Today started with a presentation about mobile learning in the classroom and student wireless expectations. Hardly any surprises! I thought I’d share here also a caricature of me that was done by one of the exhibitors (Salford Software).
Next were two presentations by people from the Department for Work and Pensions, one about Idea Street – encouraging a culture of change, and the other about “digital by default” transformation of public sector services of UK government.
After coffee a presentation from BBC research about what technology should be looking HE’s IT professionals should be looking out for was very informative.
The final presentation was a really inspiring round-off to the conference by Mark Ormrod, an ex-Royal Marine who has the dubious honour of being the first triple amputee from the Afghanistan conflict. He told a moving story of recovery from the most incredible knock backs in like and of sheer determination to prove the surgeons wrong and walk again after losing both legs and an arm. It was great to hear such honest talk about how achievements that seem really massive can be made if they are tackled as more approachable sets of goals. I think the audience was genuinely moved.
The UCISA 2013 conference was again a good event with lots of things to learn, experiences to share and suppliers to catch up with in the exhibition. For me it was a little marred by very poor WiFi both in the conference venue (the BT Convention Centre) and in the Hotel (poor in the sense that it was not free and very expensive). A few people said to me they wished UCISA spent less on expensive hotels, expensive food and expensive wine and rather more on basic facilities for IT professionals of which decent WiF must be one! In these days of financial cuts and redundancies as well as very high tuition fees I think the time has come to question whether this conference really does need to use a four start hotel. Many other academic sector conferences manage perfectly well using student accommodation.
All that said though, I want to thank the UCISA team and the Conference Committee for all their hard work in making the event happen. As an organiser of a slightly larger, if shorter, conference in Oxford I know how much work it entails even just for one day!
You can read lots more from UCISA about the conference at http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/groups/acog/Events/2013/ucisa2013.aspx and there are links to videos of the plenary presentations.