Weeknote 4/2014


  • Spent the day in Leeds last Monday thinking through how Jisc might help the sector transform the digital student experience. We’re looking to build upon some of the work undertaken with the Leadership Foundation as part of Changing the Learning Landscape and providing the same opportunity to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Still a few kinks to iron out but hopefully get that kicked off pretty soon.
  • When I was in the office my time was spent finalising the agenda for the first Summer of Student Innovation Summer School taking place 14-16 July. Really looked forward to meeting all of the students, experts and mentors. I also focused on pulling together an outline of what Jisc require from each project as part of the process.
  • Spent Thursday in Bristol exploring customer reporting possibilities. Interesting day but I’m looking forward to how these discussions progress in terms of shaping what might be required by each customer, what data we’ll need to utilise and how we join this up across the piece.
  • Friday was focused on planning a range of upcoming consultation workshops to gather further thoughts on how Jisc might approach the project I mentioned last week: From prospect to alumnus.


We were away a lot this week so only one recipe to shout about but it was good!


  • My friend is honing his creative writing skills and has started a blog. Show him some support over at http://thedeanburns.wordpress.com/.
  • Date night this month was spent at the Clarence Villa and it was excellent. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone living in and around Durham City. Beer was great to, spent the night drinking their own Brown Ale.



A couple of ad-hoc requests meant I couldn’t do everything I had planned this week but that shouldn’t cause too many issues in the long run.

  • I spent the beginning of the week analysing Google Analytics data for a partnership we have running. The complexity of Google Analytics is amazing and customisation options are fantastic. The difficult bit is deciding what’s relevant!
    • One thing I’ve noticed when comparing our own data against others is that a very structured website makes it much easier to assess in the long run e.g. we can easily focus in on the tools section of our website because all tools are hosted there, similar with infoKits. Other websites I’ve assessed only really allow for a high level overviews.
  • I also spent some time in Google Analytics for our own internal purposes as we regularly report on our monthly reach. Google recently made a few changes to its metrics and so I needed to address this for our reporting template.
  • I attended the marking panel for Jisc’s Summer of Student Innovation. Once the results have been announced I’ll share those.
  • On Wednesday I was invited to a very interesting discussion about a new Digital Literacy publication that Jisc are planning. The focus of that output will be much wider–we’re thinking along the lines of Digital Capability, but with a view to bringing everything Jisc have been working on in this area together in one place.
  • In the background I’ve been pulling together resources to help the Summer of Student Innovation projects although that’s still very much work in progress and continuing to research coaching and mentoring.
  • Finally, but not least, I had a really interesting discussion on Friday about another project we might be involved with–from prospect to alumnus. This project is focused on providing a joined-up digital student experience fit for the 21st century, from pre-application through to employment. Easier said than done having been through a lot of this on the Flexible Service Delivery programme. At the moment we’re simply interested in the key issues different stakeholder groups have or if you happen to have any ideas that we might consider. So if you do, please add them to the comments below!



Coaching and mentoring within an organisation

So, I’m currently undertaking a coaching course. We’ve been set our first assignment to start looking at some of the basics. The first sub-section of that report is:

Define what coaching and mentoring is within the context of an organisation and explain the similarities and differences between coaching and mentoring (approx. 250 words).

So I thought I’d share my current thinking…

One challenge that remains consistent for organisations from across the world is their ability to manage–and cope–with change. It is relentless, affects everyone within the organisation and ultimately determines whether an organisation thrives or crumbles (Drucker, 1994, p.98). Zues and Skiffington (2008, p.37) note that “many current business strategies and competencies are inadequate to meet the rapidly changing global marketplace” which has led to the popularity of coaching and mentoring in the workplace. The key difference between personal and organisational coaching/mentoring is a focus on business performance and operation effectiveness (Association for Coaching, no date).

There is a range of types of coach/mentor e.g. sports coach, counselor, and executive coach/mentor. Whitmore (2009, p.12) describes how his own career in coaching/mentoring blossomed when his (amateur) sporting clients saw the potential for its application within their own organisations. Coaching/mentoring within an organisation does add an extra dimension in that the coach or mentor has to manage a three-way relationship between him/herself, the organisation and the coachee/mentee.

Coaching and mentoring are techniques used to develop an individual’s skills, knowledge or work performance (CIPD, 2013). Good coaching and mentoring has the potential to take the learner beyond the limitations of the coach or mentor’s own knowledge (Whitmore, 2009, p.13). The terms ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ can be difficult to explain because of an overlap in the skills they require i.e. listening, questioning, clarifying and reframing (CIPD, 2013). See Table 1 for an overview of the key differences between coaching and mentoring.

Table 1 Key differences between coaching and mentoring. Information presented in this table has been taken from definitions developed by Megginson and Clutterbuck (2012, p.4); and Whitmore (2009, p.14).

Coaching Mentoring
Relates primarily to performance improvement Relates primarily to the identification and nurturing of potential
Typically short-term in its nature Typically a long-term relationship
Goals agreed with or at the suggestion of the coach Goals may change and are always set by the learner
Coach primarily owns the process Learner primarily owns the process
Does not require knowledge/experience of the subject being addressed Requires knowledge/experience of the subject being addressed


Association for Coaching (no date) Coaching defined. Available at: http://www.associationforcoaching.com/pages/about/coaching-defined (Accessed: 13 June 2014).

CIPD (2013) Coaching and mentoring. Available at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/coaching-mentoring.aspx (Accessed: 5 June 2014).

Drucker, P. F. (1994) ‘The theory of the business. (cover story)’, Harvard Business Review, 72 (5), pp. 95-104, EBSCOhost [Online]. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=buh&AN=9409230321&site=ehost-live&scope=site (Accessed: 12 June 2014).

Megginson, D. and Clutterbuck, D. (2012) Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring. 2nd Edn. Oxon: Routledge.

Whitmore, J. (2009) Coaching for Performance. GROWing human potential and purpose. The principles and practice of coaching and leadership. 4th Edn. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Zeus, P. and Skiffington, S. (2008) The Complete Guide to Coaching at Work. Australia: McGraw-Hill Book Company Australia Pty Limited.

Other thoughts

In their book “Coaching and Mentoring: Theory and Practice” Garvey, Stokes, and Megginson (2012) make a very compelling argument, or seem to be–I’m struggling to interpret it, that their is no difference and that any difference is fundamentally determined by the social context. That is perhaps a bit deep for me to really get my head around at this stage but it’s nagging me.

Garvey, R., Stokes, P. and Megginson, D. (2012) Coaching and Mentoring: Theory and Practice. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Weeknote 2/2014


Last week was a busy one, but very interesting.

  • Spent Monday facilitating a workshop on course data. We were exploring the current status of XCRI-CAP (eXchanging Course Related Information, Course Advertising Profile), a standard for describing course marketing information. The session went really well, and there were a lot of very interesting conversations. From my perspective, as a bit of an outsider to this area, some of the main points included:
    • The need for a rebrand. It’s something that should appeal to a wide variety of people within educational organisations but it currently comes across as very technical.
    • The need for a reboot! Momentum was lost when Jisc funding dried up. Now we’re not saying just pump more money into it because that’s not sustainable in the long-term. It’s more about demonstrating the benefits of the standard and moving forward with services that take XCRI-CAP feeds and do something useful with them e.g. UCAS, Prospects. Once those services are onboard it will drive the quality of XCRI-CAP feeds.
    • A high profile aggregator. I mentioned above the need for a service to take and use XCRI-CAP feeds. This will be of major benefit to students who will be able to easily compare course information and make better decisions about which courses they apply for. There could be some exciting news in this area later in the year so keep an eye out.
    • Consistency in what services ask for. XCRI–CAP is not wholly prescriptive and so there is a need for aggregators to be consistent in what they’re asking for e.g. it would be handy if they all asked for ‘sentence case titling’ for example so that institutions didn’t have to make amendments or require the services of a third-party to do this for them.
    • Support from vendors. Having a discussion with some of the major vendors of information systems across UK education and gaining their buy-in to the standard.
  • On Tuesday and Wednesday I had the first sessions of a coaching course I’m doing. Really enjoyed learning about coaching and how it can be applied within an organisational context. I’ll write another post about the course and reflect on my experience shortly.
  • I spent Thursday reviewing submissions to the Summer of Student Innovation competition and reading papers on ‘coaching’ whilst travelling to London.
  • Finally, Friday was spent planning the first Summer of Student Innovation summer school coming up in July.


Not as many recipes for you this week.


  • GoodReader 4 is a cracking app for reviewing papers. Definitely recommend it although I think I got it a bit cheaper with having an earlier version.
  • Was out in Manchester over the weekend and I was introduced to Uber, an app for hailing taxis. Absolutely brilliant! It’s also available in London. If you try it enter my promo code andrews226. You’ll get £10 free credit and so will I. My group of friends went the whole weekend not having to pay a fare. It shows you where the cab is in relation to your location, provides information about the driver and allows everyone to rate each other.