Strategic Plan

The university’s IT capability has developed substantially over the recent past with increased growth in both IT service supply and demand. While IST has increased its offering and the quality of its services, we are faced with major challenges that we need to overcome. To properly prepare for the future is to recognize the importance of, and plan for, the intersection of academics, people, and technology.

To address the challenges facing the department, IST has developed a three-phased approach titled: Reset, Reshape, and Refocus. The phases will concentrate on four strategic themes: sustainability, transparent value, process improvement, and research, teaching and learning.

Strategic Update - Fall 2018

Learning Technologies Ecosystem

The Goal: To create a responsive learning ecosystem that provides a powerful platform for teaching and innovation.

The Learning Technologies Ecosystem has made great strides over the last six months. Their biggest accomplishment was creating the Digital Learning Environment (DLE) portfolio, which will act as a permanent fixture at the university upon the initiative’s close. As well, teams have successfully moved eClass hosting to Amazon Web Services (AWS), released a new student response system in eClass, upgraded eClass from 3.1 to 3.4, and started replacing lab and classroom provisioning infrastructure with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Finally, the project team completed a service design review of their labs and classrooms to evaluate the entire service from the user’s perspective. This will ensure that the new DLE portfolio can better support students and instructors in the future.

Going forward, the Learning Technologies Ecosystem initiative will begin to transition to the DLE portfolio. The main goals are to evaluate and improve the user experience, integrate Test Scoring and Questionnaire Services (TSQS) with eClass, and focus on assessment services and learning analytics. Finally, the project team will continue to engage with users across campus, ensuring that our services are focused on meeting users’ needs and not solely technology.

Application and Data Integration

The Goal: To provide a dynamic and flexible foundation for exchanging data fluidly across applications and enable the transformation of data to information based on business purpose.

Over the last six months, the Application and Data Integration project team has been setting the foundation for how the university will manage data going forward. This includes giving updates to each level of the IT governance framework, discussing the proper protocols for how to manage data, and thinking about the rules and roles surrounding data management and data governance. The project team has developed the request for proposal (RFP) for a data and integration tool, and they are actively working with Procurement Services to discuss their intent around accessing pre-qualified vendors to enable ease of engagement as the university continues to evolve integration services. The RFP review will take approximately eight to ten weeks, and following that, the Application and Data Integration project team will start accessing vendor products.

Over the next six months, the Application and Data Integration initiative will start to transition to being fully operationalized. The project team plans to acquire and implement a software product that can replace and incorporate UODA (University Open Data API), the current data and integration tool used within IST. The project team will also begin to work with IST major project teams and central departments to formalize structures around data management and data governance. Finally, over the next six months the project team will define, pilot and implement services to make them easy to access and consumable by the end user community.

Student Lifecycle

The Goal: To create a cohesive student lifecycle, governed and operated by the business area owners and valued by the student.

The biggest accomplishment of the Student Lifecycle initiative was the formal adoption of the governance surrounding the student lifecycle itself. This included making the Student Lifecycle Advisory Committee (SLAC) an operationalized group and updating IT governance and to enable  various groups to work and collaborate with each other. Because of that, more groups across campus are collaborating on a number of large institutional-level projects. These projects include Student Relationship Management (SRM), which will help manage interactions and relationships with students, and the payment project, which Financial Services is leading to make improvements such as PCI compliance and a new MultiStore shop platform. A Student Advisory Council is also being created to  provide a direct line to students so their perspectives can be taken into future decisions. The Student Lifecycle initiative also developed the Technology Governance Framework, which provides clarity to the community on the levels of approval and support required for technology acquisitions.

The next goal of the Student Lifecycle initiative is to end the project and make it a fully operationalized part of the university. The project team has already solidified the authority of SLAC, and they are currently reporting to and advising the IT Steering Committee - Administration (ITSC-A). Finally, the team plans to showcase the tangible outputs from the student lifecycle so the university community can see its value.

Cloud Discovery

The Goal: To establish a state-of-the-art platform that enables users to leverage cloud computing capabilities through a secure, sustainable, and flexible environment.

Over the last six months, the Cloud Discovery Project team finished their cloud experiments and initiated a number of cloud pilots. The team is now in the final stages of running those pilots, and their focus is shifting towards creating a plan for the future of the systems running as pilots, how to continue transitioning appropriate services to the cloud, and how to leverage the cloud to solve business problems at the university. The project team has transitioned a number of services to the cloud, including the IST website, which has been running in AWS for the last month,  and they will continue to explore options for moving servers, backups, and storage to cloud infrastructure. Finally, the project team has trained a number of IST staff in cloud technology and will continue training staff so that going forward, IST will have the knowledge and resources needed to support university infrastructure as the cloud grows and evolves.

In the coming months, the Cloud Discovery Project will be coming to an end, so the next goal is to establish a framework regarding cloud operations. The team has organized recommendations and strategies for going forward with cloud, and they will continue to explore providers as our cloud needs change over time.

RESET, RESHAPE, REFOCUS

This Strategic Update has been developed to keep the university community informed on projects currently in progress under the IST Strategic Plan. For more information on the strategic plan and initiatives, contact ist@ualberta.ca.