Technology can fuel the collaborative spirit in ways researchers of the not-too-distant past never thought possible. Collaboration tools, like many other types of 21st Century business interactions, are born of need and limited only by the imagination.
Faculty of Education professor David Slomp had been using a stand-alone version of an application developed to organize and analyze non-numerical or unstructured data, such as audio files, videos, digital photos, and a variety of text-based data. NVivo enables users to classify, sort and arrange information according to individual needs. But, as with all software, its capabilities and functions continued to develop and become more robust.
After doing some initial investigation through NVivo, Slomp knew he needed the ability to share files with his research assistants in Ottawa and Halifax in order to work on them collaboratively.
“David knew the desktop version had its limitations and approached us about support for the server version,” says Wim Chalmet, Application Support Analyst.
Slomp says going from a simpler desktop version to a server version with multiple people using it required a level of expertise he did not have, and the ability to rely on people who understand the technology has been a relief. “The value for me is that I don’t have to worry about the complex technical aspects of integrating the technology. I have a lot of confidence in the IT team’s abilities. Wim has been pretty dedicated to the project. I know that when issues arise, he’ll be managing them.”
When Trevor Butler, Manager of Technology Services in the Faculty of Management, became aware of the product, he obtained permission from the Faculty of Education to share the server. It was simply a matter of purchasing the licenses after that.
“Sharing the same resources provides great economy of scale,” says Chalmet. “But it also gives users additional benefits because we gain a significant amount of product knowledge through the experience, allowing quicker resolutions to any issues. Also, it fosters collaboration and enriches the experience with peers.”
Slomp concurs. “Working on a project like this requires lots of negotiation with the vendor and, through the use of University resources like IT Services, creates a higher level of collegiality and understanding. I think, too, there’s a high degree of competence. Technical experts like Wim and Daryle Niedermayer know what they know, and know what they don’t know.”
Next steps for the project include providing access to an additional research team in the fall.
For more information, please contact Wim Chalmet at 403-380-1837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.