Last Thursday and Friday, I was part of a joint summer school with UCL’s Digital Department project. This was aimed primarily but not exclusively at teaching administrators, who are the focus of the UCL project. Over the two days, we explored issues of learning, teaching and technology in relation to sector-wide changes, developing pedagogies, changing student profiles and patterns of engagement, and also organisational change.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, with great input from the participants. Further information about the event will be made available in the near future, and I’ll link to it once there’s an update.
Update: here’s a link to the Digital Department project’s blog post on this event: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/the-digital-department/2013/07/20/summer-school-technology-and-change-in-higher-education/
Lesley & I have just had a meeting with Nazlin Bhimani and Barbara Sakarya about the work this year focusing on students’ use of LibGuides. There’s lots of exciting possibilities for this strand of work, which may involve us scaling up the scope of it. There may now be multiple focus groups, covering different groups of students. Barbara & Nazlin also updated us about work they’ve already completed, and have blogged about elsewhere.
We have just completed a presentation on the project as part of the JISC’s online e-learning conference. This focused on the process of institutional change, analysing two parts of the work of our project, using ideas drawn from Actor-Network Theory. This was an opportunity for us to work through (for ourselves, as well as for the audience!) accounts of change that didn’t rely on top-down, imposed, rational accounts of change. We had some very positive feedback, which was reassuring.
The session was recorded and we’re assured that this will be made available in the new year. We’ll provide a link through to this once it’s available.
Following a recent IT Services review, the IOE has constituted a task group of the Information Strategy Committee (which has academic governance of IT services), which is now in the process of drafting a requirements analysis to inform future activity. This review has drawn on various institutional committees’ work, but has also drawn evidence from the early analysis undertaken in this project. In the current draft’s appendix, one page of the three-and-a-half pages of evidence is drawn from our work. Qualitatively, the priorities we’ve identified have shaped the review. For example, “differentiation” – something that the project has shown is important in supporting our students – is now listed as one of the principles against which IT solutions should be prioritised, designed and selected.
This is, of course, an early indication – the report has yet to be approved or enacted – but it does signal how project outputs are starting to influence institutional activity.
Specifically, I think it provides an interesting example of our theoretical frame in action. We can follow material/digital project texts to show how specific actors (in this case, students and academics), who were previously quite marginal in decisions about IT service provision, are able to use the texts to reconfigure existing arrangements in ways that are more favourable to their needs and priorities.