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!

Workshops – done!

8 07 2012

Well, last Friday saw our final Approval in Principle (AiP) review workshop – really great work Helen, as always.  This workshop was rather different to our other sessions as it involved stakeholders from the Quality and Standards team (as opposed to staff from across the academic Schools at Brunel).  Thanks guys for an excellent couple of hours, it was a really informative morning.  It was decided that as they have so much knowledge and experience with the AiP and hence lots of ideas, they are going to have their own meeting to brainstorm all their thoughts within the next couple of weeks and then feedback all their comments to us.  The only downside of this meeting was that I didn’t know there were tea and biscuits available until I was walking out of the room at the end – massive fail!  And they were my favourite biscuits too.  It obviously must have been because I was so engrossed with all the discussions that took place that I didn’t notice 😉

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!

App-y as Larry!*

18 05 2012

I would just like to share with you a really great app for the iPad/iPhone which other projects might find useful for data collection (I can actually see this being a great tool to quickly collate likert scale type data).  During our CDATA Day we decided to split the audience into 3 groups and do a straw poll exercise to find out more about what our delegates would like Tribal to do for their projects.  Anyway, instead of doing a traditional tally chart (the type you see on prison walls!), we decided to aim for the “really cool” approach and use our iPads.  After some research we chose to use the “Votes” app (available to download from iTunes) – highly recommend!  You can name the 4 categories anything you like (the image below was specific to our straw poll).  It really makes data collecting much more engaging and interactive.

*By the way, the title here refers to Paal (our resident iPad Einstein) during the straw poll session: Paal + App = happy!