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.
The first of our Voxur units went out to a clinical department last Thursday to gain the opinions of clinical staff on what they want out to get out of postgraduate study. I had found recording the questions onto the Voxur unit very simple and it took me only 30 minutes from start to finish although I did encounter some issues with reviewing the questions as they would appear to the respondent. However, working around this only took me another 30 minutes then the unit was ready to take out. I did feel that people unfamiliar with the unit might need some prompts on how to get started so I devised a prompt sheet to go out with it.
Six staff members did take part and the responses received were very useful with some interesting, unexpected information. Comments from the respondents suggested careful wording of questions was necessary to avoid single word yes/no answers although this is not always possible depending on the type of information you wish to gather. Many clinical staff refused to participate due to a fear of appearing on camera, not due to anonymity reasons.
The unit went out to another clinical department today so I will post an update once we have some more respondents and we come to collate the data.
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…!