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    • #19177
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      Apologies for not posting in a while – my Teaching and Learning Coach work with schools has taken off while their years 11 and 13 are on study leave, so I’ve been enjoying a lot of work in schools while they have time to think.

      I wish to be clear about the monetary resources available to TalkPhysics.

      The development has been more problematic than expected, partly because Elgg is not as configurable as expected. By March 2011, it will have received the equivalent of about six months of a freelance software developer’s time (of which it has already received five), and about one day per week, nominally for maintenance, in other months. That will have exceeded the budget originally planned.

      This means that development is now moving slowly because we had expected more to have been completed by the end of May, and our development is now at the equivalent of one day per week. We will do what we can with one day per week, including bringing in various usability improvements which are partly completed already. I think the lessons we have learnt from letting our existing system run for a few more months will mean that we can request some very well-targeted, valuable work from the developer in the planned intensive future month (October? December?).

      I understand (and share) the frustration that users feel when something is identified as a problem and left unresolved, but we need to work within the available resources, with some harsh prioritisation (e.g. potential security leaks from the closed groups, or a user’s inability to download files, trump everything). We could make an argument for more money for development, but given my experiences with Elgg since November, I suspect we need to scale our expectations to the planned resources, rather than hoping that doubling or trebling development time will necessarily deliver a greatly improved site. And are those resources (either from the taxpayer, or from the IOP itself) best spent on our user interface, or on (say) extra Physics Network Co-ordinator salaries, getting training into schools?

      TalkPhysics is a valuable experiment, and will guide our thinking about what comes next. Perhaps with the changes planned up to December, TalkPhysics will serve its aims. Or maybe it is replaced by different software to provide a very different user interface (if so, we can move over all of our registered users, comments, files, etc. so no-one needs to re-register and discussions don’t get lost).

      I continue to find everyone’s posts very valuable, even if I don’t get to respond to even a tiny fraction of the suggestions. They are all read, and they all help shape our decisions.

      Thank you.

      Jon

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