Friday, 28 November 2008

Feedback, Planning and Meetings....

We have had some feedback about the logo, fortunately it is all positive and therefore we now officially have a logo! Thanks to Sam for his hard work on this and to Marketing for giving us a nice vector version of it.
We are still organising initial meetings for the different initiatives highlighted by the SMWG, as we are making initial contact there has been some issue with project staff understanding the purpose of Enable and their involvement. However this has been addressed with a simple email paragraph to explain what the project is and how they have been identified as a person of interest.
Mark has been talking to the MIAP (Managing Information Across Partners) project (external) around the unique learner number, and how it can be implemented as a pilot in Staffordshire University. This linked to the work I did at the CETIS conference around supporting flexible provision and around technology supporting WBL, and whether this project would be of use to the community (yes!). We also looked at how processes needed to change. We looked at the Validation process, which links nicely with the work being done in QIS and I will need to send my notes on this to Sue Lee, the project manager for DIVAS. The CETIS conference will be written up more on my own blog, along with my thoughts on the training I had yesterday with Sam around complex project management.

Friday, 21 November 2008


I promised to write a bit about the project interviews, at the start of the week we spoke to Beebe about work in marketing around collecting course information from faculties and then delivering that to both perspective learners and to existing learners, at the time they were investigating using Blackboard as a source, however since we meet she is now thinking about the problems around duplicating data silos and also about not linking new data to what already exists in the university. This linked to the fact that she had not been aware that courses could also be delivered at colleges, and in these cases they could use either Blackboard or their own VLE. We were also able to tell her about the repository work that is going on in the university that could be used to help her. She was able to tell us about another initiative she is working on, around the university intranet "MyPortal" and looking about providing learners with more personalised information. We have been invited to the next two meetings around these areas.
We also spoke to Mike from Faculty in Computing, Engineering and Technology (FCET), about his negotiated learning award. This was very interesting as this is a programme of awards from undergraduate to post graduate that has been designed with an employer. It has successfully gone through validation but due to managing resources within faculties there is limited resources available to run new awards at this time of the year, although the employer wanted to start delivery the day after validation.
Further converstations this week included one with another member of FCET, who was speaking about their internal investigation into looking at Distance Learning, marketing of awards, and internationalisation of delivery. He was experiences issues around trying to change staff attitudes to delivery and how we, as a university, deal with marketing courses in other countries. He did say that the faculty was very proud of its ability to support work based learning and work placements, and that they were interested in taking this further with their distance learning.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Branding update

Well it seems we had not used the correct text for branding, plus Sam noticed that the button icon was a bit too close to the Gadget show button, so with a bit of modification, and input from marketing here is the slightly newer version....please use the same voting tool to say if you like it...or not!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Scoping and Branding

Well the great work of Sam has paid off and the decision has been made to go with this as our logo (although we are checking with Marketing to ensure there are no problems with using this from a corporate perspective). It is a simple on button using the Staffordshire University red in both the text and the button itself. Let us know if you like it!

Yesterday Mark, Sam and I met with two of the initiatives involved in Enable, the Course Information/ Intranet Project lead and the lead for the Negotiated Award in FCET. The notes from these meetings are on another computer so will be looking at posting about them later in the week. Today I had my weekly meeting with Mark where we discussed the project scope and the criteria needed to identify the position of initiatives within Enable. This included looking at 4 types of projects

  1. Transformative,
  2. Improving,
  3. Facilitating and
  4. Supporting.

Those that fitted into 1 & 2 are either spokes or exemplars, those in 3 could be spokes, or not, depending on their nature, and those around supporting curriculum design and development were deemed to be out of scope. We also discussed further the outputs based on work done at the JISC meeting. This is so a leaflet can be put together for project dissemination and includes:


  • Curriculum design development process which is coherent, responsive, customer focused, joined up etc
  • Technologies in place to facilitate/ support in a flexible and responsive way
  • Appropriate level of control and minimum bureaucracy, in terms of change process want a managed approach to change initiatives.


  • Process holes
  • Process improvement opportunities
  • Lack of data
  • Process & system connectivity issues

As a result of these we should spawn new spokes, which help formulate the GOALS.

This work was discussed during our meeting with Cathy Gilbert who, from previous roles, has experience in programme management and has been very helpful in the area of supporting documents for this project.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Scoping and Dissemination

This week our project meeting was on Monday, which linked to the Strategic Team Meeting we had at the end of last week. The core project team has now all registered at the JISC CircleSpace site and we have also published our project overview document on the site. This used the information from the JISC template, but the layout was changed to make it easier to read. This got a positive response from the team members that have seen it.
The project partners have now been sent the minutes from the last meeting, after being approved by Richard Benefer. I have also written the first draft of the consortium agreement which is with Mark and Richard for approval before going out to the partners. We have still yet to see two of the partner colleges, but on a positive side we are going to our first on site visit next week at Newcastle College.
After problems with branding Mark and I have written a short brief to go to the Marketing team along with some sketches of thoughts from within the team, these were harder to do than expected but hopefully Marketing will come through for us.
We also need to think more about dissemination, I spoke to the Enterprise and Commercial Development team who were not aware of the Enable bid. so we now have a meeting organised next week to see if they know of any other initiatives in the university that could be useful to the Enable project. We have also discussed the use of a centralised calendar to promote work being done by the project, so I need to consider what type of calendar to use, should it be embedded in this blog? In the Forum? Who would be the intended audience for this?
So what next?...well Mark will be putting together a draft scoping document and put together a short leaflet for senior management. Sam is planning to continue investigation of technologies, and processes within the University. I will be attending meetings with the Spokes with Sam and Mark, along with looking at examples of agile programme management.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Understanding Validation from the SURF Office perspective

We had an interesting meeting with Richard, from the SURF office on Tuesday afternoon. This was the first of our in depth interviews with spokes, which took a good hour and a half and could have gone on much longer. We have decided to continue the meeting at the end of January. At this, initial, meeting we spoke about how a particular college is going through award development with an employer. We spoke about some of the issues around validation, such as why isn't anyone from a second SURF college involved in the university side of the validation panel? How are external panels picked? How is content for the award quality controlled and shared with other colleges running award? So some interesting things have been raised and I am sure even more will be raised at the next meeting.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Whats new pussy cat?

Which will teach me to listen to the radio whilst writing this blog!

This last week I have posted onto the forum the:
  • Roles of the core project team
  • Roles of SMWG.

I am waiting for confirmation on the role of the partners before that too can go up and the Structure can then also be published with links to each of the project roles. We have also had a good response from the project spokes, and most of the overviews have now been published on the forum. We have started to make a number of appointments with the spoke Project Managers, and have the first one this afternoon - Project Partners.

I will be busy this week with a number of small tasks including starting to draft the consortium agreement for the project partners and creating a scoping document for agreement at the next SMWG meeting. Mark will be trying to organise a meeting with IS with regards to Identity Management and also with Cathy Gilbert to discuss Programme Management as she has previous experience on managing programmes.

Mark and I have agreed that the best way to handle dissemination to the SMWG is a weekly update email that will include links to the blog and the forum and give bullet point updates on the progress of the project, then they can read more here (or in the forum) if they want.