Universities must choose between devolving IT provision to Faculties and Schools and concentrating resources at an institutional level. It is often assumed that pooling resources enables the purchase or development of more sophisticated tools to benefit all users. In practice, IT solutions implemented at institutional level sometimes lack the flexibility to meet the requirements of non-standard degree programmes in a multi programme environment. This session focuses on a project, run at a school level of an institution, in response to this issue. The project goal was to create a bespoke, integrated collection of IT services built on top of the institutional architecture that would satisfy the specific requirements of a medical degree programme. This session will describe the challenges of collaborating with stakeholders at different organisational levels to resolve IT problems at programme level, in an environment in which IT provision is centralised. It will describe some of the improvements to programme delivery and the student learning experience that have become achievable using bespoke IT services. It will also describe the barriers that have been overcome to delivering innovative IT solutions at a local rather than institutional level.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
The session will focus on the creation of 1Med, a suite of integrated services that has been designed to meet the particular requirements of a medical degree. Agreement was reached with the University’s central business system owners and IT Services that the programme would be best served by tailored services implemented ‘on top’ of the University’s systems while preserving the central student and staff data system as the single point of truth.1Med takes student and staff data feeds from the central institutional system, then allows extensive local extension and customisation. The session focuses on the extensibility of student and staff data, and their use within the collection of 1Med services. These include: student record document management, timetable, portfolio, curriculum mapping, notifications, group and placement management, forms, analytics and dashboards. Provision of these integrated services has led to improved processes and user experience; and the system is co-evolving with the changes in process and practice. For example, all paper student records have been scanned and entered into a document system that allows the user full text search and to filter by type, student or date of upload. An improved PPD Portfolio has improved communication between Advisors and students and facilitated increased student engagement with the PPD Portfolio. The student record allows staff to create and manage their own custom fields to manage Medicine-specific data alongside generic student data in a seamless manner. The way the services have been implemented is allowing the overall system to adapt to changes in curriculum, teaching delivery and the diverse teaching and learning environments. The session will address the impact that increasingly centralised organisational structures can have on provision of IT solutions in universities that typically contain a wide variety of user needs generated by diverse curricular structures and programme delivery methods; and will review the alternative approach to supporting the student journey of providing local adaptable services.
Armstrong, L., 2016. Barriers to innovation and change in higher education. URL: https://www. tiaainstitute. org/public/pdf/barriers-to-innovation-and-change-in-higher-education.
Lomas, L., 2005. Organisational Change and the Shifting of the Locus of Power. URL: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/bei/Education-line/browse/all_items/143998.html.