Friday, 13 July 2012

HERDSA Discussion with PENS and OLT

On Wednesday the 4th of July, representatives from the NSW/ACT PEN, SA/NT PEN, VIC/TAS PEN, Q-PEN, WAND, NATA (NNI) and OLT got together at the HERDSA Conference in the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart to discuss the development of the networks.

Key themes that emerged from the discussion included:

General Progress/Findings
  • There were big differences in stages of network development
  • In some cases there had been difficulty in managing and collaborating across members/institutions where distinct differences in levels of institutional maturity existed
  • The sharing or experiences and collaboration offered through the networks was valuable
  • The networks provided a “safe place to go” for staff to share issues
  • It was important to remember that all network members were equal despite institutional size or power
  • Extension grants offered ‘easier’ options for funding
  • Smaller grants and awards were often seen as less intimidating for staff.
  • Evaluation of network initiatives, such as developing surveys to review workshops and inform subsequent design and practices, were seen as important
  • Evaluation of the networks themselves, especially considering the varied stages of development between networks was widely accepted as being complicated and requiring further attention
  • Applicability of the AKO AOTEAROA Impact Evaluation Framework to the networks and addressing the issues of evaluation was raised
  • Linking the ‘network leadership’ (NATA) resources being developed to some of these evaluation criterion was seen as offering potential benefit.

Sustainability and Future
  • The degree of perceived network longevity and sustainability beyond the course of funding varied considerably between networks
  • A clear link was made between evaluation and the future viability of networks, especially in relation to funding. Positive evaluation could lead to 1. The transfer of funding from other projects to the continued funding of the networks OR 2. By linking student experience and learning outcomes with the network activities to a sufficient degree through evaluation, there could be a case to lobby the government for additional funding to support the networks.

Connecting the PENS and NATA (NNI)
  • The need to share links to each others websites/digital presences was raised
  • The possibility of drawing upon the varied experiences of the PENS to inform the ‘network leadership’ resources being developed by NATA was noted. Then the subsequent dissemination of the developed resources to the PENs could assist in furthering their network development.
  • Need to explore new email list opportunities due to the upcoming closure of the EDNA.

National Forum (May 2013)
  • A possible National Forum in May 2013 was suggested to bring together PENS and other networks, discuss evaluation options and the future as well as to disseminate ‘network leadership’ resources developed by NATA.

Actions Arising:
  1. Explore new email list options
  2. Venues for citations – PENS to assist in recommending venues for the upcoming citations in September / October
  3. PENS and NATA to share links to websites and digital resources developed
  4. Further exploration of the Impact Evaluation Framework
  5. Explore ideas and practice of the Australian Council of Deans of Science

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