Talk:CTLab:Case Studies

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Neil Pakenham-Walsh 2012/06/25

  • purpose: Healthcare Information for All by 2015. By 2015, lack of availability of healthcare information will no longer be a major contributing factor to avoidable death and suffernig
  • maturity: 6 years, 'middle-aged', potential to metamorphose
  • membership: 5,400 librarians, publishers, health professionals, policymakers, researchers, development professionals, from 2000 organisations in 167 countries. Growth has been linear until 6 months ago, since when growth has accelerated
  • diversity: includes and welcomes anyone with an interest in discussing how to improve availability and use of healthcare knowledge; ranges from senior international executives to rural primary health workers
  • Main orientations: perhaps best answered by our website:
  • Main activities: as above
  • Tools: Dgroups
  • How did you select these tools?

I have been using Dgroups for many years, and am currently chair of the Dgroups Foundation. I find that email discussion forums are the best available method (thatI know of) to support large (more than 1000 members), inclusive, open, communities, especially when it is immportant (as in our community) to engage people with low bandwidth and/or occasional, unstable internet access. Email forums, in my experience, help to promote responsiveness from members and reflective thinking in their responses.

Dgroups is low-bandwidth friendly and provides a non-commercial environment. Even more important,the Dgroups Foundation is a unique partnership of 17 development organisations, all committed to international development through dialogue. For the past 3 years we have been using a technical platform provided by WA-Research, which provides strong technical support that is personal rather than faceless, and specific queries from moderators are dealt with personally and rapidly.

James Grey 2012/06/29

Context: Purpose is to develop, transfer and implement best practice in a technical field whilst offering an extended help chain, training and problem solving resource to engineers. This particular group has been running for seven years, with three different leaders in that time. It consists of a leader, a sponsor, 25 Core members and perhaps 150 Interested members (past engineers, line management and others). These people are distributed through Australia, Brazil, Suriname, Jamaica, USA and Spain and are all within our organisation. Members are reasonably tech savvy (smart phones, laptops, tablets) and happy to use technology that makes life easier. Communication is predominantly by teleconference and screen sharing – I doubt this is a real preference, but it is making the best of the technology available.

The main orientations of this group are innovation, learning, documenting and applying. Innovation in process design and operation through deep understanding of the chemistry and equipment technology. Learning through more experienced members leading specific learning points during calls. Documenting of current best practices in a standard format. Applying those practices and measuring both the success of implementation and the success of outcome.

For these activities, the major technology support tools are:

  • SharePoint as an electronic home, housing documents, data, lists of information, people contacts, discussion board, links to other information and sites.
  • Teleconferencing to allow conversation about technical issues – enabling a deeper investigation than by written word alone.
  • Live Meeting to share desktops during teleconferences
  • IM for individual contact
  • Email for sharing off SharePoint

SharePoint was chosen as, by using WSS 2007, it was the cheapest means to enable the community to have a home. Live Meeting is our organisation’s tool of choice for desktop sharing, as is MS Communicator and Outlook for email so these weren’t so much a choice as a given. Teleconferencing was an easy choice, but I fear our choice of provider is not so flash. We routinely have interference and people in more remote areas struggling to connect. This is a critical tool for us and for anyone looking at a provider, see if you can try before you buy as they are different.

Peter 2012/07/05

James, I'd be interested to understand how tight Alcoa is managing its social network, in terms of members, topics and tools allowed.

James 2012/07/05

Hi, Peter.

It varies! In my division, we have some Communities with restricted access due to IP requirements as well as some which are open to allcomers. The whole company also has Yammer access which operates as a very open and lose social network. Our communities usually converse on the technical topics relevant to their area whilst Yammer covers anything from internal PR information to people asking for help with computing applications. Within Yammer, some people have also setup closed groups for specific topics.

The tools we use are pretty much defined by what IT can fit in its budget – hence we have WSS 2007 (cheap) and until recently ran the free version of Yammer.

Hope this helps,