Friday, 28 May 2010

Communication is the key

The last two weeks have been busy dealing with the fall out from Ning changing its charging model. After doing analysis of a number of different tools the choice was made for which makes much of its ability to merge with Ning content. Our first step was to merge the user accounts so people did not have to re-register. This did cause some confusion as the site sent an automatic email out to all the users using a generic email address. Still the confusion was kept to a minimum due to contact with the partner colleges and staff via the SUN network and Twitter.

As part of the launch of the new network, Hamza and I visited  Newcastle Under Lyme College. This included going over a history of Enable and why we picked social networking as one of the tools to support the partners engage with Enable. This event was to a small team, however the discussions around their experiences around CDD were very useful.

As part of the new network launch and the modelling work we are planning I posted a query on what the processes and roles are used at the partner colleges – using a demo flowchart start discussions going. One college has been quick to respond to this which has  enabled me to do my first attempt of modelling using the Archi tool provided by CETIS ( and some helpful Archimate websites. This first attempt was difficult for me, from understanding the different relationship links and spotting the holes in the information I was given. This has required a number of subsequent emails to the partner college. I have passed my first attempt on to Sam, our resident expert for comments before I move further on it – and doing any others.

More modelling is taking place around external examiners with our first meeting with quality staff in the faculties. This was very useful and we have a number of these schedules in the next few months. It helped to have one of us typing notes about the process while the other worked on the model.

This week I attended the JISC cross programme meeting on Employer Responsive Provision (ERP). This was a great event which involved meeting some new people and sharing experiences around ERP, and recognition that work in this area impacts on all CDD. 

I’m off on holiday next week, but will be back on the 7th to see what interesting discussions pop up at the workshop “Sustaining Innovation via Organisational Development”

Thursday, 13 May 2010

For the Greater Good

Sorry about the Hot Fuzz start to this blog, but it matches the out comes quite nicely for the programme meeting we had yesterday.

Last week has been interesting for the project. In discussions with one spoke it was clear that some changes had been made to the processes around course design with little expectation of making a large impact on the creation of more flexible awards. This matched discussions at the programme meeting about whether changing processes and documentation alone will make the desired changes we need within institutions. There is hope that the changes made as part of the spoke will support more responsive curriculum design and a slicker curriculum portfolio. Discussions then turned to how these expectations would be evaluated, there is some difficulty in this a much of the baseline for the spoke was based on perceptions. The spoke will be using the expectation spreadsheet it completed at the start of the project along with the JISC Evaluation workshop notes, to support the evaluation process. The spoke is also reviewing the usefulness of recording date information against each stage of the process for faculties to measure responsiveness.

The JISC programme meeting raised an interesting discussion around institutions expectations of learner and staff cultural attitudes to technology and how this differs between institutions. As we, in the project, talk a lot about culture being a barrier to change is there a practical way of addressing this? Bolton spoke briefly on training they are providing for staff around supporting using technology for learning. Does Enable need to think about putting together training for staff to help manage these cultural attitudes, using faculties who we have identified as already making those changes? I’m not sure we would be the right people to do this but we can try talking about it to the right people. Some projects in the programme have created tools to help staff identify their teaching approaches and what others are doing in their institution.

The final part of the day was a discussion summarising the work projects have been doing and how it can be used to help others, stopping duplication of effort at a higher level than simply within an institution. The projects discussed whether it would be possible for them to bring together the combined effort using design studio or whether it was something that needed to be organised centrally with everyone in a room. The idea of an information roadmap was seen to be useful and projects were happy to provide information to support it, although what information was needed and in what form was difficult to determine. Some felt that information needed a context within a process map (or in a model) and Bolton demonstrated the work they were doing with the FSD programme. I personally feel that a generic model to support staff with a starting point for discussion would be useful, and that validation documents themselves would be of little value. Perhaps a quick model/map with each stage a clickable link to a list of information collected/used would be best. It will be interesting to see the out come of this session will be.

Added 24/05/2010

Further relevant blogs:

Monday, 10 May 2010

Supporting Innovation

The last week and a half has been a busy one, with the cluster meeting in Bolton at the end of March (read here for coeducates summary of the day), meetings around our new “mini” project and discovering Ning was changing its charging model. This has highlighted issues with innovation when it occurs outside of the “safe” environment of the university, as tutors as well as the Enable project are looking at alternatives to the Ning environment. We have had to manage how we look at these alternatives, we can’t spend too much time on it as otherwise we would be better off paying for the new service, however we also need to ensure that the choice we make does not impact negatively on the end users. We are, however coordinating our effort with others in the university and it is almost a project on its own – with stakeholders in each faculty.

The cluster event went extremely well, with discussions firstly around managing innovation and the shared experiences of the different projects. This lead to some thoughts around how we could work together towards a single output, rather than working in isolation, and to support our institution making the changes felt needed for the new environment we are finding ourselves in. The afternoon discussion was around managing course related information (CRI) and competencies. As a side product of this day, and the work the Staffordshire University LDI team have been doing towards a conference, a new expert workshop is being promoted at Staffordshire Uni  “Sustaining Innovation via Organisational Development” (more information, or register here).

Our project has been moving forward with the focus on modelling the processes, information and roles around supporting external examiners. We have had meetings with the university QI Service and they have offered to give expert advice and attend meetings with QA staff within faculties. As this work progresses a lot of it will be on the shoulders of the Technical Manager, Sam, as I am taking a lot of holiday before going on maternity leave in September. I am working hard at ensuring that the same level of communication occurs during my absence but please bear in mind that blog entries may drop off a little over the next few months.