All posts by Fiona Saunders

Look how far your career can go as an MOP Alumnus

University of Manchester Alumnus, Paul Barnfield graduated from the MSc in the Management of Projects in December 2014. Since then he has enjoyed a fast developing career in project management and regularly gives guest lectures to current MOP students.  Paul was back on campus yesterday and recorded the following short interview, which captures his professional experiences since graduating and gives some top tips for aspiring project managers.  Watch the full video (9 minutes) here

Distance Learning in a Research Intensive University: A Coalition of the Willing

Like many other UK Higher Education Institutions, The University of Manchester is ramping up its current distance learning provision as a means of simultaneously expanding student numbers, offering greater flexibility to students and increasing global reach and reputation across the globe.  This change in pedagogical emphasis has been underway for a couple of years now, and a number of high-profile campus-based postgraduate programmes are currently being converted into a distance learning (or as we prefer to say a location-independent learning model).

As a relative newcomer to the world of distance learning, The University of Manchester has been working quite closely with Penn State University in the US, who have a renowned and well-established World Campus which delivers quality online courses at undergraduate, masters and doctoral level.

Last week we were privileged to host two senior Penn State University (PSU) staff members at our School of MACE Teaching and Learning Community of Practice – where the topic under discussion was distance learning: an academic and instructional design perspective.  As an academic who is currently wrestling with the transition of an existing campus based programme to distance learning, I found the seminar hugely useful.  My aim here is to share what I learnt with the wider community at The University of Manchester and beyond.  Continue reading Distance Learning in a Research Intensive University: A Coalition of the Willing

Using on-line communication tools more effectively

At our first School Teaching and Learning Community of Practice event 2017, we enjoyed a presentation from Hannah Cook of the Faculty eLearning Team on how to use on-line communication tools more effectively.

This was an eye opener for many of us.  We learnt some great tips and tricks for using Blackboard (our institutional VLE) and other on-line communication tools (like padlet and wordpress)  to improve how we communicate, both with each other, and more importantly with our students.

Hannah’s presentation is available here  Using online communications tools more effectively .  Its well worth a look if you are struggling to communicate effectively, yet efficiently, to often very large cohorts of students.

Putting the Community into eLearning

Just over two years ago I was asked to take on the role of Academic Lead for eLearning within the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at The University of Manchester. We are a large school (120 academic staff) covering a number of engineering and management disciplines.  In common with many academic departments, this has resulted in a somewhat silo mentality; long, often deserted corridors, and staff only communicating with their immediate research and teaching colleagues. My sense at that time was that there was plenty of eLearning expertise within the School, but that this expertise existed in small pockets of excellence, which were isolated and often unaware of each other.

If this sounds like a familiar picture, then read the story of how we used a Community Practice to connect, encourage and strengthen our eLearning practices within the School, which has just been published on the Higher Education Academy Learning and Teaching Blog –  Putting the Community into eLearning

Grappling with management responsibilities in academia

This semester I came back from a refreshing and highly productive six month sabbatical to a maelstrom of teaching activity and my first proper management role within my department.  As is often the case within academia, the role was new and ill-defined.  It involves enhancing teaching quality (whatever that means)  across 40 undergraduate and postgraduate units delivered by 18 academics .  Three months in, I wanted to share some reflections on how I am adapting to my new management responsibilities*.

*Note: The quickest way to get rid of an unwanted managerial responsibility in academia is simply to do it badly, but people who naturally want to do a job well may struggle with this approach!

In my view, management responsibilities in academia are akin to a medieval game of football.  There are few rules, many hundreds of players,  several often conflicting objectives,  and pretty ineffective levers of control.  So, here are some strategies for playing the game…..

the-middle-ages

Continue reading Grappling with management responsibilities in academia