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Digital education

Highlights of JISC Digifest 2017 – Day 1 – by Martin

27 March 2017

“At this year’s Digifest we celebrated the power of digital, its potential to transform and its capacity to revolutionize learning and teaching.”
This was the introduction to the JISC annual conference. The event brought educators, technologists, ed tech partners, and more to a two-day gathering of presentations, debates, keynotes, demos, and conversations. Our CEI learning technologist team couldn’t miss the opportunity. Four of our team (Marianna, Gethin, Owen and myself) were heading on Tuesday 14th of March to the Birmingham’s International Convention Centre for two days of inspiration, networking, exploring and even more. We received our badges, grabbed a coffee and headed to the welcome and plenary. There was a series of questions with polling and further debate by Jisc experts on the impact of modern technologies in learning and teaching. There were many parallel sessions, so each of us had a different schedule to cover as much sessions as possible. Here are some highlights from the sessions I attended.

How does technology enhanced learning contribute to teaching excellence

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Prof Paul Bartholomew from Ulster University and Dr Rhona Sharpe from Oxford Brookes University spoke about their examples of institutional support and approaches to teaching excellence. Paul made a statement at the beginning, which I completely agree with: “Technology enhanced learning doesn’t contribute to teaching excellence…people do“. Personally speaking this is something we (learning technologists) understand well. Further steps to teaching excellence were mentioned, including institutional support and the ability to recognize the needs of learners.


Plenary and keynote from Geoff Mulgan

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The keynote by Geoff Mulgan (chief executive and CEO, Nesta) was very inspiring and futuristic but I feel not all that far away from the future. Part of his speech was about processing big data into policy action. I agree that adaptiveness of educational tools to learners needs will play an important role in future.


I’ve got to make note about amazing catering services. All was very professional and all food and drink well prepared.

Learning analytics: study goal and data explorer

I was very much looking forward to this session for inspiration, however there was only basic information as far as the data analyst structure, and a quick view of the data analytics app (StudyGoal). The app is in its infancy and shows only basic data. But the interface looks very informative and hopefully the next generation will be more complex to analyse learner data.

Join the analytics party – exploring the full potential of using data to support learning

Further to previous session I joined analytics party to get more information about JISC services. A lot information was given by Phil Richards, chief innovation officer, clarifying JISC aims in this area. The LRW (Learning record warehouse) and system to gather and analyse the collected data have already been built. But there is still a lot of work to do. If you want to contribute with JISC in analytic area you can join by filling in this form.

How to engage students in employability at scale with

There was a very interesting demo of the platform to engage students with professional development. is great platform for personal tutors. It helps them to get to know the students better and provide more personalized advice.

Digital technology is fundamentally changing learning and teaching in Higher Education

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JISC couldn’t have organized a better end for the first day. The debate between Prof Neil Morris, director of digital education, University of Leeds and Amber Thomas, service owner: academic technology support, University of Warwick was really exciting and interesting. Is use of digital technology fundamentally changing Learning and Teaching or just an evolution of existing practice? It was great to hear different views and a quite balanced poll closed the first day of Digifest.

The second day of Digifest was attended by Marianna and myself. Here are some of my scheduled and favorite sessions (including DigiLab)