Skip to main content

Office 365 for students

On Monday, undergraduate and taught postgraduate students returning for the new semester were greeted with a new e-mail service.  Using Microsoft's cloud-based system, Office 365, this new service gives students a modern web interface and a maximum mailbox size of 25GB each.

The service also provides a new student e-diary. In due course, this will become an important source of information, as further projects will automatically populate students' diaries with personalised timetables and other key appointments. 

In addition, students also have access to web versions of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel and OneNote; and space to create a personal web site. These are currently not explicitly supported by IS; we are simply giving students access to this functionality for them to use if they wish.

A lot of work went into this move.  Last semester we moved research postgraduate students onto the staff e-mail systems, as feedback from the schools showed that this was the option preferred by a significant majority.  Infrastructure was set up to federate our Active Directory credentials to Office 365 and to route all mail via the University's mail routers.  Tools and strategies were tested for migrating students' existing mail, with mail migration happening behind the scenes since October.

There were hiccups along the way.  Despite a wide consultation to choose the best (or least worst) date to make the move, there a few staff were still caught out and unhappy about the timing.  Also, at one point before Christmas we were quite worried about the time being taken to migrate the mailboxes, until we discovered that the poor performance was caused by an unnecessary virus checker on the migration servers. 

The actual transition seems to have gone very smoothly for the vast majority of people.  Yesterday we had nearly 18,000 unique logins.  On the first day, we had only about 50 support calls, most referring to the same problem which we quickly fixed.  Yesterday, we discovered a cohort of visiting students who had not been migrated across, which we will sort out tomorrow.  While any oversights are regrettable, these are small numbers compared to the overall number of students.

The big question, of course, is whether the students like the new service.  Our service and support staff are keeping a close eye on this.  The informal feedback that I'm hearing third hand is very positive, with far more "likes" than "dislikes".

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Changing Principles

In EA, architecture principles set a framework for making architectural decisions.  They help to establish a common understanding across different groups of stakeholders, and provide guidance for portfolios and projects.  Michael Durso of the LSE gave a good introduction to the idea in a webinar last week for the UCISA EA community.

Many organisations take the TOGAF architecture principles as a starting point.  These are based on the four architectural domains of TOGAF: business, information/data, applications, technology/infrastructure.  These principles tend to describe what should be done, e.g. re-use applications, buy in software rather than build it, keep data secure.  See for example the principles adopted at Plymouth University and the University of Birmingham.

Recently though, I encountered a different way of looking at principles.  The user experience design community tend to focus more on how we should do things.  E.g. we should start with user needs, use iterative developm…

Why the UCISA Capability Model is useful

What do Universities do?

This may seem a strange question to ask and the answer may seem obvious.  Universities educate students and undertake research.  And perhaps they work with industrial partners and create spin-off companies of their worn.  And they may work with local communities, and affiliation bodies for certain degress, and they definitely report on their activities to government bodies such as HEFCE.  They provide student services and support.  The longeryou think about it, the more things you can think of that a University does.

In business, the things that an organisation does are called "capabilities", which is a slightly strange term.  I think it is linked to the HR idea of a combination of the CAPacity and ABILITY to do a task.  Whatever the name, it is a useful concept.  A capability is more basic than a process: a University may change the way it educates students but as long as it remains a University it will educate them one way or another.

A capability …

A brief summary of our major initiatives

I notice that in 2016 I wrote 34 posts on this blog.  This is only my fifth post in 2017 and we're already three-quarters of the way through the year.  Either I've suddenly got lazier, or else I've had less time to spend writing here.  As I'm not inclined to think of myself as especially lazy, I'm plumping for the latter explanation.

There really is a lot going on.  The University has several major initiatives under way, many of which need input from the Enterprise Architecture section.

The Service Excellence programme is overhauling (the buzzword is "transforming") our administrative processes for HR, Finance, and Student Administration.  Linked to this is a programme to procure an integrated ERP system to replace the adminstrative IT systems. 

Enabling Digital Transformation is a programme to put the middleware and architecture in place so that we can make our processes "digital first".  We're implementing an API framework, a notification…