We have just hosted the third meeting of our cluster (universities of Bristol, Exeter, Hertfordshire and Westminster). The venue was the Comfort Hotel in St.Albans. The hotel was at one time the home of Samuel Ryder of Ryder Cup fame. The meeting ran as is usual from lunchtime on the 25th to lunchtime on the 26th. This gives everyone a chance to arrive in good time to start the meeting and for a social event in the evening - usually a group meal at a local restaurant. This time is valuable as much of the meeting is about sharing experiences of our projects and seeking advice from our fellow cluster project teams and our critical friend Malcolm Ryan.
The first day kicked of with a welcome and introduction by Malcolm and a review of the ground rules for the two days. The Chatham House rules mean that we can speak candidly about issues and events arising in the projects. We then moved on to looking how we had used the Appreciative Inquiry approach with our project and a facilitated session run by Rachel Harris of Inspire Research. We then moved on to evaluation and looked at how we are approaching this- thinking about "what a successful project looks like " and discussing the value in understanding why something did not work out as planned. The day was rounded of by a very pleasant meal in which the topics discussed during the day were further explored.
The second day looked at the plans for the final cluster meeting at Exeter - a draft agenda was proposed and celebrations planned! We then moved on to plans for a joint conference submission by the cluster at the Geenwich e learning conference in the summer. The day finished with a session on using Fishbone Analysis to explore the sustainability agenda of the projects.
All in all a really useful two days - we have similar experiences and issues and it was an excellent opportunity to raise them and to identify ways to move forward.