Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Does a Second Life avatar use as much power as a Brazilian?

Yesterday I spent the day at a JISC consultation event in London. This was an opportunity for various representative groups, including UCISA of which I’m Vice-Chair, to tell JISC what our concerns and issues are, and for them to tell us what plans they have for the coming year.

UCISA do a “Top Concerns” survey amongst it’s members every year, where senior IT Managers have to suggest, and then vote on, which issues are important to them, and what issues are likely to become significantly more important over the next year. The results of the last survey are here. The ones we discussed with JISC were:

Funding – particularly sustainable funding. We are constantly being asked to do more as technologies become more functional and critical to the organisation, but resources do not usually increase. It is also easier to obtain capital funding rather than recurrent, and yet it is in staffing that many of us need to invest. Capital funding can come from number of sources, including SRIF, and the JISC themselves, and I personally have been in the situation of being allocated money, and not having the staff to spend it.

Another issue we discussed was the whole area of “Green IT”. I’ve mentioned power consumption of PCs and Data Centres in previous posts, and I have heard that IT accounts for 2% of global carbon emissions – more than the airline industry. There’s a lot of work to be done to reduce our carbon footprint, and we need to be looking at the what happens wherever students are learning, not just in the University but at home and in student halls, as well. Even Second Life avatars leave a footprint

The third area was the whole area of e-learning, including the changing needs and expectations of students, and the use of new technologies (blogs, wikis etc), as well as virtual learning environments.

The JISC outlined a couple of communication themes to us, including Libraries of the Future, and Changing Student Expectations. Some of this will be informed by a project carried out by UCL for the JISC and the British Library looking at the behaviour of the researcher of the future, or the google generation - it's an interesting read.

Oh, and don't you think my Second Life avatar has pretty hair?

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