Great Auk from Birds of America (1827) by John James Audubon (1785 - 1851), etched by Robert Havell (1793 - 1878). The original Birds of America is the most expensive printed book in the world and a truly awe-inspiring classic.

Looking Ahead!

St Lubbock’s Day! Well one of them. One of the things about bank holidays that come after a long break is that I always feel that it’s like a “get ready for work day”. I’m lucky, often I am recovering from jet lag from a skiing holiday, in readiness to get ready for the first working day of the year, but as with last year, and in common with so many others who I work with, this break was spent keeping mixing and travelling to a minimum. 

I would like to be optimistic going into 2022, I would like to believe that we will see each other again soon. I was looking at my calendar this morning as part of my “New Year Routine”. I have visits planned to institutions to do research, workshops, and conferences. So I am trying to remain both optimistic, but also planning to be flexible. 

One of the great things that helped me way back in the first lock down – nearly 2 years ago, was Ken Bauer-Favel’s #Educoffee, meeting a really diverse set of people on a different continent (to me)! It helped me generate new ideas and changed my thinking on other things. It’s an open meeting, just message Ken and ask for details, if you’re interested in education and want to meet new people do head along to it. In 2021 Paul Bailey started #EdtechCoffee, usually on Friday Afternoons, which takes a weekly look at topics in the EdTech world – this was surprisingly international with colleagues joining from Europe, South America and North America – I think the timings weren’t great for the antipodes. Two great initiatives that I will be returning to this year, no matter what happens. 

At the end of last year, with great support from Steve Hutchinson and Sam Nolan at Durham, Donna Lanclos and I finished a fairly big chapter (bigger than we’d planned) in the book “Leading Innovation and Creativity in University Teaching:Implementing Change at the Programme Level” – our chapter focuses on leveraging change, and I am looking forward to seeing the whole book. Donna and I also worked with one of Jisc’s new staff, Jasmine Price, on a paper about research we’d done during 2021, using the research instruments that we’ve used on previous research, but looking at the pandemic experience of students. Jazz is the lead author on that paper, and she also did a fantastic 5 minute video poster at ALT’s Winter conference about the research. This year I have committed to finishing writing the “leadership and digital” book that Donna and I started before lockdown. But I think one of the hardest things about that will be going back through the chapters we have finished and reworking them given what we have experienced and learned in the last 18 months. 

2021 was also an especially privileged year for me, and I was conferred as Honorary Professor at Keele Institute for Innovation & Teaching Excellence, University of Keele. I am extremely grateful to Helen O’Sullivan, Kristyan Spelman Miller, and Rafe Hallett. The appointment immediately gave me access to the university ethics and research facilities, and Rafe, myself and Matt Street immediately started researching the experience of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students during the pandemic, revealing key insights about assessment and online learning that we hope will have an impact in the future. This is a longitudinal study, and will run for quite a while yet. More work and findings to come in 2022. I also hope to be working with some students on digital leadership. 

I am in the early stages of a new opportunity to design and teach some modules on a professional Masters Course in the Autumn. This is really exciting for me, and my colleagues in the Jisc team, as it gives us first hand experience of the problems experienced by academics, it also gives me the chance to revisit my undergrad degree in Environmental Science – more on this later in the year. 

So what’s this post about? Well when I look at what I plan to do in 2022 a lot of it revolves around two things: the first is collaborating with people – engaging with others to find things out and create understanding, and the second is writing, not something I am comfortable doing.  So in some ways this post really isn’t about anything, other than getting into the habit of sitting, doing, and thinking out loud. 

I wish everyone a good 2022, and I genuinely hope I get to see and work with many of you.

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