Time for an update. The last time I wrote about our co-design project, I let you know that we’re pursuing five exciting ideas, as chosen by you. Since then, we’ve been working with experts and those on the ground to gather research and draw conclusions, and generally work out where to take the projects from here.
As the majority of our effort in R&D is currently focused on three major projects: learning analytics, digital capability and the research data shared service, we’re preparing the ground and gathering the right information so that when there’s capacity, we can move onto any of the five new projects and be raring to go. Here's an update:
The intelligent campus
It’s now possible to gather data from nearly every aspect of our buildings and our environments – and to use that data to find improvements for the user experience and to manage our campuses more efficiently. For the intelligent campus project we are currently trying to work out what we can do, and where our efforts would be best focused.
There are a wealth of opportunities that could emerge from the intelligent campus, from controlling building temperature and lighting to make them more efficient, to providing students with location-based recommendations of things they should be doing. There could even be artificial intelligence control of room allocations.
We have started to publish some of the information which will be used to create our guide to the intelligent campus. You can see examples of the ways that intelligent campus technology can be used, and can see interesting examples from outside the education sector. We are compiling our guide at the moment and will be publishing drafts on the intelligent campus blog.
Once all the content has been collected we will publish the final guide in an easy to read format on the Jisc website, so stay tuned!
For this challenge we decided to focus on helping to manage the new influx of apprentices due to the government’s new initiative. A lot of apprenticeships are managed using paper instead of digital. We plan to explore whether Jisc can build a tracking, monitoring and reporting system for apprenticeships that provides institutions with a dashboard, an employer dashboard and an app for apprentices.
We aim to release an outline of the dashboards towards the end of May, and we’ll be asking for feedback to see if our plan would be helpful to the apprenticeships landscape. See the sketches of the dashboards that we have so far.
Next-generation learning environments
For this idea, we’ve been busy exploring the idea of connecting the digital learning environment with some of the tools used for learning outside of the institution.
The next generation digital learning environment is a huge area, so we’re looking into institutions who are already trialling innovative activities outside of standard virtual learning environment (VLE) implementations with the idea of promoting these more widely.
We’re also working with institutions to see how we can enhance student engagement by linking existing learning environments with other tools. Further ahead, we’re starting a detailed inquiry into online learning and teaching practices. The purpose of the inquiry will be to gather information around existing practice and document the sector needs and wants from digital learning environments that will feed future and ongoing development work.
There is a clear demand for sharing good practice around research skills, so for this co-design area, we recently ran a workshop with 21 sector experts to identify what needs to be done and what Jisc could do. The results from this workshop are described in this blog post.
The outcome from this workshop was that there are clear opportunities for Jisc and strong support for us to pursue those opportunities as long as we do so in partnership with other key organisations in this area.
Next-generation research environments
There is evidently a strong demand for a research environment from researchers and research managers, but still a huge amount of questions over exactly what shape this should take. We are on the cusp of releasing a report on our initial investigations in this area.
This report has a number of clear recommendations. Perhaps the most important is that there is no demand for Jisc to develop a research environment as a service. It is clear that any research environment will be made up of diverse components from a wide range of providers.
It also recommends that Jisc should focus on the standards and identifiers necessary for these components to work together. Additionally this should be considered in a global context rather than a UK one.
Building on learning analytics
One interesting overall trend that is emerging from exploring these ideas is how the learning analytics service we are developing could be expanded to address some of the issues we are encountering.
For the next generation learning, intelligent campus and digital apprentice, we are starting to see how the infrastructure we are developing for learning analytics could be expanded to include new types of data that will allow us to deliver new services that meet the use cases that are emerging.
We will continue to explore each of these areas and will provide an update in another three months on how that exploration is proceeding.