Sustaining and Embedding Innovations - wiki JISC Sustaining and Embedding Innovations / Encouraging true partnership working
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Encouraging true partnership working

This section concerns both internal and external partnerships.


At the JISC Innovating e-Learning Conference 2010, Andy Beggan (Head of Learning Technology at the University of Nottingham) and Simon Thomson (Principal Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University) gave a joint presentation on “Sustaining OER innovation through collaboration and partnership” set within the context of two OER (Open Educational Resources) innovation projects:

  • BERLiN (Building Exchanges for Research and Learning in Nottingham) project at Nottingham University
  • Unicycle (visual metaphor) project at Leeds Metropolitan University


A wiki for the conference was created to give further information about the two projects and the conference session.


Key points made were as follows:


Internal partnerships


“Enablers” for building internal partnerships: 
  • Value and build on existing partnerships e.g.
    • Teacher Fellow networks
    • TEL teams
    • Network of accredited online learning advocates
    • Learning enhancement coordinator network
    • Community of practice called the  learning lab
  • Festival of learning in TESEP project (Edinburgh Napier University) was a good example of an activity that led to all kinds of collaboration (partnerships) internally.
  • Teams supporting these OER projects:
    • Vice chancellors office
    • Repository development team
    • Copyright clearance office
    • TEL/ALT teams
  • Top-down and bottom-up support is needed.
  • Useful Resources (also applicable to external partnerships):
    • Section in JISC OER InfoKit on sustainability are well worth a read -
    • Kotter - 'developing a guiding coalition: 

 Also his book with Holger Rathgeber  'The Iceberg is Melting'

    • JISC round tables approach
Attributes of successful partnerships
  • Good communications
  • Trust
  • Enthusiasts
  • Experienced partnership developers
  • Complimentary skills e.g. academics and technologists
  • Immediate results


Outcomes of the internal partnership developed as part of the projects:
  • Reward and recognition for staff e.g. periodic table video at Nottingham
  • Raised profile of staff, discipline and institution
  • Staff development
    • OER workshop
    • Option module in PGCHE
    • Guidance and support
    • Policy creation




External partnerships


Benefits of external partnerships:


  • Enhanced reputation (Institution and personal)
  • Also encourages internal collaboration and sharing best practice
  • Supporting informal learning
  • Reducing development time
  • Shared resources e.g. for collaborative (many institutions) course development
  • Developing communities and building networks (Bringing in expertise)
  • Often critical to attracting funding
  • Sustainability is built-in
  • A bigger voice
  • More valued by the sector
  • Maximising impact
Examples of International partnerships (OER)
  • OCWC (Open courseware consortium)
  • OER Africa
  • UKOER -OER Africa / UNESCO


Examples of National Partnerships (OER)


Support for external partnerships (OER)


Outcomes from external partnerships (OER)
  • Dissemination and collaborative workshops
  • Info Kit development
  • Shaping technical processes
  • Reward and recognition


Potential barriers to external partnerships
  • Consortium agreements - don’t have to be formal to be effective
  • People widely dispersed - use of Web 2.0 technology helps to overcome this e.g. Twitter, Facebook




You can view the recording of the session and download the presentation.


At the same JISC online conference, the session Is the future mobile? led by Graham Brown-Martin (founder of Learning Without Frontiers - LWF) gave rise to the most lively debates of the conference which was in large part due to Graham’s background as a “disruptive thinker” and also due to the variety of institutional roles of the conference participants which included:


  • Academics.
  • Support staff, such as learning technologists; learning and teaching specialists; ICT, information and library specialists.
  • Senior managers responsible for institutional change and transformation.
  • HE/FE sector agency staff, supporting programmes of innovation and transformation such as from JISC and the Higher Education Academy.
  • Representatives of the student body.


Graham’s views appealed greatly to those with a more technical background whilst academic practitioners and senior managers responsible for institutional change generally were frequently saying “yes but….”. As is so beneficial with “disruptive thinkers”, it is not that they get everything right, nor do they always see the complete picture …. but they do have a knack of generating valuable dialogue and bringing key issues to the fore, even if emotions sometimes cloud the debate. Of course, Graham is right, in that mobile technologies are going to become ubiquitous and the education sector needs to embrace them – sooner, rather than later. The key issue is how can institutions respond to and keep up with these constant innovations and the emergence of low-cost consumer technologies.


One thing is certain is that academics/teaching staff, educational technologists and senior managers in institutions need to work more collaboratively and in partnerships (both internal and external) and this will require each to better understand the needs, issues and desires of the others.