This week the course has had many challenging discussions – particularly around what is currently possible in our sector with so many demands on our time, money and energy. I have often been told I am a ‘good operational manager’ – a double-edged complement as as a pragmatist and a realist I feel the ‘vision’ of a senior management role will never be for me. However, maybe the advantages to this are that I find it easy not to strive for perfection and instead to appreciate and celebrate the small steps forward we can make even if we can’t change the world just yet.
So to this week’s themes and ideas on how we cope with what may be less that perfect:
A lot has been said about staff unwillingness to collaborate and share resources – this has certainly not been my experience – staff I have worked with have been keen to share (or more accurately ‘show off’ ) the things they have done on a local and national basis in exchange for very little reward except the occasional biscuit! Where there is reluctance I think it is often due to the fact that they lack confidence in what they have done or feel no-one else would be interested rather than a desire to keep everything to themselves and a fear of ‘freeloaders‘.
- Independent learning
No-one is ever going to be a completely independent learner – those that come to us will always be a work in progress are are aim has to be to help them on their way, whether that be with great strides or tiny steps. As a library, we provided 1-to-1 support to help students develop their study skills and with increased Blended Learning we are looking at ways to deliver that support in a Blended fashion too. We already have support via chat and email during our opening hours but it is difficult to provide support for longer hours. One thing I would like to do next is offer support via a video-conferencing solution so students could send us their assignment and we could ‘talk’ them through it. It has taken me longer than I’d like to develop this but I am determined not to give up – one day I will have the time to put it in place and the students at that time will hopefully benefit from it be that in 6 months or 6 years!
- The cost of innovation
There have been lots of nice Moodle examples this week and Moodle is one place where we have been able to innovate at very little cost (staff time is a cost but few of the things we have done have really taken excessive time. So, in case you are interested, here are 3 of my favourite things about our Moodle.1. Customisation – I know many colleges are keen on a branded template for consistency but we have always tried to help staff choose a format to fit the type and amount of information on the page and used Themes to try and give a visual identity to pages from the same area. Here is an example of this – ‘a landing page’ for courses in our HE Business & Science school that uses their them and a grid layout:
2. The Beauty Therapy Resource Library page – our Beauty Therapy staff have shown their firm belief in collaboration by using one huge Moodle page of all the resources for one subject e.g. Beauty therapy and then small course pages that redirected students to resources on the main page rather than individual tutors creating their own. Not only that, but as you would expect from this department it is a visually appealing page too!
3.Moodle Page of the Month – this scheme was introduced by me and my much-missed colleague Val Maybury and at first we nearly talked ourselves out of it – would staff even be interested in a ‘virtual’ medal and a mention in the college newsletter. It turns out they really would – even to the extent of some staff having ‘Get Moodle Page of the Month’ set as one of their objectives! One thing Val and I always remained strong on was that this was not about ‘perfect’ pages – one nice innovative thing might be enough to win you the medal and we give constructive criticism as well as praise to pages where we can.