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.


1 comment:

  1. Hi All,
    Sorry for being late with this post. It seems a long time ago now since we were at the two-day workshop in Warwick. I thought it was a fantastic event - very informative and rewarding for me personally. Working for a humanities research institute, I was a little worried when we first joined this project that it might be outside our comfort zone - that we might be getting ourselves involved in issues which we had little expertise or knowledge. Research and teaching are two quite different games - or so I mistakenly believed. It's now become apparent to me how close the link is between research and teaching. Whereas my usual involvement with colleagues within the Arts and Humanities Faculty is on the matter of research, the HumBox project has required me to understand a very different side of what they do, and how teaching and research feed into each other. All of this was cemented at the workshop. The workshop's focus on peer review enabled me to understand more clearly how my colleagues approach their teaching and, critically, I noticed that there is always an eye on the research which underpins it!

    Overall, I'm not usually first in the queue for 'participation events', so I was amazed to find myself being sucked in to the debate and the review process. I would even go so far as to say that I came away being ever so slightly evangelical about Open Educational Resources.

    From my perspective, the key, ongoing issues raised at the workshop were as follows:

    1. How do we moderate the peer reviewers over the long term, given that there is opportunity for the commenting system to become a forum of academic debate (and open to abuse)? Perhaps our forthcoming freemasonry resources will put this to the test. Overall, I was pleased that the general view tends to favour an 'open' repository, in the spirit of Web 2.0. Will it become a laboratory for academic debate about teaching?

    2. How will HumBox operate as a real service? I'm conscious that this is very much a pilot project. I think that as a pilot engaged with the intellectual and 'start-up' issues for such a repository it is proving to be very successful. However, there are issues of technical and financial sustainability over the long term which will need to be addressed - issues which the workshop touched upon - and I'm intrigued to know how the service (aka academic community?) will police itself, given that it is currently possible to upload gigabytes of malicious content without technical restrictions.

    Well, I'll stop rambling now. It was a great, thought-provoking workshop with excellent organisation. Lovely to meet all our partners and foster inter-institutional dialogue on matters which I think will be driving UK HEI teaching excellence in the future, in terms of access, quality and reputation.



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