So what happened to March?

It seemed to fly by and I have no idea where it went. The last time I posted it was all about struggling to pull together the proosal for the new academic calendar (that’s been to ASPC, LTC and Senate and been approved), the impending academic review (we’ve had the panel meetings and are waiting for the report) and the BCS accreditation visit (which went well and we await the written feedback).  And of course the City Park opened, which whatever you think about it has transformed the city centre and it’s a joy to see so many people out there enjoying the recent good weather.

If that’s not enough for one month, we’ve had the opening of the excellent Life Online gallery and TedX Bradford at the NMeM, another BBC RAC meeting, and Spurs have gone from Champions’ League certainties to Europa League hopefuls and back again.

In the middle of all this, we’ve moved offices. As you may know, I was in a shared space with the staff support team in the basement of Horton D (hence the original title of this blog). With the reclading of the building (which has gone very smoothly and looks great), we had to find temporary accomodation for the Student Support Office. This gave us an opportunity to rethink how we use our space. The position of the recruitment office was far from ideal (up some stairs and along a corridor), especially given the amount of traffic on applicant visit days. Given where we were located, i.e. in the ‘basement’ which of course is actually at ground level (don’t ask, it’s one of the challenges of labelling floors in buildings that are built on hillsides) and so had easy access, it made sense to use this forced temporary move to use that space more effectively. Hence the Recruitment Office is now using that, both as office space and to hold receptions and recruitment events. We’ve now moved to the fifth floor. So time to rename the blog. The Student Support Office is temporarily where Recruitment were, and when they move back we’ll continue to use that space for supporting our partnership work (someting that was originally located with us in the basement).

As with all these things, the disruption is substantial, but the move seems to have gone very smoothly with all parties happy with their new space. Which is something that is often tricky to achieve. So thanks to all involved, both in terms of those moving and the tech support team that made it happen, for such a slick operation.

As well as the cladding operation, those of you who used the small entrance door facing the Richmond Building will have seen our new ‘porch’ being constructed. The ‘official’ entrance to Horton D is round the back up the curved steps facing the Chesham Building. No doubt this fitting perfectly in the architect’s vision at the time, but now that we get a lot of traffice to and from the Richmond Building, and in these days of more awareness of access for those with mobility problems, it really didn’t make sense. Now the building work is complete we need to populate that space to make it more interesting, which will hopefully happen over the next few months.

Besides hoping that the warmer weather will drive away any more snow, there’s much to look forward to in April. The Bradford International Film Festival has a superb line up this year, with a wide variety from the obscure masterpieces to classic cartoons. If you’re in Bradford while it’s on, there really is no excuse not to pop along to something. There’s another ACE meeting, which are always interesting and lively. And of course there’s the usual day-to-day expected and unexpected challenges.

I expect come May I’ll be looking back asking ‘what happened to April’?!

It looks like you’re trying to create a new academic calendar…

It’s been so long since I put anything on here, I don’t expect many people will still be reading. However, one of the proposals at the last ‘BOG’ (that’s the Bradford Offer Group in case you don’t know, I still get strange looks when I say “I’m off to the BOG”) was that we should improve communications by keeping a blog of what we’re doing. So until something else gets written I thought I bring this out from its state of suspended animation.

As the title suggests, I’ve been tasked with looking at the structure of the academic year, something Nigel Lindsey did a huge amount of work on previously. As Nigel found out, this is quiet a challenge to say the least (hence the title, I’m hoping a friendly paperclip will pop up with some suggestions). The Bradford Offer made a number of proposals about all sorts of things, but one was about a change in the structure of the year. To cut a long story short, the main points were around seeing if we could start the year later (to give more time for preparation and for students to get here) and to fit in supplementary assessments in before the end of July (mainly to allow students to plan better for September). Clearly, starting later and ending sooner are not necessarily compatible aims!

The biggest issue with this is the ‘crunch’ time between the end of the first assessments and the start of the supplementaries. Work needs to be marked, checked, the marks entered on the system, formally ‘approved’, then taken to exam boards to make decisions on the individual students.  This, together with the sheer volume of examinations that we have, makes it quite a challenge.

Of course, other institutions mange to do this, and claim that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and although there’s some ‘pain’ in moving from one model to another, they are very adamant that they are in a better place now than before.

So work goes on. There’s a target of having a revised proposal to got to ASPC/Senate in the new year. How exact we can be about the impact and resources needed to do this remains to be seen as there’s the small issue of the Christmas break between now and then, but we’ll do our best.

Birthdays, Burgers, Birmingham and Brighton

 

Seems a long while since I last wrote anything here, so lots to catch up on!

Since the last post I’ve had a birthday (and very nice that was), attended the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Conference here, went to a BBC ACE event in Birmingham, ate a burger at the Wellbeing BBQ, went to Salford for a ‘Change in HE’ workshop, accepted a carbon reduction award for us at the ‘Business in the Community’ awards, chaired a BBC Outreach event at the NMeM, took a day trip to Brighton and helped witha BBEC University Academy event.

 

Just the usual couple of weeks then!

 The LTA conference was very good this year, although I always have the fear that there won’t be time to implement all those good ideas into good practice. Hearing what the schools’ strategies are proved that although we all have much in common the diverse subject areas that we cover mean that there are some different priorities areas in each school. Which is to be expected, but it’s hp we pick out the cross-school themes to prioritise at a Univesity level that’s important.

The BBC ACE event was interesting, not least for the fact that I found out that the set of the Politics Show is in fact the corner of a shared office! No need for expensive studios now then!!! But more importantly it was good to hear how the BBC 4 ‘North’ commisions are developing, and to have a chance to discuss the future of programmes with regional content such as Late Kick Off.

Our ‘Wellbeing‘ week certainly improved my personal well-being. Well, a good barbbequeued burger usually has that effect on me!

Carbon Reduction Award Winners Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and University of Bradford

Do I always look this uncomfortable in a dinner jacket?

Winning a Carbon Reduction award at the BitC Excellence Awards was very pleasing, even if I felt a little unworthy as I only chair the Energy & Carbon Task Group and everyone else does the hard work. We were also ‘highly commended’ in the Sustainable Travel category. It was an added bonus that my allocated ferret was a winner on the night, but that’s a whole different story!

Next major event was the BBC’s Yorkshire Regional Audience Council ‘Outreach’ event at the NMeM. I was chairing this for the first time and it covered three topics – ‘localness’ and what it means in relation to the BBC, feedback on the election coverage and finally what would people like to see more (and less of) as part of the BBC’s strategy of ‘doing less better’. Always interesting to hear a variety of opinions, although there were some definite themes emerging that will be fed back to the BBC Trust.

The ‘day trip to Brighton’ was a bit of an ordeal. Because of other commitments, I had to travel for my external examining duties to Sussex and back in one day. That involved getting up at 3.30am and getting back at about 11pm. Still, letting the train take the strain was relatively relaxing and fairly eco-friendly.

BBEC University Academy

BBEC University Academy

Last but not least is was the awards for students from Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College ‘University Academy’. This is for high academic achievers, and the  presentations were held here at the University. Good to see so many bright pupils and their families, I think there’s hope for the future of the planet after all! And my assumption that the crisps would go quicker than the fresh fruit proved to be completely wrong, children are clearly listening to the healthy eating message. Thanks to Jennie for helping to arrange the evening and the catering.

 

Of course in between all this there’s been the usual meetings, marking, assessment committees, etc. I think a quiet weekend is in order, but with England v Germany on Sunday, that can’t be guaranteed.

BBC (again), ESD, Game Republic student success and City of Film

Another week, another BBC event. Well two actually. A quick tour and meeting some people at the BBC in Leeds last Monday as part of my new Yorkshire RAC role, and then attending a consultation event about the BBC Asian Network. That was an interesting way to start the week, and I’m already learing a lot about how the BBC works both locally and nationally.

On Tuesday we had a meeting with Tom, Deb and Jeni from the NMeM regarding BAF 2010. They’ve already got some great speakers lined up, but that’s under wraps for now. Plans look good for this year, we even more planned to be held here at the University.

Sumo Digital Game Technology award 1st Prize Winners

Sumo Digital Game Technology award 1st Prize Winners

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to the Game Republic Showcase in Huddersfield. This was a real shame this year as our students did extremely well, scooping up the Game Technology award and runners up prizes for Best Team, Game Art and Game Design. They were the only team to be in the top three for all categories, which just goes to show the breadth of the talent there. Well done to all involved.

Wednesday was the ‘Education for Sustainable Development Pioneer Showcase’, and it was great to see so many projects under the Ecoversity banner across the University. This was closely followed by the Deisgn Show from EDT, which had some really interesting projects on show, not least of which was a ‘restored’ dalek originally made by some of our students!

Thursday was of course Celebrating Diversity Day, which I only managed to make the early part of due to other commitments. So worst of all I missed out on all the interesting food, which as you’ll probably know was particularly upsetting for me.

And so to Friday, and the City of Film board meeting. As usual this was a good meeting, and although this project has really had relatively little funding it’s achieved great things in the last year (not least because of the enthusiasm and drive of Peg as the director). The one big worry at the moment is whether the project can continue to deliver in the tough times ahead as no doubt the small funding that’s there at the moment will be squeezed as people prioritise what little there is in their budgets. Fingers crossed as being the world’s first UNESCO City of Film is something that the City really needs to make the most of.

After that it was good to have a three day weekend.