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!

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