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October 19, 2009

The ubiquitous university

(I have no idea what that title means by the way!)

We're thinking about topics for next year's Eduserv Symposium and the front runner right now (though, of course, things may well change) is to focus on some aspect related to ubiquitous computing, mobile devices, augmented reality, 'everyware', and the Internet of things.

Just a long list of buzzwords then I hear you cry?  Well, yes, maybe!

That said, it does seem to me that the impact of this particular set of buzzwords on universities (and other educational institutions) will be quite far-reaching... and therefore worth spending some time thinking about at a reasonably strategic level.  The immediate issue, for us, (and indeed, the reason for this blog post) is in choosing some kind of useful permutation of these topics to make for a reasonably focused, interesting, useful and, ultimately, well-attended symposium during May next year!

It strikes me that two aspects of these things are particularly interesting.

The first lies in pedagogy and, in particular on whether this growth in mobility (for want of a better phrase) lends itself to changes (for the better) in the way that learning and teaching happen in universities.

The second has to do with ownership and control.  As we move from a world in which universities provisioned ICT for their staff and students (services, software, hardware, and the network) to a world in which nearly all of that provisioning is, or at least can be, owned and controlled by the end-user, where does that leave the university as a provider of services?  In particular, where does it leave the role of IT Services departments?  Do they simply become a broker/facilitator between the end-user and a bunch of external providers?

Both areas look like potentially interesting topics and I'm minded to try and cover both on the day.  But I'd be very interested in hearing your views.  Does this look like a useful and interesting topic for our next symposium?  Have these issues been done to death elsewhere?  Would you attend (it is a free event followed by a very nice drinks reception after all!)?  Let me know what you think.  Thanks!


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Well, it appeals to me. The one thing I would say is that "Augmented Reality" looks a little shoehorned in there.

Where the others are general areas around ownership of technology, AR is more of a specific application, wouldn't you say?

Don't get me wrong, AR is probably my biggest area of interest and excitement right now and I'd like to see people start looking more closely at it. I just wonder whether it 'fits' with the overall feel and aim of the symposium..?

I'm really keen on the concept of ownership and control and the university's role in relation to its students in a world of 'always connected' - particularly from an identity perspective and service offerings to students that imply some ownership (email address, credentals etc) rather than just an affiliation. So I guess that is a positive from me, whatever buzzy word works next year :-)

My comment would be that both are interesting topics, though I think they will attract different audiences from within the sector. I guess it might depend on who you are targeting the event at.

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