'Partnership is fundamentally about a relationship in which all involved – students, academics, professional services staff, senior managers, students’ unions and so on – are actively engaged in and stand to gain from the process of learning and working together' (Healey, M., Flint, A. and Harrington, K., 2014).
Attempting to implement significant changes to supporting teaching, learning and assessment through the use of technology requires 'buy-in' and commitment from a range of stakeholders within the institution. Here we highlight strategies adopted by the WMS Project Office (Nov 2007 - Jan 2011) and taken forward by the Academic Technology Team (ATT) to engage with specific groups of stakeholders.
The ATT has worked hard to build and maintain good relationships with a range of stakeholders and this feel has been crucial to success.
Focus remains in line with University Strategy:
- to promote skills development for students and staff enriching the learning experience and preparing students for their lives beyond Warwick
- to promote a quality learning experience enabling students to actively participate, engage and feel their contribution is valued
- to promote a systems approach to the management of assessment and feedback enabling streamlined approach with associated benefits for administrators, academics and students
- to promote a collaborative community where the all stakeholders are empowered by the sharing of knowledge and experience.
- to seek opportunities to be in the technological vanguard in the use of advanced technology
Strategies found to be most useful for engaging stakeholders are:
- Empowerment through building relationships: it has been essential to focus on building positive working relationships and the benefits of good relations shine through when faced with new and sometimes unexpected challenges.
- Working with key administrative staff: our administrative staff directly support academic staff and students and are key to supporting ATT work, particularly as it embeds beyond the remit of the ATT.
- Building links with IT services: proactively building positive links with central IT support, desktop support and the web development team at the University has provided expert backup for the ATT.
- Being proactive to push change: the ATT provide a lot of informal support for WMS staff, provided equipment, training and architecture to encourage and enable change of practice through use of technology. Listening and working from the ground up.
- Addressing any difficulties as soon as they arise: I discuss any challenges (with technology or people or processes) informally and work hard to find positive ways forward
- Employing recent graduates to support Project Officer: we employed a series of Project Development Assistants, all recent graduates who brought new perspectives to our work and had a major impact on project development. (Nov 2007 - Jan 2011) We are now developing student partnership models to bring in the voice of current students.
- Engaging with wider TEL community: proactively joining and leading TEL communities to stay ahead of the curve, encourage and engage in debate. Invaluable in keeping current with latest developments and maintaining level of knowledge expected by those I support.
Strategies I feel could make a difference for staff experience - require SMT support and potentially additional funding:
- Connecting colleagues together to share their use of technology in practice: show casing how colleagues are working with technology and finding time for staff to discuss their practice to encourage innovation.
- Co-facilitating sessions alongside teaching fellows: being in situ alongside teaching fellows could increased their confidence and encourage increased uptake in use of technology.
- Co-writing papers for publication: co-authorship of papers with our academic colleagues.
Author: Cath Fenn, Senior Academic Technologist, WMS Academic Technology Team
Healey, M., Flint, A. and Harrington, K. (2014) Engagement through partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York, Higher Education Academy. Available at: http://bit.ly/1gztC3u