Wednesday, 18 March 2009

About Viewpoints


At Viewpoints, we believe that learners should be at the heart of teaching and learning. But how does this apply when designing a course?

Viewpoints, a JISC-funded project in the University of Ulster, are creating a series of simple, user-friendly reflective tools (both online and workshop versions) for staff to use, promoting and enhancing good curriculum design.

All our services aim to simplify the course design process, bringing key curriculum information and prompts together in a simple, succinct way. Our tools and workshops will help staff think about course development from a fresh new perspective - putting the learner at the centre of any course.


Viewpoints can help staff develop any part of a course - from re-working a module, right up to new course design or course revalidation level.

We focus on four different aspects of course design – assessment and feedback, information skills, student interactions and creativity and innovation. We also help you focus on different key points in the student life cycle - from induction to course completion - and consider how these might affect students' learning experiences. Above all, we help to focus attention on a course from the student perspective.


We will ask staff some simple questions about learners or learning perspectives. Based on these responses, they will be given some prompts and feedback that will help them plan and create better course documents.

Tools like the Student Profiler will focus on key issues, such as: who exactly are your students? What cohort issues (such as size of group, academic issues, etc.) might affect the course and how it is designed or delivered?

The output documents from Viewpoints sessions will let staff reflect on and plan their curricula from a new perspective, helping them to tailor courses to the needs of today's learners. These outputs can also be used to inform students about their particular course.

View/Download PDF - About Viewpoints

Project Team

Alan Masson, Director,

Sharon Hayes, Project Administrator,

Fiona Doherty, Instructional Technologist,

Karen Virapen, Instructional Technologist,

James Gheel, Senior Systems Developer,

Damien McConville, Academic E-Learning Consultant,

Catherine O’Donnell, Academic E-Learning Consultant,

Project Memory

As the project progresses, it's become more important to manage the flow of information - and keep a record of what has happened during the project, both for ourselves and for people interested in Viewpoints.

There is a huge variety of online multimedia tools available that promise to simplify information handling - but we've decided to stick with a few well tried-and-tested editing tools.

This blog will be the main public information site - for people both inside and outside the university. It'll be updated regularly by team members, so anyone reading can quickly log on and find out what's happening, or comment online if they want to discuss any issues. Blogging is a great way to track ideas and progress over time, so hopefully readers will get a sense of how Viewpoints is developing.

For internal communication within the project team, we'll be sharing ideas via our Viewpoints wiki - it's a great way to collaborate on group documents and plans, especially if some team members are off-site. It also eliminates the need for multiple emails pinging round - a huge benefit in this age of overstuffed inboxes!

Some of our work in development will be shared via a closed Ning site. (Ning is a platform for creating your own secure social network). Here, stakeholders and key supporters can comment on work in beta.

To share links, useful articles and research we've found that support what we're doing, delicious is a great resource. Delicious is a Social Bookmarking service, which means you can save all your bookmarks online, share them with other people, and see what other people are bookmarking. You can see Viewpoints bookmarks all in one place here.

All our photos are held online - Viewpoints photos can be seen via the photo sharing site Flickr, and in time we hope to add videos on Youtube, to share case studies and digital stories from users.

From time to time we will also share presentations about the project, and these can now be viewed online via Slideshare, an online slide presentation tool. Keep checking back to see if new presentations have been added.

Finally, you can see our sample student timeline by visiting Dipity and scrolling to view the student life cycle at university.

All these tools will help us maintain a project memory and show how work is progressing from week to week.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Understanding our audience: Stakeholder analysis

This was another crucial planning day for Viewpoints. This time, our goal was to work out who the important stakeholders are for the project, and how exactly they might inform our work, or spread the word about us.

We started by identifying a list of potential internal (i.e. within the University) and external stakeholders, and then mapped them to a list of categories from the JISC Infonet process review document - Strategic, Managerial, Operational, Direct Influence and Indirect Influence. We added two additional categories - Champion (for people who can promote the project on a wider basis) and Support (for those involved in development with us, who might not necessarily use the tools themselves.)

After today, we have a much clearer picture of the people who can influence the direction of the project and its outputs. We hope to begin meetings with internal stakeholders in the next few weeks.