In conversation with a colleague in Academic Development about how to target new starters and make them aware of all the fabulous tools and services we have to offer, we came up with the idea of having short, one-page ‘quick start’ guides for each of our core tools which would provide an introduction, explain what it was and how it could help, how to access and where to find more detailed information. I wrote the ones on Equella, Turnitin and ClassLive (Blackboard Collaborate) myself, and edited the others to a greater or lesser extent to make the style and content match across the range.
Month: October 2014
Have been kept very busy over the past couple of weeks with appraisals, both my own and for the rest of the team. I didn’t do the appraising myself, but in conjunction with our service director as, for obvious reason, I don’t know exactly what the team has been doing over the past year. With regards to my own appraisal, this was informally combined with my six months probation review a little early as there is a lot of overlap in purpose and the timing was convenient. I’m pleased to say that it went well and that I am still in gainful employment.
Something which surprised me about WaLTS when I started was the lack of management information on the work we do to support our customers. There has been a few spot audits to analyse busy periods, but nothing coherent or consistent, so I asked the team to start recording resolved work using a simple form and then presented the results in a report for the benefit of our senior management. Those graphs will take a little time to fill out, but we’re off to a good start.
One of my little areas of expertise at Northumbria was providing analytics data and reports on Blackboard usage and it’s something which was missing here at Sunderland, for the VLE at least. Unfortunately the way Learning Studio works it has not been possible to implement Google Analytics tracking code system wide, but I’m not easily deterred! I found a way to embed the code into an announcement on the landing page so that we can at least get client side data: numbers, technology, location and mobile use which is all useful in informing development.
If the report looks a little familiar, well, that’s just because great cooks bake nice cakes no matter what kitchen they’re in!
I feel like I don’t post as much as I used to, and part of the reason why is because a lot of my work is now either collaborative or of a project management nature. The new version of Mahara is a case in point. The old version was 1.4, a three year old release, and hadn’t been updated since. A project to upgrade or install a new version had begun before I started which became one for me to push through. The new version, set up as a completely new system because the database on the old one was Postgres and we couldn’t easily migrate it to MySQL, is now available thanks to a team effort from many people in WaLTS and IT Services. Now there is just the small matter of manually exporting 8,000 user accounts to the new one. That’ll keep us busy for a while.
Another good piece of work I have been involved in is the imminent deployment of a new integration of Turnitin, another stalled project which I had picked up, which included writing a fairly comprehensive report for our service director who had her doubts. We just need to do some final quality assurance testing on this and write some new help guides for staff and students and then it will be good to release.
Attended a one day training course run by our Human Resources department which covered all aspects of the University’s policies and legal obligations in regards to the entire recruitment and selection process, from identifying the need for a new post, to advertisement, shortlisting, interviewing and following through to appointment, induction, probation and long term embedding into the team and the University.
It was a very illuminating session where I learned more about the University’s ‘Two Tick’ guaranteed interview scheme for anyone who has declared a disability and meets the essential criteria for the position, the circumstances in which recruitment can be extended abroad and market uplifts can be applied, about a range of services HR offers to assist such as providing psychometric and personality tests for applicable roles, and much more.
This was a following on from my involvement with recruiting our new intern. For that I had a very quick informal run through of everything but with emphasis on the interview as that was what was immediately required. The session today has given me a lot to think about in terms of how to make our new team member fit in and happy to work with us.