UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for June 13th, 2007

Google Email for TCD – And It’s My Fault!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 June 2007

A recent BBC News headline entitled “Google’s e-mail for universities” states that “Trinity College Dublin has switched to Google’s e-mail – with other universities considering such a switch“. A news item on the Trinity College Dublin (TCD) Web site gives their perspective – and this has also been discussed by Alison Wildish on the Edge Hill University’s Web Service blog.

And I have discovered that I was influential in Trinity College Dublin making that decision! Michael Nowlan, Director of Information Systems Services at Trinity College Dublin informed me in a Skype message last night that “at the Terena conference a couple of weeks ago I stated publicly that Brian Kelly’s talk at EUNIS changed my attitude totally.” Michael reminded me about two talks I gave at the EUNIS 2005 conference: one “IT Services – Help Or Hindrance To National IT Development Programmes?” and another on Using Networked Technologies To Support Conferences. Michael went on to say that my talks “led me to talk about disruptive technology at [the HEAnet Conference 2005] and here is the talk (WMV format) at least partly plagiarised from you!”

Why was I making such predictions over two years ago? Well IT Service departments have been at the forefront of network developments, with the UK University sector having promoted the benefits of network services for many years (and let’s not forget that the UK has funded the provision of applications services, such as those hosted by MIMAS, EDINA, JISCMail and other national services). And the provision of such services by a commercial company is simply the application of mainstream political and economic orthodoxies within an IT context. We’ve got the network – so this is surely no big deal?

What are your thoughts? Is having a diversity of providers of IT solutions (which need not be restricted to email) a good thing, in that it provides the user community (staff and students) with greater choice and can also help to ensure that the default IT provider (the IT Services department) is user-focussed (i.e. driving out the ‘IT fundamentalist”). Or is this Thatcherite privitisation of the educational sector which must be resisted at all costs, as it is likely to lead to a deterioration in the quality of the services as the commercial provider seeks to maximise its profits and ignores the specialist requirements of the educational sector? And as I’m giving a talk on “Web 2.0: Opportunity Or Threat For IT Support Staff?” at the UCISA SDG IT Support Staff Symposium 2007 next week I’m very interested in people’s views on this matter. Will I get lynched at the conference, I wonder?

Posted in General | 4 Comments »

Web 2.0 for Content for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 June 2007

Via posts on the DigitalKoans and Record Management Futurewatch I came across references to a new JISC-funded report on “Web 2.0 for Content for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education” by Tom Franklin and Mark van Harmelen.

This 27-page long document provides a series of recommendations to JISC on how it should respond to the challenges posed by Web 2.0.  The recommendations include:

Recommendation 1: Guidelines should not be so prescriptive as to stifle the experimentation that is needed with Web 2.0 and learning and teaching that is necessary to take full advantage of the possibilities offered by this new technology.

Recommendation 4: JISC should consider funding work looking at long-term access to student created content once they have left the university with the aim of developing good practice guides.

Recommendation 8: JISC should consider funding studies looking at the risks to the institution associated with internally and externally hosted Web 2.0 services, and ways in which the risks can be controlled and mitigated. This could be done within the wider context of examining risks associated with Web 2.0, web services and Service Oriented Architectures.

Recommendation 17: JISC should consider commissioning studies to explore i) the accessibility issues of various commonly used Web 2.0 technologies, and how any limits can be overcome, and ii) case studies on how Web 2.0 technologies can enhance accessibility.

Recommendation 9: JISC should consider funding projects or case studies that look at different methods for integrating Web 2.0 into the overall university information and information technology environment while retaining flexibility of use across teaching, learning, administrative and other areas of university activity.

All sensible stuff, I feel, which reflect some of the discussions we’ve been having on this blog (e.g. the current discussions about use of Facebook within our institutions address the issues raised in Recommendation 9).

I should point out that Tom and Mark made use of Web 2.0 technologies in the production of their report. In particular they hosted a virtual conference which discussed a range of Web 2.0 issues, based on briefing papers produced by Tom and Mark. I spoke on Content Creation: Web 2.0 Is Providing The Solution at the virtual conference – and I must admit that I was somewhat surprised that the consulation process was not described in the report.

Posted in Web2.0 | 5 Comments »