JISC Programme Meeting

Attended the JISC programme managers meeting today with John. As usual the Sarah’s team put together a well organised and structured day, with good food and space to socialise. The theme for this meet was change management and how this impacts on the structure of the evaluation plan. A particular emphases was again placed on the need for base-lining, particularly form the perspective of stakeholders and their expectations. I found the presentations interesting and informative.

Peter Bullen (University of Hertfordshire) a critical friend, gave a presentation on the CABLE project, developed to support change at a local level using the HEA’s SOME NAME  methodologies. The point I particularly liked here was the inclusion of student representatives within the teams instigating the change process. This is something we should possibly consider, once we have a first cohort going through the PC3 process. While capturing the student perspective is part of the evaluation process,  having live input during the revision process might be very beneficial.

Several models of change management and assessment were also presented. As table teams, we  were asked to consider our current institutional environment form several  perspectives and identify the types of strategy that might support the changes required by the project. This was a very debatable topic, and John and I found that we had fairly different views. However this does highlight the importance of role and experience based perspectives. While it is not possible to accommodate all (a most frequently quoted phrase) the more you are aware of the more likely you are to be able to adjust to those that become barriers to change.

The final exercise of the day (other than a quick cluster debriefing) was to consider the project stakeholders. This was facilitated by a very handy set of documents that I think might be useful for us as a team to consider at our next meeting. Several issues/considerations were raised during this. The difference between the requirements from a stakeholder’s role and their requirements as an individual were raised during our tables discussion. This was brought up in light of the prospect of an individual changing jobs, which also reflects on the risk analysis. Another issue discussed and also highlighted by other groups, was where to draw the line regarding which stakeholders to include within the projects process. This becomes a particular issue when stakeholder views/requirements change frequently, and in effect pull the project in directions others than those intended. As with most things these issues are not new nor unique, and require a balanced approach and well documented justification for the decisions taken.

All in all a good day.

Evaluation Workshop- Jan 14th 2009

Dawn and I attended the Evaluation Workshop organised by JISC at Maple House, Birmingham yesterday, 14th January 2009. Overall the event was very useful in that it helped us to focus on what evaluation means for the PC3 project.  I was happy that the Support & Synthesis (S&S) team  were comfortable with the idea that evaluating a project lasting four years means that an evaluation plan is likely to change over that time particularly given the experience of the chocolate cookie activity!

Something else that caught my attention during the day was the recognition that different stakeholders had different expectations from our project and that we need to ensure that our evaluation plans allow us to include activities that allow us to say something towards these different expectations.

Helen Beetham talked about the ‘power words’ in the original bids and  a need to be clear what these mean in the context of our respective bids. Early views on this for us certainly highlights words such as ‘coaching’ , ‘flexible’ approaches and ‘personalised curriculum’; feedback from project events run so far clearly show that staff have very different views about what these mean for them.

The discussions around ‘baselining’ a project were helpful for us as we are modelling current processes and workflows in order to demonstrate what they currently enable and where changes are needed in order to facilitate the radical changes to curriculum design inherent in our project. There was also a suggestion that one evaluation activity could be to contrast a typical output (subject specific award design over a limited time period with limited student choice) for the current processes against a typical output for the modified processes (generalised award design over a variable period with a wide range of choice).

There was also a timely reminder that each project is a part of the S&S programme and that the programme itself would be evaluated so it would be helpful to identify aspects of our evaluation plans that offered insight on the programme aims and objectives.

Sarah Knight closed the event  with a few key dates for the project and evaluation plans so perhaps I had better stop chattering here and make sure that we meet the first deadline for the draft project plans on February 2nd.