Friday, 10 April 2009

Curriculum Design Toolkit

Although I am the ESCAPE Project Director I only (officially) get to work on the project for 0.2 of my time The other 0.8 is dedicated to my role as the Deputy of the Blended Learning Unit (BLU). In the 0.8 capacity part of my remit is to lead a team of seconded staff in the area of Curriculum Design and Innovation (CDI)

Some of the CDI team are currently working on developing a Curriculum Design Toolkit. The toolkit has three components and is intend to help individuals, module teams and programme teams reflect on, and where appropriate re-engineer, their curricula. The primary components of the toolkit are

A Diagnostic tool – used to establish where the problems in the curricula might lay
A Features and Consequences map – used to show what the ‘features and consequences’ of the diagnosed curricula are likely to be.
A Suggestions for Improvement resource bank – used to provide staff with different forms of advice should they wish to tackle any diagnosed problems

Wednesday and Thursday of this week I drew the team together to review progress and accelerate the development. The team are only seconded the BLU on a fractional basis and so they too have many varied demands placed on them.

The two days was full of energy and enthusiasm for the development.
After I outlined the vision for the toolkit and fed back initial thoughts from users of a pilot Diagnostic tool day one was set aside for the team to show where they are at.

Marija Cubric outlined the Technology-to-Principles Matrix. Given that UH is wedded to the notion of Blended Learning there is a need for us to help staff make appropriate decisions about the use of the varied technologies available. For us it is never ‘the answer is a wiki, now what was the question?’

Following Marija’s presentation / discussion we spent the rest of the day exploring the progress of the various CD strands.

Currently the strands under development are ‘Curriculum Design Toolkits for…

* Core values (Here we use the Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education offered by Chickering and Gamson)

* Employability – this development is being led by Amanda (Mandi) Relph and Sarah Flynn

* Research Informed Teaching – this development is being led by Phil Porter

* Assessment for Learning – this development is being led by Maria Banks and Myself

Other strands to be developed include

* Internationalisation
* Entrepreneurship

The Diagnostic tool offers a set of research informed principles to the user. The Principles are different for each strand.

Each of the Principles are accessed separately by five questions. The Diagnostic tool rates the responses to the questions and shows, graphically, if there is good, or other, alignment with each of the Principles. We spent the whole of Wednesday looking at the Principles and the ‘accessing questions’.

Wednesday was really productive and we moved on our developments and thinking significantly. Wednesday also included a trip out to a local Indian Restaurant. It was great to continue the discussions as well spend some time socialising with colleagues.

Thursday was due to be a testing day. We were hoping (somewhat ambitiously) to get other members of the BLU / LTI to test the toolkits under different scenarios. Alas we were just too ambitious and so we stood the ‘testers’ down.

We continued with our work from Wednesday and also spent part of the day engaging with students. This was to incorporate their voice into the Features and Consequences Map. We thought getting the students involved would be a valuable contribution. I’m not sure any of us knew just how valuable that activity was going to be. We took input from Lauren Anderson and Elizabeth Terry (placement students in the BLU), Yoeri Goosens – BLU Student Consultant, Ruth Hyde – BLU research assistant recently engaged in the JISC funded STROLL project and Dawn Hamlet. Dawn is our link with the UH student Union. We have worked with this group before and they are always dedicated and committed. Thank you!

Each of the strand leaders met separately with the students to get the student view. It was really interesting to see how the strand leaders engaged the students differently. I suspect the different facilitation techniques kept the students alert too. That is they were not overwhelmed by the same technique.

Gaining the voice of the student was followed by a super-efficient and dialogic facilitation technique (Marija Cubric) to get us to vote on the likely ability of the various technologies to meet the needs of the various Principles.

We came a long way in those two days and although we are left with some on-going activity I doubt we would have so far if we had stayed in our offices and worked on the toolkits on an ad-hoc basis.

Oh, why am I writing this here? Mainly because of the Assessment-for-Learning strand that is being developed. It will be just great to get this and the Technology-to-Principles matrix fed into ESCAPE.

Watch this space…

Great job team!

No comments: