Monthly Archives: March 2014

The last few weeks have been fun filled with a range of start of year issues including the ongoing failing of ICT (seriously – it’s the key stone for our very existence can someone please get it to work?).

Of course part of the failing is that we don’t actually know how to use what we have and what we have we only use to a fraction of it’s capability and that little program that no one thought anyone would use is actually the most overworked application in the joint.

So, just like the academics I work with I’m now thinking about how to measure what I have taught/instructed/informed them about in relation to ICT. How do I know that they know that they know. It’s not like I can just set them a test (although there was a complete epic fail this week because I had assumed that an academic would know to log off one virtual classroom session before trying to enter it again at a different computer – but the question is did I fail the test because I didn’t tell her to log off, or did she fail because the test was to operate a product that she has been trained in?). Or can I test them? Is it appropriate to test? Should I have actually benchmarked the whole faculty before I began training? I do run skill sharing sessions but attendance is dropping off. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a focus anymore and so academics can’t target their skills the way they want – there is no measure of their success. They do not know when they have learnt because I’m not giving the environment in which it prove to themselves they are progressing.

Thinking about all this and doing some reading led me an interesting article on assessment. I know there are a lot out there, but this one took my fancy. Perhaps it’s time for me to stop whinging about ICT and just fix what I can fix!

PS Thanks to Katie for picking up the error of the missing word…..*sigh* I should know better


Lately I have seen amazing people do amazing things in spite of the systems and technology that surround them. I love this job and I love the people, but the systems, well, they are crushingly stupid.

Like all large organisations, the university has grown organically over time. Systems are put in place to address gaps or issues that arise as the business context changes. Unfortunately, with a large scale reform, such as e-learning, systems cannot afford to be disjointed and ungoverned. There must be clear paths of accountability and transparent business workflows.

Lately I’ve seen decisions made centrally that made perfect sense until the outcome reached a faculty. Once that happened, everything went completely wrong. There were many lost hours of additional work and the stress levels went through the roof, all because there was no transparency around workflow. If the person in central had understood the ramifications of the decision that was made, they could have chosen a different path that wouldn’t have affected enrolment of students.

If there had been clarity of governance, the staff member who fixed the issue in the end, wouldn’t have had to lose a day finding a solution as she could have pushed the task back to where it truly belonged. Unfortunately, with no governance, there is little accountability, so there is little incentive to actually do your job, particularly if there is someone else willing to do it for you. Of course, a lack of governance also means freedom……and that can be terribly intoxicating!

So what does this little gripe of mine mean in the big picture? It means I’m surrounded by amazing people and stupid systems. I think that makes it business as usual for any large organisation. However, it also means that I have an opportunity to make a difference here. I can identify the roadblocks and identify how to overcome them so that the amazing people can get back to doing what they really should. Hmmm… to make it happen!

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