JISC RSC at the AOC 2012 – can we better it next year?

Graciano Soares, JISC RSC London Manager

Graciano Soares, JISC RSC London Manager

So enthused I was at the JISC RSC breakout session this year at the AoC that I found myself twitting a lot more than I normally would in a session where I also had the role of facilitating discussions. It was multitasking at its best.

It is the fifth consecutive year that the JISC RSC is at the forefront of bringing good practice with technology from the regions to the AoC. In all this time, feedback has been consistently good and this time a delegate from the North West region said,

“It was the best ever AOC session I’ve attended!”

Our theme this year was Extra dimensions: Adding Value to Learning. I introduced it by placing Uxbridge College and the College of North West London at the centre with the JISC RSC as a key player in their drive for excellence with technology.

It was good to see college Principals and senior managers from across the country there. Something special about the way we organise our participation at the AoC is the introduction of the college presentations done by their own senior managers. This year, Darrell De Souza, Vice Principal of Uxbridge College, and Vicki Fagg, Principal of CNWL introduced their speakers, Nicola Prime (e-Learning Manager) and Gavin Hughes (Director of Student Services), and Tony Delahunty (e-Learning Manager) and Grethe Woodward (Head of Business and Computing Faculty), respectively.

As I said in my introduction, we opted for this model as a symbolic representation of the value we place in the support from Principals and Senior Managers to those with the responsibility to plan and develop the college’s digital capacity.

Revisiting my tweets on the train back to London the enthusiasm that made me write them has not faded one iota. Two of my favourite ones referred to how the colleges’ presentations evidenced the different ways they were using technology to achieve key strategic objectives.

Uxbridge’s pursuit to become an e-College continues. Back in 2008 Uxbridge went through our first e-progress review and their vision for technology was already impressive. Having led on a second e-PR, Nicola Prime talked about her strategy to develop staff e-confidence. Gavin Hughes talked about how Uxbridge has managed to emulate institutions such as the Open University and successfully offer real paper-free online enrolment. Uxbridge’s vision for technology comes through naturally when they say that they want to continue to be in the top-10 users of the JISC e-books for FE.

CNWL’s presentation drew on inspiration from the JISC RSC London e-Factor 2012, where they saw Newham College’s use of animation for student induction. Tony demonstrated their captivating animation to help students internalise important messages in a fun and innovative way. My tweet highlighted CNWL’s Principal commitment to look for e-solutions to administrative challenges.

Over our 12 years of work at the JISC RSC we have seen the positive impact that strong leadership can have on a college’s deployment of technology. What the presentations also highlighted to me was how much benefit colleges get when they know how to engage with us.

I always finish my reflections on the AoC looking ahead to the following year. Next time I want to build on the positive reactions from the delegates and the tremendous success of the JISC RSC sessions to expand them into a two, if not three-day affair. I would be very happy if next year, instead of the JISC RSC running a single 1-hour breakout session at the AoC, we ran one on each day of the conference to offer college senior managers more choice to engage with trends and best practice with technology. This will give us more time to showcase straight to Principals and senior managers more examples of how technology is helping colleges achieve key objectives while showcasing a greater variety of services and products from JISC that underpin college’s successful use of technology.

I can’t help it, but I am truly looking forward to AOC 2013.

Graciano Soares
Regional Manager, JISC RSC London