The Principles in Patterns project team at the University of Strathclyde were delighted to host the first CAMEL meeting for Cluster Group C, which also includes the Viewpoints project team from the University of Ulster and the Open University. The CAMEL meeting was facilitated by critical friend to the cluster, Professor Peter Bullen from the University of Hertfordshire.
The cluster met over two days (20 and 21 April 2009) within the Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement at the University of Strathclyde. The timetable for the CAMEL meeting was divided into four sessions:
- Sharing our projects: a opportunity to present and discuss project aims, key stakeholders, critical success factors and challenges with the aim of identifying areas of shared interest.
- Representation of curriculum designs: this is an area of considerable interest to all projects and issues to consider include what types of designs have the most value for academic staff, support staff and students, what are the varied purposes of curriculum design representations within institutions and how might designs be mediated in use by educational professionals.
- Evaluation: an opportunity to present and discuss early ideas about project evaluation and to refine project evaluation plans with reference to the aims of objectives of the overall programme evaluation.
- Planning future cluster activities: including joint dissemination events, opportunities for cross-project collaboration and learning and the format of future cluster events.
Perhaps inevitably this carefully-designed timetable wasn't followed entirely to the letter as colleagues' enthusiasm for key topics, notably change strategies, came to dominate parts of the discussion. I found it particularly useful to consider the underlying relationships each project has with its target institutional audience and how those audiences might be encouraged to adopt new practices and processes.
The CAMEL methodology emphasises the social dimension of partnrership-building. As manager for the host project I felt I was under some pressure to find a venue for twenty that was near both our department and the cluster hotel, was accessible and could offer a choice of menu to suit all dietary requirements! In the end, I chose the City Merchant, a long-established family-run restaurant which offers a Scottish menu with an emphasis on fresh fish and game. I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner and I think everyone else enjoyed themselves too.
I think that this first cluster meeting has definitely created a sense of community across the three projects and we are all in touch with each other on a regular basis. We are due to host another visit shortly from our colleagues at the University of Ulster and the cluster have planned a seminar session for ALT-C in September.