Baselining UAL for DIAL

Notes from Friday’s baselining session with JISC and the other Digital Literacies (DL) projects, the session was led by Helen Beetham. We were asked to present a quick summary of our early thoughts regarding baselining for the DL projects, see more details on baselining and support here . Lindsay and I managed to compile our thoughts and I have summerised them below along with reflections on some of the feedback we had.

Issues arising from opening sessions on baselining and discussion with projects –

DIAL need to deliver a full baselining report to JISC by the end of January 2012 but can continue to baseline as we wish throughout the project. The importance of having an ongoing system for baselining became apparent as the meeting progressed. The DIAL evaluation process is going to be ongoing and embedded into each community approach, so may serve as a means of providing a system for continued baselining. This could support how we manage the baselining process locally in collaboration with the leaders/facilitators of the self-identified communities, therefore embedding into their approach from the start.

@Chris Follows – The DIAL project could benefit from a dual approach – acknowledge the big picture/problems/context and then provide a real world examples that illustrates someone at the start of this journey and the impact the community led project has on them. The 3 month pilot groups will hopeful test this model and spark some wider debate interest which develop into new and associated communities of practice for the next phase of the project?

@ Helen Beetham – exactly – it’s about getting a high-level view, plus some detailed views too.

@Gill Ferrell – Baselining should also help you refine project scope to ensure you are addressing the rights things in the right way

Baselining for DIAL at UAL is basically a snapshot of the current digital ‘landscape’ (the what, where, when, why and the how) from as many different perspectives as possible.

How are we going to baselinine the ‘digital’ landscape at UAL?

Early feedback and observations in the first few weeks indicate we need to define the scope of DIAL asap, as we may be being perceived as a catchall project, which is responsible for solving the whole scope of digital ‘problem/s’ at UAL, how are we going to manage expectations?

Maybe before starting to baseline the project we really need to quickly define who DIAL is, who ‘owns’ it and what is its relationship to UAL is DIAL UAL or is it working with UAL?

Is DIAL working with UAL or for UAL, is it a collaboration or just another ‘pop up’ department.

DIAL has the potential to develop a new and dynamic multifaceted space for UAL, owned and managed by everyone. The community will build and steer the project individually and collectively through the formation of interest groups. The original DIAL bid identified cultural change in the development of digital literacies in Arts Higher Education as one of its primary goals; it’s a big ship to turn (does DIAL need to be 4 wheel drive iceberg breaking kind of ship ?).

Another huge task and primary goal of the project is improved graduate employability. How do we baselinine across a huge variety of different communities and different target groups when they all have very different specialists approaches and unique perspectives of the issues relating to them specifically in subjects that span Fine Art to Fashion promotion. How do we address the informal and the formal? Will DIAL encounter contradictions across the subjects, specifically in relation to the notion of ‘Art school, business and employment how do we acknowledge manage the sensitivities of differing perspectives and debate, and the rapidly changing educational contemporary social and political landscape, DIAL may support multiple perspectives on the same subject.

Who are DIAL most concerned with?

Many other DL projects are focusing on core groups, particular in staff areas, students groups or subject/job specific departments. They have defined target areas, would this be a better approach for DIAL to take? How do we catch all, do we need to, how do we get to those who are not participating is it important to pursue those on the periphery?

@Helen Beetham – not possible to capture everyone’s practice. But need an indication of how widespread ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ practice in developing DL might be. At Exeter we are capturing postgrad journeys via video or personal blog.

The baselining project could provide a great opportunity to scope all the work thats already been carried out or in the process of being carried out, from PGCert research, fellowship papers, secondment outcomes and department reports and reviews.

To kick start the DIAL project we will run a three month pilot phase which try’s not to define specific colleges, departments or career families as such at this early stage, we will take a more natural and organic approach and allow the groups to form through a process of self identifying problem/s from the many diverse areas of the university, the project focuses on the digital literacies problem the real gab that needs addressing, once identified they are unpacked and addressed by the community (an edgeless participatory community). The ‘digital problem/s’ identified are potentially relevant to many across all sections of the university in different ways. In one form or another, the problem can be address by other problem/s and communities, solutions and resources are surfaced from new/existing or current/developing support structures which interweave through them all.

A shared understanding – physically meeting up and having ‘real’ conversations and debate is a must for this project. This could be a basic requirement of DIAL project and community groups approach, maybe hold a number of formal and informal debate sessions as part of the project development. Really important not get too lost or entrenched in just using online and digital for everything? The learning Studio is a good example of current best practice – Cup cake video ( ) It could even be fun!

Work with all six colleges, student union and non-student facing services, identify key people, students, staff, managers, champions (those demonstrating progressive practice). We would like a team in each college who can filter to management and to the studio floor to facilitate conversation and feedback into core groups at course level, lead workshops discussion groups etc.

Talk to Industry and Alumni, bring them into a three way open conversation at an early stage as possible.

Use of an open DIAL web forum, existing platforms and social media to help structure and surface debate which includes staff, students, alumni and industry partners.

What are challenges, concerns, problems, issues or ideas?

Over the next two years UAL will encounter some intense periods of change to its digital environment and practices, along also with the wider social and cultural changes with the rapid developments in technology, how do we address this in regards to how we ensure our baselining plan is robust and dynamic enough to keep pace and maintain relevance.

How do we address over demand for support and participation (what if demand becomes too big for this projects scope) how can the baselining process help manage expectations?

How rigorous does the baselining process need to be?

What format does the baselining report need to be presented in?

What should be the balance be between data and discussion and analysis of the data CAN THIS BE EMBEDDED IN THE HOLISTICALLY OVER TIME IN THE PROCESS ITSELF as a qualitative process the why and how?

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2 Responses to Baselining UAL for DIAL

  1. Doug Belshaw says:

    Some prolific blogging going on over here, Chris! Good to see. 🙂

    Given then nature of your institution, I’m looking forward to seeing some of the more creative outputs from this project!

  2. THanks Doug, the project has lots of creative exciting potential, I’m picking this up from staff and students as the project goes on. Cheers

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