Tag Archives: user

Interviews: How AV developments in Melbourne’s universities are helping students

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

AETM Conference 2017 and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

Prior to attending the Audiovisual and Education Technology Management (AETM) Conference (AETM conference) at the University of the Sunshine Coast, courtesy of a UCISA bursary, I spent a week visiting five universities in Melbourne.  At each of the universities, I was taken on a tour of their teaching and learning spaces by the audio visual teams, and then interviewed a member of the team at each university to talk about what I had seen.

I have already shared interviews with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team at Deakin University, where we discussed the range of AV technologies at Deakin and these can be seen in my previous blog posts. One of the particular areas we discussed related to the support of hearing impaired users in teaching and learning spaces – this was also an area that I discussed with other university AV teams when touring their facilities.

Monash University

The first university I visited was Monash University where I met Matt Crawford, Audio Visual Operations and Service Delivery Manager in the eSolutions Team. Matt showed me around the teaching and learning spaces and answered some questions about what I saw on the tour.

We also talked about the current hearing-impaired AV solutions at Monash University and about new technologies and the legal requirements in Australian buildings to acquire a certificate of occupancy. Currently, Monash have various technologies, such as hearing loops and infra-red (IR), in place due to the age of their buildings but they are aiming to move to a consolidated solution.

University of Melbourne

The second tour of teaching and learning spaces took place at The University of Melbourne. Here Carlo Sgro, Senior Technical Specialist in Audio Visual Service and Strategy Infrastructure Services, gave me a tour and discussed the university’s AV solutions.

When talking about hearing impaired AV solutions, Carlo said that a high proportion of the systems are hearing loops; they have tried to stay away from infra-red and radio frequency (RF) solutions so are currently investigating wifi solutions as an alternative.

RMIT

The third university visit was with RMIT. I was taken around RMIT’s teaching and learning spaces by Adam Attana, Team Lead, AV Design, Technology – Learning, Teaching and Research, and Nikesh Kapadia, AV Delivery Manager, Information Technology Services.  After the tour I interviewed Nikesh, who explained how the flat floor teaching spaces have the IR systems in place while the lecture theatres have induction loops. With the IR systems, the receivers are managed by the student facing RMIT connect department, which allows the receivers to be lent out to students with hearing impairments.


 

 

Swinburne University

My fourth visit was to Swinburne University where I met with Robert Cameron, Technical Manager – Audio-Visual, Infrastructure Group, Information Technology. Most of the hearing-impaired solutions at Swinburne have historically been induction loops but they have recently moved to IR solutions.



Interested in finding out more about 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

Interview: The technology behind flexible learning spaces at Deakin University

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

On my visit to Australia in November to attend the AETM Conference, courtesy of a UCISA bursary, and to visit a number of Melbourne universities, I met with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team at Deakin University. During my visit, I found out more about the university’s use of flexible learning spaces and the technology behind them.

Jeremy talked more about HDbaseT (connectivity standard) vs. video over IP solutions and discussed the feedback that had been received from academic staff.

Other areas that I was also able to learn more about on my visit to Deakin University included:

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

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.

Interview: Microphones at Deakin University, Australia

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

Whilst attending the Audiovisual and Education Technology Management (AETM) Conference in Australia, courtesy of a UCISA bursary, I also visited five Melbourne universities: Deakin University, Monash University, RMIT, Swinburne University and the University of Melbourne.

At Deakin University, I discussed the use of microphones in teaching and learning spaces with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team (interview below).

This use of microphones is another evolving technology at Deakin, where they have been integrating, amongst other technologies, Shure beam-forming microphones sending audio over the network back to the DSPs so it can be fed back into the lecture capture system and hearing impaired solutions.

Other areas I discussed with Jeremy included Deakin University’s new audio video technologies.

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

Interview: Deakin University’s support of hearing impaired users in teaching and learning spaces

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

I attended the Audiovisual and Education Technology Management (AETM) Conference in Australia in November as part of the UCISA bursary scheme. During my trip I also visited a number of Melbourne universities including Deakin University.

At Deakin University, I met with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team, and we discussed the university’s AV solutions for hearing impaired users.

Deakin are considering a range of new technologies and in collaboration with the digital futures team, they are looking at audio over IP solutions to give users access to audio streams via their mobile devices.

I have blogged about my conversations with Jeremy on a range of AV developments at Deakin University.

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

Interview: Deakin University’s AV solutions

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 the UCISA bursary scheme, in November I attended the Audiovisual and Education Technology Management (AETM) Conference held at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. I also visited five universities in Melbourne including Deakin University.

While visiting Deakin University, I was able to interview Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team. He kindly answered questions about a range of topics including how new audio video technologies are coming to Deakin University and how these technologies converge with other IT solutions.

In the interview, Jeremy talks about how Deakin University is moving its traditional audio/video over HDBaseT to over IP solutions. He also talks about moving to cloud control for AV teaching space control and using analytics that come back from these systems to improve academic user experience. Collaboration has been key to this move to IP AV solutions, working with their network engineering and systems teams.


I will be blogging about my further conversations with Jeremy on other AV developments at Deakin.

 

 

 

 

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

Disruptive statistics, Linux containers, extreme web performance for mobile devices

Giuseppe Sollazzo

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Day one at the Velocity conference, Amsterdam

What a first day! O’Reilly Velocity, the conference I’m attending thanks to a UCISA bursary, is off to a great start with a first day oriented to practical activities and hands-on workshops. The general idea of these workshops is to build and maintain large-scale IT systems enhancing their performances. Let me provide you with a quick summary of the workshops I have attended.

Statistics for Engineers
A statistics workshop at 9.30am is something that most would find soul-destroying, but this was a great introduction on how to use statistics in an engineering context – in other words, how to apply statistics to reality in order to gather information with the goal of taking action.

Statistics is, indeed, very simple maths and its difficult yet powerful bits allow practitioners to understand situations and predict their outcomes.

This workshop illustrated how to apply statistical methods to datasets generated by user applications: support requests, server logs, website visits. Why is this important? Very simply because service levels need to be planned and agreed upon very carefully. The speaker showed some examples of this. In fact, the title of this workshop should have been “Statistics for engineers and managers”: usage statistics help allocate resources (do we need more? can we reuse some?) and, in turn, financial budgets.

The workshop illustrated how to generate descriptive statistics and also how to use several mathematical tools for forecasting the evolution of service levels. We have had some experience with data collection and evaluation at St George’s University of London, and this workshop has definitely helped refine the tools and reasoning we will be applying.

Makefile VPS
This talk presented itself as a super-geeky session about Linux containers. Containers are a popular way to manage web services that does not require a full-fledged physical or virtual server. They can be easily built, deployed, and managed. However, they are rarely properly understood.

The engineer who presented this workshop showed how in his company, SoundCloud,  they build their own containers to power a “virtual lab” in order to simulate failures and train their engineers to react. His technique, based on scripts that build and launch containers at the press of the “Enter” button, is an effective solution both for quick prototyping and production deployment whenever docker or other commercial/free solutions are not a viable option (due to funding or complexity).

As much as this was quite a hard core session, it was good to see how services can be run in a way that makes their performances very easy to manage. This is definitely something that I will be sharing with my IT colleagues.

Extreme web performance for mobile devices
A lightweight (so to say!) finale to the day, discussing how mobile websites present a diverse range of performance issues and what techniques can be used to test and improve. However, the major contribution from this session was to share some truly extraordinary statistics about mobile traffic and browsers.

For example, the fact that on mobile 75% of traffic is from browser and 25% from web views (i.e. from apps) – 40% of which is from Facebook. Of course, these stats change from country to country and this makes it hard to launch a website with a single audience in mind. For universities, this becomes incredibly important in terms of international students recruitment.

Similarly shocking, we have learnt that the combination of Safari and Chrome, the major mobile browsers reach 93% on WiFi networks but only 88% on 3G networks; this suggests that connections speeds still matter to people, who might opt for different, more traffic-efficient browsers in connectivity-challenged environments (for example, OperaMini goes up from 1% to 4%)

One good practical piece of advice is to adopt the RAIL Approach, promoted by Google, which is a user-centric performance model that takes into consideration four aspects of performance: response, animation, idle time and loading. The combination of these aspects, each of which has its own ‘maximum allowed time’ before the user gets frustrated or abandons the activity, requires a delicate balance.

There was also some good level of discussion around the very popular “responsive web design”, a technique that has become a goal in itself. The speaker suggested that this should be just a tool, rather than a goal: users don’t care about “responsive”, they care about “fast”. Never forget the users is a good motto for everyone working in IT.

Summary
Velocity’s first day has been a very hands on day. The overall take-home lesson is simple: managing performance requires some sound science, but with adequate tools and resources it’s not impossible to do it on a shoestring budget and in an effective way. As I’m an advocate of internal resource control and management with respect to outsourcing, today’s talks have surely provided me with some great insight on how to achieve this smartly.

Aside from this summary, I’ve also been taking some technical notes, which are available here and will also contain notes from the future sessions.