Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Partnership Meetings

I attended a recent SURF meeting at Staffordshire University that discusses the development of Fd's. This was a very informative meeting, as issues raised were clearly linked to work being under taken by Enable. The main conversations were around a new review of products for our partnerships which Enable will be assisting in, UCAS course data and issues with systems.
The group discussed UCAS course data and how it is handled between colleges and the university, and who should be supplying the information to UCAS. This is something that had not been discussed with Enable, but as we start looking at course information it is an important part to consider, and if the process changes, or should each college be handled the same way?
As part of the discussions around system issues from this meeting we had a get together with a member of staff from faculty to talk about their experiences of using university systems to support non traditional courses. This was an interesting discussion that showed that sometimes we, as a university, move faster than our learners, and that some processes need to be more flexible with the ability to support non-technical approaches, including e-enrolment, and that we should be encouraging the use of plain English for anything learners are involved in rather than assuming a level of literacy that they may not have not just for handbooks but also for the their online experiences. At the same time as this the partner colleges also reported issues with assumed learner access to technology, which can impact on learners being able to access systems once they attend lectures. Hopefully with the input of partner colleges we will be able to resolve this and other issues. Which links nicely to our next stage of the project which is where we look at issues raised and how they can be addressed and piloting some changes.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

TOGAF - learning, doing, iterating

On the technical side of Enable, we're developing an Enterprise Architecture. An Enterprise Architecture is a conceptual blueprint of an entire enterprise including business principles and motivation, organisational structure, business processes, data architecture, application capabilities and hardware and software. Enterprise Architecture gives us a tool to capture and communicate current problems, create a strategic vision of how those problems can be solved, and manage the realisation of that vision to transform the curriculum design to be more agile and responsive.

The main driver for this work is illustrated in our 'Burrari' image.

Our business processes have been reviewed and refined and are in good shape. The problem is the underlying platform. We need to put in place an infrastructure based on open systems which will provide the necessary support for innovation. By open systems I mean systems which provide APIs or services which allow developers to hook into and make use of information in those systems. With such a platform in place, developers can quickly build applications to plug into tools people already use.

I'm currently getting into the heart of the Enterprise Architecture work using The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) to guide development. I'm learning TOGAF as well as using it so I'll be blogging about TOGAF and my experiences as I go along.

TOGAF is an architecture framework so it provides support for the development and maintenance of an enterprise architecture. The core of TOGAF is the Architecture Development Method (ADM) which describes a
method for developing and maintaining the enterprise architecture and using it effectively as a master plan for transforming the business. It is backed up by comprehensive techniques and guidance on implementing the ADM. Other sections of TOGAF deal with describing and categorising architectural outputs for reuse as building blocks, classifying and partitioning architectures for effective management within an architecture repository and developing architectural capability.

Find out more about TOGAF with the online TOGAF 9 document.

A key strength of the TOGAF approach, in my mind, is the ability to explicitly express the relationships between the business processes and supporting IT. Capturing the big picture of how every element fits together should give us a hugely powerful tool for communicating across the business-IT divide. One of my favourite rules of thumb is that you can never be too explicit!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Programme Meeting in Manchester

Well it was an interesting two days in Manchester, I found them very useful, although often the session discussions did not have clear guidance the discussions we had during them were very useful. Participants used twitter to make general notes as the sessions went on and it's now time to go through them and weed out the useful points that need to be remembered. The main theme for the sessions I attended were around initiation and planning processes. We discussed how programmes are initiated can have an impact on the processes and how we have both supply and demand driven initiation processes. I really like the work being done by ViewPoint and could see their software being adaptable to the early initiation phase to help staff consider why an award is being developed with prompts to think about innovation, engagement, and rationalisation etc.
We discussed the fact that employers attend validation when involved in an award but do they attend annual monitoring, and should learners also be able to attend reviews on awards? We also discussed whether reviews should be annual but triggered by certain events - and what would they be and how would they occur. How do we value content from processes? We need to be able to look at time inovled, re-use of content created and what the outputs are.
This is just a sample of the thoughts raised at the event, so as you can see some interesting discussions took place, its just being able to clarify them for the project and how many can be considered/ actioned within the project. Especially considering this was just one of the themes from the event.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Supporting Innovation

It has been a week of thought, discussion and production of media for the programme meeting next week. I have to say I spent some time on this, the poster should have been a quick job, and in fact the design of it was, but getting the computer to produce the required output resulted in a number of “may be out of space” and “out of memory” errors that resulted in an afternoon of me swearing at the computer! If, as someone with a “high spec” computer has so much trouble doing this simple task is it reasonable to expect staff at the university to be able to do this, and more with the technology they are provided with? Even producing the video for YouTube resulted in a number of software crashes and restarts that would cause frustration in an end user – do I want to send a report to Microsoft and let them know I have a a problem? Yes and I would also like Microsoft to fix it thanks very much!

I have also blogged on the more personal http://jiscenable.wordpress.com site about ALTC and how there is a perception of slowing innovation, based around discussions at ALTC. I also found the CETIS blog on barriers to innovation interesting (http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/christina/2009/10/07/barriers-to-innovation/) which references a future lab report, with barriers that include Leadership, Shared Vision and Change Management, among others. This links nicely to the Enable project which is trying to address those particular barriers.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Video Released!

Well after a bit of editing, alot of messing around the video is now available via YouTube

Be kind!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Poster for the programme meeting

This is a small version of the poster for next weeks programme meeting that is being held in Manchester.