JISC Programme Meeting: Brass tacks: Key challenges in delivering a flexible curriculum19 May 2010
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!