Friday, August 08, 2008

Payback for research activity

Today I had a chat with my boss detailing the findings of some of my research activity and requesting that my report be (with permission from my tutors) used for discussion at Senior Management level. I was encouraged by the degree to which the points raised were apparently inwardly digested and feel that it increases the real meaning of educational research to find such activity contributing actively to the direction my own workplace might take.

This really excites me and, as one of the potential barriers for lack of progress with TEL (from an institutional perspective) is lack of 'push' from leadership, can now see that some real progress might be possible. I will certainly take this forward and with some relish.

My other activity for today has to be clearing my desk of the huge piles of mostly unwanted and frankly unwarranted literature that comes my way. I'm taking some leave from Monday and cannot face the thought of piles of paper facing me when I return. We are working towards use of EDRM and that has to be an improvement ... says she who has printed out all the research papers needed for her report LoL!

I'm taking my report on holiday with me ... talk about beyond the call of duty and am terrified that I'll forget something. I've taken a data stick copy of my files and will take a box of paper and my laptop but am still feeling that the forgetting gremlins will get me somehow. I'm not sure how I can carry on writing this journal either. I will have a go ... honestly Gale .. but it will be difficult to sustain.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Policy and Strategic Planning

Its a wild one when the subject of your study suddenly comes to life and in a very public way.

I volunteered, some time ago, to lead a workshop at a meeting of our Regional HE Forum; today I received an e-mail refining the activity .. and 'tis to be an interactive workshop on strategic development. Of course the first thing that comes to mind is the nature of the drivers for such development in the current socio-economic climate ... and hey presto we are smack bang back to my research activity. That's exciting - for me anyway. The interesting thing will be the reaction of the attendees to my use of policy to drive strategic direction as it would appear that there is generally a more learner-centred-and-incidentally-addressing-some-areas-of-policy type approach. This does not mean that I do not regard learner-centredness as being key; as a teacher from the heart, this is fundamental but I do not believe that learners always know the opportunities that exist and sometimes policy documents widen the brief. Note the 'sometimes'!!

The research activity in which I am involved is so important to my professional practice. I am finding it hard to believe that I have come this far without engaging in this type of activity. Maybe I wasn't ready? Maybe I had to learn the legs of the role before expanding the boundaries ... 'cos that's just what I feel is starting to happen; its like role enhancement that will in turn enrich what we do at the College, contribute to our organisational learning and give me more job satisfaction.

Organisation learning has been the topic of much discussion, particularly the cognitive vs cultural learning debate ... and/or their need for coexistence. This reflection I feel underlines the need for coexistence and the acknowledgement that the learning activity of an individual can affect climate which in turn will impact on culture. I'm feeling very excitable this morning as you may be able to tell from this post - and that just has to be a good thing ... doesn't it!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Back Again .......

Today has been the first day, following our house move, that my head has been straight enough to start to write in any meaningful and/or reflective way concerning professional practice. The run up to moving was short and manic and - in both my working life and my professional role - I do not manage short notice situations as effectively as those for which planning has been a possibility. The knock on effect has been huge - at least in terms of my ability to concentrate on projects beyond the immediate scope of e-mail answering - and it has only been in the past couple of days that I have felt that I was gaining momentum in terms of waering my managers mantle properly once more.

There has been much discourse in our community about the strategic role of leadership in facilitation of ICT in the 'Academy'. This not only relates strongly to the project work I am doing for the doctoral programme but also to my professional direction within my College. The 'Academy' is seen as the elite research based University and I have to be careful not to bristle at that contextualisation, remembering that HE in FE is not common internationally, though the Australian model and American Community College models run parallel. There also seems to be a knocking of senior leadership to which I must respond, I guess.

I am in danger of moving into the direction of whinges and wittering now and so will stop, but I guess there needs to be consideration of the impact of government levels funding cuts (e.g. LSC numbers allocations), diversion of ASNs, the general change in economic status with rising costs of living et al when being critical of the way in which senior managers may need to prioritise their own budgetary allocations.