The IT Fair

On Tuesday, 8th March 2016, IT Services ran the first IT Fair in UCD’s O’Reilly Hall showcasing IT Services ‘behind the scenes’ to faculty, staff and students. The IT Fair was a huge success. Upwards of 1,000 students and staff flocked to the event, which was hosted by UCD IT Services, and included participation from other key support service providers including Registry, Library, Teaching & Learning, HR, Finance and Research. A number of our external suppliers also exhibited.

The event proved not only to be a valuable learning opportunity for all in attendance, but also a wonderful networking occasion for ‘putting faces to names’. 

The IT Fair reinforced IT Services vision which is to ‘empower people by transforming university life with new and emerging digital technologies‘.


IT Strategy 2020

The IT Strategy 2020 sets out how IT Services intend to support and contribute to the UCD IT Strategy over the next five years. Following an extensive stakeholder consultation and research process which included: a review of the previous IT Strategy; our quality improvement plan; and a review of key IT processes, the IT Strategy is the outcome designed to facilitate the delivery of the UCD strategic objectives and initiatives via a number of key strategic goals. 

College and School plans and the supporting strategies of the UCD Strategy for Research, Innovation and Impact (2015-2020) among others, have been taken into consideration during this process. Our vision is to "Empower people by transforming University life with new and emerging digital technologies" and our mission is "both support and contribute to the UCD Strategy 2015 to 2020 by being the partners of choice for information technology solutions and services". View the IT Strategy 2020

IT Strategy 2020 (pdf)

Making a MOOC

In October 2016, supported by Universitas 21, the leading global network of research intensive universities, UCD launched the 'Planetary Urbanisation' student online course. Currently offered as a short online course (SOC), it will be launched globally this year as UCD’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

The project took 12 months from start to completion and involved designing the pedagogical and technical aspects of the course, creating content, sourcing a suitable platform, creating a visual identity and marketing it to prospective students/learners.

The lead educator is UCD’s Associate Professor Niamh Moore-Cherry, an expert in Urban Geography with significant experience in blended learning with undergraduate students, while Trish Mountjoy Head of Educational Technology, UCD IT Services is key technical producer. A number of online platforms were considered and FutureLearn was chosen for its ability to provide the opportunity for ‘virtual student mobility’.

Learning to script-write to tight timelines, working with a technical team and other academics, deciding on the look and feel of the course were all new skillsets gained by those involved. It took nine months to pull together 15 hours of content. Associate Professor Moore-Cherry explains, “There is a steep learning curve involved in whittling down one hour lessons into maximum 6-8 minute videos. The key to this is prioritising the essential information.” 

The global reach of this MOOC is unlimited with 1.3 million students amongst U21 universities alone. According to Professor Moore-Cherry “By participating in the MOOC students are encouraged to think beyond their disciplinary and geographical boundaries and to interact and share perspectives with other cultures.” In keeping with UCD’s global engagement strategy, the course also adds value to the wider community as anyone is welcome to take this course for free once it is available as a MOOC. Associate Professor Moore-Cherry adds “Moreover this project is a great example of collaboration in the university environment involving a team of international academics working together alongside technical experts from UCD IT Services.”

Feedback has been positive both from the pilot with UCD Digital Ambassadors (a group of UCD student volunteers) and the first offering, which ran from October 24th 2016 for 5 weeks. Over 500 students registered to it. Approximately 60% of these students completed over half the activities with almost 800 comments posted on the discussion thread indicating good engagement. Students remarked on how easy the the FutureLearn platform is to access and navigate, and how it has the potential to promote social learning. 

In a context where social learning, social media and interactive learning technologies are playing an increasingly important role in bridging academic research and education and fostering an excellent student learning experience, UCD is leading the way among its global networks.

 

Strategic Objectives, Initiatives & Themes

 

mooc planetary urbanisation

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G2 Media Creation Suite

This Media Creation Suite offers the opportunity to create audio and video for learning, teaching and research using a variety of methods to create and complete your content. The facility is designed for expert users such as educational technologists or media specialists while the standalone audio recording is suitable for any member of staff to use. Some of the media creation options may require assistance from an audio specialist, for example the recording of audio material or self/assisted recording of video material and use of video and audio editing functionality.

The facility is available to book during normal opening hours of the Daedalus building, Mon-Fri 8.30am-9.30pm, Sat 10am-5pm during term and has been used over 100 times since it opened in 2016. 

 

Schools and Colleges Website Redesign

At the start of 2016 UCD IT Services introduced a new set of templates for Colleges, School and administrative units. The new web pages were developed to the highest technical and visual presentation standards and have been well received by the many school sites which have adopted the new templates.

Each website project required an intensive 4-6 week engagement with the project team from each college and school covering initial planning, site architecture design and implementation, image selection and development, content creation and integration with our Content Management System (CMS) before QA and final site launch. 

The college and school phase of the project is nearing completion with 31 college and school sites fully migrated to the new templates, a further 8 sites are nearing launch dates with the remainder planning their redesign.

Due to the popularity of the new templates 23 non college/school websites were completed with a further 21 projects currently underway.

'With more than a third of visitors using mobile devices to access information on our website, it was essential for us to move to a responsive design solution. We now have a clean, fresh website that looks just as good on mobile devices as it does on desktop‘

Niamh Walsh, Marketing & Communications Manager, College of Social Sciences and Law

In addition to the modern visually appealing design, other key drivers for adoption have been the fully mobile responsive design, and high levels of accessibility. A critical success factor for the project was the level of stakeholder engagement at the project initiation stage.

For further information please visit our UCD Website Redesign Project Webpage

Website Redesign Project Status

website redesign chart

ECAR Student Survey

491 UCD students took part in the Educause ECAR survey 2016, a global student survey measuring technology usage trends in higher education. Compared with previous years there is a significant increase in the ownership of smartphones amongst UCD students: ownership jumped from 70.2% in 2013 to 96.7% in 2016 while 42% now own a tablet compared to only 19% in 2013.

In terms of academic success, 95% of laptop users linked usage of their device with academic success compared to 71% in 2013. The popularity of online learning has also increased with a 12% rise in the number of respondents with a preference for blended learning since 2013. ‌

Survey Results

ECAR 2016

ecar survey results 2016 large image

Personalised Exam Timetables

Since November 2016, UCD Students are able to access their individual personalised exam timetable via SISWeb. This new service, which includes details on exam location and seat numbers, was delivered by IT Services at the request of the Assessment Unit in UCD Registry.

During Semester 1 this report was run over 83,000 times, by more than 18,000 students. The service has been widely welcomed by students. Some of the many comments received include the following:

"This is the most helpful thing UCD has ever done for me. It takes so much stress out of exams"

Excellent! Great to have seat numbers also.....!

So helpful laid out in a clear manner so I don't accidentally read the wrong day or time.

Very, very, very, very useful. Good job, guys.

Love ?? it!"

The New Sonic

UCD IT Services has a High Performance Computing Cluster (HPC) service called Sonic which enables users to run computing calculations across multiple servers at high speed. The service has widespread usage by UCD users from many areas of campus.
In early 2016 an agreement was reached between the UCD Earth Institute and UCD IT Services that the previously owned Earth Institute cluster, Gaia would be integrated into Sonic.

The upgraded Sonic cluster has 45 worker nodes or 1500 computing cores, 80TB of storage and 8TB of Memory. The network interconnect was upgraded from Gigabit Ethernet to 40Gb InfiniBand interconnect. The addition of more processors from Gaia and the use of a faster network technology allows the cluster to run more compute intensive jobs for more customers at a faster speed. The move to InfiniBand will further allow customers to run more parallel type jobs as well as the more standard serial tasks.

In order to facilitate new users using the system IT Services installed over 50 new software applications bringing the total installed applications to 160. This installed software now supports a number of disciplines such as Bio-informatics, Meteorology, Statistics, Machine Learning and Fluid Dynamics.

Application Jukebox now available for Macs as well as PCs

Application Jukebox provides access to a selection of the most popular academic application software. This is the same technology used in the open access lab PCs to deliver applications without needing to install software locally. Usage of applications through Application Jukebox has increased with each semester reflecting wide-spread adoption of this service for teaching.

In 2016 Application Jukebox for Mac users was launched and is designed to run windows applications virtually on user owned Macs using Microsoft Remote Desktop technology. This allows other operating systems to run windows applications seamlessly over the university network. As with windows users, a small client application must be downloaded and installed. Adoption of this service has been fast with feedback from users contributing towards future development.

To access this service click on the Application Jukebox icon in UCD Connect using a UCD user ID and password. To use the service for the first time, download and install the appropriate Web Interface plugin. Once this is completed, customers can access applications by clicking the link, which launches the Application Jukebox web interface.

IT Security
And You

IT Security in UCD is constantly evolving to combat the new and growing number of cyber threats that face the university. Raising awareness about protecting ourselves and UCD information is key.

Throughout 2016 IT Services led a number of campaigns that focused on how to protect passwords, identity, accounts, devices and how to spot a phish with 411 staff and students taking the Phishing Challenge. The numbers here illustrate the variety of threats taking place and how important it is to protect UCD data. Click to enlarge the image.

IT Security By The Numbers

it security & you by the numbers

IT Services
By The Numbers

To give you a flavour of the range of IT activity taking place in the university during 2016 click on By The Numbers!

Did you know that IT Services logged 30,995 support cases during 2016 in comparison to 35,170 in 2013? The amount of queries run on InfoHub/SISWeb increased by 40% on the year before with 4,400,000 queries run by 41,000 individuals this September 2016? or that the peak number of concurrent connections for the wireless network in UCD, one of the largest in Ireland, reached a whopping 22,464 on Tuesday 22nd November 2016?

In terms of customer engagement, highlights during the year included the inaugural IT Fair which was attended by over 1,000 staff and students, while our IT Induction programme saw over 4,000 first years come through the Daedalus building. EdTECx in Action took place late August/early September with over 120 attendees and 411 staff and students took up the IT Security Phishing Challenge in March, while 491 UCD students participated in the ECAR survey on student use of technology in April.

it services by the numbers