Preserving the jam

In a twist on the vernacular of modern higher education, our first – indeed the world’s first – unijam undoubtedly qualified as a MOOC – a Massive Open Online Consultation.

The scope and scale of the 38-hour jam session are spelled out in the accompanying UniSA News story, but I want to take the opportunity to reiterate my thanks to everyone who provided their time and input to what really was a memorable, university-wide event.

Not only the far-reaching, deeply-engaging conversations that emerged and evolved throughout the course of the jam. But also to the scene-setting events across all campuses during the pre-jam ‘party day’ and the other activities that complemented unijam.

Among the remarkable data surrounding the jam is that the jammers (as they have come to be called), throughout that 38 hours, spent an accumulated time of just under 130 million seconds jamming. That’s approximately equivalent to 20 years work’s worth of time.

When averaged out, it also means each individual who logged on to the jam site spent an average of almost seven hours either following or taking part in the discussions.

To put that into even sharper focus, when the contribution made by the 2411 UniSA staff who logged on is viewed in isolation, we see they each spent an average of about 10.5 hours jamming.

In other words, one and a half working days per staff member during which time we were able to canvass the thoughts and seek the feedback of the entire institution – across campuses and divisions, whether academic or professional.

This represents a comprehensive and instantaneous means by which we’ve been able to consult and contextualise the major issues of our university, and use the findings to inform our strategic planning. All in the course of 38 hours.

The traditional method of sourcing this information throughout the university – campus meetings, information sessions, surveys and questionnaires, further feedback – has historically occupied an average of around seven working weeks.

So what happens to all the ideas, observations, questions and potential answers that were floated during the jam?

Well, the Herculean job of collating and analysing that wealth of material now rests with IBM. And while many of the items that arose during the jam will require closer scrutiny and deeper interrogation, there were a number of comparatively straightforward, easy to implement suggestions that we’ve labelled the ‘just do its’.

A number of these have been collated and presented to the University of South Australia community in order to seek its response as to the top five jam ideas our people would most like to see become reality.

You can check out those suggestions and vote on your favourite here.

I must stress that these are not the most strategically significant, nor indeed the ‘best’ ideas to emerge from the jam. They are just ideas that came up that we think make sense to just do.

There are a number of other ‘just do its’ that didn’t make the poll list, simply because they will take a little longer to successfully implement to ensure that we get their delivery right.

And then there’s the longer-term ambitions and visions that are being written into our next corporate blueprint, which is what we are working on now with a view to presenting it to the University Council within coming weeks.

From my perspective, the most satisfying, illuminating element of unijam was watching – and, on a number of occasions, being part of – conversations that fused the views of students, staff and alumni from vastly different geographies in a manner that was at once good-natured and constructive.

It was a heart-warming and timely reminder of the innate value of dialogue, albeit in a 21st Century digital form.

And my favourite unijam quote came from one of our undergraduate students who posted: “unijam is probably one of the best things I’ve seen come through in my four years of study at UniSA. Such an innovative idea that really highlights the forward thinking for the uni community ‘voice’ to be heard – this is community development in action”.

The good news is we’re not putting a lid on the jam.

Until the end of June, you can visit the unijam site, or even register if you weren’t previously involved and then peruse the myriad of threads and posts at your leisure.

And I encourage you all to keep contributing your ideas, your comments and your opinions about ways we can improve your University through our Facebook and Twitter pages.

I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks again.

Areas of study and research

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