[CSG Fall 2008] Collaborative Applications and Infrastructure Panel


My notes are spotty here because I’m on this panel

Klara is talking about the challenges they face at Duke – they had education materials about how faculty could use Web 2.0 systems, but then it became clear that faculty wanted the institution to provision those spaces in similar ways. Now they are dealing with the tension between the need for privacy and security and desire for openness (need both within the same project). Faculty need collaborators outside the institution. Policy issues are tricky, as are identity and access management. Carrying the artifacts forward is an issue.

Shel is talking about some of the work from Berkeley on their Draft Strategy for Campus Collaborative tools. It’s tough to get hands around the problem space, so they did a research project on that. Ultimate goal was to make collaborative activities as easy as using email or phones. But the space is changing quickly – how are we to help faculty do better with collaboration?

Original idea: a campus toolkit that would be a family of collaborative tools – a mashup of mashups. That idea got trashed by the campus – “can’t ride a tornado even if you try”. Every person uses a different set of tools.

Their motto now: “Embrace the chaos”. Can’t fight or control it, so need to tap into it. Invest in infrastructure that allows that embrace as easily and securely as possible. Toolkit will be around guidance to the community – policy, privacy, and security.

Goals: provide enhanced identity management services; make it easier to use and share data in collaborative tools; train workforce to work with and support these new collaborative technologies (privacy guidelines); establish a common framework and vocabulary for defining support for collaborative tools.

Application folks are doing analogous stuff with SOA and web services. The infrastructure folks are hell-bent to keep this from happening – what about building bullet-proof reliable services?

Students expect to be able to easily shift contexts and identities – want some stuff that’s Berkeley-branded, but not always.

In outsourcing infrastructure for Bell Labs, Shel learned that in trying to impose all of the eventual conditions on the outsourced vendors that they eliminated all of the possible advantages and cost-savings. As we have gone into perpetual Google beta-land, people’s expectations are changing.

Privacy expectations are also changing, and we have an educational role to play there.

Need to help educate IT staff not in the central organization. Example of a dean who decided to move learning apps to Facebook while the IT staff in that unit was in the process of developing new apps for Sakai.

Expect to adopt report by January.

Lots of discussion about policy issues and what needs to be retained, and what to do with access requests.

I got people talking about the concepts of scholarly social networks.

John is talking about collaborative infrastructure are Brown. They’re trying to unite applications around Mace Grouper, using course memberships. Faculty have been frustrated by the difficulty with the edge cases – where people are in fact participating in courses that the central system doesn’t know about, departmental staff that have roles in courses that the student system doesn’t know about, etc. They added a schema for each course with roles that extend the official registration. Faculty members “pretty well like it”.

Faculty are largely unaware of the services available to them, and they expect last minute setup, including provisioning. Building a faculty gateway. Allows them to see a list of services they can enable for each course. Allows faculty to see and specify who’s in a course, vagabonds, etc. Found that the UI for Mace Grouper is a little beyond many faculty.

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