Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Well this will be the last blog before the Christmas break, so Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from me to you. This week has been mainly working on the interim report, adding more detail to the outcomes we have had so far and adding useful information from the report to the website so others can see information about the project, this includes the issues raised from the first year of the project, and the development of the programme office. I have also changed the tone of the report based on the knowledge that it will be published online for all to see.

At the team meeting this week we have continued discussion on the governance of the programme office that will be raised next week with the Pro Vice Chancellor, along with what to name the office. I'm tempted towards "Enterprise Programme Office" as it is across the enterprise and seems to be an accepted term in business, however there has been some discussion about the fact that "Enterprise" has a different meaning in HE and that it should be called something generic such as "University Programme Office". We will have to see what our Executive think. It is an interesting idea that we should be changing what is a recognised term to something that fits the language of the HE environment even while saying that we need to change our language to fit that of employers to assist in employer engagement in award development.

We have also been discussing our modelling work, we need to get a head with this over the next couple of months as it will be vital to have a "To Be" model to support the programme office and also to support the work we need to create useful models within the pedagogic planner Phoebe. I have also submitted my first paper to an international conference, relating to embedding EA and Programme Management into an institution. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Our project partners are working hard at the moment creating their first snapshot report based on the work they have been doing for Enable. I have already received one draft - thanks guys - which was interesting reading. I am looking forward to the others arriving before the next SMWG meeting so that the findings can be covered in the meeting.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Flexible Service Delivery

It has been a busy week, I have been writing a paper for a conference next year on developing an Enterprise Programme Office and using Enterprise Architecture. This has coincided with the FSD JISC meeting down in London and discussions with our Finance Director. All of which have helped with giving me clear ideas of how we should be working as a university, and how to communicate the work both internally and externally to the project.

The discussion with the Finance Director lead to “imagine if..” statements which give basis to the “To Be” model that we need to build into our modelling. I need to capture these for sharing with the project team. A number of our “imagine if” scenarios relate to the work done by the FSD programme. The workshop I attended was on behalf of Sam, but in fact, I can see a real benefit to attending these events as a project manager, as well as those with a more technical leaning. There was a lot of useful discussion about enabling institutions to talk to vendors with one voice, and enabling institutions to be clear about their requirements by using Enterpise Architecture. Although EA isn't the be all and end all it is certainly a useful framework that can be used to help FSD and has helped the Enable project, and the institution, including giving us structure to collating evidence of behaviour within the university. It has also helped us identify the need for an Enterprise Programme Office that fits with the existing Executive Programme Office that already exists.

Here is a useful blog from the session by John Townsend (Liverpool John Moore) who was part of the last afternoon session group I participated in around effective change as part of the FSD business case. He reflects on the the idea of a Programme Office, and the need for effective governance. The governance put in place by Enable has been very useful in effecting change with the use of the SMWG but we need to be clear that the governance needs to go further to support our Enterprise Programme Office.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Notes from the Leeds Cluster Meeting

Leeds - small Just back from another useful cluster meeting, this time at Leeds.

It’s becoming apparent that there’s a lot of closely-related work going on in other JISC programmes and the curriculum design work will benefit from our participation in these other programmes. Specifically, we’ll be participating in the Flexible Service Delivery programme’s Strategic Technologies Group (STG), a community exploring and using enterprise architecture, and we’re running the OpenStaffs project in the JISC OER programme.

I now understand coaching as distinct from mentoring and tutoring. The PC3 coaching approach seems ideally suited to work-based learning. The kind of skills the coaching approach would develop would be a big selling point for employers.

From a support point of view, so far we’ve had lots of meetings to discuss the ideas, concepts and problems and theoretical approaches and solutions. We’ve got to the stage now where we need real world examples and advice from people/organisations who have ‘done it’ and lived to tell the tale. Input from outside the sector would be refreshing.

Costing new approaches was a major topic of discussion. This is also a main area of interest for the STG. I’m looking forward to finding out more about approaches to costing in the enterprise architecture sphere.

A key risk for our enterprise architecture effort was reiterated at the meeting – scope creep. We need to keep a very tight reign on architecture scope and partitioning to ensure the work fits the resource available.

One of the benefits of our enterprise architecture will be the ability to explicitly communicate how the University goes about its business. Currently, a large part of the organisation has a folklore-oriented architecture. Business processes seem to be passed down in oral tradition from one generation of administrators to the next. To get anything achieved you find the go-to person for that domain and ask them what to do. Processes are not documented and are therefore harder to identify and communicate. Enable gives us an opportunity to paint a picture of how we currently operate, making it easier to spot problems.

Now it’s nose to the grindstone to produce outputs and outcomes we can discuss at the next cluster meeting.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Yet more CETIS 09 - it was that good

An overdue blog post following the excellent CETIS Conference 2009. Highlights of the conference were discussions and contacts made over coffee and demonstrations of the Wookie widget server and Google Wave.

Gold star to whoever decided to have long coffee and lunch breaks. Such breaks are at least as valuable as the more formal sessions. Discussions about our Enterprise Architecture strand of Enable during one such break got me introduced to Alex Hawker, Programme Manager of the JISC Flexible Service Delivery Programme. They have set up a Strategic Technologies Group (STG) as a forum “for members and their institutions to discuss, disseminate and exchange useful practices and good ideas, and do work to advance practical knowledge on major themes that enable progress towards realising a flexible service delivery environment.”

Though we’re using Enterprise Architecture (EA) from a curriculum design rather than a service delivery viewpoint, an awful lot of the issues and problems we face will be common to STG members so I’m looking forward to participating in the group. It’s been encouraging to see that there’s a great deal of EA work being done at the moment. This is a reassuring indicator that an increasingly number of HE institutions have identified it as a valuable approach. It’s also good to know we’re not working in isolation so we can share ideas and solutions. Being part of a community like the STG will provide support for our efforts and will contribute to solving problems across the sector as well as locally.

The Wookie widget server looks as though it will form a core part of our approach to diversifying delivery of information in the future. One of the problems we’ve had in recent years is how to cope with an increasingly large and diverse range of delivery platforms for our information. Writing bespoke widgets for each and every platform imposes a large development overhead on any innovation. Each innovation costs more, takes longer and requires more maintenance.

I believe the solution is to put in place a platform of APIs and/or services to make it quick and easy to hook into useful information when developing widgets and then to use the same widget across many platforms to reduce the amount of development and maintenance needed. The Wookie widget server provides the means to accomplish the latter. You can develop one widget and then run the same widget on many different platforms via Wookie plugins.

Google Wave was also demonstrated and discussed. It has the feel of a technology looking for a problem to solve. Lots of folk agree it has potential but no-one has produced a compelling application of it yet.

You can use a wave for threaded-style discussion which seems a bit more interactive and ‘live’ than existing forums but it’s not mind-blowing. Collaborative live wave/document creation is similar but doesn’t add much value compared Google docs or Office Live. Use as a substitute for a Wiki falls down on the ability to track (and potentially reverse) changes.

I suspect the real value of Wave will be using it behind the scenes via APIs to provide applications with new collaborative capabilities that are impossible or very hard to implement currently. One to keep an eye on.

Monday, 23 November 2009

CETIS for me

I also attended the CETIS Conference with Fleur and Sam. I also went to the http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/Technology_change_in_education_-_involving_Senior_Management_at_last%3F session that Fleur did. I was struck by two things: firstly that the processes by which an issue rose to the "top of the heap" in a university was as nebulous in other institutions as is is at Staffordshire, and secondly that US Universities work very differently from UK ones (not really a surprise).

I also attended the http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/Notes_from_Universities_and_Colleges_in_the_Giant_Global_Graph session on linked data. I was one of the referred to in the comment "it became clear there was quite a split in the participants and those with senior institutional roles were forming the opinion that we were not talking about anything of immediate relevance to them" in the notes on the CETIS site... I think this was partly due to the constant reference to "potential" and also to the somewhat inpenetrable jargon used by the "enthusiasts". However, by the end I realised that linked data was being was outside of "library world" (eg by Chrysler) and did have elevance to things like course related information...

Thursday, 12 November 2009

CETIS, Modelling and creating life

We have had a busy week, with three of us attending the CETIS Conference in Birmingham. This was a very useful event, mainly for the networking opportunities it gave, but also due to the great opening keynote from Roehampton University on the usefulness of Enterprise Architecture for institutions and the end Keynote from Bill Thompson (@BillT) about the concerns for where England will be with countries overtaking us with their technology backbones. Bill also covered whether we are ready for the big changes that could occur in the future with developments no longer in the realms of sci-fi (microchipped contact lenses, e-ink, next gen communication devices etc).
I participated in the Technology change in education - involving Senior Management at last? discussions on the first day where we covered areas such as who should be setting priorities agendas? How do we manage between the university and the staff cultures? We found out that JISC have a network set up to support those of us engaging in EA so we have great hopes for some useful connections from this group. We found a number of institutions were interested in the work we have already taken in this area, and we found an institution with a programme office which is very nice so we have agreed to talk soon about their experiences. It is clear that as I went through this conference the human element is the most important part of the programme office and supporting the EA at the university, so no pressure there!
These thoughts followed me back to the office as I have continued my research on Programme Management Offices, a big thing is that they can be different things to different people. We are trying to get to grips with what a PMO should be for us and how it can fit within the existing structure of the institution. Just like Frankenstein, we are wary of creating a monster office that tries to do too much at once, we don't want to see it crash through walls, but to be able to suggest and guide the university with incremental changes.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Useful Reading

Well the last few hours have given me some interesting reading thanks to Twitter, in particular @mikehamlyn and @theopengroup. The first article was from the Guardian and talks about "treat students more like customers and become more responsive to the needs of businesses" and about exposing more information to the learners and to businesses "The food-labelling style system to tag each course is designed to give students more information, which has widely been interpreted as preparation for raising tuition fees." This links to Enable, and helps us keep our focus on course information and how it will be used and who the audience is, if the audience is the learner we need to ensure that information is not hidden under a difficult language as discussed in an earlier blog.

The second bit of interesting reading was from Tom Graves' blog, about his experiences at the TOGAF Conference in Hong Kong. This blog entry relates Toms experiences, showing "... the unique Chinese perspective on what has historically been a somewhat Anglo and technology-driven construct". He notes that the first speaker was interesting due to "an almost complete absence of any reference to IT – instead almost all about management and business-architecture" and the balance between Western best practice and national principals, he also notes that speakers talk about the long term, and balance. Both the article and the blog entry are, in my opinion, well worth a read.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Partnership Meetings

I attended a recent SURF meeting at Staffordshire University that discusses the development of Fd's. This was a very informative meeting, as issues raised were clearly linked to work being under taken by Enable. The main conversations were around a new review of products for our partnerships which Enable will be assisting in, UCAS course data and issues with systems.
The group discussed UCAS course data and how it is handled between colleges and the university, and who should be supplying the information to UCAS. This is something that had not been discussed with Enable, but as we start looking at course information it is an important part to consider, and if the process changes, or should each college be handled the same way?
As part of the discussions around system issues from this meeting we had a get together with a member of staff from faculty to talk about their experiences of using university systems to support non traditional courses. This was an interesting discussion that showed that sometimes we, as a university, move faster than our learners, and that some processes need to be more flexible with the ability to support non-technical approaches, including e-enrolment, and that we should be encouraging the use of plain English for anything learners are involved in rather than assuming a level of literacy that they may not have not just for handbooks but also for the their online experiences. At the same time as this the partner colleges also reported issues with assumed learner access to technology, which can impact on learners being able to access systems once they attend lectures. Hopefully with the input of partner colleges we will be able to resolve this and other issues. Which links nicely to our next stage of the project which is where we look at issues raised and how they can be addressed and piloting some changes.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

TOGAF - learning, doing, iterating

On the technical side of Enable, we're developing an Enterprise Architecture. An Enterprise Architecture is a conceptual blueprint of an entire enterprise including business principles and motivation, organisational structure, business processes, data architecture, application capabilities and hardware and software. Enterprise Architecture gives us a tool to capture and communicate current problems, create a strategic vision of how those problems can be solved, and manage the realisation of that vision to transform the curriculum design to be more agile and responsive.

The main driver for this work is illustrated in our 'Burrari' image.

Our business processes have been reviewed and refined and are in good shape. The problem is the underlying platform. We need to put in place an infrastructure based on open systems which will provide the necessary support for innovation. By open systems I mean systems which provide APIs or services which allow developers to hook into and make use of information in those systems. With such a platform in place, developers can quickly build applications to plug into tools people already use.

I'm currently getting into the heart of the Enterprise Architecture work using The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) to guide development. I'm learning TOGAF as well as using it so I'll be blogging about TOGAF and my experiences as I go along.

TOGAF is an architecture framework so it provides support for the development and maintenance of an enterprise architecture. The core of TOGAF is the Architecture Development Method (ADM) which describes a
method for developing and maintaining the enterprise architecture and using it effectively as a master plan for transforming the business. It is backed up by comprehensive techniques and guidance on implementing the ADM. Other sections of TOGAF deal with describing and categorising architectural outputs for reuse as building blocks, classifying and partitioning architectures for effective management within an architecture repository and developing architectural capability.

Find out more about TOGAF with the online TOGAF 9 document.

A key strength of the TOGAF approach, in my mind, is the ability to explicitly express the relationships between the business processes and supporting IT. Capturing the big picture of how every element fits together should give us a hugely powerful tool for communicating across the business-IT divide. One of my favourite rules of thumb is that you can never be too explicit!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Programme Meeting in Manchester

Well it was an interesting two days in Manchester, I found them very useful, although often the session discussions did not have clear guidance the discussions we had during them were very useful. Participants used twitter to make general notes as the sessions went on and it's now time to go through them and weed out the useful points that need to be remembered. The main theme for the sessions I attended were around initiation and planning processes. We discussed how programmes are initiated can have an impact on the processes and how we have both supply and demand driven initiation processes. I really like the work being done by ViewPoint and could see their software being adaptable to the early initiation phase to help staff consider why an award is being developed with prompts to think about innovation, engagement, and rationalisation etc.
We discussed the fact that employers attend validation when involved in an award but do they attend annual monitoring, and should learners also be able to attend reviews on awards? We also discussed whether reviews should be annual but triggered by certain events - and what would they be and how would they occur. How do we value content from processes? We need to be able to look at time inovled, re-use of content created and what the outputs are.
This is just a sample of the thoughts raised at the event, so as you can see some interesting discussions took place, its just being able to clarify them for the project and how many can be considered/ actioned within the project. Especially considering this was just one of the themes from the event.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Supporting Innovation

It has been a week of thought, discussion and production of media for the programme meeting next week. I have to say I spent some time on this, the poster should have been a quick job, and in fact the design of it was, but getting the computer to produce the required output resulted in a number of “may be out of space” and “out of memory” errors that resulted in an afternoon of me swearing at the computer! If, as someone with a “high spec” computer has so much trouble doing this simple task is it reasonable to expect staff at the university to be able to do this, and more with the technology they are provided with? Even producing the video for YouTube resulted in a number of software crashes and restarts that would cause frustration in an end user – do I want to send a report to Microsoft and let them know I have a a problem? Yes and I would also like Microsoft to fix it thanks very much!

I have also blogged on the more personal http://jiscenable.wordpress.com site about ALTC and how there is a perception of slowing innovation, based around discussions at ALTC. I also found the CETIS blog on barriers to innovation interesting (http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/christina/2009/10/07/barriers-to-innovation/) which references a future lab report, with barriers that include Leadership, Shared Vision and Change Management, among others. This links nicely to the Enable project which is trying to address those particular barriers.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Video Released!

Well after a bit of editing, alot of messing around the video is now available via YouTube

Be kind!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Poster for the programme meeting

This is a small version of the poster for next weeks programme meeting that is being held in Manchester.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009


I have realised that it is difficult to to get stakeholder engagement after the summer break. I have added a new discussion and sent a welcome back email to my online group in Ning, and will have to see how they respond. It may mean a trip around the colleges to see how they are all getting on.

In the meantime we are continuing to engage staff at the university in conversation, both those involved in project work and those using the systems/ data being changed through the work of the projects. I have blogged my thoughts on some of these conversations at http://jiscenable.wordpress.com as they are as an aside to the project but still useful to be be captured.

We are also working on a poster and video for the programme meeting that is in Manchester in  2 weeks time. The video will contain some content from our Project Director, the LDI Technical Manager and at least one stakeholder. I am using some of the images from our presentation at ALT-C as they sum up the work we are trying to do around changing the nature of curriculum design and development for the university. At the moment I concerned it looks a bit plain as I’m not the best with creativity!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

It’s good to talk!

A big thank you to Manchester, Bolton and Leeds who made their way to Staffordshire yesterday for our second cluster meeting. We had a lot of good discussions around what we have all been working on and found that we have shared experiences in the following areas:

  • Costing/ Resourcing any change in the curriculum is difficult
  • “On ground” staff see limited value in QA based on the time spent doing it
  • Business maps have little value without the extra layers (application etc) as processes themselves appear to be in ok shape – issues at deeper levels.
  • How are processes that sit within faculties managed?
  • Big focus on managing culture change
  • How do we discover the hard cost of developing and delivering modules
  • Useful process mapping tools are expensive, but TOGAF and Archimate very useful in themselves.
  • A requirement to link awards/ modules with learning objectives and competencies.

In the afternoon Bolton University started a discussion around managing curriculum across partners and ensuring an equitable experience to all learners. This caused further discussion around how universities support dispersed interpretation of module delivery.


Manchester presented their work so far and talked about the disparity between senior staff and staff “on the ground” and how they view what would constitute improvement of CDD. They used the statement “One source of truth and the truth will be trusted” which sums up a number of issues here at Staffordshire University, not only do people consider the need for one source of the truth but also that it needs to be trusted, but how can one source fit all stakeholder needs and how can we get people to trust it?

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Internal Projects

We have been talking a to a few more internally managed initiatives that are not part of the executive register and are not externally funded and discovered some interesting aspects to managing projects that has helped highlight some issues with managing innovation in the university.
The discussions we have had with project leads has included concerns. This includes often there is limited or no formal project plans to ensure scope of project, which can lead to misunderstandings as to why a project has been started, what is expected from the project and what the outputs should be. Beyond this is a fear of writing down both positive and negative aspects of cross service working - as comments that show that teams may not have worked well together before a project started, or that there were problems that could not be overcome could be politically sensitive. How can we learn from projects if there is this political fear of sharing issues and lessons? Is this only in particular services or is it across the institution, and more importantly what can we do to stop this fear? What needs to be in place to help internal projects, as a member of staff rightly pointed out - they have no way of seeing the different initiatives on in the university and who is running them. Another issue was how to understand the resourcing of projects, how do we manage cross service resources?

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

ALTC Presentation

As promised here is the conference presentation we did at ALTC, it is approx 14 mins long


Friday, 11 September 2009

Back from ALTC

Well what a three days! One of the first sessions after the keynote was the one done by Sam and myself (http://altc2009.alt.ac.uk/talks/show/6792), which I recorded and will try and post either later today or at the start of next week. It was a very busy session which was very positive. Sam, Mark and myself attended a number of different sessions looking at different aspects of Curriculum Design and a number of symposiums where done by the different programme clusters.

The experience of ALTC can be broken into three areas – shared experiences, suggestions in supporting Enable and questions that need asking. A lot of my thoughts have been captured in my Twitter, and need collecting along with the fuller notes I made in the sessions. Some of these include:

  • can we be more flexible with tasks in CDD and delivery?
  • Getting academic trust in information from central services is difficult
  • Need to keep in touch with other JISC projects to ensure not reinventing the wheel
  • Learner built curriculum is now a big theme for lots of institutions
  • How do we embrace the informal processes and feral systems?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

ALT-C 2009

The main work for this week has been at getting ready for ALT-C and finishing off the baseline report for JISC. Sam has done a lot of model work to get the baseline together and done a great job. I was very lucky in the sections on programme management and change management in the university related to work I have already written for the executive and the senior management team. The presentation is something we have had to work on to ensure that Sam and I don't find ourselves repeating the same points, and to ensure that it relates to the baseline report now that is finished. Sam has taken time out to be able to make sure that both the presentation and the leaflet we are taking with us looks nice and professional. I have also been sorting out the final preparations for the cluster meeting at Stafford on the 23rd.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Planning ahead

With the summer holidays nearly over normal blogging service will be resumed in September. However we have not been quiet in the time available to us and work has been progressing on a number of different levels.

We have completed the document I mentioned in the last blog about how Enable has been working with the Executive Programme office, this has lead to us working even closer with them in creating a university wide plan for four areas:

  • "Award Portfolio"
  • Curriculum Development and Course Information
  • Curriculum
  • Learning and Teaching

This plan will be the  basis of moving forward, the first iteration of the plan (covering the top two areas) will be submitted to Gill Howland in the next few weeks but before it can be completed we need to meet with the Programme Executive office to go through initiatives which cover the first two areas mentioned above.

Some of the things we are preparing for at the moment is ALT-C at the start of September and the Cluster Meeting in the middle of the month.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Enable keeps spinning

As mentioned in the last June blog, this month has been fairly quiet due to Summer Holidays, which will be continuing over August too. Still things have been happening in the world of Enable.

At the start of July we had an interesting meeting with the Student Union with regards to using their members to help spokes engage with learners, they are very interested in supporting Enable and engaging learners in the process of curriculum design and development more than they have been recently. This is really positive news that will be passed on to the spokes.

Straight after the Student Union meeting we met with a possible new Spoke around the subject of supporting learners through APEL to make it quicker, and more efficient that the existing process. This is a new idea that has been submitted to JISC for funding, although the Project Initiation Manager is hoping that the project will go ahead regardless, as there is a real benefit to the university if it goes ahead. Whilst in this meeting we got some feedback about the usefulness of Enable, where the Project Initiation Manager was very positive, calling us Critical Friends for the project and useful for bouncing ideas off and getting a different view point than thinking about their particular area. This is very good news!

We have also spoken to Paul in the executive office about Programme Management at the university, and managing change. We are going to put together a document for the Executive to cover the work Enable is doing and the work that the Executive Office are doing around this area and how we are working together.

We have now finished the Investigation phase and now in the refinement phase as part of which I am doing some work for the next SMWG meeting, to include a general list of issues around CDD and around change management that can be discussed and prioritised. We are also doing a second round of interviews, including a closing interview with DIVAS.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Learner Experience

Last week I attended a focus group looking at the learner experience for the distance learner from point of induction onwards, I spent a lot of the time listening to the experiences of staff around the table dealing with learners different needs and thinking about how the learner experience can be made better during the curriculum design and development phase. A number of issues appeared to be linked to this area including providing materials for study (could be reading lists, amazon shopping lists, or posting resources) costing models for awards (including how study materials are costed into course costs, should they be fixed for period of study, how clear are costs communicated to learners, is this included in validation documentation?) and what online tools should be included to support distance learning - and getting the learners to understand what skills they will need when enrolling on a distance learning course. These last two points need to be considered at design stage, what is good practice (for example photos of staff online, managing expectations with online communication etc) to promote the relationship between tutor and learner. I will be keeping an eye on this work for Enable, and will be using its outputs to feed into any work we are doing.

It seems that once these focus groups are completed with staff there will be a number engaging learners after September, I have mentioned the workshop I participated in with JISC (mentioned in my last blog) and how that could be helpful with the learner experience, in particular the diary room approach could give a good idea of the learner experience changes in the time they spend studying with Staffordshire University.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Summer Holiday

Well you may have noticed that blogs have been a bit thin on the ground, this is due to a number of reasons, one of which links to the summer holidays, I have been enjoying some short weeks, and will continue to be doing so until the end of August (which is nice!) as has my colleague. Sam has been working hard on the baseline for JISC and the project, while that has been going on we have also been talking about the next stage of the project, the review, while sorting out the next stage of interviews, and attending JISC workshops on Phoebe and Learner Engagement. All these things have been very interesting and are worthy of mention.

The Learner Engagement workshop was very interesting and linked nicely to a meeting I was in the day before with our study skills team, and I will be passing my notes from the day on to them and other spoke projects we are engaged with talking to. As part of the day the project team need to write a learner engagement plan, which I have started, and am hoping that the rest of the team contribute to before the 15th July (when it needs to be "handed in"). I will be using the information from this day during the meeting with the Student Union too.

As part of the next stage of the project, we have created a new, closed, Elgg group at Staffordshire University to discuss issue groups (such as do we even want to call them issue groups) and the up and coming SMWG that we are planning for at the end of July. We are still putting notes from events and interviews up into our open Elgg group so that our spokes can see what is going on, and I am in talks with the Elgg administrator to see if we can get any useful statistics out of it about views to see if it is being used at all.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Documentation and preparation

As the project moves on we have now completed the evaluation plan - this will go up on the project website over this week (along with the project plan). I still have to go through the workpackages in more detail for the second phase of the project planning what needs to be done based on the meetings we have been having as a team over the last two weeks. Other project work has included registering for the ALT-C conference in September, as we are doing a short presentation on Enable and Enterprise Architecture (and Archimate) and sorting out a draft agenda for the cluster meeting we are hosting in September (which is looking to be a busy month). As part of the draft agenda we have asked Paul Barron to do a presentation on the work he is doing at the university, fingers crossed he will be able to attend.
Mark had a meeting with the Students Union which hopefully he will blog about here, and Sam and I have a follow up meeting in July, along with a number of catch up interviews with initiatives we last spoke to in January. These interviews will be very focused to create baselines for the project with regards to expectations and defining things like "quicker" and "better" that were used in the project bid. We are also looking to use the work we have already done to redefine the project "problem" as per the bid and project plan.
As part of reporting to senior management we have pulled together a summary document on the main issues with initiative management in the university and have also given them a copy of the leaflet I did for my course that links to the presentation I did at the last SMWG.
Project Partner involvement is still growing, although it has been noticed that some partners are more involved at this point than others. I am wondering whether it is time to get on the train and do some more visits on this.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Video Dissemination

Here is the promised video (approx 5mins long):


Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Enable Workshop

Yesterday I ran my first workshop at the Staffordshire University TSL conference focusing on the work that the Enable project is doing at trying to bring together the individual projects within the university. I did a few slides based around previous presentations on the background and what we were doing which led to some interesting discussions from the group around a few points that are worth noting:
  • Tutors can feel disengaged from an institution, there was a feeling that tutors that don't feel included in strategy will pick their courses up and move to other institutions. It is important to have a strategy that does not appear to exclude a particular group of stakeholders that you are trying to engage (for example excluding post graduate awards etc)
  • It is important for any programme team to be outside of any particular service (this reflected conversations at previous meetings such as at Bolton last week)
  • It is equally important that senior management and executive are supportive and involved in the work taken on by the programme team - they felt that the Executive office was the best place for this type of work as easier to get attention of the right people at the right time.
  • It was seen as beneficial that the Enable project team was small, with an innovative and familiar character (Mark Stiles) leading it.
  • Any programme office/team should be seen as helping projects rather than reporting back to senior management, or enforcing views from top down.
I will post the video of Mark Stiles talking about Enable as part of his key speech later on.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The next step

We had a full day yesterday as a team working through the next step of the Enable project, talking about the final part of the Investigation phase and the evaluation plan and what we are actually looking at evaluating, considering the bi-polar nature of the project. We have noted the usefulness of the Archimate/ Enterprise Architecture work that Sam has been doing for the process of Curriculum Design and Dev and we are now planing to use the same method to look at how we manage the process of change with this area. By creating a baseline of how the situation is at the moment, and how Enable has already been embedded in how we get new issues raised with senior staff we can track how we want to move forward, what roles will be needed in the future and what works.
I have a number of jobs to do based on this day too, a number of documents that need to be written to summarise the work we have been doing up until now, a refined project evaluation plan and motivating stakeholders (such as the partners) to write not just scenarios about what they would like in an ideal world, but their expectations from the Enable project (and the spokes involved in it). When doing the evaluation we need to think about measuring the totality of impact of the spokes, rather than the impact of each individual spoke (as they should be doing that as part of their own projects). This again links to managing a programme of projects and requires a bit of research on how we can do that. I have a number of spreadsheets and questionnaires that should help with this process.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Where angels fear to tread

I have just finished a day at Bolton looking at the benefits of using Archimate (http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/Archimate_Workshop) for modelling the Business processes at the university, and the way it has been used in past projects. Before today I rather thought that Archimate should only be used for Enterprise Architecture purposes, however it seems that each project had used it in a slightly different way. The two that resonated most with me were Roehamptons examples and those by APS Ltd. I noticed that the use of Archimate was by Business Analyst roles in a team such as a programme office or, in one case an Innovation Projects Office. The projects ranged from one person involved to a team of three, although each person had other roles as well.

So why this blog title? This links to the realisation that there is a real recognition to having to have a team in place (linking to the Programme Office I have mentioned in previous blogs) that can map all aspects of the university. This team would be required to map at a certain depth for executive overview – however further mapping would be required for assisting particular projects. The issue is around funding the department, should this be costed (http://fcet-comments.blogspot.com/2009/05/call-for-efficiencies-in-universities.html) to each project as part of the expected work? At what depth should the mapping be done if a day to day role? It has been recognised that this team needs to sit outside of faculties and services to ensure that they are not perceived as having invested interest in particular projects or systems. Perhaps I need to think in terms of scenarios…

Monday, 18 May 2009

Capturing Perceptions

Last week was very busy, and this week will continue in that theme. We had a partner visit and tt was the programme meeting in Birmingham. This was followed by a presentation on Strategy and leadership for my course, which I started to support the work of Enable.
This presentation has since been used at EISTA 2010 and published in Journal of Education, Informatics, and Cybernetics, Vol 2, No 3, 2010
This course has since been completed and I have now started an MSc in Innovation and Managing Change in Higher Education by Negotiated Learning. I have finished my first module for this but will be putting the award on hold while I go on maternity leave. 

This week I am doing a fair bit of training The main aspect is looking at TOGAF and ArchiMate with CETIS in Bolton tomorrow. 
Blog available on this day here: Enable: Where angels fear to tread 

I am also doing some mentoring/coaching as part of the next stage of my course, this work focuses on supporting another member of staff working on a large scale project. In between these days I am still looking at evaluation and capturing perceptions of stakeholders, and at the structure of a project team event for the end of June.

Perception Questionnaires

I have been given a very useful questionnaire from Cardiff University that originated at BAE on finding out what people want from a project, and then measuring how successful we have been in providing it in the future. The questionnaire has been adapted from BAE and to asks the project lead (or stakeholders in the project) the following:
  • List 5 achievements for the project
  • For each of the 5 achievements score them 10 (Most Important) - 1 (Least Important)
  • For each of the 5 achievements score them 4 (Delighted with how it works at the moment) to 1 (Very Dissatisfied with how it works at the moment).
Each score was asked for twice, the initiative and for Enable. The project lead (or stakeholder) is then asked for what they consider the 'Big One' (i.e. high need but very dissatisfied with at the moment) and the 'Pat on the Back' (i.e. high need but delighted with at the moment).

This has gone out to our project partners via the VSN. I also found a useful questionnaire online "The Organisation Perception Questionnaire" although this relies on rating some statements, so the team needs to think about what needs to go in there.

The Organisation Perception questionnaire has not been used by Enable, however the BAE questionnaire was used (as adapted above) during the first stage of the Enable project and was found to be extremely useful when revisiting expectations against the reality and being able to capture what was/not achieved and why. It was used in conjunction with a semi-structured interview technique and a Project Overview document to support the Enable team in understanding the outputs expected from each initiative, what outcomes could be expected, and what overlaps might exist with other initiatives running in the University at the same time. This work all fitted with the Programme/Change Management approach adapted by the project team. Further information on evaluation techniques used by the Enable team will be available in August 2012,  through the Evaluation Story & Final Story written for JISC

Partner Engagement

Partner engagement has really picked up after visits have been completed at the partner sites, we are seeing blogging from tutors in Shrewsbury college on the VSN. Hopefully more blogs and discussions will grow in the next few months with the support of college coordinators such as Emma, Richard and Gerard. I will be sending out a reminder email to them all towards the end of the week to ensure that they are all happy with what is happening at their colleges.

A blog post has been written to cover partner engagement from the perspective of the Enable project team.

Programme Meeting

The Programme meeting in Birmingham had a few useful sessions, although in some cases information was appearing at the wrong level for some project managers. I certainly found the networking activities/ directed discussions very useful although the form filling in the afternoon was probably less informative. One session focused on understanding your organisational type as part of Change Management/ Engagement Strategies. When we looked at the type of organisation we felt Staffordshire University was we were surprised to see such a strong leaning to Innovative Culture, however we felt that we needed a balance across some of the other cultures, in particular Business. There was some interesting engagement methods used by some of the presenting projects that I would like to consider for projects at the university, including posters in hallways for commenting on with post-its and workshops that included stakeholders to look at how they see failure rather than success! There was still not enough "here is how we did it" - in particular the change academy model was used by a project - what is this and how did they modify it and why? It looks like some investigation on their website as it was not easy to find on the HEA site.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Being connected

As part of the work we did in the cluster meeting last week I have made an additional page for the Enable project under PageFlakes www.pageflakes.com/staffsprojects this site already has a page for the old WBL-Way project so those of you interested in that work can read about it and the work the partners have done here too. At the cluster a few of us were Twittering about the conversations taking place, these got tagged as jisc0509 and are all collected onto the pageflakes page.This has made me think it might be worth tagging my Twitters around the project so will be doing that from now on, and will bring the information together on the same site, although this hasn't been done yet.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

First Cluster meeting

We had a very interesting time at the cluster meeting last week, and we would like to thank Robin for all his hard work in hosting the event. There was a focus on looking at how each institution recognised the need to develop rationalised products and discussion formed around the different stages of reviewing product at the respective institutions and linking to competencies. The main discussion on Friday was around validation with three of the institutions summarising what was happening with them and comparing it to experiences with the others. Mark did the presentation on behalf of Staffordshire University;

At the end of the two days we discussed some of the programme management we were getting from JISC and sent our critical friend back with some suggestions on future support. It seemed the hardest part of the two days was discovering when people would be free for the next cluster meeting. We recognised the need to get dates in early and that some meetings did not need to go over two days. The next meeting is going to be hosted here - so need to get our thinking caps on for that as well as the SMWG meeting in a fortnight.

Continuous Enhancement

As mentioned in an earlier blog I attended a very useful session in Birmingham on Quality Assurance and Enhancement done by the HEA to support the Curriculum Design and Development and Curriculum Delivery programmes. I have published my notes in  the Elgg Enable group for discussion within the project. I have also shared my notes with members of the programme cluster who where unable to attend the day. For those interested in QA/QE then you can register with the SIG at www.qe-sig.net and view the presentations under Events.

Some of this information will be old hat to people in Staffordshire University and done almost everyday, either with our without recognition, as Enhancement has been a key term here for the last few years. However is that message across the whole university? I have encouraged staff to comment on the notes I took and hopefully I will get some response. Some of the interesting points raised that link to Enable:

  • Understanding scope and developing baselines
  • Constant changing environments for institutions – the need of institutional Reform
  • Development of Enhancement Academy
  • Communication strategies are vital as are linking strategies together
  • Supporting staff development
  • Engagement of all stakeholders
  • Student Experience

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Themes and Issues

We have got together as a team to go through the different initiatives against the 5 themes that were created at the start of the project, and we noticed something very interesting. In each case although there would be one main theme highlighted by the initiative team, the initiative would often fit into three or more of the themes highlighted, that may not have been recognised by the initiative team . Is this due to the closed nature of the initiatives themselves and how we as a university manage them? We also realised that there were clearly two different types of themes emerging the first around the Curriculum Design and Development, the other change management. As each initiative was highlighted we were able to see 9 emerging change management themes, including issues around breadth and depth, stakeholder engagement, and silos. A full break down on themes and how they fit with the initiatives will be made available once the initial process mapping stage is complete.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

QA at Birmingham

By 10:30 I have already had some useful conversations around the Enable project, in particular I have now got 2 emails coming to me with regards to the process mapping. I have also got to send 2 emails out based on strategy, change, and communication. It appears to be that institutions have much the same issues, University Derby have offered to come and share their Pathfinder experiences, and some implementation they have done with regards to this project.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Supporting our Partners through validation events

As part of the partner work for Enable we had a successful partner validation recorded in the Ning community last week, with Stafford college. They were complemented on the working relationship between the college and the university, however they have been told to change their Award handbook, to be less Staffordshire University focused. This is interesting as the Award Handbook is a faculty document that is partially built from a template provided by the Student Office, however this template is purely for Staffordshire University, on-site, learners. I have spoken to our College partnership team and found that they don't provide anything so how do faculties handle award documents for colleges? What guidance (if any) do they get? This has now been raised in Ning and hopefully we will get some answers. As part of us understanding the partnership relationship I have also added a short quiz on the site around how much support partners perceive they get both from colleagues and the university, so far 100% of results is possitive about the support they get from both. In the meantime I have sent the relevant colleges the next spreadsheet for finding out the stage that the awards they told me about in January are now at.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Back from Easter

Well I have been quiet on the blog for the last month due to holidays and meetings, and for the next two weeks this will continue to be the case as I am out of the office with a friends wedding, a JISC day and our cluster meeting. I am also busy writing an assignment on Strategic Management and Change which has been presented to Gill Howland. I might post it, and the related presentation here if people are interested. As promised to Ashton I have finally had time to put their video up of them signing the consortium agreement.
One thing that has changed with the project is the slower that anticipated co-ordination of project partners. This is due to the very busy schedules both here at the university and at the colleges themselves. This may actually benefit the project as it will be able to involve the partners more towards the end of the project than initially considered.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Week of perspectives

This week has been very interesting, with the start of it at Warwick University for the HE in FE conference. Although I have not got a direct link with Staffordshire University partners, obviously partner input is vital for the project and the university as a whole. I found the different partnership methods used very interesting, plus the attitudes of some of the partner insitutions. I was surprised to hear that some partnerships are more competitive with others in the partnership than I would expect. I heard a fair bit around how universities should adapt to fit more of the FE environment (use their quality assurance rather than imposing second ones being the main issue), and when asked about adapting to a private, business, model they realised that they hadn't considered the impact of requirements of employers and the changing nature of HE in FE with the Fds as they perhaps aught. This then goes back to how flexible do institutions need to be to continue delivering learning in the emerging environment? Do we need to ensure that assessment boards etc run throughout the year? Should we be delivering learning throughout the year? Should we be matching private providers delivery of courses over a business 37 hour week? Is it even possible? Do changes need to be driven by government or can insititutions drive the change? A lot of questions, and not many answers. I am interested on how these questions get answered here at Staffordshire Uni, do they fit with the development of partnerships that we have in the University strategy? I would say yes, and a big part is the Enable project in enabling (sorry) these changes to happen. It is important not just for the partners but also for the university.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Processes and Management

After a number of posts last week I have been very quiet this week due to attending a number of meetings on process mapping and also continuing my training on Leadership and Management. This week has highlighted a number of issues with processes that exsist within the university where they are implemented against non traditional, flexible award development. We have spoken to 4 faculties and found that the same issues keep reoccurring around document management and resource allocation. I have also attended a college HE Forum to present the Enable project, the first time without a PowerPoint presentation! It all appeared to go well and I got some interesting notes out of it - and they are already joining our Validation Support Network so that is brilliant.

We were going to have a meeting with Gill Howland today but that has been cancelled but we have put a document together to support the presentation that I did last week to the SMWG that also links to the training I am doing which is handy! We have also looked at the themes that were mentioned during the project bid (and the project plan) and have mapped a number of initiatives to the different themes, we did discover that with our holistic overview that they had impact on themes that the initiatives had not acknowledged. We also looked at themes we could create linked to issues around change management. I am now off to a Quality Review meeting to see how that fits with the Enable project. April will be a quiet month for blogging for Enable as there is a fair bit of holiday and me attending conferences, so don't be disappointed if you don't hear from me as much!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

SMWG: A Third Issue - Resources

Resourcing is a recognised issue that has been raised with the Enable project, and with other members of the SMWG at different meetings, although the project is highlighting the issue it recognises that it sits outside the scope of the project.


As part of a presentation Prof Mark Stiles did for an internal conference on "Seize the Technology" Mark mentions the work of the Enable project and how it is disseminating the work it is doing to people in the university and the wider community.
This part of the presentation is just under 3mins long.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

SMWG Presentation: Strategy and Change

As promised here is the presentation I gave yesterday to the SMWG around Strategy and Change Management. Due to the presentation being images only you will need sound. I have tried to summarise what I said at the presentation.

Getting together

So far this week there is a big focus on getting together, first with the colleges on Monday and then yesterday with the Senior Management Working Group. This meeting was to give an update on the progress of the project, including updates on the interviews from initiatives and the work taking place on process mapping. As part of this work we presented two short presentations, the first covering previous blog rants on joining up university level strategy to work taking place on the ground, the second around understanding the issues with resourcing new and flexible course development. During today I will post both these presentations up here. I was also hoping to put a short presentation up from Mark which I recorded last week on the Enable project, yesterday I forgot the cables and today I forgot my phone so you will have to wait another day before you see it!

Monday, 16 March 2009


Just back from the Shrewsbury HE forum, got some interesting feedback about the perception of how the University handles it's partners and also that it is often not clear to colleges whether they are talking to the right person to get the job done. An output asked for was a process map with contact lists, so it is clear who should be contacted when. Richard also suggested ensuring that the SURF groups roles are clear.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Joined-up thinking for the Enterprise

The Enable project is concerned, in part, with facilitating joined-up thinking across Curriculum Design-related projects and initiatives running at the University. As an institution, we're generally very good at aligning initiatives to the aims of the business but such initiatives tend to run on separate tracks. Only peripheral consideration is given to alignment between initiatives or reliance on the IT environment. As a consequence, projects can create information silos and hinder or even derail other projects.

To encourage joined-up thinking we need a picture of where each initiative sits with respect to other ongoing activity. We also need to establish where an initiative fits into the overall Curriculum Design process and what impact it will have on that process. In other words, we need a Curriculum Design Programme. Effectively retro-fitting aspects of programme management to existing Curriculum Design-related initiatives is an important aspect of Enable but it is not the whole story.

As a University, our business is knowledge-based. Our products are information and process-based. We're not a manufacturing organization. Everything we do essentially boils down to passing around and storing information. As such, tight alignment between business processes and supporting information services and IT infrastructure is key to the success of the business.

Often, business processes are considered in isolation from the supporting IT services. In a similar manner, IT projects tend to create solutions to support individual business processes, independent of the wider business context. This tendency is understandable as there is a natural division between the business and IT knowledge areas. Business professionals rarely have the background or opportunity to delve into technical details. Similarly, technical professionals are usually asked for a solution to a particular business problem and rarely get the chance to develop a broad enough view of the business environment to fit their solution to the bigger picture.

To begin the process of joined up thinking across the Enterprise, we are using existing business process maps to start creating a model of the Enterprise Architecture. An Enterprise Architecture model is a model of the entire Enterprise, not just the IT Architecture. It encompasses the business processes, IT applications and underlying technology infrastructure and makes explicit the relationships between them.

The model has tremendous potential for communication of the 'big picture' to all stakeholders. It will describe how the whole business tackles Curriculum Design. It will allow inconsistencies, gaps and duplication to be identified and a future 'ideal world' model to be developed to act as a road map for incremental change. It will be an essential tool in transforming the business, allowing the development of holistic solutions to business problems. Solutions that transform the IT environment along with the business processes rather than transforming business processes in isolation (i.e. rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic).

More about the nuts and bolts of how we're building the model and what the model looks like to follow in a future post.

Friday, 6 March 2009

University view

This week I have attended a number of meetings around work being done in the unversity around looking at our provision of product available to our partner colleges and their learners. This has included being able to be part of two working groups, one on looking at 2 year, part time, Foundation degrees and another on looking at how we support progression onto degree level awards. This has highlighted the fact that the university already validates different deliveries of Foundation degrees beyond those that sit within the standard university calendar, and that there is some need to think of standard frameworks that faculties can use to help designing an award, although these frameworks may differ based on the subject area being taught (such as education - where the work based learning aspect has to fit with the colleges calendar).
I have spoken a bit on my own blog about my thoughts on how the university is handling strategic management, so I wont go into it here. I will simply say that I am now working on a short presentation for the senior management working group on the 17th to raise this with the executive.
We have started having meetings with regards to mapping the processes, however most of these wont be happening until towards the end of the month, which means that we might be a bit late on the mapping for JISC, although the information we already have can be used to create the first draft of the evaluation plan and the "final" project plan.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Useful Information from external sites

I have just been doing a review of the CircleSpace.net which is the JISC programme environment for Enable and related projects. As part of this I see that they have some useful resources linked through. Including the following

Initiative meeting

We have had two initiative meetings this week, the first was around APEL; what issues we had in handling APEL from potential learners, and how we generally handled learners wishing to embark on HE without formal qualifications, but with years of experience in the work place. The discussions lead to the thought that we could become much slicker in this process and use the negotiated framework from existing awards in Health and FCET to back up APEL and learners getting the right award at the right level.
The second meeting was focused on the way the university handles information, originally called the Intranet project it became clear that it was more of an information project in that it was reviewing the information held in the university. This included discussions about what the target audience was for the information, where it was stored, and whether there is a way to share that information online - or if there was a need to share it online. There were some big problems highlighted in this meeting and it comes back to earlier blog comments in previous posts, there was little clear vision from 'higher' as to what was expected from the project, what it's aims were and the direction it was expected to go. There was talk around the governance of information for the project and it is clear that this governance (including a group of faculty and service leaders) needs to be in place before the project (or any project embracing the information in the University) should start so that changes to information and how it is delivered can be managed in the right direction for the university.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Critical friend visit

We had a successful critical friend visit with Tony where I gave the first version of the new partner presentation I did, to give him an idea of how the partners fit in with the project. We also gave Tony a break down of the Hub / Spoke / Theme idea for the project and discussed some of the issues that the project is unearthing including identity/ role management, funding devolved faculties, work planning and managing the development of new product. Tony stated that some(or all) these problems exist within most institutions, and it is how we handle solving them that will be interesting. The fact that we have had initiatives that keep bringing up the same issues means that we need to sit down and think about how we solve them. As part of the visit we have given Tony viewing access to the Live Office environment, where we are holding our draft project documentation and have invited him to one of our SMWG meetings (see when the next one is yourselves with the calendar on the right).
Sam spoke about the work he was doing with the process mapping and the standards that we are going with and how they are converging. Hopefully when his thoughts are more clear there will be more about that on this site. Jenny gave Tony a quick view of what one of the initiatives was up to - DIVAS (blog links on the right) and we spoke for some time about the validation process, the perspectives of partner colleges about the experience and supporting those participating in it.
This week has also seen me writting a chapter overview on Work Based Learning and thinking about writing an abstract for ALT-C 2009 on this project and managing change. Next week I am attending a number of WBL and product design related meetings along with some more initiative interviews so a busy week. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Catching up

The weekly catch up meeting was very interesting with Mark this week, we have a number of tasks for the next week, mostly based on the blog I wrote last week while Mark was away. We are still planning to speak to Gill Howland about the Change Groups that have been set up within the university, and as part of this we will be pointing her to my notes in Elgg around project management. For this I needed to spend some time making them a bit tidier than they were originally. We need to get this sorted fairly quickly so we don’t have a number of different groups going off in different directions.

I have also given Mark, Jenny and Sam access to the work I am doing in MS Office Live, which gives them access to all the contacts for the project, and the start of the evaluation document. I have requested a meeting on this with the whole team as it is a big job that needs to be done with the entire team rather than just me in a room on my own. At this meeting we will need to discuss our strategy around engaging employers and learners. Mark is planning to talk to the Students Union before this meeting to ensure they are on board.

I have finished the presentation to partners, including me speaking over it, and have published it in the Elgg group for now. I have also uploaded it to sliderocket but this has stripped out the sound, so I am having to spend some time getting that back in, which is a pain as I recorded it in PowerPoint directly rather than using MP3’s which means I have had to use Audacity to pull the sound out of PowerPoint (rather than re-doing it all again)

Finally we have a critical friend meeting today with Tony Toole, which should be interesting.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Life, the University, and change

As Mark has been away this week the project has yet to hear back about how the new change groups will fit within the Enable project. I have, however, updated Elgg with my notes from the training Sam and I did late last year (which I always meant to talk about but never quite got around to) which talks about managing complex projects, programmes and portfolios. As I continue to try and read the Project Management book I have it has become clear we need to manage what is going on in the University with regards to managing change around curriculum design and development. Obviously this will be discussed at my next Enable meeting with Mark next week.

I have also started thinking about writing the Evaluation plan, this is something that looks like taking up a lot of time, but as part of the work I recognised we need to find a baseline for the employer stakeholder. I have been on the email with Richard Benefer who seems to have provided me with the answer to my prayers, an Employer Engagement report for Staffordshire University in 2006. I have uploaded it to the new Live Office space I have created (yes I’m testing new communication tools for the project as GoogleDocs doesn’t quite hit the spot). Of course the next step will be to get baseline from learners too…

Last but not least, based on feedback on the partner presentation and discussions with Sam I am attempting a new approach to the presentation for the visits to Shrewsbury, Ashton, Stafford and Burton. See it here soon!

Friday, 6 February 2009

one week and one day ago

I released the Elgg network to the SMWG last week and found that only one member has managed to successfully join the network. We will have to keep an eye on this and see if the others join slowly over the next few weeks, or even just before the next working group in March.
Edit 02/2011
Since then all members have successfully accessed the Elgg (SUN) site and it has been used to disseminate the different aspects of Enable to those SMWG members unable to attend the meetings. It has also been used to store sanitised versions of the interviews for members to read, and has started some useful conversations. Using it as a consistent source of information for the SMWG has helped make it successful. As a whole using Elgg has been very successful for internal communication, much better than using outside tools that can change their charging models at a moments notice (Ning/ Grou.ps).

There have been a number of discussions this week about the role of Enable and how it should work in the university, the main idea being that this project is a "programme" that focuses on managing change around Curriculum Design and Development, to include looking at the curriculum, the student experience and learning and teaching. Rather interestingly the Executive are also looking at starting and number of change groups in these areas, as well as Research. This could end up with being a duplication of effort or confusing roles. How will Enable be fitted into these groups? This is something that has been top of our minds this week as we go on with our work.

Other thoughts have been around CETIS's phone call and supporting the change of the learning and teaching using PHOEBE, this is something that will not be addressed in Enable yet. However these thoughts raise the question do we need an initiative that will look at ways to use HIVE and learning object creators in the best way? This will be something that can be thought about more when we get the latest version of HIVE as some software that comes with it may answer some of the questions being raised at this point.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Documents, Social Networking and Helping Others

Since Tuesday I have been very busy working on the Enable Social Networking side of things, the university has been developing a new tool, elgg (http://learning.staffs.ac.uk/elgg) that I have been investigating for the project as the tool for communication for those involved in the project at Staffordshire University. So far my work has been very successful and I have managed to create pages to link to resources in HIVE, and have uploaded files directly into elgg where they don't need to be accessed outside of the university. All good, it is a shame that the links to HIVE still open up that extra window, and therefore there is still no easy right click/ download file option for end users, but it seems much better than using forum software. I have also created pages based on the events JISC have run with regards to supporting the project.

I have also been working on getting the Validation Support Point right for the Enable group, including changing the logo to just being the power button, so it is clearly associated with the enable project, and sending an invite from that group to the main project partner contacts. I have also started making friends with partners who have already joined the network. This has not resulted in anyone new being a member to the Enable/ Foundation degree group but hopefully it will over the next few weeks - this could be linked to colleges not being able to see the site correctly.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Sunblock needed?

OK so I had a SURF meeting and unfortunately not one that includes sun, sea and ice-cream. The meeting went well, with talk around how colleges go about contacting the university and working on new products with the university and what would be the ideal. We were brought back to the validation process and the academic planning process being a long and difficult - often with what appears to be documentation that seems redundant once it has gone through the processes. It was also seen as an idea to train those involved in validation panels, and even review if Validation Events are necessary in all cases. Is there a better, more efficient way of handling validation?

I have also had a meeting about the Validation Support Network, this has been to see how we can make it as easy as possible for partner colleges to use. I have written a short help file on writing a blog and posted it in the Foundation degree group, however it does not look like anyone from the colleges has made themselves members of this group. I will need to think about how I handle this work and whether we can have blog templates and other documents to help colleges with their work in this site, especially as some of the colleges are having technical problems with accessing the site.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Partner Colleges, language and terms

We had our last project partner welcome meeting on Friday afternoon, and all in all it was a very interesting meeting. We did the usual presentation (which can be seen on the main project blog - http://jiscenable.blogspot.com/2008/10/partners-join-in.html) and some good points were raised:
  1. The presentation uses a number of slides from the SMWG meeting and were seen as too academic in language in comparison to the FE colleges, although the language for the presentation was pitched at the right level the slides on their own were too much. I guess this means I might have to record a "pitch" to go with the slides on line...
  2. That the language used for the partners was assumptive - use of "HE Forum" is not something at each college, some use the term lifelong learning group, although they do the same thing.

This leads to a couple of thoughts, and I hope that it will raise a discussion up either here, or in the Validation Support Network that the partner colleges are all invited to (http://divascommunityofpractice.ning.com).

  • How does the join between colleges and the university work? From the University there is a Link Tutor, but what about before the award is developed? Who contacts who from the college to the university?
  • How is HE provision managed at the colleges?

Any thoughts/ comments etc welcome

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

New Year, No moss

The new year has now got rolling, and the project is still moving forward, so there is no moss sticking to the sides ;). There have been a number of project meetings including one around Distance Learning which was very interesting, and a SMWG meeting that was this morning. We had a number of the SMWG missing from today's meeting which was a shame but we still had some interesting discussions around the Spoke issues identified so far, the MIAP initiative and how it could be part of the work on Roles and Indentity Management, and the project progress. Role and Identity Managment is still the main issue that has been highlighted by the project and is something Mark is working with the IS team to create some scoping criteria. We then raised a second issue at the meeting around Course Information. Mark provided a presentation on this:

For the rest of this week I have an evaluation day to attend in Birmingham, and then I will be finishing off the first draft of the project plan for submission to JISC on Friday. We are also having a second partner meeting on Friday for those who could not attend the first one last year.