Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Alice, Twitter, Quora and WiFi in the Park

Good start to the day with meeting with one of our student sabbatical officers. As he tweeted later, "we discussed Orgreave, Alice in Wonderland, Twitter, and even what we were supposed to be talking about".  Of course, what we were supposed to be talking about was IT facilities for students, and we did, especially some improvements we're looking to make to the registration process, introducing SMS for better communication and our new portal. twitter came up a lot in the hour we spent together - and as we are both fervent twitterers, some of the time bemoaning the fact that other people just don't get it, and how useful it can be if used properly. As a source of information, news, advice, and from the Students' Union perspective, as a campaign tool.

Social Networking came up in a later meeting in a planning meeting with the Faculty of Science, especially in terms of how academics use it, whether they use it, and how best it can be used in teaching. We know there's a whole lot of staff out there who either haven't used it at all, or who've dabbled in it, but aren't sure what to do with it. We've talked before about introducing digital media literacy training, and this needs to be integrated with best practice in terms of teaching.

Other things which came up in the planning meeting were using laptops to better utilise space, for example laboratories when they're not being used for practical classes, and we're about to begin a pilot with the Biology departments.  The student experience needs to be at the core of everything we do, and talked about how little things - like equipment in lecture theatres which doesn't work (even clocks!) can have a big effect. As can lecturers who don't know how to use the equipment, and so we're working to standardise it as much as possible.

Expanding the wireless network - which is already extensive on campus, but not pervasive - is going to be vital if we're going to be able to support the explosion of mobile devices, and one of the suggestions was that we extend the coverage to the public outdoor spaces, some of which already are covered but by leakage from the buildings. WiFi in the park - with the bandstand at the hub?

And finally, discovered a new website today (thanks to Jo), Quora.  Still trying to find my way round it and what it's for. Will keep you posted!

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