Articles from Jisc

Staff or students often responsible for university and college cyber-attacks

Earlier this year, the FE and HE technology solutions not-for-profit, Jisc, conducted a  survey of its members to find out their attitudes towards cyber security, which found that colleges are over-estimating their ability to guard against cyber attacks.

National learning analytics service seeks to boost student attainment and cut drop outs

The world’s first national learning analytics service has been launched for the UK’s further and higher education sectors (FE and HE). It has the potential to transform students’ learning experience, support their wellbeing and boost achievement.

Minister backs college teacher skills to help pandemic-proof digital education

70% of teachers in the FE sector are confident at trying out new technologies. 81% feel motivated to use technology, working to ensure learners get the best possible education during the pandemic and beyond. @Jisc

Colleges under-estimate risk of cyber attacks

Earlier this year, the FE and HE technology solutions not-for-profit, Jisc, conducted a survey of its members to find out their attitudes towards cyber security. Here, the author of the survey, Jisc’s head of security operations centre, Dr John Chapman, talks about the main findings:

High fliers of social media in UK further education and skills

Social media in further education (FE) was put to plenty of good use last year – but what did you think were some of the best examples delivered in 2015?Did you admire how a colleague used hashtags to start conversations with peers on Twitter? Were you swept up with the rapid ascent of Periscope and how it quickly caught on by sector pioneers for its power to engage and recruit learners through video capture? What about those using Medium for blogging? Or perhaps you're a skills provider who used Facebook groups to keep in touch with learners on placement?With so much good going on, it's only natural to want to celebrate it. And that's exactly what we at Jisc intend to do.Some of you may remember that last summer we ran a competition to find 50 of the most influential higher education (HE) professionals on social media. Our thinking behind the initiative was it would allow us to highlight exceptional individuals and the work they were doing, so that others across the sector could take inspiration and try out new ideas.We were delighted with the amount of responses we received, and also by just how many creative and inventive ways people were using social – we knew it existed, but it was excellent to see it highlighted in such a clear way.What's more, it reminded us that good practice can spread across job titles and departments, and can meet all sorts of different needs cases – with our final 50 featuring a mix of academics, vice-chancellors, librarians and IT staff, each demonstrating varied and outstanding applications of social media in HE.From using Facebook groups for peer assisted learning to Periscope for streaming live events, the selected individuals showed how they maximised the use of all sorts of social channels for teaching and learning.During this competition there were lots of enquiries from people working in FE and skills about whether we'd be doing something similar in their sector. That was absolutely always our intention – and I'm pleased to announce that the call for FE and skills practitioners is now open!The nominations for this competition will work in exactly the same way as before. If you, or someone you know, has used social media innovatively to positive effect – whether that's to inspire and support learners or other members of staff, or prompt a change within your organisation – you can go to the website to enter (although please do check first if you're entering on someone's behalf).We'll be looking for the following when deciding who makes the top 50, so think about how social media has been used to:• Address a specific need or challenge• Have a positive impact at your institution or on the wider community• Overcome any barriers in learning, teaching or research• Create efficiencies such as costs, time savings or improved outputs• Implement best practiceNominations close on Wednesday 3 February and will then go to a panel of social media experts from Jisc and the wider community to whittle the entrants down.A list of the top 50 will be announced on our website and Jisc social media channels for Digifest, which takes place on 2-3 March 2016. We'll also be highlighting some of the good practice during the festival, so make sure you check it out.Read the full guidelines and criteria, submit your entry, and join in the conversation using the hashtag #Jisc50social.Tom Mitchell is Jisc group social media manager

It’s our duty to use digital data if it supports learners

Depending on who you speak to, learning analytics is either a great enabler for transforming further education (FE) delivery, a ‘Big Brother’ abuse of learners’ privacy, or simply ‘not for us’. Jisc's Phil Richards cuts through the myth, exploring the challenges, benefits and opportunities for colleges.

A high quality and resilient further education and skills sector

In any conversation about further education (FE) and skills, it's impossible to escape the topic we British so often like to avoid: money.

Changes to Jisc funding for FE colleges

Regarding the changes to Jisc funding for FE colleges, a Jisc spokesperson said:

What colleges going through the area reviews need to know

Further education (FE) in England is being strengthened and reformed by UK Government, with area reviews one of the most significant planks in this process.Area reviews are set to strengthen the sustainability and delivery of FE in England. It is government's belief that reviewing the provision of vocational education across the country, and the prospect of organisational mergers, will allow the country to move towards fewer, larger, more resilient and efficient colleges, that support collaboration and strengthen local partnerships.It's a big aspiration, of course – and attaining this utopian vision where every college is financially resilient, viable and offering exceptional learning environments that meet local demands, is no small task.Fundamental to achieving this transformation, is the effective use of technology.At Jisc we've long held the conviction that increased use of technology is the key to unlocking new efficiencies and excellent teaching and learning.The FE commissioner, Department for Education (DfE) and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) also agree, seeing technology as critical in supporting the delivery of the area reviews and implementing the outcomes successfully.As the digital technology organisation for the sector, by the sector, we are committed to supporting colleges through this process.We have services and skills to support the use of technology and provide efficiencies for colleges – particularly when that relates to creating an infrastructure and delivery model that is technology-led, based on shared service models, effective, efficient and fit for the future, and regarded as world leading.For the area reviews to be effective, it's important to get a clear view of current provision at both the institutional and local level, where it needs to go – and how technology can help you to get there.As each wave of area reviews gets underway, we are here to offer our help and support you to make informed decisions around your use and need for technology.We attend an initial meeting with college principals and governors, ahead of the first steering group, where we explain how we can help provide them with the information they need to make informed decisions about how technology can work for everyone at the college.One of the ways we're attempting to support colleges is by offering free tools to make a 'deep dive' into their current operations.After the initial meeting, we will provide participating colleges with a link to a specially-developed online technology review tool, along with guidance and a deadline for completion, which will allow them to establish technology usage and effectiveness, and identify improvements to back office systems and curriculum delivery.We'll also provide them with an online financial review tool to assess technology-related expenditure.Data analysis from both review tools will enable us to provide principals and governors with intelligence that should help them to make informed decisions. For example, using this data we can advise colleges on potential efficiency savings by using technology more effectively, and suggest alternative technology approaches, such as improvements to back office systems and teaching, learning and assessment practices.It's then up to the college to implement these recommendations and if needed, we're on hand once again to support by highlighting particular technologies and tools that will be beneficial.We'll be in touch as your area starts to go through the reviews. Look out for an email from Jisc, or in the meantime find out more about our area review process, speak with your account manager or call the customer contact centre on 0203 006 6077.Sue Attewell is head of change for FE and skills at Jisc

Supporting you through the FELTAG recommendations

The publication of the FELTAG report and the Government Response to FELTAG, which was looking to find how we can best support the further education sector with the evolution of new technologies, for the benefit of learners, employers and the UK economy, has been met with a lot of enthusiasm. But, there has also been some confusion, especially around the definition of a 10% wholly online course component.Has the question 'are further education providers supposed to be having 10% of their courses delivered online by 2016', been echoing round your staff room? Well now we have the answer from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) through their 'delivering online learning: SFA response to FELTAG report'. ??The SFA response commits providers to producing a strategy which looks at a greater blend of delivery and assessment types. It explicitly states that it is not expecting them to convert 10% of learning delivery to online methods.I work at Jisc, a charity whose vision is to make the UK the most digitally advanced education nation in the world. What I'm most pleased about is that this clarity will enable us to work with partner organisations to support the sector to achieve the recommendations in an efficient and effective way. We can now act on our objectives to enable all providers to achieve a more blended learning offer.What's happening now ?As the report's recommendations affect a number of agencies and sector bodies we felt the best starting point was to get everyone from across the sector in one room. Everyone needed to actively participate and agree on what we could do together to make all the relevant recommendations a reality for learners in a collaborative way. SFA, BIS, NIACE, AELP, HOLEX, Gazelle Group, 157 Group, Institute of Education, AoC, Natspec, Tinder, ETF and WEA were all involved. In addition, OFSTED and ALT, who were unable to join the initial meeting, will participate in the future.Together we identified the areas where no or little activity was already in place to support learning providers and identified the six areas where our activity would have the biggest impact and the smallest amount of duplication:Set up a Collaborative Sector Forum to deliver for the sector?The group want to support a forum of the further education sector bodies. This will provide oversight and/or coordination of our approach when delivering the FELTAG recommendations. It will also allow monitoring of action taken.Engage students through a variety of activities?One of the most important elements of the work around FELTAG is ensuring that all these activities are delivering for students. By working together to promote existing student engagement projects and innovation and develop new projects we can make sure that these activities are meeting learners' needs.Get your help to design the curriculum ?We all want to engage employers and learners more directly in designing courses and programmes, by offering them the opportunity to collaborate on curriculum design. This should bring the sector together and improve approaches to a blended learning.Provide leadership and governance around the use of digital technology at a UK level?By developing training and support for leaders and managers, we would enable them to understand how they can best use technology to educate their learners and make efficiencies within their college. This would include advice and guidance around strategic decisions.Help bring together a pool of discoverable online resources for the sector ?As a group we will encourage and support student-generated content and provide more effective approaches for staff to discover and create learning resources. This will help to promote usage of the content and also the creation of future high quality materials.Build a best practice workforce that are digitally qualified ?The group will create a further education online academy to enable the entire teaching workforce to become professional digital practitioners. The academy would look to develop digital literacy and confidence in using tech. It may also include validation and accreditation qualifications, bring together existing resources, allow crowdsourcing to promote the sharing of ideas/resources and ultimately help future proof the sector.The government response to the FELTAG Recommendations makes it clear that digital technologies are central to the future for learners and the workforce in the FE and Skills sector. Providers are encouraged to use digital technologies to support all aspects of their work, especially learning, teaching and assessment. The government wants to encourage greater use of 'blended learning': a mix of face to face and technology-based learning. This will, firstly, meet the needs of employers and those in employment. Secondly, this wider use of digital technologies can release cost savings and efficiencies for learning providers. If you would like any support with the FELTAG recommendations please contact our Regional Support Centres and keep your eye out for further updates on this joint work.Paul McKean is further education and skills customer advocate at Jisc, which provides digital solutions for UK education and research

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Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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