Thursday, 19 June 2014

Two views: Learners as leaders; Leadership and working in partnership

#OCTEL - WEEK 5 Webinar

Week 5 ocTEL webinar suffers a little on sound quality, but I will report on a range of gems in this post.

Gems from view 1: Learners as leaders

Ellie Russell, Projects Officer for The Student Engagement Partnership, NUS (National Union of Students), talked to engaging students in curriculum design and TEL projects.

Ellie refered to Trowler, V. (2010), re three types of student engagement, which I found on Google Scholar as:

Two resources by Vicki Trowler, one co-authored by Paul Trowler, recommended to be read in conjunction:
Trowler, V. and Trowler, P.  (June 2010). Student Engagement Evidence Summary; Deliverable 2 for the Higher Education Academy Student Engagement. Department of Educational Research, University of Lancaster.
Trowler, V. (Nov 2010). Student engagement literature review. Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University.

Ellie noted three types (or 'foci' or 'axis' in Trowler & Trowler) of engagement:

  • student's own learning focus
  • identity
  • structures and processes
and how 'structures and processes' is the least represented in student engagement, including in processes of curriculum design and design changes. Ellie challenges us to focus in receiving a student voice in such structures and processes, and to take on the idea of students as partners. She notes that it is new in a policy priority to have this, but that students should be able to have some sort of influence on their learning environment.

NUS has published 'A manifesto for partnership'.

Ellie calls for us to reject a 'consumer model' as this devalues educators, and instead offer a new way for students to think about learning (in a balance of not just putting forward wish lists). 
'Rethinking apprenticeships':
  • attendance to university to gain mastery and spend time with experts to do so
  • wary of excessive engagements as they may not know what they want (I'm assuming this is a warning against reliance on connectiviist styled learning?).


“Students can't be equal partners as they don't have the expertise”
We need input of the student perspective
Students are apprentices in the business of engagement, and they need support and mentoring to be effective as partners
Goal: preparing students for active, engaged citizenship; not a life of passive consumerism

Ellie supports her presentation with examples of student involvement in curriculum design, including:
A quick Google shows there are many more, including more on the Higher Education Academy (HEA) site, several noted in this Guardian article.

Gems from view 2: Leadership and working in partnership

Shân Wareing, PVC for Learning and Teaching, Bucks New University, shares leadership concepts and application to elearning in higher education.

Shân had lots of tips for project management (PM), and related them nicely back to other ocTEL learning/resources, such as Julie Voce's presentation in the 'If I only do one thing...' activity. Below I will highlight just a few tips.

Collaborative approach:

  • get the 'flow' right
  • ego goes in a drawer
  • listen to others, no right/wrong
  • 1 person working hard does not equate to getting many to work well
  • risk of failure if you don't hear all the voices, e.g. administrators, etc.; don't hear them and it can be a complete ****-up.
PM view of/role in project:
  • see the wood more clearly than the trees, i.e. be able to see individual contributions, efforts, troubles, to note if any action required
  • watch for needs of the individual as well as the collective
  • watch for 'psychopaths' or those in for the individual not for the team.

Referring to the diagram above (simple re-draw from Shân's diagram), with the following text:
  • left triangle: 'Hands-on; keeping things moving'
  • right triangle: 'Looking and thinking ahead'.
While leaders need to aim to move on a left to right trajectory, sometimes they have to go left, get their hands dirty, check things, etc. 
When things are:
  • running well, stable, with the right people in post, confident about their roles, then work more on the right
  • unstable, inefficient, negative environment, or in rapid change, then work more on the left.
Further tips shared by Shân include:
  • have project objective and project scope both clearly documented and communicated
  • be clear about deliverables, resources, etc
  • use project methodologies
  • use PM to serve ends (not PM as an end)
  • don't put too much emphasis on the PM system and not enough on the people and project difficulties.
Examples shared by Shân include:
  • Jisc DIAL (Digital Integration into Arts Learning) - a digital literacy project
  • University of the Arts London, My Assessment, online assessment  and marking project (there was a backlash in this project, which was only saved by having the last point below^.

And now I will finish with Shân's shared principles of partnership:

  • respect for people, their experience and knowledge
  • clarity of roles and expectations
  • listening and sharing information
  • timing: combining speed and patience in the right proportions (balance); art to knowing when which is appropriate
  • ^clear sense of purpose.

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