At the last Steering Group meeting for LSBU's pathfinder project on 16 May, Jon Warwick chaired the meeting in Peter McCaffery's absence. Other attendees were Ruth Brown, Janet Cattini, Helen George, Bob Kaye, Russell Kenny, Laurence Marlow and Joanne Monk. As well as those from Peter McCaffery, apologies were also received from Sarah Bell.
Various matters arising from the notes of the meeting on 21 February were discussed:
- Helen reported that the interviewing of staff - in focus groups and one-to-one – was still to take place and was built into the LTEU’s work package for the coming year. The decision as to which model to adopt (group/121) should be the faculty’s. Joanne suggested that a good way of taking the process forward is to attend a meeting already attended by the people one wishes to engage; Bob is to give Helen a list of faculty meetings where she can speak to heads of department.
- The .2 learning technologist, working with Russell on training materials, is not able to take on any work from the faculties; Mel Glynn, however, has time that can be made available for faculty work.
- The point was made that one learning technologist for the entire university is insufficient capacity; other universities have a far higher ratio. This point will be taken to the University’s budget committees. As eLearning is a university priority, the institution needs to make a strategic decision on resourcing; the role of learning technologist is an emerging one, and requires skill sets that differ from any other role.
Since last the Steering Group met, the third (and final) Carpe Diem workshop has taken place, as has the first “follow-up” day. An action plan from the day itemises next steps for the team and the LTEU. The second team’s follow-up day is booked for 13 June, and the final team is in the process of finalising a date.
A key factor in the workshops was to include participants from all faculties (although the course teams were all from AHS). In addition to the 3 information advisors who took part, 12 faculty from outside AHS acted as learning technologists, observers and reality checkers. Feedback from participants in all roles has been enthusiastic and positive. In the main, the workshops have also demonstrated their potential as team-building events. Course teams have ended the workshop with tangible outputs in the form of e-tivities and an action plan. Further, they have become aware of the internal capacity and skills available to them in the area of instructional design.
It was agreed that a showcase of e-tivities developed in the workshops, together with a contextual rationale, would be created. Russell pointed out that the methodology of the workshop allows people at various levels of technological to create usable learning object, and that individual academics need not fear that the experience would be beyond their capabilities. A potential barrier, however, was that people might expect to have a greater output from the time investment in a two-day workshop.
The experience at LSBU, as in other universities in the ADDER partnership, has been that external facilitation of the workshops sets a particular tone and engages participants in a particular way. In principle, the University of Leicester has approved the idea of the formation of a “second tier” of Carpe Diem workshop facilitators from the universities that were partners in the ADDER project. These facilitators would run events in each other’s institutions on a “cost only” basis. In the first instance, a collaborative bid for funding is being made to Meet the Dragons New Ways of Working with Northampton University. There is also the possibility of applying for a small amount of funding from the HE Academy.
Case studies around the assessment strand of the project are to be developed with Paula Roush and Alan Winter. It was noted that infrastructure changes and problems dictate that the use of technology for summative assessment is not advisable at this stage.
To address the infrastructure challenges, Helen asked that where problems are experienced, specific details (including the exact time and nature of the problem) be forwarded to the Blackboard team so that the log can be examined. It was suggested that a working group of parties interested in online assessment be convened by ISB and the Learning & Teaching Committee to explore the following further: 1) the resources, support and infrastructure required for the task; 2) suitability of the assessment tools in Blackboard, as well as other dedicated assessment software; and 3) the hardware issues involved.
The transition strand has uncovered that flexibility of approach might lead to gaps in communication. Notably, while Blackboard has the potential to be a relationship-building – and an Onboarding – tool, the new Hobsons system acquired by External Relations and Communications is clearly focused on marketing.
It is critical that the student experience of the morphing from Hobsons into theBlackboard is managed in such a way that the switch is seamless. BCIM have, as a faculty, developed a model for managing the transition of students from the offer stage to registration, and this will be explored as a possible framework for other faculties interested in using technology to facilitate the transition process.
Since the last Steering Group meeting, Cluster C met for the last time under the Pathfinder banner at Brunel on 23 April. As usual, this was a very productive meeting, and frameworks for 5 (and possibly 6) cluster briefing papers were outlined. In addition, each institution committed to individual briefing papers (see list below for details).
The group also evaluated the process of working together as a cluster, and agreed that there was a good possibility of future collaboration. Reading and Brunel, for instance, plan to write a briefing paper jointly next year about the strategic embedding eLearning. Since the cluster meeting, Gráinne Conole has invited the four institutions to become partners with the Open University in a bid to JISC for funds to explore the use on online platforms.
The briefing papers and case studies from the project will be disseminated internally to interested staff, and will become a resource in the HE Academy’s archives.
The final project report is due to be submitted to the HE Academy on 27 June 2008. In addition, the Pathfinder Journey (a narrative of the experience) has to be submitted to the Academy on 30 May 2008 and at least one briefing paper, in draft form, should be ready by the end of June 2008.
List of proposed LSBU briefing papers:
- Briefing paper 1: ICT survey (Russell and Ruth)
- Briefing paper 2: Carpe Diem (Ruth, Lynn Coutts, Sarah Mobbs)
- Briefing paper 3: Engaging the student cohort in the assessment process (Ruth, Paula Roush)
List of proposed Cluster C briefing papers:
- Briefing paper 1: E-learning pathfinder projects – themes and challenges (Fran, Cambridge)
- Briefing paper 2: Adopting an evidence-based approach (Ruth, LSBU)
- Briefing paper 3 (possibly conflated with BP2): Methods and Tools for adopting an evidence-based approach (Ruth, LSBU)
- Briefing paper 4: Frameworks for embedding elearning (Phil, Brunel)
- Briefing paper 5: Getting the most out of adopting a cluster approach – synergies and collaboration (Claire/Maria, Reading)
- Briefing paper 6: Variations on themes – applying elearning themes in a local setting (from the EdMedia symposium)
- Possible briefing paper (next year): Strategic embedding of e-learning (Reading and Brunel)
Outputs from Pathfinder thus far:
- Poster presentation at HELTASA 2007 (reported previously);
- Full case study paper, Equipping academics to adapt to the complexities of the digital age, at EdMedia 2008.
- Poster at Networked Learning Conference 2008, Halkidiki, Greece, 5-6 May 2008: Developing an Evidence Base for Engagement and Impact in Higher Education Institutional e-Learning Projects.
- Symposium at EdMedia 2008, Vienna, Austria, 30 June-4 July 2008: Variations on Themes: Four Universities Explore Strategies that Generate Evidence-Informed Embedding of E-learning in Their Local Context.
- Interactive Poster Workshop at ALT-C 2008, Leeds, United Kingdom, 9-11 September 2008: Strategies for adopting an evidence-based approach to embedding e-learning.