Friday, 19 August 2016

How much of a difference does it make?

Attended another great ALISS event ('Doing more with less') yesterday and listened to a presentation on using the Inspiring Learning for All framework to set objectives and evaluate outcomes. The presentation was concerned with how setting objectives and evaluating them by using this framework ensured that you could demonstrate impact. It made me think.....

The other presentations informed my thought processes:
  • What if your team was cut in half overnight and you had to displense with all those lovely 'added value' things that we do. What would our final list of priority activities look like?
  • What if you had a staff culture of being research practitioners - so that significant changes were underpinned by research (ideally disseminated research as a further 'test' of solidness).
  • What if you constanly played with yet another new techie tool ...
Bottom line - how much of a difference would these all make to a student? What, of all the things that we do - the workshops we run, the TLC we provide, the resources we make available, the study space we make available - actually have an impact? How much of a difference does it make and is it remotely possible that we could evaluate and measure this in such a way as to create the sort of impact that a senior administrator in a University could immeditately understand.

So - currently my thinking goes a little bit like this.
  • I reckon that we still don't have much of a clue about the enormous LACK of impact we have on students. They are wrapped up in their own worlds which, let's face it, doesn't put the Library anywhere near the top of the priority list.We need to disintangle those things that we hold dear from the service we offer, so that at the very least we focus on those (possibly few) things that make the most impact - although see the next point about being a bit canny about what this might be!
  • There are some easy quick wins that we can do that really do work and are impactful. Lets be known as responsive and do away with the need to have things signed off in triplicate.
  • Impact should be specific. If we are known to be friendly and approachable that is lovely and reassuirng. But we need to ask oursleves what that friendliness and appraochabliity means for our students/academics in terms of their teaching and research activities - that's the information that will make an impact on our managers and on the University.
  • Many of us have not had to lose over half of our staff and decide what our priorities are - we have not really needed to consider what things are having the MOST impact, we carry on inventing new and better ways of doing things because we like doing it, we like playing and tweaking. How about if we stopped, asked ourselves a question about what we are doing first and then conducted a very short bit of reseach to INFORM our decision before jumping? (Yes - I shall now put the external book box return to one side until we can find out what impact it might have....)
  • I implemented the Kirkpatrick model of evaluation recently for some training and found it very useful. It became much clearer what the impact of the training was (not all what I thought it would be) and I have used that to summarise the outcomes of the training when talking to senior management. So impact information should be shared. It's no point keeping it a secret.
  • And then the real killer question to myself was - how could we actually demonstrate/document the possible impact on a student that attending a library workshop might have. And even if we can do that, do we ever weigh up the time and resources we put in to the workshop against the impact it has had. Questions that need some research!
 So - as ususal too many questions but a great challenge to try and be smarter in what we do and how we do it.