Whenever I bump into friends and family over the summertime, it’s usually not long before some remark comes up about how I must be enjoying the long summer University holiday now that all the students are away and there’s nothing to do. Those of you who work in University IT functions will know that nothing could be further from the truth. Summer is often our busiest period of time for doing major upgrades which are difficult to schedule during the main Semester time.
This summer has been no exception. Our new Portal, based on SharePont, was launched to students at the start of August. I mentioned this on an earlier blog, and it’s great to see it launched on schedule. This time last year, it was being shaped over cups of coffee before a formal proposal was taken to our IT and Equipment Management Group for approval. Early feedback seems positive:
‘…This webpage is the bomb. it really make the whole process a lot easier for Distant learning students….’
‘..This is really good! It is like a one stop shop for all my basic needs on RGU home page ..’
‘..Can you make a link to Moodle from the MyRGU? Its a good effort and much more useful than anything I have experienced before! Well done…’
Now we’re turning our attention to launching the Portal for staff. Work is currently underway to get the content ready and we’re thinking of a full launch sometime late October. Prior to that, we plan to use some of the document management features of SharePoint to start streamlining the distribution of papers for Committees. On the principle of “eat your own dog food”, I guess the IT and Equipment Management Committee should be first!
The other big launch this summer was the new version of our Virtual Learning Environment, based on Moodle. We’ve moved to Moodle 2 and upgrade a number of related technology support platforms. Some of the new features include:
• Customised learning pathways for different learning styles.
• Progress tracking for staff and students; staff can view student progress reports and students can track their own activity.
• Surveys and comments as learning activities, or for student feedback.
• The new web editor and easy to use typography will make it easier to create attractive online learning materials.
• Module templates for consistency of layout and structure across courses.
• The Quiz, Forum, Wiki, Blogs, Digitised Readings and Teamwork Areas have all been improved.
• Turnitin will become a standard feature following successful pilot in 2011/12
Have a look at the video .
Good progress is being made with print@rgu which I mentioned in July. More Schools and Departments are starting to use the multi function devices (i.e. photocopiers) as their print stations and once we get an upgrade to some software we will be rolling out smart card readers so that staff can call off their prints just by swiping their ID card.
In the pipeline
Preparatory work is well advanced on some other projects that I mentioned before:
We have ordered the new telephony system and it is in the process of being commissioned. This will be rolled out starting later in the Autumn.
Our “Future Desktop” project is well advanced and the rollout of “MyApps” will build up speed this Autumn to give easier and more flexible access to a growing range of desktop software.
We are just getting ready to start the procurement processes for fitting out the new Masterplan building at Garthdee with all the IT networking, audio visual, signage and video conferencing equipment. Later in the Autumn we plan to arrange a couple of “drop in” sessions so that you can learn more about the range of equipment and services that will be available.