Communication, Curriculums and Karen.

Case study:

Communication in Curriculum Design .

Karen Rawlings-Anderson. Senior Lecturer. School of Health Sciences.

Karen has recently taken on the role of leading the design of the new curriculum to be delivered across the nursing programs starting in September  2012. This mammoth task has required the coordination of input from a large number of staff from across the school. I spent some time with Karen to find out what she had found helpful in promoting communication and collaboration within this project.

So how did you get started?

Initially I sent out an email looking for people who wanted to be involved in the redesign. The aim of this was to recruit people in who were interested in being part of this. We didn’t have  a formal communication strategy but hoped they would disseminate information from the curriculum development back to their teams/division/field.  I set up a community on My City which the University was promoting at the time. The aim of this was to avoid blocking up people’s in-boxes with attachments. It would be a one-stop shop for all the relevant information needed for the new curriculum.

How have you found using My City?

In all honesty it hasn’t been well utilised. I still get emails asking for the information that has already been put into My City. My City has its problems in organising information and have had to set up a separate archive for old versions of the documents. I am now considering setting up a Moodle space to use as a forum to communicate about the new curriculum and abandon My City altogether. I didn’t consider using Moodle initially because I thought it was just for students. I think that people just don’t access these spaces because they are simply too busy. It is an added task. The single log-in doesn’t automatically take us to these spaces, we have to go and actively look for them. There isn’t the time to do this whilst trying to actively manage the flow of email.

How have you dealt with these challenges?

When designing this curriculum it didn’t feel right to start trying to use new methodologies like document sharing etc, because there was enough stress in just dealing with the work. I didn’t want to add to it for people by adding in new ways of communicating. Just because we have these new technologies it doesn’t mean we have to use them or they will be any more effective. People have their own habits of learning and communicating, and during a curriculum design wasn’t the time for trying something new. At present we are using the central N drive to store documents and using email and face to face meetings. I wouldn’t want to move away from email entirely and rely on people to visit a communication space like Moodle or My City because I would be worried about communication breaking down.

Would you consider using some of the electronic communication methods like Adobe Connect?

I have had some experience of using Connect in virtual tutorials. I did find it quite difficult to use. It’s also disruptive for people sharing offices, especially if we are moving to open plan offices. If people can’t attend meetings in person, I doubt they would want to attend them remotely. We have generally had very good attendance at face-to face meeting so don’t see the need for a virtual option.

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