Well it was a bit confusing working out when the AHM ended and the IEEE e-science conference began but I thought I’d tap up some notes from a very interesting session I attended before jetting off up the M1.
The session was on ‘user engagement’ and was chaired by Alex Voss, now of St. Andrews. Unfortunately not all the intended speakers were present but those that were gave some interesting presentations of relevence to the Digital Scholarship project at the OU.
Lyle Winton gave an interesting overview of VeRSI which is the archaic sounding Victorian e-Research Initiative, where Victorian refers to the state in Australia not the old Queen. This project is a collaboration between a few universities and the state government to “coordinate and accelerate the uptake of e-research in across Victoria”. They develop infrastructure, initiate capability projects (including examplar developments) and conduct outreach and awareness raising activities. The talk focussed on the knowledge transfer activities and some of the problems and lessons learned. Some of the themes from this were taken up with subsequent talks.
Next up Neil Chue Hong talked about the JISC funded engage project. An interesting feature of this project was that it carried out quite a large number of small projects, developing tools for specific researchers and research problems. These projects (I think similiar to the exemplar projects above) then generated their own momentum and further funding from other sources (as well as papers and posters in their own right). There was a discussion after this about how the nature of funding is normally a problem for not just tool development, but their redevelopment and readoption by others.
Another outcome from this project was that a number of the projects funded by engage were using e-infrastructure for teaching purposes (e.g. visualisation). This was particularly interesting as a feature of digital scholarship as I am beginning to understand it is that teaching and research (and therefore perhaps e-learning and e-research) are more interconnected and intertwined than we might realise.
Alex Voss then talked about the e-uptake project and eius which interviewed quite a large number of users of e-infrastructure and the intermediary staff who support this. They have also produced a bunch of video case studies which might make useful resources for OU staff.
I actually ended up leaving before the last presentation as I realised I was sat next to Judith Segal from the OU and we popped outside for a chat. It seems to be quite a common experience at a conference to find somebody interesting who ‘lives’ only a few metres away from your desk!
Overall a good conference, perhaps marred a bit by dodgy food and network problems (apparently fixed minutes after I left!).