A cascade waterfallThe Cascade project aimed to use technology to enable the University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education to respond better to the challenges created by the government’s ELQ policy by enabling the Department to undertake its activities more efficiently, develop new, or repurpose existing, activities and augment the services currently offered to students.

Project work was undertaken in the following five focus areas, where the application of technology offered the greatest potential impact, either through financial efficiencies, greater effectiveness, or efficient application across a number of activities:

1.    Improving access to VLE support for courses
2.    Online assignment handling
3.    Development of generic content
4.    Extension of online enrolment and payment for courses
5.    Review of the course design process

Working with staff and students across the Department, the Cascade team piloted activities and developed new tools, then used the results to implement systems and services. This work produced outputs that a) aid staff to design courses that use technology effectively, b) provide information and tools that help students to find and enrol on the right course for them, and c) use technology to improve the experience of studying with the Department.

The Department benefitted by:

  • improving the student experience, to encourage retention;
  • enabling the cost of courses to remain acceptable for a wide range of students so revenue for the Department is sustained;
  • maintaining the Department's position as an internationally-recognised centre of excellence for continuing and professional education.

Overall, the project enabled the Department to:

  • Undertake its activities more efficiently so that resources are focused on value-adding activities, such as delivering improvements to the student experience and the creation of tools that support best practice;
  • Develop new, or repurpose existing, activities to support the delivery of its new vision and provide additional revenue streams;
  • Support its ability to deliver academically superb courses to students of the highest calibre through the use of new tools and functionality to augment the services currently offered to students.

This project was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) as part of its 'Transforming curriculum delivery through technology' programme. The project commenced on 1 November 2008 and lasted until the end of December 2010.

Contact details

If you would like to contact the team please email Sean Faughnan (sean.faughnan@conted.ox.ac.uk) or Marion Manton (marion.manton@conted.ox.ac.uk).