Tuesday, 21 April 2009

CAMEL Meeting, University of Strathclyde

This two-day event was a chance to re-connect with the other projects in our cluster, for the first time since the programme start-up meeting in October. It was a good opportunity to find out what work was going on in both the PiP project (University of Strathclyde) and the Open University's curriculum design initiative.

On the first day, all three projects introduced the work done so far. PiP are building on the work already done as part of their University's REAP project, and are now busy trying embed the principles within University practice. They aim to do the following:
  • take a new approach to curriculum design
  • articulate what is happening now in curriculum design, including the gaps/blocks
  • streamline institutional processes
  • discover what materials would be useful for staff.
The Open University are reflecting on what constitutes 'good practice' - good pedagogy, cost-effectiveness and innovation - and they shared information on some of their initiatives to date, including Compendium, a tool for visualising learning designs, and Cloudworks, a social bookmarking tool for academics to share designs.

Feedback on our own presentation was useful and thought-provoking - and highlighted various challenges to our own project, which will inform further work.

The second day's work focused on ways to represent curriculum design and map it at curriculum level - and for a detailed discussion on this, see GrĂ¡inne Conole's e4innovation blog.

The CAMEL meeting seems to have created more questions than answers, but it stimulated a lot of lively and often thought-provoking debate!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Visit from our Critical Friend, Peter Bullen

Today, all the Viewpoints staff met our 'Critical Friend' for our JISC Curriculum Design cluster, Professor Peter Bullen.

Peter currently works as director of the Blended Learning Unit (BLU) at Hertfordshire University, as well as advising the three projects in Curriculum Design Cluster C (University of Strathclyde, the Open University and ourselves).

His role is to give us advice and guidance of what's going on in the sector, encourage us to review our progress, act as an ambassador for the project and to foster links between different projects, where possible.

Our all-day meeting covered a lot of ground. After introductions, Project Director Alan Masson gave a condensed account of the project's aims and direction.

This was followed by a brief presentation of Version 1 of the 'Student Profiler' - an interactive tool to allow staff to think about their student cohort, and the opportunities and risks that might involve. This tool takes the form of a wheel that staff can manipulate to give them an insight into the student group. The simple, yet effective, visual representation lets them think about the course from the student perspective.

Fiona Doherty then presented the second item in development - an interactive tool to help staff with assessment and feedback in their courses. This tool is based around the University of Strathclyde's REAP principles of good assessment, and works by letting staff apply these ideas to a typical student timeline.

Peter was encouraging about the work done so far, and suggested that we be more open about our ideas, showing people outputs as early as possible, in order to get informed feedback early on. To do this, we are creating an invitation-only Ning network online, where we can demo work in beta and get feedback.

Catherine O'Donnell, our Academic E-Learning Consultant and adviser, is involved in mapping all the current curriculum processes in the University - a huge task, but a vital one, as it tells us where Viewpoints work can fit in with current University of Ulster practices.

Peter flagged up our upcoming JISC CAMEL meeting, where our cluster will discuss links, ideas and areas for collaboration. The next CAMEL meeting will take place in Strathclyde in April.

Finally, we talked about stakeholder involvement, thinking about ideas like 'train the trainers' workshops and targeting key figures in each of the academic schools.

It was good for everyone to finally meet Peter and get his perspective on our work - and we look forward to working with him more.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Assessment and Feedback Workshop, Higher Education Academy

Instructional Techologists Fiona Doherty and Karen Virapen attended the HEA Assessment & Feedback Workshop in York, designed to support the JISC Curriculum Design and Delivery programmes. This one-day event looked at general overarching issues in assessment.

During the day we were presented with examples of how change in assessment has become embedded in the curriculum in institutional practice. Presentations were delivered from the HEA and several universities, all of which are available on the HEA website.

JISC Curriculum Programmes – Case Studies

This event gave us the opportunity to find out more about two other JISC Curriculum programmes, the University of Hertfordshire ESCAPE Project and the University of Westminster eReflect Project.

Mark Russell from ESCAPE talked about how they are mapping technology to learning using Chickering & Gamson’s Principles and mapping technology to assessment using the REAP Principles. This has similarities with current Viewpoints work mapping C&G and REAP to a student timeline. Further information on the ESCAPE project is available at: http://escape-uh-jisc.blogspot.com/

Gunter Saunders, eReflect, University of Westminster explained how the eReflect project is developing a student centred process for reflection on feedback.

REAP Project - embedding good practice principles

Catherine Owens from the University of Strathclyde and Steve Draper from the University of Glasgow talked about the success of the REAP Project. In a case study of 1st year Psychology students, student performance improved considerably after the REAP Project redesigned their assessment and feedback practice based on REAP Principles.

This was a very useful and informative day for our project, as we are currently developing the Assessment and Feedback tool for Viewpoints, and a lot of the information has synergies with the work that we will be doing.