FOTE 2011 reflection…

Missed the boat somewhat on this one but here’s some (somewhat delayed) thoughts from FOTE 2011 (see the videos here)

As expected the BYOD debate brought up some interesting points, the most pertinent ones below…

  • BYOD should always have the core value of choice be that the type of device, OS, apps or indeed whether to bring something in at all
  • going down the road of making a personal device a mandatory requirement in the same way we see a pen in my mind defeats the whole object of BYOD \ personalisation and judging by the Twitter wall others agreed
  • support for such a wide range of devices could prove problematic, especially on a large scale but if you start with “supported” device lists you make the whole exercise somewhat pointless – see point 1 😉
  • in FE \ HE significant numbers of students own a device that could be used for BYOD but nowhere near as many wanted to bring it in, be that for security concerns transporting expensive kit across a city or just the inconvenience of carrying the device around. The fixed workstation is here to stay, though whether that will be in the form of VDI or traditional PCs is a debate for another day!
  • Software licensing for BYOD is still a big problem, time for education to collectively kick some backside at *certain* software companies, who might not begin with A and end in dobe!
  • Above all of this an easily overlooked factor is location (location location). No point in providing great tech if the students don’t have a suitable communal area to use it! Luckily we’re already thinking along those lines…
Another interesting point that cropped up during BYOD and Emily-Ann Nash’s presentation was a (lack of) communication between students and “IT” which often results in people not knowing handy services even exist. There was an interesting point when someone asked “well if the students don’t come to us when we organise meetings how do we know what they want?”

Answer… go out and talk to them!

Personally I found it surprising that the question even needs asking as I’ve always believed in providing a personable and accessible service to students and seeing how they’re using technology in their courses and study time. Not only does it create a better relationship with your users but you also get to know the learners and see how they progress over their time at your institution. It’s great stuff and certainly were our IT team is in Adult Education you see it working on a daily basis (BIS take note!)

On a techie note had some interesting discussions about the joys of Moodle 2 migrations, still looking for a convincing explanation of the new file system and how you can “sell” it to tutors wondering why everything they’ve learnt for the past couple of years has gone out the window in the new version. Looks like there’s still some extremely irritating gremlins even in 2.1 so will be holding off for a bit longer to see if 2.2 and beyond makes life a bit easier…

(thanks go to WordPress \ Chrome for managing to delete 3/4 of this post in the middle of writing it, luckily no blunt implements were nearby at the time or my new monitor might have ended up with an early “stress test”…)
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