The University Executive Committee is responsible for all matters associated with the development and management of the university.
Digital Strategy 2022-2027
Last updated: 13 March 2023
This Digital Strategy seeks to ensure our systems, processes and resources are aligned to underpin student success. The switch to blended learning in 2020 has brought challenge and opportunity in equal measure to university academics and professional staff. The desire to use digital services in new ways impacts every team and demands we ask ourselves how best to align our strategy to meet the shift in expectations from students, academics, and the wider world. The resounding message is that technology is more important than ever in the delivery of teaching and learning. The rapid transformation, forced upon us by the pandemic, has increased expectations and will change delivery of knowledge sharing forever. It is therefore essential that we support our academic and professional services staff to develop their knowledge so they can maximise the benefit digital systems can bring to their leadership, teaching, research, and support roles.
The evolution of technology is having an impact on how teaching is delivered and increasing the expectation of students. Education 4.0 will change the way teaching and learning is offered, making it more rewarding, and preparing students for this new dependence on systems, automation, and intelligence in the workplace. In this fast-changing world, the University needs a strategy to support transformation via new technologies which facilitate new opportunities, personalised learning, and the development of digital campus environments.
As the University grows into new modes of delivery there will be opportunity to rethink how technology and the current estate is utilised and how digital solutions can support new ways to learn interactively both on campus and online. To stay relevant, the University will need to weave digital fluency throughout the curriculum.
Progress and Consultation
The Libraries, Technology and Information (LTI) service has supported the implementation of the Information Strategy which sought to ensure the University’s data, information, and technology effectively and efficiently supported the delivery of the Strategic Plan (2017-2022) and Academic Strategy (2017-2022). There have been two iterations of the Information Strategy, and each has played its part in building capability towards using information and systems effectively. These improvements will form the foundation for a new iteration of information and knowledge creation within Schools. Data now impacts all aspects of life, and this Digital Strategy will be the vehicle to take forward future developments started by the Information Strategy.
Digital strategy engagement sessions were held with Schools and Departments to discuss and reflect on what subject areas might look like in the future and how this would affect technology needs. Key themes from the discussions, which will need investigation included: criticality of network access, reliability, and robustness of the systems, growing need for student remote desktop, more software, AI, VR, and big data analytics, personalised learning, digital equality, literacy and training, partnership, and collaboration. The desire for access to systems from anywhere and the growth of smart technology will need adjustments in technology offered by LTI to support teaching and learning.
Technology is no longer fully driven by a central IT department, but increasingly democratised through flexible solutions giving control to students and staff – continual engagement and evolution of this strategy will be critical to ensure digital services remain enablers of excellent student experiences and learning outcomes. Appendix A describes a future vision of what the University of Gloucestershire may look like as a result of this (and other) strategies.
The needs of the University will continue to develop alongside technological advancements and therefore this strategy will need regular review to ensure it remains properly aligned with the ambitious plans for growth and development. The route for this will be via regular meetings with stakeholders in the Education Strategy, led by the DVC.
In summary our Digital Strategy will focus on the following four ambitions:
Systems: Promote sector leading technology innovation and creativity; develop advanced technical ability within LTI teams to implement and support modern systems;
Data: Build data solutions which present insights in a modern, accessible manner to inform and support decision making.
Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace and will significantly revolutionise the University’s offering over the coming decade. LTI have ambition for the University to lead the sector in the adoption of innovative digital solutions and this strategy paves the way for a range of projects which will improve the offer for our academic schools, professional departments and our students.
The University has a responsibility to shape technology and be fully aware of the opportunities on the horizon. UoG can lead the sector in digital change in the areas where there is high skill and knowledge such as digital examinations, learning & curriculum analytics, data integration, leveraging partnerships and delivering efficient services. The previous Information Strategies have moved forward our understanding and ability to utilise data in a meaningful way. The Technology to Enhance Learning programme embedded a number of new digital systems and processes that have been embedded into our culture and working practices to become business as usual for all; the tools and methods must continue to evolve. LTI will seek to benchmark our technology and resource offerings against other organisations using maturity and comparison models, aspiring to continually improve and refine our services to be the very best. Standards for IT Service delivery will be maintained, improved, and shared.
Roles within the University will change over the coming decade and this shift in the job market will shape the future workplace that students need to prepare for. Future service modelling will provide an understanding of the skills gap and inform training programmes which create expert staff. LTI will develop leadership capability to build and maintain strong teams who continue to embrace creative ideas and deliver innovative service change. LTI staff will need to develop new skills so they can support staff and students to take advantage of the changing technology landscape. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality and internet of things are becoming mainstream and need to be understood in terms of how they can add value to the organisation today.
We will regularly review and test the market, building annual plans which deliver systems that support the University’s strategic goals. LTI will seek to build partnerships with other institutions and organisations, enabling continual development of skills and enhancement of capacity and capability.
Deliver an impressive digital experience for staff and students, making IT systems simple and enjoyable to use.
Digital systems are evolving at pace, often with consumer technology leading the way. This evolution generates an increased awareness and expectation of what is possible. Integrating new technology into teaching and learning approaches is essential but can be costly. Over the next decade solutions will become available that we couldn’t imagine right now, and the University will need to review, test, and pilot new technology every year.
To ensure digital investment is aligned to the needs of each School context, LTI will develop a forum to gather future requirements, through a business partnering model, which, in addition to academic input, will include employability, pedagogical developments, and staff development expertise.
With the increase in online teaching there is a need for simple, integrated classroom solutions which enhance the experience of face to face, online and combined teaching modes. New methods that seamlessly integrate multiple module tutors (or external partners) into a virtual teaching space will become the norm, this may take the form of green screens, software, or a new level of technical orchestration to bring data, video and imagery together interactively. There will be a need to develop dedicated recording facilities and support functions to facilitate the compilation of high quality, accessible content. The use of specialist software continues to grow and will require new solutions to be implemented, for students and staff to improve access both on and off campus. Virtual reality systems and rooms will grow in use as the technology and software becomes more available.
The VLE will be at the heart of the learning resources offer with all essential reading available online and embedded seamlessly into the module structure. A review of the current use of Moodle and future options will be undertaken. A new ‘MyCourse’ student study portal will be developed with links to all relevant systems that provide and inform learning. A review of the available online study material will be undertaken. Currently information is stored in several systems which can be overwhelming for staff and students; implementing design and layout standards will support improved accessibility in the future.
Tools to enhance student engagement with learning resources and complement blended delivery such as Talis Elevate will be rolled out. Librarians will continue to offer information literacy and digital skills training, but delivery methods will become more innovative and flexible supported by an enhanced online library environment. Wider reading and support for research must continue within this new environment. Large journal and book collections still define a library both online and physically within the study spaces. Students and researchers value print collections and they form an essential element of the scholarly, welcoming, and comfortable environment library spaces should be. Resource sharing with OCLC partners, The British Library document supply and global inter-library loans will continue to be developed as a “just in time” supplement to the library’s collections. The Archives and Special Collections Team will continue to digitise content, to increase reach and impact of their unique resources. A range of physical and online book and journal formats and sources will contribute to an experience that is fully integrated with the institution’s teaching resources. Ongoing investment is required to support the expanding STEM portfolio and maintain a competitive benchmark level of digital resource expected by students and academic staff.
LTI will provide opportunities for staff and students to engage with new technology in a safe way through a technology experience zone. There is a recognition that teaching will evolve to become more learner centric and this will require a change in approach to the provision of technology and support. Providing the ability to get hands on with new equipment will help staff and students understand how new digital systems can be used to improve learning. As cloud services reduce support overheads within LTI, time will be released to reimagine services and new technology that can support a more flexible curriculum.
Development of the estate to become more attractive and ‘sticky’ for learners will be a key focus to balance online teaching with the opportunities offered from the on-campus experience. Library spaces will grow into new student study hubs which offer a more comfortable environment, access to wider range of services and teams and, an improved food offer linking refectories and areas to make your own refreshments. Support for community and partner access to facilities will be explored to create spaces that enable greater interaction and knowledge exchange. Digital tools will be offered to connect on-campus self-study with online media and collaboration to develop a blended space.
Digital solutions will underpin the work to improve induction and student enquiries so that the student experience before, during and after study is streamlined and positive. This will require systems which support flexible telephony, contact management, knowledge management and real time reporting. In addition, operational developments which streamline enrolment processes will make a positive impact to the student experience at the start of their study.
Finding new ways to advertise and socialise the wide range of resources, systems and support on offer will be crucial in leveraging benefits from the investment into these areas. Offering access to support and information via an online automated chat system will be a key development to enhance current services and extend access to 24×7. Options will be investigated to improve the offer for study skills support for a larger cohort of students 24×7 as the University grows.
Ambition One: Priority Actions
Introduce new technology to support a wider range of digital teaching and learning approaches.
Develop a new single destination from which students can access their learning materials.
Develop digitally enabled study spaces which are attractive (‘sticky’) for students.
Support development of City Campus to ensure it meets University and stakeholder needs.
Build a collaborative partnering model to shape future needs, through understanding the School context, employability needs, pedagogical awareness and technology opportunities.
Embed digital skills development throughout the University to ensure staff and student future success.
It is recognised there is a digital skills gap which may have been further exposed and exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. Student access to their own computer equipment, a reliable internet connection and an appropriate study space have been difficult at times, although hardship funding has made a significant difference for many. The University has a responsibility to acknowledge and seek to address digital poverty and improve equity to help students get the most out of their study. There is an opportunity to understand where there are strengths and where there is opportunity to support enhancement of digital fluency.
LTI will work closely with academic colleagues and employability experts to develop a digital skills standard which students can undertake alongside their studies to evidence their abilities to future employers. A ‘digital badge’ will be created and awarded to students who complete activities required and evidence the digital skillset.
LTI will ensure inclusive access to resources; as courses depend more on software and technology, maintaining this access will be essential. Developing increased awareness, skill, and responsibility for digital literacy within ADU and LTI will enable teams to support academic colleagues via their expertise and knowledge of key resources and subject areas. The University will continue to build on the success of the ‘Teaching Ready’ website and extend services to include digital skills and literacy training on a rolling programme for staff and students – so that all are prepared to succeed as digital systems evolve and become essential for success in all aspects of university life.
LTI will engage with a range of programmes to develop knowledge and improve digital fluency and equity, such as the Digital Divide project which the School of Computing and Technology are currently involved with.
Industry leaders suggest roles will develop and change as technology evolves with many manual tasks being automated and greater democratisation and access via self-service solutions. This has the potential to offer professional service staff new opportunities, which will come with a requirement for transitional support and development. LTI will keep abreast of key changes and offer training to teams on existing and new solutions as they are implemented.
The varying technology within campus locations has an impact on technical confidence as equipment upgrades each year result in a wide range classroom audio-visual solutions. A review of key ‘in room’ learning systems will take place resulting in a plan to consolidate and simplify technology to improve operability and reliability. As digital systems evolve, periodic reviews will take place to look at how current tools can be developed and new software integrated to offer benefits and options to improve inclusiveness for all.
Consistency in the presentation of VLE material has the potential to improve ease of access for students across their course. LTI will develop automated tools to review module structure and guide on best practice principles.
The induction programme will be developed to include more pre-course resources, providing new students with an overview of the teaching and learning systems, and how to get the most from technology and systems throughout their course.
Ambition Two: Priority Actions
Review 24×7 support for students, including self-help tools, documentation and chatbots.
Enable students to self-diagnose digital strengths and weaknesses and signpost to support and development opportunities.
Enhance the IT skills development offer for students with a range of, online and face to face events.
Support staff reskilling and upskilling as new technology emerges, offering new opportunities for teaching, research and support services.
Develop a UoG Digital Skills standard, supported by a recognisable badge that will provide students with an evidencable skillset to support employment.
Promote sector leading technology innovation and creativity; develop advanced technical ability within LTI teams to implement and support modern systems.
Our systems support every area of University life and are now critical to ensure the success of teaching, learning and research, and in the support of business functions to run the organisation. Maintaining these resources requires a balance between support and development functions. Requests for change, new features and new products will become part of a review process to better scope work and align planning with business priorities. University core systems require a refresh from 21/22 onwards as existing platforms reach the end of their life. Servers, storage, networks, and management systems need to be reviewed and replaced to support the University over the rest of the decade. Mapping out system processes alongside data flow models will help streamline and optimise services. LTI will take the lead in horizon scanning and sharing latest technological developments, this will involve closer collaboration with technical roles outside of LTI in Schools and other Professional Services department, ensuring awareness and skills are developed across the University.
A set of system principles will be agreed to help guide decision making in the future. For example, the University will aim to procure cloud-based solutions where possible in preference to on premise systems. These principles will be published to enable institution-wide visibility.
The Creative Attributes Framework will be adopted within LTI to grow a greater sense of agency within teams in soft skills which include agility, communication, curiosity and resilience. Additionally, LTI teams will be supported to continually develop and enhance skillsets to ensure competence and knowledge to available to implement and support emerging technologies.
Continual improvements in cyber security will be prioritised with new tools added or updated annually to aid protection of information assets and visibility of network utilisation.To improve readability and maintain compliance, policies will be reviewed, with easy-read bullet points for each being presented. Thought must be given to data retention and categorisation across all systems. LTI staff will operate according to the Information Security Management System and maintain the policies, procedures and documentation associated with it to ensure existing and new systems are aligned to organisational and cyber best practice.
Our network underpins everything else that happens on campus, investment to increase capacity and system resilience will be planned over the life of this strategy. Investigation of WiFi upgrades and implementation of 5G coverage across campuses by 2023 will help to improve network coverage. Helping students with access from home needs more thought; the development of a self-help toolkit will standardise our approach and provide consistency in our support services.
The move to cloud needs to gather pace. Over the next 5 years most systems will migrate to cloud (including Finance, HR, VLE and student records) which will reduce maintenance and support of software and hardware. These cloud migrations will form a number of large and complex projects. Systems will still require annual upgrades, although cloud-based solutions will be significantly simpler in this regard. Storage of data will predominantly move to cloud with O365 One Drive becoming the default location for user files and information. Once systems are based in the cloud, roles in teams will evolve to cover new disciplines. Cloud based systems will allow increased flexibility in how and where services are delivered.
The University requires an apprenticeship management solution to facilitate learner progress documentation, and this will be a priority project for the coming year. New services will be based on cloud hosted services such as a new telephony service or desktop deployment technologies. New solutions to help manage research, collaboration and reporting will be required during the lifetime of this strategy. Where new systems are required, the involvement of key stakeholders (including students) will be a crucial success factor.
The service desk toolset will be reviewed; now in use by many other teams it has become a single location to track and manage requests for a range of issues more widely than just in LTI. This unifying solution helps to triage calls between teams to ensure case history is maintained and issues are not lost. More opportunity exists to consider how AI could facilitate IT system and student wellbeing alerts using patterns of use / system events / contact with support services. Agreeing a standard documentation format and review process for internal IT system details will help ensure information is easy to find when required; the move to cloud will reduce system complexity and the need for as much local knowledge.
LTI will support the creation of new standards to provide a framework for staff and students in the use of new technology and the support models provided. These will include AI, Drones, VR, IoT and other new technologies as they emerge. LTI will partner with leading industry experts to innovate new services to ensure the University becomes a sector leader in data analytics, artificial intelligence, digital credentials, and virtual teaching technology. Where possible, suppliers will be encouraged to engage with the curriculum to support academics in delivering the very latest digital and technology knowledge.
As campuses evolve to support changing working patterns, spaces will develop and require new systems affording opportunity to integrate smart technology and sensors. Staff will need the option of having more mobile technology such as laptops, combined with the ability to access systems easily and securely from wherever they chose to work from. New staff might start working from home and IT systems will offer the ability to setup accounts and new devices remotely. The management of BYOD solutions will be reviewed to ensure it is easy for users to maintain system and data security. Systems will be simplified and improved to ensure they are enjoyable to use.
Existing solutions will be reviewed and compared with the market to ensure they continue to meet the needs of the University, this will include VLE and video platforms and extend as far as supplier support contracts. Digital forms will be introduced to streamline workflows and new developments will be built on a common Microsoft technology stack using low code techniques where suitable.
To prepare for the next REF cycle requirements, research systems will be reviewed. An integrated and automated solution will provide enhancements to internal and external reporting, performance review, benchmarking, and raising the University’s research profile.
As a leader in sustainability, new systems will undergo environmental impact analysis in addition to financial and functional review. The University will seek to reduce the carbon cost of digital solutions by finding effective alternatives where possible, such as plans to move to efficient cloud services or the purchase of clean air-cooling systems.
Ambition Three: Priority Actions
Support diversification of the IT environment to support growth and new models of education, working in tandem with the Education Strategy as it develops.
Maintain Cyber Essentials accreditation, through active monitoring, patching, upgrades, external pen-testing and a comprehensive program of training and awareness – for staff and students.
Build a cyber security team who will be dedicated to continual review of network security and strive to continually improve protection for systems and data using best of breed tools.
Rollout tools and interoperability solutions to support the growing apprenticeship program.
Plan and deliver a core systems roadmap, including cloud migration of business-critical systems.
Build data solutions which present insights in a modern, accessible manner to inform and support decision making.
The Information Strategy focused on gathering data related to courses and processing, access and use of the information. The deliverables included many things such as course portal development, learning analytics, electronic management of assessment, integration, and automation of dataflows between systems and Talis reading list technology. This work has made the University a leader in the use of information to enhance the student experience. A range of reports and dashboards have been made available to staff using systems such as Learning Analytics data explorer, Tutor Portal, Course Portal, Reporting Hub, and corporate dashboards. Newer reports and dashboards are being developed using PowerBI including Course Enhancement and Enrolment dashboards. PowerBI will become the standard reporting tool over the next 3 years to present data, although access to underlying datasets should be maintained to provide assurance and the capability to create alternate visualisations.
There is a huge growth taking place in the use of data and there is a need to understand where these new technologies can add value for both the University operations and as part of student courses. LTI will setup a ‘big data’ group to review how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can be accessed by academics and students to use in their learning. LTI will work closely with Jisc’s new AI team which is developing use cases for AI within the sector.
As PowerBI becomes central to data access and reporting there is a need ensure standard templated processes reflect best practice data security configuration and data governance requirements. Data definitions, documentation and integration processes need regular review and audit to ensure the right data is being used for the right purposes at the right time. Requirements should be defined clearly to ensure productive outputs are delivered.
There will always be greater opportunity to enhance and develop the use of data to provide insights into learning engagement and how the institution can further improve outcomes for students. A wealth of data lives in systems which if aggregated could offer insights into what could be improved. For example, data from computer use could ensure sufficient capacity is always available; data about reading list use could help academics understand the resources students find useful; module data from Moodle could help recognise strong and weak content. More active monitoring of frequent incidents will help us to focus on key issues in need of resolution.
The Learning Analytics sector-leading work with Jisc will include focus on Curriculum Analytics to enable visualisation of data trends to take this journey forward. The development of new data warehouse systems is taking place; this will allow access to a range of evolving cloud services to enable the University to benefit from new technologies in Artificial Intelligence and big data science.
Automation of system management, data analysis and reporting will continue to grow. The use of API’s will be leveraged to move data in a structured manner and automate transactions between systems. Where multiple solutions exist, work to standardise will need to be undertaken, this will streamline support and user experience whilst also reducing costs; examples of this include survey and CRM solutions. The University is committed to diversity, equality, and inclusion; HR data is informing our progress in this important area. The automation of this data will support rapid presentation to staff on a more frequent basis helping departments review and continually improve.
As campuses evolve there will be a greater opportunity to build smart buildings with sensors to automate services such as lighting, heating, cooling and other environmental controls. The energy efficiency of our estate will be easy to report, offering data on space usage and providing focus on areas where sustainability improvements can be delivered.
Within LTI, dashboards will be developed to provide real time ServiceDesk statistics, system patch levels, workstations in use/available, asset and supplier management as well as project progress. More could be done with library and resource statistics to guide where future investment should be prioritised, and student placements could be a great opportunity to get more effort focused in this area.
Student requirements for access to data and analysis platforms is expected to significantly grow as projects and dissertations focus on gathering and understanding ever larger datasets. This student led requirement will necessitate a change in approach of IT teams, who will need to find ways to allow students into system backends, so that they can configure and develop for their own needs. Cloud will most likely be the simplest and most secure way to offer a service that enables access to big data features. Additionally, the need to offer tools to capture data from wearable and other IoT devices will grow and challenge current methods of securing end point devices.
Ambition Four: Priority Actions
Improve management of data to enhance MI for engagement aspects of teaching and learning.
Utilise PowerBI with new modelling techniques to develop actionable insights from data.
Investigate greater use of automation for routine tasks.
Review system and data processes to improve operational efficiency.
The successfulness of this strategy will be measured using the following:
Successful support to the Education Strategy. Close engagement with the Education Strategy will be achieved by the Director of LTI being part of the Education Strategy Development group, the Portfolio Diversification Board and through the development of a School partnering model to maintain understanding of evolving education practice needs. Ensuring classroom technology maintains pace with digital teaching developments will be essential. Feedback from the DVC and Heads of School will be used to measure this criterion.
50% of students complete a new Digital Skills Badge and report increased competence. Once an agreed set of standards for digital skills is formalised, LTI will work with Schools, ADU, the Employability team and the SU to rollout a set of training plans to assist students in achieving the digital skills identified as essential to future success. Completion of the skills and attainment of the badge will be indicators of successfulness.
Staff feel supported with tools and knowledge development to improve digital literacy. This will be measured through School partnering, close collaboration with ASU, and feedback from academic colleagues. A reduction in common Service Desk incidents will also indicate increased digital competence.
Successful launch of the new City Campus. This is a significant project and delivery of Library and IT elements on time and to quality will be a marker of success for LTI.
System, data, and network cyber security maintained without any major incidents. Regular cyber reports detailing incidents and cyber performance will be presented to UEC and will be used to measure this success factor.
70% reduction of systems hosted on Campus by transition to cloud. LTI need to move away from locally hosted systems, this will be an easy metric to report against.
Successful delivery of core systems upgrades for finance, student, and HR systems. Delivery of the roadmap, and associate projects will be tracked for this success measure.
LTI staff culture, capacity, and capability significantly improved. This will be measured through LTI staff survey, reduction in casework, project efficiency and general feedback from staff and students throughout the institution.
Delivery Plan and Costs
The specific delivery plans for this Strategy will be built into LTI Annual Business Plans. Technology needs will develop during the life of this strategy and therefore it is likely that funding needs will change.
Capital requirements will be factored into overall Capital bids but are expected to look something like the table below during the life of the strategy. A business case for major upgrades is being developed and estimates have been included, note the phasing suggested in the costs has not been finalised so this is draft at present. The funding request for 22/23 (and 23/24 for information) has been submitted for review and approval.
Digital Strategy Capital
Library / study space upgrades
SITS major upgrade
Finance major upgrade
HR major upgrade
VLE / Curriculum diversification
Total capital for digital strategy
Revenue costs will be requested via formal processes and business cases, below are estimates. Stronger cyber security resource, digital skills developments, and new service delivery methods are some of the key items which require funding.
Digital Strategy Revenue
Cyber Team (people)
Digital skills for staff
Digital skills for students
New cyber tools (training and simulation)
New digital skills assessment solutions
Digital forms and workflow
New student support systems (eg studiosity)
New library and wider support chat services
Key Performance Indicators
The following metrics will be used to ensure the services are delivered to an acceptable level:
Service Desk SLA: calls made to the LTI Service Desk completed within agreed timescale. This applies to all teams within the LTI Department.
Use of attendance management system: measure of timetabled teaching sessions which record student attendance. Our aim is to support academics in using the system as a Lead measure of student engagement on their course.
Cyber Essentials Plus: technical verification that our IT environment meets the government backed cyber essentials scheme; this ensures defences are in place against the vast majority of cyber-attacks.
Network and system availability: this is a standard IT measure of uptime and ensures we are focused in minimising impact to staff and students.
NSS learning resources: a section of the National Student Survey which gathers feedback on student experience of the IT and Library learning resources we provide.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – advanced analysis and logic-based techniques, including machine learning, to interpret events, support and automate decisions, and take actions.
Augmented reality (AR) – real-time use of information in the form of text, graphics, audio and other virtual enhancements integrated with real-world objects.
Cloud – a style of computing in which scalable capabilities are delivered as a service (often from large multi-nationals) using internet technologies.
Drone – a flying device usually equipped with a camera to allow aerial photography or delivery of items, flown remotely or along a pre-defined route.
Education 4.0 – a desired approach to learning that aligns itself with the emerging fourth industrial revolution. This industrial revolution focuses on smart technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics; all of which now impact our everyday lives. For universities to continue to produce successful graduates, they must prepare their students, this means teaching students about this technology as part of the curriculum.
Internet of Things (IoT) – a collective description of devices which are internet connected from sensors to fridges, cars to solar panels. Anything connected to the internet could be called an IoT device.
Learning Analytics (LA) – the use of data to understand engagement with learning resources.
Machine Learning (ML) – the ability for a system to improve over time by learning from rules which are informed by data or user responses.
Power BI – a Microsoft tool for visualising data using interactive graphs and images.
Smart Campus – A smart campus offers a variety of smart, technological solutions that add value to student learning and their time on campus.
Smart Technology – The term “smart” originally comes from the acronym “Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology” but become widely known as “smart” because of the notion of allowing previously inanimate objects.
Talis Aspire – online reading list software
Talis Elevate – resource collaboration solution – allows students to engage with texts and other resources and mark them up and have a conversation about them.
Teaching Ready – a website setup to draw together a wide range of useful resources to support academic staff utilise technology to deliver teaching and learning to students.
Technology to Enhance Learning (TEL) – refer to technology enhanced classrooms and learning with technology, rather than just through technology.
Virtual Reality (VR) – provides a computer-generated 3D environment (including both computer graphics and 360-degree video) that surrounds a user and responds to an individual’s actions in a natural way, usually through immersive head-mounted displays.
APPENDIX A – The Digital Vision
This section talks in the future tense about the University we aspire to create – making UoG an even more attractive place to learn, conduct research and work.
UoG is a sector leader in digital technology, generating national interest and positive student growth. We offer access to familiar technologies which match industry standards allowing students to learn using the systems they are likely to need in their future employment. Digital resources are responsive, scalable, and flexible to meet changing demands.
The teaching day isn’t limited to normal office hours and the curriculum now supports a range of scheduling options including weekend and evening offers. This has enabled wider use of the estate and growth in capacity. Students come from all walks of life and study apprenticeships and a range of short courses in addition to our usual range of degrees and postgraduate courses. Accessibility and scheduling no longer limit student’s potential as services are actively monitored to ensure they are available any place, anytime, anywhere. Classrooms are seamlessly connected to online services and students – with multiple screens, cameras and the latest technology providing a truly immersive learning experience. All our campuses have 5G networks in addition to high-speed Wi-Fi ensuring students always have excellent connectivity whilst on campus. New software helps connect students to one another and University services, enabling students to access people, systems, and support via the route they feel most comfortable with.
. New routes to access support have extended traditional email and telephone methods adding improved self-service options, support from social media platforms and artificial intelligence chatbots which can hand off to a human agent as required. All University departments have an online front door so that students can see the services available and easily utilise them – a streamlined standardised look and feel was developed to make consumption of services as easy as possible for students. Student support services have found new and creative ways to be digitally accessible to student cohorts.
The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) integrates with all core systems. The Course Page has now evolved to become the central point for everything the student needs to use and understand for study, with personalised links out to all other relevant systems and fast access to previous year’s learning. The institution offers a comprehensive collection of resources, eBooks, and online journals for teaching, learning and research. All essential reading is offered online and available to all students. UoG is a centre of excellence in Virtual Reality (VR) and we use a range of simulated learning scenarios which make online learning fun, engaging and effective.
Libraries have become student study and support hubs, encouraging a sense of community and a place where students can exchange ideas. These provide a tangible sense of value and equality of provision, providing an engaging, comfortable environment to study, collaborate and access a range of new technologies. Our updated libraries enhance the offer and attraction of UoG, providing a place students want to stay and learn. Library spaces are warm and welcoming, with more open spaces, comfortable seating and easy access to food and drink. Bookable access (think Apple Genius Bar) to specialist knowledge and support from Subject Librarians, Student Services, IT technicians and a range of other professional services add further value to students visiting the Study Spaces. These spaces do contribute significantly to the overall student university experience and assist in the achievement of grades and course outcomes.
Our Academics have high levels of competence to deliver online learning using modern digital tools. Support for real time delivery is provided by a larger team of trainers, technicians and learning technologists who will work flexibly to be available when needed. A monthly schedule of standard training runs continuously throughout the year to enable staff (new and old) to develop new skills. The training team produce new courses every quarter, providing the latest development opportunities and enabling our staff to have the expertise and skills to continually improve the quality of learning. Our Learning Design workshops run continuously, providing support to academic colleagues in best practice development of online course materials and module sites. To support our students, we run Digital Skills Lab sessions each month, seeking to upskill students’ digital abilities – these sessions are reducing digital inequality and are helping to create an impressive, sustainable standard throughout the University. Data competence and digital literacy form a part of every course syllabus to ensure our students are prepared for the changing workplace. The high-quality development opportunities, coupled with leading digital technology have become a significant factor in student and staff retention. New student places and staff roles are always oversubscribed with applicants who want to be part of UoG.
As a leader in the sector on sustainability, we factor this into all our decisions about system development and replacement. Sustainable solutions are now the norm and more affordable as we are reducing the impact of carbon tariffs by purchasing wisely.
We have automated a full suite of live analytics dashboards to provide curriculum and business intelligence. Understanding the pedagogical design of modules and the resources “offer” to students is correlated against engagement and attainment. This informs best practice and highlights appropriate interventions where required. Our system integration and data quality are highly robust and reliable; this provides a consistent flow of intelligence which enables UoG to forecast with confidence, improving decision-making, save time and money, and giving UoG a competitive advantage. We have co-developed a digital badges solution to provide a trusted route for students to demonstrate their certification; this is especially useful for short courses and optional in course accreditations. These micro credentials started a culture of gamification and competitive study, encouraging students to customise and extend their portfolio.
Strategic industry partnerships are encouraged and UoG has been a testbed for several high-profile digital system pilots with commercial organisations. This has provided UoG students with opportunities to access to emerging technologies without cost and enabled local and national companies to develop tailored solutions to benefit the sector. UoG has an outpost at the new Cheltenham Cyber Park and has become a national facilitator of Cyber events and a centre of excellence for cybersecurity. Our greater dependence on technology is matched by increased investment in cybersecurity tools and capacity to maintain system and data integrity.
Contracts for desktop computers have been streamlined to expedite workflow – new devices are delivered direct to staff, being automatically setup on first use. Virtual desktops have been deployed to reduce the lifetime cost of computer hardware and frequent replacement cycles of open access PCs. This new technology enables secure remote access to University systems for staff and students providing a much-improved experience with full access to all the software needed on each course. It also provides better sustainability with less power consumption and reduced lifetime waste. Our systems have increasingly become cloud hosted and are accessed over reliable, high-speed network connections, reducing support and maintenance needs. This has freed teaching and learning from the campus enabling ad-hoc satellite sites to be stood up anywhere as needed to meet changing requirements throughout the academic year – e.g. intensive student study periods at the outset of an online course are facilitated from multiple venues across the country. Our system capacities have been designed to exceed peak demand to ensure performance never impacts learning. Our system monitoring is automated, and we receive predictive alerts enabling us to resolve issues before users are impacted. We regularly run resilience and failover testing to ensure our systems are highly available at all times.
Funding for our digital strategy required a switch from capital to revenue and we’ve now halved our capital funding in favour of increased revenue provision. With the growth in numbers, revenue cost models are partially based on a per user license model. More hardware is being switched over to the revenue module with purchases via a lease model to maintain currency to the latest technical standards (e.g WiFi as a service).