Thursday, 10 July 2008

Who uses our systems and why?

UCI (University Collaboration Improvement) Programme Board meeting this morning. One of the things we were looking at are some usage stats for our services. We've now got detailed figures for myCalendar, MUSE(our portal) and myChat. We have figures for staff and students, and broken down by department. We're about to make them available to all via the collaboration web pages. Interesting differences - some departmens make a lot of use of all of our services, some don't. Our task now is to find out why. Why do some academic departments have 86% of their staff using myCalendar, and some 0%? Is it because they're using something else like Outlook - they could be, but there would be no group or scheduling functionality - or do they not know about it, or can they not see what benefits there would be, or is it perceived to be too much hassle to set it up? Or, do people just not want an electronic calendar? We need to find out the answers to these questions, and we can only do that by talking to those depts who do use the collaborative systems, and those who don't.

Some new projects now feeding into the programme, including student timetabling, the replacement desktop and the student learning community.

3 comments:

Ian Loasby said...

One of the main reasons our staff still refuse to use MyCal is lack of connectivity (perceived or otherwise) with the majority of mobile devices. Many of the more tech savvy staff at law went out and bought Ipaq / Smart phones etc to get organized only to discover that they couldn’t synch the devices with MyCal. This is rapidly followed by a call to us come and install Outlook. Now I know I could tell them to access MyCal via MUSE in the phone browser but they aren’t going to like that when the MS product happily synchs perfectly with the calender and tasks on their phone. Nor are they happy when I present them with a list of supported of devices that will synch with MyCal shortly after they’ve been down to Coles and spent their cash. “But the phone synchs fine at home” at home they say.

Going back a bit my Psion Revo used to get in an awful tangle trying to synch events and contacts between two PCs but these days my Nokia 95, Nokia E61 and Ipaq 4700 all synch perfectly with outlook at home and at work. Ive also got a Google calender synch for Outlook which enables me to send certain events through to my wife’s calender on her home PC, and also brings in pedalpushers events when they are loaded onto their copy of Google Cal.

One facility we are after is a feed (iCal / RSS whatever) that we can link into MOLE modules. At Law we maintain a diary of events and key dates in MyCal but at the moment we can’t feed that through to our student hubs in MOLE. However we can do this from an event plugin that we installed in our Wordpress based Law School news blog. Now it might not stop all the tedious emails asking when reading week is this year but at least we could say “have you checked in MOLE yet”. Even better if the MOLE calender tool supported such a feed instead of just adding the RRS feed to a page

So the start of our wish list for future Universty calender system includes

synchs with all mobile devices, smartphones etc, not just palms.

Events that can be synched with other calender clients, be that Outlook, Sunbird on the home machine, or through to a Google calender.

Ability to feed the events into MOLE / Feedreader etc via a calender feed or RSS.

For a calender client I watch Mozilla Sunbird / Lightening with interest wishing that they’d stop messing about with Firefox and Thunderbird for a bit and try and develop Sunbird beyond sub version 1.0 . Blog indicates 0.9 is on it way soon
http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/calendar/

Chris Sexton said...

Good comment Ian, and I think it deserves a blog post of its own in reply. Will get one organised asap.

paul leman said...

ah the holy grail in calendars - an ical file that imports correctly into every calendar on every device past, present and in the future