T4 Site Manager and writing for the web training sessions

We are now making a more concerted effort to provide training to our users on a more regular basis.

TerminalFour Site Manager

T4 Site Manager training will now be held monthly.

This session gives an overview of Site Manager and how to add and edit content. It is intended for those who have not used Site Manager before, or for those who would like a refresher.

The next sessions will be held on the following dates:

  • Monday 12 March 2012 — 2pm to 5pm
  • Monday 16 April 2012 — 2pm to 5pm
  • Monday 14 May 2012 — 2pm to 5pm
  • Monday 11 June 2012 — 2pm to 5pm

Book a place on a T4 Site Manager training session using PDMS.

Training takes place in the Swallowgate PC classroom, on the corner of Butts Wynd and The Scores (view map).

Writing for the web

For the first time, we will also now be offering regular writing for the web training sessions.

When writing for the web your content needs to be concise and scannable. Users find it harder to read from a screen than from paper, so special techniques are required to ensure that your message gets across on the web. We need to write our content in such a way that we help users find the information they are looking for as quickly as possible.

We have become increasingly aware that the quality of content on the University website can vary greatly. By offering users the opportunity to learn about the techniques required to write suitably for the web, we hope to help improve the quality of the website.

These sessions will also run monthly. The next few sessions will be on the following dates:

  • Monday 26 March 2012 — 2pm to 5pm
  • Monday 30 April 2012 — 2pm to 5pm
  • Monday 28 May 2012 — 2pm to 5pm
  • Monday 25 June 2012 — 2pm to 5pm

Book a place on a writing for the web training session using PDMS.

Training takes place in the Swallowgate PC classroom, on the corner of Butts Wynd and The Scores (view map).

Web team clinic

We are also continuing to run the monthly web team clinic. If you have any queries on anything to do with the web, we are here to help.

The clinic runs on the second Friday of every month, from 12 noon until 2pm. The next few clinics will be on the following dates:

  • Friday 9 March 2012 — 12 noon to 2pm
  • Friday 13 April 2012 — 12 noon to 2pm
  • Friday 11 May 2012 — 12 noon to 2pm
  • Friday 8 June 2012 — 12 noon to 2pm

Book a slot on a web team clinic using PDMS.

The web team clinic takes place at web team HQ, room 6 in Butts Wynd Building.

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Learn about writing for the web

The University’s Staff Development team is providing a course on writing for the web. It will take place 19 November from 1.15 pm to 4.30 pm at Seminar Rooms 3 and 4, David Russell Apartments.

If you produce content for the University website, you may want to attend this course. Here is why, according to the course details:

When writing for the Web your content needs to be concise, scannable and objective. Users find it harder to read from a screen than paper so they scan the page looking for what they want – you probably do it too – so as Web content creators we need to write our content in such a way that we help users get what they want as quickly as possible.

This short course will help you understand:

  • The benefits of good writing for the Web
  • Why the Web is different
  • The importance of structured content
  • How to write for the Web
  • How to easily maintain and revise content

This is part two of a two module course with the first module being Clear, Concise & Comprehensive Writing. Participants can register for either or both of the modules running on 19 November. Lunch will be provided for those who have registered for both modules.

Book a place online now if this sounds like the course for you.

Gareth has been busy working on this. I was going to be involved, but I can’t as it turns out I will be at T44U in Dublin when the course is taking place.

Drop-in clinics

Help

The web team has begun to hold drop-in clinics for any users to ask questions, receive training or discuss any web-related topic. These sessions are held on the first Friday of every month.

As such, the next one is tomorrow — 5 November at 12 noon. Following that, there will be a clinic on 3 December. The venue will be web team HQ, Room 6 in Butts Wynd Building.

If you are interested in coming along, you can request a place by booking online.

ITIL

This week (Monday – Wednesday) Steve and myself were involved in the next wave of IT Services and Business Improvements (BI) staff to undergo the minor ordeal that is the three-days ITIL® V3 Foundation training and exam.

What is ITIL?

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library version 3, to give ITIL V3 its full name, is a best/good practice framework for managing IT services that is being adopted by the University. So it was decided that all members of IT and BI should become at least familiar with it to foundation certificate level. Which meant a series of three days courses culminating in one hour closed-book exam.

That was, incidentally, my first exam since I finished my undergraduate finals in June 1993.  And actually took place less than 100m from the location of my finals in St Salvator’s Quad.

ITIL V3 breaks down IT service management into five main areas, which it calls a lifecycle:

  1. Service Strategy
  2. Service Design
  3. Service Transition
  4. Service Operation
  5. Continual Service Improvement

I wrote those from memory, I hope you’re impressed!

Each lifecycle stage comprises various processes and practices, and the foundation certificate focuses on learning and understanding the structure, models and terminology used throughout the ITIL V3 framework and lifecycle.

And I tell you: it’s really tough.

There is so much information to take onboard in three days.  A lot of it is common sense, of course, but it’s common sense that’s been wrapped up into a complex model and distilled down into a very efficient vocabulary.

For example, here’s the ITIL definition of service:

A service is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific cost and risks.

Great resource

By the end of day two my head was swimming with facts and figures and models and vocabulary.  I felt lost.  I hadn’t really got my head around the basic framework of the framework that I was struggling to know where to hang these new models and processes and practices.

For example, I knew that I had to remember this sequence:

  • Planning
  • Identification
  • Control
  • Accounting
  • Verification

but I couldn’t for the life of me remember why, or into which of the lifecycle phases it fitted!

And that’s when I came across this resource on Scribd.com:

This book by John Long from IBM gave me just the right level of detail to get my head around it all.  It gave me the simple overview that I needed, as well as highly useful and usable diagrams, some of which were so simple that they really helped me in the examination.

Exam and results

In the mock exam on Wednesday morning I scored 33/40 (82.5%) having disappointingly changed three answers at the last minute and dropping from a commendable score of 90%. So I’m hoping/confident that I did okay in the final exam.

We get our results in a few weeks; we’ll let you know.  The pass mark is 26/40 (65%).  Our colleague Duncan has already set the bar high for the Web team with a percentage score in the 80s.

But to be honest, I’ll be delighted with a simple pass.