Thursday, 19 July 2007

Dug for more gold...found a diamond!

Just spoke with Nick diMarco (Construction FD tutor) and the identified employer who we wanted for the project has agreed to be involved in the pilot with their learner! The Architect company who have a learner on the FD course are happy to take part in evaluating the pilot for us from September!

We have a point of contact and will be following this up and introducing them to the project, the proposed pilot and the simple evaluation of the portal that we would be looking for.

The employer is very proactive in finding out what the College are doing for them from an educational point of view for their employees who may undertake any courses.

Great news and a good week of activities for the project!

...We struck Gold!

Dave and I had a meeting with Chas Warren (the new Director of Business) and Sandra Harris regarding the Goldmine system and what has been done to capture employer data.

The system is there, but not being used fully as it is at present only available on one computer! It is on the network and staff involved in collating employer data will soon be able to input data from their own computers!

Sandra and her team have made a start at collating employer data and adding it to the Goldmine system. It basically contains the name of the employer, address and phone number. Additional details and fields can be added but not utilised at present.

We had a discussion regarding the project and outlined what we are hoping to achieve with the pilot from September. I demonstrated the Liferay portal with the different logins for employer, learner, etc and they seemed impressed.

I emailed Chas the questions which I asked Phil Bentley on Tuesday (see last blog entry for details), and included the scoping questionnaire if Chas could add any further comments or views which would help. Dave and I feel we have made some good progress this week with the project and finding out the information stored at the College regarding employers and happy that we now have found some!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Digging for employers!

Today, I met with Phil Bentley who is in charge of Quality and Curriculum and discussed the pilot of the project from September.

Phil is very keen to attend one of the next project management meetings and get involved in supporting us on the project. We discussed the area of employer engagement and who deals with and communicates with them. On the whole Chas Warren who is the new Director of Business is the person who has responsiblity for employers, specifically for marketing the FDs to employers and employer data. Dave and I have a meeting with Chas and Sandra from that area to discuss employer data and we can raise further questions in this area at the meeting tomorrow.

Phil also mentioned that tutors for specific FDs would communicate with employers directly so we can do follow up meetings with tutors for any outstanding questions that need answers!

I left a copy of the last scoping questionnaire and answers already collated. Phil is to go through these and add any additional comments and answers where appropriate.

The final part of the meeting was for a tour through Liferay so that Phil understands what we are trying to achieve as a project and how things will progress for the pilot and beyond.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Going underground!

This week we are concentrating on the data mining bit of the project, and particuarly the storage of employer data at the College.

Dave and I met with Brian Hollis, the MIS Manager to find out what information is stored on Eclipse. We discovered that the only information is a an account code, the employer name and a post code if you are lucky! This information is added to the system by one of the finance team when an employer is paying for one of their employees to attend a course. There is no link between the MIS and the finance system, in fact the employer even has a different code on each system (numeric in the finance system and alphanumeric in the MIS).

Brian has pointed us in the direction of the Marketing and Business Development departments who supposedly use a CRM system called Goldmine. We are awaiting confirmation of a meeting later this week.

Brian has left us with a priceless gem - Apparently some employers give their employees the money to be on the course, so the employees pay the money and attend the course in their own time. So in these instances we would never have contact with the employers at all!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Pilot - We almost washed our hands of it

Or another possible title (Pilot - we're cooking on gas!)

It's been a seesaw of emotions today as we tried to find possible volunteers for the pilot. At the last meeting we mentioned that the numbers on the Foundation Degrees have been dropping (from 45 at the beginning of the year to 36 now!), and today we discovered that our pet student/employer were going the same way. We had been relying on the MIS data to tell us which students were paid for by their employers and we could only find one. We talked to the FD tutor today to ask if this employer might pilot for us only to find out, to our horror, that the student is likely to fail and be withdrawn!

But then we were told by the tutor not to rely on the data (so I take back everything I said at the last meeting about the state of our data). Our tutor Nick keeps records in an Excel spreadsheet of all of the students whose employer pays for their course. And then, bless him, he named the perfect candidate and his local architect employer, and he's going to see them next week, and he's going to ask them if they would be willing to take part in the pilot. So right now we are hoping for 1 pilot learner, 1 pilot tutor, and 1 pilot employer. We asked Nick to ask the employer if they would accept in principle and to reassure them that it would not be onerous. We told him that the pilot would run for a year and he reminded us that it will be a very short year since the semesters are only 12 weeks each.

Today we also started the data mining operation. We have meetings planned for Monday and Tuesday next week with the MIS data manager and with the Head of Quality & Curriculum who has overall responsibility for HE in FE. We are very hopeful that he will attend the next project meeting with us.