The annual HEAnet Conference took place in Galway last week, with third level education CIOs and ICT staff attending from across Ireland for an insightful few days of presentations and networking. Hearing great things about the event from our customers, Lorensbergs also made the trip to exhibit and join in the discussions on the latest IT issues affecting Ireland’s Universities and Institutes of Technology. Here’s a short summary of our HEAnet experiences.
For representatives from industry, HEAnet provides a great opportunity to hear more about the issues and requirements of customers in a relaxed setting. The event kicked off with a welcome reception on the Wednesday evening and a chance to meet both familiar and new faces. It was an enjoyable start, which helped all attending to settle into the conference and begin some interesting conversations. The free bar kindly provided by one of the event sponsors also helped the conversations flow.
The conference itself opened on Thursday morning with an address from Kerrie Power, HEAnet CEO, followed by a packed agenda of presentations and workshops.
As an IT conference, HEAnet was particularly interesting in the way it brought a student focus to the event, an approach made all the more effective by including first-hand student accounts. Campus IT – a student perspective was delivered by a University College Dublin student and covered some of the challenges students face when using IT systems on campus. The accessibility of IT support was a key issue, with some students simply not being aware of the full range of support services available and how to access them. Regular IT events and workshops were suggested as a solution to publicising and making these services more accessible to students – much more effective than the frequent use of flyers for awareness raising. The session created a lot of interest - incorporating the student voice directly into proceedings was an interesting angle and a refreshing experience for delegates in a conference context.
This theme featured strongly throughout the conference, with presentations from both delegates and exhibitors exploring how systems are key to enhancing the student journey throughout third level/higher education. Student feedback systems and online exam timetables were among the systems discussed. Security, network capabilities and future developments were, of course, also key themes throughout.
Those attending may also recall seeing me take the ‘30-second elevator pitch’ challenge to introduce myself and the connect2 online equipment booking system. All those embracing the challenge ascended the main stage and did their best to explain and sell their solutions before being quickly silenced by the stop watch. It was a very effective exercise, with delegates able to hear a quick rundown of the products on offer. Only a couple of participants ran over their allotted time, with all pitches kept short and to the point. A great idea, and one I hope HEAnet repeats next year!
30 seconds is just about enough time to summarise the key benefits of connect2 - an equipment booking solution that enables students to view and book resources online, and institutions to effectively track bookings and equipment usage. Used in over 100 institutions worldwide, connect2 is at the forefront of supporting these crucial student-facing equipment loan services. A more in depth view of the software was available from our exhibitor stand – thanks to all who came over to find out more. Further information is available on the webpage here, and if you’d like to find out more please do get in touch.
In summary, HEAnet 2018 was a fantastic conference in a great location and with an engaging schedule and topics. I’m sure you’ll agree and hope to see you there again in 2019.