Bid Advice for Learning and Teaching Innovation Grants

Writing a project proposal is a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process, so how do you maximise your chances of success?

In previous articles I’ve gathered some of the many JISC resources with advice and tips of success.

The current JISC call for Learning and Teaching Innovation Grants is accompanied by a review of the first two calls by Dr Neil Witt at the University of Plymouth. The success rate for the calls is alarmingly low, in Call 1 just 2 out of 82 proposals were funded and in Call 2 only 2 out of 85. So what has been going wrong ?

Dr Witt analysed the collated marks for the bids and found that the vast majoirty were “out of scope”. The criteria for being out of scope are listed below along side the number of bids that failed to compily in brackets.

1. The proposal must not duplicate existing JISC funded work. (Call1: 32%, Call2: 35%)
2. The proposal must not be part of the core institutional remit. (7%, 12%)
3. The proposal must not include the development or purchase
of learning material/learning content. (20%, 21%)
4. The proposal should not include the further development of an existing tool (10%, 6%)
5. The proposal should not include software and equipment purchase (13%, 13%)
6. The proposal must have the support of the lead institution and any partners. (18%, 3%)
7. The proposal must not be a direct resubmission of a previous bid to a JISC funded programme (4%, 2%)
8. Over length (this is an additional issue that will make a proposal Out of Scope)
(6%, 0%)

In the current call the JISC have adapted their documentation to address areas of weakness identified by Dr Witt. Proposers clearly need to set aside significant amounts of time to read the appropriate criteria and ensure that they meet them, so institutional managers clearly need to make space for staff to write bids. My concern is that while academic staff in universities are expected to bid for funding as part of their job, this is not always the case for support staff or staff in further education colleges.

The JISC executive are well aware of these problems and reviews like these as well as bid writing workshops can really help staff write successful proposals.

Hans Rosling inspires ALT-C with educational animations

I’ve just listened to the opening keynote from ALT-C 2008 via Eluminate. Hans Rosling Professor of International Health from the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm gave an inspiring talk about the work his company has done to animate and present world health data in order to increase our understanding of world trends in health and economic growth.

One of the animated graphs Hans presented plotted the number of children per woman against life expectancy. Looking over the last 50 years he demonstrated how countries like China and India had now caught up with OECD countries in terms of life expectancy. With lots of other examples Hans showed just how engaging, educational and entertaining learning through animation can be. He discussed the huge possibilities for using statistical data to create educational mash-ups.

The Eluminate experience was pretty good, although it took a few minutes to set up – the video and audio were clear – and it certainly gave a flavour of actually being in the lecture theatre.

Keynotes like this are (in my opinion) what ALT-C does best. Access to Hans’s talk is available via Eluminate The other conference keynotes by Itiel Dror (Cognitive neuroscience at Southampton) on Wednesday (1400-1500) and David Cavallo (One laptop per child) on Thursday (1210-1310) are also being broadcast via Eluminate, tune in if you can.