Thursday, April 08, 2010

More with less

Thinking box To be perfectly honest with you, the main reason I write this blog is so that I can find things again. Now, I have lots of ways of finding things, such as Google, social search and all the tags on my delicious account, but they don't help very much when you can't remember what you're looking for. Writing about things lodges them in my brain so that's less likely to happen. It also changes what I decide I need to know. Along the way, I've found that some of the stuff I write is of interest to other people. Which is nice.

Back in January I had a thought, one of those instants when a phrase pops into your head, which I knew straight away was going to be the theme for this year (and possibly beyond). Stupidly, I didn't write about it at the time, and now, although I have a hazy recollection of the phrase, I can't recall the exact bon mot that was going to get me all those grants save my ass. Which is really annoying.

This legendary phrase carried connotations of social media coming of age, with overtones of sustainability and lashings of value for money. In clumsy practical terms, it boils down to doing more with less. Which is something I have been thinking about recently, especially as our student intake is going to shoot up next year at exactly the moment when I'm going to be writing all those grants and research papers (and the unit resource is likely to go down). So how do you do more with less? Cloud computing, peer support and recouping investment in existing systems to name but three, but in addition to that, group work is going to have to make a contribution. Which is why I was interested to read Graham Gibbs report The assessment of group work: lessons from the literature. Reduction in assessment load is going to play a big part in squaring this circle, but wholesale abandonment of "assessment motivation" simply isn't a viable option for us. Group assessment is the compromise that could just work. Hello Google Docs. One of the reasons I have shied away from group assessment in the past is all the hassle over "fairness". Perceptions of the fairness of group assessment are discussed in detail by Gibbs.

My plan was that writing this post would shake loose that valuable phrase. I hasn't. I must be getting old. Should've blogged about it, but if you can remember what I was thinking in January, please let me know. Now it's back to converting that hand-marked assessment to an automated Blackboard quiz. Got to make technology pay.