2023 Reflection

It has been a while since I sat down with my thoughts. I have been talking about making time to blog and reflect and today is the day!  If you’re new here, hello! This will not be an ideological masterpiece or reference books I read related to the role but more a personal reflection for me on me, but you can read it (just don’t tell anyone!).

My 2023 will be the year of procurement, digital badges, and supporting the team (bored reading about AI so omitting it until Jan 2024).

I have previously blogged about digital badges and how they have emerged from the pit of edu-tech doom and evolved into something that has value for issuers, earners and anyone else who is interested in the recognition of skills, achievements or competencies. I have also talked about replacing standalone credit that equates to nothing in the real world and longer term how institutions will need to offer digital versions of credit as the death of paper accelerates. I get it that people will still want to frame awards etc I just think that may be a minority.

The team has done a fantastic job completing a procurement and establishing a service to support a 3-year pilot which we hope will extend with the pending new fun aka the short course platform. In just over 6 months we have issued over 1.5k badges, created and supported a badge governance process, created numerous guides and snazzy webpages, and planned to experiment with badge pathways in 2024. If you are interested have a peek at the webpage: https://edin.ac/3Waglnj and yes that is a badger wearing a jacket with badges (they are called Bo the badger).

I can only see badge popularity and use cases growing however I have concerns regarding the quality of products in the market, cost (platform prices vary vastly) and openness of underlying badge frameworks and portability. With Instructure hoovering up Badgr and now Parchment a big player is making an early move and the wider impact will be interesting to watch.

Procurements are always interesting and when the outcome is a brand new service it’s even more ‘exciting’. At this point I am going to read your mind, are you thinking something along the lines of…

‘Wow Wow, Myles is that a typo!, has the eggnog gone to your head!’ 

The answer is no, in a weird and slightly concerning way it’s been fascinating to work with the project team to collaborate, collate, refine and produce a vision with key stakeholders for a new centrally supported platform that will allow the public to view CPD, PPD and any other short courses. pay (if required) and access a dedicated learning platform or be sent any relevant course information. 

Ok, in reality, the devil is in the details and creating clear and concise questions that suppliers need to answer is a challenge. Interpreting those answers and scoring them is a bigger challenge especially then the question set is over 100 questions! Then agreeing to scores and feedback is a bigger challenge! It’s like Mortal Combat but without the combat as that would involve HR (however sometimes I think it would have been quicker to just have the combat).

So why did we need to go into the combat ring of procurement? Currently, these types of courses are delivered via numerous platforms, can be an admin burden to support staff, provide an inconsistent and sometimes poor learner experience and may be breaching software licenses (moving on swiftly). To summarise it’s very Edinburgh. everyone is doing something different.  So, we proposed a change as we saw a clear gap and after lots of conversations, papers, presentations, and acronym searching we secured support from senior management and a budget from the institution. Instructure and Drieam won the procurement, and I look forward to working with them in 2024.

I manage a small team and also deputize for the section head. I enjoy both and am fortunate to be surrounded by people I respect and enjoy working with each day but this year has taught me to be a human first and a manager second. Work-life balance has always been important to me, especially with a family and growing up in a family where that balance did not exist and witnessing the impact on people’s mental and physical health has always been a valuable lesson to me.

I work hard as Myles Blaney team manager, technical lead, senior service manager, internal consultant, HR rep for the team, information security rep for the section, procurement mediator, badge specialist, and everything else in between. So, I need time to be Myles Blaney gym enthusiast, bike rider, Newcastle United fan, MMA fan, gamer, husband, dad, son, brother, dad taxi, family event planner, and spectator to name a few. I am lucky to have control of my balance due to my supportive manager but I also need to take control of it when I have it and not to quickly check or reply to a ping in teams.

Lastly, AI! It’s here to stay and we are only at the base of the hype curve. I have dabbled this year with Karen into what other institutions are doing and it’s another blog I will post in Jan 2024. Exciting and terrifying at the same time but not new just quicker, faster and better.




One thought on “2023 Reflection

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.