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Evaluation of a Large-scale VRE Implementation - ELVI Staff and students using the VRE benefit from the greater transparency and communication that it.

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Presentation on theme: "Evaluation of a Large-scale VRE Implementation - ELVI Staff and students using the VRE benefit from the greater transparency and communication that it."— Presentation transcript:

1 Evaluation of a Large-scale VRE Implementation - ELVI Staff and students using the VRE benefit from the greater transparency and communication that it provides. This may particularly assist collaborative research and the transfer of knowledge across different disciplines. Overall, those institutions interested in deploying a VRE will have guidance - aimed at both academic and technical decision-making staff - on how to maximise their return on investment and avoid potential pitfalls. In addition, there will be an established evidence-base across a wide range of disciplines that all research-active institutions will find to be of benefit when assessing their customers’ needs. Methodology: An initial literature review was conducted to assess the best method of determining user needs and to ascertain best practice. As a result of this review, it was decided to run separate Focus Groups for academics, researchers, postgraduate students and Central and School Administrators from each of the different Academic Schools. There are 32 Schools across 6 Faculties, ranging from Politics to Biosciences, making over 60 Focus Groups. Information obtained from these will be supplemented by on-line questionnaires and end-user feedback on developments. Findings: Early findings indicate that while specific needs differ according to role and stage in research career, there is an overall need for greater transparency and communication both within Schools and across the University. Such transparency would ease the implementation and monitoring of projects, assist collaborative research and increase satisfaction. The need is for easily accessible, succinct information that is pertinent to the user. It must be presented in a form that is user friendly, and in language that is familiar to the researcher. Failure to do this alienates the user and is a major barrier to uptake of resources.  When new resources (new portal channels) are introduced they need to be clearly advertised. In those instances when resources are not fully developed (i.e. still at beta test stage) then making this explicit to users increases their willingness to use them and to provide valuable feedback. Contact details: Ian Wilson, Head of Research Information Systems, University of Nottingham. Tel: Fax: Research To produce and demonstrate a practical framework for the effective deployment of a generic VRE in an HE environment To identify the components of a generic VRE that will most benefit end-users To find and demonstrate practical solutions for the development and deployment of these components, including the resolution of cultural change and technical issues To assess the impact that greater transparency and facilitated communication bring to the three key areas - collaboration, decision making and workflow - for all disciplines represented at Nottingham. Project Objectives: Project Outputs: Project Outcomes: Project Benefits: Produced and demonstrated a practical framework for the effective deployment of a generic VRE in a HE environment, for use by other institutions. Identified and demonstrated the components of a generic VRE that have the most impact and/or are of the most value to the end-users, which other institutions can use to guide their thinking. Identified and demonstrated practical solutions for the development and deployment of these components, including the resolution of cultural change and technical issues, which will be of interest to other institutions implementing software solutions. Any channels developed as part of this evaluation process will become part of the suite of VRE components used by staff and students at the University of Nottingham. Monthly status reports on progress, quarterly newsletters reporting on ideas and findings of interest to colleagues and annual reports summarising achievements during previous 12 months will be posted on the project’s website. Discipline-specific requirements summaries and VRE component Business Cases (one per component) Overall VRE deployment recommendations and a Channel Development Process Manual Findings related to:a. barriers to adoptionb. cultural change Impact of:a. transparencyb. facilitated communication Publication of papers and conference attendance will be sought to maximise knowledge transfer Development Portal Architecture: The VRE is being implemented as a tab within the University’s staff and student portal, which runs on the SCT Luminis adaptation of uPortal. Each channel on the Research tab is managed by a Java portlet, which transforms SQL data from the University’s databases and Luminis’ LDAP store into XML structured data. The user interface is independently defined, using XSLT to transform the XML into DHTML, which is then served up by uPortal and displayed as a channel within the tab. Digital Dashboard: The vision for the Research tab is of a ‘digital dashboard’: one web page providing access to a range of personalised channels offering facilities such as Project Monitoring, Financial Management, Targeted Funding Opportunities, Research News-Feeds, Collaboration tools, Virtual Library facilities etc. Components are developed as ‘slimline channels’ which can either expand to focused channel applications or provide single sign-on (SSO) to independent web applications. Channel Development Process Manual: Rapid Development methodologies are appropriate for portal channel development, since each channel can be a small, discrete project, but this does not reduce the importance of sound software engineering principles. We aim to help small teams of channel developers at other Universities to employ software engineering best practices tailored to the unique challenges of portal channel development by producing a Channel Development Process Manual. This manual will recommend policies for Channel Documentation, Requirements Specification, Implementation Planning, Configuration Management, Document Management, Source Control, Version Control, Naming Conventions, Testing Strategy, Deployment Procedures and Maintenance Planning. VRE Virtual Research Environment


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