Opening up

My organisation – the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University – has recently been reviewed.  I think our response to the review should be to become radically more open about what we do.

We had a meeting about the review with the Vice Chancellor and our immediate boss, Denise Kirkpatrick (Pro-Vice-Chancellor Learning and Teaching).  I asked if it was Ok to blog about the review, and the VC said it was the first time anyone had asked (!) – but said fine so long as it’s circumspect.

In a circumspect nutshell, the review said that the staff in IET were “talented” but identified a serious problem in perceived value delivered to the University.  The proposal of the reviewers was to split IET in two.

We’re now in to a discussion phase where we explore how we might respond to the review.  To stick to the diplomatic and circumspect line, splitting precisely as proposed is proving a major challenge to operationalise.  My colleagues have already kicked the ball rolling with the discussion about what we could actually do.  Martin talks about how organisational structures are less important now:

with new ways of connecting, it’s not that the reorg should be more prevalent, but rather that organisational structures, which are often physical organisational structures, are increasingly irrelevant. My OU network is as much to do with my OU Twitter network as it is to do with my ‘formal’ placement in a group

There’s a lot of potential to improve things, as Will suggests:

overall this represents a catalyst for change which has been long overdue in our unit 

And Patrick linked that back with the theme of new ways of working and said

However if we can do something more about changes in ways of working, picking up on knowing what we are doing and why, building on the latest tools so that structure and boundaries matter rather less then I think the review and the push for change could do us some good. 

So what is to be done?

I think  – and this is very much the direction we as a unit have been moving for a long time – the main idea has to be increased openness about what we’re doing.  Web 2.0 management!

One entirely-fun question – which I’m pleased that I’ve managed to hold off on, since it’s not what we need to focus on quite yet – is what technologies to use to support this.  But suggestions welcome!

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Author: dougclow

Data scientist, tutxor, project leader, researcher, analyst, teacher, developer, educational technologist, online learning expert, and manager. I particularly enjoy rapidly appraising new-to-me contexts, and mediating between highly technical specialisms and others, from ordinary users to senior management. After 20 years at the OU as an academic, I am now a self-employed consultant, building on my skills and experience in working with people, technology, data science, and artificial intelligence, in a wide range of contexts and industries.

2 thoughts on “Opening up”

  1. How about you run everyone’s blog through a content analyser/tag cloud, and then cluster the results into two sets, with semi-permeable boundaries(?!);

    Oh – wait, there’s only a few of you blogging… (though possibly more in IET than the rest of the OU put together?)

    As far as IET’s wider mission goes – which presumably has something to do with helping knowledge about edtech flow round the OU? – getting OTHER units engaged in openness would be a major achievement, and one that could well have payoffs in terms of capturing, exploiting and promoting the inventions and innovations that OU folks come up with…

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