A request for your investment ideas

The underlying theme of my last all staff briefing was one of ‘cautious optimism’ and I mentioned then that I would be giving all members of staff the opportunity to contribute to the development of a ‘wish list’ for 2012/13 for areas in which additional investment should be considered.

Investment ideas should enrich student experience

Of course, we cannot be sure that the next academic year will be any better funded than the current one but there are reasons for some cautious optimism and, subject to our Home/EU application numbers holding up and total student numbers (including international students) reaching our targets, we may be in a position to increase expenditure slightly next year. If we are in that happy position, I would like to make sure that we do not simply feed any incremental income across all University budgets equally; instead, I should like us first to form a considered view about how we might best use any additional funds to make a significant positive impact on the experience of all or a substantial body of our students.

College and Central Services management teams have already been asked to contribute their thoughts but I would like to make sure that we do not overlook any other staff suggestions so please do use this blog as an opportunity to put forward ideas.

I am not looking for detailed proposals but rather succinct ideas or points that might be put into a schedule for further consideration by the University’s Executive Board in spring.

14 Responses to “A request for your investment ideas”

  1. Lance Says:

    January 23rd, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I am not the only person to think of this but if we could have course timetables available as, say, Outlook calendars, accessible to students on both desktops and mobile devices, it could improve communication of amendments — and provide a channel to publicise other meetings and events.

  2. John Carbery Says:

    January 24th, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Hi Lance,
    The University currently has a project underway to select a Timetabling system for use across all colleges, and one key requirement is the ability for the timetables to be published to MS Exchange which can then feed into Outlook Calendars, Entourage and mobile devices. The potential to use this system to alert students and staff to timetable changes is also present.

  3. Richard Says:

    January 24th, 2012 at 9:49 am

    How best to deliver a student experience with technology ?

    The problem, as identified by American Universities through an article my colleague discussed with me, is that Students themselves are unaware as to what they want.

    Qu1: Do we know what Students want as a Student experience?
    Qu2: If that is known do we know how we should deliver such experience?
    Qu3: Are proper innovation and governance structures in place to deliver such a student experience?
    Qu4: Do UAL communicate properly to both staff and students on how we are to achieve innovation and governance?
    Qu5: Have UAL exhausted all partnership potential; with businesses that enables better delivery for said student experience?
    Qu6: Do we have to change the cultural status in order to deliver a better student experience?

    UAL need to understand how to deliver better, when it is appropriate to try out new technology, how innovators or innovation can challenge student and staff to deliver better, how technologies are phased in and out over time aka Change Control.

    Therefore to work on a wish list it will be to look at the processes that deliver to the Student experience and where they are issues in delivery then these must be fixed before looking at what students want and need.

    There are many instances of duplicate functionality across the University at a great cost to administration and for maintenance e.g. room scheduling, we have 2 different versions running, Syllabus Plus and CelCat; why?

  4. John Carbery Says:

    January 24th, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Richard,
    Part of the above mentioned project is to settle on a single software platform for timetabling and room booking across UAL, so that duplicate functionality should disappear. I suspect the complexities of aligning historically diverse institutions which have developed specific needs and viewpoints accounts for much of the duplication which still exists.

  5. John Carbery Says:

    January 24th, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    One idea for improving the student experience is to develop an all-weather sports pitch on part of the Car Park at Wilson Road. With the new student accommodation at Peckham Road coming on line in September, coupled with the ~2000 local students at the CCW Progression Centre and nearby Camberwell College, this could add a significant dimension to UAL’s minimal sporting facilities in Olympic year. This could also have commercial and diversification benefits with possibilities to rent the facility to community groups in an area with a dearth of open spaces for sports.

  6. David Sims Says:

    January 25th, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    With the pressure on schools to deliver the English Baccalaureate with the core subjects at GCSE: English, math’s, at least one science, a foreign language and a humanities subject, some schools have sidelined art, music, design and technology and even some head teachers were removing art and design as a GCSE option so that pupils could study English Baccalaureate subjects instead. This will have a dramatic effect on progression to us via A’ levels and Foundation.

    With a cloud over the future of the one-year Foundation course the University should be conducting a feasibility study of becoming an awarding body for
    A’ level’s in the creative subjects.

    This would enable the University to have a stronger voice in the National Curriculum and ultimately what the students present to us at interview.

    Happy to discuss further.

  7. Paul Rennie Says:

    January 26th, 2012 at 10:43 am

    The University experience should be configured, in part at least, as a bundle of apps. These would download to the hand-held device at online enrollment.

    The buildings (structures) and systems (admin and teaching) of the University could be sychronised to provide an always-on, dynamic and real-time navigation through the course. That’s experiential.
    We can even design all this ourselves….
    Google or Mac might even support this.

    Oh, and we suggested this several years ago!

  8. Max Ackermann Says:

    January 26th, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    We need much better systems to enable communication between students, as well as staff and students.

    I find it increasingly embarrassing that the University is spending money on tools that are severely outdated and quite simply not designed for the task.

    Blackboard was founded in 1997 and due to huge design and code legacy issues has hardly been updated since. I have yet to come across a software that has managed to frustrate as many staff and students as Blackboard has.

    Except maybe CelCat. CelCat Timetabler was first offered in 1989, that’s older than most of the students we teach. It has even greater legacy issues than Blackboard and is so complex to use that even with a manual, and a personal training session (!), most staff are still unable to use it as intended.

    Even UAL’s new summative Assessment Tool is available “only to staff who have undertaken training” …

    I am not suggesting the University knowingly selected unsuitable tools. In fact, I believe a great amount of time and effort went into choosing them.

    The problem, I believe, is the nature of the selection process (this was actually shared with staff before UAL introduced CelCat). If one begins with an abstract list of requirements, trying to match existing systems to it, one will automatically end up with long-standing, corporate tools.

    It does not have to be this way.

    Agile Software Development would be a much better (and proven) approach, “where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration [… and which] promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery […] and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.” (from ‘Agile Software Development’ on Wikipedia).

    It is now absolutely possible and even expected that web based software should be a joy to use and be self-explanatory, ie. no manuals and definitely no training!

    Ironically, the University has all the connections and talent available to have a cutting-edge suite of digital tools custom-tailored for them.

    Imagine one integrated solution for applying, communicating, timetabling, room booking, learning, getting feedback, job opportunities and alumni relations.

    Imagine happy, confident staff and students doing all this using their mobile, tablet, or laptop. Without manuals or training.

    Imagine earning money, instead of paying large corporations for substandard tools. By investing in their own graduates, the University has a unique opportunity to create fruitful and sustainable businesses.

    I would be more than happy to discuss this further and share concrete ideas on the above.

  9. Nigel Carrington Says:

    January 27th, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks to everyone who has commented so far for the creative ideas and strong opinions expressed. I know that at least one idea is now being followed up off-line, which is great news.

    Please keep your ideas coming.

  10. George U Says:

    January 27th, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    There is enormous student benefit to be explored in grassroots programmes that offer students from different pathways and courses the opportunity to interact and produce high quality content. There are not enough visible student connections between, just for example, a graphic design and fine art pathway. A few good quality projects with really very small investment could see enormously positive results. I understand many such projects are going on all the time on varying scales, but perhaps some investment could be used to enhance the output of these projects and create more visible outlets for contemporary, professional and career enhancing content for students entering the creative industries.

  11. Shân Wareing Says:

    February 2nd, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Just replying to Max on 26/01/12, about the availablity of the online assessment tool.

    Hi Max – we are testing the tool out with users at present so if anything shows up when it’s in real use, rather than just being tested in CLTAD, we can sort it out quickly. CSM asked to have limited inclusion in the trials, to reduce the amount of change staff were having to cope with in a short amount of time. It will be fully released in time for the next academic year, when we’ve ironed out all the glitches 🙂

  12. Caroline Says:

    February 2nd, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    I agree with George U! There is great benefit for students in organising more opportunities for informal and also interdisciplinary learning through these types of projects. It’s also a really good way to foster student-led dialogue.

  13. Oliver Furlong Says:

    February 24th, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Request for investment ideas: based around web video content & web technology
    1) Secure server space to create an online video content portal for each college, or one giant one for all colleges to access video learning materials. Access should be through VLE
    3) get equipment for every college to video stream key events, on to theirl websites for events like fashion colloquia, designs on e-learning conference, other key events. To embed PowerPoint presentations and video and audio feed.
    4) expand video conference provision as a central resource for research purposes, again in each college, which would encourage cross college collaboration.
    5) develop the roles of key IT programmer specialists to help develop some of these ideas in collaboration with CLTAD and e-Learning Managers and learning technology enthusiasts from each college.

  14. Pei-Chin Tay Says:

    March 6th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    To enhance student experience, Student Enterprise and Employability (SEE) would like to develop a Mentorship programme to support, guide and advise emerging UAL-bred entrepreneurs, to create a sustainable, multi-disciplinary network of advisors (UAL staff members, established UAL Alumni and relevant industry practitioners) and to promote a strong entrepreneurial community.

    A review of mentoring literature and best practices suggested that mentoring might be particularly relevant to the creative industries, as creative people tended to show a preference for learning through experience. A recent study by UAL Student Union (2011) revealed that although students have a sense of community belonging at course and college level, there isn’t a strong sense of a University community – this too could partly be addressed by the Mentorship programme. Summary of benefits:

    • Benefits to entrepreneurs (students and graduates): access to expert advice, build managerial and leadership capabilities, confidence-building, improvement of business performance, etc;
    • Benefits to mentors (UAL staff and alumni, industry practitioners): personal and professional development, sense of reward and satisfaction from helping someone else develop and grow, opportunity to give back to community; and
    • Benefits to UAL as an organisation: employee engagement, widen and strengthen internal and external strategic partnerships, etc

    A WIN-WIN-WIN idea for students, staff and UAL!

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