Friday, 8 July 2011
About 3 times a year we have a departmental meeting - there's over 200 of us, so difficult to get everyone together but we do our best. Yesterday was a good one, and in fact many people have said to me that it was the best ever! We try and keep people in touch with whats going on in the departmnt, so there's often a couple of demos of new services, and also we get an external speaker - we've had both the VC, and the Registrar recently.
Yesterday we had a demo of our new on-line registration system which will allow most of what students need to do to register with us to be done before they arrive. Also we have a new Enquirer and Applicant portal which is being developed using our new portal technology, Liferay, which is looking good.
We also had a demo of Google Calendar which we'll all be moving to in the next few weeks. Very different to the one we use now (Oracle calendar), but I was impressed with the features we saw yesterday, and it integrates so much better with other apps including mail. Our move to Google mail went really well, but the issues around moving calendar data from one system to another are so much more complicated than moving mail, so we're doing lots of checking, and not hopefully managing user expectations....
We reported on our survey on student mobiles (will do a separate post on that), but the highlight of the meeting was a talk from one of our Prov-Vice-Chancellors - Professor Tony Ryan OBE who is a Professor of Chemistry. He appears on the BBC radio 4 programme Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox and Robin Ince, and was recently on stage with them at Glastonbury. Tony talked to us about a major project in the Faculty of Science - Project Sunshine. I couldn't possibly do credit to the talk - Tony is an excellent presenter, and is passionate about this research. Based on the fact that we're running out of fuel and food, Project Sunshine brings together many different research areas in the University to harness the power of the sun to solve these enormous problems.
As lots of people said to me afterwards, it made you proud to work at this University. Many of our staff don't some into contact with academic research very often, and this really showed people why we're here. I decided to call this post Shine On, and that probably implies that Tony is a crazy diamond. Well, he's not really crazy, but certainly a diamond.