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Views from the schools

This week I had several meetings with computing and e-Learning staff from the academic schools.  I find these meetings really useful to learn what matters to people who are using (or in some cases not using) IS systems in conjunction with their own applications. 

First up was the Technical Peer Group for the university web site.  Here I gave a short summary of our preliminary investigation of whetheer Drupal would be a suitable CMS for the university's central web presence.  I'll write more about that another time.   We also had a presentation about how the university is adapting to the new law on cookies and privacy.  The meeting finished with a short discussion about getting central university data in order to create staff profile pages on school web sites.  We have yet to provide a supported API for this, so some enterprising school staff have found their own way to access the data they need.  This illustrates why a centrally supported interface is a food idea - it would mean a single, guaranteed way of accessing data, rather then multiple ad-hoc approaches that might break if IS change the central system.

Then I had two requirements gathering workshops for the Data Hub project that I blogged about recently.  Several useful strands of discussion suggested ideas to explore in more detail.  Several people were keen to access information about enrolment on tutorial groups, which is something we are just beginning to investigate.  In addition to the technical discussions, I also got some good recommendations of other people who I should talk to, including some of the academic staff who are making good use of e-learning technologies.

Finally I attended a meeting of the Computing Professionals Advisory Group in the College of Science and Engineering, as the IS Applications rep. I gave them an update on various projects and they asked a number of questions.  We were interested in each other's work with Drupal.  They are looking at the possibility of a college shared Drupal service and are wrestling with several of the same issues that we encountered with our preliminary investigations.  I'll be joining their mailing list on the topic, which should be a good opportunity for us to share ideas and experiences.


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