Understanding Data

This has a become a big thing for our project, how are changes managed to the core student data and how are those changes communicated to staff who use that data? I had a conversation with a member of lecturing staff who noted that TheSIS (The Student Information System) had gone through some recent changes, and were unsure as to why those changes had taken place, and that the  changes had caused some new issues with data that they put into the system. Usually these “issues” with data are sorted at a local level and may not reach faculty meetings. So how many people hit the same thing? How often do problems arise? What problems are they? In an informal discussion it is easy to pull out some issues, including handling APEL decisions after exam boards have met (in this example TheSIS gives the learner an “R” grade – meaning re-sit!). We have been talking about a flexible and responsive curriculum but now we also need to think about flexible and responsive data sources.

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Changing Values

As an institution we have a new project running called the OER project (Open Educational Resources) and this has started some interesting conversations and thoughts over the university. As part of this a senior lecturer started talking to me about it on the train. They had a recent experience where learners had rebelled against the new forms of teaching in their award and requested a move back to the traditional lecture approach. As part of this the tutor has created an online paper, rather than getting them to research content to discuss.

They were interested in the value it would bring to the university and how we look at charging learners for their university experience, rather than just content. This has a clear link to the post, http://www.paulgraham.com/publishing.html which talks about how society willingly pays for media but not the content of the media (such as a set cost for a paperback regardless as to the content of the paperback, are all authors considered equal?). We talked about how the value was in the contact with the tutors, that it was going to become a personal experience, and the assessment to achieve an award, so it appears to be all the wrappers around the content (like the CD and its packaging).

I just wanted to get this thought down to see where it took me, and at the moment the project has a lot of questions to ask at Staffordshire University and externally to its value and cost. 

Programme office

This is a big question for me, and the project, at the moment as its part of the next stage of the project. We have helped with the development of a strategy for the university around Curriculum Design and Development but how is that managed? How do we keep it up to date and what is the cost benefits to making all the recommended changes?

We have spoken to over 15 different initiatives in the university, plus senior management, discovered over 9 general CDD issues that overlap the initiatives and have suggested that they get addressed, but other than acknowleging that they are issues what depth of analysis do we need to do as a project to understand their impact to the University? Should this be done now or once agreed by Executive / Senior management that they are issues we need to investigate. How much time would need to be invested in this? Lots of questions on this going through my head and on top of that is how we engage in the piloting of project outputs and getting the rather informal initiatives to provide final reports that can then be used to build future recommendations? I will be covering this thought more in the main blog soon. I am also wondering if we are doing enough on expectations.

On the plus side we have a day with the cluster coming up next week so that we can discuss things like the base line report and using modeling, after that we have a SMWG meeting and in a few weeks time it will be the programme meeting so a lot of getting together and chatting about thoughts on the project.