1 Information Services Information Technology Committee 23 June 2010 rief description of the paper Collaboration Tools - Report Report of the ITC short-life working group established to appraise the use of collaborative tools across the university in support of teaching and learning, research, and administration. The focus was on where, as a University, we are now, where we would like to be in an ideal world and how we should get there. Action requested For information and comment and to consider recommendations Resource implications Does the paper have resource implications? None at the report stage If Yes, in which section(s) of the paper are they described? Risk Assessment Does the paper include a risk analysis? No If Yes, in which section(s) of the paper is it set out? Equality and Diversity Does the paper have equality and diversity implications? No If Yes, in which section(s) of the paper are they described? Originator of the paper David Dewhurst, convenor ITC Working Group on Collaboration Tools Freedom of information Can this paper be included in open business? Yes
2 Collaboration Tools Report Recommendations: 1. Raising awareness of what tools are available, what they do and how they can be used in a University context, provision of advice on which ones to select, terms and conditions of use, and potential security issues should be a priority. Staff development on best-practice in their use is essential. 2. The University should put in place a core set of tools (e.g. wiki, VLE, e-diary, meetingscheduler, room-based videoconferencing, collaborative authoring) and these should be well-integrated with other desktop tools. 3. Measures to increase usage of existing tools such as e-diary should be introduced as a priority awareness-raising, training etc. 4. Any collaboration tools used for assessment must be internally hosted to ensure security of data. If there is demand for tools not currently available which will be used for assessment IS should be contacted for advice. 5. Priority should be given to supporting staff, especially those in Professional Services, wishing to use online meeting tools. Executive Summary: 1. Current Use The most commonly tools used across the university are those for arranging meetings (e.g. Doodle), wikis (e.g. Confluence), online meetings (e.g. Skype, teleconferencing, videoconferencing), and collaborative authoring/document-writing (e.g. Google docs). In addition staff involved in Teaching and Learning make significant use of VLEs, wikis and discussion boards and there is some use of virtual classrooms, and tools which support community building such as social networking, blogs/microblogs. Online tutorials are used in some courses (particularly odl) Adobe Connect, Wimba and these might have wider usage such as synchronous internal communication and virtual meetings. Assessment and security of assessment data is a key issue with most of this managed through internally-hosted VLEs. If other tools such as wikis or blogs are to be used for assessment then they should be internally hosted. Research and Professional Services staff also make greater use of file sharing (e.g. Dropbox, shared folders on network drives). Usage of other tools is much lower. There is significant non-work related use of other collaborative tools. 2. arriers to current and future use - Many of the collaboration tools are only really useful if there is a critical mass of staff using them and persuading them is a challenge.
3 - Lack of time to become proficient in using particular tools. - Lack of knowledge about data security issues for some tools. - Should be common set of tools across the university and there needs to be better integration with other desktop tools. - Probably more cost effective to invest in staff (awareness, training etc) rather than services. - No evidence of value - highlights the importance of the innovators and explorers within the University trying things out, and passing on their views & experiences. 3. Future Needs - Strong demand from Professional Services staff for online meetings. This group are more inclined to use tools provided and supported centrally and to take advantage of training. This group also flagged the need for timetabling software and for more colleagues across the University to make use of the e-diary service. - No evidence of demand for other IS-hosted services although it could be argued that the fact that we have a hosted and supported wiki service has stimulated wiki use. Hosting of other tools might be better outsourced as long as any data security issues are resolved. - Strong demand for central services to provide advice on what is available, together with recommendations on what might be the most suitable tools and best-practice in use guidelines, taking into account issues in arriers section. - Demand for tools to support collaborative working from staff working in the field/nomadic workers is also likely to increase. Project rief: establish a small working group of Information Technology Committee to appraise the use of collaborative tools across the university in support of teaching and learning, research, and administration. The focus will be on where we are now; where we would like to be in an ideal world and how we get there. Definition: In this context, "Collaboration" is work done by two or more people working together on tasks, in an interactive manner, and "Collaboration Tools" are IT systems which support collaboration. Review Group: Professor David Dewhurst (CMVM; Chair); Dr Chris Adie (IS); Alex Jones (Corporate HR); Jean Ritchie (IS); Dr Cuna Ekmekcioglu (IS); Erin Jackson (ELPP, Law); Dr Sian ayne (Education) Methodology: The chosen method for gathering data was online questionnaire and three similar but subtly different questionnaires were developed for the three groups of staff we surveyed: professional services, research and teaching & learning.
4 1. Professional Services Survey (CA and AJ): 10 questions split between six sections (1. Your job; 2. Collaborative tasks; 3. Current awareness and usage of collaboration tools; 4. Looking ahead future demand; 5. Additional comments; 6. Further help with survey). Most required tick-box responses. The survey was sent to Heads of Colleges and Support Groups and to their Directors and senior administrative staff, inviting them to distribute the survey to professional services and administrative staff in their department. The survey opened on 1 st February 2010 and closed 22 nd Feb Two reminders were sent during this period. There were 207 respondents spread over all colleges and support groups mostly in CSE and IS. Meetings were also held with CSE School Administrators and senior College staff and with Dr ruce Nelson, CSE Registrar. 2. Research staff Survey (CE and JR): 21 questions split between three sections (1. Name, academic role, school; 2. Current usage of collaboration tools for research; 3. Collaboration tools you would like to use). The survey was sent to the Principal Investigators list and by to 3210 individual research staff and students across three colleges. The survey was open for 3 weeks and closed on 18 th March There were 152 respondents from across the university (CHSS - 28%, MVM 15%, CSE - 57% ), of which 44.8% were academic staff, 29.6% were research staff and 9.9% were PhD students. The rest (15.8%) were head of units, directors, project managers, research managers and consultants. 3. Learning and Teaching Survey (EJ, S): 19 questions split over 3 sections (1. About you; 2. Current use; 3. Other information (primarily non-usage). The survey was sent to the elearning Practitioners and Professionals (elpp) mailing list which had 128 members comprising both academic and academic support staff from across the university all of whom have an interest in elearning, and many of whom are innovators in the use of collaboration tools and environments. The survey was open for 3 weeks and closed on 1 April There were 32 respondents from across the university with about 50% of responses from Law, Education, RDSVS, Divinity. 44% identified themselves as lecturers or programme directors; 31% work in elearning or distance learning roles; 16% are liaison librarians; and one is a senior administrator. 50% of the sample is involved in undergraduate teaching; nearly 60% is involved in postgraduate teaching and 34% in postgraduate research programmes. Results: 1. Use of Collaboration Tools by Professional Services/Administrative Staff The survey was sent to Heads of Colleges and Support Groups and to their Directors and senior administrative staff, inviting them to distribute the survey to professional services and administrative staff in their department. After three weeks and two reminder messages, there were 207 respondents, spread over all Colleges and support groups most in CSCE and ISG. Less than 30% were IT staff. Collaborative tasks As expected, the survey results reflected a great deal of collaborative activity among respondents. The main collaborative tasks reported were arranging meetings, and finding and sharing information. Significant numbers also collaborate on document writing, spreadsheets and projects.
5 For all of these tasks, most people felt they could save some or a lot of time if there was a better way to collaborate this was particularly so for arranging meetings and finding and sharing information on the web. The free-text responses revealed considerable interest in online meetings through videoconferencing. Timetabling was another collaborative task for which a software tool was wanted. Document management (including collaborative authoring) also featured strongly. Current awareness and usage Most of the collaborative tools mentioned in the survey were known to almost everyone, the exceptions being file sharing sites (e.g. dropbox), online office software (e.g. Google Docs), social bookmarking (e.g. Delicious), online project management tools, and RSS. In many cases, people use these tools for non-work purposes. Those tools which featured more strongly in a work context were wikis, meeting organisers and virtual worlds, and also less wellknown tools such as social bookmarking, online project management tools, and RSS. Wikis were the most heavily-used tool, with about 65% of respondents using them, followed by meeting organisers such as Doodle. Looking ahead Tools (other than wikis and meeting organisers) which many people felt would be useful to them were virtual meeting systems, online project management systems, file sharing services, discussion boards and instant messaging. Tools shouldn t be overengineered, and they should link to each other. The main barriers to use were identified as other colleagues not using them, not knowing enough about them, and not knowing which to use. Free-text comments emphasised a lack of confidence in colleagues willingness to engage with the tools (obviating their usefulness for collaboration), and a lack of local support and advice, particularly around acceptable use. A common question was what kind of data are we allowed to store on external services? General comments Responses included a large number of general comments about collaboration tools, demonstrating a rich diversity of opinion. The responses are available (along with the rest of the survey results) on a wiki (URL provided below), and they repay study. The common threads which emerge most clearly, reinforce the points made immediately above. There is a strong feeling that getting people to use such tools is a real challenge, that awareness and consistency across the University (i.e. everyone using common tools) is essential to realise the benefits, and that promotion, advice, guidance and support are required to create a shared understanding of what the tools can deliver and to encourage their use. There are a number of pleas for ediary to be used by more people. Doodle is mentioned as an alternative, both negatively and positively. 2. Use of Collaboration Tools by Researchers An online survey of 21 questions was sent to the Principal Investigators list followed by s sent to individual research staff and students across three colleges. There were 152 respondents (CHSS - 28%, MVM 15%, CSE - 57% ), of which 44.8% were academic staff, 29.6% were research staff and 9.9% were PhD students. The response rate was quite low in proportion to the number of staff and students contacted. Some [exasperated] staff expressed their frustration with completing surveys, and some others stated that these tools are not relevant to their work. Results of the survey are given in the following section according to the popularity of these tools in research work. Current usage of collaboration tools for research work
6 The most popular and frequently used collaboration tools in daily research work were found to be: - Meeting organisers (Doodle being the most popular, followed by Google Calendar, University e-diary and Meet-o-matic). - Electronic/virtual meeting systems (most popular one being Skype followed by teleconferencing, video conferencing, web conferencing and desktop conferencing). - Instant messaging (Skype followed by Windows Live Messenger and Google Talk). Social networking sites: Facebook and LinkedIn were the two most popular social networking sites. Academia.edu and Research Gate were also mentioned by some researchers. Wikis: It was interesting to note that wikis came quite low in the ranking. Among the listed wikis, Confluence was the most popular wiki followed by MediaWiki and Twiki. The use of other wikis such as PWiki, PhpWiki, JSP wiki, Doku Wiki, MoinMoin, and Trac were also identified. logs and microblogging: There was some usage of blogging and microblogging for research work. The most commonly used blogs and microblogs were WordPress, logger and Twitter. There were also some others such as Posterous, scienceblogs.com, own blogs (individual or School blog), Tumblr, status.net, and identi.ca. Collaborative writing tools: Google Docs and Spreadsheets were the most commonly used tools by researchers. Some other tools also mentioned were: A.nnote, CVS, Subversion, Google Wave, LaTeX (Coltex), MS Word, Open Office, and shared drives. File sharing sites: Dropbox and YouSendIt were the two major tools used for file sharing. Among the others there were Open Drive, Pando, DropSend, use version control repositories (SVN, CVS, Git), Google Docs and shared drives. Data visualisation tools: Google Maps was the most commonly used tool for data visualisation. Some others such as Swivel, Infochimps, Map Tube, OpenStreetMap were also listed. Virtual research work environments: Some usage of these environments was identified, MyExperiment, iomed Experts, Nature Network, ecat, Mendeley, Google Wave, Sharepoint, shared drives were listed as the most commonly used research environments. Social bookmarking: It was found that social bookmarking wasn't used much by researchers. The most frequently used tool was Del.ici.ous, Some others listed were Digg, Connotea, CiteULike and Xmarks. Project management and collaboration tools: Only 4 staff reported using asecamp and 19 staff reported using other tools such as Trac, SourceForge, Microsoft Project, Google Docs/sites, WebCollab, NVIVO. Other tools: Among other tools that weren't listed in the survey, YouTube, , Flickr, Google Reader, Subversion, SourceForge were listed as the most commonly used tools by researchers. arriers to take up of collaboration tools Main barriers to take up of these tools were identified as: having time to become proficient with these tools; knowing what a particular tool could do for them and what the University provides/supports; having easy access to information; understanding the potential of
7 % ITC: collaboration tools and any privacy/security issues associated with these tools; comparative assessment of what similar tools offer, and having suitable equipment. Some other comments were made on the reliability, and compatibility issues, the need for better integration of these tools with the most widely-used desktop software, having a suitable requirement for these tools (rather than simply use them because they are there), and the need for a wider acceptance of these tools across a network of researchers. 3. Collaboration tools in learning and teaching The sample - using the elpp forum mailing list we had responses from 32 colleagues a rate of 25%. Of those who identified their roles 44% were academics, 31% e-learning support, and 16% liaison librarians. Responses were spread across all Colleges. This group represents those known to be active practitioners and innovators in their Schools. Current usage Respondents were asked about the levels of usage of a range of environments in their teaching and learning activities (see above). The most-used applications were those currently supported by Information Services VLEs (97%), wikis (84%) and discussion boards (75%). All other services were used by less than 50% of respondents, with the exception of social networking (59%) which has saturation in the wider culture. The high usage of wikis, in particular, suggests that other social applications might also be more used if they were centrally supported. Forms of usage The three main tools used for teaching are again those institutionally supported: VLEs, online discussion boards, and wikis. VLEs are used extensively for assessment. The only other tools used for assessment purposes by more than a couple of respondents are online discussion boards, blogs and wikis. The high-stakes nature of assessment suggests a case for institutional hosting and/or support for blogs.
8 The administration of teaching is done primarily via VLEs and online discussion boards. The much wider range of tools/environments comes into play for community building. Online discussion boards and social networking sites feature most prominently here, with VLEs, microblogging, wikis, virtual classrooms, virtual worlds and instant messaging all used fairly extensively too. Reasons for usage and non-usage Respondents are most likely to use a service because it is efficient and/or offers pedagogical suitability. They are least likely to use a service because of pressure from colleagues or out of any institutional expectation. The motivation to respond to student expectations and to introduce an element of fun to teaching also feature quite strongly, particularly in relation to microblogging, virtual worlds, social networking sites and instant messaging. Lack of time and no evidence of value are the main reasons why respondents do not use collaboration environments a third of respondents selected these options. Encouragingly, only small numbers of respondents selected colleague resistance, lack of institutional support or access difficulties as reasons for non-usage while, interestingly, no-one identified student resistance as a factor. Further information about this work can be found at the following links https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/pages/viewpage.action?pageid= https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/display/web2wiki/survey+responses)