I’m having one of those periodic feelings that I’ve been neglecting the blog a little, so some updates on what I’ve been up to:
Ramifications of the department restructure in July continue, as the programme leader for our Academic Practice PG Cert – and my informal mentor – decided to leave the institution in December for new pastures. That has meant that I’ve been thrown out of the frying pan a little. I’m no longer the informal module leader on the digital technology module, learning the ropes, it is all mine. Officially. Now. Whether I know what I’m doing or not. I’m slowly coming to realise jus how much of academia is people winging it as best the can. So far it’s going well. Half the taught sessions were done last year, and the first assignment submission is due shortly. I’ve also continued to provide a number of bespoke sessions here and there, including digital skills for Sociology students and WordPress for postgrad researchers.
On the other side of my job I’m working on formalising exactly what work we can do for academics in terms of developing their content which will comprise of a new set of Service Standards for Learning Materials Development, a low-key project management system for organising the team’s workload similar to what we used to have when we had access to Jira, and a dashboard for reporting what we’ve done. That’s something we definitely need more of, we do a lot of good work that doesn’t get shouted about enough. I’m also pushing for hardware and software updates. We’re still on Storyline 2 which is getting on a bit, and an upgrade to 3 should be fairly straightforward to get through, and I would like to run a pilot of Adapt or Evolve.
I’ve been working with our Medical School again to source and integrate a series of anatomy and physiology eLearning content units developed by an external company into a number of our Canvas modules. I made an interactive world map in ThingLink to showcase country health profiles written by students for an assessment on a sociology module which will build up over the next few years (above). I was down at our London Campus again in October to help with the selection and recruitment of a new VLE support officer there who then visited us in December for a few days training with myself and the team here. Finally, getting outside of strictly work, I’ve reached the denouement of my social media alienation. On the 31st of December, to go into the new year fresh, I deleted Twitter and Facebook from all of my devices, consigning my accounts to the same dark cupboard where LinkedIn and Google+ lurk, still in existence but wilfully ignored.
The final day of the first semester was a little unusual. The morning was given over to a review of the assignments for this module which are to complete the UKPSF form, critique a learning session, analyse a learning theory, and write a report on the experience of peer observation, comparing the experience of being the observer and the observee. Drafts are due at the end of semester 2, with final versions by September. All well and good, and all covered in the module guide. This session didn’t add anything, and yet we did literally spend the entire morning debating it. Strange things happen when you have academics as students.
The afternoon session was more useful. First there was a short presentation on evaluation in general, why and how to do it, followed by an introduction to nominal group technique. A definition of evaluation was given as ‘assessing the process and practice of a prior learning strategy or event by feedback and trying to make objective summaries of an often subjective interpretation.’ This was followed by a discussion on the different types of evaluation – student, staff, data, and self – and the difference between quality assurance, which is backwards looking and tends to be about accountability, and quality enhancement, which is about how to improve and develop your programme or module.
With quality enhancement in mind, nominal group technique was then introduced followed by actually using it to evaluate this first semester. As a group, and with the programme leader absent, we drew up two lists of ten to twelve points of things that are going well, and things which we think need to be improved. These were written on a board in no particular order, then individually we had ten votes, or points, with which to rank what we thought were the most important points. So for example, if you thought that ‘over-assessment’ and ‘use of VLE’ were the two most important things that needed to be improved upon, then you could give each one five votes. The programme leader was then invited back in and the votes were added up to show what we collectively ranked as the most important things for improvement, and what we felt was going well. The outcome of this evaluation will be actively used in the development of the programme for the second semester.
Freshly rolled out, our HR’s new online appraisee training module that I created for them in Storyline. We’re developing a good relationship with HR and more work of this kind is on the cards. Storyline is also picking up throughout the university, though Faculties are tending to purchase their own copies for one or two interested people to do the development themselves. The next big one I should be working on after we get through the new semester busy period is for HIV awareness.
It’s finished! The now legendary University of Sunderland Anti-Bribery Act 2010 Online Training module was finally, finally approved by all interested parties yesterday (finally), and the link has gone out to the first batch of people who need to complete it.
I have been working on this off and on for almost as long as I’ve been at Sunderland. The original scoping meeting happened in July 2014 with a due date of September. Delays and competing priorities in our very busy Legal, Governance and Business Assurance department meant that deadlines slipped, many times.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. My skills with Storyline have improved considerably over the past couple of years, and this is by far the richest content item I have created, including a very professional voiceover on every slide and, in the most recent enhancement, a PDF certificate generated on the fly upon successful completion of the quiz.
At my appraisal last year it was suggested that I attend the University’s second line manager’s development course. This was delayed by a year because the course was under redevelopment by HR in conjunction with our Business School’s Corporate and Professional Education (CaPE) team. The new course, now branded as ‘Leading from the Middle’, is a fully accredited post-graduate module resulting in a Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership and Change upon successful completion. I don’t have a lot of information at the moment but I suspect that assessment will involve a portfolio of evidence, and in any case I’ll want to blog about the course as it develops, so I have created a new page specifically to collect these posts together using the ‘LFTM’ tag. The taught sessions on the course are as follows:
- Induction and Academic Skills
- Knowing Yourself, To Lead Others
- Strategic Leadership and Culture and Context (2 parts)
- Emotional Intelligence
- Coaching at Work (3 parts)
- Understanding Finance
- Collaborative Conversations
- Creativity and Entrepreneurial Learning
- Leading Change and Transition
- Leading High Performing Teams
- Leading Equality and Diversity
Just a little aside from the hurly burly of work and TEL to celebrate the fact that I passed the taught module on my MA English which I am doing through the Open University.
This was a double-length module and was assessed by five TMAs (Tutor Marked Assignments) which were aggregated and one EMA (End of Module Assignment) which I had to pass separately. The EMA was 5,000 words, so my largest piece of academic writing to date, and bridges the gap between prescribed assignments and independent research; there were limited options on texts and research areas which I had to choose between and then write my own question and proposal. My EMA was ‘How does Kim engage with the increasing British interest in Tibet in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century?’ and I passed with my highest score on the module, quite an achievement given that, roughly speaking, students are thought to drop around 10% on an exam or EMA.
My dissertation module starts in May and my thinking is either something around abjection or the ‘unheimlich’ in Gothic / horror literature, or the response to Scottish politics by Burns and Scott.