Communicating Quality Part 6

With the launch of the Educational Quality Framework (EQF) and associated policies and procedures, over the coming months we will be highlighting an aspect of the EQF in more detail. This month we look at Course and Topic Approval Easy Guides: what are they, where are they, and why they exist.

The complexity of course and topic design makes them both amenable – and vulnerable – to copious modification. An update here, a deletion there, and before you know it you have set in train an avalanche of change that can impact domino-like on other things. Mulling over a topic name change, or keen to create a new course? Perhaps you’d like to change the semester in which you are teaching or need to discontinue a topic altogether? Change that sees improvement is to be celebrated but change for change’s sake can cause unexpected problems and consume valuable staff time.

To discern between beneficial change and unwarranted or even damaging change, there needs to be some semblance of control. While creativity is to be encouraged it cannot be to chaotic detriment. The trick is enacting effective, workable controls that still allow for creativity; to “create conditions in which behavior within the organization is controlled even though no one controls it” (Stacey, 1992). The role of the Educational Quality Team is not to stifle change, but to facilitate it in such a way that potentially damaging or unwarranted change is sifted out and necessary and beneficial change is shared and enacted.

To support the plethora of options available to modify, add or discontinue courses and topics, a veritable encyclopedia of guides has been designed and is available on the web. The Course and Topic Approval Easy Guides cover the array of change options available, from establishing new courses through to discontinuations and everything in between. Associated with each modification are necessary approval steps. This is not to add unnecessary hoops to your creative process, but to ensure that the right people know about what it is you are wanting to do.

There are also (wait for it) forms to fill out. Considerable thought went into the design of these forms to ensure that the right amount of information – useful information – would be captured and shared. Rather than view these forms as a bothersome bureaucratic barrier to getting what you want, try to see them as a beneficial tool for you to help clarify your thought process and articulate your needs to others who need to know. While an administrative instrument, the forms belong to you as much as they do the professional officer on the other end.

We all work together at Flinders. We are a community of staff, here to support one another to ensure that our students have the best possible learning experience. This means assuring quality is everyone’s responsibility. The Educational Quality Team can help facilitate modifications to courses and topics and have designed Easy Guides to support you – our colleagues – through the process.

Stacey, R. D. (1992). Managing the unknowable: Strategic boundaries between order and chaos in organizations. John Wiley & Sons.

Written by Anna Smith
Project Officer, Learning and Teaching, CILT

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