I was at an interesting meeting in Edinburgh at the end of last week to participate in the Steering Group for a new initiative on open educational practices in Scotland. The project is a three-year initiative led by the Open University in Scotland, but includes representatives from other Scottish universities. It is intended to work across the whole Further and Higher Education sector in Scotland and try to harmonise approaches and resources for open education. The new web site at http://www.oepscotland.org will be developed and improved as the project picks up a head of steam (or is that a completely outdated metaphor?) 🙂 The idea is to help build a consistent national approach to the use, availability, and development of open resources for education in Scotland, and to project this work in Scotland onto a world stage. It is good to be involved in a project with such huge potential and vision.
At the end of the week, we had a couple of days for a faculty conference. Since the UHI activities are scattered around 13 academic partners (colleges and research centres) across a huge area of northern Scotland, we don’t get together face-to-face very often. This was a great event. In this image, our Acting Principal is giving us his vision of the immediate future of the university – unlike a lot of “corporate speak” he made a lot of sense. I particularly liked his encouragement to ‘think the unthinkable’ and embrace the new challenges of digital, networked education. In many ways the UHI is at the forefront of good practice – not just good theory, but actually walking the talk – but the world is not standing still. We need to seriously think how we can improve the consistency and the innovation in what we do – and to realise that standing still is not an option. When we embrace the future, we need to make sure that we influence the direction of travel, not get dragged along by the current. Fortunately there are a few good people who don’t mind sticking their head above the parapet and just get on with things. There were some really good conversations at this conference – now we just need to put some of the better ideas into practice.
Just back from a couple of days in the Executive Office, in part discussing the strategy for encouraging future research at the UHI. It was a really successful meeting and it feels like a change in the wind. Some really good ideas from the new Vice Principal (Research) and some good discussion among the staff present. Despite being a big fan or “participating at a distance” through videoconferencing and other tools, this is a good example of when a bit of ‘face-time’ goes a long way. In a distribute environment like our university – thirteen Academic Partners (college and research centres) spread over a huge wedge of country – it is invaluable to be able to use technology to link to distant sites, but even once or twice a year it’s good to catch up with colleagues and go for a meal and a drink afterwards. Unfortunately the down-side is that I got caught by the storm that swept the UK yesterday and my flight was delayed for over four hours, landing at 22.30 in the dark and the snow. There are many advantages to networking from the comfort of my cosy office!
- Why do academics blog? It’s not for public outreach, research shows (theguardian.com)