Collaborative online tools or those that could be used in business and community engagement may be in use elsewhere within the college, university or by the external partner(s). It is worthwhile looking to use these tools as there will be experience, familiarity, training material and perhaps central support available.
These are some of the reasons why Birmingham Metropolitan College decided to use Moodle as one of their tools, and why Huddersfield chose Elluminate; both being in use as learning and teaching tools.
For open source software there are very active user groups that are more than willing to offer advice and guidance; the University of the Arts tapped into this resource saving time and effort.
The University of Leeds looked to a professional body to assist in their decision. This meant that the community was familiar with the interface.
Apart from the use of Wimba, which is paid for by the university, the project has used either free, open source or other platforms that were not specifically intended for academic use. Our email system was gmail, and we used Twitter, Ning, You tube and Vimeo for communications and video hosting.
Essentially we looked out at industry to see what it was using to distribute and share work, and used those ‘industry strength’ platforms. This had the additional benefit of meaning that we didn’t have to deal with any internal IT issues over licenses, approval etc, which meant that the whole project was agile and could adapt to any changes rapidly and effectively.
University of the Arts