This is an archive of the original site and you may encounter broken links and/or functionality

The business case for academic development: The business case for academic development: Does current evidence align with key stakeholder priorities? -- 187 -- Symposium

10:30 - 11:30 on Thursday, 13 September 2012 in 1.219

The impact of elearning development services in universities is notoriously hard to measure in ways that address different stakeholder interests. Practitioners in this somewhat chaotic professional field know intuitively, as well as through various types of evidence, when development strategies are effective and when they are not. However, effectiveness can't be reported in concrete terms such as increased student numbers, causal links to positive impact of teaching innovations or improved student learning outcomes. This makes the business case for investment in specialist centres appear tenuous in some quarters.

The varied roles that elearning development centres play in helping teachers and institutions to ensure continuing relevance in the context of shifting circumstances should make a compelling case for their survival. An Australian HE sector report[1] presents a comprehensive list of areas of operation:

  • Educational policy, strategy and governance;
  • Quality of learning and teaching;
  • Scholarship of teaching and learning;
  • Professional development for teaching;
  • Credit-bearing programmes in higher education;
  • Curriculum and course development;
  • Institutional and sector engagement;
  • Presenting evidence of impact.

In the UK, the bi-annual UCISA survey of technology enhanced learning provides a snapshot of activity across the HE sector, with a strong focus on quantitative data[2]. The results are based on self-reporting by institutions and are often indicative rather than definitive. Nevertheless, they are valued by the community as a useful ‘state of the nation’ overview of technology enhanced learning in HE and are widely used to guide decision making and inform strategy. By their very nature however, statistical data such as these provide a limited view of value.

Educational value is hard to demonstrate in meaningful ways, and recent experience demonstrates the turbulence that can be created by political, fiscal and organizational pressures. Many centres have been disestablished or restructured; causing disruptions to services and loss of continuity as well as damage to collegial relationships that may have taken years to build up. Limited understanding in senior management circles of the impact of this kind of work is a frequently cited problem. However, the need to present more compelling evidence to support ongoing investment and maintain the scholarly status of centres is also widely acknowledged. This symposium will explore the strengths and limitations of current impact evaluation and reporting strategies in this mission critical area.

Panel members will present a series of short case studies highlighting varied approaches to evaluating and reporting impact to senior management of their institutions in the UK and Australia. Participants will be invited to debate the relative merits of these approaches, and to share their own experiences of providing evidence of the positive impact of academic development and e-learning activities.

This symposium will facilitate informed debate on a critical issue, and a rare opportunity for lead practitioners to share experience with an audience of peers and colleagues. The range of different roles and perspectives of ALT members and conference delegates will add richness to the conversation.


Presentation notes for this session.

Thursday, 13 September 2012, 11:46

thanks to Cathy and all presenters and discussants..important and valuable symposium Gilly

Thursday, 13 September 2012, 11:53