In the last post, I introduced the new IT Strategy and briefly highlighted the “Personal Environment” as a priority. Our next priority is what we call the “Service Portfolio”. We deliver many services – too many to mention on the strategy document, but we have highlighted here the key priority areas. Whatever else we are delivering, we will be keeping an overall focus on ensuring that we develop our core services particularly to improve:
- Our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
- Information and Document Management
- e-Enabling the University
- Enhancing communication and collaboration tools
Many of the improvements on information and document management, and e-Enabling the University, will come from the Portal project – more on that very soon as the first parts will launch this summer. For Communication and collaboration tools the Portal will also be important, as will the new Unified Communications system – first parts of this will launch later in the year.
One area I haven’t mentioned is our online Virtual Learning Environment. In February of this year, the University approved £250,000 for a major upgrade to our online learning environment in recognition of its strategic importance. This project is a partnership between IT Services and DELTA (the Department for the Enhancement of Learning Teaching and Assessment). Our VLE is based on the community-developed Moodle platform and the overall aim of this major upgrade is to improve performance, resilience and ease of support and ensure that the platform has the capacity to scale up for the anticipated growth in content and number of users over the next few years. Some of the key areas this project will be looking at are:
- In response to student feedback, significantly improved module editing capabilities to encourage and enable consistency of layout, engaging/attractive module design and efficient setup through the use of selectable module templates;
- An upgrade to version 2 of Moodle, including capacity and performance upgrades for the Moodle servers and storage;
- Linking our e-portfolio service (MyPortfolio) more closely with Moodle and making the service available to all students in line with employability initiatives and PDP (Personal Development Planning) policy;
- Updating our eAssessment service to allow for “high stakes” e-Assessment and also to provide mobile access;
- Upgrades to media services to enhance performance and meet demand for anticipated future use of rich media content, including video streaming, lecture capture and the use of archived TV content;
Work has started, and the essential background infrastructure upgrades will take place over the summer, with new facilities being made available progressively over the course of the next 12 months.