Friday, 2 October 2009

Reflections to date (II)

Hello again,

In addition to what I said in my previous post, I think the meeting was very well organised and, overall, we managed to keep our focus throughout the two days.

Regarding the peer-review, I am now feeling much more comfortable about it than when I first heard about the idea. Some of us had some fears about what reviewing would involve, but after the workshop I am delighted to see that there is a way forward. I obviously need to get to grips with it, but I think I now know how to review resources in a constructive way. In any case, I guess that one of the objectives of this exercise is to see what actual impact our reviewing has. Therefore, no matter what the authors of the reviewed materials do after the review, we will learn something positive out of it.

Finally, I was pleased to see how much coincidence there was amongst colleagues regarding technical changes and to see Patrick’s degree of understanding and responsiveness. I do look forward to those changes. I have not gone back to my Leeds colleagues yet to report about the meeting because I have been extremely busy and it was not the best time for them either, but once the teaching session is under way I would like to meet them and, hopefully, show them that the ball has started rolling on the technical side of the Humbox, particularly in terms of presentation of activities.

Thanks to all of you for your good work and high spirits and a special thanks to Kate, who was a helpful shoulder to cry on at the end of August and beginning of September, when I was struggling a little bit with the Humbox.


Some proposals and thoughts so far (I)

Dear colleagues,

I really enjoyed the Warwick meeting. I could sense throughout the two days a special professional and personal connection with colleagues. I would like to give credit to the Project Team for having brought together such a good group of teachers.

There are many things that I would like to report on and I will address those questions later in another post, but, in my modest opinion, there are some crucial questions that need to be addressed by the Project Team, the Subject Centres and all of us, sooner rather than later, as part of our dissemination and awareness-raising strategy.

I have been looking at the HEFCE consultation paper on research excellence, in particular the sections on impact, and I am aware that some academic units have been discussing the content of the document recently. Responses must be emailed before the 16th December 2009, by the way.

My questions are:

1. Are we sufficiently aware of the fact that publication and sharing research-based teaching materials can be one of the best ways for any underpinning research to achieve impact? (wider impact, as opposed to simply academic impact on other people’s research) This is particularly true in many disciplines within Arts and Humanities.

I think we need to show HEFCE that their definition of impact clearly includes successful dissemination of research-underpinned teaching materials across the student and teachers communities and across the world society in general.

In Modern Languages and Cultures, including English, but also in the rest of our disciplines, we have an immense potential to shape world public opinion and to enhance the profile of the work carried out in UK institutions, which in turn would bring of social, economic and cultural benefits (impact) to the UK.

2. How can we, Humbox Team, including Subject Centres, do our best to ensure that OER repositories (the Humbox or similar repositories in our case) are given sufficient status as "third parties" who would “corroborate” or “verify” claims made on the impact of research by units who submit their research for the new REF? (I am using the paper’s terminology).

And my answers are:

We need to encourage Subject Centres and the Project Team to take part in the consultation process about research impact, institutionally if possible;

and we need to make sure that we, the partners, can exercise some form of influence in our Departments or Schools within the next weeks, because now is the time when our Heads of School are discussing the consultation paper.

The easiest way for us to exercise this influence is to mention, in our dissemination events and in our communications with our more senior colleagues, the fact that the publication in repositories such as the Humbox may be one of the best ways to give tangible evidence of impact as defined by HEFCE in the new REF.

Thanks. Any thoughts on this are welcome!