RGU Web – Inside and Outside

Go back 12 years or so, and RGU’s web presence was pretty much a static web site, with some core information on there but many parts of the University largely unrepresented. Around 2002, a major web redesign project created a simple content editor, a relatively straight forward overall design and the ability of a wide cross section of the University community to create and populate web pages within the overall web site. I remember clearly that our biggest concern at the time was how to galvanise the effort across the University to create the level of web presence that we were looking for. I needn’t have worried – we had made the process of putting information on the web so easy that everybody jumped on very quickly and we actually ended up with the opposite problem. We had too much information, it was not all co-ordinated across departments, there was some duplication and much content was not being kept up to date following the initial enthusiasm. If I remember correctly we had over 12,000 pages on our web site, of which probably 11,500 were rarely accessed.

Anyway, we set about a major redesign of our web site back in 2007/8, put a web content team in place and control of content and over a continuous process since then created the web site that you see today for RGU. That web site is deliberately focussed on the external world – prospective students, parents, business partners, the community and so on. Whilst creating it, we moved across / redesigned content on the old web site. However, a great deal of the content on the old web site had been created with our internal University community in mind and this remained on the old web site which was now affectionately called “www4” as it had been renamed to distinguish it from the main web site.

The next stage in our journey was to create a staff and student portal which would, amongst other things, be the new home for the internal content marooned on www4. I wrote about that portal previously.

We’ve made good progress in moving that content across – if you are a member of staff or a student, go and have a look {web link to RGyoU}. Now we are undertaking the final push to get all the remaining content areas removed from www4 and replaced with something on the Portal. After that, www4 will be turned off in the next 2 to 3 months – and that will be the end of an era.

Once www4 has been turned off, we will have externally facing web content on our main web site, and internally facing web content accessed through the Portal via your RGU username and password. We also have web based content on Moodle, but that is information that is primarily associated with our teaching and learning programmes. It’s important to avoid confusion that the right information is in the right environment (web site, Portal, Moodle), and I will be working with colleagues to make sure we have effective arrangements to oversee this.

If you want a nostalgic look at one of our www4 pages – here (ironically) is the old web page for the web redevelopment project.  But be quick – it will disappear soon!

 

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Seven IT Related “Themes” for RGU

RGU has just finished the main stages of its annual University planning process. The major activity in this process is that all Schools and Departments lay out their forward action areas in the context of the overall University strategic aims and priorities. This year’s context includes a revision to the University strategy and an incremental update to the IT Strategy which I’ll share soon.

I then reviewed all the School and Departmental plans for anything that related to the use of IT and after discussion with IT Managers and colleagues on SPARG  we’ve all agreed to approach these IT requirements under seven overall major themes. These are key to delivering the IT Strategy, support the individual school and departmental plans, but do so in the context of a longer term approach which will bring greater consolidation and integration across key parts of the University’s IT estate.

At this stage we have not finalised how these will be led across the University but we have agreed that most of them should be led as key institutional change projects, with significant technology enablement support from IT, but not as “IT” projects per se. As we start to firm up on how these themes will be taken forward, I’ll provide ongoing updates and also  go into more detail in relation to each theme.

Here are the 7 themes:

Engagement Life Cycle – Student, Staff and other stakeholders.

  • Optimising key administrative processes across the University to create the best stakeholder experience
  • Ensuring that collated information about all interaction with each stakeholder can be brought together and effectively used to enhance the stakeholder experience

Technology in Teaching and Learning

  • Ensuring that the deployment and use of technology across the Campus effectively supports enhancement to teaching learning and assessment

Information and Knowledge

  • A coherent approach to where information is located and presented across web based information environments
  • Research data management
  • Document management
  • Provision of management information

Communication

  • How the range of technology supported communication can support the overall communication strategy of the University, both internally and externally

Identity Management

  • As the University activities and user community becomes increasingly diverse, an identity management solution is key to ensuring that we are able to effectively provide each person with access to the resources to which they are entitled and can manage their relationship with the University as it changes and evolves.

Use of University Services

  • This theme will expand the use of technology to make it easier for users to access to a whole range of University services using, for example, smart cards online and mobile solutions as appropriate.

Infrastructure

  • Underpinning all the above themes, there is a substantial programme of work taking place to upgrade many aspects of the underlying IT intrastructure. This will include ongoing server upgrades, network fitout of the new buildings, new wireless network, and moving into new datacentres.