Tag Archives: sustainable IT

Some reflections on the UCISA Bursary and Educause

simon

 

 

Simon Geller
Senior Project Manager
University of Sheffield
Member of UCISA-PCMG

 

 

I was very pleased to win a bursary to attend Educause 15. On reflection, however, I’m not sure that this is the best conference for bursary applicants to apply to.

So, what are my reservations? Well, it’s a very large conference, and therein lies the problem. It was hard to pick out presentations that could be relevant to my role, varied as it is, and I’d say my judgement was about 50% correct.

With the plenary sessions, of course, there were no choices to be made other than to get up and be ready. These large events were very professionally presented, although the topics were highly generalised – I think the conference could have had more of them, with speakers who had a strong overview of ICT in HE.

So how was the bursary of benefit to my professional development, to my institution, and to the HE IT community? The key thing I brought home was that my colleagues in the US are facing the same problems as we do in the UK – institutional inertia, resistance to change, ever-reducing budgets and ever-higher workloads, with a failure of senior management either to defend the industry or to bring in the kind of far-reaching changes that would enable us to adapt more quickly to changing circumstances, whether that is the political landscape or technological advances. However, my US colleagues didn’t seem to have the answers to these questions any more than we do in the UK.

Coming from University of Sheffield, the slow rate with which US institutions had embraced new technology was also quite striking. Technologies such as Google Docs, which we have been using for years, seemed like strange new innovations to many people. This is, however, not much different from UK institutions, with many still dependent on legacy systems for their core services.

I also learnt that interest in “sustainable IT” is on the wane. To an extent, this is because sustainability has become more embedded in the industry – personal devices and data centres have become more efficient, while the adoption of cloud services, which give institutions the opportunity to off-load their carbon footprints onto the cloud provider, do tend to be more energy-efficient than locally provided ICT services.

On reflection, therefore, I think it would be better to encourage colleagues to apply for bursaries to attend conferences that focus on their specialised areas, rather than big, generalised conferences.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme 2018.

Looking to the future: sustainable IT and HE web presence

simon

Simon Geller
Senior Project Manager
University of Sheffield
Member of UCISA-PCMG

Day Two at Educause

I started the day at 8am – the Yanks get up early! – with a session on Google Apps. Sheffield was an early adopter of Google so I had an in on this but the session got a bit bogged down in questions about account creation and deletion rather than the potential for collaboration.

Sustainable IT
Then I moved on to a discussion session about sustainable IT. This doesn’t get talked about so much these days – I think one of the reasons for this is that the movement into cloud services means that institutions aren’t quite so conscious of their energy footprint. Also, IT shouldn’t beat itself up too much about how green it is – we enable so much green activity in other areas, from maps and journey planners on smartphones that make people feel more comfortable about walking and using public transport rather than driving, pool bike schemes that you register for online, to smart energy management systems and systems that make industrial processes much more efficient. The future is Green IT that you don’t even notice.

A presentation from the University of Edinburgh on helping non-project managers to deliver success
In the afternoon, I thought I’d better support our Edinburgh colleagues and went to their presentation  on how they provide support for non-vocational project managers. Although the AV wasn’t being helpful the level of resource they had brought to the issue was impressive.

Then I continued on my quest to discover where the web would take us in the next 10 years. The key message from What Will Your .Edu Site Look Like in 10 Years?  is that your web presence will be going out and looking for your customers rather than waiting for them to come to you.

Later I found myself in a compliance session I hadn’t really intended to go, but thought I’d take risk and stick with it. The message I took away from that is that there are two types of institutions – those that have been hacked, and those that had been hacked and don’t know about it. Scary!

The final session I attended that day was a trend analysis run by journalists from the Chronicle of Higher Education , and the takeaway from that was that we used to talk about the for-profit sector, now, in the US at least, the whole area is for-profit. Plus two questions to ask suppliers: “What research is (that assertion) based on? and “What’s the upgrade cycle?” – cutting edge tech doesn’t stay there for long.