Reflections on UCISA 16 conference

“Sue, that is surely the best conference I have ever attended”

This was what I said to Sue Fells who is the Business and Operations Manager at UCISA. Rarely have I come away from a conference and felt that something happened when I was there that will make me think completely differently. To attend a conference where each presentation leaves you asking questions is very very rare but that is exactly what happened.

When I was thinking and preparing about how I was going to write this blog I was wondering what pieces would be most interesting to staff in Apps Division, what could I take back that would encourage people to build on what we were doing and what could really motivate people to develop the initiatives we are heavily underway with?

So my planning for this started before I went, which sessions would I go to? Which vendors would I speak to? How could I use this time with the Director and other colleagues to really make the most out of the event? Lots of plans, lots of ideas, great I’m ready to go!

What I didn’t expect was that a lot of my preparation as it turns out would be replaced by my reaction to the experience!!!

I could go into length about the sessions I went to, I have many notes I can assure you. But in truth pictures paint more words than I should in a blog and so with that in mind I have linked two of the key presentations into this blog. I would encourage everyone who reads this to take a look at my highlight talks… Really it’s worth it.

First of All

California dreamin’ presented by Hilary Baker, Vice President for Information Technology and CIO at California State University.

Hilary’s presentation surrounded the approach she and her colleagues had taken to engage with their students (41548 students) at CSU, to encourage them to participate in the development of their own experience at the University, with the ultimate objective of increasing student graduation rates.

Hilary asked students how they could use technology to make it better for them as they tried to manage their degree process, navigate their experience at the University and also to prepare them for careers in the future. What a great package of objectives!

They set up a competition called AppJam where students were invited to create teams of students with skills from a range of specialist areas who would collaborate to develop ideas and mock-ups and prototypes for apps that could be incorporated into the institutional App called CSUN mobile. The students would be asked to present their ideas and prototypes and a winner would be chosen which would actually become a real part of the App. I guess they got 24 teams because they also had a rather nice cash reward into the bargain, but again lots of great real world experience there.

Have a look at the presentation and learn how this all went and why they are going to grow the idea going forward!

Really inspirational ideas and commitment from Hilary and her team.

A great phrase Hilary used really underlined the real success story of their project. “Students Can No Longer Escape Learning”


Creative Leadership by Jamie Anderson, Professor of Strategic management at Antwerp Management School and Visiting Professor at London Business School.

Now this is what you call a life changer. I defy anyone to see this presentation and to not be blown away by it! Really I think this is surely one of the most insightful presentation I have seen ever!

Jamie takes the audience on a journey of self-discovery, something that will leave you really thinking about many diverse things but specifically what we all need to do in order to be creative in our work.

I will not spoil the fantastic experience of following him on the journey and encourage you to take about 45 minutes to treat yourself!

If there was ever a presentation that would make you sit up and listen then his is it.

Please do take a look at this!

All of the presentations can be found here, and registration is a simple process of adding your email address.