View from the Director’s Chair – Summer 2013

It has been a while since my last post, so here are some updates on what IT Services have been doing so far this summer plus an important update on the wireless network expansion.

IT Services started installing WiFi at the University in 2005 as part of the SWAPSHOPS (Student Wireless Access PointS Hosted in OPen Spaces) project.  This project concentrated on providing WiFi in cafés, JCRs and other areas where students congregated to work.  WiFi is available throughout the Library (and was upgraded last summer) and has been included in recent new buildings and refurbishments (e.g. Henley Business School and Institute of Education).   IT Services has an interactive map showing current WiFi availability, however, access elsewhere is patchy and subject to departmental support.

A feasibility project has just started to look at extending WiFi to cover all buildings and will consider some outside areas with an aim to be completed within one year.  The areas that the feasibility study will be considering include:

  • Whiteknights Campus buildings
  • Quad area between Students’ Union, Library, Student Services and HumSS
  • Earley Gate outside area between Meteorology & Psychology
  • Outside area between RUSU and the lake
  • Sports Park
  • London Road Library/Great Hall
  • London Road external areas
  • Greenlands buildings
  • Greenlands outside areas

The Universities Partnerships Programme (UPP) are very keen for WiFi to be available in University halls of residence.  This is likely to be a separate project.

Elsewhere, a pre-feasibility Group is coming together to look at options and costs for capturing learning activities (e.g. lectures).  This is being led by Prof Matthew Almond (Chemistry) and the first meeting is likely to be in early September. Some departments (e.g. Institute of Education, ICMA and Law) are already doing something in this area and we know that others are very interested.

Kara Swift (ex-RUSU VP Academic Affairs) has recently started a 5 week project talking to interested academics about the potential for the use of learning capture within the University. If a learning capture system does go ahead then it is likely to require a significant amount of technical support to ensure that students get the most benefit from the system.  It is also really important to consider things from the teaching & learning perspective rather than concentrating on the technology.

Finally, we have now migrated our student email service, readingLive, to Microsoft Office 365. This has involved some changes to how students log on, but we are able to say that the system is now much better integrated with our systems and now students can simply log in on a lab PC here at the University and they will be able to automatically access the system without providing further credentials. The process for accessing the service via mobile devices has also simplified and is more consistent across devices.

I hope that those who have already had a summer holiday enjoyed it, those still to go I wish a happy holiday too. In the meantime, we will continue with our preparations for the new session starting in October.

John

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