Refreshing my Systems Journey

You should start seeing some more frequent posts now… I promise! My next MSc STiP module is due to start in November and I will once again be using this blog to record some of my thoughts and associated activities.  The Open University does provide an online blogging tool inside the StudentHome section of their website, but I find public blogging forces me to consider my thoughts in a more rational way to a purely internal blog.

My next course is TU812: Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction. To shamelessly lift a bit of blurb from the site, the aim of the course is to:

…develop your abilities to manage change with others so as to avoid systemic failures and improve joined-up actions amongst stakeholders along supply chains, in projects or, even, social activism. It is about learning to use systems thinking and practice to help you engage with change and act accordingly to recognise the interconnected nature of organisations and environments

This is one of a pair of mandatory modules which are necessary to qualify for the MSc STiP from the Open University. (The other course is currently TU811 which I completed previously – you can find more about that course here if you are interested.)

As per the previous module, the course content is quite theoretical in nature, and relies on a heavy amount of introspection. There is no ‘right’ answer in Systems and the practice is very much about considering the way an individual or group might view the world.

Keeping my own time

The module website opens roughly a month before the course starts, and (having learned from the previous one) the first place I went to look was as the course structure to see how the tutors had broken it down. I noticed in TU811 that they provided a handy week-by-week timeline to help you break down the course in between assessment dates. The breakdown does exist in TU812 but it is not as detailed as the sister course.

I will be honest – this gave me a cause for concern (I have a habit of procrastinating when I have no defined timeframe) as I had relied heavily on the TU811 offering to keep me on track.

My worries were (somewhat) allayed when I found that one of the early exercises in the module study guide was to create a personal timeline for key activities for this module and map it up against other commitments. So essentially the tutors on this one are turning the onus onto the student to own that – not necessarily a bad thing. They even provide you with some Gantt software to do it, but I will probably knock something up in a Google Sheet as that is a tool I use almost everyday.

Resources provided….tick!

The course comes with 4 textbooks: a Study guide with exercises and which guides the student through the content, and three Springer reference books. These are provided in both hard and electronic format. As a dedicated margin writer this is a big plus point for these modules: not every Open University will include the hard copy textbooks.

As with TU811, two of these reference books have been written by people who run the actual course – a prime example demonstrating that the Open University has access to some real thought leaders in this field.

What has caught my attention

There is entire chunk of this module that is dedicated to Social Learning which I am very interested to dive into a little further. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my work has been undergoing some fairly fundamental changes over the past year or so, and some of these changes have introduced (or are proposing to introduce) some ‘social learning’ principles that seem to be mentioned in this course. It willbe interesting to unpack some of this further and critically analyse what has (and hasn’t) worked to date within a contextual setting. It may evern give me some new ideas to try for myself and my team.


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