The PAL³ project
the good, the bad and the ugly
Sherry Jeary, Suzy Atfield-Cutts, Heather Mayes and Natalie Bates
The PAL³ project overview
The PAL³ project is designed to enhance the student learning experience by providing a knowledge base
and resource to the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) community within BU.
With the increase in the use of social networking sites, the use of a portal that will enhance
communication and discussion at the three different levels of PAL mentoring is both timely and innovative.
It will give students, PAL student tutors and PAL staff tutors suitable fora in which to record knowledge and
The use of the portal can be monitored using web usage statistics which will enable detailed records to be
made for evaluation purposes which when enhanced by questionnaires and focus group outputs will give
a rich seam of data.
• Link with the National Centre for Peer The students would like and use the system
Assisted Student Support and doing work Reality of Student Opinion
they are interested in collaborating with.
• BU are implementing our style of system into Implementation O Concept P
the myBU VLE.
• Paper accepted at the Software Quality and Separate system O Integrate into VLE P
Additional features O Central information P
• The project won a BU Award for
Outstanding Contribution to Student
The PAL knowledge base was a project in itself and
not as simple as it appeared.
• Journal article and further publications
Software Development Problems
•Completing the Requirements, Design and Implementation
A retrospective on in < 3 months was a tall order and we made light of it. Most
things that could have gone wrong did.
the proposal • We tried to fit our requirements to an existing system.
• LearnHigher gave a sum of money • The developer got a job.
to help us solve a problem. We • Web hosting of the system at the university would not work.
knew that we would spend more • The developer didn’t know enough (which was why he was
time on the project than the funding cheap).
allowed but we seriously
underestimated the amount of time
we would spend.
• The collection of data using Data collection and analysis
statistics was not possible to the • Trying to fit data collection into a full teaching load created a
extent we envisaged because the headache in scheduling.
students did not want the system. • Data collection by the use of focus groups was a good idea and the
• The PAL Leader ownership was use of a recorder was good… BUT
hindered due to a lack of the • Remember to switch on the recorder!
functionality they required • Don’t put the recorder next to a computer fan!
• Some PAL Leaders didn’t buy into