Weeknote 9/2015

Pic of the week

My son has been so ill recently, as have the rest of the family. It was lovely to see him back into his reading. He’s been so tired of an evening he’s just crawled into his bed. No milk, no book, nothing daddy – haha.

My son, finally back into his reading!

What have I been up to?

It’s been a strange week. It’s been hectic but not a great deal to tell that would be of interest to anyone. Lots of organising travel, arranging meetings and preparing for future meetings. Perhaps of more interest will be the links below.

Things that caught my attention

Recipe of the week

Not quite the best ever but it was a pretty good macaroni and cheese!


Weeknote 8/2015

Pic of the week

Dad and son selfie

Mammy was away this weekend so things got messy!

What have I been up to?

As you may, or may not, know — last week’s weeknote was a little on the sombre side although it was the first poem I’ve written and made public. I’ve tried to catch-up on everything I missed out on in this post.

I attended Jisc DigiFest, helping out on the Digital Dream Wall where art students from Guildford College visualised attendees’ digital challenges and aspirations. There was a fantastic buzz around the place, if you couldn’t make it you can always catch-up with the recordings.

I was interviewed about Digital Leadership which will feed into a scoping report for Jisc. The discussion I had focused on what Jisc might be able to do, and for me I think it’s a bit of a no brainer. Simon Nelson (Futurelearn), at DigiFest, mentioned that they are being asked to run a course on digital skills. Every project I’ve been involved in, staff/student skills always comes up. I don’t understand why Jisc isn’t delivering this (maybe there are some conversations ongoing that I’m unaware of) but I think we have enough experience, background research, and contacts to make this happen. Let’s see what comes out of the scoping report.

Our team, Jisc North, held a team meeting at Leeds Beckett University to reflect on the first ten weeks in operation and plan for the next ten weeks ahead. It was also a great chance to meet new team members (we’ll soon be up to full strength), and an opportunity for sub-groups to share key information. I have to say that my new boss is doing an excellent job in bringing the team together — almost family-like which makes work an absolute pleasure.

We’re currently re-procuring the Yorkshire and the Humber regional network, currently in a consultation phase and so I sent out a request to all of my accounts in that region for information regarding their future requirements. We’ve had a positive response so far which has also resulted in a number of site visits being arranged.

I also had a couple of calls with colleges last week to introduce myself. It was interesting listening to their existing challenges and what they’re focusing on. Although there was a sense of need, in terms of what Jisc can offer, they struggled to answer the question “if Jisc could do anything for you, no restraints, what would that be?” I have a feeling that the Johari window model is going to be useful for Jisc Account Managers to bear in mind.

Things that caught my attention

Recipes of the week

Two recipes for you this week:

Weeknote 7/2015

An odd Weeknote this time around. I don’t really feel like talking work or anything else for that matter. Had some awful news regarding people dear to me. Also made me think long and hard about my own loss about a year and a half a go. So of all things I wrote a poem. Maybe a first draft of something that needs expanding further…

A healer’s true form will find you in time

At times our world

can seem so unfair.

Broken hearts, a last breath —

manifests in despair.

Its grip, unyielding,

pulls you deeper below.

Keep it close to your chest,

or release and let go.

Each to their own

in both remedy and rhyme.

A healer’s true form

will find you in time.

Not always complete

but often stronger in mind.

We’re all human, remember,

don’t assume and be kind.

Weeknote 6/2015

Pic of the week

What have I been up to?

I had a meeting with an IT director this week. It was a really useful meeting and I can’t thank them enough for basically laying their cards on the table; challenging me in a constructive manner; and sparing their time to listen. I’m looking forward to working with this organisation and hope that I can help to make a real difference.

As an Account Manager it can be quite daunting going into an organisation. It feels like there is an expectation (albeit an assumption on my/our part) for us to know absolutely everything there is to know about Jisc and the technical details behind various services and solutions that we offer. On Wednesday I attended some training that helped to ease some of that pressure, helping us to think through how we might deal with different situations and reiterating the point that it’s ok if we don’t know the answer. The key is taking note, and following up.

On Thursday I was down in London for a meeting with Jisc’s Futures directorate, who are responsible for a large chunk of Jisc’s research and development. Internally, I have a responsibility to liaise with this team and share key updates with other Jisc Account Managers so that across the piece we’re all fully aware of what’s going on. It was a great meeting, lots of great individuals doing some wonderful things in various spaces: student experience; enterprise and efficiency; FE and Skills; and Research.

I spent Friday focusing on the BI project I mentioned last week. Things are progressing and plans are crystallising. Our discussion centred on how we might develop an agile approach to allow for the development of new sector-relevant data visualisations (not to be confused with infographics!). There are two options emerging, quite similar in their nature, but we’re not sure which one will be the most suitable.

  1. Participatory—we manage the production of visualisations through a series of events. Event one is focused on developing user personas/stories so that we can better understand what kinds of visualisations will be of most use to the sector. This would be followed by a number of events (maybe 6 throughout the year) focused on creating the visualisations, preferably over nighters so that people (business representatives; data gurus; data analysts) have adequate time to do the work.
  2. Agile—this approach builds on the one mentioned above. Instead we create teams that can commit to and work on visualisations in between events. Any events, post start-up, will be a chance for everyone to regroup and showcase progress.

I also spent some time with my line manager brainstorming the agenda for an upcoming face-to-face meeting. Our team is geographically dispersed and so any time together is really important. We hope we’ve created an agenda that will be useful in reflecting on our first ten weeks; providing new starters with an overview of the work we do; clarifying our goals for the next ten weeks; and understanding how best to engage key contacts.

Things that caught my attention

Sorry, lots of Jisc stuff this week but I think you’ll find it really useful.

Recipe of the week

Gah, incomplete this week. It was a chicken madras but I started it and my wife finished it off so I’m not sure on the full recipe. Sorry folks!

Weeknote 5/2015

Pic of the week

Took this a while back but I miss this place! Used Tadaa SLR (worth waiting for a deal) for the blurred effect. Not the easiest photography app to get to grips with but fantastic once you do.

Wawel Castle in Kraków, Poland

Wawel Castle in Kraków, Poland

What have I been up to?

  • I’m starting to attend a weekly Jisc Futures team call so that I can stay up-to-date with everything that’s going on in that area. I’ll be the conduit between the Futures team and Jisc North.
  • Caught up with Lisa Gray and some of the fantastic work she’s been doing in the area of Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA). Find out more via their blog: http://ema.jiscinvolve.org
  • Caught up with Myles Danson with regards to Jisc’s Business Intelligence project, working with the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to reinvigorate the Higher Education Information Database for Institutions (HEIDI). I’m very excited about this project and will be helping out with a small work package – I think it will be an amazing tool for the sector.
  • I’ve been carrying out some background research on some of my accounts. Hope to start scheduling a lot more visits towards the end of March and throughout April.

Things that caught my attention

  • My local Sunday league team were struggling and so I’ve started (trying) to play football again. These boots look outstanding. And, they’re black!! Adidas Gloro
  • I’m loving Microsoft OneNote – there I said it. In fact I’m loving Microsoft 365. It works fantastically well locally on a PC and Mac, and access through the web is top notch too.