Our R&D effort is currently focused on three major projects: learning analytics, digital capability and the research data shared service. However, it’s important for us to keep an eye on what comes next after these endeavours, so that we’re able to move quickly to develop new projects as soon as effort is released from our current ones.
For the past couple of months we’ve been working with our members and other experts to identify potential new ideas for the sector, using our collaborative innovation model known as co-design. We’ve had input from around 600 people from nearly 300 organisations and we have learned a lot!
We started off by suggesting six challenges that emerged from our R&D visions (these came as a result of working with a selection of core stakeholders). There was a rich discussion around each challenge and from this we identified ideas for how we could help with five of the six challenges.
Once we’d finalised all the ideas we made them public and asked for our members and other experts to let us know which ideas they supported, and whether they would be interested in working with us on them. The votes were not thin on the ground to say the least!
165 people from 89 different organisations expressed their support for one of the ideas. There was one clear winner from the voting but it has still left us with some difficult decisions to make. Fortunately, we convened a group of experts to help us analyse these votes and decide what to do next, and we decided to explore an idea under each of the five challenges in more depth.
The challenges we’re going to explore
Next-generation learning environments
We will be focusing on exploring the idea of connecting the virtual learning environment with some of the tools used for learning outside of the institution. We think that the idea of a pop-up VLE will be enabled by this approach but we will not be focusing on that for now.
The intelligent campus
We decided that the three ideas were use-cases which would be enabled if we could develop the basic data infrastructure for the intelligent campus. However that is a big, long-term development so we decided that our immediate goal should be to analyse in more depth the potential use-cases as well as the technical, ethical and business implications of this approach. Doing this will give us a better idea of where best to get started on developing the data infrastructure for the intelligent campus.
For this challenge we decided the most important area to focus on was the area of delivery of apprenticeships so we plan to explore whether Jisc can build a tracking, monitoring and reporting system for apprenticeships that provides a provider dashboard, an employer dashboard and an app for apprentices. This will help with the employability idea too. Whilst the assessment idea will not be explored further at the moment, we will be producing and disseminating online guidance later this year.
Next-generation research environments
There is obviously 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 will take some time to explore these questions in more depth with experts to develop an understanding of an outline for a research environment that Jisc can help develop.
There is demand for sharing good practice around research skills so Jisc will work with other organisations active in this area to identify researcher requirements, collate what is already available and identify where there are gaps in current provision. As part of this we will try and develop a proof-of-concept hub that meets researcher requirements using material already available.
What happens next?
It has been an interesting few months. We've learned a lot and are very excited about the new ideas we are about to explore. Don’t expect these ideas to be delivered soon, these are ideas for the future and we are getting started on them now in preparation for when we have delivered our current projects. But do expect to hear more about our exploration.
We plan to consult with those who have expressed an interest in working with us to explore the idea in more detail and find out what users want, who we should work with and what is technically feasible. We will report back in three months with news of that exploration.
Thank you to all involved
Thank you very much to everyone who took the time to contribute to our co-design consultation. Your contributions were so interesting that we think it is worth sharing a report on the major themes that emerged from the discussion around each challenge.
We are working on that now and expect to release a version for comment soon, so keep an eye on our co-design page.