Five minute interview: Paul Walk

Paul WalkWho are you?

Paul Walk, technical manager at UKOLN and I supply technical advice to JISC as a critical friend.

What are your areas of interest?

At this event my interest is in finding ways to increase the capacity of the higher education sector to develop software on the principle that the people working in HE know what users need and if they use the right methodologies they can develop software that is fit for use.

I have professional interests in e-infrastructure to support teaching learning and research. And I've just made a sledge for my children.

What idea are you working on here?

I'm not, I'm a judge – and the Talkshow host last night!

So, what are you looking for as a Developer Decathlon judge?

I'm not looking so much for individuals' bright ideas and prototypes although I hope we get plenty of these. Rather, I'm looking to demonstrate that developers, especially when working directly with users, have much to offer the community. It's about giving developers a voice – some developers have had to take a day's leave to come here because there can be a lack of appreciation from managers of the value of allowing their developers to get together with other developers to share ideas.

I'm looking for evidence that that the developers are addressing a demonstrable need.

What's the major challenge in education software right now?

How do we satisfy the very real need for local management of users and resources within an institution while recognising the opportunities that the abundance of quality services available on the web at large offers to teaching, learning and research?

What are the most exciting developments in education software?

The opportunities which the web now offers the individual learner to assemble their own personal learning tools.

What have you learnt so far / interesting things have you heard?

The Agile development session was good and I was especially interested in the notion that Agile does not mean rapid. When I was learning my trade as a software developer the paradigm de jour was Rapid Application Development (RAD) which had an emphasis on speed using techniques such as “rapid prototyping”. In contrast, Agile development seems to emphasise a more risk-averse approach to development such that it guarantees that something will be delivered at the end of the development process. I've never quite seen it in this way before.

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