Tag Archives: systems

UCISA bursary – one of the most rewarding experiences of my career

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference 2017 and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

Attending the Audiovisual and Education Technology Management Conference (AETM) in Australia, made possible by a bursary from UCISA, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career to date.

Learning from peers

USICSA’s bursary scheme has supported the development of my career by giving me exposure to a conference where the other delegates have management responsibilities for audio visual technologies and the development of AV in teaching and learning spaces. This was a great opportunity to meet and network with AV teams from across Australia and with AETM members attending the conference from New Zealand.
The support from UCISA also gave me the opportunity to see how AV and IT technology is being converged to make effective and efficient use of technology in education outside of the UK.
During the trip and since my return I have shared my university visits and AETM conference experience via social media (Facebook and Twitter), the UCISA blog , via photos, 360º VR photos and interviews with members of the AV teams at each of the universities I visited. This information has been shared with others within higher and further education, including the UCISA community – for example, I am in touch with another bursary winner interested in AV developments, Ed Stout – as well as members of AETM in Australia. My UCISA blog posts have been shared via internal communications at the University of Greenwich. I have also shared the information about the social media pages I have been blogging to with my team and the first and second line teams at the university.

Insight into implementation of AV

The first week’s visits to five universities gave me an insight into how AV is implemented in Australia. The universities I visited were: Deakin University, Monash University, RMIT, Swinburne University and the University of Melbourne.
The differences in AV implementation ranged from which manufacturers had been used (some of which was due to geographical location and distribution), through to the remote equipment monitoring systems and the development of AV systems (in some cases, using universities’ own IT/AV teams and converging their skill sets). It was also interesting to see the mix of support models in use, with AV supported by internal teams in some institutions and by external companies in others.

AV projects

The AETM conference gave me yet more exposure to AV projects that have been undertaken and how they are managed in universities across Australia and New Zealand, as well as presentations from AV manufacturers. The conference also included presentations and tours around the teaching and learning spaces of the host university, the University of the Sunshine Coast, to show case their AV installations. This included a tour of the CAVE2TM, which provides a near-seamless 320-degree, immersive and panoramic 3D virtual environment, USC Nursing, Paramedic, House Simulation clinics and Law Moot court.

IP solutions

Of particular interest from a personal development point of view was that IP (internet protocol) based solutions are either being trialled or have been established at all the universities that I visited: IP solutions for wireless BYOD, audio over IP via AES67 for lecture capture, AV over IP to replace tradition HDBaseT and assistive hearing technologies over Wi-Fi. They seemed to be ahead of UK institutes, however I have seen this to be more and more the case in the UK from visits to other institutes and round table events, where AV over IP has been discussed as well as the development of AV IP technologies showcased at Integrated Systems Europe show (ISE).

Next steps

With this in mind, I am hoping to improve my knowledge of network infrastructures to help think about AV projects from both an AV and IT/IP point of view. The bursary has given me the opportunity to see how the AV world is moving further into the IT world and has influenced my decision to investigate the possibility of applying for a place on a Master’s Degree course in Computer Systems and Network Engineering.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Interview: How Deakin University is working towards an excellent user experience

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference 2017 and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

Ben Sleeman was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner
As part of my series of interviews with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team at Deakin University, we discussed the support structures and teams in place at the university in terms of AV support. In this interview, Jeremy outlines the teams involved in the running of the AV systems, how problem resolution is managed, and how the different teams are working together to lead to an excellent user experience.

Other areas I discussed with Jeremy in separate interviews included:
I will be blogging further about my conversations with Jeremy on other AV developments at Deakin.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.
UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA

Benefits of a steep learning curve by a UCISA bursary winner

Sara Henderson
Graduate Intern (Student Champion)
Student Systems Project (Corporate Information and Computer Services)
University of Sheffield

 

 

Sara Henderson was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

Being awarded a UCSA bursary to attend the UCISA Support Services Group (SSG) 2017 conference was a highlight of my working year. Although SSG was not my initial choice, I felt privileged to be accommodated by the scheme nonetheless. Below is an account of how my attendance has positively shaped my professional development, institution and how this interacts with the wider HE IT sector.

For context, I am no longer working at Student Lifecycle Project at the University of Sheffield (formerly Student Systems Project), but the experience of UCISA-SSG has still had a lasting effect on my experience of the sector, as I will detail in the following paragraphs.

Professional development

Many aspects of the conference were a steep learning curve. Although I had attended conferences before, these were alongside my peers as an undergraduate, whereas UCISA-SSG17 allowed me to network with established and influential people in the sector. In some ways this was challenging – introducing myself and my involvement in the Project made me feel slightly vulnerable, but everyone I spoke to was interested and encouraging in equal measure.

Most notably, I was asked to speak on the Panel session – the headline event of the conference. Members of the panel were James Smith, Director of IT Services, Birkbeck, University of London; Adam Kearns, Students’ Union Postgraduate Office, University of Bath; Sebastian Barnes, IT Support Specialist, Leeds Beckett University, and myself. Although I was taken aback by the offer, I’m glad it was given relatively last minute, as it didn’t leave much time for the nerves to kick in. I had given presentations and spoken on a panel and in front of moderately-sized groups of people before, but never on this scale. I was accompanied by confident and competent speakers who luckily had most of the spotlight, and despite the topic areas being somewhat unfamiliar I was still able to draw on my experience as a student and university staff member. I was extremely proud of myself for accepting such a daunting but exciting opportunity, and grateful to UCISA for the experience.

Institutional benefit

Unfortunately, I was unable to present my experience of UCISA to student representatives at the University of Sheffield as I had hoped to, because the recruitment of said students was delayed for the duration of my contract on the Project. The time-scales and priorities of such a major business change project are extremely variable, so this is to be somewhat expected. However, I did share my experience with colleagues, conversationally rather than formally, and believe my attendance at the conference had a genuine impact on Student Lifecycle Project.

Firstly, I’m reminded of the ‘Adding Value with Values’ talk given by Alistair Reid-Pearson, IT Manager at the University of Huddersfield. I was heavily involved in the communication and marketing of the Project to stakeholders, and contributed to the development of our ‘Vision’, including our core values and principles. We acknowledged the importance of gaining buy-in from our team by inviting everyone to participate in the process of developing this piece.

Secondly, the electric discussion by Paul Boag, ‎User Experience Strategic Designer, Boagworks about User Experience How to start a user experience revolution’ carried through all the work I’ve done since hearing it. Being heavily involved in the prospective student enquiry management element of the project, I helped design enquiry categories in the new system, and formulate FAQs for student support and guidance. From content to layout, I began every consideration from the user’s perspective, as championed by Paul.

Lastly, Francesca Spencer’sTechnophobe Testing – an experience of providing a service to those who fear, dislike or avoid technology’ put accessibility at the forefront of my mind when supporting the development of software and services. I made it my priority to advocate for the needs of all staff and students, be it ‘technophobes’, disabled or differently-abled people, by urging their inclusion in the room.

Wider sector

It was a pleasure to contribute my dissemination to UCISA’s website (Part 1: Fresh meat and learning about user involvement and Part 2: Not in the IT crowd (and that can be a good thing) ), and I hope this was well-received. I connected on LinkedIn with some of the people I met at the conference, which has since provided plenty of reading material and food for thought, and allows me to learn from the hard-work and perseverance of others in the sector.

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

PPM, business operating systems and business strategy execution

Hina Taank
Programme and Projects Officer
Brunel University

Gartner Program and Portfolio Summit 2017 – Workshop

Hina Taank was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

This blog post refers to my personal views and the learning that I experienced from attending the Program and Portfolio Summit 2017.

Track: Transformation Gets Real: Executing Against Strategy
How Business Operating Systems Can Guide PPM Leaders to Manage Business Strategy Execution (Advanced) by Marc Kerremans

This session was targeted towards Business leaders and PMOs. Marc spoke of his practical experiences of working with business operating systems and building a strategy around them.   Interestingly, Marc delivered the presentation using a navigator as a concept and the audience were the stakeholders.

There were some key takeaway points around planning and execution and Marc talked about ‘Required Practice’1He also addressed three terms:

  • Term A. ‘Visibility’2 – my understanding is that this refers to what is going on in the organisation and that there is visibility of information and whether benefits are being realised around methodology.
  • Term B. ‘Accountability3 – my opinion is that the person who is responsible is getting the things done and is accountable for it.
  • Finally, Term C. ‘Adaptability’4 – my view of adaptability is that we need to understand what is happening around the organisation and then manage the work priorities accordingly.

I will be blogging on specific Summit sessions such as this one, but information on some of the other keynotes and events can be found here.

Full details on the presentation contents or how to contact the analysts can be obtained from Gartner, Inc directly.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

References 1, 2, 3, 4:

Kerremans, M, (2017, p. 7), Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017, Presentation: How Business Operating Systems can Guide PPM Leaders to Manage Business Strategy Execution (Advanced), Gartner, 12-13 June 2017

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

Benefits of receiving a UCISA bursary

Giuseppe Sollazzo

 

 

 

Giuseppe Sollazzo
Senior Systems Analyst
St George’s, University of London

 

 

 

 

Last October I was lucky enough to be selected for a UCISA bursary to attend O’Reilly Velocity in Amsterdam. Velocity is one of the most important conferences for performances in IT Systems, which is my area of work at St George’s, University of London: I lead a team of systems analysts who take care of the ongoing maintenance and development of our infrastructure. I had wanted to attend the conference for quite a while, but was always prevented from doing so by the hefty funding required, something that my institution could not readily justify.

The format of Velocity is particularly well suited to a mixture of blue-sky thinking, practical learning, networking with other professionals. Each day ran from 8:30 till 18:30. Following this schedule for three days was intense, but extremely rewarding in terms of learning.

I have written blogs for UCISA day by day throughout the conference. You can read about the specific sessions I followed on each day at the following links: day one, day two and day three. In summary, I learned about a mixture of practical techniques and heard about experiences in a variety of sectors.

As I wrote in my first blog post ahead of the conference, a focus on performance and optimisation is important for academic IT services, and specifically for my institution: with our 300 servers and 30,000 accounts to take care of, this is not just an important consideration, but our major worry on a daily basis. Access to funding is becoming increasingly competitive, as is student and researcher recruitment; it is becoming our primary goal to provide systems that are effective, secure, scalable, fast, and at the same time manageable by constrained staff numbers.

I was interested in three types of sessions:

  • practical tutorials about established techniques and tools
  • storytelling from people who have applied techniques to certain specific situations
  • sessions about new learning about new systems, to see where the industry is heading to.

Velocity has been great to help me crystallise my strategy on how to make St George’s systems evolve. In the past four months, this has translated into taking action on a number of aspects of our infrastructure. The most important are the following:

  • leading the team to build upon our logging systems, in order to extract metrics and improve the ability to respond to incidents
  • increasing our dependability on our ticketing system, by measuring response times and starting a project to make the ongoing monitoring of this part of our weekly service reviews
  • launching an investigation into researchers’ needs in terms of data storage and high performance computing; this has so far resulted in an experimental HPC cluster, which we are testing in collaboration with genomics and statistical researchers who are interested in massively parallel computations where performances are vital to the timeliness of research results for publishing.

I’m very grateful to UCISA for the opportunity it has given me. The knowledge and experience I’ve gathered at Velocity have been invaluable not just for starting new projects and reviewing our current service offer, but most importantly in beginning to understand what our strategy to maintain performances should be to still be able, in five to ten years’ time, to provide excellent industry-standard services to our community.

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