Moving to pastures new

Great news – I’ve got a new role. From the start of June – I will be heading up Service Delivery at the Open University based in Milton Keynes.  Once before in my career (when I saw an advert for the Britannia role in the Sunday Times), I have seen a job and thought “That’s the job for me – I really hope I get this one“. The same happened again with this.

I’m excited for a number of reasons. The job is in a new sector – so it’s a great opportunity to learn about new things and what makes an educational institution tick. When I came back from holiday on a plane with a load of Manchester University Students last week, I had a good long chat with them about how they use IT in their studies, what is provided by the university and how they use social networking tools as well. Much to think about.

The Open University is doing some very innovative things. Clearly it has been a leader for many years in the field of distance learning. But, as in many industries,  new technology is a very disruptive influence. The barriers to entrance for other organisations are lowering day by day. As pressure on other universities grow with increasing fees, they will move into other markets. But also that same fee pressure must be causing students to look at other ways to do degrees, creating opportunities.

From what I can see at this early stage, the OU is responding by embracing technology, including new apps for course material on mobile devices, and significant developments to their internal student systems. Service provision during change will be key for the 6000 lecturers and 250,000 students.  So, much to do in this new role. The CIO wrote an interesting article here, in Computer Weekly for any one interested in more about the OU and its IT.

On a more personal note, whilst living away from home is not ideal, I’m planning on doing lots more bell ringing. There are some great rings of 12 bells in Bedford and Leighton Buzzard close by, so this will be a great opportunity to dust off all those 12 bell methods that I used to know. I’ve even discovered my new PA is a bell ringer – it’s a small world!


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