The project was funded by PICT in HT 2012 and runs 1 June 2012 to 31 May 2013.
The project has good engagement from the Social Sciences Divisional Office (SocSciDO) and key members of the Council Secretariat (CoSec). Good progress was made in the early days with regard to site design and other issues for SocSciDO. The SocSciDO has also been exploring possibilities of presenting information, normally held in Word documents, as SharePoint HTML pages. Therefore mechanisms of Word-HTML conversion have also been explored.
Work is underway with CoSec and PRAS secretaries on site design to support Council and other subcommittees. To date, most work with CoSec has focussed on looking into a PDF conversion/compilation add-in to SharePoint. PDF conversions are seen as particularly important for committees with much documentation and this file format is handled well by most client devices.
In parallel to the above activities we are actively looking into how end users of SharePoint can access documents stored in sites and annotate PDFs on a variety of devices including iPads, laptop PCs and Android tablets.
We have carried out much work reviewing SharePoint add-ons in order to create 'board packs' consisting of large PDF documents for committee meetings. Unfortunately, the offerings in the marketplace fell a little short with regard to our expectations and requirements. However, there may still be some merit in looking further into these solutions.
In the next steps of the project, we are looking to:
- Obtain further feedback on the site design for a Council subcommittee (probably PRAC) in order that that committee use SharePoint to disseminate documents and the agenda for a Hilary Term 2013 meeting.
- Elicit feedback from committee members regarding the (new) committee site template for the Social Sciences Board, PRC and IT committees prior to roll out of site design to other committees.
- Make a set of recommendations regarding of a set of software (apps) for hand-held or mobile devices for iPad, Android for use with SharePoint and PDF consumption. This may be followed by recommendations for Windows 8 tablets if we have the capability.
- Automate ways of identifying committee membership in SharePoint, in order to easily populate groups for privilege purposes in areas of SharePoint sites.
- Document the use of a new alerting mechanism that goes beyond users setting direct alerts on each list or library themselves, and which enables SharePoint site owners to 'push' information such as newsletters and other updates to their audiences.
- Finalise the review of PDF conversion mechanisms, possibly resulting in a bid to purchase a tool or add-in to fulfil this requirement.
Overall, we are beginning to move into the documentation phase, summarising and explaining the Best Practice that we have found and developed for the project, in order that the whole University user base can benefit.