Our members tell their stories of how we are helping them to transform their worlds through digital, whether by opening up resources, sharing data or enabling collaboration.
Tim Blake, head of IT, Strode College.
As part of a conversation we're having with the FE sector to help us gauge colleges’ attitudes toward our services, we spoke to staff and students at Strode College about the Janet Network, its in-built cyber security protection and the digital resources we provide, such as free e-books.
Read more of Tim's story (pdf)
“The idea that a lecturer could come in and run a class without using technology, without accessing resources from the web, whether it’s video or research material – it’s unthinkable. It would cause chaos very quickly. The connectivity can’t fail. If it fails, we fail.
“Community is so important. Because in FE we’re not competitors. We’re all out there trying to do the same type of work with different customers because we’re in different regions. We need to share our knowledge and experiences. Why reinvent the wheel?”
Read more from his colleagues, and from learners:
- Angela Leavens, head of learning resources and e-learning – levelling the playing field and saving money with e-books (pdf)
- Gary Smith, e-learning and resources information coordinator – saving time with trusted digital resources (pdf)
- Richard Hood, curriculum manager for A-levels – how learners benefit from getting straight to curriculum relevant resources (pdf)
- Dominic Cumberland, student – learning my way, wherever and whenever (pdf)
Khalid Al-anker, learning technologist and practitioner, Grimsby Institute
We worked with Grimsby Institute Group on its programme to give learning technologies a pivotal role in improving learner engagement and boosting attainment.
“When our college launched its new strategy a few years ago, senior managers asked the department of innovation to put technology-enhanced learning centre stage across all curriculums.
One of the most important things we must do is prepare learners for the workplace. And through gamification that is what’s happening. We’ve caught our learners with technology.
In some ways the technology is the easy bit. We needed to make sure that everyone at the institute has support to get the best out of our investment in technology and we’ve been working with Jisc on our programme to give students and staff confidence and appropriate digital skills. We’ve identified the needs of individual groups and we’re addressing them with targeted sessions for learners and a staff development programme that’s enabling staff to make big strides fast.
Our latest Ofsted report highlighted the positive impact that our CPD is having.”
Marta Stelmaszak, Jisc Summer of Student Innovation winner.
“Imagine if a visitor at a university campus with an AR app could see multilingual content, photos or footage of events, or interviews with university employees.
A prospective student could listen to alumni talking about their experience in a particular department. Current students could access information and the community. All available through devices such as smartphones or tablets without the need to purchase any additional technology.
That’s what our augmented reality app is going to provide.”
Raphael Hallett, director, Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence, and associate professor in early modern history, University of Leeds.
We worked with the Wellcome Library to make 68,000 19th-century texts relating to the history of medicine freely available to all.
"Jisc's partnership with the Medical Heritage Library showcases a true 'meeting of minds' between archival ambition and digital expertise. The project's digitisation of 19th-century medical collections reveals not only the intrinsic value of opening access to tremendously rich historical sources, but responds adroitly to modern practices of online research and reading.
"The visualisation of these resources through beautifully designed infographics and online taxonomies will ensure that the researcher and student are invited into the collection in multiple ways, while being trained in Jisc-informed digital literacies along the way."
Deborah Millar, director of IT, Salford City College.
Deborah took part in our 2016 digital leaders programme, which equips participants with the tools, knowledge and skills to become digitally informed and empowered leaders. It is part of our wider approach to building digital capability in the sectors we support.
“The digital leaders programme was immensely valuable. It was a hands-on experience in a safe environment with like-minded people and, as it was specifically for people who want to be a digital leader, we were sharing common issues. It was really reassuring to know that we were all encountering the same sort of things, whether we were from FE or HE, and to see how the work we shared on the programme could be embedded in my own college.
"What has really stayed with me are the bonds that were formed in the four days we were together. After the programme finished we set up a WhatsApp group and we stay in touch, chatting and helping each other. We're from all over the country, from diverse backgrounds and roles, and we're sharing pictures of pets (dogs and chickens!), children and grandchildren - but we're also talking about digital literacy skills. We know we're there for each other. That was forged in those four days.”
Nick Moore, director of IT services, University of Gloucestershire.
Nick and the University of Gloucestershire helped us to pilot our learning analytics student app (part of our wider learning analytics project) that puts the power in learners’ hands by tracking their learning activity and allowing them to maximise their learning potential.
"I think the great thing about working with Jisc is that, as learning analytics is not a mature subject, it's not something that everyone has an answer to and Jisc is helping the sector explore and put in place solutions that work for the sector.
So, instead of going to a commercial company and buying a solution, I'm going to experts who know about education and who are trying to develop something that is of benefit to the sector and are interested in a two-way process of learning.
The university is learning through the process, and I know that the Jisc team are interested in that and take that on board - they are working hard to make this a solution that will work for me.
As we're a relatively small IT department, there's a lot of experience at Jisc that I can tap into in terms of ways to manage the data and build the system, so it's all a very positive experience."
Jamie Smith, director of strategy and infrastructure, South Staffordshire College.
Jamie features in our report breaking through: stories of effective digital practice from UK further education (FE) and skills, published September 2018.
"I’m not a technology evangelist, I’m a people evangelist. The strategy across all our operations is 'digital by default'. We pick and choose the technologies we adopt very carefully and any technology must be simple to use and make life better. Our mission is about transforming the life chances of the communities we serve, and to support this any technology must meet those two criteria.
"Out of the thousands of apps available to all of us, most people will only have about ten on their phone or tablet that they use regularly. They’ll have chosen those because they do something really helpful and they are easy to use. That kind of technology is the only kind I’m interested in because it will have an impact.
"Before I back any new technology I have to be assured that it’s simple to use and makes life and work better for people."
Valerie McCutcheon, research information manager, University of Glasgow.
Valerie took part in our open access (OA) pathfinder programme, part of our OA good practice project, along with a community of practice of more than 200 professionals from 90 universities, sharing examples of open access good practice.
"During 2016 we completed our end-to-end open access project, supported by Jisc under its open access pathfinder programme.
While open access is a very active topic and the work we did around reducing the burden of open access implementation would have been taking place regardless, the benefit of Jisc support was that the coordinated approach acted as a catalyst.
Outputs were delivered more expediently and there was increased sharing of information and development work with other institutions at different stages in open access process and system development.
Several workshops took place in association with the programme and it was clear from feedback that the opportunity to talk about common issues was appreciated. As a result, the new open access Scotland group has been set up to provide a voice for open access in Scotland."
Daniel Norton, data quality and statutory returns officer, University of Leicester.
Daniel was involved in the first wave of Jisc Analytics Labs teams, a community-led initiative building interactive dashboards for data-derived insights. In 2016 Analytics Labs engaged 80 staff from 51 universities producing a wide range of innovative interactive dashboards.
“It’s my job as an analyst to look at data and use it to help my institution grow and strengthen. Jisc’s Labs project offered a great opportunity to work with new tools and data. I jumped at the chance.
Collaborating with people across different institutions and roles, we created dashboards to analyse data, first comparing similar institutions and then looking at research data: the volume and sources of research income and how that compared to numbers of staff undertaking research – the kind of information that would help someone managing research understand how big the pot of money for research is and where they and other institutions are getting it. The sort of tool that would be useful for institutions, regardless of their size or research area, to help them to understand how they are positioned.
It was an absolutely brilliant process to be involved in. It was exciting to be working together in an agile way to deliver a prototype in four working days. It’s incredible how fast you can do stuff in a great team, with the right mindset and methodology.”
Ross Anderson, e-learning ambassador, North Lindsey College.
Ross and North Lindsey College students used the Jisc student digital experience tracker: a tool for surveying and understanding students’ expectations and experiences of technology.
“We really value our students’ opinions and we’re constantly talking to them. We’ve had more conversations recently with the help of Jisc. Using the student digital experience tracker was a really interesting approach for us because it gave us in-depth feedback on what the students were thinking. It’s a great starting point for conversations.
We discovered that students’ access to mobile and digital devices was below the national average, so we’ve been able to provide more access to those devices at college, which has made a big difference.
The feedback I get from staff is how interested and engaged students have been while using particular pieces of technology, which gives me a great deal of satisfaction. It’s always really difficult to show directly the impact of technology on teaching and learning. However, we’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of students who are talking about technology, that are using technology, and that, ultimately, has an impact on how the students succeed.”