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.