Monday, January 11, 2010

Measuring our open education update: Delays in ethnographic study

The effort to conduct a small ethnographic study of Otago Polytechnic staff practicing open education has been delayed by management, delaying the research phase of the Measuring Our Open Education project. In the first instance, Otago Polytechnic was slow in preparing a contract for the external researchers, and now the new manager of the Otago University Centre asked to lead the study is asking the research team for a clearer idea of what is expected before signing a contract.

The actual research team has had numerous meetings getting expectations and responsibilities clearly understood (and those meetings have been thoroughly documented), but the managers who were not involved in those meetings, nor I presume have they read the documentation, feel they can't understand the scope of the project, and so request more clarification before signing a contract that enables the already prepared team to go ahead with their plan.

We are talking about a small <$2000 project of video interviewing less than 10 staff at Otago Polytechnic and having those videos analysed for points of interest and significance, and a report prepared from that. This report would then be added to the professional and financial analysis conducted last year, completing the project of measuring returns on Otago Polytechnic's open education developments from 2006-2009. The professional research team, who have done this sort of work before, are quite sure this is a simple task.

So I am waiting for Russell to return from holidays, so we can meet and prepare a document for the managers to assess whether or not to enter into contract and allow us to proceed. I hate to think what extra and unbudgetted work we will have to redo if that does not satisfy them. Speaking for myself, I am quite put out by the lack of trust in us to negotiate an achievable project. The contract should have just been a formality. Micro management is alive and well at Otago Polytechnic and Otago University.

1 comment:

Terry Marler said...

Leigh, as one of your tedious micro-managers I do have to point out that there is a bit more to this story than you have told.
Your meetings may have been well documented, but there was a lack of clarity around who was to do what in both institutions, compounded by your moving to another country.
The last delay was one that you should have applauded - it was to ensure that all participants honoured the Creative Commons default that is part of Otago Polytechnic's IP policy.
Maybe things don't happen as fast as you would like sometimes. You also don't deliver as fast as some would like. We are all busy people.