I recently ran a parallel session at the JISC Users & Innovation programme’s Next Generation Environments conference with my colleague Will Allen.

The session titled Too Much of a Good Thing? Individual & institutional responses to emergent technologies explored the implications of an ever-increasing range of web services that staff and students are using as well as, or even in preference to, the tools provided by their institution.

I started off with a presentation that posed lots of loaded questions designed to provoke an audience reaction (slides embedded at end of this post), such as can and should institutions control the tools individuals use? Are IT services the gatekeepers? How do we cater for the next generation arriving at our institutions with a range of user-owned technologies?

Will then ran a lively discussion session in which groups were tasked with answering questions like these from different perspectives. Despite an early start on the second day of the conference, we had a respectable turnout who certainly had plenty to say on the subject. In fact, they we’re still arguing about the best approaches well into the coffee break after the session.

And it seems interest in this subject wasn’t confined to the conference. I uploaded our slides to Slideshare to make them available to people who attended the session, but we we’re staggered to get over 1000 hits and 160 downloads in less than a week. It certainly helped that Slideshare made it a ‘featured presentation’, but I suspect that was based more on the nice (stock) photos than the content.

So hopefully we’ll have plenty of people to approach when it comes to writing this session up for the conference proceedings and for some other studies we’re about to start.

As to the rest of the conference, it was a very interesting event and it was great to talk to people trying out some really innovative stuff. But that’s another post…

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