best laid plans o’ mice

In the Oxford magazine No 331 Tim Horder comments on the absence of MOOCs from the University’s  Draft Strategic Plan.

Moments like these cause me to look back at strategic plans I have written. I didn’t write one for LTG in 2012 because we have been going through the IT services merger, but looking back at the strategy I wrote in 2011 for 2012 I think we’ve done pretty well.

This is what we said we’d do:

Teaching and Learning

  • Continue to provide advice and support related to the use of C&IT in traditional teaching, learning and research in all disciplines, as well as specific training for IT staff.
  • Continue to support and develop the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for the University (WebLearn), tailored to the needs of students and staff with new tools and features in response to user feedback and identified needs in divisions . This is an ongoing development project with specific projects for 2012 including mobile app development and improved support for plagiarism detection and gathering feedback.
  • Continue to promote and support the use of online multimedia for learning and teaching, a particular highlight of 2011 was the merger with Media Production Unit which will lead to an improved and consolidated service being developed over the next few years.
  • Continue  to target development of new tools to support the strategic learning and teaching priorities of divisions, departments and colleges. (e.g. course administration, student assessment, computer modelling in learning and research, creativity and innovation, OERs for cross-silo and interdisciplinary teaching, mobile learning, access and outreach, etc)
  • Promote the OpenSpires project as a successful initiative which established a sustainable set of policies and workflows enabling departments from across the University to regularly publish high quality open content material for global reuse. Work in this area continues with further JISC projects and research. Strategic approaches to the development of a brand position around ‘open oxford’ will be explored in 2012.
  • Ensure that we continue to foster and support excellence, innovation and best practice, and disseminate research into the latest developments in the use of C&IT in traditional university teaching and learning.  This work has continued in 2011 and new projects investigating support environments of learning design and the re-use of OERs will report in 2012.
  • Focus on ensuring value for money for the University by making special efforts to target services equally across each division. Particularly we will be exploring ways in which we can support students in developing their graduate employability skills and supporting research staff in maximizing the impact in their work.
  • Finally migrate users from the old to new WebLearn and switch old WebLearn to read-only mode.
  • Promote and support user created content and multimedia through initiatives such as: use of multimedia by lecturers to share research based teaching for maximum impact.
  • Design and implement a new, robust infrastructure to support the rapidly growing podcasting service, Media Production Unit and similar groups (central and in divisons)  and explore new solutions for capture and storage.
  • Promote the effective use of ICT facilities in the classroom.
  • Expand our e-learning research activity in line with the targets identified in our research strategy, enabling blue skies work to be done in a cost effective manner as funded projects and sustain current themes of work/projects via new funding and follow up grants.
  • Respond to any major  shift in the size or demographic of the student body which affects the demands on  services offered  (including the VLE and IT training programme). Rapidly rising demand for IT courses may be linked to popular discussion of student fees, students as consumers and graduate employability.
  • Ensure that our practice is inclusive, up-to-date and in line with user requirements.
  • Contribute to open-source, development and research communities of which we are members by working alongside other universities and appropriate business community engagement.
  • Provide an appropriate environment for research and to ensure financial sustainability of research within the group and research leadership within the team.
  • Providing and promoting the use of video conferencing as an energy efficient and sustainable tool for learning, teaching and business.

Engagement with Society

Our primary focus is on supporting the needs of the collegiate University. However, in so doing it offers support to faculties and departments seeking to engage more with the wider society. We have specific strategic objectives in mind to assist the University in engaging with the wider society:

  • Assisting projects and services to deliver to mobile devices through the development of Mobile Oxford.
  • Development of Open Educational Resources and podcasting.
  • Advising projects on increasing ‘impact’ through new technologies such as the use of social networking tools, podcasts, etc; and assessing and evaluating user needs.
  • Researching practical tools and techniques for crowdsourcing within digital projects.
  • Leading community collection initiatives which bring the public to University research projects.
  • Consolidating our  reputation as a source of expertise in digitisation projects focusing on memory and memorial in the lead up to the centenary of the Great War.

What should we do in 2013?

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