Friday, 3 April 2009

Visit from our Critical Friend, Peter Bullen

Today, all the Viewpoints staff met our 'Critical Friend' for our JISC Curriculum Design cluster, Professor Peter Bullen.

Peter currently works as director of the Blended Learning Unit (BLU) at Hertfordshire University, as well as advising the three projects in Curriculum Design Cluster C (University of Strathclyde, the Open University and ourselves).

His role is to give us advice and guidance of what's going on in the sector, encourage us to review our progress, act as an ambassador for the project and to foster links between different projects, where possible.

Our all-day meeting covered a lot of ground. After introductions, Project Director Alan Masson gave a condensed account of the project's aims and direction.

This was followed by a brief presentation of Version 1 of the 'Student Profiler' - an interactive tool to allow staff to think about their student cohort, and the opportunities and risks that might involve. This tool takes the form of a wheel that staff can manipulate to give them an insight into the student group. The simple, yet effective, visual representation lets them think about the course from the student perspective.

Fiona Doherty then presented the second item in development - an interactive tool to help staff with assessment and feedback in their courses. This tool is based around the University of Strathclyde's REAP principles of good assessment, and works by letting staff apply these ideas to a typical student timeline.

Peter was encouraging about the work done so far, and suggested that we be more open about our ideas, showing people outputs as early as possible, in order to get informed feedback early on. To do this, we are creating an invitation-only Ning network online, where we can demo work in beta and get feedback.

Catherine O'Donnell, our Academic E-Learning Consultant and adviser, is involved in mapping all the current curriculum processes in the University - a huge task, but a vital one, as it tells us where Viewpoints work can fit in with current University of Ulster practices.

Peter flagged up our upcoming JISC CAMEL meeting, where our cluster will discuss links, ideas and areas for collaboration. The next CAMEL meeting will take place in Strathclyde in April.

Finally, we talked about stakeholder involvement, thinking about ideas like 'train the trainers' workshops and targeting key figures in each of the academic schools.

It was good for everyone to finally meet Peter and get his perspective on our work - and we look forward to working with him more.

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