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.

http://delicious.com/ugflexproject   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

http://www.netvibes.com/dcb09#DCB_09  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.

http://jisccdd.jiscinvolve.org/  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 http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/camel 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  http://www.seda.ac.uk/