Today started with an excellent presentation about students as producers and partners as well as customers. It was given by the student engagement officer in the University of Lincoln and I was interested to hear that the student engagement function is part of the Vice Chancellor’s office there rather than being in student admissions or anywhere else. I think the engagement work really enables students to realise maximum value out of their time at University and also enables a much richer and beneficial experience for the University with the students.
We moved on then to another offering from Sheffield with an on stage discussion between the Chief Financial Officer and the IT Director. It was interesting to hear a plain-speaking CFO make so much sense about how money works in our sector and how it enables IT.
After coffee we had a talk from the British Computer Society which was frankly little more than a sales pitch although it did give a useful reminder of the SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) materials that are available for use through the BCS.
The last talk before lunch was a fascinating insight from the CEO of Harvey Nash management consultants about how to transfer from being an IT Director to a CFO. Comments about how skills of articulation and anticipation are more important than ever were useful.
After lunch in the exhibition we moved onto a good presentation from the University of Birmingham about redesigning learning spaces. There were some amusing picture of the old spaces (which I have to say look like today’s secondary schools!) and some innovative ideas in the new ones. It was interesting to hear how sizes and hence capacities of the distinct spaces were different but that they all had the same IT and AV facilities so lecturers didn’t have to think about which room they were going to be teaching in.
We moved on then to the supplier showcases which I think were a little dry. I heard from Meru networks about high density wireless and the emerging 802.1ac protocol as well as hearing IBM talking about optimising the student experience by personalising it using harvested social media information. There was some debate about whether this was cutting edge innovation or just creepy. The speaker was excellent and full of passion, however.
Next was the UCISA AGM which I didn’t bother to attend as I am not an institutional rep so wouldn’t have a vote anyway. In fact I learned later in the evening that institutions only get two votes each in any case, even if they have the maximum of five reps.
We were picked up from the hotel by buses to take us to the Lutyens Crypt below the Catholic Cathedral “Paddy’s Wigwam” for the conference dinner. After rather a lot of champagne we were treated to a really lovely meal and I had a fascinating conversation with an old friend about Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the development called MBTI 2 that digs further into temperament and preference. It was a shame the evening was rather marred by an after dinner speech that some enjoyed but others, including me, found rather inappropriate. You win some you lose some, I guess.