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Bob Rotheram :: Blog :: Are we nearly there yet?

October 31, 2008



As a dad and veteran of many car journeys from the midlands to the north, I’m used to people trying to get a handle on how much further there is to go. I recently had another experience of this when someone asked me about Sounds Good. They were under the impression that we were ‘nearly there’.

We’ve certainly come a long way. After setting off in January, we followed the map quite closely. By July we’d given about 15 Leeds Met staff and 460 students experience of audio feedback on coursework. Pleasingly, whichever side of the microphone they were on, the great majority liked it. We shouted out of the windows and encouraged passers-by to get started. We showered them with leaflets, to try to help.

Amid the din, there were messages from JISC. They wanted us to extend the journey, to do ‘Sounds Good 2’ and work with two Higher Education Academy subject centres. But before we embarked on that, we had a summer break.

Come September, we were back on the road. ‘Sounds Good 2’ is about introducing more Leeds Met staff and students to audio feedback, as well as helping three other places to begin using it. Hence the flurry of meetings on home territory and gigs at Newman University College, Birmingham, the University of Northampton and York St John University.

The engineering and GEES subject centres have also got going. They’ve been funded under JISC’s ‘Widening stakeholder engagement’ initiative to help engineers and geographers start using audio for assessment feedback. Their plans include input from several folks who work with audio and, for my part, I’ve already visited Cardiff and Loughborough universities.

So are we nearly there yet? No. The road map now stretches to next March and quite a few new colleagues will be following us in their vehicles. There’s plenty of noise, most of which sounds good. However, some are only just getting into first gear and – as ever – I worry they may stall. Dropping the metaphor for a moment, there’s much to do if several new groups of people are to be successfully introduced to audio feedback and if the knowledge base is to be expanded.

In terms my kids would understand, when we set off I said we were going to Blackpool to see Grandma. We’ve been there, done that, and it was great. However, there’s been a change of plan. When we get to the M6 we’ll turn left for the Lake District rather than right to go home directly. And all the while I’ve got to watch the rear-view mirror to be sure our friends are still with us. It’s become a longer, more complicated journey but there’s lots to see and do, and it could be more fun. Let’s enjoy the ride.

Now then, I spy with my little eye…


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