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Project Blog Year 1 and 2

The CAMEL Trail: SEDA Conference 2010

10 May 2010




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After a gruelling
5.5 hour train journey last week, Andy and I arrived in Leeds,
ready to present with the rest of Curriculum Design Cluster B, at the SEDA
. The conference aimed to explore and debate the issues around ‘Communities
of Learning’.


Our Cluster Group
ran a session called ‘The CAMEL Trail’, which aimed to share the collaborative
and supportive ‘CAMEL’ approach that we have adopted, the activities and themes
that we have explored as a group, and how each project has gained from being
part of a CAMEL community. Through the session, we aimed to explore the
benefits of using the CAMEL approach and shared top tips that session participants
may be able to apply to their own contexts.


We started the
presentation with an introduction to the CAMEL model and how it has been
adopted by our cluster group. We outlined the themes that have been focussed
upon during face to face meetings, the activities that have been run, the
tangible outputs that have been achieved and the benefits of adopting the
approach and working collaboratively.


Following this
initial introduction, a wider open group discussion took place, exploring the
benefits and pitfalls of the approach in more detail. Discussion started around
the funding required to help facilitate such collaboration. JISC (funders of
the Curriculum Design and Delivery projects) have allocated funding
specifically for CAMEL Cluster meetings. The host institution receives a set
amount of funding to contribute towards the costs of running a CAMEL meeting.
Participants at the SEDA session were interested to find out, ‘what’s in it for
the funders?’. Marianne Shepherd, Co-ordinator of the JISC Design and Delivery
Programmes advised that JISC had found the CAMEL approach useful in providing
projects with another layer of support (i.e. peer support), an opportunity to
build upon commonalities between projects so as not to reinvent the wheel, and had
also resulted in programme level outcomes (e.g. Dissemination at Conferences,
journal articles etc).


During the session,
we discussed other approaches and models to facilitate collaboration and
support across the HE sector – for example the Centres for Excellence in
Teaching and Learning (CETLs), amongst others. There was a general feeling that
there is a need on a national level, for a more consistent approach towards the
management and co-ordination of support networks. Also, it was felt that more
emphasis needs to be placed on the coordination and sharing of project and outcomes,
both at a University level and on a wider scale. It was felt that a Central
Educational Development Unit (or equivalent) would be the most appropriate and
useful place to share outcomes within a University.


It was suggested
that given the nature of the Curriculum Design projects, it may be useful to
host a CAMEL event aimed at the Pro-Vice Chancellors from the institutions in
the cluster… now there’s food for thought…..!


I attended a couple
of interesting sessions during the rest of the Conference, including a workshop
exploring the Student Experience of Final Year Students and a talk from the
soon-to-be President of the National Union of Students (NUS), Aaron Porter.


I’m now trying to get
my brain in gear for the JISC Curriculum Design Programme meeting, being held
in Birmingham
on Wednesday. It should be an interesting and relevant event for PALET,
particularly the session on Managing Course Information.


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