Meetings pervade the life of almost all researchers, and increasingly, these take the form of telephone and videoconferences amongst geographically dispersed colleagues. Supporting distributed meetings that are as productive as face-to-face meetings is a primary challenge for research and development in this field. This is the motivation for this proposal.
The Access Gridâ¢ (AG) is an open collaboration and resource management architecture that already provides many of the capabilities proposed by the JISC for a Virtual Research Environment (VRE). The overall aim of the project is to extend the functionality of the AG with advanced meeting support and information management tools that were developed and validated in the recent e-Science project, CoAKTinG. The project will also deploy this environment as a prototype VRE with end-user communities in order to test, evaluate and discover further user requirements.
Our end-user partners represent a cross-section of communities interested in the potential of the proposed VRE to meet their needs. The areas represented by our partners include performance art, social science, middleware development and minority communities. These diverse users will help the project to evaluate the generic value of its capabilities. A phased deployment and evaluation process is planned, starting with the immediate project team as users, to address obvious usability and technical issues, before extending to the project partners who will subject the tools to a more formal evaluation.