Cetis14 Day2

A few tweets from the second day of the Cetis conference in Storify. I’ve added a couple of additional tweets at the end with were no longer available on Storify.

Every year I say never again – but the feedback has been so positive from cetis14, that we’re planning Cetis 2015 in Bolton next June.

David Kernohan ‏@dkernohan Jun 18

#cetis14 was “just an amazingly great event” says @audreywatters http://hackeducation.com/2014/06/18/unfathomable-cetis2014/ … . As she goes to ALL the conferences, praise indeed

Mark Power @markpower

#cetis14 was absolutely top class. No hype. No rhetoric. No bullshitting. It really is a unique edutech event. And lovely to see my pals.

Joe Wilson ‏@joecar Jun 18

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/moocs-opportunities-for-their-use-in-compulsory-age-education … one for reading later thanks all #cetis14 for great conference

#Cetis14 – Building the Digital Institution: Technological Innovation in Universities and Colleges

We are very pleased to announce that the annual Cetis conference #cetis14 will take place on the 17th and 18th June at our host institution the University of Bolton. This is the tenth year of the Cetis conference (prizes for anyone who has attended all ten). The theme this year focuses on the digital institution and how technology can and is being used in every aspect of university and college life. As in previous years the conference will consist of a combination of parallel sessions and keynote presentations. Sessions are being planned on learning analytics, MOOCs, e-assessment (QTI), Open Educational Resources policy, and systems integration to name a few.

In hosting the event at Bolton we intend to build on the success of the American Society for Cybernetics conference organised by our department last year. Hosting at the university also means we can make significant savings on venue costs, which means that although we will have to charge for the event this year, the cost will be very reasonable.

(There are other advantages of holding the event on our home turf my colleague David Sherlock is compiling a guide to some of Bolton’s finest watering holes).

The conference is our opportunity each year to touch base with our community and find out what they are working on and excited about,  as well as their concerns. While we are planning sessions around our current work, you may be interested in attending a session on a topic close to your heart that we haven’t thought of. If this is the case get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.

Details of the programme, registration and costs will be available in March.

We do hope you will be able to join us in Bolton in June.

Our pick of posts from 2013

For the last few years we’ve started January with a quick look back at our posts from the previous year. 2013 saw a lot of changes for Cetis, with the ending of Jisc Core funding and subsequent loss of some key staff members. But there were some highlights too. So here’s our pick of the posts we liked the best and why.


My nomination from my own posts is On Semantics and the Joint Academic Coding System as I think it shows one of those areas where being involved at the intersection of several domains without being deeply embedded in any of them can be an advantage. We were able to use of technical knowledge of classification and semantic technologies to apply a nudge at policy review level. The nudge was successful at least at least at the first order, though I’m still waiting to see whether it has propagated through that level  to cause any change in the real world (see Heads up for Hediip )

The post that I most enjoyed reading has to be Sheila’s Learning Technologist of the Year #altc2013 even though it came after Sheila had left Cetis.  The award recognises Sheila’s role in disseminating information throughout the learning technology community, and so choosing it is the easiest way of choosing all the posts that Sheila wrote that helped keep me up to date with what I didn’t do.


After being invited to describe my Cetis blog post of the year I was very tempted to highlight my first post, in which I announced that I was Starting a New Job! as Innovation Advocate at Cetis. Or perhaps I should refer to my Permanent link to Reflections on the EduWiki 2013 Conference which took place a few days after starting the new job. Or more recently a post on Permanent link to Forecasting Long Term Future Events, Conditions and Developments in Technology described a joint paper by myself and Paul Hollins, the Cetis director, which was published earlier this year. But on reflection I feel it would be appropriate to describe a blog post about work which reflects my long-standing interests which are closely aligned Cetis interests in open education. The post on Open Educational Practices (OEP): What They Mean For Me and How I Use Them  describes a webinar I presented for a unit on Open Educational Practices which forms part of a PGCAP (Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice) module on Flexible, Distance and Online Learning provided by the University of Salford. It seems appropriate to mention this post as, although I am a remote worked based in Bath, the webinar was presented from Cetis offices in the University of Bolton!


As my favourite post of 2013 I’ve chosen the Open Scotland Report and Actions,  together with presentations from the event.   Over the three years that Cetis supported the HEFCE funded Jisc / HEA Open Educational Resources Programmes,  I couldn’t help growing increasingly concerned that Scottish education might be in danger of missing the boat when it came to developing open educational resources and embedding open education practice.  Conversations with colleagues from SQA, Jisc RSC Scotland and the ALT Scotland SIG,  revealed similar concerns so we resolved to do something about it.  The result was the Open Scotland Summit, a collaborative event held at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh in June 2013.  The Summit brought together senior representatives from a wide range of Scottish education agencies, institutions and authorities to explore the potential benefit of open education policy ad practice to benefit all sectors of Scottish education. This blog post is a summary of the Open Scotland Summit discussions and outputs,and it also marks the starting point of the wider Open Scotland initiative and the launch of the Open Scotland blog.



I think the most relevant post from me in 2013 is about the space where open source and open standards cross over – as do my roles at CETIS and OSS Watch. Although the concepts have been around for a long time, there is still a lot of confusion, particularly among policy makers, about how the two interact. A lot of people involved in policy tend to believe that supporting open source is a way of improving interoperability; which may be the case, but not necessarily in the way they think it does. Conversely, in the standards world there is often a misunderstanding of open source that can make implementation of standards far more difficult for open source projects. So clarifying this relationship is very important, and the resources that this post discusses go someway towards that.
Though my personal favourite was writing where I looked at how Google Glass might play out by looking at some SF stories that dealt with similar ideas. SF can sometimes provide us with a way of thinking through the “what if?” of new ideas and technologies, and there are some great examples of anticipating something like Glass in novels and stories. I think the Vernor Vinge novel Rainbows End is probably quite close to where Silicon Valley thinks this is going, though personally I suspect Bob Shaw’s Other Days, Other Eyes is more on the mark. Though that may just be an example of the typical British perspective on the future being a bit less optimistic.


My favourite post of 2013 squeaked in at the very end about privacy and self disclosure. It’s my favourite because it flowed from a long-standing sense of concern, and addresses the future far more clearly than many of my posts. Furthermore, it is not primarily technical, interesting though technical interoperability is, but essentially to do with society and how we might move in a better direction. I particularly like the way in which it blends technical topics into an ethical ground — we could do more of this!


“I have written several blog posts on MOOCs in 2013 and my favourite one is “MOOCs and Higher Education: What is next?”.
This blog post was based on my presentation at the SCONUL annual conference 2013. In the blog post, I used the Gartner Hype Cycle to examine the MOOCs phenomenon and how its development fits with the pattern of technology adoption in general. One of the question I posed in this post was “if and when MOOCs enter the ‘slope of enlightenment and plateau of productivities’, will they then have a real impact on the delivery of higher education?” This led to us writing a new report on “Beyond MOOCs, Sustainable Open Online Learning Institutions” following our first MOOCs report, which will be published in January 2014.”


I’d pick my post QTI 2.1 spec release helps spur over £250m of investment worldwide. It’s significant because, even though it was a brief inventarisation, it demonstrated how much a small but dedicated group of UK HE online assessment experts had achieved on a global scale, and how much impact a relatively small investment by JISC had on the development of educational technology interoperability as a whole.



My choice would be a post on the cabinet office and standards hub,I am still impressed by how thoughtful the people in the Government Digital Service are, and how genuinely committed they are to driving a sensible and pragmatic line on open standards and open source software.


My favourite post is about a new virtual reality headset that is coming out next year, the Oculus Rift. I’m most excited about the fact that people have got it working with WebGL in the browser. It’s not perfect at the moment but the next version of the Rift is looking great and the tools to create the content are getting better and better. With the tools to create stuff being more accessible than ever before I wonder how people will use it in the classroom?


There were two highlights of 2013 for me. Firstly Cetis13 “Open for Education” conference  held in March at Aston. It was the first time that the Cetis Comms team handled the whole event from venue booking to the conference itself, and we were pleased with how it ran.

The second highlight and the post I’ll choose is “New Cetis,  New Website” .  The launch of the new Cetis site co-in sided with the launch of Cetis as a Jisc free entity and represented a huge amount of work by Cetis colleagues. The new site design intends to present a cleaner, simplier view of the organisation and what we offer. The sense of accomplishment and relief on the 1st August was tinged with sadness as several Cetis colleagues left the very same day including, Mark Power who did the graphic design of the site, Sheila MacNeill and Martin Hawksey my colleagues on the Cetis Comms team, and my good friend Lisa Corley.

Like Phil I would choose Sheila’s #altc2013 post  not least because it was Lorna Campbell and I who nominated her for the award. It was fantastic to see Sheila be rewarded for her contribution to supporting learning technology innovation. And in giving Sheila the award the judges also recognised the role of those of us who have spent many years promoting and disseminating the work of others.


New Cetis, New website

You might have noticed that Cetis has a new web site www.cetis.ac.uk. For the last six months I’ve been working with my colleagues, Mark Power, David Sherlock, Phil Parker, Sheila MacNeill and Martin Hawksey to update our web presence to reflect the new organisation. I thought I’d share some of the thinking behind the new site.

Colours and design

Cetis has been funded by Jisc for over a decade. When we became a service in 2005 we incorporated Jisc into our title and brand, marrying our blue with the Jisc orange.


Now that Jisc is not longer our main funder we decided to go back to a colour scheme based around our original dark blue. Mark Power worked on the brand design of the new site with input from Paul Dennis at Consul.


I think its safe to say that the logo created a lot of internal discussion! Mark designed the new logo using the original mosaic Cetis logo as a starting point.


The globe of the new logo acknowledges both the international aspects of our work and partners but also the importance of creating and adopting global standards for technology.


Word Press

The new site is a Word Press site with a theme Mark developed. Using Word Press means we can maintain the site more easily than we could in the Jisc Cetis site, particularly when it comes to software updates.

Simplified design

The next phase of Cetis activity will inevitably involve working with a variety of funders on a range of projects, so our audience is changing. We had a good think about the old Jisc Cetis site and decided it would be a mistake to think we could represent everything we do on the new site. We’ve tried to simplify the interface to give a simple overview of who we are, what we do and what we offer. Educational technology and standards are of course still at the core of Cetis work. The new design also contains more visual elements most notably the new slides on the front page.




We have a news feed cetis-news for updates on new projects, publications, events. This will complement the more personalised commentary provided by the staff blogs.


Our blog posts used to be at the heart of the Jisc Cetis site. Followers of the blogs need not worry, we will still be blogging over on blogs.cetis.ac.uk, but we realise that not everyone we work with will be avid readers of our blog posts.


Our publications are still available at publications.cetis.ac.uk, but like the other two sites has had a make over. Like the blog site we will maintain the publications site as a separate entity.

Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube

Our presence on other social media sites will be changing too to reflect the new branding. Unfortunately @cetis was taken on Twitter – so we’ve plumped for @cetisuk. The new logo has been added to out Linkedin site and our YouTube site.

Old Jisc Cetis site

The old site is not now being updated and we have begun the process of archiving the old site and the wiki which will eventually become static html.


I hope these notes explain some of our thinking behind the new site. Please do let us know what you think of the new site and brand.


Finally I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to Mark, David, Phil, Sheila and Martin for all their hard work on the new site.


#cetis13 highlights by @eventamplifier

Anyone who organizes conference knows – it’s hard work. So for this year’s #cetis13 conference, we drafted in some help in the form of Kirsty Pitkin and her team from TConsult.

As well as delivering the live stream they did some reporting on sessions for us. To get a taste of the conference have a look at their highlights:



(recordings of keynotes and interviews will be available soon)

CETIS13: Open for Education, 12-13th March

Registration for this year’s CETIS conference Open for Education is now, er, open. It’s hard to believe that this will be our ninth conference, Jisc, CETIS and the higher and further education sector have gone through many changes since 2004. But some things haven’t changed, including our belief that open approaches (data, standards, software) have much to offer institutions, that’s why this year we’re focusing on the open theme.

As always the conference will be a combination of keynotes and parallel discussion sessions. This year we are delighted to have Josie Fraser and Patrick McAndrew offering their thoughts on Digital Citizenship and Open Social and Open Education respectively. The parallel sessions will be “unashamedly technical” offering an opportunity for the development community to discuss new technologies and opportunities. The full programme is available but briefly;

* On Day 1, Wilbert will be hosting a session on the IMS QTI v2.1 specification and exploring which assessment profiles the community wants,

* Adam will be exploring issues around how organisations use their data assets in HE Information Landscape – Seize the Day,

* As the UKOER programme comes to an end Lorna and Phil will be asking how do projects and the community build momentum and open practice,

* Paul and Li will be future gazing to look at the opportunities ahead both for the sector and for CETIS.

* On day 2, Scott will be asking what do Open Development and Open Innovation methods have to offer education,

* Simon and Adam will be asking what opportunities might emerge for skills and competence when standards have been agreed,

* In the Analytics and Institutional capabilities session Sheila, Martin and David will be exploring how analytic dreams can become realities for institutions,

* And finally, Mark will be hosting an Open Mic session for delegates who have something to say!

If that has whetted your appetite, join us (for free!) at the Lakeside Centre, Aston by registering on our Eventbrite page:http://www.eventbrite.com/event/3938857228

We look forward to seeing you in March.

Eric Mazur – Confusion is Good

It sounds counter intuitive but that was one of the messages from the opening keynote at this year’s ALT conference by Eric Mazur Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. Eric’s keynote began with a plea “Let’s not abandon the scientific method when teaching”. My colleague Martin Hawksey has blogged about some of the brain activity data that Eric opened his presentation with, and Sheila MacNeill has been thinking about conference tweeting. I’d like to mention some of the research Eric has carried out with students in his Harvard physics course around the question “Does confusion indicate a lack of understanding?”.

Students were asked to read a chapter of a textbook before class and then asked three questions about the concepts covered. The first two questions asked for explanations of the concepts covered while in a third feedback question they were asked to give details of anything they were confused about. What the student’s answers showed is that 75% of students who said they weren’t confused in the third question actually got the first two questions wrong. What the data revealed is counter intuitive – that confusion can be good – and may be an indication of deeper thinking.

Eric’s talk reminds me (I can’t resist a personal anecdote) of something one of my teachers said to me after one of my A level exams (many years ago). After asking how hard the exam was they added, “only the good students can gauge how difficult an exam is”. For me the comment relates to Eric’s conclusions about confusion, you need a certain depth of understanding to be confused, or understand how difficult an exam is.

Mazur’s talk also covered research on gender differences in tests and the best way to teach demonstrations, and is well worth watching.

His slides are available at: http://mazur.harvard.edu/search-talks.php?function=display&rowid=1815
The two other keynotes at this year’s conference, by Natasa Milic-Frayling and Richard Noss will also be broadcast live, links are on the conference website http://altc2012.alt.ac.uk/pages/watch_live_sessions.

Facelift for JISC CETIS Newsletter

I finally got around to giving our monthly newsletter an overdue facelift. In response to feedback we’ve cut down the content to the top 10 blog posts instead of the nearly 40 posts that we actually write in a month.

Here’s a screen grab of the new format:

JISC CETIS newsletter

JISC CETIS newsletter

I decided to use the JISCMAIL templates to create the new format and was really surprised how easy the templates were to use. I would recommend them if you’re doing something similar.

The other advantage is that we now have a nicely formatted web version of the newsletter that we can point people to on twitter etc.

So the million dollar question: What do you think?

Is the content more accessible? Are there the right number of news items? Are you more likely to read our posts now?

The full version is available at:

I look forward to your comments….

JISC CETIS Privacy and Cookie Policies

Like every organisation that runs a web site, we’ve been considering how to comply with the new Cookie Law that came into effect at the end of May. And like many others we’ve developed a Privacy Policy and a Cookie Policy to clarify how we use personal data and cookies on JISC CETIS sites.

The privacy policy sets out the ways in which we collect personal data and what our intention is in collecting that data. Actually, since we don’t maintain a user database, the only times we collect personal data, are when users log into our wiki, or register for an event. However, we are increasingly using external services like Eventbrite to manage event registration, which means asking people to submit their name and email address to Eventbrite.

Our Cookie policy is based on the ICC guidance and essentially asks users for their implied consent to our use of cookies. The policy outlines the four categories of cookies and gives details of those we use on the JISC CETIS site. Like many other JISC services we now use Google Analytics to monitor how users are using our site. This helps us justify our work, but also understand what readers find useful and would like to see more of. The anonymous data we’ve collected through Google Analytics has enabled us to analyse the impact of some of our communications tools. For example, by using Google Analytics we now know that our newsletter is still widely read, and brings over 80 visitors to the site within two days of circulation.

Our current Learning Analytics project Analytics Reconnoitre is exploring many of the issues around collecting and analysing user data.

There is quite a lot of information available on complying with the new legislation. We found the following particularly useful:

JISC podcast:Cookie Law next steps

JISC’s Privacy and Cookie policies

ICC UK Cookie Guide

JISC Legal

We’d appreciate any feedback on our new policies and how you feel about cookies and using your data for web analytics. (And thanks to colleagues David Sherlock and Sharon Perry for writing the policies!).