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Managing quality and improving efficiency in the course validation process

Balbir Barn
Last modified 09 Dec, 2005
Published 09 Dec, 2005
Professor Balbir Barn’s article discusses the COVARM reference model project and how the approach they are taking will help institutions who are facing increasingly large bureaucratic demands.

In this article Professor Balbir Barn outlines the context in which UK Higher Education (HE) finds itself at present, including the changes in the student fees model and the possible impact of this. HE is experiencing increasing pressure for those bureaucratic activities which arise from regulatory requirements from governmental bodies including the QAA, HEFCE and HESA, and the specific challenge of ‘developing new products to meet new markets whilst still meeting requirements of governance expected from organisations funded from the public purse’.

Organisations are beginning to apply corporate management tools to drive strategic change and Professor Barn discusses the relevance of the Baldridge model for organisational transformation and its use of Business process modelling (BPM). He discusses the relevance of BPM and advances in service oriented approaches for application design and suggests that ‘one way to provide services in close alignment with business processes is to adopt a formal model driven development process that can then link the business processes to the sets of services required to support them, managing the whole service provision lifecycle’.

The article goes on to look at the course validation process which it describes as being ‘exactly similar to ‘product development’ in commercial enterprise, in that the process of course validation involves market research, design, development, and the launch of a new product onto the market’. It is of particular interest because ‘in a changing market economy, demands for new types of courses increase and it is necessary for institutions to be responsive to these changing demands leading to a need for faster and leaner processes for developing new products/courses.’

The COVARM Reference Model Project is concerned with addressing this issue and this article describes the approach the project is taking, and the role a reference model can play. It describes its outputs at this stage and the benefits it expects HE to gain from an efficient, flexible, yet partly standardised and automated course validation process. It will complete in April 2006.

This is one of six JISC funded projects exploring how reference models can provide a bridge between human and technical processes, and can enable institutions and colleges to select the tools, approaches and resources in a particular domain that are relevant for them.

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