The first session of the Learning 2.0 programme has covered Instant Messaging and Blogging.
For instant messaging everyone setup a Windows Live/Hotmail/MSN ID and tried out the MSN Web Messenger service. The hope (I think) is that (some) people will continue to use IM throughout the programme.
The web messenger software (as you might expect) is more limited that the full client you can download, and straightaway several people wanted to have multi-way chats. We came to the conclusion this wasn’t possible (although it is if you download the MSN client), but then it seemed that one person managed to setup a 3 way chat – but we don’t know how. The documentation from MSN is useless! (Update: I suspect that someone in the 3 way chat was running the desktop client and started the three way chat)
I’m currently working with a few people in the library and ICT looking at how we might use a ‘corporate’ instant messaging (+ other stuff) tool from Microsoft called ‘Microsoft Office Communicator‘ which integrates with Outlook and other Microsoft tools. We are hoping to look at how this might help teams that are spread across several sites (especially the Medical sites) communicate.
Then on to blogs – a bit more of an individual task to setup a wordpress blog. I decided to stick with this one, rather than creating a new blog specially for the programme (although I do have a WordPress account hanging around somewhere)
I guess the blogs will be listed somewhere as we go forward so we can read each others posts on our experiences in the programme…
Today is the kick-off session for the ‘Learning 2.0 at Imperial‘ course based on the original 23 Things programme created by Helene Blowers at Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. It is being run by Jenny Evans, Lawrence Jones and Katharine Thompson – three of our Liaison Librarians.
Although I’m pretty good with Web 2.0 stuff, I decided it would be good to take part in the course, and reflect on my experience of using Web 2.0 technology with colleagues at Imperial.
Some final, overall reflections from Sarah Porter:
- lots of energy
- breadth and depth of activity
- huge potential for links, sharing findings, knowledge, approches
- conversations – lots of conversations
A frightening amount of activity!
Some things that have come up:
- how JISC can help institutions embed e-learning
- ensure the place of technology in the overall pracice/development – scaleability of practice
- staff and their changing roles – providing advice on the roles – helping people to be effective
- data repositories – are they the right way to go and how do you make them more compelling
- balance between trying to deliver an IT service that works and innovation – convincing senior management that this is important
- understanding the institutional barriers to change and innovation
- stadnards – minimum standard for access and the sorts of things a university should be providing
- providing better access/opportunities – open up debate on whether mobile devices should be amdatory for all students?
- sustainability – green computing, environmental agenda
- impact of changing demographics in student body
- digital literacy – needs to happen at school age
- inclusivity – equal access and digital divide agenda
- academics as providers – emphasis on the user experience – should they be using each others content?
- exper registry – how a project could locate expertise
- JISC funding models – are theyre more imaginative ones – e.g. centres of expertise
- sharing good practice – how do we do this as the sector becomes more competitive?
- need to engage more institutions
- embedding prjects – they stop, what happens next? embedding concepts across the sector
- recruiting project staff for JISC funded projects – pool of CVs?
- technical project resumes to help collaboration
- address time gap between implementation of technology and what happens when it’s used – bridging measures
- joining up with national data sharing initiatives (interoperability) and communitites
- data curation – who will deliver training? awareness of digital content management
- need to understand and develop shared services models – how do new applications (e.g. Google) fit. Can we provide single points of entries to these things?
- Open source nad open standards – do we need to clarify intentions and priorities here? greater coordination across stadards bodies
- how do we develop a sense of technical authority> what other models exist?
- make e-framework more accessible (!)
- break down barriers between e-research, e-admin and e-learning
- what JISC might do to help engage senior management in institutions – use senior managers who are already engaged, and other approaches needed
- sustainability and business models – range of approaches, need to explore models and provided guidance – tension between free access and sustainability
A couple of points at the end about how we carry on the conversation online – JISC need to look at how they carry the sense of community from this event to online venue. Also about making the details of projects, what they are trying to acheive, and the outcomes – currently piloting some stuff internally that will be launched after it has been tested
Going into the last two sessions of the JISC Innovation forum, this keynote is being given by Jason DaPonte (Managing Editor, BBC Mobile Platforms), so hope it is interesting and stimulating.
Kicking off with some Dr Who references, but no sonic screwdrivers today apparently…
First question – what is mobile? BBC define it as ‘any interaction between the BBC and its audience over a portable device or within a mobile situation’ – and some key aspects of mobile are:
- location aware
Teenagers value their mobile phone very highly – would prefer to lose their passport than their mobile.
BBC see potential in sending TV to mobile devices – beyond current services on 3G – coming back to later, but technology already in use in Korea.
Areas of work include:
Mobile browser service – recently relaunched with a new look, more local services, more AV content. Currently 3 million+ unique users a month (one of largest mobile sites on web)
Mobile rich media/broadcasting – e.g. iPlayer on iphone and touch (and going to be on other devices soon – but he won’t say which ones), 3G TV trials – finished now. but looking at next steps, and now looking at ‘mobile broadcasting’ – finding issues with scheduling – e.g. BBC1 daytime content is aimed at people at home, not people on the move, with short viewing windows between meetings or classes etc.
Messaging – sore from recent scandals around SMS/premium rate voting etc. Are now setting up a compliance unit. Want to go beyond just voting – need to look at new programme formats – e.g. for radio changed the way people interacted with programmes/DJs but not really the same impact in TV. Looking at Alerts services – e.g. for Bejing Olympics – alerts for events, you can then stream to your phone (potentially)
Out of Home – big screens in public places – rolling out for 2012 Olympics – then looking at how people can interact with screens and broadcasts using bluetooth and wifi. Also looking at use of ‘semacodes’ – barcodes that can be read by your phone (see http://semacode.com/)
Jason saying inspired by Web 2.0 exemplars – what are the fundamental principals behind facebook, and other ‘web 2.0′ services that make them successful:
- straightforward – clear what they do, and they do it in an uncomplicated way
- functional – usable and useful
- gregarious – sociable (e.g. amusing messages on Flickr from the service), participatory
- open – exposed, unguarded – e.g. work with Strategic Content Alliance – making things available (may be limited, but go as far as we can)
- evolving – emergent, growing
Looking at what this means for the BBC on the web:
- Distinctive portfolio – does it overlap with an existing service too much?
- Promise fulfilled – got to deliver on what you say you do (and be clear about what you are doing)
- Personal experience – will make the users come back
- Part of the web – or part of the network – that is connected in with the other stuff that is out there (don’t have to redo stuff if it exists) – and public sector tends to find it hard to cross boundaries here
Jason sees the last as probably the most important – and one of the key barriers
Mentioning demos report on co-designing services with users – highly recommends it – it isn’t easy, but really important that you involve users in the design – not just in usability testing, but throughout the process – see http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/makingthemostofcollaboration – key points are
- a trial-and-error style of working
- developmental process
- outcome based
These may be challenging.
Although this doesn’t fall within my remit at work as such, it clearly is an incredibly important topic – indeed if the figures given yesterday by John Selby were accurate (computing accounts for the same energy use as the aviation industry?) then it is something we all need to be concerned about.
Starting with Peter James from www.susteit.org.uk. Outlining reasons to worry – environmental issues but also rising costs. We know there are benefits to the use of ICT, but need to look how this balances against cost. From a pilot study at the University of Sheffield, showed the following on the use of power:
- 18% of total non-residential electricity goes on IT
- 48% is on PCs
- 18% on servers
- 14% on HPC
- 10% Imaging
- 8% networking
Susteit is going to release a tool to help other institutions do these figures.
Note the high proportion on PCs – this is where we can make most significant savings (although need to look at whole lifecycle rather than necessarily just the ‘use’ phase of the lifecycle). However, the use phase is easier to deal with, and provides a clear place to take action.
What can we do? Perhaps:
- Make IT pay the energy bills (can see this for servers, but what about PCs?)
- Better, more widely applied, whole life costing models
- More cross-functional activity – especially IT and Estates
- Powerdown more; use lower power devices; use grid computing
- Complex measures like thin client; virtualisation; storage; software (invest in small footprint s/w etc.) – but do these make both environmental and business case?
Now moving to a software demo by Howard Noble from Oxford – project to get people to turn off computers when they aren’t in use. (http://projects.oucs.ox.ac.uk/lowcarbonict/about/)
Why doesn’t this happen? Possibly some myths (e.g. computers break more often if they are powercycled often) but also management issues – like applying patches – can rely on computers being on.
Howard showing a simulation that has been built that looks at energy use by PCs based on a number of different factors – work schedules, energy management policies etc. The simulation calculates energy use (and cost) so you can start to show costs. Also shows things like your capacity for Grid computing on spare CPU cycles.
The simulation gathers quite a lot of dimensions and outputs complex information to help inform decision making. Simulation tool will be free to educational institutions.
Project is going on to look at issues around validating a policy formulated based on the results of simulation, and then tools to help implement (tools like wake-on-lan functions to allow PCs to be turned off more often, but woken when needed)
This session by Bill Hubbard (from Repositories Support Project)…
Bill starting with the ‘open access mountain’ – a hard climb, although seems like it will be worth it. Can we get to the top?
Open Access has laudable goals – lots of potential benefits – and we can see in some places it works – e.g. (perhaps only?) arXiv.
Bill says ‘open access journals are just like normal journals but with a different business model – open access repositories are different’.
Bill stressing that Open Access has data providers and service providers – and important to remember these two groups (I would whether one of the problems we have is not enough (compelling) services?)
Why did JISC fund Institutional repositories? Because not all subject communities will have the ability to run repositories, whereas there is an existing institutional infrastructure, also OAI-PMH still allows us to represent to the world a single point of entry.
Idea of location of material vs how you search has been incredibly difficult to get across – it really shouldn’t matter to people where the material is ‘located’, but people seem to care a lot! I agree this is a fundamental problem, although I’m not entirely convinced that institutional repositories were the right way to go (20/20 hindsight) – just going back to the previous session, this is about community. The communities exist around disciplines not necessarily around institutions. Obviously there is tension now with some funders mandating subject repositories rather than institutional repositories.
There is a lot support (a groundswell of support says Bill, then as an aside wonders why the phrase is groundswell – surely ground doesn’t swell? – see http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-gro2.htm for etymology!)
So – where are we? Process of setting up repositories is ok, we can put things in, get things out, many of the ‘copyright’ issues are at least understood and not insurmountable. So – in general things going OK…
This is all very well, and Bill is good at presenting this stuff, but on the ground it doesn’t feel this positive – now Bill moving on to difficulties:
- A good case is not enough – it won’t just happen because everyone agrees its a good idea
- Copyright is an issue for many authors
- Outstanding issues which people continue to worry about (with our without cause) – subject basis vs institutional; quality control, plagiarism
- Don’t want to leave well established practices
- Haven’t seen the services grow up around the data – e.g. search services (perhaps Google effect – stopping innovation by smaller players in this area)
- Authors want others to do the work – happy to see it happen, but don’t necessarily want to do the work (quite understandably)
Also more obstacles:
- Publication embargoes
- copyright issues still there
- loss of focus within repositories – many stakeholders – can take focus away from open access to research (I think there are some other issues here – focus on ‘repository software’ as opposed to OA I think is an issue, and will continue to cause us problems)
OK – where are we going?
- Exposure for harvesting
- Linkage to departmental pages
- Linkage to personal pages (we do this at Imperial)
- REF – citation and usage analysis
- Beyond pdf – text and data-mining
- Virtual Research Environments
- Embedding into institutional workflows
- Repository as a set of services
- Staffing and management
- Funder mandate compliance
Bill drawing analogy between library processes and repository – getting a book into the library depends on many different people being involved, inside and outside the library, ‘Repositories’ need to be embedded to this degree (I’d argue, and think Bill would agree, that it isn’t ‘repositories’ but services that need to be embedded – afterall with the library analogy we don’t talk about it in terms of the library management system)
Some stuff on next steps:
- Mandates – support them, support compliance, integaration, stakeholder involvement
- Focus – choose a clear path
- Don’t muddy the waters with metadata only entries in your repository
Bill presents well, but this is really a session that would have been a fascinating debate, rather than a presentation – I think all the ground is relatively familiar, but the issues around it would have been good to debate.
Neil Chie Hong (www.omii.ac.uk) starting off this session talking about “Why good s/w sometimes dies, and how to save it (sometimes)”
Outlining the issue: some researchers produce s/w but don’t care about sustainability – happy for others to take over s/w (subject to IP), others though see sustainability as key, but don’t feel they have skills or resources to ensure s/w has life beyond the creation/development
Question – how do we ensure that s/w which has users can continue to support them? How do we help s/w survive the transition from creation to widespread use?
Neil outlining his background – different sizes of organisations in very different contexts – but always about how do you make the best use of resources to improve takeup of what you already have (e.g. s/w)
Neil talking about ‘long tail‘ and asking whether there is a long tail effect for s/w? Saying libraries benefit from long tail effect. What about an online s/w repository? There is a problem with ‘storage lifespan’ – books have a long shelf life >50 years, but software has a storage lifespan of more like 12 months – after this, the environment (operating systems, drivers, other dependencies) change to the extent that the s/w is no longer viable to run.
The long tail depends on a number of things including ‘negligible stocking and distribution costs’ – but the cost of maintaining software mean that this is not the case for s/w, so the long tail doesn’t apply – it costs money to ‘prevent decay’ so storage costs actually high (much higher than books)
Open source software is ‘free’ as in ‘free puppies’ – needs longterm care, may lose charm after growing up, can end up being abandoned by owners
It is not enough to say your s/w is open source – this doesn’t in anyway guarantee future of s/w. You need a community around it.
Engage project – from interviews, reasons for using a specific piece of s/w.
- Ease of use
- Continued development
Points to the need for a sustainable community around the software… although the form this takes can vary a lot. Can mean both a community that works together to create software etc. but also can mean a community dependent on a single supplier (e.g. Microsoft)
Neil saying if you can identify the value of your s/w and who values it, then you can work out the market segment appropriate to the user base and the likely amount of resources available. Value for users becomes value for the software – the long tail allows software to be niche if you can tackle the issue of preserving software over time at reasonable cost (i.e. reduce the stocking costs).
So how do we create communities around software? Need to understand:
- Who the users are
- Why do they use it
- What do they value it
- What is the relationship between developers and users
- What do people want to do – not how can they use what we’ve got
Need to turn ‘users’ into collaborators and ultimately contributors – moving from a single team at a single organisation into sometime more diverse, and sustainable.
Need to remember that ‘trivial’ barriers are sometimes insurmountable – what is easy for one person is often frustrating for others. Perhaps especially between s/w developers (or those with access to development resource) and those without tech skills (or access to appropriate resource)
One of the difficulties is you have to give up control – the community may not want software to go in the same direction that you originally envisaged. I think this may be a key issue – if we look at successful Open Source projects there is often a guiding force (e.g. Linus Torvalds, Apache Foundation) which has some kind of ‘vision’ even though big community – and not always consensus about where software should go (and hence forking of code etc.)
In summary – how to keep good software alive:
- Understand the value
- Identify the community
- Leverage technology
- Improve process
- Keep people engaged – celebrate success
- Encourage contribution
- Tell people about good software – if you like it, others are likely to
The last formal session of the day, and I’m attending one on Sustainability and JISC. The problems of sustaining work or a service after the end of the project funding is always a problem. As project director of EThOSNet it is of particular interest, as the whole project is (to some extent) about building a sustainable service around e-theses, building on the work of the original EThOS project.
I guess perhaps the first question is what are we trying to sustain?
Richard McKenna introducing the session and highlighting JISC’s strategic aim 1:
“innovative and systainable ICT infrastructure services and pratice that support institutions in meeting their mission”
Richard saying sustainability is about ensuring the investment made in JISC activity results in longterm beneficial impact for HE community.
JISC sees 5 outcomes from its activity:
- enhanced capacity, knowledge and skills
- guidance to the sector on ‘best practice’
- strategic leadership to the sector
- knowledge and experience
- new of enhanced services, infrastructure, standards or applications
What is JISC doing? It is piloting sustainability process, doing a business skills study and carrying our a JISC Service portfolio review.
Now Simone (Spencer?) from JISC outlining the pilot Sustainability Process they are working on:
Looking to help projects know what they are looking for in terms of sustainability, and also JISC committees etc understand what is being looked for across all JISC areas. This in the form of:
- Guidance documentation and templates – handbook; examples and case studies; sustainability routes and business models
Projects then developed business cases looking at
- strategic maturity
- operational maturity
- options (sustainability routes and business models – costs, risk, benefit etc.)
Projects need to look at many options – subscription service, 3rd party involvement etc. not necessarily simply look for JISC to fund ongoing service or work.
Richard making the point that this process is really only for certain projects, where their outcomes fall into the last bullet point above (enhanced services, infrastructure etc.)
Feedback on the process from 6 projects who have tried it general found it positive and helpful, but also areas for improvement identified. They expect to revise and roll-out by q4 2008.
Richard going through a number of different sustainability models adopted by JISC projects.
OK – drifted off there as Richard went through different projects, their types of outcome and how they had tackled sustainability – now asking for audience participation with following prompts:
- Should JISC be sustaining a project or its outputs and outcomes?
- How are you planning to sustain the impact of your project(s) for the institution or consortium?
- How are you or JISC planning to sustain the impact of your project(s) for the wider community?
- What could JISC do to better support projects in planning and effecting sustainability
OK – just broke into groups for discussion – very interesting (although room not useful for this!), but hard to get through much in such a short time!
Some points from my discussion group (I’ll post to the blog…):
- Need to build communities around projects – so not just project team in a ‘bubble’
- Do we need to build sustainability element into project bids?
- How do we get funding for sustainability – esp. for digitisation – when we are giving away outputs for free? Here a point about the fact you can make ‘data’ available for free, but still charge for service on top of ‘data’
- Need for more effective engagement with commercial partners?
- Is ‘sustainability’ a way to bridge the divide between ‘research’ and ‘services’?
- Sustainability increasingly important as economic situation gets more difficult
- Build JISC/community expertise of building business models – and fund feasibility studies alongside projects?
John Selby is Director of Education and Participation at HEFCE. His keynote is titled “From innovation to implementation to sector change: the view from HEFCE”
Saying that term ‘community’ is used very often in JISC – HEFCE tend to talk about ‘the sector’. Community implies sharing etc. For those outside ‘the community’ it can be less welcoming – think of a village where after 50 years you are still ‘an incomer’
John saying that when he started he was told that JISC is great – don’t bugger it up. This is still true, but environment around JISC is changing – and need to look at how JISC sits in the wider environment, and what this means for the future.
- JISC – J=Joint and C=Committee – JISC does not exist as a legal entity! It is a committee of it’s funders. It is a virtual organisation, made up of many committees, working groups etc.
- JISC is UK wide – which in today’s (political, devolution) climate is complicated.
- JISC funding ultimately comes from government – from the tax payer
- JISC is both top-down and bottom-up – balancing act for HEFCE, JISC and individual institutions
- JISC innovates in ICT on behalf of its funders and the sectors it represents – but we are seeing greater diversity in funders and sectors as devolution impacts and education sector changes (e.g. HE + FE)
- JISC operates in changing (national) political contexts – and economic climate as well – going to have huge impact on HE funding – we will not see the secure and growing funding we have seen in last decade
JISC chair is appointed by HEFCE (HEFCE principal funder of JISC), also appoint two board members. The JISC secretariat are HEFCE staff
John now moving on to Innovatin as a socio-technical system:
- Similar technologies can be applied in different ways in different contexts – just because the same technology is used doesn’t mean you can make assumptions about how it has been implemented or used
- An excellent technical solution will not work if the social environment is not conducive to it – and organisations are typically poor at learning from experiments and communicating the results of experiments
John saying that as someone intimately involved he has some idea of the work of the JISC and its value – but there are many in the sector and in government don’t understand this – ‘we’ – the JISC community – need to work on this. John tells them the great work JISC does, but also what it might be like if this work wasn’t done.
Some examples of JISC innovation emerging:
- XCRI – http://xcri.org
- Sustainable computing – IT is using around 2% of energy in the advanced world – about the same as aviation and growing faster – and though we talk about stopping flying, we aren’t switching off our computers – need to change things here
- Islamic studies identified by government as a strategic studies – JISC project to digitise materials/resources for Islamic studies
- ePrints open source software
So – ‘our’ role and the funders’ role:
‘your role’ (wthin institutions)
- think about users
- speak beyond (your immediate) community
- remember the changing political context (I do, but often find it depressing!) – during economic hard times work of JISC more important than ever, especially as tendency is to withdraw funding from innovation and stick to ‘tried and tested’
The funders’ role
- be clear about strategy – need clear prioritisation, although still maintain ‘bottom up’ drivers as well
- engage with sector-wide bodies
- engage with government
John says together we can support change in HE and FE.
- E-book market
- Embedding e-learning in institutions
- ‘If we could start from scratch – we wouldn’t start from here!’ – to do with what levels (institutional, national, international) we should tackle issues compared to what we are actually doing
- JISC funding models – more imaginative – centres of expertise and other ideas
- Geo-enabled environment + resource discovery – capture geographic data as we digitise content
- Inter-operability – Tools and technology transfer (inside and outside HE)
- Repositories – are they the right places to put stuff? If so, how do we make them compelling?
- Data curation skills
- Information literacy – needs to be embedded into schools
- Open content agenda – sharing of resources – should this happen, how to enable?
- Recruiting staff for JISC projects – JISC could develop a support mechanism, e.g. pool of CVs
- Open infrastructure supporting innovation and change – balance in IT departments between robustness and innovation not always there
- Understand institutional barriers to change – what stops new working practices and new technology
- Outsourcing models and shared services
- Resource discovery – single point of entry
- Inclusivity – digital divide agenda
- Levels of service – service standards/expectiation (Keele wifi experience informing this!)
- Burden of technolgoy – on the academic and support staff
- Sustainability of projects
- Advice on staff roles
- Denial of service ‘as default’ (Keele wifi experience again) – how can we help people (IT depts) make right decisions
- Debate on mobile devices being ‘mandatory’ (or ‘expected’) of all students – we expect them to have ‘basics’ in terms of paper and pencil etc. why not computing devices
- Setting minimum standards for institutions – what is the baseline?
- Assessment – assessing educational processes as well as assessing outcomes
- Sharing good practice – becomes harder as the sector becomes more competitive
- Perhaps we should play down some areas? Debate at least around whether ‘open source’ and ‘open standards’ are goals in themselves – perhaps concetrate on communities of practice instead
- How to engage senior management – help sustainability of projects/services and understanding of relationship between service and development
- JISC step outside comfort zone and engage with senior managers on their own turf
- Make better use of existing contacts with Senior Managers to bring in others
- Better and more detailed project resumes to be able to see easily what had worked and what hadn’t
- Develop a sense of ‘technical authority’ – look at patterns of authority on internet
- Make e-framework more accessible
- Time gap between new technology initial implementation and actual takeup
- Coordination of greater activity across a greater range of standards bodies
- IPR copyright
- Derived data IPR
- Expert registry – how does a team locate expertise (if not via registry, some other method)
- Place of technology in development of practice – it shouldn’t dominate or drive
- Look at scalability of practice to development models
This should all be summarised on the official blog as well http://jif08.jiscinvolve.org (maybe specifically at http://jif08.jiscinvolve.org/2008/07/15/forum-jisc-future-priorities)