Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Sustaining ESCAPE - Learning from other projects

At the heart of the ESCAPE project is the need to sustain and embed our practice. We are after all about developing sustainable change. Using the standard JISC template for our Project and Evaluation Plans we were required to present some thoughts on Sustainability and Exit. I really like the idea of asking the project to think about these issues at the outset and not at its end. Thumbs up from me!

The University of Bradford are running another JISC funded project - Audio Supported Enhanced Learning (ASEL) - to which we (UH) are partners. The project is nearing completion and today (11 Feb 2009) they ran a UH / Bradford meeting to review how the institutions would sustain the ASEL activity and continue to reap the benefits suggested of audio supported learning.

I am really keen to see legacy activity from these type of projects and not just see all the good work fizzle out and dwindle just because the project and funding has formally closed. I was invited as part of the UH team to attend the day to which I seized the opportunity. I want our project, ESCAPE, to learn from ASEL activities and see how we might sustain ourselves long after we have finished. In particular I am interested in what things we might do now to help our project sustain itself and what questions might we ask at the start of the project that would help us at the project close.

Whilst I was happy to support ASEL, want to see UH benefit from a real legacy of the ASEL project, I also wanted, (more selfishly), to see what lessons I could take away from the meeting to benefit ESCAPE.

We had an interesting start to the day where as a group we explored how the project had met its objectives. I think this will be a useful exercise for ESCAPE too i.e. to keep reminding ourselves what we set out to achieve and constantly relate our activity to that.

Bob Rotheram
from the Leeds Metropolitan University followed that session with a great presentation about the JISC funded Sounds Good Project - Sounds Good is about giving better feedback and using audio to support the feedback activity.

After Bob outlined his project and the benefits, I was keen to find out how we going to sustain the Sounds Good activity (i.e. in line with the purpose of the meeting and for my selfish needs!)

Bob spoke about the importance of enthusiasm and then I asked, in addition to enthusiasm what three things do you think are important to sustain Sounds Good.?

Bob spoke about the time savings it could bring staff and qualified this with some great examples.
It is quicker (audio feedback) than written feedback if …
• You give a lot of feedback
• You speak faster than you can write

Be a really useful exercise to quantify this and show staff some break information
Bob also said that technology needs to be simple and useable and not be a barrier to uptake. Some great thoughts.

Naturally Bob also\mentioned the positive benefits to students in terms of receiving audio feedback. I really liked the pragmatism about being both student and staff focused. Staff are very busy and they need convincing of a need to change practice and see the benefits for them and their students

Peter Chatterton asked a follow-up question …

If you had a pot of gold what would you use it for to sustain Sounds Good ?
Fortunately Bob said not much was needed, sounded like a ripple effect was kickimg in, but he did say …
• Give staff decent devices
• Run workshops
• Give a chance for staff to come together to share and discuss activity

It struck me also that just as e-learning was a Trojan Horse to pedagogy so too was the use of Audio. The morning session gave a few examples which suggested, for me, it was not developing pedagogy but giving what we already know about learning to be surfaced.

In the afternoon we broke into our Uni teams and discussed how we might sustain ASEL. Asking ourselves …
why bother?
How do we convince an academic not connected with the project to engage?

We collected many ideas - which will `be posted here when they are summarised, but some things for now …

Provide some training packages
Utilising existing support - not develop new systems
Resources might include how do you do it
What do you need to avoid
i.e. a collection of resources related to ‘how to’
as well as a collection of resources relating to ‘why to’

We also mentioned strengthening the student mentor scheme run at UH - and if new / different skills are needed for audio activity then we need to describe what these are and up-skill the mentors accordingly

* Linking it to podcasting campaign
* Tagging resources so that we don’t reinvent stuff
* Networking
* Sustaining communities
* Inter-faculty meetings/
* Cross University inter-faculty meetings
* Link with the Podcasting for Pedagogic Purposes group?
* Not invent what is already out there

A couple of things ASEL might do now
• Develop crisp selling messages
• Use the right language for different groups
• Tap the why do it into responding to challenges
• Sell to Heads of School
• Share an Executive summary

I was interested in asking the team to map out the audio landscape post ASEL and then establish what is needed to support a vision

i.e. where we will be in
1 week
4 weeks
2 months
6 months
1 year

I would like to do this for ESCAPE - map out what we want UH to look like after ESCAPE and establish what we need to make that vision-landscape a reality.

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