The JISC Observatory Session at IWMW 2012

UKOLN’s annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2012, featured a 90 minute workshop session entitled “Identifying and Responding to Emerging Technologies” which was delivered by Brian Kelly and Thom Bunting of the Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN and Mark Power of JISC CETIS. As described in the session abstract:

Understanding whether new or emerging ideas will be thwarted or become embedded when subjected to the “acid test” of the real world that is the educational system – and also the perpetual change of technology use – relies on an understanding of the patterns of cause and effect in that system.

This session, which will be facilitated by members of the JISC Observatory team at UKOLN and CETIS, will use a mixture of group exercises and discussions to understand potential enablers and disenablers of emerging new technologies. Having developed a better appreciation of how new technologies may or may not be adopted can help to develop appropriate strategies for preparing institutions – and members of the institution – for exploiting innovative developments in an appropriate and effective manner.

The session will explore how such approaches can be used for developing strategies for innovations which have become mainstream in recent years – such as mobile access and the social web – as well as provide an opportunity for participants to identify other developments which may be as yet under the radar’.

The session attracted a full house with 30 people registering for the session, thus indicating the importance placed on informed future-watching activities. The feedback we received also demonstrated the value of the approaches which we have been taking, with an emphasis on evidence-gathering to inform discussions, planning and decision-making:

liked the interactive nature, and forcing us to concentrate on evidence gathering

Excellent, really useful to to hear the worries of other people. I love these ‘open’ sessions as they throw you in at the deep end and I think you get allot more out of them that way.

Thought this was a really good summary of the issues for someone with a tenous grasp of mobile particularly.

A good session to start, great way to get to know other delegates…

The 90 minute session was structured as follows:

Part 1: Providing the Context

Introduction: Aims of the session

Participants interests: What they hoped to gain from the session

Importance of evidence gathering: The importance of going beyond advocacy and ensuring policy-making was informed by evidence.

Part 2: Group Exercises

A series of group exercises took place in which participants were asked to select a scenario (e.g. open data, structured metadata, online conferencing, etc.) and describe how they would go about gathering evidence on the implications of the chosen area to present to senior managers in order to inform strategic decision-making.

Part 3: The Mobile Environment: A Case Study

Following the group exercises Mark Power described the processes used by the JISC Observatory Team in responding to the significantly-changed technological environment in light of the acknowledged importance of the mobile environment. Mark’s talk highlighted ways in which trends could be detected and key areas of tension (e.g. the Mobile web vs the Mobile app debate) identified and appropriate responses provided for key target audiences (in this case the Delivering Web to Mobile JISC Observatory TechWatch report).

Part 4: The Role of the JISC Observatory

The session concluded with a summary of the work of the JISC Observatory team and a review of forthcoming TechWatch reports, including the Preparing for Data-driven Infrastructure and Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of eBooks in Education reports which will be published shortly.

Resources From the Workshop Session

The slides used in the workshop session are available on Slideshare and embedded below. In addition video recordings of the workshop introductionMark Power’s ‘Mobile to Web’ presentation and the session conclusions are available on Vimeo. The JISC Observatory session page on the IWMW 2012 web site contains additional links, together with embedded content of the slides and videos.


Identifying and Responding to Emerging Technologies: [Slideshare]


Delivering Web to Mobile: [Slideshare]

JISC Observatory: Horizon Scanning for Higher and Further Education: [Slideshare]





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