Thursday, 11 August 2016

Heritage Cirqa Flagship Programme

In Sept 2015, IS Oxford – the developers of Heritage, our LMS – launched theHeritage Cirqa Flagship Programme. This was a series of 10 monthly assessments designed to utilise a variety of functions within the software. I registered as soon as I heard of the course and was really chuffed to be within the first wave of ‘graduates’ announced in June. The main aim of the programme was to encourage library staff to make use of functions they may not already utilise. Each month saw a different task – here is a basic list of each topic covered: 

I’ve been using Heritage/Cirqa for over 5 years - 4 of which were in a systems librarian role – and as a result I am fairly competent with using the software. I had already dabbled in the majority of the above functions and this course presented an opportunity to consolidate my knowledge regarding those topics. A few tasks were completely new to me and presented a very real learning experience. I enjoyed the entire course but especially the tasks in which I had limited knowledge – in particular widgets and date types.

As well as increasing my knowledge and strengthening the efficiency of the LMS, we used the programme as evidence of the library’s effectiveness. Our institution is currently undergoing an assessment by the Quality Assessment Agency for Higher Education (QAA). This body oversees quality standards in UK universities. We are classed as a private provider of HE but in time we hope to be awarded university status via QAA. Our completion of the programme was included in our institutional portfolio for the QAA assessment, demonstrating how the library strives to provide high quality support.

The company in which I work not only facilitates HE but also apprenticeships and corporate training courses. The library department is a small fish in a very big pond, but completing the programme won the library a place in the wider company newsletter. Column space is incredibly sought after and this was the very first time we cracked a mention. It helped raise the profile of the library amongst other areas of the company which is something we may not have been able to do by other means.
In addition, I used the programme as the basis of a business justification for upgrading the LMS. We were using an old and somewhat unstable version of Cirqa, with no viable prospect of that changing. I argued that several of the monthly assessments would be easier to complete if we were able to access features present only in more recent versions of Cirqa. The business case won over the IT department and also our departmental director, thereby giving us permission to upgrade. This was, incidentally, our very first upgrade since the initial installation of Cirqa and it now runs like a dream.

Our certificates
Overall, I found the Heritage Cirqa Flagship Programme to be invaluable. We used it to promote the library and support our aims as much as possible. I also used the monthly tasks as evidence for my chartership revalidation and my appraisal at work. I found the entire experience to be enjoyable, and one of the reasons for this was the flexibility of the course. Although a new task was issued each month, they did not have to be submitted during the same month. This meant I could fit the workload into my schedule whenever it best suited me. For example, I completed both November and December’s tasks in December, after the students had broken up and the library was quiet. I did the same over the Easter half term break with January and February’s tasks.

After completing the course, I was really chuffed to receive a certificate. It was the first ‘library certificate’ I’d gained since completing my library MSc back in 2008. I really appreciated receiving a certificate bearing my name for my own CPD records, as well as a separate certificate on behalf of the library. I also made sure the electronic badge was applied to our Heritage Online as soon as possible. The programme was often the topic of conversation at the recent HUG Summer Meeting, with everyone saying how valuable they found it. Afterwards, I was almost sad the programme was over; I missed the monthly challenges and the excitement of checking the Twitter hashtag to see how other libraries were getting on (#hcflagship). I hope at some point in the future, ISOxford release an advanced flagship programme :-)

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