More Flexible Collaboration Through IT
- Pilot: University of Bradford and University of Wales Newport
- Professional Association: Higher Education Academy (HEA).
- Descriptor: Effective deployment of IT within Institutions
- Key Words: Academic Development Unit, strategic change, staff development, change management, horizon scanning
In 2009, the University of Bradford established a new Academic Framework (to support the University’s new Corporate Plan) with major emphasis on the student experience. New senior roles were established, including the Dean of Students and Director of Learning and Teaching, based in the new ADU, reporting directly to the Deputy Vice Chancellor. The ADU now includes all our educational developers and learning technologists (TQEG – Teaching Quality Enhancement Group), learning support advisers and Royal Literary Fund Fellow (LDU – Learning Development Unit), the Graduate School, and two major strategic projects – the ESCALATE centre, focussing on work-based learning, and the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) components of our internationally-recognised Ecoversity programme.
TQEG and the LDU are co-locating in refurbished open plan accommodation at the heart of the campus. This will also include (in the second stage of the Estates plan) refurbished teaching accommodation to reflect the emphasis on ’active and collaborative learning’ in the new Academic Framework, building on our experience with experimental teaching space supported by advanced use of technology (e.g. partner in the LearnHigher CETL supporting student groupwork; new and unique computer-aided assessment cluster using thin client technology).
The opening of the new City Campus at the University of Wales Newport in January 2011 continues the University’s contribution to regional regeneration, driving entrepreneurship and creativity in the city. The physical construction of the new campus provides an opportunity for the experienced academic and administrative staff of Newport Business School, familiar with engaging with full-time and part-time learners from the local South Wales regions, to link with small local businesses sharing expertise in many areas across a diverse landscape in collaborative developments. The resulting pedagogic and course management changes to support off-site learning and engagement will increase opportunities for many flexible ways for engagement. Such initiatives will require support in changing ways of working to ensure that the quality of the student learning experience continues to develop appropriately, reflecting employer needs.
The aim of this pilot is to implement more effective ways of deploying IT within the new Academic Development Unit (ADU) at the University of Bradford, and in Newport Business School at the University of Wales, Newport. Within Newport Business School, a similar focus is on using IT more effectively will focus at a subject-based level in various disciplines, e.g. Business, Management, Marketing, Computing, Engineering, Accounting, Human Resources, Finance. The implementation is based upon approaches and materials from the Work-with-IT Framework, informing and supporting the work of our collaborating professional association, the HIgher Education Academy (HEA).
The project relates directly to 4 of the 5 key areas identified in the Work-With-IT Framework: strategic change (developing exemplars to influence and test institutional strategy); staff development (developing new skillsets across institutional boundaries); change management (developing the ethos of new organisational units and collaborations); and horizon-scanning (to help us choose the right blend of technology). The pilot will focus on two areas of common concern across the partners: who to best employ IT to support flexible and mobile working, and how to ensure consistent and accessible practices in the production and sharing of resources. Flexible and mobile working is of concern to both partners because of the need to work with a variety of staff in different locations and share information and outcomes with colleagues to ensure effective co-ordination. Both partners are centrally involved in the production and distribution of resources to support teaching and academic staff development. This support must be available to both on-campus and off-campus colleagues.
Expected Outcomes - Bradford
- Improved communication and collaboration across the sub-units of the ADU.
- Revised procedures and protocols for the use of IT to support mobile and flexible working.
- Revised and more consistent practice across the ADU regarding the creation and distribution of online educational resources.
- Outcomes from this project integrated with other relevant developments across the University and across the ADU (e.g. the campus-wide implementation of CampusM; the JISC Building Capacity project which has just started).
- Mini-case studies and/or exemplars to support further staff development across the institution.
Expected Outcomes - Newport
- Opportunities for enhanced communication and collaboration within Newport Business School through technology.
- Action-research-led refinement of procedures and protocols for the use of IT to support mobile and flexible working.
- Further subject-specific and cross-School experience of working with online educational resources.
- Tangible integration with cross University initiatives involving the use of IT for learning and teaching, e.g. e-assessment (submission, marking, feedback), other JISC project work, HEA Evidence based Seminar.
- Mini-case studies and examples of good practice to support staff development in flexible learning and curriculum initiatives.
Expected Outcomes - Sector
- Mini-case studies and/or exemplars from both partners in the areas of both mobile/flexible learning and educational resources which can be compared/extended/generalised to support staff development in other HEIs.
Professor Peter Hartley
Professor of Education Development
University of Bradford
Tel: 01274 233293