Twitter and Bid Writers

On Tuesday (3rd February 2009) Grainne Conole send off a Twitter post:

just about to do presentation at OU on how t get JISC dosh – any tweet suggestions to throw into the pot??? use #JISCBIDS

In response she received a fluffy of useful suggestions, which Lorna Campbell has helpfully summarised:

Advice ranged from the obvious:

Make sure you read the call. sounds obvious, but you would be amazed at how many bidders don’t!

We’ve all done it – it’s simply not fun, and risky, sending proposal on deadline day. Get into mindset of deadline is week before.

Provide *all* info asked for – such a shame to mark down a bid because it didn’t include risk assessment for example

10 page limit means 10 page limit. Do not put your budget on page 11.

Read the circular. Then read it again. Then do what it asks.

To the astute:

Don’t underbid to be competitive if this means your project will run out of money before the end.

Your background/intro section is too long. Ditch half of it and write a really good use case scenario instead.

Make it clear what funding your proposal would do for the wider community.

To the obscure:

A project with an acronym that alludes to bodily functions or sexual practises will (almost) always remain an unfunded project.

What a wonderful example of how people involved in writing JISC proposals, those who have been involved in bid-writing previously, potential  markers and JISC programme managers themselves are willing to share their thoughts and suggestions. And, of course, such sharing is good for everyone – better submissions should be prepared which makes it easier for the markers and JISC and the wider community should benefit from the project deliverables.

Twitter and Web Developers

I recently received an email from the manager of an institutional Web development team who asked

Do you know of any universities which have implemented some kind of iGoogle like home page for their students and  staff?  Something which lets users customise the data sources and layout and presentation of their start page, and which supports both internal gadgets – my courses, my marks, my timetable, etc. – and external ones; my Twitter, my Facebook, my news feed, etc.  It seems like something  someone must have done already somewhere, but who?  Any pointers very welcome.

The University of Southampton’s iSoton service (which I wrote about a while ago) came to  mind initially, but that wasn’t quite what was wanted. Not being able to come up with any other suggestions (and not wanting to give a negative reply and look stupid!) I turned to my Twitter community and asked:

Any universities provide an iGoogle-style page for staff / students with personalised links to remote (e.g. delicious) & internal stuff ?

Responses appeared immediately:

Response  1:
my old university did. https://my.mq.edu.au/ both for staff and students. various boxes showing your inbox, exam timetable etc.

Response 2:
do you have an example? Would this be as a personalised or general portal? Interesting idea.

Response 3:
OU has a couple of iGoogle widgets….?

Response 4:
Is iSotton (http://www.soton.ac.uk/isoton/) the kind of thing you mean?

Response 5:
check out http://www.uspace.org.uk. – jisc funded igoogle project. (must record I’ve used twitter as a dissemination tool now)

Response 6:
we have some delicious links in our toolbox and looking are a few other things … what about you guys

Response 7:
is it still the case that iGoogle pages don’t have unique urls? (So publishing them to the world is problematic.)

Response 8:
Sussex do. it’s called SPLASH http://splash.sussex.ac.uk/

Response 9:
See also the PADDLE project http://www.chester.ac.uk/ple/ both SPLASH and PADDLE are part of http://tinyurl.com/75khnw

Response 10:
iGoogle/NetVibes/etc examples http://tinyurl.com/5jgucc

And it seems that these responses where of use to the person with the initial query as he commented “Brian, that’s fantastic; thanks for your help” 🙂

Discussion

The UK HE’s development community has a well-established tradition of sharing, as can be seen by the popularity of (initially) the Mailbase mailing list service, which was replaced by the JISCMail. But as technologies develop well-established tools get replaced by new, and often more flexible alternatives. I think we are now seeing this with Twitter. But what of the Twitter sceptics, the ones who invite us to:

Imagine a world in which Twitter did not exist (give it a couple of years…) would you really invent a constantly-updated trivia machine as the best way of communicating with [your] audiences?

Is Twitter a trivia machine? Yes, it can be. But then again, so can email. And did you stop using email when those first Viagra posts appeared in your inbox?