“RGYou” – our new Staff and Student Portal

Our staff and student portal will bring together a whole range of services and information into one place. We’ve been thinking about this for over a year and have spent a great deal of time planning our overall approach and being clear on the priorities. We’ve had good feedback from workshops and discussions with staff and students – some of their top requests were:

• Better access to information
• The ability to personalise
• A more seamless access to services
• Areas for collaborative work
• Electronic workflow and document management

The first stage of the new Portal will launch this summer. This will allow students to see information on their timetable, e-mail, appointments, library books, exam results, twitter etc to name but a few services. They will also be able to access web based information about University Schools and Departments. This is all built around the “5 minute” concept – bringing the key items together in one place so that students can check their key information in 5 minutes. Staff likewise will be able to link in their calendar, e-mail, many other services and have access to web based information from other University schools and Departments.

The second stage of the project will be to start to use key features like online forms and workflows and the facilities that will allow people, for example, to collaborate online on projects. That will be our focus during 2012-13.

The third stage will be to hook up the Portal to other University systems so that these can be accessed directly from within the Portal without people having to remember where to go.

Ultimately, we want this to be the “go to” place – somewhere that you can log into and from there pretty much get everything you need from our online IT services.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that this new portal will be one part of our total web environment:
1) Our main Web Site – http://www.rgu.ac.uk for our “external users” – visitors, prospective students, parents, organisations looking to work with the University, and other stakeholders;
2) RGYou – the Staff and Student Portal. The information environment for staff and students;
3) Our Virtual Learning Environment – http://campusmoodle.rgu.ac.uk/ where on Campus and distance learners access their online learning resources.

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MyApps – the Foundation of Future Desktop

At RGU, we have around many desktop computers in use across the Campus. Staff and students use these computers to access a whole range of University provided applications (Microsoft Office, Autocad, Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, web browsers, Moodle and many others), and to access services such as file storage on the H: and S: drives and printing.

One of the main aims of our “future desktop” project is to allow staff and students to access these applications and services not just from University computers, but from any device, wherever they are. This includes personal laptops, home computers, iPads etc. The project will also allow us to reduce energy consumption in the University through the use of simpler low-energy computers, and will make it much easier to manage and upgrade applications – thereby providing a better service for staff and students.

This project is based on the “MyApps” service which was launched last year. MyApps is a web-based service and allows staff and students to access University applications and services through a web page (or an “app” on a mobile device)- this is what makes it so flexible.

OK, I am a member of staff – what does it mean for me?

We will be working through each School and Department progressively to rollout MyApps over the next 12-18 months – starting first with those Schools and Departments who are moving into the new Campus building at Garthdee in 2013.

When we reach your area we will help you to start using MyApps and become familiar with it. We will check all the applications you need to use so that we can make them available on MyApps. Ultimately, we want to get you to a point where you can use MyApps to access most if not all of your applications – on Campus, at home, and on your mobile device.

MyApps won’t do everything – some laptops and traditional computers will still be required, but we are looking to move about 80% of our computers onto the MyApps service over the next 2 years.

OK, I am a student – what does it mean for me?

If you are using computers on the University Campus, you won’t have to do anything. MyApps will allow us to improve our service to you and will also allow you to print directly to any of the student printers in the University straight from your laptop, iPad, smartphone or whatever.

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This is going to be a significant change and I hope this article has provided you with some background and the benefits to both staff and students. We’ll follow up soon with further articles on MyApps as the project progresses and to give guidance, tips and tricks on how to get the most out of this new service.

Andy McCreath

The Next 12 months at a Glance . . .

 Over the next 12 months we will be introducing a number of IT changes as we upgrade our desktop computing environment, our telephony and video communication technologies, the online staff and student portal, and all the background work to commission IT infrastructure in the Estates Masterplan Phase 1 building. These will affect everybody to some extent and will greatly enhance our overall IT environment. In the next few blog posts, we will take each of these areas in turn and explain what will be involved in each change, what the benefits will be, and how these changes will affect you. We will also be looking to set up some “drop in” sessions on the Campus for those who wish to have a hands on introduction to the new facilities as they get closer to implementation.

 The key changes we wish to share with you to begin with are: 

Future Desktop This project will modernise our desktop, and introduce new ways for staff and students to access software and IT resources across the growing range of devices people are using today (PC’s, laptops, iPads, smart phones etc). It will help us to share spaces, improve access off campus, increase the reliability of our core services and help us to make savings on our overall energy costs.

 RGYou – a new Staff and Student Portal – “RGYou” – The University’s main web site has been completely transformed over the past few years, and is the main publication platform for our externally facing web pages. The old web site is still there and is acting as the University “Intranet”, but we are about to replace this with a completely new Staff and Student Portal, – “RGYou”. The aim of this Portal is to bring together access to all the key information and online services that a student or member of staff will need on a day to day basis. First launch will be Summer of 2012, with development of further facilities taking place over the next 2/3 years. 

Voice and Video Communication – Our standard communication today is mostly phone and email. We are going to join many other organisations and start to use a “unified communication” approach which will bring new ways and greater choice around how we communicate. This project will replace our telephone system and video conferencing systems, allow desktop video conferencing and links to people with Skype, introduce “instant messaging” and allow you to use the University phone system when away from the University. 

IT in the Estates Masterplan – We have given a lot of thought on how technology can enrich teaching, learning and work space in our new Campus buildings. We wish to create more flexibility in space, encourage the use of mobile computing devices and provide the most appropriate audio visual facilities in teaching rooms and meeting rooms.

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There’s a lot to tell, and I would really encourage you to read the next few blog posts to get an overall sense of what you can expect over the next 12 months or so.