Open by Accident

In 1996, I was lecturing in Information Systems in the Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences at University of Salford.  A colleague ran a Lotus Notes Server (under his desk as I recall) that hosted a Student Information System – and I had an account on the server for that reason.

And then – Lotus released the Domino server  that transformed from just a Notes server to become an Interactive Web server ! What was posted on a Notes Server could be shared on the Web.


I had looked enviously at Universities that offered tilde Web spaces for staff and sometimes students, but had no idea how I could persuade IT Services, or learn HTML alongside all my other commitments.

But now, I had a user account that enabled me to create Lotus Notes databases that would allow students to access and engage with what I published on a MS Office template database. So I just uploaded Word and Powerpoint documents to Lotus Notes, and there they were – on the Web. OK so the urls were a nightmare, but I was sharing course resources openly.  And I could sync the databases to my home computer, reducing my dialup charges.

My intention was that students could access resources but I soon realised that other educators were finding my stuff, and contacting me. This encouraged me in different ways: I adopted a more scholarly approach to citation/referencing in slideshows; and I was able to share resources as my network increased. Later, a colleague who joined us from another university told me how much she valued my stuff and we worked to create new web materials together when we team taught a large module.

I had also discovered the Notes Discussion template, and realised that I could set up Discussion spaces for students (and invite others) where they could have conversations that were shared but not in the public domain.

And then, an institutional reorganisation happened and I lost access to the Lotus Notes server and had to learn HTML in a month but that’s another story !

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