Wbl maturity toolkit issues


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Wbl maturity toolkit issues

  1. 1. The Jisc WBL Maturity Toolkit: some observationsThis paper presents some brief observations about the WBL Maturity Toolkit arising from theSwansea Metropolitan contribution to the Jisc Dewi project. The paper is critical, in the sense that itcomments on areas of the toolkit still needing completion and refinement, and its purpose is toassist discussions about improvement, consistency and optimisation.The Swansea Met contribution focussed on four specific sections of the WBL Maturity Toolkit thatwere relevant to the proposed online distance learning delivery of courses for the armed forcesoverseas. The sections were: Institutional Readiness; Faculty Readiness; Programme Design; andQuality Enhancement.1. Institutional Readiness1-1 WBL strategy and plansThe WBL Toolkit gives the impression that WBL is viewed as something separate to other learningformats. In practice, of course, WBL is integrated with the other learning formats that combine inthe overall programme. It might be questioned whether a specific WBL strategic plan is desirablerather than just promoting WBL in the institutional strategy as a key component of applied, work-focussed training.1-8 WBL processes and procedures for programme validationThe guidelines here seem to promote fast tracking, shell frameworks and other features as beingessential, rather than just options if appropriate. It may be helpful if they were presented as suchand that the further info and examples addition to this particular criterion (not a feature of mostother criteria) included as part of an appendix of useful resources/evidence of effective practice.1-9 QA for WBLAs noted in other comments, the QA processes and processes supporting WBL planning,development and implementation are covered more than once in the WBL Toolkit. The distinctionbetween the contexts of each QA criterion needs to be made clear (or a separate area of the toolkitbe created dealing with all aspects of QA). Also, the main statement for this particular criterion isexpressed as a question rather than as a statement and this may need to be revised.1-12 Business, commercial and financial approachesThere are no self assessment guidelines or evidence suggestions given for this aspect in the currentversion of the WBL Toolkit. An assessment of added value for this criterion is therefore not possibleat present. Some possible toolkit guidelines and evidence are offered for consideration on theSwansea Met project wiki1.2. Faculty/School/Departmental Readiness2-1 WBL strategy and implementation planThe WBL Toolkit currently has no guidelines or evidence entered for this criterion. As a result addedvalue cannot be assessed. Some possible toolkit guidelines and evidence are offered forconsideration2.2-4 Training and support for external staff and employersThe self assessment guidelines are brief and reasonably self evident. No evidence suggestions arecurrently included in the toolkit and some are offered.1 http://swanseametwbl.pbworks.com/w/page/61323796/WBL%20Institutional%20Readiness2 http://swanseametwbl.pbworks.com/w/page/61323794/WBL%20Faculty%20Readiness
  2. 2. 3. Programme Design for WBL3-3 Development and planning for WBLThe statement and guidelines are very general for this criterion and its not clear how theycontribute specifically to work based learning design beyond the need for flexibility and meetingstakeholder needs3-4 Alignment with professional standardsNo particular recommendations here. The guidance is brief but to the point.3-8 Integration of ICT/e-Learning into curriculum designThe phrase that is missing here is where appropriate. The main statement and guidance imply thate-learning tools, e-portfolios, etc are suitable components for all types of WBL, which may not bethe case.3-11 Learning materials and resourcesThe WBL Toolkit guidance is incomplete for this criterion, so added value cannot currently be judged.Some suggestions are offered3.6. Quality Enhancement6-3 Programme design, review and quality enhancementTwo aspects of the WBL Toolkit design are highlighted by the detail included with this criterion. Thefirst is the fact that both programme design and quality enhancement are covered, perhaps in adifferent context, elsewhere in the toolkit. If there is some level of repetition, then a rationalisationof the criteria involved is recommended. If they are each addressing different aspects of programmedesign and quality enhancement then this needs to be made explicit.The second issue is the obvious contrast between the large number of guidelines and evidencerecommendations for this criterion compared with the much smaller number for other areas andcriteria in the toolkit. The reason for the difference, if intended, needs to be made clear to the user.On the one hand, it might indicate greater priority for the more detailed criteria. On the other handit may be that the less detailed criteria are still in development. The general expectation wouldeither be consistency across all criteria or some indication of the reasons for the difference.6-4 Programme delivery and supportThe same comment regarding consistency across the toolkit criteria applies here (there are over fourtimes as many guidelines here compared with some other criteria. Some, as identified, have noguidelines at all).There are a number of entirely appropriate references to time and cost efficiencies, flexibility, choiceand control etc. However, there is an implicit assumption in the guidelines that the chosen deliveryand support system actually works. This is particularly relevant for the CILT programme as onlinedistance learning has not been used before by the University as a delivery method.An additional self assessment guideline relating to evidence of learning effectiveness using theproposed delivery method might be appropriate.ConclusionsThe mapping of the WBL Maturity Toolkit to the needs of Swansea Metropolitan in its plans for theonline distance learning delivery of courses revealed a number of opportunities for improvement ofthe Toolkit itself. It was concluded that these improvements needed to be implemented before thetoolkit would really be useful in assisting WBL design and delivery.3 http://swanseametwbl.pbworks.com/w/page/61323792/WBL%20Programme%20Design
  3. 3. It might be expected that guidance for practitioners in the form of a ‘toolkit’ should represent asynthesis of established good practice that has been tried, tested and shown to work successfully.The guidance would be clear, consistent and authoritative, backed by convincing examples of how ithas assisted previous developments (and hence how new users will benefit from its use).For the WBL Maturity Toolkit to fulfil its purpose, the following issues need to be addressed: The toolkit needs to be complete. There are several criteria where guidelines and/or evidence suggestions are missing; The toolkit needs to be consistent. The guidelines given for criteria (ignoring those that don’t have any) range from 3 to 13. If there is a reason for this (ie: different levels of priority/importance in the design process) then this needs to be made clear to the user; The toolkit needs to be authoritative. Each area of focus, criterion and guideline must have a clear reason for its inclusion, convincing benefits from being addressed and backed by evidence of successful implementation.It is obvious that the toolkit is still in a state of development and cannot currently meet theserequirements. An outcome of the Dewi project will hopefully be a positive contribution to makingprogress in that direction.Tony TooleJanuary 2013