Earlier this month around 350 colleagues working in IT at Oxford were welcomed to this year’s ICTF conference. With four fantastic plenaries and a host of breakout sessions, the conference was packed with talks to inspire, inform and engage. Rumours of great freebies were not unfounded, but the content and the chance to network with colleagues made the day even better value.
After a brief welcome from the ICTF Committee Chair, Leia Yeomans, the University’s CIO, Seán Duffy, kicked things off with an overview of some key IT projects. Seán also looked forward to the next IT priorities, highlighting the need to improve the value and effectiveness of services across the University.
Key highlights of the day included the plenary speakers. Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, MBE, co-founder of STEMettes, gave some insight to her personal journey into technology and how she inspires the next generation of females. Anne-Marie spoke about the representation of women in technology and how recruitment practices, among other things, need to change to improve the diversity of the technology workforce.
Tobias J. Koch of e-Estonia shared his story of the Estonian digital transformation. He spoke of how this relatively new country has invested in IT solutions to move basic services into a fully digital mode, improving efficiency for citizens.
Speaking about the conference’s chosen charity, Simon Richardson of IT Schools Africa explained how they work with prisons, unemployed people, volunteers and schools in the UK to refurbish unused computers for the benefit of students in Africa. These computers are then shipped to schools in Africa where they are used for several more years.
The final plenary from Dave Coplin of The Envisioners gave us his continually evolving talk, “Rise of the Humans”. His quick-fire delivery and thought-provoking eyeopeners on education and working practices, showed how much of how we work and learn dates back to the Victorian era. He discussed how we might equip ourselves and our children with the skills we all need in today’s technological world. To use technology creatively, to empathise and collaborate with each other so that “it’s humans plus machines, not humans against machines”.
Breakout sessions were equally stimulating. Seeing an Enigma machine at close quarters is always a treat, and the hands-on Micro-bit workshop helped participants get to grips with one of their conference freebies! A total of 18 talks were offered with something to interest everyone.
The breaks and lunch were equally busy with attendees taking the opportunity to visit the exhibitor stands and grab more goodies (thanks conference sponsors!), as well as catching up with colleagues. The ICTF conference remains as popular as ever with everyone working in IT at Oxford – we are looking forward to 2020 already!