Utrecht University implemented Virtual Knowledge Centers to maximize learning and research potential. KWizCom solutions, “Cascading Lookup Plus” and “Calendar Plus” enabled performance at maximum efficiency levels.
Toronto, Canada - January 2010
Utrecht University is a globally leading university ranked 9th in Europe, 1st in the Netherlands and 47th in the world according to the Shanghai Ranking of world universities. The university has of 29,082 students, a history of 12 Nobel Prize winners and (from 1995 to 2007) 12 Spinoza Laureates. As a large and multifaceted international knowledge centre of academic and scientific excellence, the Utrecht University strives to create an environment that promotes learning and innovative research.
Utrecht University decided to enhance their information infrastructure to advance the institute’s research and education to a higher level. The existing information infrastructure for research and education was not optimized for use and/or access independent of time and place. Static websites were used that were not adequate for any interaction between community members and/or the outside world. Knowledge exchange followed traditional paths only and did not exploit Web 2.0 facilities to the max. The organization fell short of its ambitions with respect to communication and collaboration infrastructure. A new system needed to be implemented.
Utrecht University instituted a program to develop, deploy and embed university-wide Virtual Knowledge Centers (VKC), to support the preservation and sharing of professional and scientific knowledge products for distinct knowledge domains. The VKC’s were planned to be fully dedicated to university researchers, students and third parties (like alumni and/or external professionals).
Every university group can now benefit from a VKC of their own, which is fully customized to their needs and goals (for example developing new research).
The main platform used to develop the VKC’s is Microsoft’s SharePoint 2007 - SP2007 is the dominant platform in Utrecht University with respect to the institution’s web presence ambitions. Though granting a solid foundation, SharePoint 2007 lacked capabilities the University needed to maximize the potential of the VKC’s.
KWizCom’s web parts provided the solutions Utrecht University was searching for, bridging the gap between the limited functionality of (many of) the standard SP2007 web parts and the maximum, potential of the VKC’s.
KWizCom’s SharePoint Cascading Lookup Plus added much needed usability to the "Faculty" part of the VKC, streamlined usage, saving time and preventing user frustration.
The faculty section is basically a list where every community-member is an item on the list. Users can edit their own form and give information on their research activities, their publications, courses they are teaching, etc. The University wanted faculty to be able to add their fields of expertise but in order to add new fields they had to navigate away from the form, go to the list with fields of expertise, add the item there, and then once more return to the form they were editing – all these steps had to occur before a user could add an area to their profile, much less continue working. This wasted time and caused much frustration. KWizCom’s Cascading Lookup Plus enabled the areas of expertise to be added (and of course, edited) instantaneously. This was so successful that it was soon decided to install Cascading Lookup Plus on more locations in the VKC.
KWizCom’s SharePoint Calendar Plus enables users to get an overview of all the events taking place, an important tool – particularly when planning an event. In the VKC, there are various locations where users can post events such as conferences, seminars, lectures, etc. Depending on the context in which the event takes place and also depending on which people should be able to see the information, events can either be posted on the welcome tab, the research tab, the education tab, etc. In doing this, there is however no way to get an overview of all the events taking place. Calendar Plus aggregates the events listed on different calendars, giving a clear picture of the University schedule, at a single glance. This is a great time saver when planning an event, preventing confusion, minimizing mistakes and enhancing the community / collaborative atmosphere of the University by enabling activities to be seen and subsequently, possibly, joined.
The complexity of developing and deploying an environment as described above could only be tackled with the help of specific experts that were hired during the course of the program in the role of consultant and/or senior programmer (MVP SP2007). The University worked with e-Office in the Netherlands, a longtime partner. It was KWizCom’s innovation that bridged the between standard SP2007 functionality and what Utrecht University end-users need.
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