Open ICT Tools was one of eight projects funded by JISC infoNet under its ‘Trialling of Online Collaborative Tools for Business and Community Engagement’ programme. The Trialling of Collaborative Online Tools for BCE JISC-funded project investigated the use of collaborative online tools to support Business and Community Engagement (BCE) in a number of trials in colleges and universities within the UK (Kelly & Stewart, 2009). The The Open ICT Tools project explored the use of open source Web 2.0 applications to facilitate collaboration between Northumbria and its international business and university partners. Using the Global Studio as a research site, the project examined the utility of various ICTs for enabling collaboration with community and industry partners. The Open ICT Tools project was a practice-led enquiry that was generated from experiences gained from projects previously undertaken in collaboration with external partners within the Global Studio at Northumbria University.

In the video below, Chris Turnock briefly describes challenges to the university IT infrastructure posed by external collaboration and then present the nature of student collaboration and solutions that have been tested as part of the project.

Chris is Head of LTech at Northumbria University with responsibility for enhancing the pedagogical use of technology within the university. He is currently leading the university's participation in the HEA Enhancement Academy initiative and manages several projects including ones to enhance assessment feedback, online assessment completion and marking. Chris is a member of a team involved in the JISC funded Global Studio project.

The project was led by a cross-service university team of staff from IT Services, CETL, LTech and School of Design.

Open ICT Tools team

The members of this team were (from left to right): Neil Smith, Enterprise Fellow (School of Design); Trevor Cornwell, Assistant Director, ITS Management; Chris Turnock, Head of LTech; Jed Woodhouse, Director, ITS Management; Ben Lovatt, Internet Solutions Developer, LTech; Laura Taylor, Project Co-ordinator/System Administrator, LTech; Kerry Harman, Researcher, CETL: AfL; Erik Bohemia, Reader (School of Design)

Jed Woodhouse, the IT Services Director for Northumbria University. He has overall responsibility for ICT and is keen to ensure that technology is used to bring real benefits to students and staff.

…the project was sort of outside the normal envelope and traditionally, or typically what would’ve happened is if it is outside of the envelope then people would say we do not normally do that kind of thing so that answer is NO. That is not always an appropriate answer.  So, I thought I need to find out more about this so I’ve got involved and went to one of the initial meetings, understood the problem and situation a lot better, and I have got involved with it.

The collaborations included high quality international universities and high profile commercial organisations such as Intel, Motorola, and Invernes Medical. Because of the confidentiality nature of the projects one of the requirements was to provide a restricted access to the online project sites. Therefore, one of the requirements was that the ICT tools enable information to be exchanged securely. In addition, the project aimed to trial Open Source Software and software which was free of cost. The use of this type of software was aimed to reduce the ongoing running costs associated with software licensing.

Jed Woodhouse and Chris Turnock, recording of a joint presentation at Northumbria University Conference

In collusion of this report we provide a number of recommendations. We recommend that IT Services in HE and FE develop processes where the novel use of ICTs envisaged by academics (users) can be trialled in collaboration with IT Services and e-Learning support staff. This would complement the established pattern of incorporating ICT where either IT Services or e-Learning departments sanction specific ICTs to support learning and teaching within these institutions.

We also recommend that students, academic staff and partners are supported in preparation on how the ICT tools might be used to support engagement with industry and community partners.

Ben Lovatt, Internet Solutions Developer, lTech.

When we initially started putting in collaborative projects, the only way we could do it was getting our own server; we weren't, we had to make certain concessions to the institution, and I think that's starting to disappear now, and I think personally, in the next year or so, it's going to move back into the institution rather than being a separate server on its own, I think it's going to become service.

Open Source does allow us to play…

Ben works as a developer for the University's Learning Technologies team (LTech). He provides a support to of eLearning materials production and research into new and exciting eLearning opportunities. Ben provided the necessary IT support for this project.

The Open ICT Tools project used an action research methodology. The project included two major cycles to trial ICT tools to facilitate business and community engagement. The first iteration cycle was undertaken within a project titled On the Move 2: Computing Now. This project was conducted between Intel Corp. (Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California; USA) and the School of Design at Northumbria University (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK). The second iteration cycle was undertaken within a project titled Entertainment on the Go. This second project was conducted between Motorola Design office located in Seoul, Korea, Hong-ik University (Korea), Ohio State University (USA) and the School of Design at Northumbria University.

Showcase Event in York

James, Joanne and Luke

James, Joanne and Luke in York

The final showcase event took place on 24th September 2010, presenting findings from across the trial projects involved within the Trialling of Collaborative Online Tools for BCE project. more information is avalaible on JISC infoNet website

Part 1 – Presentated at the JISC infoNet BCE Showcase in York

Part 2 – Presentated at the JISC infoNet BCE Showcase in York


Northumbria University Conference Presentation of Open ICT Tools

JISC infoNet infoKit: Using Collaborative Online Tools for Business & Community Engagement -The infoKit is the result of a JISC funded project – The Trialling of Collaborative Online Tools for Business and Community Engagement – in which 8 trials, situated in different contexts, used a variety of tools. The contexts include lifelong learning, collaboration within and across regions, international businesses involved in curriculum delivery, a community of practice, and Knowledge Transfer Networks.

The Open ICT Tools Report

Posters from various presentaions

Open ICT Tools: Facilitating international Business and Community Engagement. Presented at the Programme Support Event: Employer Responsive Provision: Designing, Delivering and Supporting Flexible Learning Opportunities (2010, 27 May), Lakeside Centre, Aston University, Birmingham, UK.

Open publication - More bce

Going Global with Global Partners was presented at the Going Global 4 conference (2010, 23–26 March), held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London.

Improve your community engagement an article in JISC Inform an online magazine, Issue 34 / Contents / Page 4 of 17: External engagement.