Project Blog Year 1 and 2

“No CAMEL route is long, with good company” – Turkish Proverb

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It’s nearing the Easter break and there is no doubt I’m wishing
away the time until Good Friday – but, I’m feeling refreshed, enthusiastic and
excited about the PALET Project once again. I can only draw one conclusion – I
must have been to a CAMEL meeting! Andy (Lloyd) and I spent Wednesday/Thursday
of last week meeting with staff from four other institutions, all working on
similar projects to PALET under the ‘Institutional Approaches to Curriculum
Design’ programme, funded by JISC. We take it in turns to host, and this time
it was the turn of colleagues from the University of Greenwich.
We had a busy agenda for the two days, including the following:

 

Generic customisable
process template (Day 1)

 

As
a cluster, we discussed the potential for the development of a shared and
customisable curriculum design and approval process map. We spent time
exploring the key questions around the curriculum design and development
process, looked briefly at the current practice in project institutions and
finally discussed the potential development of a common model. The cluster then
began to consider whether the high level model developed by PALET, could be
adopted as a common model across institutions. It was felt that if the cluster
could agree a common model, then it might be possible to begin collaborating
and sharing resources – for instance common and customisable templates,
guidance notes, business case development tools etc. We agreed to explore this
further offline, and other projects will soon be offering their comments on how
well the PALET model fits with their own institutions – should be interesting.

 

Evaluation Update (Day 1)

 

The
session explored the various approaches that are being used by the projects –
which range from completely independent through to entirely embedded. The
cluster discussed evaluation methods – both the evaluation of the more tangible
outcomes emerging from projects, and also the importance of evaluating more intangible
elements, for instance stakeholder engagement.

 

Cluster Dissemination (Day 2)

 

The
Cluster is due to present at the SEDA Conference in May, the theme of which is ‘Communities
of Learning’. Our cluster is presenting on the ‘CAMEL’ model, our experiences
of working in this way and the potential benefits and pitfalls that it can
bring.  For more information, please
visit the SEDA website.

 

Student Engagement (Day 2)

 

We
had a useful session exploring how each of the institutions had engaged
with/intended to engage with students in their projects. Several of the
projects reported that the students at their institution felt over-surveyed,
and were making use of data that had been collected for other purposes instead.
Birmingham City University
(T-SPARC) described a strategy to embed students in the programme
development/approval process, through a method of “co-creation”, facilitated by
payments of £10 per hour to students. We were all very interested to hear more
about this, and agreed that student engagement should feature on the agenda for
the next CAMEL meeting in Birmingham.

 

Quality Assurance / Quality
Enhancement Session (Day 2)

 

Day 2 of the CAMEL meeting was rounded off nicely by a session with Peter
Findlay, Assistant Director at QAA for Higher Education. Peter summarised how
the QAA works at the moment, and gave an indication of the potential changes on
the horizon (e.g. a greater focus on the quality of student learning
experiences, more meaningful student involvement in quality processes and clearer
information to be made available to students about the pathways open to them
and what is expected of them.)

 

The session was of particular interest to us at Cardiff, as it focussed on how the QAA might
respond to significant changes to quality process, which of course is
fundamental to the PALET Project. Peter stressed that the QAA welcomes
institutions that are looking to enhance and develop their processes and that
most QAA requirements are more negotiable than is commonly believed (as long as
the HEI has a clear rationale!) He indicated that the QAA will accept a degree
of risk in a process, as long as quality standards and the quality of the
student learning experience are not harmed.

 

Peter advised
that the work of our cluster group is of great interest to the QAA, and has the
potential to be very influential, as it clearly addresses significant aspects
of the QAA agenda. Peter agreed to provide feedback on the high level process
map developed by PALET, and we’re looking forward to working with him, and the
QAA, as the project progresses.

 

Social Activities

 

A valuable part of each CAMEL event is the social activities, which offer
a good opportunity for cluster members to reflect upon the sessions of the previous
day, continue informal discussion about projects and build good relationship
and mutual trust between project teams. Our hosts from Greenwich took us for an early evening walk
to the point where East meets West at the Greenwich Meridian Line at the Royal
Observatory of Greenwich. This was followed by an evening at the
Trafalgar Tavern on the banks of the Thames,
and once popular with the likes of Charles Dickens and William Thackery. The cluster
also enjoyed a session to reflect upon the activities and outcomes of the
CAMEL, whilst spinning around on a capsule of the London Eye – Andy and I were
unable to attend (a good job as we’re both petrified of heights!).

 

All in all, a very successful and
positive CAMEL – I look forward to the next one hosted by Birmingham City
University later this
year.

 

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