We've had our second strategic liaison meeting with our new Faculties - this time it was the Faculty of Science. Went through the usual topics - teaching and learning support, research support and communication and collaboration. Lots of very interesting discussion. Teaching and learning centred on our current review of our VLE and looking at what is needed now in the new web 2.0 environment rather than what we actually deliver now. We also talked about our managed desktop and how we deliver applications to students and changing the model to make more available applications available to student laptops. Very interesting dicussion about the use of technology in learning and teaching and lots of offers of help in determining what is needed. One thing that did come out as a requirement was the need for larger IT equipped classrooms than we currently provide - most of our rooms have about 30-50 seats in, but we will need rooms of over 75.
The research discussion was mainly about research computing, how it is funded and how much support we can give. We are looking to appoint a Research Support Co-ordinator to get out into departments more an establish exactly what their needs are. Research support is a lot harder than that for teaching - there are many hundreds of research groups, all with different needs and a lot of support can only be provided at a local level. What did seem to be news to some of the group was that research funding can be used to buy additional kit or dedicated time on our central facility rather than departments buying their own kit and having to support it.
In terms of collaboration and communication we mainly talked about uSpace and how it might be used by departments and our move to Google for student mail and calendaring. There was a fair amount of discontent about the interfaces into some of our corporate systems and a desire for more user friendly web based access. Our technology strategy of moving towards gadgets in our portal allowing users to perform simple tasks without accessing the underlying system was welcomed.