Nigel Owen

January 20, 2023, by Helen Whitehead

Five minutes with… Nigel Owen

Today, we are with Nigel Owen.

What is your job role?

I head up the Learning Technology Section and it’s my job to enable a bunch of very talented pedagogists, media specialists and technologists support the University in improving its teaching and assessment using their expertise in technology and media. I do this through listening, reflecting, advocating, influencing and negotiating at senior levels within the University. A typical day could be making a case for resource at an approval board, identifying challenges and opportunities being mentioned in a working group or influencing for more time or greater involvement in an area at a committee meeting. There’s also a big people element to the role, thinking about the way the section works (our culture, values and behaviours), how we work together in a hybrid environment (communicate, collaborate and congratulate or console accordingly), training and individuals development and our wellbeing and safety. My role is one step removed from managing the challenges that arise from the operational delivery of services or the various interventions we are leading on. I have a team of very talented line managers who I liaise closely with who support staff working on these things. However, occasionally when things are significant or serious I will get involved in any escalation. I also have an unusual affinity for project and programme management so struggle to stay a healthy distance away from the larger programmes of work the section does and will often shape and structure programmes of work and champion them through to completion.

The other part to my role is as part of the libraries senior management team I collectively provide leadership to the department in the delivery of a broader range of library services (not just learning technology). This requires me to bring perspectives on strategy development and delivery, data and evidence based decision making, equality diversity and inclusion, financial management, our role in supporting research, education and student experience as well as civic agendas.

What 3 words describe you?

Visionary, enthusiastic and organised.

Tell us something ‘unusual’ about yourself

I’m a beaver scout leader and parish councillor. I’m really passionate about engaging the community in my local area with each other and the area. I’ve organised several community focussed events across our local area and it was really nice to be nominated for a regional award even if I didn’t win. I also own a full mobile disco set up and very occasionally DJ as a hobby!

What excites you about learning technology?

I don’t get excited about a specific technology per se. What does excite me is the opportunity available to the department to make a significant impact to the student experience. The reach of our tools into every corner of the University, across all campuses, used by every student end every member of staff mean that by focussing on and delivering high value initiatives we can have a massive impact. It’s a mind-boggling responsibility because we can also seriously undermine the student experience and dent the reputation of the University by providing substandard tools and services.

Do you have any top tips for our users?

Engage your faculty Learning Technology Consultants and Officers with your ideas, challenges and opportunities. They are there to provide consultancy services to you, not just fix things when they are broken.

What do you think will be the most important thing in learning technology at the University of  Nottingham this and the next academic year?

Can I have several things… In terms of impact it would be an equal tie between the main summer Moodle upgrade and our work to improve the usability and accessibility of the digital teaching experience. The improvements to the user interface in the main summer Moodle upgrade bring the Moodle bang up to date with a slick new navigation. Our programme of work around digital accessibility habits have the potential to enhance the teaching and learning experience through increased usability of materials regardless of whether an individual has declared a disability. On a slower track the conversations just warming up around the transformation of our assessment landscape have the potential to be game changing.

What have you learned recently?

That once a guide dog has finished it’s training, it’s sold to its new owner for the princely sum of 50p to cover the legal transfer of ownership from the guidedogs charity to its owner. However, from that point forward the guide dogs food, training and vets bill etc are still met by the guide dogs charity (about £55k-60k over the dogs life). I got absorbed in a presentation from someone who trains guide dogs to the Beaver Scouts.

More in this series

Posted in Five minutes with...Learning technologyUniversity of Nottingham Libraries