EUNIS 2017 – Overall Reflections

I feel highly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to attend EUNIS17 through the success of my bursary application to UCISA and will be forever grateful for this opportunity. The conference has being a great place to not only learn new technologies and techniques that can be implemented to benefit our home institutions, but also a fantastic opportunity to network with a broad range of IT professionals working in higher education throughout Europe. I have personally found it very interesting to share stories of our own successes and challenges which encourage further discussion amongst peers from their own perspective. It has been comforting to see that a range of challenges are shared by many of us and also to see where we at Leeds Beckett University are working at the forefront in HE. Everyone that I met through attendance at the keynotes and parallel sessions as well as the social opportunities were fantastically welcoming and open to honest discussion around their own institution’s IT implementations. It has proven to be eye opening and given me plenty of food for thought to bring back and discuss further within my own institution.

It was my first time visiting Munster and my experience in Germany has been entirely positive. Munster is a very beautiful city with plenty of interesting historical architecture. However, my first impression which struck me on my first night of arrival was that is seem to be a bit of a ghost town. Having arrived after 10 PM and walked from the train station to my hotel there was next to nobody around which is very different in my experiences elsewhere, thankfully the next morning demonstrated the natural hustle and bustle of busy city life. The main difference I witnessed immediately from my experiences back home was simply the thousands of cyclists buzzing around the streets and some speed, it felt like being in Amsterdam or Copenhagen 🙂

The conference felt well organised and the flow from session to session worked very well. It was clear that plenty of planning had been conducted to ensure that we delegates got the best experience from the three days (four for some who attended the pre-conference sessions). Reviewing it from my professional perspective, there were no obvious technical issues experienced throughout the sessions I attended and any minor glitches were proactively picked up by the local support team which I thought was impressive. Overall it has been a very enjoyable conference experience and one that I would highly recommend to others in the future. Given that next year’s conference is due to take place in Paris I would imagine that there may be more UK representation in the delegation as I was the only one (at least that I encountered) representing a UK university. This primarily had a number of benefits however with a range of questions from European peer institutions directed towards me and equally allowed me a cross European perspective on topics of interest.

All relevant information relating to EUNIS 17 can be found on the official site here

… and a book of all EUNIS 2017 proceedings including all papers can be found here

 

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.


Closing

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.

Day 2 Reflections

Day 2 was another great day at EUNIS17. Following an early morning fear of conference burn out, having been up late writing up my notes from the Wednesday sessions, I took the option not to make the day quite as manic / tiring as my first day. Day two of the conference was opened up with three highly interesting keynotes.


Keynote 5: Life on Mars – Digital Skills for a New Generation

Martin Hamilton, Jisc 

Martin opened his keynote with a look into the future. What careers do we think are going to play a new role in the future and what should we as HE institutions be doing to ensure that we successfully leverage / support these. When we think of our current course offerings, are we considering DNA editors, drone engineers or even asteroid miners? Should we be? Well, quite possibly. We need to ensure that we are “equipping todays learners for tomorrow’s world” Martin tells us and ensuring that we support the “digitally disadvantaged to achieve their potential”. These three mentioned careers are already available in our transforming marketplace, are we helping them to achieve their career aspirations?

So, what more does our future world hold for us? Martin felt it important that we not only focus on the future as there are elements of the present which we may not be best supporting to enable our students for that future. With “every self-respecting billionaire” investing in a space programme, maybe we should take note. SpaceX have developed a rocket that would have previously been sent into space at a cost of $100M never to return. They’re now making space exploration “affordable” by the launch and safe return of rockets to earth!! Is this the development of the future that we in higher education should ensure we do not simply overlook?

SpaceX – First-stage landing from THAICOMB mission May 2016

Could robots actually play a big part in future? In Japan, SoftBank have invested in the development of a humanoid robot they call Pepper. “He” is intended to be able to interpret emotions and effectively respond to questions. As you can see in the below video, emotional robotics maybe in their infancy but they will need highly trained professionals to take them on to reach their potential. A gap in the mass HE market maybe?

Pepper the ‘emotional’ robot visits the FT | FT Life

Martin explained how the technical world is changing the everyday jobs we have been accustomed to. With over 3,000,000 truck drivers in the USA and over 300,000 taxi drivers in the UK, advancements in vehicular automation is very likely to have an impact. It isn’t just Google with their WAYMO project that are investing. Tesla car owners have already driven over 140,000,000 miles on autopilot. Self-driving cars are here! With this technology now available in the present, we in HE must be aware that the post-graduation jobs market is shifting and so with it our students needs/demands. Martin also made reference to how Amazon have realigned their warehouses and distribution centres with over 45,000 robots (BettyBots) completing orders in a “human exclusion zone”. These are jobs that once would have been completed by humans and now make up 12% of Amazons workforce.

High-Speed Robots Part 1: Meet BettyBot in “Human Exclusion Zone” Warehouses-The Window-WIRED

Given the pace of change, we need to make sure that our institutions are assisting our students needs to re-train. Maybe we need to be re-focusing on training for careers in robot script writing, self-drive car engineering or robotic engineering. Our vision for the future will be the defining factor that shapes our successes.

For anyone wishing to view Martin’s full presentation, he has recorded and made it available on YouTube here


Keynote 6: Open Education – The Never Ending Story?

Sheila MacNeill, Senior Lecturer in Digital Learning at Glasgow Caledonian University & Vice Chair of ALT (Association for Learning Technology)

Sheila led a very interesting keynote off with a discussion around what “Open” meant to us. We were all invited to submit the first word that came to our mind related to our understanding of what “Open” meant within an interactive Menti word-cloud. It very quickly became apparent that there is a very broad range of thoughts on the matter and that is was a very personal view.

In January 2017 the Open Education Consortium announced that 2017 be the “Year of Open”. Open Education has been progressing positively since the Budapest Open Access Initiative was  formed in 2002 and benefited from the Cape Town Open Education Declaration of 2007 and the Paris Open Education Resources Declaration in 2012. The underlying principles of Open Education is a belief that “everyone has the right to education” and that “education is a public good”.

We are seeing a continually increasing number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered since their inception at Stanford University in 2011 covering a wide variety of courses. Sheila suggests that Open online learning does have a role to play within our educational landscape and that they are having an impact.

Shelia spoke about David Wiley’s 5Rs of Openness with Open Educational Resources (OER).

  • – Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • – Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • – Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • – Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • – Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Credit: David Wiley (https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/3221)

A particularly pertinent closing to Sheila’s keynote speech related to an entity she refers to as “the Nothing”. “The Nothing” being a suitable metaphor for our current society and the problems which we face in it. Coincidently, Sheila was giving her keynote on the day of the UK election and with that outcome now known alongside the current climate of politics within the US with its fake news/alternative facts, recent questionable election outcomes including that of Brexit and Trump, I can’t help but feel aligned with Sheila’s concerns.

Sheila has kindly made a number of relevant and related resources available as below:


Keynote 7: Next Generation Digital Learning Architecture

Dr. Rob Abel, Chief Executive Officer, IMS Global Learning Consortium

Dr. Abel came across from the USA to talk us through his thoughts on the future Digital Learning Architecture in Higher Education. He very quickly put a strong emphasis on the importance of a digital transformation strategy within HE institutions and outlined that IT should be an enabler to teaching and learning innovation. Dr. Abel’s presentation had so much content, in truth it was difficult to keep up. He gave us an overview of the tools and technology in place within the HE market for teaching and learning as outlined in pic below: (apologies for poor image quality)

An outdated architecture for learning had different systems uniquely silo-ed with little to no interoperability:

What if now it was quicker and easier to make systems work in harmony to benefit the connected learner? Well, Dr. Abel in collaboration with Malcolm Brown (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative) and Jack Suess (University of Maryland) had previously written a paper in 2013 analysing “A New Architecture for Learning” which highlights the needs for an IT department to be agile, flexible and allow for personalisation when integrating new innovative learning technologies. Seamless interoperability between both current and future developed systems is the key to success not simply an over reliance on a current Learning Management System (LMS) but an ecosystem developed beyond it. Dr Abel referenced a very useful paper produced by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative in 2015 entitled “The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment” which is worth your time to read and is available from here:

Dr. Abel then took the opportunity to take us on a high-speed tour of the benefits and impact of Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) these include:

  • Reduced integration time and cost by a factor of 100-1000x
  • Ubiquitous across 70+ learning platforms
  • 100’s of certified LTI apps of varying types
  • Foundation got interoperable edtech ecosystem

IMS Global have publicly released Caliper, a learning analytics interoperability framework which enables the collection, storage and transportation of data about learning. The Caliper framework removes the limitations of a single LMS system and opens up a broad range of benefits to be realised through the integration and interoperability of multiple systems. It is worth noting that it is being taken seriously by many HE institutions and partners and so not one to simply toss aside without further investigation.

7 things you should know about Caliper


Parallel Session 5: Leadership and Management – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask: Implementing “New Absalon”

Mike Thomas Floejborg, University of Copenhagen (UCPH)

The University of Copenhagen (UCPH) is the oldest university in Denmark and has 4 primary campuses in the capital city. The university has around 40,000 students and around 10,000 staff and is divided into six faculties. In  2014, UCPH committed to a project to replace their existing Learning Management System (LMS) named Absalon, running on ItsLearning with a new system running on Canvas LMS again to retain the name “Absalon” (a reference to a former Danish Archbishop).  They went into the project with a commitment to organise it with 3 key elements in mind: involvement, dialogue, and transparency.

It has been identified that this was an ambitious project with a tight time schedule:

  • December 2014 – Decision made to procure and implement new LMS
  • June 2015 – Project initiated
  • May 2016 – Go live (Autumn courses)
  • Jan 2017 – Expiration of contract with current supplier (ItsLearning)

Mike continued to reinforce the fact that the stakeholders engagement was integral to the success of the project:

  • Organisation provided inputs for the system requirements.
  • Expert group organised, prioritised and qualified the inputs.
  • Teachers, students and members of the expert group tested the systems and chose a winner.
  • The project (inc. chairman of the steering committee) visited the local management of all 6 faculties.
    • The faculties reps were worried if the project was realistic.
    • This tour helped produce a supportive and calm stakeholder community.

The benefits of such an engaging approach were clearly evident. There was significant goodwill from management, teachers, students to the delivery of the project and subsequent use. All project participants were dedicated to the end goal. The faculties took responsibility for the local implementation of “New Absalon” and the consistent transparency and engagement is believed to have increased the recorded user satisfaction.

A link to Mike’s “Don’t Be Afraid to Ask: Implementing “New Absalon” paper can be found here


Gala Dinner – Mövenpick Hotel, Münster

Following another enjoyable day at EUNIS17 we were treated to an evening of entertainment in the form of a formal gala dinner at the beautiful Mövenpick Hotel, just by the Aasee lake in Münster. For entertainment an engaging master of ceremonies took control of the evening. There was a little local medieval dance and plenty of interesting conversation, not least given I was sat on a table with two Finns, two Swedes, a Belgian and a Spaniard living in Germany on UK Election night. It would be fair to say there were a few political discussions and for me an opportunity to really get a sense of what Brexit means to our fellow European friends. It certainly was an enjoyable night and one that allowed for the formal handover of EUNIS presidency from Ilkka Siissalo to Dr. Raimund Vogl amongst a number of other board changes.

Photo Credit: @EUNIS_IT

Day 1 Reflections

So, day 1 of EUNIS 2017 in Münster and I packed a lot into a very busy but great day!!

It started with a brisk walk from my hotel to the University of Münster campus, made all the brisker through a slight error of direction on my part. No problem, I just got to see a little more of this beautiful city than I’d bargained for at that time of the morning. That said, it was worth reminding myself to be mindful not to get run over by the hundreds of cyclists whizzing around in “the wrong direction” 🙂


Opening Addresses

Following an early registration session, we were straight into the programme at 9am with the conference’s opening addresses from Professor Johannes Wessels, the Rector here at University of Münster, EUNIS President Ilkka Siissalo and Dr. Raimund Vogl the IT Director and CIO at University of Münster.

Prof. Wessels set the scene nicely for those of us unfamiliar with Münster. The university, he tells us has 45,000 students and approaching 8,000 staff! That’s a bit bigger than I’m used to at Leeds Beckett, (for reference we suggest we have approximately 30,000 students and 3,200 staff). The University of Münster has a not unsubstantial €610M budget, 15 departments and 238 buildings which make their claim of “The City is our Campus” seem not far off the mark. See the campus map

Ilkka Siissalo is the CIO at Helsinki University as well as current EUNIS President and made reference to the state of a growing EUNIS community. He also identified upcoming EUNIS events including 2 analytics workshops in Lisbon this December and a Rectors conference due to take place in Porto next spring.

Dr. Vogl opened his address with a look at the University of Münster’s IT Governance which has been in place in some form since the 1990s. A diagram of this can be found below:

Key points of the IT Governance structure are that:

  • The IT commission acts as a parliamentary institution (a larger body with members nominated by the senate of the university). It also allows them to obtain wider feedback inclusive of the student point of view.
  • IT steering decisions are formed within the IT Board which previously acted effectively as a commission CIO but;
  • A CIO position was recently created and subsequently filled by Dr. Vogl alongside his position as IT Director.

Keynote 1: NMC’s Higher Education Horizon

Eden Dahlstrom – Executive Director at the New Media Consortium (NMC.org)

Eden offered some very interesting insights into the findings within the ‘NMC Horizon Report’ detailing the developments, trends, challenges and anticipated time to adoption of technologies within higher education over the next 5+ years. The report can be found here with additional related resources here:

   

I suspect we all recognise that actively making change within organisations can be very difficult, Eden referenced a quote by Dr Peter F. Drucker which seemed only too fitting “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Get the attitudes and everyday principles right and the intended changes can become easier.

No paper available


Keynote 2: Digital Humanities

Dr. Torsten Hiltmann – Associate Professor at the Institute for Medieval History, Münster University

I understand that this was a late addition to the EUNIS 17 agenda but you wouldn’t have recognised it, Dr. Hiltmann certainly proved that he knows his area of specialism well. Now, Digital Humanities or Digitale Geisteswissenschaften as I believe the locals call it is new to me but I certainly feel like I came away from this Keynote having learnt something.

Digital Humanities is “the use of computer-based tools and methods to answer existing questions to elaborate new questions in the domain of Humanities”. It is believed to have all started as far back as 1949 with data being transferred onto punch cards before making the transition onto magnetic tapes in 1955. Prior to the digitisation of information, projects had to be digitised in order to be able to be processed. Now, however a large portion of material is already accessible in a digitised form and thus making it much easier, quicker and more efficient to use.

Dr. Hiltmann went on to cover the importance of some of the methods in Digital Humanities with reference to mediaeval coats of arms. Understanding that there were over 1 million different coats of arms in the Middle Ages, it’s important to recognise and understand the differences. Dr. Hiltmann very knowledgeably broke down the anatomy of a coat of arms and identified the importance of a standard to describe them.

No paper available


Parallel Session 1: Leadership & Management – Building a Digital Roadmap for Greater Engagement and Success

Chris Bridge – ITS Director Queensland University of Technology

This was quite literally a standing room only session…

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is another substantial university by students and staff numbers with over 47,000 students and nearly 13,000 staff and in 2013 it’s IT strategy had expired. Chris informs us that there was an appetite for change having recognised a shift in the sector and QUT took a new strategic approach to digital leadership.

QUT positions itself at the forefront of technology and innovation and identified that it needed to be agile in order to respond effectively to new challenges. It was therefore decided to build a new Digital Roadmap to ensure its competitiveness in the HE market. Their Digital Roadmap focused on three key areas; Students, learning and teaching; Research and innovation; People, culture and sustainability.

Chris referenced that the successes of the Digital Roadmap have been the improved alignment between IT investments and business strategy, funding now better balanced between innovation, strategy and BAU also common and well understood business language has been adopted across the roadmap in place of technical language ensuring that all parties understand it clearly.

A link to Chris’ “Building a Digital Roadmap for Greater Engagement and Success” paper can be found here


Parallel Session 1: Leadership & Management – Digitalization of Higher Education from a Student’s Point of View

Anne Thoring – Centre for Information Processing, University of Münster

Anne and colleagues at the University of Münster have undertaken qualitative interviews with small groups of students to gather information on service requirements. The 3 categories identified as priorities for students related to IT were: study organisation, online literature and software provision.

Interestingly (although potentially not too surprisingly), findings from the interviews identified that students most important requirements from IT solutions are that they offer integration and standardisation with existing university services. Additionally, students identified that IT Services should simply enable them to focus on their studies and ensure that relevant resources are easily accessible. The study also asked students to rate services and systems such as Münster’s e-learning platform, exam administration system and 3rd party provided cloud based services on a positive, neutral or negative scale whilst allowing them to pass additional comments.  It became clear that students are keen for IT departments to utilise services such as those available from Microsoft and Google as opposed to bespoke in-house offerings. The overall findings though allowed Anne and colleagues to make an assessment that students are taking a more pragmatic view on digitisation developments than has been suggested by a range of professional parties.

A link to Anne’s “Digitalization of Higher Education from a Student’s Point of View” paper can be found here


Parallel Session 1: Leadership & Management – Essential IT capabilities for a Successful Digital Transformation in Higher Education

Pekka Kahkipuro – Chief Information Officer at Brunel University London

In order to successfully complete a digital transformation in HE, Pekka proposes a 3 layered capability model for structuring the required IT capabilities.

  • Basic capabilities – current best practices in traditional IT form the foundation for digital transformation.
  • Standard capabilities – needed to maintain competition with other HE peers.
  • Advanced capabilities – institutions looking at using digital business as competitive advantage.

Pekka illustrated the typical IT function using Gartner’s “Four Futures of IT Organisations” model as below and recognised that whilst undoubtedly, we work within all four quadrants, we commonly focus more regularly within the bottom left “Engine room” as in Figure 2. In here we are too commonly internally focused around operational activities (BAU) and in order to successfully complete a digital transformation it is important to look outside of this quadrant (Figure 3).

Digital transformation provides different options for different institutions and so, no two implementations will be the same. At the advanced capabilities level, however is where the main differentiation will occur. These may be related to elements of the institution and not simply IT but if you get it right here you can maximise the competitive benefit.

A link to Pekka’s award nominated “Essential IT capabilities for a successful digital transformation in Higher Education” paper can be found here


Parallel Session 2: ICT Infrastructure & Security – Achieving a Trust Relationship Model in eduroam – The Case of an RadSec Pilot Implementation in Portuguese Higher Education Institutions

Pedro Simoes – FCCN, Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT)

Now it would be very fair to say that this was a technical session!! Not one my expertise are specifically aligned with, however I thought it would be useful to learn more. In truth, this may have been a technical step too far for me… read the paper linked below if you don’t believe me, Pedro knows his stuff 🙂

Eduroam originated as a service in 2002 and spread rapidly across 85 countries allowing students, researchers and educational staff free, secure wireless access at any participating institutions. Pedro and colleagues have been piloting RadSec (Secure RADIUS) in Eduroam.pt amongst a subset of Portuguese institutions. They have taken a heterogeneous approach across the piloting institutions as a model for best practice for adoption nationally. Alongside this they’ve also been trialling Radiator, FreeRadius and RadSecProxy for authentication.

To really get to the depths of the study without the limitations of my understanding I would recommend checking out the paper as below.

A link to Pedro’s “Achieving a trust relationship model in Eduroam – the case of an RadSec pilot implementation in Portuguese Higher Education Institutions” paper can be found here


Parallel Session 2: ICT Infrastructure & Security – Device Specific Credentials to Protect from Identity Theft in Eduroam

Bernd Decker – RWTH Aachen University

As I always seem to personally be interested on the scale of an institution, here is RWTH Aachen University by numbers:

  • Approximately 45,000 students
  • Approximately 8,500 international students
  • Approximately 9,000 staff
  • Approximately 540 professors
  • 9 faculties offering 152 courses

This study was initiated due to the threat / possibility of Eduroam credentials being retrieved by a man in the middle attack. Mobile devices were identified as particularly vulnerable due to them persistently trying to find known WLANs and with the ever-increasing growth of the Eduroam userbase combined with the fact that account passwords are too commonly used for none university accounts, it was deemed a valid objective at RWTH Aachen University.

A web app was developed that allowed students and staff to create unique device based credentials. It was highlighted though that the drawbacks of this, whilst more secure, would require a uniquely generated username and password to be applied at the point of connection to the Eduroam service. This method allows devices to be granted/declined access to Eduroam and through a web interface, devices/location/time logs could be accessed for the last 14 days connections where it was possible to revoke access.

This was certainly a new method of Eduroam connection to me and whilst the security aspect was certainly improved, it left me with concerns (rightly identified by Bernd) that it was not intuitive and that students / staff would find it complicated to configure. It is certainly one for the security vs usability debate and whilst I, as a techie may come down on the secure side of the argument, being pragmatic I suspect it might be a tough sell to students, staff etc.

A link to Bernd’s “Device specific credentials to protect from identity theft in Eduroam” paper can be found here


Parallel Session 3: Parallel Session 3: Sponsor Track – Panopto: Using Video to Enhance Informal, Formal and Blended learning approaches

Denis Staskewitsch – Area Sales Manager DACH, Panopto

Adrien Bourg – Account Executive at Panopto

The focus of this workshop was on the use of video with Panopto when used as a capture tool to enhance the formal, informal and blended learning approaches in HE. The session was low on attendees but this allowed for greater interaction between those of us that were present. At this session, and indeed as it has felt throughout the conference so far, I was one of a few representing institutions from the UK. Scandinavian institutions seem to be here at EUNIS17 in quite some number and this was evidenced by 75% of those at the session representing institutions from Norway and Finland.

Video is becoming a standard which our students are you expecting or even demanding. Within the next 3 years, 80% of all internet traffic will be video content online. YouTube as an online social video sharing platform now has more than 1 billion users and over 300 hours of video content being uploaded to it every minute. To scale Panopto, it hosts more than 2 million videos within their cloud offering and actively streams more than 100 years worth of video every month. They also serve more than 5 million end-users all around the globe. This is clearly a growing market and not one that we within HE should sidestep.

Panopto have conducted a poll which identified over 90% of its users use the service to enhance their overall student experience. They recognise that it enables them to engage with distance learners (43%) and also see it as a tool to help increase student recruitment and retention (33%). Given how students use the service, it was also recognised by nearly 50% that it helps them improve their grades and can be used to train staff and enhance CPD (24%).

A breakdown of how it is being used in universities offers some interesting insights:

When students were surveyed regarding those views on technology to enhance their learning, 89% agreed that technology helps them improve their ability to learn. 75% had used an online platform such as YouTube or Vimeo to learn a new skills. Another interesting finding was that students felt almost in equal measure, that a formal and informal mix of learning approaches was most desirable:

I certainly see the use of video for educational delivery, whether via a lecture capture service alone or complimented by other means, continuing to grow and given some of the findings discussed, HE institutions would be wise to invest and reap the multitude of benefits.

No paper available


Parallel Session 3: Sponsor Track – Inspera: Digital Assessment in Norway – A Case Study from the University of Bergen

Sofie Emmertsen – Executive Education Consultant, Inspera

So, as it turned out I didn’t know I hell of a lot about digital assessments, at least not on the scale that seems to be commonplace across Scandinavian HE institutions. Sofie referenced that there are currently very few UK HE institutions that have taken up the digital assessment offerings from Inspera or any of their competitors. That said, I was advised that fellow EUNIS17 speaker Pekka Kahkipuro has encouraged / supported the adoption as CIO at Brunel University in London.

A case study of the University of Oslo in Norway referenced that 6,000 students sat digital assessments in 2014. This figure rose to 45,000 in 2017. It is certainly a fast-growing market within the HE sector.

What are the benefits??

  • Markers and moderators have fast and secure access to all submissions
  • Reviewers and externals can be easily included in the assessment process
  • Markers can offer better feedback
  • Students use a media that they are used to during assessment exams
  • Student satisfaction is increased
  • Administrative work hours are reduced
  • Management have better control and insight into the assessment process

The University of Bergen, faculty of Maths and Science have gone from 48% of assessment digitised over 7 disciplines in 2015 to 55% of the assessments digitised over 35 disciplines in 2016. They also have the aim to have 100% of assessments digitised by the end of 2017. Bergen are seeing very swift movement in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biology whilst the Department of Maths are slower to take up the digital assessments. This in part was referenced as being due to the mathematical workings being commonly made by hand on paper and requiring of inclusion within the assessment. So, there are some limitations/challenges (namely those in red below) but please note the faculty strategy to overcome them below:

Find out more: http://www.inspera.com/

No paper available


Keynote 3: Digital Campus Management and Student Information Systems – A Customer’s Perspective

Dr. Malcolm Woodfield – Global Vice President and Head of the Higher Education and Research Industry at SAP

Björn Kemmoona – Director of Marlin Consulting

Eva Mundanjohl – Head of the Department for Academic and Student Affairs, University of Münster

Unfortunately, I was tied up in conversations with other conference delegates and so did not make it to this session however, a summary of what was covered is outlined here


Keynote 4: Maximizing Productivity and Learning Time – Fundamentals and Requirements in the Usage of AV Technology

Frank Boshoven – Sales and Key Account Manager at the Crestron (Germany) & Crestron EMEA Education Program Manager

Now, I had wondered if Frank was coming to sell us a particular brand of kitchen appliance but it turns out he’s a bit of an AV evangelist so I quickly got over that and focused on his keynote… Sorry, getting the obvious jokes out of the way first 🙂

Frank started out in the AV business back in 1982 as an R/F technician but subsequently moved into sales. Crestron are big players in the AV market and with their headquarters in New Jersey and a range of global offices in over 90 other countries. As a company they were established in 1969 now employing over 4,000 staff and have had the same management team for 40 years. Frank went on to offer us a journey through Crestron’s innovative company history. Since the first graphical programming language and colour touchscreen control panels were introduced in the early ’90s, through with the integration with PDAs, tablets and computers in the early ’00s and more recently the distribution of scaling of 4K / 60 content.

Crestron have taken on the challenge of combining different manufacturers products and platforms into a centralised AV management solution. Crestron Fusion is intended to maximise productivity and reduce overall costs through remote monitoring and management and control of all classroom AV technology. Live data feeds into Fusion allow relevant parties to identify room occupancy and through appropriate power management seek to offer maximum energy-efficiency / environmental gains.

A typical installation in a lecture theatre was suggested to consist of more than 30 power supplies, a multitude of connections and the requirement for time and effort to be spent programming devices. It was referenced that this places unnecessary expense on the business. Standardisation in hardware and configuration is the way forward to obtain maximum efficiency and usability.

Frank summarised the challenges within a professional AV business as below:

No paper available


Civic Reception – Historical Town Hall, Münster

It was a very enjoyable end to a very busy first day at EUNIS17. The event opened with some short speeches and allowed to delegates to mix whilst enjoying a little food and drink. The location could not have been more beautiful in the Historic Town Hall in Münster. This is the location that the “Peace of Westphalia” was signed in 1648 ending the Thirty Years’ War and marking the beginning of a long period of peace in Europe. We were even fortunate to be offered a formal tour of the building to gain some real insights into the history that it held.

Today is the day…

Today is the day… I’m all packed and ready to go! I can’t wait to get over to Münster and get started 🙂 Sadly my flight is getting in pretty late this evening meaning I’m unlikely to make it to tonight’s Fusion event but will be up bright and breezy in the morning ready for registration before the 9:00am opening addresses.

Hope everyone is enjoying today’s workshops, they’re looking great from what i’m able to see on the #EUNIS17 twitter hashtag.