Universities and colleges, as learning organisations, remain guilty of ‘reinventing the wheel’ quite often when it comes to change projects.
Effective use of Jisc resources and the learning available from past projects can often take some of the legwork out of investigating suitable options. They are unlikely to provide you with an out-of-the-box solution but they can give you ideas and an indication of likely feasibility as well as highlighting some of the issues that might crop up in your particular context. They can also provide you with a rich source of contacts who might fill specific gaps in your expertise or be able to take on roles such as that of a critical friend to your project.
The University of Bradford took a somewhat unusual approach to meeting its strategic objectives relating to a “web enabled campus supported by mobile technology” by undertaking a literature review of recent Jisc projects in the field, shortlisting those that appeared to have resulted in a significant improvement related to one or more of Bradford University’s strategic objectives and then asking senior managers and other stakeholders to vote on which solution appeared to offer the most potential to meet Bradford’s needs. They then undertook a feasibility study on the preferred solution prior to implementation.
"By taking the original concept of such a project and implementing it in a way suitable for the Bradford environment it was deemed more likely to result in the achievement of the desired goals due to it being a proven solution."
University of Bradford’s Building Capacity project final report
An additional benefit from involvement in Jisc innovation programmes or engagement with Jisc resources is access to the associated communities of practice.
The University of Plymouth found considerable benefit in this when it conducted a survey relating to students and their use of technology. Through engagement with the Jisc community they were able to arrange for the survey to be conducted across five different universities at the same time with each institution using a common set of questions supplemented by institution specific questions resulting in all of the participating institutions having access to a much broader range of relevant data.
The University of Cumbria had a similar experience when Jisc projects it identified as potentially able to offer interesting lessons for the University in developing its use of social media to support student learning and retention were able to provide critical friends for Cumbria’s own project:
"Finally, we must attribute much of our learning as an organisation to excellent contributions from the four project consultants who have very effectively adopted the role of critical friend. Each has brought a unique and enriching perspective which has reinforced the value of both their experiences in guiding us, and of the Jisc projects that they have been involved with in their own institutions that triggered our collaboration."
The University of Bradford noted that
“One of the things that have become apparent during the course of the project is the value of engagement with Jisc at an individual level.“
and, as a result, the University has implemented ‘Jisc Watch’ encouraging its staff to follow Jisc staff on Twitter, adding Jisc to its RSS feed and tracking new Jisc documents. It also recommended to its IT Services Project Board that future objectives and projects are matched against previous Jisc work, as part of the initial Project Initiation Document to help increase project success by implementing solutions that have already been tested by other FE and HE institutions.
Benefits of learning from Jisc projects
"The benefits from the project have been numerous and include cost savings from harvesting existing ideas/processes that would have incurred considerable design and realisation time."
Edge Hill University, building capacity project final report
"… this was not about a simple ‘cut’ and ‘paste’ from the Jisc projects but to use the outputs and outcomes as a catalyst for developing our own ideas fitting for our varied disciplinary contexts.”
University of Leeds, Building Capacity project final report
"The process predominately stimulated ideas, as opposed to offering ready made solutions and artefacts."
Edge Hill University’s building capacity project final report
"The initial stages of the project involved identifying and reviewing relevant Jisc resources on e-Portfolio systems and CPD. Through this review, important and useful guidance about how to pursue the project was discovered which addressed issues of both change management and technical support."
University of Worcester, building capacity project final report
"Existing Jisc material has meant that there was no need to re-invent the wheel, simply make it work for UCLan!”
University of Central Lancashire, Transformations project case study