Friday, 6 May 2011

Flying forward

As part of the interviews with course designers undertaken by the Enable team, and with feedback down from executive, it has been noted that course development and design could be more efficient by bringing together all the relevant documentation, guidance and advice into one 'ToolBox'.

Issues it will address:
  • Difficulty in finding the right advice on course design at the right point
  • Knowing which source of information would be the best/ most up to date
  • Identification of champions to support stakeholders engaged in course design
  • Reduction in faculties having to produce own advice and guidance
  • Takes burden off staff to hold expert knowledge in the whole process
The tool will be designed to align information, advice and guidance to the workflow and decision processes surrounding flexible course delivery and design. It will bring together work done in faculties, services, by our e-Learning Models project, and work by the LDI on bringing together course design roles and competencies. Initially we envisioned this to be a 'quick and dirty' tool based on hyperlinking in documents, however we soon saw this would not be the best solution (and as mentioned in previous posts) quick wins are often not the best solutions, and often make more quick loses. We are now hoping to use software created by the University of Plymouth and the core Pineapple software.

However as the process of course design/development is already perceived as being very arduous we need to ensure we don't add to it with an extra level of complexity. This is in some way addressed by the fact that we aren't embedding this as the one and only way of doing course design, it will simply be available for those who want/need it. It should be viewed as a support tool and by engaging stakeholders throughout the process we will (hopefully) avoid this issue.

Having seen, through Enable, projects that start without clear issues to resolve, in isolation, with inadequate stakeholder engagement and without clear goals and success factors we have taken a leaf out of our own book and started with a project plan. We have used a JISC project plan template (with some adaptations for accounting for the internal nature of the project). This plan will be used to why we started the project, what we hope to achieve, how we are evaluating it and the time-scales to achieve a pilot state. We even (possibly) have an acronym 'FLAG' (Flexible Learning Advice and Guidance) subject to agreement with the rest of the team. This can lead to project slogans like "Flying the FLAG for Course Design", well we all have to get our smiles somewhere!

A project plan on its own can't, however, be considered the best method of communication across the university. Across the university projects are often accused of communication failure. As a result of this we have already informed our SMWG about the work, asking for initial feedback (which was positive once it was recognised that no one would be forced to go through the process if they felt confident enough with flexible delivery/ design course development) and the project plans first stage is discussions with relevant stakeholders. We also have another spin off from Enable that will help with communication, this is something known internally as the 'Change Heap' and I'm planning another blog on this tool soon.

1 comment:

Fleur said...

This fits with one of the sessions from the JISC programme meeting (11/05/2011) and the points raised during the discussions from this session are worth noting - in particular the tips and considerations.