HEA / JISC QA-QE Event April 28th 2009

Went to this event yesterday at Aston University – actually only about 10 minutes walk from Birmingham New Street so this is a really accessible venue.

Interesting range of presentations with the morning devoted largely to QA-QE in the HE sector across the UK at institutional level. The afternoon provided a stimulating glimpse of the Pathfinder programme (phase 1 of the follow on from the national e-learning benchmarking exercise).

One issue arising from the morning presentations was the gap between QA-QE at institutional level and QA-QE for the JISC projects. Perhaps more could have been done to help project personnel relate the institutional QA-QE approaches to their individual projects.

The Pathfinder projects demonstrated different institutional outcomes from the e-learning benchmarking exercise and their respective responses to dealing with the gaps identified. A lack of time limited the experience of the PREEL 2 workshop; it would have been interesting to compare this to the participative workshop approach developed in the Planet project.

As ever at such gatherings it was the wider informal discussions that proved particularly enlightening. Listening to Fleur (Corfield) describing the use of scenario planning to help stakeholders recognise successful outcomes from her project was very illuminating – perhaps we should be doing something similar with a cross section of our identified stakeholders (including members of different stakeholder groups in the same workshops could enhance the appreciation different groups have of the project outcomes)?

There was a lot of interest in the PC3 project however it is clear that many people consider this approach unsuited to the typical 18 year old undergraduate student. We should consider contacting Dr. Judith Kuit at Sunderland and Dr. Eileen Webb at Teesside to pursue discussions around this – both of who showed a keen awareness and interest issues around the PC3 project.

Overall this was a useful workshop that should help to motivate us to revisit the PC3 project Quality Plan. In particular we should be clear what QA processes we are applying and what information these provide us on the project.

Workshop on curriculum design and assessment – York

Yesterday I attended a workshop on curriculum design and assessment, organised by JISC through the HEA and held in York. This is an area I have very little practical experience with. As a research my opportunities to get involved in teaching tend to be at the practical delivery and support end rather than course development and design. On the other hand as a researcher I spend a lot of time learning and participating in course so I have had a lot of experience of the end product of curriculum design. Enough about me.
There were two particular applications that took my interest at the workshop. The first eReflect (University of Westminster) is an across module/course feedback system. This idea made me think about what information the coaches would need to discuss curriculum choices with their coachees (the learner) and how this could be gathered. The use of competency frameworks will enable skills and ability checks on a high level directing learners to fill in those gaps. But what happens once the module has been chosen, during the process of that module? Will coaching be required to motivate learners having difficulties during this period or even just identifying other areas for development. The use of a tool like eReflect would enable coaches to access the feedback given to learners while participating in a module, and thus ask more meaningful questions. Given my current knowledge of coaching (training is still some months off) I might be think in the wrong direction. The flip side to this is the possibility for the coaches to feedback to tutors, where learners feel this might be a benefit.

The second was an Assessment diary. I’m not sure which project mentioned this (possibly Teesside) , or it might have been someone during questions, but the idea is really neat and I think needs to have some form of implementation within PC3. If we are planning to enable flexibility and negotiation with learning and assement, learners are going to need some good organisational tools to keep track of everything. I suspect that what ever core platform we decided on (probably an ePortfolio) will have this tools embed. But it is worth noting and making sure they do.