Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Innvoative Communications

We have a new project which has just started - we had the first meeting of the Project Board yesterday. It's called "Innovative Communications", and is looking at how we might best support some Web 2.0 technologies in the University. Currently the ones we're looking at are blogs, wikis and social networking technologies. I'm a bit dubious about calling the project "Innovative Communications", when blogs and wikis are both about 10 years old, but it was the best we could come up with! Interesting debate for the first half of the meeting about the aim of the project. The project start up meeting had agreed that the aim should be "to improve the use and usability of Innovative Communications in the areas of teaching, learning and research."

I wasn't at the start up meeting (not because I didn't want to be, but it had been arranged at a time when I was giving a talk to another department about the use of these technologies.....). I feel very strongly that we should not be restricting these tools to teaching and research, but that they have a much wider use in terms of communication and collaboration in general. This blog for example could hardly be described as supporting teaching or research, but I hope it serves some sort of function! Other departments are using social networking technologies such as Facebook to communicate with students about social and welfare issues. After a full and frank discussion, we agreed that all uses of such technologies should be looked at, but that when we come to roll them out and provide support, our primary focus should be teaching and research. Good compromise which I'm happy with!

We also had a Programme Board meeting yesterday, where we looked at the progress of a number of projects - some going well, and some not going as fast as they should be, and we'll be a having a particular look at them over the next couple of weeks. I'm especially worried about the replacement desktop which we had hoped to get in by the start of this next academic year. We're working on replacing our current desktop based on Windows XP and Zenworks with a thin client version based on Sun Global Desktop, but it's not going as fast as we hoped it would. There are obvious implications if we don't get it in as we'll have to run another year with the current one. Other projects are needing resources - mainly people - and we'll have to have some serious discussions over the next couple of weeks about reallocation of duties I think.


Brennig said...

This is one of my projects; currently running a multi-disciplanry trial of collaborative tools across research, admin, IT development and support areas that include the range of product you've mentioned.

I would be interested to speak to someone in your establishment about which tools they'll be deploying and what kind of technical and information support/management model they'll be using.

In the last couple of weeks I've spoken to all of our Research Centres as well as Birmingham, Warwick, NOC and Liverpool (currently trialling a product that Liverpool have developed).

If you could point me in the right direction I'd appreciate it. My email address is

Chris Sexton said...

No problem - I'll send you some info in an email