Readers of this blog will be aware that we have been ardent advocates for meaningful stakeholder engagement in curriculum design. As we have progressed through the project we have become aware that although the benefits far outweigh the risk, it does exist.
If course designers do a really good job of getting stakeholders involved, it is very likely that those stakeholders will actually come to care about that in which they are investing their time. It is therefore very important that we carefully manage the expectations of those stakeholders we engage.
This is well illustrated through the reflections offered below from one of our pilot partners, Kate Chadwick:
A downside to using Survey Monkey/VOXUR?
One phenomenon I have experienced in the use of survey monkey and VOXUR in order to gain information from potential students for our proposed MSc Radiotherapy is that it has created a good deal of interest in the programme. This would have been extremely useful if we hadn’t hit a stumbling block in the approval process and been forced to alter the proposed structure of the course. Those potential students who expressed interest initially after the survey monkey/VOXUR use were eager to find out more information, yet we were unable to say at that point even which topic areas would be included in the final structure of the MSc programme or when it might actually be running. This has led to some potential students becoming disheartened and frustrated and we may end up losing these students to our competitor institutions. Fortunately, so far, these potential students have been placated through close and frequent communication but it has been a difficult situation to manage and one which, had we anticipated it, we might have been able to take steps to avoid when conducting our information gathering stage.
Joint Postgraduate Lead for Radiotherapy
As can be seen, the radiotherapy team had done enough to involve people to such an extent that they created a situation in which potential students felt they had a vested interest in the developing course. This is an excellent indicator of effective engagement; but there is certainly food for thought here in relation to our need to manage expectations of stakeholders and to alert them to the potential for positive and less positive progress in relation to course design.
Apologies that this post is a little delayed!
In early December I had a trip down to meet the UG-Flex project team and colleagues at the University of Greenwich to give them a tech-demo with one of T-SPARCs VOXUR units. UG-Flex wanted to showcase the equipment to a group of colleagues to generate interest in the use of video based technologies such as the VOXURs that T-SPARC are advocating the use of during stakeholder engagement activities in the course design and approval process at BCU. UG-Flex borrowed the unit for several weeks over the Christmas period, hopefully long enough for it to have made an impact on potential users and highlighted the benefits to them that are achievable through the effective use of this type of technology.
A link to the Greenwich blog can be found here.
To give you an example of the types of rich response you can expect to gather from this type of stakeholder engagement activity, I’ve hyper-linked (bottom of page) to a video edit produced in collaboration with our pilot course team, the Psychology Graduate Diploma that is being developed here at BCU.
During this particular exercise, 20 students responded to a series of 15 questions (on curriculum design related issues) on the VOXUR units over a 5 day period when it was convenient for them to take 15 minutes or so out of their day. The results speak for themselves and will be an invaluable source of data to the course team whilst they progress through the course design process. Although these responses may not be surprising in their content, the ease of capture is hard to replicate and the transparent authenticity of student opinion is represented in a way that is difficult to achieve by other means such as a questionnaires. The videos will be shared back to the students at some point in the near future (using view profiles on our e-portfolio Mahara) to show them how their input was used in the shaping of the new course. This will demonstrate to students what it means to have their voices represented authentically.
In this example video edit, students were asked for their opinions on:
‘How can assessment feedback mechanisms be improved on your programme?’
Click here for a link to the .wmv file
Click here for a link to the .mp4 file
All comments welcomed.
The Flip camera diary project focusing on students with disabilities experiences (of issues such as curriculum design) has received internal recognition in the Birmingham City University Student Services spring newsletter. The article at the top of the newsletter informs staff and students of the interesting and worthwhile work we are undertaking in collaboration with our 2 Student Academic Partners. This is a great showcase that we are hoping will generate more internal interest in the project .
We also feel that these type of projects are a great way to engage with a range of staff and students to encourage the use of video equipment to capture stakeholder opinion and get them used to recording and being recorded.
An excerpt from the newsletter can be found below:
The Student Experience: Life as a disabled student
Building on the successful use of Flip video cameras for students to give their feedback on our first ever Welcome Day, the Disability Support Team is working with disabled students and CELT on a Student Academic Partners Scheme project. From induction to the end of their first year, disabled students are using Flip cameras to record their thoughts about life as a student, including any social or academic challenges they meet. The information gathered will enable the Disability Support Team to produce a film for applicants and new students. We also hope to learn more about the challenges of the first year, and thus develop new ways to support disabled students.