My name is Keri Moyle, and I designed and wrote Compass while working at the University of Auckland as a lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering. My motivations in the beginning were entirely selfish – as a lecturer in a department in which I had no real background (I’m a mechanical engineer and was teaching in engineering science), I found it really hard to get any information or context about the papers I was teaching. What did the students know on entry? What level did I need to get them to on completion? Who taught other related papers? Had students seen any of these concepts before? Or who would follow on from what I’d teach them? No-one could tell me the answers, so I decided to do something about it.
Compass is built on a database, so it’s great at storing stuff. And sorting stuff and searching for stuff. I’m as fond as anyone of filling in forms over and over, so Compass makes the most of connecting with other databases and learning management systems so noone has to enter information more than once. So far, so good.
But secondly, and much more importantly, Compass is a tool designed by a teacher. And as a teacher I understand the difference between information and insight, I know it’s not enough to just have facts and figures, and that our processes and approaches to teaching will have a manifest influence on how we teach.
What does this mean? The way in which teachers engage with Compass supports them towards best practices of curriculum design, including assessments, learning activities and supporting skills. It means that when you’re starting out writing the learning outcomes for your paper, you’re shown the thoughts and reflections of last year’s teachers, as well as any information from other papers which may rely on yours. It means that you’re also given some idea of the level which is expected from the students, beyond just an “introductory” or an “advanced” in the paper title, and suggestions for assessments and learning activities appropriate for that level. Alignment occurs naturally.
This idea – that manner of interaction is as important as the material itself – is continued throughout all areas of Compass. The Review toolkit includes both programme oversight and mapping with the ability to see nitty-gritty details of a paper, and so far has been used to support accreditation of 11 programmes. Reviews can be created auto-magically in about five minutes, and give reviewers access to whatever you need them to see.
If you’re interested in Compass for your institution, need more information or would like to see a demonstration, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.