The second cluster meeting was held at the University of Huddersfield on 25 February 2010. The theme of the meeting was organisational culture and the aim was to discuss the cultures, processes and habits (within and across organisations) that the Trial Projects had come up against. There were questions raised with respect to engagement and collaboration with external partners:
• Does it require a joint approach or process review of systems and processes?
• Is there a need for new roles and responsibilities?
• What is the impact on existing services?
The Trial Projects represented at the meeting were University of Huddersfield, Knowledge House and Northumbria University. Each trail project gave a presentation on the work they had been carrying out with a discussion on their progress.
Joanne Charlesworth introduced the University of Huddersfield Trial Project and the work they have been carrying out with the West Yorkshire Lifelong Learning Network. Initially they aimed Elluminate usage at informal meetings and experienced problems with firewalls and the policies of various institutions which had the software on their restricted lists. Chris Parkin explained that a positive aspect of using Elluminate was the way that sessions can be recorded and this functionality had proved successful. Also the fact that the system can be left running informally and people can “drop in for a chat”.
Paul Cranner gave an update on the work of Knowledge House and explained that the organisation works as a brokerage service for the North East England Universities, managing the project lifecycle in its entirety. Paul explained that the Knowledge House Information System (KHIS) which is their main system and is embedded in the institutions had been recently upgraded to version two. There is now a monthly meeting of KHIS “Champions” with representation from each institution looking at issues and problems with the system. Paul explained that the KHIS Champions were predominantly Business Development staff and that at the meetings they were able to identify bugs in the system and so allow correction before any commercial involvement could be gained.
Erik Bohemia explained the aim of the Open ICT Tools project and gave some background on the work of the trial project. They are working with external partners including Motorola and Intel alongside their students and students in other countries to facilitate global collaborative learning with external business and community partners. The work being carried out enabled the Trial Project to work with the Director of IT Services and this opened doors within the department and helped facilitate the aim of smooth collaboration with external organisations but without compromising the universities systems. Prior to the Trial Project, Skype was on a separate university network but following discussions within the Trial Project Team which highlighted the problems with this approach, Skype is now available on the main University-wide wireless network.
The next and final cluster meeting will take place at Birmingham Metropolitan College on 31st March 2010 and the theme will be technical & IT barriers.