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Showing posts from January, 2012

Time out: co-mentoring

A year ago I completed a year-long course run by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.  This course brought together 18 IT and library managers from universities across the UK and Ireland, made us look at who we are, what we value and how we work, and then gave us lots of pointers for how to lead our teams and projects more effectively.

This week we all gathered for a reunion and for meetings of our "action learning sets".  These sets are groups who help each other with problems we encounter in our jobs.  Sometimes these are practical problems; sometimes they are about relationships with other people; sometimes we just ask the others to help us understand our own thoughts and feelings.

I'm blogging about this because everyone in my action learning set has found it hugely valuable to have someone we can talk to who will give us their honest response, in an atmosphere of trust.  The fact that we are all from different institutions mean that our reactions are not t…

Preparing for a post-PC world?

Martin Hamilton has posted a thoughtful piece about the impact of the current IT trends away from the desktop PC and towards cloud computing.  I've been musing about how these changes might affect us as service providers.

The move towards staff and students using their own devices to access our services is well established.  We have a policy of providing services via the web whenever we can, giving people access to our services "anywhere, anytime".  The EASE system provides a single authentication point for common access and is integrated with Shibboleth as well.  There are still university systems that don't fit this model, perhaps because the vendor doesn't provide the option or because a university department has bought their own system without considering the wider picture, but we are moving in the right direction.

In some cases, the move towards outsourcing services can make this harder.  The big players all have their own authentication systems and want use…

Reboot: three years on

I've decided to revive this blog, after a three-year hiatus, to post news and thoughts about my current role as Head of Development Services, in the IS Applications Division, at the University of Edinburgh.  My aim is to give some visibility to what goes on "behind the scenes" (or should that be "behind the screens"?) and to reveal the sort of issues that face IT in a Russell Group university.

My current job is quite different from my previous role at the National e-Science Centre, which was the topic of the previous incarnation of this blog.  Some issues, such as virtualisation and cloud, are common to all IT jobs these days, but the emphasis of my current job is on support and administration systems rather than research.  One important difference is that I must stress that all the posts here will not represent the official position of the University of Edinburgh in any way.

To start off, let me point you at an interesting comparison of the "student exper…