Wednesday, 26 July 2017

PEST analysis of Learning in HE #4 Technological

Digital disruption is the latest phase in the technological revolution.  It will be as far reaching as the Industrial Revolution was in the 18th Century.

As with the Industrial Revolution, it will have implications for jobs, economies, welfare, wealth, politics and even education.

Not only do Universities have to prepare students for working lives that will be disrupted, for jobs that do not even exist today but they also have to do so by harnessing technology (in the current guise of BigData) to provide hard pressed tutors with up to date analytics on student performance in order that interventions can be initiated.
Many institutions will embrace this trend by using mobile apps to collect analytics data to feed into BigData systems. Data collected will be things like: attendance; VLE hits; assessed marks; library searches; library books withdrawn; number of comfort breaks per lecture session; size of Twitter following etc...

As I learned in my first computing class in the mid 1970's


Thursday, 20 July 2017

What are the odds?

I'm publishing this on my birthday - 20th  July.

But as we look back through history some momentous things have happened on 20th July:


1969 - Man's first landing on the moon - Apollo 11

1944 - an attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler

1712 - The Riot Act takes effect in Great Britain

OK, so I looked the last one up.

But what are the odds?

365:1 actually.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

After the GOLD Rush

Maintaining the lustre, value and beauty of GOLD is now a priority for those prestigious Universities that have secured GOLD in the recent TEF ratings - and so I am indebted to WIKIHOW for the Do's and Dont's of caring for your GOLD:

  1. Do not bathe or go swimming in your GOLD.
    I'd go further and echo Adolf Hitler's advice: “No politician (VC?) should ever let himself be photographed in a bathing suit.”
    So, do not expose your GOLD to moisture, dampness or water (possibly through the cold shower of a poor NSS, PTES, League Table...)

  2. Store your GOLD separately.
    ...and securely, as there are folks out there who are jealous of your GOLD and want it for themselves.  Who knows, they might even value it enough to tempt "TEF Tarts" away from GOLD institutions.
  3. Clean and Buff your GOLD regularly.
    Environmental damage, exposure to the sun and to everyday life can make GOLD lose its lustre.  In some cases it may be GOLD on the inside but it looks like "unidentified yellow metal" to anyone viewing it.  So, regular care of your GOLD by a crack team of Buffers is essential.
  4. Check the value of your GOLD regularly.
    I add this financial measure as ONE reason for holding GOLD must be its ability to grow in value over time.  Whilst GOLD does not pay dividends it can, in the longer term, increase in value, allowing holders of GOLD to become wealthier.  Do not panic, however, when short-term issues reduce the perceived value of GOLD temporarily.
If you keep your GOLD clean, safe and shiny all you have to fear is someone discovering an alternative source of GOLD and flooding the market with it.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

PEST analysis of Learning in HE #3 Social

A degree in Nursing does not make you care more.
A degree in Media studies does not make you more creative.
A degree in Business does not make you more entrepreneurial.
Picture from stockimages
Some of society's needs are met by the excellent training and qualification of professionals - lawyers, vets, doctors, accountants, scientists and engineers...but some are not.

Society seems to want Higher Education to deliver things it was never created to do. Is this simply society looking for a "one size fits all" solution or a complete misunderstanding of Higher Education?

I'm glad that I don't have to worry about that.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Taking the pee in lectures?

The typical University student is:
  • Expected to sit for a WHOLE HOUR (50 mins) and pay attention to a lecture;
  • Not only to pay attention but to engage too! At the very least this means taking notes, even answering questions and, where a braver than normal lecturer is at the front, to discuss stuff in an interested way.
  • Hold their water and their hunger pangs until lunchtime or the end of the day, espacially if their timetable is crowded.
So, I issue my advice to lecturers:
  • Allow frequent breaks to account for varying degrees of bladder control (including your own);
  • Offer opportunities to get up, walk around, stretch legs etc., perhaps as part of an innovative post-lunch / post breakfast / post Brexit energising exercise;
  • Show leadership by eating a Cornish Pasty* (* amend for regional variations, Haggis, Leek Soup, Chip Butty, W├╝rstburger etc.) during the lecture;
  • Play podcasts and videos in addition to your own brief lectures to vary the delivery;
  • Do absolutely nothing to humiliate or highlight any individual or group that does not engage in discussion, fails to answer simple questions (the answers to which are on the slide displayed!) or arrives late / leaves early.
So, 5 WHOLE minutes in each hour is enough for a lecturer of your calibre isn't it?

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

PEST analysis of Learning in HE #2 Economic

The 2017 General Election campaign has brought Higher Education in the UK into stark focus, especially regarding the economic influences on the sector.

for the many, paid for by the few?

Now that the unpleasantness is over Vice Chancellors can get back to the daily grind of real economics.  Vastly underrated and, some say, under-rewarded for their sterling efforts, VCs juggle a huge array of complex and often cyclical Economic issues:
  • Just how far will the £ fall through Brexit uncertainty, making UK University fees relatively cheaper to International students?
  • Just how many of those international bargain hunters be allowed a visa to study?
  • Just how long will it take for Labour's wish to abolish student loans to become Tory policy?
...sorry, this is supposed to be about economics...

  • Just how high will staff wages rise?  That's an easy one - somewhere south of inflation, as they have for the past 5 years, at least.
  • Just how competitive will the market get? Another easy one - Universities aren't in the business of competition but collaboration, similar in many ways to the Premier League and F.A. - we'll compete "on the field" but our business model relies on apparently collusive behaviour.
So, that's alright then.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

PEST analysis of Learning in HE #1 Political

First in a short series of posts that look at the environment within which Seats of Learning operate. This post focuses on, possibly, the most contentious factor - Political.
I really cannot believe that our political leaders think that they have all the answers - to believe so borders on meglomania!

Political guidance is sensible.  Political meddling is potentially very harmful.

Just what do the politicians want Universities to do?
  1. Keep half of the 18-21 year olds out of the unemployment register?
  2. Create wealth through both research and production of graduates?
  3. Earn foreign exchange through successful exporting?
  4. Develop the nation's intellectual capital?
Well then, let us get on with it - rather than trying to make us into a branch of Tesco, peddling vanilla degrees to student "consumers".