Implications for the Future

Summarised here are a number of the most important requirements that either the project was not able to fulfil or which were requested as enhancements to services and tools produced by the project, together with some wider requirements and recommendations for the JISC.

UNFULFILLED REQUIREMENTS – ENHANCEMENTS OF EXISTING DEVELOPMENTS OR NEW DEVELOPMENTS REQUIRED

  • Developing and demonstrating integration between the VRE systems of different universities.
  • Developing integration with businesses and business/community networks, moving towards the vision of ubiquitous VRE systems encompassing and integrating academic, business and other relevant communities on a worldwide scale.
  • Developing an integrated exploratory environment allowing connections between researchers, businesses etc and the resources associated with them, such as publications and projects, to be flexibly explored.
  • Broadening the type of information and knowledge that systems finding expertise and connections can use, to include informal and tacit information, for example and including other types of skills and competencies. Also extending connection and integration with library and information services and repositories and archives.
  • Creating a robust, flexible social networking environment integrated as closely as possible with systems such as Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter etc. The aim should be to create as seamless a user experience as possible.
  • Further developing new types of immersive environments and spaces to support physical and virtual collaboration and the combination between the two, enhancing interactivity and engagement.
  • Providing support for key workflows and tasks that researchers had to deal with.
  • Developing an easy-to-use system to prevent users having to re-enter identical or similar information multiple times.
  • Developing online notice board systems with intelligent personalisation and filtering features. Users would be able to post questions, expertise requirements, capacity available etc, and be notified of appropriately matching information.

OTHER REQUIREMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE JISC

  • Building and maintaining a community to support and take forward the development of the next generation of VREs is of vital importance. JISC, perhaps as the only body with the scope and remit to do this, should take on and co-ordinate this initiative, including equivalent international bodies – such as SURF in the Netherlands.
  • New, more flexible and wide-ranging models of VREs are required for the future. Some ideas relating to this, based on the experience of the current project, are discussed in Virtual Research Environments and Research 2.0.
  • Developing methodologies and systems for sharing practice, particularly relating to research environments, is vital, so that the extensive knowledge and expertise derived through past and current JISC and other programmes are not lost and can be reused effectively. Developing and employing systems based on pattern languages and other techniques can facilitate this process.