Wednesday, 15 December 2010

HEA publication "University Management of Work-based Learning"

I have finally tracked down this HEA publication that came out in August 2010. It includes  a chapter on "Reorientating institutional systems to support the flexible learner" by M. Noble, S. Frame & C. Eustance and includes some of the early insights from the UG-Flex project.

Interesting to see how UG-Flex has progressed since.

T-SPARC comes to Greenwich

I’ve had good feedback from colleagues who attended the VOXUR training session run by Oliver Jenkins from BCU's T-SPARC project last week. VOXUR really is straightforward to use. It is such a clever concept that it is not that surprising that one question asked was whether there are other products that do the same thing cheaper/easier still? The answer appears to be no!

It was very encouraging to note that my colleagues were as intrigued as I have been by BCU’s innovative work that seeks to shift the focus on curriculum design from a single concluding approval event to the wider thinking and processes that underpin curriculum approval and review.

All in all a worthwhile session. Thanks Oliver and Paul from BCU for your generosity in lending UG-Flex one of your VOXUR units until the end of January. Thanks also to my colleagues for taking the time to attend. All suggestions of similar sessions UG-Flex might run are very welcome.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Project, Cluster & Programme Meetings, Presentations and Progress

September and October 2010 will go down as busy, productive months for UG-Flex despite the blows of Browne's Review and Osborne's axe.

Validation & Review Enhancements Go Live
Monday 20th September saw the formal launch of UG-Flex's enhancements to the University's Authorised List of Programme. To recap, one of the recommendations that came out of the project's investigation into validation & review processes was to design an accessible and accurate way for staff to view any programme’s approval and review status and history, to review progress and plan activity accordingly.

A training needs survey has been conducted to ensure that staff would receive information and guidance most appropriate for their needs, and as a result a series of short 'how to' crib sheets have been produced and face-to-face training conducted. An issues log has been set up to record comments; feedback, suggestions etc and plans are in place to monitor the impact of these enhancements next year.

Birmingham CAMEL
Tuesday 28th September saw Claire & Duncan in Birmingham for a 2-day CAMEL meeting with colleagues from other projects in our cluster. It was a timely opportunity to reflect on our projects at the mid-way point and I felt pretty upbeat in being able to report on the completion of our "quick win" piece of work (hmmm) as well as the initial outcomes from our consultation with staff on the changes needed to deliver a better experience to students who do not study via one of the University's "standard" modes.

Our group work to identify the themes that have emerged from our projects so far and produced a huge, complex, 'wicked' mind map. I came away recognising that all of the projects have generated a huge amount of new information, knowledge and insight over the past couple of years. (Note to self to remember that just because I have experienced this incrementally having lived with it day to day, the knowledge and evidence produced is not necessarily common-place or even acknowledged in many cases!)

The highlight of the sessions on student engagement for me was Birmingham City's Student Academic Partners project (superb) and since then I've been doing my best to bring it up in conversations with as many colleagues at Greenwich as I can.

Project Meetings at Greenwich
The week of 10th October saw meetings of the UG-Flex Steering Group and the Management Group. In both cases challenging but useful discussions followed Duncan and my presentation on 'Improving the experience of students on "flexible" programmes - the problem and possible solution'. The next step is to raise awareness and hopefully build wider support in advance of my presentation to the University Executive (gulp) in early November. Interesting times at Greenwich generally with impending change of VC in 2011.

JISC CDD Programme Meeting in Nottingham
The same week saw Duncan and me on the train again, this time to Nottingham to attend the joint design and delivery programme meeting. UG-Flex was busy and contributed to the sessions on ‘Project Perspectives on Quality Assurance and Enhancement’ and ‘Students as Change Agents’, and both went pretty well. Both keynotes from Peter Findlay (quality & QA in HE) and Betty Collis (learning from a workplace perspective) were thought-provoking and I enjoyed the closing plenary. Regrettably as I try to recall the key messages, I find they have been swamped by thoughts of Browne and Osborne.

The same goes for the JISC Learning & Teaching Experts Group I attended in Birmingham on 20th October. Our cluster presented on some of the themes and learning outcomes that have emerged from our projects so far. Hard to quantify? Probably. Tecchie? Definitely not, but nevertheless significant and I hope colleagues in the sector agree and stick with us. I'll leave the last words on this to Stephen Brown, Cluster B's critical friend, "on the day when so much madness was unleashed on HE I think our presentation stood out as a beacon of good sense."

An unusually long post - so thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Engaging Students in their own learning - good practice

It's been a busy time for the UG-Flex Project team with a Steering Group and a Management Group meeting and visits to Birmingham and Nottingham for a cluster meeting and a programme meeting in recent weeks.

Further posts on these events will follow, but first I wanted to shared Birmingham City University's (BCU) inspiring practice on involving their students in creating a learning community.

BCU have drawn on the philosophy embedded in Futurelab's 2006 'Learner Voice' handbook and have thought in detail about how students are engaged in learning development on a spectrum ranging from  passive - active - co-dependent - independent.

BCU's Student Academic Partners Scheme has sponsored 30 educational development projects designed to develop specific aspects of learning and teaching practice. The innovation that takes it further along the spectrum  (or "ladder") of engagement is the requirement that projects must be a genuine and equal partnership of staff and students, with the latter being the initiator.  The student/s negotiate their own role in the project and are paid for up to 125 hours of work.  Already some notable benefits have emerged.

I would really recommend you take the time to find out more at:

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Reflections on University of Greenwich annual e-learning conference "Future Learningscapes: a 21st Century Challenge

Last week's e-learning conference was enjoyable and (echoing the unofficial theme of the day) provided me with some food for thought.....

I enjoyed the keynote by Grainne Conole from the Open University and in particular I recognised a lot in her description of "a ha" moments. In short - there are so many resources out there but it takes an "a ha" moment for an individual to bridge the gap between promise and reality in how they could use and benefit from them.

Like Grainne I haven't had an "a ha" moment with  SecondLife - although CNWL's presentation at the same event has made me want to take a closer look  I'm also going to check out language learning community website and the TED  talks at

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

University of Greenwich asks "How Flexible Can HE Be (Are We?)?

On 10th June some of my colleagues from the University of Greenwich spent the day considering flexibility in education, focussing on flexible access, recruitment and admissions. 

The day is well documented elsewhere,, but I just want to take this opportunity to note Professor Simon Jarvis's - our DVC for Academic Development - vision of on how Greenwich is - and should - respond to flexible learning.

  • Flexibility needs to have boundaries;
  • Greenwich must raise aspirations, standards and quality and have the expectation of success;
  • Greenwich should look at how it deals with credit accumulation and transfer;
  • Greenwich could be more flexible in using facilities "out of hours";
  • Greenwich should embrace "collaborative learning" and  invest in technology to deliver a "real time feel" with podcasting and computer aided assessment and feedback;
  • Despite a tough economic climate, Greenwich needs to pursue work based learning opportunities in partnership delivered through Foundation degrees, sandwich placements, internship, apprenticeships and flexible study packages such as Applied Professional Studies;
  • "Graduate attributes" will be a major plank of teaching and learning strategies and this may place some constraints on flexibility;
  • Greenwich should build its CPD activity through short courses, block mode delivery and accumulation of credit over time towards a qualification;
  • Flexibility requires appropriate processes and systems to support it.

I believe that UG-Flex has a role in encouraging further debate on these issues,with a view to the development of a University-wide strategy on flexible learning in the near future.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

University of Greenwich "Balanced Academic Workload Model" pilot project

A significant issue for UG-Flex's stakeholders is the extent to which the academic staff contract can support greater flexibility in pace, place and mode of delivery.  We know from the discussions that took place at the last Programme Meeting in May that other projects in the CDD programme are pondering the same kinds of questions.

So the UG-Flex project will be watching with great interest a pilot project that has started at the University of Greenwich,  led by our Personnel department, to test  a method of  modelling academic workloads that draws on practice developed through a  national "Managing Academic Workloads" project based at Salford University. The intention is to feedback the outcomes later in the 2010/11 academic session, with a view to wider roll out at Greenwich from in 2011/12.

UG-Flex has been working to ensure that lessons from this pilot are shared and considered in a broader context of enabling greater flexibility in curriculum design. We are well placed since the main sponsor, Russell Brocket, our  Director of Personnel, is also a member of the UG-Flex Project Steering Group and gave a presentation on the pilot at our last meeting in early June. Another champion, Mike Sharp, is member of our Project Management Group.

Further details of the background, principles and main features of the model can be found at

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A report back on the 'Viewpoints' Project Illuminate Session

The UG-Flex project manager took part in a fascinating Illuminate session on 9 June led by members of the ‘Viewpoints’ project team from the University of Ulster.

Viewpoints is seeking to develop a series of user-friendly reflective tools for staff that will embed a learner-centred approach to curriculum design based on best practice principles.

I was interested to hear how the project started out by running a series of development workshop sessions initially intended as a rapid prototyping approach to developing tool requirements. These have proved so effective that the intention is to continue to develop the workshop format and use the online tool to support the face-to-face work.

The workshops are short and sweet (1 – 2 hours) and use best practice resources to help practitioners reflect on and develop their curricula. Information is organised into topics and issues and actions recorded on a large laminate sheet. The plan is to develop an online tool that mirrors this approach, using drop down menus etc. (Balsamiq was cited as a useful piece of software that they have been using).

The project team shared feedback from staff that indicates there are opportunities to use Viewpoints's approach and tools to support academic development for new and existing staff; team building and collaboration and also as a non-threatening way to support course review processes. Challenges were cited in the way ideas developed at workshops were recorded and the current limitations they had found in using the tool to support the development of new courses. (They found that new courses were usually already partially developed by the time they reach the initial validation phase.)

Clearly the Viewpoints project is taking a very different approach to enhancing curriculum design compared to the UG-Flex project. And yet, what we have found at Greenwich is that our focus on improving our systems and business process in order to support more flexible curriculum design has helped to raise expectations about the quality of support and help staff should receive when they develop or review the content of their programmes. In this respect the work the Viewpoints project team has done so far is illuminating and potentially incredibly useful and I look forward to sharing it with my colleagues from the Educational Development Team and Learning & Quality Unit at our ‘Curriculum Development’ Away Day at Hever Castle in July.

For more on the Viewpoints Project go to:;;;

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Keeping up with developing practice emerging out of JISC's curriculum design programme

The 12th May 2010 Programme Meeting in Birmingham of the 12 projects that make up JISC’s Curriculum Design Programme looked at  key challenges in delivering a flexible curriculum agenda.

Discussions and presentations focused on the management of course information, timetabling and academic workload. These are all areas that are being addressed at the University of Greenwich and the UG-Flex project is a part of the broader debate and dialogue and plays a role in pulling together the key players through project meetings and consultation activities.

For example, our director of Personnel is leading a project to develop and pilot a new academic workload model at Greenwich (as part of the wider “Managing Academic Workload” project coordinated from Salford University) and we are looking forward to a presentation on this at the next UG-Flex Steering Group meeting in June.

I find the JISC programme meetings often produce interesting discussions and opportunities for reflection. This meeting proved to be an opportunity for me to reflect how my communication priorities and techniques will need to change now we’ve faced up to the fact that UG-Flex won’t and can’t solve all of the issues it has surfaced. I think there is an imperative for UG-Flex to work even harder to share knowledge and information with colleagues at Greenwich on the emerging practice and ideas on technology supported innovations in curriculum design emerging from the other projects.

To this end, I'm posting a list of resources for keeping in touch with the developing practice emerging out of the curriculum design programme.   I’ve used this social bookmarking service to collect together details of the web sites and/or blogs of the 12 curriculum design projects. As well as the projects in our cluster, I am finding University of Ulster’s Viewpoints project, Strathclyde’s PiP project and Bolton’s Coeducation project very interesting and relevant at the moment  Another resource created by a colleague from Cardiff where it is possible to keep track of most of the CDD project blogs (and Circle, Twitter feeds etc.). Unlike delicious bookmarks, Netvibes also gives you a “quick view” of the content of the blogs so you can be a bit more selective.  The JISC CDD programme’s own blog and gives a broader perspective of curriculum design and delivery issues. And as well as more links to the 12 curriculum design projects they have links to the curriculum delivery projects.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

UG-Flex was at the SEDA 2010 spring conference in Leeds last week.

The timing coincided with the general election and the immediate aftermath, but on the whole we all managed to focus on the original aim of exploring issues and practice in relation to “communities of learning”.

Along with others members of our Curriculum Design Cluster Group (from City University, Birmingham City, Cambridge and Cardiff universities) I took part in a session we called “The CAMEL trail” that aimed to share our experience of being in a community of learning/practice organised using the CAMEL model Go here for some very useful resources on CAMEL, with contributions from other Greenwich University colleauges who took part in the original CAMEL pilot.

Our audience at SEDA included a mix of practitioners who were considering applying the model to their own practice along with representatives from funders who asked some probing questions about the impact to our projects and ultimately the value of adopting aspect of the CAMEL model.

I think we all did a good job in responding! One example I gave in relation to UG-Flex focussed on how experiences shared by colleagues from other institutions had helped me over the past year to plan a pro-active approach to engaging with new senior management at Greenwich and as well as other stakeholders. Without these insights shared in our CAMEL sessions I think there is a good chance I would have focussed on other pressing issues and I believe the project would have been adversely affected as a result.

Discussions in the session led to some conclusions that there would be benefit in exploring how the CAMEL approach might help to deliver a more consistent approach to the management, co-ordinatio and support of projects in HEIs across the board. I would certainly support this.

I also attended a talk given by Aaron Porter – president-elect of the NUS and I suspect in Parliament soon after that - on “the importance of the learner voice”. This was a timely reminder that I need to keep pursuing closer collaboration between UG-Flex and the SU at Greenwich.

I also attended a session“webinars as a best practice model for engaging members in a online community of practice”. I want to try out this or a similar approach as a way to capture and convey the issues UG-Flex is trying to tackle at Greenwich to a wider audience.

Incidentally I was introduced to “Second Life” – the online 3D virtual world community – and decided that this is a step too far for me. I’ll stick with blogging and tweeting.
SEDA stands for the Staff and Educational Development Association

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Article in "Greenwich Line" [University of Greenwich's staff newspaper] March 2010

“Computer says no…”

How the university is pulling its systems into the new decade and why staff are being asked to help

Any staff involved in the creation and administration of new courses at Greenwich will have had a “Computer says no” moment. Want to start the programme in January? Computer says no. Want to offer a single course by itself? Computer says no. Want to stop a student who has paid a year’s fees in June being asked to pay again in September? Computer says…

The refrain is from a sketch in BBC’s Little Britain where, irrespective of the task, IT presents a hurdle. Dr Claire Eustance has been recruited to project manage the modernisation of the systems which support curriculum development. She says: “Today the demand is for flexible learning, which means being able to offer choices, from intensive short courses to part-time and distance learning. But our systems were designed for the traditional model of three-year programmes starting in September.”

It’s not just IT systems like Banner that throw up problems. Dr Stuart Ashenden, Director of Academic Planning at Medway, is looking at the implications of keeping campuses open at weekends as demand for intensive training courses grows. “At the moment there is no catering provision, for instance, if we are here at the weekend. All sorts of services currently close down at 5pm on Friday.”

General administrative systems have got left behind too. Academics, when taking new courses to be validated by internal and external authorities, find their work is duplicated at each stage. Different versions of the same document lead to confusion. “Paperwork which probably made sense years ago now seems unnecessary. We need to create new systems which allow proper work flow management,” Claire says.

The scope of the project

The project, called UG-Flex, short for ‘University of Greenwich Flexible Learning Project’, runs for three years until July 2012. The project team is based in Information & Library Services and is concentrating on the areas it can affect, namely information systems. Claire says lots of wider issues are being raised, for example the tendency for departments to work in silos, or finding that things can get done based on who you know rather than need, and that these are being recorded. “We are passing them on to other managers and projects,” she says, “sometimes with recommendations. But we need to focus on the areas where we can make a difference.”

How you can get involved

Claire wants to hear from any member of staff who has a stake in making these systems work. “What we don’t want is for people to feel at the end of the project that burdensome new procedures are being imposed on them. Let’s get it right, and then the impact will be of a burden being lifted. The result of UG-Flex could be inspiring and transformational.”

Staff can get involved by attending a workshop – go to the website below for details – or contacting Claire on x8918,

Lots of information is available on the project website including a blog and twitter feed:

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Analysis as a tool to avoid decisions

A slide from a presentation by Salford on change management.  It makes you realise that you are not alone!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

UG-Flex at the AUA Conference 2010

Two members of the UG-Flex Project Team attended their first AUA Conference this week.

Highlights were few and far between (Lows: no show of Lord Robert Winston as key note, taxi drivers and the rain – Highs: great curry and a few potentially useful contacts). Still, we agree that there were some sessions that were interesting/informative/useful.

I found Michelle Morgan’s session on “Supporting student transition” extremely thought-provoking. She suggested approaching the student lifecycle through a series of phases - Pre-arrival; Orientation; Induction; Reinduction & Outduction and this made complete sense to me. She also offered a wealth of experience and advice that I’ll make sure I share with colleagues in the Education Development Team at Greenwich. In response to my question, Michelle was emphatic that her model applied to students whatever their mode of study or background. Reflecting on this I am inclined to think that careful thought is needed about the content and format of information given to different students. As Michelle herself said, there is a balance to be struck between meeting students’ needs and avoiding overloading them with information.

I’m still reeling slightly from reaction to the paper I gave with Duncan at the same conference on “the role of administrators in revealing and enhancing curriculum design processes”.

The aim of the paper was to describe why UG-Flex believes it is necessary to capture and act on the expertise of administrators alongside academic staff to reveal and enhance systems and business processes in order to deliver a more agile and diverse curriculum, how we set about doing this and the benefits/challenges/impact so far.

Among our 40+ audience (much more than we expected!) a diverse range of views emerged ranging from “curriculum design is nothing to do with me and I don’t want it to be” to “yes we’re involved but in a clearly structured manner as defined by clear processes and procedures that don’t need to be reviewed” (yeah, right!) and a few more who felt “yes, it is absolutely right for administrators to have a view on and be involved in curriculum design processes and this is why....”

Reflecting on what was a bit of bruising experience, I think what is so interesting and personally unexpected was the extent to which so many in the audience – administrators in HEIs - didn’t recognise UG-Flex’s definition of curriculum design as a process that needs to take in account the complex set of dimensions concerning both the learning students will achieve (i.e. pedagogical issues) and how that learning will be facilitated/supported/structured/delivered/funded. Of course we’re not alone in this definition and I’d be interested to hear from others in the JISC CDD programme on whether this is something that needs to be addressed by JISC / others?

If I do this again – I did half mention going back to an AUA conference in a few years to share the outcomes and outputs of the UG-Flex – I would definitely do a better paper and I’d put much more thought into my definition of “administrators” – I was over simplistic (and I say this as someone with an academic background who is now essentially an administrator...) Also I’ll never ever underestimate the complexities of the “them and us” mentality and how this manifests itself in our HEIs.

Claire Eustance, UG-Flex Project Manager

Greenwich CAMEL meeting 24-25 March 2010

Greenwich played host to colleagues from our JISC CDD 'Cluster B' at the fourth CAMEL meeting on the 24 -25 March.

In two lines:

Strengths: Honesty, Candour, Supportiveness, Greenwich & views, Thames Clipper, Old Brewery, Trafalgar Tavern, Peter Findlay, M&S biscuits, visit from Harriet.

Limited Confidence: Wireless access, coffee, lunch, weather.

In more detail then......
We had a packed programme, however because our cluster has bonded so well as a group it felt right to wade in straight away. Short project updates from T-SPARC, PALET, CourseTools and PREDICT were followed by a longer “pants down” session dwelling on the challenges and issues faced by the UG-Flex project. Personally I found being able to offload in confidence incredibly cathartic so thank CAMELLERS (is that right?) for your input and feedback.

Amyas lead the next session that looked at the scope for developing a generic process template and I think we made a good start. It feels like a big ask to develop a template / model that can cope with the diversity of practice and processes across different institutions. This said, it makes total sense to share resources and knowledge so I remain hopeful and positive.

Evaluation is proving to be a tricky area for our cluster and the final session of day one didn’t disappoint! I found the most useful element of the discussion was the consensus view that it is ok that each project has and continues to develop an approach to evaluation that they find most useful / beneficial, rather than trying to restrict themselves to a particular line/direction.

Day two started with a session on dissemination activities, facilitated by Pam. We went a long way towards identifying the content of the cluster’s forthcoming paper at the SEDA conference in May. The discussion was also a timely opportunity to reflect on how our CAMEL works as a community of practice and why it works well.

For the final session we welcomed Peter Findlay, Assistant Director at QAA for HE who had been commissioned by JISC to speak informally to our cluster. Peter had been notified in advance that as a cluster we were particularly interested in his views on:
- the attitudes QAA audit teams might be expected to take towards re-modelled/new procedures and processes for programme approval & review;
- where he thought the "limits of acceptability" might be placed in relation to institutions reviewing mechanisms for approval and review;
- what QAA practices might look like in one, two, three, five years time, taking into account potential reviews likely to course specifications, institutional audits as well as the impact of Higher Ambitions framework?

It was an incredibly informative and affirming session. Peter explained the current QAA approach to audit in an accessible way. Given the sour taste left at Greenwich by last year’s QAA audit, I was encouraged to hear that QAA embraces innovation and I have also been pondering since on Peter’s comment that QAA audit is actually about peer review.

I got further insight into the tendency of institutions (noted in our CAMEL discussion) to react defensively to the QAA later that day during a subsequent session Peter conducted with some of my senior Greenwich colleagues. The atmosphere was rather more reserved and Peter’s comments on the QAA’s future direction and audit approaches were noted with a mixture of interest and wariness. (Ouch!)

All in all a useful and busy CAMEL! Roll on our visit to Birmingham.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Enhancing their curriculum - two HEIs to watch?

I found two articles in today's Education Guardian interesting.

"Brave new curriculum" by Kirsty Scott is about Aberdeen University's overhaul of their curriculum in an attempt to break into the world's top 100 universities (it is currently placed 129).

They had a major consultation - with industry, politicians, students, parents and staff to discover exactly what constitutes an ideal graduate.  This is apparently someone who is  "intellectually flexible", a critical thinker and a team player; someone who could see their discipline in a wider context; someone who was, above all, employable.

Aberdeen took its lead from the University of Melbourne (29 in top 100), which initiated a radical restructuring exercise in 2007 to broaden out its undergraduate curriculum; what became known as the Melbourne model. Harvard, Hong Kong and Yale have all undergone similar reforms. Instead of tearing up the syllabus as Melbourne did, the Aberdeen has made modifications - keeping its traditional four-year degree, but alongside their core discipline, new students will be required to study at least one course each year in topics including risk in society, science and the media, the health and wealth of nations, and sustainability. They can also choose sustained study programmes that will run parallel to their main subject, in languages, science or business.

There are also flexible entry and exit points have been introduced for students, allowing them to take a break in a course, or leave with some form of qualification if they don't finish their degree. Other aspects include wider opportunities for placements, overseas and voluntary work which all appear as credits on a graduate transcript. ­Student support services have been streamlined to make them more accessible.

Others to watch include the universities of Manchester and Southampton, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and Glasgow School of Art.
There is also a piece by Simon Roodhouse, director of HE@Work at Middlesex University on "Embracing the employer-led degree". It is essentially a plug for Middlesex University's work based learning programmes, apparently a 1000+ learners with clients that include Marks and Spencers and Dell. Still, claims of a 10 -15% saving when compared to traditional on-campus courses are compelling.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Eduserv’s report into the use of SharePoint by Higher Education Institutions

The final report from the University of Northumbria, completed through the Eduserv-funded ‘Investigation into the uptake and use of Microsoft SharePoint by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)’ is now available for download.

Some of the key findings include:

  • most UK HEIs are using SharePoint to some extent (78% of the 40 UK HEIs interviewed in a telephone survey of IT Directors said that they were making some use of SharePoint)
  • SharePoint’s rapid rise in the HE sector can be attributed to several factors: (i) the ease with which it can be procured; (ii) its wide variety of functionality; (iii) the gap in the HE information environment for such a product; (iv) its devolution of a lot of power to local users which suits the federal culture of HEIs.
  • two distinct types of SharePoint implementation were discerned: organic (bottom-up) implementations and corporate (top-down) implementations
  • drivers for implementing SharePoint included: improving document management; supporting collaboration (internally and externally); improving an intranet or external website; targeting information to particular audiences; improving and automating cross-institution processes; providing a personalised portal for staff and students; bring together and managing data from different information systems in the HEI
  • a range of critical success factors for SharePoint implementations were identified
  • with most HEIs already having a virtual learning environment (VLE) in place only two HEIs were found to be using SharePoint as a VLE; but SharePoint is being used in teaching and learning, particularly for functions such as group collaborative work, ad-hoc non-repeated courses, and work that cuts across different courses
  • several HEIs are using SharePoint to support collaborative research work with colleagues in other institutions; whilst there is plenty of scope for SharePoint to support research groups it will face strong competition from open source systems in this space.
This research was conducted in the summer and autumn of 2009 and many of the implementations seen were relatively recent.

2010-11 is likely to see significant development in the SharePoint space. The average size of implementations will get larger as recent implementations mature. SharePoint is unlikely to take much market share from the established VLEs, but we will increasingly see VLEs competing for the attention of academic staff and students with both SharePoint on the one hand and web applications such as Facebook on the other. In the collaboration space SharePoint is likely to face its stiffest competition from Google Apps, rather than established enterprise content management (ECM) vendors.

For further details go to: