Category Archives: General Update

‘Rough Guide to Curriculum Design’ Undergoing Internal & External Peer-Review

Following on from previous posts relating to the development of the Birmingham City University (BCU) ‘Rough Guide to Curriculum Design’, we’ve now shared a first draft of the document both internally for review by  local experts/stakeholders, and externally for review by colleagues at other institutions.

Sonia Hendy-Isaac (Senior Lecturer at BCU in Curriculum Design for Employer Engagement) from the project team presented at the ALT-C Conference on September 11th 2012, and showcased the draft document with the JISC and colleagues from other projects to the wider sector for the first time.

After the session, Sonia commented:

“There was some really good interest – it was well received by the group”.

Professor Paul Bartholomew (T-SPARC Project Manager) spoke about the emergence of the Rough Guide:

“It has been designed in response to curriculum design support needs that have emerged as a consequence of the pilots undertaken during the T-SPARC project at Birmingham City University.

Once the final content has been established the guide will be offered to staff in both a document and  multimedia format (with supplementary video elements) and embedded directly into the new SharePoint based Design and Approval of Programmes System (DAPS).”

It is envisaged that after the second phase of pilots using the technology supported processes for programme design and approval are completed by summer 2013, the Rough Guide will form an integral part of the new process and systems.

For more information, or to download a review copy of the Rough Guide, please contact


T-SPARC voted ‘Most exciting change overall’

Paul and Oliver attended the penultimate JISC programme meeting in Nottingham this week. One of the sessions on day 2 was called the ‘Curriculum Design Market Place Activity’ which was an opportunity for projects to showcase some of their work and demonstrate how they have helped to change and enhance some aspects of curriculum design within their institutions. The idea behind the Marketplace was to sell the benefits of your products (i.e. outputs) to different stakeholders. Prizes were awarded in 4 different categories:

  • Greatest potential impact on teaching (teachers, staff developers, curriculum teams) – Won by Viewpoints at Ulster
  • Greatest potential impact on learning (learners) – won by PC3 at Leeds Met
  • Greatest potential impact on business processes (managers, administration, quality processes) – won by SRC at Manchester Met
  • Most exciting change overall – won by T-SPARC at Birmingham City University

Particular reference was made to the innovative use of the Microsoft SharePoint [2010] system that is in development here at BCU that augments the programme design and development process. Some of the comments delegates left about T-SPARC are below:

“Very well developed system for responsive curriculum design using technology supported workflows.”

“A radically different approach. Shows how good design can impact pedagogy.”

“The project has enabled real transformational change and resulted in new curriculum design processes and also considered the pedagogy.”

“This project does everything!”

“Greatest range of beneficiaries. Simplifies processes and promotes deeper consideration of learning and teaching.”

JISC voting slips

Post from Kate Chadwick, Joint PG Lead for Radiotherapy – Experiences so far

As a pilot for the T-SPARC project, myself and my colleague Clair Brackstone have been implementing some of the new technologies in the approval process for our proposed MSc in Radiotherapy.  We used a flip camera to record a meeting with clinical Radiotherapy colleagues from across the Midlands to document their views on which proposed modules would be viable, what content they would like to see in the modules and any areas we haven’t covered which could become new modules.  We gave the clinical staff members the opportunity to refuse to be videoed but no-one did.  We did experience some teething problems, such as our suboptimal placement of the camera due to our concerns over the sound quality, but we found that we could place the camera at the opposite end of the room and still capture voices in good enough quality to be heard once transferred to the computer.

We have also found the free website Survey Monkey to be an invaluable tool to collect similar information from our clinical colleagues nationwide and this has given a far better response rate than the back-up paper copies we also distributed.  This website also has the facility to analyse data (for a small fee) which will drastically reduce the time we will spend converting the information into a more useable format.

Currently we are in the process of sending a VOXUR unit out to our local clinical departments to gain feedback from radiographers so watch this space for an update on their usefulness…!

Kate Chadwick

Progress Update – Consultation Events

Well – A lot has happened here with the T-SPARC project at Birmingham City University in recent weeks.

First up, the (academic) staff consultation events which have been held over the past few weeks, around 40 staff attended, distributed between 4 separate events. The events lasted for 5 hours and were structured with several different activities scheduled for attendees throughout the day. After some brief introductions from attendees and project staff, the Project Manager gave an Introduction to the T-SPARC project and a review of progress so far.

During other exercises, a range of data collection techniques were employed, including some exercises using Flip video cameras, which allowed us to gather a range of different types of data that will reflect the views of staff expressed at the events.

From these consultation events, the project team have identified 3 courses so far that will be taking part in the first phase of full pilot schemes (using all technologies and new processes available to them). There are also another 2 course teams that have volunteered to pilot specific aspects that that they feel would benefit the approval/re-approval of their courses.

More recently, members of the team have been coding the videos produced at the events and inputting quantitative data from some of the questionnaires into spreadsheets. The team are now beginning to analyse the results. Once collated, this rich source of information generated at the consultation events will inform documentation produced by Senate on new procedures and guidelines on programme design and approval/re-approval.

On a different note, the VOXUR units T-SPARC ordered have been delivered, if you haven’t heard of these before, click here for more info. JISC recommended these pieces of equipment to us as a way to collect video data efficiently and effectively. Watch this space for more feedback on the VOXUR units once we get the pilot schemes up and running.

In conclusion, we seem to be making very positive progress at the moment, the project continues to benefit from a high level of institutional support. This can be attributed to (amongst other things) members of the project team working across a number of different projects simultaneously and being able to develop synergies and encourage institutional buy-in to the T-SPARC project though their involvement in other areas. This beneficial environment has made some of the barriers we were looking to climb become more scalable in reality, a situation we hope we can continue to enjoy in the future.