Epigeum hosted its launch workshop for the University Teaching: Core Skills (UTCS) collaboration. After the workshop had been successfully completed, Epigeum’s marketing team sat down with Tessa Dagley, the Associate Commissioning Editor for UTCS, and asked her a few questions about her experience.
What is an Epigeum workshop?
An Epigeum workshop is typically a two-day event during which the proposed ideas for a project – the topics, the learning outcomes, the activity ideas – can be truly thrashed out in a face-to-face setting. They are presented, scrutinised, dismantled, and then put back together again.
Who attends an Epigeum workshop?
It’s attended by everyone involved in a project, from lead advisors, authors and reviewers, to development group members (delegates from universities who have invested in the project and who will help us to shape the content) – not to mention the Epigeum team. It is usually very international with people flying in from around the world, and it’s the only time we all meet in person.
What happened prior to the UTCS workshop?
Although we called this the ‘launch’ of the project, it was actually the culmination of 18 months’ work, which involved market research, writing a business proposal, commissioning the project team, and working with the authors to develop learning outcomes and content maps (detailed modular plans of the learning journey).
Can you talk us through Day 1 of the UTCS workshop?
It began with introductions from Laura Dent, our Director of Publishing and Learning Design, and a keynote from the project’s Lead Advisor, Professor David Boud. Referencing London’s noticeable development as a city over the last 50 years, he compared this to the relative lack of change in the HE sector and questioned why we still do many things in the same way – underlining both the diversification of the teaching workforce and the need for staff to understand the different modes (and media) of learning.
I followed Dave with an overview of the project and learning design; Jackie Downs, our Senior Editor, presented the editorial process before handing over to Clare Bristow, who outlined the ways in which we help universities to implement our courses.
We then got into the nitty gritty of the event: the roundtable sessions. We split into five tables and starting combing through the authors’ content maps. Epigeum staff members helped to guide and record the discussions. After each hour, we came back together to share ideas as a room.
How did you feel after the first day?
Happy – and exhausted: we were deep into the ‘dismantle’ part of process. We collapsed in the park before heading to the workshop dinner. Sparkling wine was most welcome and we enjoyed a merry, gastronomic evening.
How did Day 2 go?
We were joined by Sarah Floyd from Advance HE, who provided an excellent presentation on how our project can align to the UK Professional Standards Framework. The rest of the day followed the same pattern as the first – talking through the rest of the authors’ content. Having ended Day 1 feeling a little daunted by the task, we felt much clearer on Day 2. We laid out our key aims and went forth with positivity!
Can you tell us any of the main conclusions?
We have a year to continue to hone content, so nothing is finalised. That said, there were some important decisions regarding our target audience – from prioritising practical guidance to including a range of scenarios that reflect the varied teaching and learning contexts.
What was the most enjoyable part of the workshop?
It felt very collegiate – it was energising to be in a room full of friendly, enthusiastic people who support the project’s mission. I also loved the venue – the British Academy in London. It was fantastic to be in such Georgian splendour, overlooking St James’ Park.
What was the most challenging aspect of the workshop?
Staying sharp in the soporific warmth of London’s heatwave! I had also been worried about creating an agenda that allowed enough time for meaningful roundtable sessions, but all worked well in the end.
….and the most surprising?
I was amazed – and relieved – that we reached consensus on most of the issues. When you invite over 30 academics and HE professionals to voice their opinions openly, you don’t expect to reach any conclusions! Naturally, there are disparate views, but we concluded the event feeling more certain about the project’s direction.
What happens next?
Fuelled by tea and Spotify playlists, I have almost finished wading through the reams of notes which will inform my post-workshop report – along with individual ‘next steps’ guidance for each author. Authors will revise their content maps before developing the first drafts of their storyboards. The material will be ready for the next round of reviewing in the not-too-distant future.
Watch this space.