Lancaster University’s Educational Development team met recently to explore innovative ways of providing its service to the institution, and employed one of the Leapfrog tools to support our thinking.
The Educational Development team at Lancaster has a key role to play in supporting the teaching practice development of academic and professional services staff employed at the University, and its International Teaching Partnerships in Malaysia, Ghana and China. We also support curriculum enhancement across the institution, providing expert educational input into course design and development processes. This is achieved through a variety of activities including the leadership of certificated teaching development programmes, events and specialist workshops related to learning and teaching, educational projects and initiatives, policy development and consultative activities.
Following a supportive discussion with the Leapfrog team, we selected the Prioritise Together tool to help frame and explore and discuss the merits of current and potential approaches to providing development at the University. In doing so we devised several criteria by which to reflect on the potential for implementing either new, or alternative methods. These points – used as the axes for the Prioritise Together activity – included categories of efficiency, teaching excellence, permissiveness of organisational structure to implement, individual development value, organisational value, reach, sustainability, inclusivity, cost, and measurability.
The team initially generated post-it notes to capture the range of existing and possible work areas, and then in pairs self-selected and applied the criteria that were most important to them. For instance, our Programmes Administrator was interested to explore the ‘efficiency’ theme, providing an interesting and balanced contrast to the more managerial ‘cost’ drivers. We also then changed one or both of the axes to see what would happen. As a team, it was important for us to let go of having a particular view of the likely outcome. In doing so, we felt the process was a real success in stimulating some rich and valuable conversations that, crucially, gave equal voice to the range of perspectives in the team. Moreover, it led to identifying a handful of specific things to progress further, supported by everyone in the group.
The range of Leapfrog tools is a chocolate box of innovative and interesting ideas for team-based thinking. I am sure that we will revisit and use them again to support our creative thinking!