Taking SPI’s Administrators’ Forum online
In July, the SPI team held its first ever virtual Administrators’ Forum. Sophie Hannah, Stakeholder Engagement Officer, blogs about the experience.
Since joining the SPI team in summer 2019, I’ve looked forward to the Administrators’ Forums – not because attendees turn up to fairly sizeable cake selection (although that is a massive plus), but because these events have been a chance for our team to engage with departmental and central contacts from across the University, face to face.
Working with stakeholders and communicating effectively is a two-way street. It can be easy to assume that ‘the job is done’ as soon as you’ve sent out a message, but that’s not the case. With busy colleagues and overloaded inboxes, sometimes the information you’d like to share can be lost or misconstrued along the way. And even if your message is picked up and absorbed by your intended recipients, this doesn’t always give them a chance to respond – to have their say, to ask questions, and to challenge.
I like that the Admin Forum provides attendees with the opportunity to tell us what they think of the projects we’re working on. Whether they’re excited, concerned, indifferent, or plain baffled, they can share this with the SPI team and with their colleagues, allowing us to explore their opinions and suggestions.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we made the decision to cancel March’s Administrators’ Forum and focus on planning a detailed, creative summer Forum that would be available online. It was important to us to give attendees the chance to interact with the session in the same way they would normally, utilising our favoured two-way approach. We opted for a pre-recorded, scripted video with a corresponding MS Teams Q&A function – Forum presenters were available to answer queries and discuss viewpoints between 10am and 12pm on the day we shared the event video (23 July).
We asked previous attendees what they’d like to hear about, using this feedback to design the event:
- The status of the SPI programme
- SPI’s involvement in current business continuity work
- Benefits management
- Warwick Effort Score, a new benefits-led scoring system designed to track staff views on the effort they’re required to go to in order to complete certain processes
- Project updates: Universal Admissions, Module Selection and Scholarships & Bursaries
- Teaching & Learning continuity, and the implications for SPI
- Applying SPI’s approach to other programmes
- Systems support for blended teaching and learning in 2020-21
One huge advantage of an online Administrators’ Forum is that SPI can accommodate as many colleagues as possible, as opposed to operating a ‘first come, first served’ system in a space on campus. We also enjoyed the fact that the event was available to view both on the day and afterwards, meaning that any attendees who weren’t able to join us on 23 July were still able to engage with the content.
This was our first virtual event, and it’s been helpful to pick up feedback from attendees. Some colleagues preferred the online set-up, noting that they were able to watch at their own pace, pausing and skipping where necessary. Others said they would have liked a more ‘live’ approach, wondering whether a webinar-style format might work better for them in the future.
If you attended the Forum and would like to share your views, please do let us know. We’re open to suggestions and keen to continue working with you to identify the very best ways to engage with our stakeholders across the University.
- Watch the summer 2020 Administrators' Forum online
- Got any feedback or suggestions about the Forum or SPI's work? Let us know