Value and relationships
Two very different events last week both raised two important points, from different angles:
- relationships matter, and
- assessing value in a University is difficult
The two excellent keynote presentations at the University’s second learning & teaching conference addressed these topics head on. Peter Felton spoke about how we should encourage more interactions between staff & students, and between students themselves; while Camille Kandiko Howson discussed the various ways in which institutions and governance might measure the effectiveness of learning and teaching. You can see their slides online at the URL below, but these give only a shadow of their talks.
Neither speaker was discussing IT, but the same concerns do apply to our system design. One of my learning points from the conference was that when we are mapping the student journey or creating a capability map, we should include the less formal side of the University experience and the quality of interactions as well as their efficiency.
Later in the week, I ran a technical workshop with people from a number of different support units and technical projects, to plan our “to be” architecture for student-facing systems. The same issues arose, in different forms.
For the first issue, the group emphasised that we need to work better together across our different units. This is another instance of recognising that relationships matter and that we need to create spaces and structures that nurture our interactions.
The second point arose when we began to evaluate different architectures. One of our goals is to make our services easy to use, but how do we balance that against the cost of building an easy to use system? In other words, how much value do we assign to our users’ experience? Unlike a commercial organisation, we don’t have a simple measure that we can use.
My personal view is that this is a matter of judgement; of “values” more than “value”. The challenge is how to bring dimension to bear when making a business case, so that we make the right choices in our programme plans.
University of Edinburgh Learning & Teaching Conference