Brian Kelly gave a talk on "IT Services: Help Or Hindrance?" at the UCISA Management Conference 2006 which was held at the Winter Gardens Exhibition and Conference Centre, Blackpool on 5-7th March 2006. The talk took place from 09.00-09.45 on Thursday 6th March 2006
When Brian Kelly first worked in IT Services life was much easier - we had mainframe computers, there were no or few alternative providers of IT services, no broadband access at home and limited home use of computers. In addition hardware and software were expensive which allowed IT Services have budgetary control over purchasing decisions.
Nowadays life is much more challenging. Departments can purchase and support IT hardware and software through departmental funding; users (including students) are increasingly accessing services from home using broadband networks and home PCs. The availability of services on the Web together with quality open source applications enables individuals and departments to make use of such technologies to support their teaching and learning and research (and social uses of computing). However this richer and diverse environment is leading to tensions with IT Services who have a responsibility to implement the institution's IT strategy and to ensure that mission-critical services and robust and reliable.
So how should IT Services respond to such tensions? Should they seek to rigorously implement an IT strategy and police any deviations from an approved set of applications and hardware devices. An alternative approach could be to surrender to the changing environment and leave departments to make use of Web services such as GMail and Yahoo to provide institutional email and groupware facilities. Or perhaps there's a third way, in which institutions seek to be agile organisations, which can experiment with emerging technologies (such as a variety of Web 2.0 services) in a managed fashion, which includes a risk assessment in the decision making process.
This talk will reflect on the current challenges facing the community and suggest ways in which IT Services can respond.
Brian Kelly is UK Web Focus - an advisory post funded by the JISC and MLA (Council for Museums, Libraries and Archives) to support the Higher and Further Education communities and the cultural heritage sector in making best use of the World Wide Web.
Brian is a long-standing Web developer, having helped establish the Web service at the University of Leeds in January 1993) one of the first 50 Web services worldwide). Although instantly spotting the potential for the Web for providing what was then known as a Campus Wide Information Service, Brian was concerned that inferior, although more widely used solutions such as Gopher, would become the de facto standard. So Brian sought to convert the Higher Education sector to use of the Web by giving presentations and seminars at a variety of events.
Following the universal acceptance of the Web, Brian sought further involvement with Web technologies as the senior trainer at the Netskills, University of Newcastle. In 1996 Brian was appointed as UK Web Focus at UKOLN, a national centre of expertise in digital information management based at the University of Bath.
Having previously worked in user support in IT Service departments in the universities of Loughborough, Liverpool and Leeds but now a enthusiast for Web 2.0 technologies, Brian regards himself as a gamekeeper turned poacher. He particularly would welcome conference delegates to exploit the WiFi network at the conference and to access resources he will be talking about - and even to use a 'backchat' channel to communicate with Brian while he is speaking!
See the bookmarks for the talk on del.icio.us (and feel free to add your own bookrmaks using the tag 'ucisa-2006-03".
The conference Web site states that
"We will have extensive wireless access at the Winter Gardens and plan to use this for some audience interaction with the speakers."
During the talk it is envisaged that remote participant(s) will be able to listen in to the talk and that a 'back chat' channel will be available to enable delegates to give feedback during the talk.
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