Hello, Goodbye

29 03 2013

It only feels like yesterday I was saying ‘hello’ and now I am saying ‘goodbye’. Today marks the end of an era as the JISC Course Data stage 2 project officially finishes – so consequently this will be my last official blog post 😦

It has been a very enjoyable 15 months and we have achieved so much during this time. The success of the project has been a testament to the dedication of the CDATA team and equally importantly, the great working relationships established between the members.

We have all been on this journey together – submitting reports, engaging stakeholders, developing a specification for our Programme Management facility and working on our XCRI-CAP feed – and we are delighted to say that during the last week of the project we all went out with a bang! On Monday and Tuesday the team delivered a presentation and a workshop at the AUA Conference (Association of University Administrators) in Edinburgh. Both sessions were very well received, and it was good to get recognition for all of our work. It was also great to see Ruth, Janette and Gemma from JISC there, thanks for all your support and encouragement, not just at the conference, but throughout the entire project.

P.s. Although this is the last blog entry, the work is still very much alive at Brunel. The project gave us the opportunity to work on other areas beyond the scope of the project (such as developing the Programme Management Facility and writing a research paper about our composite methodology) which would inevitably be completed beyond the lifetime of the project. Therefore, I will keep you all updated over the coming weeks with the progress of our work.

The blog started with a song title way back in January 2012 , so it is only appropriate to finish with one!




ApprecHATive Inquiry strikes again!

15 11 2012

As you all know, for our project we developed a composite methodology for the CDATA workshops which combined Appreciative Inquiry with the negative black hat of Edward de Bono.  Well, we are delighted to report that because it was a huge success, another department in the University wanted to replicate our method for the purposes of their work.  Today, saw the completion of their last workshop – it went down extremely well and staff really enjoyed the technique.  Well done us!

Where has August gone?

29 08 2012

I can’t believe it’s been a while since we last blogged!  Therefore, I thought I would write a little post to let you know that Brunel are still very much course data-ing!  The team has been quietly working away for the past couple of weeks on various CDATA bits n bobs.  We have made pleasing progress, though it feels like we have now just come up for air!

So what have we been doing?  Well!  Tidying up our CDATA Data Map and deciding which of the ‘optional’ and ‘preferred’ fields we are going to include.  Getting to grips with Microsoft Visio and doing lots of specing in preparation for developing our eVision functionality (it is starting to take shape, which is exciting!).  Revisiting our workpackages to make sure we are on target and completing all our promises (so far so good!) and writing a paper all about Appreciative Inquiry and stakeholder engagement.  Geoff Ramshaw, our JISC mentor, has provided us with some great places to publish our work.  So much so, we are now thinking of doing a little spin-off article for a USA case study research group just across the pond.


3 08 2012

We are really pleased to discover that Gill Ferrell (JISC) has showcased our work in the ‘Interim Reports Summary’ document.  This paper summarises the key points from all the progress reports submitted by the 63 Institutions currently involved in the course data project.  It’s really rewarding to know that our approach to stakeholder engagement (through Appreciative Inquiry and the black hat concept) is being well received externally.  For anyone interested in viewing the report please click here to access it.

Appreciative Inquiry Enquiry

10 07 2012

We have been asked by JISC to give a brief overview of our 4D Appreciative Inquiry methodology during the online meeting this coming Friday.  We will be discussing why we chose the approach over other methodologies, how it differs from other methodologies we have used in the past, what it involved and how our stakeholders responded to it.  If anyone from the Course Data Stage 2 community has anything else they would like us to cover please leave a comment here (or tweet/email) and we will include it, thanks!

Hat trick!

30 05 2012

We have had a positive achievement (out of a negative ‘hat’ metaphor) three times – hence the ‘hat trick’!  Get it?  Clever play on words eh?!  So, how you might ask?

Well, for the past couple of weeks we have delivered three Approval in Principle review workshops using the “positive” Appreciative Inquiry (AI) method to collect opinions from our stakeholders; it is a powerful and extremely successful tool which is why we decided to use it for our project.  However, from experience, combined with stakeholder comments, we decided to do a bit of ‘Mendelian crossing’ to create our very own AI hybrid approach.  Reason being, by using AI we are focusing on what is working and exploring the best of what is (which has been so useful), however, at the end of the day it is only human to have negative comments.  When staff hear us say ‘let’s hear all about what you like and what you think is working well’, they automatically get defensive and think ‘but we have negative feelings too’ and then automatically assume from here on in we are going to push things under the carpet whilst wearing a pair of rose-tinted glasses.

Therefore, cue the hat!  We decided to borrow the negative black hat from Edward De Bono and his amazing Six Thinking Hats.  So, we identified that if stakeholders ‘released’ their negative thoughts at the door, so to speak, via physically writing them down on post-it notes and sticking them to the black hat, they felt more represented.  It also made them prepared for the workshop and in a different mindset, ready to embrace AI and its positive way of thinking.

Interestingly, we strongly felt the hybrid structure of the negative black hat metaphor combined with the traditional AI mechanism worked really well.  A quick 10 minute hat activity at the start of each workshop had significantly positive consequences.  It also transpired that a lot of the so-called ‘negative’ comments were in fact what’s missing or were possible suggestions for the future, which we also looked at towards the second half of the workshop (a fundamental component of AI).  Consequently the post-it notes came in handy again!

So, the hat was somewhat useful!

Project update

4 05 2012

Just before we close for the long (and most probably rainy!) bank holiday weekend I thought it would be good to give a little project update.  In order to sum up this week, I can feel a quote coming on!  At this point I would like to make a literary reference, perhaps to Jane Austin or William Shakespeare, but the brain has been significantly stretched somewhat this week combined with the fact that the weekend is nearly upon us – hence it falls to Del Boy!  Progress this week has been “triffic”.  We have started our Appreciative Inquiry (AI)  interviews with Heads of Schools and have already received lots of great suggestions.  Our AI workshop dates have now been released to staff, with many bookings made today.  Considerable progress has been made with our JISC interim progress report.  And, last but by no means least, we have lots of people from all over the UK coming to Brunel on 15th May to attend our CDATA Day – SITS Cluster Assembly.  We are really looking forward to it!