Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Aimhigher report (test for older men)

I know it's taken a long time but I've finally gotten round to reviewing the Aimhigher report and these are my musings:

Progression - It's interesting that this is sought after by employers as much as it is by students - some of the group on our Complementary Therapies FD knew they wanted to progress but did not know what their options were. But how do we serve up this information - should it be generic or specific? My daughter is coming to the end of her National Diploma at a local college and has been looking for some time at her options. She doesn't want generic pleasantries but real specifics. Her question is 'What are my options?'. Can we ever hope to be able to load the portal with all the right information that will suit any individual? If not then what are we going to try and do?

Course and module information - Again this appears to be common to employers and students. I would expect (and our College is about to make it a requirement) that this information will be available on the VLE. This is fine for students who have already enrolled and, from our student interviews, they all want this to be there. But this information also has to be available for prospective students and for employers visiting the portal. So where does the portal get it from? Obviously not from the VLE (which one would you get it from and what about permissions to access the course) so my guess is that it would have to come from the portal. But now we're into the same area as course descriptors as explored by Fleur on her blog.

Case studies - I like the idea of having case studies about the experiences of other employers and it fits neatly with the idea of using this as a marketing tool as our tutors have been suggesting. Which reminds me, we really need to talk to our Marketing department about this!

Ideas for content development - There appeared to be suggestions within the report which could give us ideas for developing content. Perhaps it would be useful to compare to what we already have and to 'divvy them up'.

Clarity of scope/purpose - Something has been nagging away at me for some time and it's not easy to put into words but this report helps. When you look through the various responses you can see how some are very specific (e.g. sector information for the NHS). If we were to take each of these, plus the requirements documented elsewhere, and try to deliver them all we would never end the project. Just look again at Fleur's thoughts about course descriptors. If we have to go through those cogitations for each item then we're in trouble. So how do we decide what's in and what isn't. There is a danger that we will descope things that are too difficult or time-consuming, perhaps settling on something generic and all encompassing, but then the final result could be diluted and sterile.

It comes back to a question that I asked once before but I don't think anybody understood it. I asked how does something get on the portal? (who puts it there?). From my brief look at LifeRay (still hindered by access from college) the screens I saw had some content. Why is it there?, who decides that it should be there?, how did it get there?, who changes it if it needs changing? So how much is the content pre-decided and how much of it magically appears depending on who you are?

Sorry I got a bit carried away - no doubt we can pick this apart at the meeting on Thursday.

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