Day 3 Reflections

Day 3 was a shorter day at EUNIS17 with an early afternoon closing to allow for everyone to travel home.  In contrast to the previous two days it started with a number of optional parallel sessions to choose from in place of early morning keynotes. This morning I chose to mix-and-match with parallel sessions starting off in a session on the “New Ideas & Innovative Concepts” track and following on to 2 sessions on “Learning, Teaching & Student Experience”.

Parallel Session 6: New Ideas & Innovative Concepts – Laptop Lending, with Zero-Effort?

Mikko Mäkelä, Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Mikko and his colleagues at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences are required like many of us to have to optimise their estate and within that their technology offerings. Additionally, the BYOD world in which we are now living is having an effect on our students expectations and the way in which they learn both on and off campus. Mikko identified that this change in technology provision should not simply be driven by the IT department but also by the changes in teaching styles within the business. It was highlighted that a key factor in deciding what we need to provide is to better understand how our students are currently working and indeed how they would like to learn and work in the future.

By comparison to some other universities having presented at EUNIS17, Metropolia University is a relatively modestly sized university with just over 16,000 students and around 1,000 staff.  They identified that the classroom PCs were not utilised enough and that they may be in the wrong locations. Additionally, they were commonly not available at peak times between 10:00 and 14:00. It was therefore decided that a new approach had to be adopted to enable increased flexibility whilst offering a service that was of high-quality, available where and when required and inclusive of all appropriate software. Metropolia investigated a variety of the lending options that were on the market including those from Posti, Redbox, D-Tech International and Ergotron. Following this, a number of their students undertook projects to design and develop a suitable laptop loans offering and created a new solution they named “LaptopLender”. There resultant theses can be found link below: (please note they are in Finnish)

Theses 1

Theses 2

A link to Mikko’s presentation slides can be found: Eunis2017: Laptop lending, with zero-effort?

A link to Mikko’s “Laptop lending, with zero-effort?” paper can be found here

Parallel Session 6: Learning, Teaching & Student Experience – thermoEint: Building E-Assessment Content for the Integration and Success of International Students in STEM Fields

Constantino Grau Turuelo, Technical University Dresden, Germany

First of all, I can state that it was a privilege to get to know Constantino a little over the during of the conference. We met and befriended each other on the first morning of the conference and crossed paths a number of times during the 3 days. He is a very warm and welcoming Spanish gent working in Germany with clearly an intellect above mine 🙂 I can therefore go on to note that his presentation on the assessments within the field of thermodynamic was comfortably outside of my comfort zone. I believe the only way that I can possibly do it anywhere near justice is to simply offer a link and allow you to make sense of it yourself. This is in no way a reflection on his presentation but more so my abilities to take onboard his specialist knowledge.

A link to Constantino “thermoEint: building e-assessment content for the integration and success of international students in STEM fields” paper can be found here

Keynote 8: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – Consequences for an IT-Department

Rainer W. Gerling, CISO of the Max Planck Society & Honorary professor for IT Security in the department of Computer Science and Mathematics at the Munich University of Applied Sciences.

During this keynote, Rainer took us on a journey to better understand the soon to be fully in force General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) within the European Union. In 2012, the European Commission tabled an initial proposal to regulate data protection within the EU and by the end of 2015, the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament had come to an agreement to take it forward. At this point in 2017 we are currently residing within the grace period before it formally comes into full force on 25th May 2018… this leaves all of us with not a lot of time to get our houses in order!

Microsoft within the development of their Windows 10 operating system now offer more than 50 native data protection settings within the ‘Privacy Settings’ however, Rainer stressed that it is highly important that we in HE review these settings to adjust from defaults.

Given the serious nature of the proposed fines which can be as much as €20 million if found in breach of the regulations, it is certainly worth taking the new legislation very very seriously. Encryption is paramount in accordance with GDPR Article 32 and what needs to be encrypted? Well, pretty much everything!!

Technically, standards which are considered ‘state of the art’ only remain so for a limited lifespan as new and improved solutions are developed as is demonstrated in the below in relation to cryptographic protocols. It is therefore important that we continually review to ensure that we are meeting legislative requirements.

So what should we be doing now? We should be:

  • Contacting our relevant data protection officers to discuss the implications of the legislation in line with our own institutions technical configuration.
  • Acknowledging that it is not simply the IT departments responsibility to ensure that we meet the relevant legislative needs but that the University as a whole is responsible.
  • Documenting our technical measures in line with ISO27000.
  • Collaborating with other HE institutions.

And we should be…

  • Improving our technical measures and accepting that state of the art is a moving target.

Rainer suggests that the current technical recommendations are:

Keynote 8: Trust by Technology – A Legal Perspective

Nikolas Guggenberger, RWTÜV Foundation Assistant Professor of IT Law at University of Münster School of Law

The final keynote session of the conference took on an interesting look at “Trust by technology from a legal perspective” in the form of a deeper investigation into public Blockchain, the technology behind crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin. Very early in the presentation, Nikolas had us asking ourselves “what causes us to trust something or someone?” which seemed quite an intriguing question as it isn’t one that I had particularly spent time thinking about before. My initial thought was simply that it is something I personally build through experience but is that really an option in the anonymous world of virtual currencies?

Nikolas gave a number of us less educated on the workings of public Blockchain an insight into what it is and how it functions. Blockchain is a distributed decentralised database which particularly came into the public domain since the origin of the most successful crypto-currency, Bitcoin. It uses maths, cryptography and a network of distributed users (PCs) to ensure the authenticity of a transaction that can be verified by the whole community. The members of the community that verify this authenticity can take a small transaction fee for playing their part in the process (this is known as mining).

The huge potential of a public Blockchain is yet to be fully unlocked but the principle in use removes the need to trust third parties such as banks during transactions and instead relies on the trust of the Blockchain itself. The scope of trust by Blockchain was illustrated by Nikolas in the diagram below:

Nikolas offered us a very interesting insight into the potential of Blockchain and some of the legal considerations from his professional view point. It became evidently clear that there is a huge scope for benefits to be realised beyond that currently using Blockchain and that these could become a standard in our future. I found it a highly interesting keynote and one to investigate further in the coming weeks and months.


The EUNIS17 conferenced came to a close with an awards presentation for the best paper which was won by:

Sarah Grzemski and Ingo Hengstebeck, IT Center RWTH Aachen University, Germany for their paper “Future challenges for quality-assured IT support through cooperative structure

Then followed a presentation by the team for EUNIS 18 (Paris, France) which invited delegates to sample all that Paris has to offer during the Congress between 6th-8th June next year. Their presentation really demonstrated the flavours and attractions of Paris (which possibly doesn’t need too much of a sales pitch with most) but was a lovely look at what next years delegates can enjoy. Even President Macron got around to inviting us…

Credit: @tkoscielniak

With the conference officially over, it was then time to head back to Blighty and to take stock of all the interesting and indeed useful discussions and see how and where appropriately it can be used to our future benefit back at Leeds Beckett University.

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