The Scottish sunshine welcomed members of UCISA (Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association) to Edinburgh last week; I visited on Thursday and listened to some of the interesting presentations. I arrived in time to hear Aline Hayes, who is currently the Director of IT at Sheffield City Council. She shared with conference a humorous experience on her recent transition from her position as Head of IT at Sheffield Hallam University to her current position at the council.
Aline spoke of the expectations she had of her new role and how it may have differed from the higher education sector. Explaining that within HE there is a really strong culture of sharing information, especially amongst the members of UCISA. This allows many universities to share their own experience with new ideas and technology; Aline wondered if that would be the same within the public sector and particularly within the city council. What she found surprised her, many of sectors within the council departments were collaborating and sharing information although she found there are many more ‘unhelpful ’ rules that are suggested to be ‘guidance’ but are actually rules that are out of date! These rules hinder certain decisions that need to be made.
The biggest difference that she found was the technology available. Where as HE has WIFI that can be used by staff and students for their own devices for BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) and connectivity, the council only has the WIFI use for work devices only. Thus meaning that personal devices cannot be allowed to connect to their WIFI, although visitors to the city council can! The usage of BYOD or BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) that many HE establishments are increasingly embracing is also not an area that the city councils will be following. Aline shared a story about a big UK council deciding to independently roll out a BYOD scheme, but were told within a couple of months in no uncertain terms to roll back the scheme or they could be cast aside and cut of from support from other councils and government. So the scheme was stopped! Aline firmly believes that city councils are in no way going to be embracing the BYOD any time soon.
BYOT was also an area that the fourth speaker of the day included in his presentation. Professor Jeff Haywood, Vice Principal for Digital Education at Edinburgh University looked ahead to what we could be expecting within the education sector in an even more technology rich world in 2025.
He explained that to look ahead we must first look back to 2005 to see the differences between then and now. Mobile technology was around and was getting interesting but now it is everywhere. The storage of data the same, the cloud was something people were starting to learn about, but now the cloud has become a default for most people in HE.
So what did Jeff have to say about what he could see coming through and what we are all going to have to embrace? Here are just a few of his ideas:
Mobility – the movement of staff and students physically and virtually will increase with the use of videos etc.
Industry engagement – will rise and the link between the work place, HE and FE will reduce as more and more businesses run educational workshops and support tech start-ups.
BYOT - should increase. He asked how do we capitalise on the 90% who bring their own technology? As so many staff and students are now bringing there own technology, this means that HE and FE would need to purchase less equipment if this happened and this is something that MUST be embraced.
Jeff also mentioned the increase in these technology fields that we would need to look out for.
Security – identity, surveillance and malevolence
Ubiquity – of fast internet
Mobile – everything mobile and wearable devices
Internet of Things (IoT)– the IoT includes everything from smart homes and mobile fitness devices, to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) with smart cities, smart factories and the smart grid.
During the conference breaks members enjoyed refreshments in the exhibition area which had over 60 exhibitors, of which LapSafe® Products were one. LapSafe® showcased their Diplomat™ LMS and Diplomat ™ PIN lockers which support BYOD and BYOT. Many members took the chance to chat to other users and to see how simple and easy it was to use the self-service and BYOD multi-bay locker systems for themselves.
Do you have any experience with BYOD or BYOT? Please comment below; it would be interesting to hear your own thoughts.
For more information on the Diplomat™ LMS, Diplomat™ PIN and other LapSafe® products please visit www.lapsafe.com