WST and Lean HE – a recap on October’s events

By Josephine Aylward, UCD Agile
The WST October 2020 Event

October was a busy month in Agile, with one more of the many ‘firsts’ of 2020 happening on 22nd October when we ran our annual Work Smarter Together October event in the online world – in keeping with the predominant theme of 2020.  We used Zoom Webinar – a relatively new experience for audience and presenters alike.

The theme for the event was Getting Things Done in the Distributed Office.  We were pleased with the response from UCD colleagues with over 300 registered for the event.

The event was in two parts: in the first, Tales from the Distributed Office, brought colleagues from across the University together to talk about how they have been making the ‘new normal’ work.  All the presentations and videos are available here.

We heard from colleagues across UCD, including:

  • Gregori Meakin from the Arts & Humanities Desk with a presentation entitled: The Innovation Game! Working Smarter Together…

Gregori showed how his team have reacted and responded to student needs and the lessons they’ve learned, and continue to learn, along the way.  Gregori demonstrated how his team made use of Google forms/sheets to deal with issues such as Late Extenuating Circumstances forms, while Wufoo was utilised for Online Manual Registration forms. The team found that sharing ideas, both within and with other teams, helped to develop innovative solutions for problems.

  • Peter McKiernan – EAG IT Services: Presentation on Productive Distributed Meetings

Peter described how G-Suite and Zoom combine to make meetings more productive, efficient and easier to manage in our distributed office environment.

  • Megan O’Neill and Sophie Bonheim – UCD Careers Network: Embracing Online Working: Three ways UCD Careers Network Discovered Hidden Opportunities

Megan and Sophie introduced innovations such as Instagram Live Events and created a successful ‘Careers Calling’ podcast series. They also described how the necessity of having to utilise the Virtual Recruitment Fair resulted in unforeseen benefits, such as employers being better able to target students by conducting profile searches.  The technology also benefitted students, who were able to engage in ‘private video chat’ with employers without interruption.

  • Trish Mountjoy – Head of Educational Technology Services: Distributed Team Working

Trish shared her team’s journey during lockdown, the lessons learned, the practicalities they faced around ways of working and the solutions they found – such as using Google Docs to track Tasks. 

Later that day we had a session from Jeremy Britton on: Running operations – innovative responses to customer needs and queries.

Jeremy showed how UCD has been using Wufoo, an online form builder, to respond to some of the many recent challenges faced in student/staff interactions resulting from the removal of existing infrastructure (such as phone and face to face contact).  Wufoo was introduced to manage the increase in online interactions, enabling colleagues to innovate and respond. This made it easier to provide the services and better meet the needs of those making contact.

Lean HE Global Festival – 19 to 23 October

Jeremy’s session was also part of the Lean HE Global Festival which took place online from 19-23 October. Agile had three presentations in the line-up, and it was our first time presenting at this annual event.  Plans are already in train for the next gathering, hopefully in person, in October 2021 in Glasgow.  Agile’s presentations and videos from the event are available on the Work Smarter Together website.

Attendance numbers and countries of origin were very interesting – 150 registrants joined colleagues from UCD for Agile’s Lean HE presentations.

For Jeremy’s session, UCD colleagues were joined by registrants from the UK and from as far afield as Finland and Brazil. 

On Tuesday 20th October Michael Sinnott’s presentation on Remit Mapping: Just what is your team doing now? drew attendees from the USA, UK, Canada, Singapore, Spain, along with UCD colleagues.

On Friday 23rd October Olga Murdoch spoke on the subject of Experience Mapping – Seeing through the eyes of our students.  Olga’s presentation was attended by registrants from the UK, the USA, Canada, Brazil and Finland, along with UCD colleagues.

It was great to see this level of interest in what we are doing in UCD, and also great to be able to bring our experiences to a wider audience.

In running these Zoom webinar sessions, each presenter had a ‘co-pilot’ – the MC – who kept track of audience engagement through Chat and the Q&A feature. Both presenters and audience members, once they became familiar with this, found it a great way to get ‘live’ answers to immediate questions. 

Learning from the event

The webinar format worked well.  Co-pilots on the sessions were essential, both from the viewpoint of managing the Q&A and Chat, but also to give the presenter a chance to have a friendly face to talk to – unlike in Zoom meetings, the audience in a Webinar is hidden from view, making it a strange experience for the presenter. 

Most of the sessions used Webinar Polls as a way of engaging with the audiences and these were quite effective.  We found that prior practice runs were essential to familiarise ourselves with what it is like to deliver a presentation remotely, as well as the many Webinar features available to us.

Feedback received following the event has been extremely positive.  Here is a selection of comments: 

Tales from the Distributed Office feedback:

“Opportunity to get together (albeit virtually) and hear how other parts of the university have adapted and made the most of the ongoing situation. Also, it was nice to have a distraction from the normal day of work and feel like I’m part of something bigger again.”

“great to see the initiative that different staff members and teams are taking; I learned some very useful things that I hope I can apply in my own work.”

“Good to reach out and make contact in these strange times”

“I think it [Chat/Q&A] works really well, especially the Q&A feature. I find that once someone asks a question a few more will follow!”

“.. it helped me feel part of the session”.

Some of the general comments on Jeremy’s presentation: Running operations – innovative responses to customer needs and queries:

“lots of insight into common issues and how to handle them”

“Illustration of how queries can be streamlined and acted on more quickly”

“Personalised the presentation with “real world” scenarios”

“While I was familiar with the content it was presented in a really helpful way – particularly as I have been encouraging the use of Wufoo in my current role”.

“It is positive to know that people are embracing change in terms of technology and paperless way of working.”

Overall, we were very happy to have facilitated this event, which served to bring people together in these days of the ‘Distributed Office’.