OLT Grants 2015 Impact! Impact! Impact!

OLT_badge_cmykWhether you were thinking about submitting an Innovation and Development Grant, Seed Grant, Extension Grant or applying for an OLT Teaching Award or Academic Secondment, the OLT Information Day at UTS on 13 October covered all of this and more.

Presenters Natalie Laifer and Tilly Hinton addressed a captivated and chilly audience (air conditioner issues) consisting of a wonderful assortment of university Information Content Officers (ICOs), Academic Developers (ADs), and research assistants (MEs) keen to learn the hidden secrets of a successful OLT application. Despite my best and repeated attempts to prize the magic combination of words from the presenters’ grasps, the closest I came was the invocation, spoke thrice, ‘IMPACT, IMPACT, IMPACT’. And….open sesame.

The audience was left with little doubt that the OLT Standing Committee has sought to re-prioritise ‘impact’ as a key criterion of an application’s success. But before getting into the ways of improving and better articulating the intended impact of your project, I’ll briefly outline the major changes to funding and research priorities for 2015.

So, in terms of the Innovation and Development Grant (IDP), also known as ‘the big one’, there is now a 500,000k grant limit, with the two year timeframe extended. It is worth noting that projects over 120,000k will require an independent evaluator for both the formative and summative evaluation stages. IDP applications have a 20 page limit, and require 1 page CVs from application partners. The closing date for full grant applications and expressions of interest is 28 November (Round 1) and 22 June 5pm (Round 2).

For Seed Grants which seek to test and evaluate an idea at a smaller scale, the closing date for round 1 is also 28 November 2014, and round 2, 22 June 2015. The grant size has been increased to 40,000k. Seed grant applications have a 10 page limit.

Here are the programme priorities for 2015. You’ll notice three new research priority areas.

  • Academic standards
  • Assessing equivalence of qualifications and learning outcomes
  • Assessment and promotion of student learning (on selected topics)
  • Curriculum design (on selected topics)
  • Employability skills
  • Improving institutional pathways across higher education
  • Improving access to and outcomes in higher education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • The contemporary PhD

These are the top seven-ish tips I took from the information session which aimed at improving a proposed project’s impact.

  1. Ask yourself and keep asking yourself….How will this affect change?
  2. Project and plan for positive and substantial impact – appropriate to the scale and scope of project
  3. Demonstrate your knowledge of the problem. This will go a long way in determining the scope of impact. A useful two part question is; What kind of changes are needed and when might they occur?
  4. Use the whole application to demonstrate impact. Bio-statements (1 page CV or equivalent) are overlooked places to weave in the impact factor and build confidence among assessors and standing committee. You might do this by articulating your previous high impact work.
  5. A Letter of support by DVC-Academic can bolster the potential impact of a proposed project. Tell your impact story in this letter of support – What will the university do to support the impact being achieved, during and after the project is complete?
  6. Follow a Project Impact Plan – this consists of a matrix and responses to the questions in Appendix 6 (you won’t be able to fill out every box and this isn’t expected)
  7. Identify mechanisms beyond isolated outcomes which will enable, if implemented, the transfer or reproduction of the resources/approach at other institutions. This can involve statements of cross-institutional support, advise and commitment implementing findings, which also demonstrates to the OLT alignment (another term they are most keen on at the moment)

Why not a few more for good measure…

  1. Impacts that are difficult to discern are usually the most impactful. For example, the influence or evidence of changes in academic practice or impact on students.
  2. Keep in mind the temporal dimension of impact, namely, that there will be impacts during and after your project is completed.
  3. Identifying or forecasting the impact at these different levels can improve the quality of your application.The OLT provided these ‘impact rungs’ to help you think through where the impact of your project is and where it could be. The take home message was think small and big. Too often, grant applications focus on impact through dissemination, without mentioning the potential personal impacts (micro-impacts) or broad systemic (macro-impacts).
  • Individual team members
  • Immediate impact on students
  • Spreading the word – adoption or adaption beyond the life of the project – search engine optimisation will make the project resources more findable (it is not enough to identify it as change making project)
  • Narrow opportunistic adoption – changes within participating institutions
  • Narrow systemic adoption – embedded within organisation or participating institutions
  • Broad opportunistic adoption
  • Broad systemic adoption

For more information on the OLT application process and tips for writing your application, check out the following video by Natalie Lafier.

http://vtasnetwork.com/2014/06/16/office-for-learning-teaching-grant-videos-process-tips/

To download application templates and OLT guidelines, go to

http://www.olt.gov.au/about-olt

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