR technologies on its stand. One of the highlights will be an innovative big-screen AR game for education developed with Campus Interactive – an augmented reality agency that specialises in education. Called Connect More, it is based on the classic board game Connect Four and invites people to play against each other through gestural based actions.
Unlike other AR experiences, it works by users holding their hands over triggers and obscuring them from camera view to create a desired action. This type of user interaction is a first in the world of AR, and replaces more complex hardware usually associated with gesture based interfaces.
Jisc will also be showcasing how colleges can bring learning to life through their own AR apps. A number of FE institutions are already using AR successfully, including Kendal College, who have implemented Living LeARning to reinforce teaching and learning in areas not normally heavily supported by IT, such as plumbing. This includes the creation of a new set of posters covering common topics in plumbing where learners can access additional content via tablets and smartphones.
Dicky Maidment-Otlet, director, Jisc group marketing, said:
“Jisc is all about connecting UK education with technology that delivers better outcomes for learners and teachers. In the post-FELTAG environment it’s vital that all colleges are able to access digital solutions that can support innovation for learning. This pressure is further felt with the rise in bring your own device (BYOD) and new ways of learning, such as blended and flipped.
AR technology means that digital content made available on websites, social media channels and multimedia platforms can be accessed by simply holding a mobile device over compatible printed materials, objects and environments.
We know that AR can be an effective way of engaging with students and delivering content. We want to highlight some of these learnings at AoC and show colleges how they can implement AR into their own teachings.”
Rupert Forsythe, co-founder of Campus Interactive, said:
“I’m delighted that Campus Interactive is working with Jisc to showcase the power that augmented reality has to enhance the educational experience of today’s students. From architecture to engineering to nursing, augmented reality creates a more attractive learning environment across disciplines, and provides a greater depth of learning.”
Teams across universities and others that support research in the UK are being offered the opportunity to submit their ideas to a collaborative funding initiative being launched today by Jisc.
Called research data spring, the project aims to engage all individuals and groups with an interest in research data and get them to work together to create new solutions to common research problems. This includes finding and developing new technical tools, software or services to streamline researchers’ workflows, and to improve the use and management of data.
The initiative is being run via Ideascale, an online platform that allows people to submit their ideas, vote and comment on others, and join up with teams on a shared idea.
Rachel Bruce, deputy chief innovation officer, Jisc, said:
“While the new Research Councils UK policies and the Horizon 2020 data pilot are laying the foundations for research data management to be part and parcel of what researchers do, there is still a need to make access and re-use of data as painless and as rewarding as possible. By inviting those working in the sector to contribute their ideas we hope to foster innovative partnerships.
Our aim is that these will lead to the development of new solutions and protocols that will make it much easier for everyone to find, share and retrieve research data across different subject areas and disciplines.”
To have your idea considered, the solutions need to fit into one of five priority areas:
- Research data deposit and sharing tools; including the development of protocols that help support the streamlining of access, use and re-use of research data
- Data creation and re-use by discipline; including ideas for experiments and proto-types that address the researchers experience and the research data workflow to improve the creation, management, curation and re-use of data. This should support open research practice and methods where appropriate and be transferrable across disciplines
- Research data systems integration and interoperability; including developing solutions to improve interfaces and ease connections, and create seamless working between and across systems
- Research data analytics; including the development and testing of ways to use big data analytical methods for the benefits of research, or to better analyse research data activity and test associated metrics
- Shared services for research; this aspect should be considered in all of the priority areas, and includes international, national and local shared services, that could be delivered by Jisc or other partners.
The deadline is 12 January 2015. Jisc will then invite up to 30 project ideas to a two day sandpit workshop in February, where they will develop a plan and pitch to a panel of experts. The judges will award the best teams between £5,000 and £20,000 to develop their ideas. There will be two further rounds of funding, with individual projects able to receive up to £120,000 through the lifecycle of the initiative.
Research data spring is part of research at risk, a project that is designed to address research data management for UK universities. It follows a similar successful approach for crowdsourced solutions first developed for the Summer of Student Innovation, a co-design competition that invited students to submit their ideas for how novel uses of technology could improve their experiences, and gave them a prime role in its development.
Education and Training Foundation and Jisc announce collaborative working agreement to deliver FELTAG recommendations
Today the Education and Training Foundation, the sector-owned body charged with professional development of the education and training workforce, and Jisc are joining together to respond to the recommendations of the further education learning and technology advisory group (FELTAG) report and the Government's response in June 2014.
The joint approach seeks to best serve the interests of the education and training sector by combining and sharing expertise and effort, avoiding duplication, and ensuring the effective use of digital technologies in teaching, learning, assessment and business support.
The Foundation and Jisc will together focus on:
- developing the technology capabilities of leaders, managers and governors
- helping providers and practitioners to create better digital content
- engaging employers so as to improve access to cutting edge industry-standard technologies
- providing support and combining the networks and contacts of both organisations to ensure maximum audience reach.
Jenny Williams, director of vocational education and training at the Foundation comments:
“Collaboration will ensure that duplication of effort is avoided, that our individual steams of work are set within the context of the wider recommendations, that our ideas and thoughts are shared outside our direct organisational remits and that our support is joined up and cohesive.”
Nigel Ecclesfield, head of change implementation support programmes in further education and skills, Jisc, says:
“Working with the Foundation will enable us to contribute to the important work being commissioned under their Learning Futures and other Foundation programmes, and bring their perspective into play in supporting the work of the substantive Jisc programmes running alongside those they have commissioned themselves.
We are pleased that the Foundation will be supporting our co-design work with the sector. Through this collaboration we hope to ensure that we make best use of our resources and provide access to the materials and services that will support the sector in its use of digital technologies.”
The first collaborative activities will include sharing the results of both organisations’ sector-based action research projects, ensuring funding is directed to respond to different FELTAG recommendations without duplicating effort and, where appropriate, providing professional support to each other’s programmes of work.
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eduroam – the worldwide single sign-on secure network which provides Wi-Fi connectivity access for education and research – reached more than 600,000 internet-enabled devices in the UK last month.
During October a total of 608,131 devices were successfully authenticated using the eduroam national infrastructure, which is managed through the Janet network provided by Jisc. This is in comparison to 487,437 devices in the previous month, and is almost double the amount year-on-year (337,109 in October 2013).
Over the last three years an exponential increase in the number of devices counted roaming between member organisations has resulted in this milestone being reached. It is a measure of just how many students, teachers and researchers are benefitting by being able to connect to eduroam networks away from their home organisations when travelling.
There are over 220 member organisations now providing eduroam in the UK. Membership includes 95% of higher education (HE) and 20% of further education (FE) institutions. Other public sector bodies that support education and research and local authorities, including almost 100 hospitals, participate in eduroam across the UK, and in addition there are thousands participating organisations overseas.
eduroam is widely available throughout the rest of Europe and in over 50 countries globally, including Australia, Canada, Japan and the USA, making learning and research on the go seamless.
Users are able to gain authenticated logon and internet access using a single Wi-Fi profile, wherever the service has been made available by participating organisations. The result is a combined saving in time for the individual and expense for organisations, as users simply connect to Wi-Fi services without needing to sort out guest credentials or change device settings.
The service is also designed to provide maximum security confidence. Users are never prompted to enter their credentials onto a web page, which is vulnerable to being hijacked. Instead the infrastructure is based on 802.1X standard technology, a best practice authentication solution that provides end-to-end encryption and protects against ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks.
Ed Wincott, who manages the eduroam service at Jisc, said:
“The proliferation of mobile devices and growing trend for bring your own device (BYOD), coupled with increasing fears around managing cyber security, are creating a demand for easy, ubiquitous and safe access online.
Reaching more than 600,000 devices in October demonstrates just how valuable eduroam is in helping registered users get high quality and secure internet connections as they move between locations and across various devices.”