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|PALET - The Programme Approval Lean Electronic Toolkit Project|
The second workshop in the 'Supporting Curriculum Design' programme of activity took place on 24 January 2012. The workshop was facilitated by staff from the Learning and Teaching Support Team and members of the JISC funded Digidol Project Team. In the below video, Dr Sarah Williamson (Head of Learning and Teaching Support) gives an overview of the second workshop.
In line with the new Education Strategy for Cardiff University, the PALET Project has recently launched a new series of staff development workshops titled ‘Supporting Curriculum Design’, which brings together staff involved in developing curriculum in an Academic Session to work together as a ‘cohort’. Staff from a range of discipline areas signed up to participate in the programme of activity and the first in the series of three workshops was held on 6 December. In the below video, Dr Sarah Williamson (Head of Learning and Teaching Support) gives an overview of the first workshop.
Alongside the Supporting Curriculum Design programme of workshops, we are exploring whether it is possible to create a system of ‘cohort electronic networking’ to link academics in individual and in different Schools, and between academics and education and quality assurance support staff, to continue collaborating between workshop sessions and have rich conversations about curriculum design. We have set up a ‘Community’ area in ‘Lotus Connections’ to support peer discussion and collaboration and to build up a ‘knowledgebase’ of curriculum design resources and guidance.
Sarah Williamson, Head of Learning and Teaching Support at the University gives feedback from a student focus group exploring how students are/could be involved in Curriculum Design activities. At the students focus group, we explored the following areas:
- How do you learn best?
- What teaching methods or learning activities help you to learn best?
- Are different teaching methods or learning activities more appropriate to different topics/subject areas?
- Do you know how you'll be taught certain things? Where does that information come from?
- Do you think you have the knowledge/understanding to make decisions about course design? How would you want to use the knowledge?
- Would you like to be involved in helping to design how a course is delivered? How?
We have been exploring ways to document and communicate the broadened remit of the PALET project and clearly define the scope of the different workpackages/sub-projects that now fall under the PALET umbrella. In an attempt to do this, we have developed a 'SpicyNodes' map, which you will find below. This is a starter for ten and we intend to build upon this - but we thought we would share it sooner rather than later to communicate what the project is working on. Comments welcome!
Last Wednesday, Andy and I travelled to Birmingham to attend the JISC Programme Meeting for all of the JISC funded Curriculum Design projects. The meeting started with a general update from the JISC about the activities that the organisation will be focussing on over the next few years, to name a few - technology enhanced assessment and feedback, learning and digital literacies and learner achievement and learner data. Next, each cluster group (A, B and C) gave a short report back on the work of the clusters and progress with individual projects.
The first main agenda item for the day was concerned with 'Managing Course Related Information' and included presentations from several projects, including OULDI (Open University) and PiP (Strathclyde University). I was struck by just how many projects were facing almost identical challenges, despite the core focus of the projects being different. It seems that the other projects have also opened a "Pandara's box" of challenges, in seeking to revise and enhance different aspects of Programme Approval/Curriculum Design.
I was interested in the representation of different 'course views', being developed as part of the OULDI Project. The idea seemed to be that five course 'views' (listed below), can be used to interrogate, and represent a programme of study: 1. Design Decision Tool; 2. Course Map; 3. Pedagogy Profile 4. Cost Effectiveness; 5. Course Performance. The project is aiming for better articulated courses, which are more cost effective. In defining the detail of the new approval process designed by PALET, we are starting to consider our reporting requirements at various stages of the process. It might be useful for us to consider developing these requirements in a similar way - i.e. the reports generated during the process being a different 'representation' or 'view' of the programme, dependent on the information needs of the stakeholders involved at each point.
The presentation given by the Principles in Pattern (Strathclyde) Project Team, could have easily been about PALET. The team have been exploring very similar challenges to us, with regards to their current programme approval process: little standardisation, the same information presented in different ways depending on the School/Directorate, no version control when developing programme information, a focus on what will be taught rather than on learning opportunities - all things that were identified during the review undertaken through PALET. In fact, if comments on the twitter feed (#jisccdd) were anything to go by, these challenges seemed to chime with most of the institutions present. It will be interesting to see how the projects unfold and work to address similar challenges in their own, and often very different contexts.
Many of the projects funded under the programme also seem to be involved in some sort of process mapping at the moment. There was a general consensus that it might be useful to work across cluster groups/across the programme to share practice, to avoid reinventing the wheel. We'll see if and how this will be taken forward...
Final comment: A one day meeting just wasn't long enough!
And I guess the hard work starts now, following the approval of the new high-level model for new programme approval by the University's Academic Standards and Quality Committee on 13th January 2010. The paper received by the Committee set out the model below, reported on the next stages to be undertaken by the Project, and identified the issues that have arisen from the work conducted to date.
At first glance this doesn't appear to offer a significantly quicker or leaner process. Indeed, the inclusion of a stage focussed on the business case is an addition. Schools did however feel it is important that this stage is included, and for the business case to be considered separately from the academic content. Everyone we consulted with also agreed that there is a need for a more collaborative approach to be taken and for relevant support and guidance to be made available from appropriate directorates at different points in the process. This will enable the process to be managed more efficiently by and within schools. Other time savings will be made by reducing the volume of information required to support a new proposal and by ensuring the information collected can be re-used to support a programme's operation, by reducing the number of approval points to one, and by ensuring that information has to be entered once only.
So, what happens next - well - apart from further revision to the Project Plan, supporting implementation of new programme information templates, revising the Project's Evaluation Strategy, liaising with JISC and the other projects in our cluster, and looking at ways of disseminating outcomes from the Project - the main task for the Project will be to define all the precise steps in each part of the new process, and to engage and consult with stakeholders to find the best solution for everybody. This will enable a technical specification for the IT based toolset to be developed in detail (all we all know that the 'devil' is always in the detail).
Thoughts or comments welcome
Monday of last week, we held the all important workshop, at which participants worked towards designing the future state of the Programme Approval Process at Cardiff University. After a few ice-breakers, participants were asked to list the real-world constraints that could hinder a perfect process - for instance QAA/Professional body requirements, University culture and 28 different Schools. Constraints aside, participants were then asked to design a 'ship' to represent their aspirations of a new programme approval process for Cardiff University.
Each group explained the reasoning behind their ship design. Common themes throughout the four ships were: Manoeverable, simple, advanced navigation system, streamlined, futureproofed, supportive crew, Ship captain keeping an eye on the horizon....
Two participants kindly offered (were coerced...!) to talk us through their ships - please view the below video:
Next, participants took the key messages from the "Art Attack" boat session, and started to develop a high level map of what the Programme Approval Process might look like in the future - using brown paper and post-it notes in true LEAN style! So, by the end of the workshop, we had an 'aspirational' high level map of what a new process would look like in an ideal world. Three more workshops are planned for November, at which participants will start to thrash out some of the detail, adding flesh to the bones of the high level aspirational map. As you can see - busy times aboard the good ship PALET - roll on Christmas :)
Last week, Cardiff played host to the third CAMEL meeting of Design Cluster B*. The meeting took place in the impressive Committee Rooms of the Glamorgan Building - people seemed very impressed - and perhaps more impressed that a scene from Dr Who was filmed in the ladies loo...!
The meeting began with a summary update from all visiting projects. This was followed by a 'calzon quitao' session, during which we (Andy and I) highlighted key challenges and difficulties that had arisen during the life of the PALET project and accepted constructive criticism, advice and support from other cluster projects.
The first workshop session of the Camel meeting was run by Katya Hosking, the Inclusive Curriculum Officer at Cardiff University, and focussed building inclusivity into curriculum design. The interactive session was well received and seemed to provide food for thought for many project teams. Feedback on the session was captured via twitter and included;
"E&D session gave genuine food for thought."
"Great session from on inclusive curriculum design at Cardiff"
"Rethinking notion of "disability" and inclusion in light of #dcb09 session this pm will include this as one of our principles for predict"
Day one concluded with a picturesque, sunset boat trip around Cardiff Bay. (This sounds very peaceful and relaxing, but ended up involving a huge panic when Taffs Mead ferry port couldn't be found...!) We continued discussions over dinner at Mimosa and came up with some great ideas for joint dissemination (*Watch this space!*).
A 9am start on day two, and straight into another workshop session focussed on evaluation. Professor Peter Chatterton facilitated the session, at which we explored the different approaches projects were taking to evaluation. The meeting finished with further discussion of potential joint dissemination opportunities. And to round of a successful camel meeting, we found out that our proposal to run a symposium session at the SEDA Conference next year has been accepted.
Personally, as the host, I found it difficult to relax and enjoy the meeting at first - I was more concerned whether everyone else was enjoyed the sessions. Once I realised that everyone was engaging well with the inclusive curriculum workshop, I was able to enjoy the session myself. So, we're looking forward to the next Camel Cluster meeting in March, at which we'll experience sights and sounds of Greenwich...
* Cardiff University, Cambridge University, Birmingham City University, City University London, Greenwich University.
Sunset over Cardiff Bay
The Alt-C conference (8-10 September 2009 at Manchester University) proved to be an excellent opportunity both to reflect on where the PALET project is currently, and to develop ideas and explore new themes relevant to the project. In particular, it served as a timely reminder that the project needs to engage more fully with the ways in which new curricula are actually designed. The challenge remains to find ways through which the full range of internal stakeholders can properly engage with these issues, and ensure that the redesigned process fully captures the discussions and decisions that appear to now take place outside of the current approval process.
Overall the conference was both useful and informative; it included some great keynotes, and parallel sessions that inevitably ranged in quality, a number of which demonstrated the unfortunate consequences that arise from implementation of projects that have not fully engaged different stakeholder groups. The PALET project itself was involved in two presentations, one led by the JISC Advisory Services team, which introduced attendees to the web-based "Design Studio", as well as to the projects themselves. The other, "Herding Cats? Engaging stakeholders in complex institutional change projects", was delivered by the projects in our cluster, led by Prof. Stephen Brown, critical friend to the cluster. Judging by the feedback we received this proved to be a very successful session, participants being invited to discuss a series of "top tips" for stakeholder involvement that have been identified by the projects on their experiences to date. Short video clips from the session are below: Overall, it was really useful and valuable to catch up with colleagues working in the cluster, as well as with staff from other projects and from the JISC. In fact, it was in some ways more like a "programme meeting", albeit one that had the added benefit of a whole range of contributions from other participants at the conference. It also demonstrated how far the cluster has developed as an identifiable "community of practice". I really hope we can continue to positively support each other as we move forward, the next Camel meeting being in Cardiff next month. I just hope everyone remembers to bring their brollies. And BTW, it rained in Manchester as well "plus ca change,
Overall, it was really useful and valuable to catch up with colleagues working in the cluster, as well as with staff from other projects and from the JISC. In fact, it was in some ways more like a "programme meeting", albeit one that had the added benefit of a whole range of contributions from other participants at the conference. It also demonstrated how far the cluster has developed as an identifiable "community of practice". I really hope we can continue to positively support each other as we move forward, the next Camel meeting being in Cardiff next month. I just hope everyone remembers to bring their brollies. And BTW, it rained in Manchester as well "plus ca change,plus c'est la meme chose".
Is it me, or do four day weeks feel even longer?! Anyway, this week, we have spent some time looking at the information gathered at the ‘Programme Information Workshop’ that took place last Monday. The participants of the workshop were split into four groups to represent four key audiences of the programme specification and the module descriptions:
- Prospective Student
- Entrant/New Student
- Employer/Professional Bodies
Following this, the four groups reconvened and started to identify which bits of information about a programme, should be found within the programme specification and module descriptions. The information gathered at the workshop will be looked at further next week and eventually, and hopefully, very soon, new templates will be developed. These will then be circulated for comment, so watch your inboxes…
In project dissemination news… Andy and I are off to the ALT
Although it may sound like it, 'Wordle' is not a magical town in Middle Earth, neighbouring Mordor - it's a clever little tool that we have stumbled across and have decided to start using as part of our project communications. The Word Cloud below was particaruly easy to create. It was a matter of copying and pasting the aims and objectives of the PALET project into Wordle, which generated the below Word Cloud - giving greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. We think it quite a smart way to communicate what the project is about, in a single snapshot. For a clearer version, please click here.
Firstly, many thanks to all the staff across the University who have engaged positively with the project, particularly those who have attended the workshops and one-to-one interviews with Georgia to help review the University's Programme Approval Procedure. I hope you'll find it to be time well spent.
The results of this exercise are now in, and are being filtered into reports for both the JISC and the University's Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC). The outcomes emerging from this review are not that surprising - the three issues that emerged most strongly being around the business case developed to support a new programme, a wish to be able to re-use approval documents for different audiences, and a frustration with the length of time it takes to approve a new programme.
The exercise has also been really valuable in helping staff feel that their thoughts and input are properly valued. The participatory design approach is one that we intend to maintain, and I hope that staff will simlarily be able to join us, especially when it comes to the redesign of the process. But first, the initial report, a draft of which will be circulated for comment in the next couple of weeks, needs to be considered by ASQC. This will aim to both set out the outcomes from the consultation, and the questions and issues identified that now need to be addressed.
My feeling is that we are now entering a crucial stage for the project, and that the way the Committee responds to this report will have a significant influence on the direction of the project. More to follow, so watch this space ...
Reflections from the cluster meeting June 2009.
Cambridge proved to be an excellent location for the five projects working together as a cluster within the JISC Curriculum Design Programme, a two day meeting that operated in the spirit of a CAMEL (see http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/camel/camel-model/the-idea.htm for an explanation). The meeting helped the projects to share experiences, ideas and issues, and learn that punting on the river Cam is both hard work, and in the case of the Cardiff delegation, a lot more difficult than it looks.
The meeting started with project updates (held 'calzon quitao'), which included discussion of the workshops being held currently by the PALET project, in which the processes used by schools to develop new programmes are mapped, and issues with the current programme approval procedure identified. This was followed by punting on the river, during which we identified opportunities for sharing and collaboration, an activity made even more hazardous by the need to transfer between boats mid-exercise.
The second day focussed on change management, through a workshop facilitated by Clive Alderson from JISC InfoNet, which proved to be interesting, entertaining and thought provoking. More than anything else, this helped remind me of the need to consider the complex motivations that individuals have, which they bring to bear in deciding whether or not to engage with projects and initiatives, particularly when they emanate from the central University. Lessons to be learned in an area, which IMHO, the sector does not do well.
|I'm well aware that our chosen acronym is not a real word (in either English or Welsh), and I've always pronounced it as 'pallet', which brought to mind the wooden crates (which I spent two miserable summer's stacking boxes of wine onto). Georgia, however, has adopted the artist's palette as the logo for the project. Much more refined.|
I've now learned that this 'art' analogy is to be extended, as Georgia, Simon and I are to be caricatured by Picasso Griffiths, as part of Cardiff's Positive Health and Environment Week (PHEW), the resulting pictures providing us with images that will be used as avatars for the project. The outcomes will be posted here first.
As for the project itself, I think good progress is being made with the collection of baseline data and process review, and more staff across the University have become aware of the project. We are also all keeping fit, not least the consequence of having to carry documentation for a new programme that weighed in at over 4.3 kilos. (Is this another quantitative data source to record as baseline data?). We are also due to attend the Programme meeting in Birmingham tomorrow. It will be good to catch up and share experiences with others. I hope it proves useful, reflections will be posted here.
Welcome to the blog for the Programme Approval Lean Electronic Toolset (PALET) project. Please find below a short overview of the project:
PALET Project Overview
Utilising the Lean Thinking methodology for process improvements, the PALET project will develop revised procedures for the approval of new programmes to create a more agile, efficient and flexible approach to the design of new curricula and the subsequent programme approval process. In the context of the University’s Modern IT Working Environment (MWE) project, a service-oriented approach will be utilised to develop a toolset to support academic and support staff through each stage of the new programme approval process, which will also ensure that the resulting programme and module information is clearly defined and can be seamlessly utilised by other business applications.
The project will build on and extend a recent end-to-end review of the process conducted through the University’s Lean University Project and will redesign this procedure to ensure that new programmes are attractive, innovative, market relevant and of a high academic standard. This will include a focus on the business case developed for new programmes, on the information required within a programme proposal, and on the process of curriculum design.
The revisions will be guided by input from staff within academic schools, the main users of the process. The project will draw upon the tools being utilised across the University within version 2.0 of the MWE, specifically those that will support collaborative working and the development and management of online processes. The project will also link with the work being undertaken to improve the University’s data quality, to facilitate the most effective use of this data, and to improve the ability to find, access and publish corporate information.
The project has been identified as a high priority for the University, and it is linked with a number of key strategic matters and other ongoing University-wide projects. These include the ongoing implementation of the Student Information Management System (SIMS) across the institution, review of the University’s future approach to portfolio management, implementation of the University’s learning, teaching and assessment strategies, and a move towards a definitive single data source to cover the lifecycle of a programme from inception through to delivery. While the success of the PALET project is not dependent on the implementation of the related projects and initiatives, a holistic approach to policy and practice will help to transform institutional business processes over the short to medium term.
© Dr Sarah Williamson. Powered by Apache Roller 4.0.1-dev.
|« May 2013|
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