Skip to main content


The annual EDUCAUSE conference attracted 8,000 people to the Philadelphia convention centre, including four of us from the University of Edinburgh.  My colleagues were giving presentations, while my main reason for attending was the pre-conference workshop on Enterprise Architecture and Digital Transformation, which I blogged about last week.

The conference itself offered a smorgasbord of options.  I mainly attended sessions about new technologies, which I blogged about on the Applications Directorate blog, and a few others which consolidated my existing interests.  If these topics weren't to your taste, there were also sessions about research, learning technologies, enterprise systems, leadership development, equality and diversity, and many other aspects of IT in higher education.

The exhibit hall gave opportunities to talk to many vendors, from the large established corporations to the newcomers in "startup alley". I chatted to several CRM vendors, and looked at other technologies such as cloud authentication services.

Of course, there were also informal conversations, which are always interesting to find out what other institutions are doing and which challenges they face.

Overall, I found EDUCAUSE 2017 a very useful experience.  

My blog posts:
Artificial Intelligence, Clouds and Prediction: Day 1 of Educause 2017/

Nudged Users, Distributed Security and Voice Control: Days 2 & 3 of Educause 2017/

My colleagues' presentations:
Research Data Management International and Institutional Intersections

Discover the Treasures of Benefits Mapping


Popular posts from this blog

Why the UCISA Capability Model is useful

What do Universities do?

This may seem a strange question to ask and the answer may seem obvious.  Universities educate students and undertake research.  And perhaps they work with industrial partners and create spin-off companies of their worn.  And they may work with local communities, and affiliation bodies for certain degress, and they definitely report on their activities to government bodies such as HEFCE.  They provide student services and support.  The longeryou think about it, the more things you can think of that a University does.

In business, the things that an organisation does are called "capabilities", which is a slightly strange term.  I think it is linked to the HR idea of a combination of the CAPacity and ABILITY to do a task.  Whatever the name, it is a useful concept.  A capability is more basic than a process: a University may change the way it educates students but as long as it remains a University it will educate them one way or another.

A capability …

"No more us & them"

WonkHE recently posted an interesting opinion piece with the title Academics and Administrators: No more ‘us and them’. In that post, Paul Greatrix rebutted criticisms of professional services (administrative) staff in Universites from some academics. To illustrate his point, he quoted recent articles in which administrators were portrayed as a useless overhead on the key tasks at hand (teaching and research).

This flows both ways, as Greatrix himself points out. As Enterprise Architect, I work with Professional Services colleagues and I have heard some of them express opinions that clearly fail to understand the nature of academic work. Academics cannot be treated as if they were factory workers, churning out lectures on a treadmill.

I think these comments reveal a fundamental clash of ideas about how a University should work. Some people who come into management positions for other sectors tend to frame the University as a business, with students and research funders as customers t…

Changing Principles

In EA, architecture principles set a framework for making architectural decisions.  They help to establish a common understanding across different groups of stakeholders, and provide guidance for portfolios and projects.  Michael Durso of the LSE gave a good introduction to the idea in a webinar last week for the UCISA EA community.

Many organisations take the TOGAF architecture principles as a starting point.  These are based on the four architectural domains of TOGAF: business, information/data, applications, technology/infrastructure.  These principles tend to describe what should be done, e.g. re-use applications, buy in software rather than build it, keep data secure.  See for example the principles adopted at Plymouth University and the University of Birmingham.

Recently though, I encountered a different way of looking at principles.  The user experience design community tend to focus more on how we should do things.  E.g. we should start with user needs, use iterative developm…