2 December 2020

Student Portal – 2019, 2020 and beyond!

The Web Office has been busy supporting the new Student Portal since its deployment in December.

Student Portal

We've made several bug fixes, small enhancements, and also reworked some features to be more intuitive for our students, including:

  • calendar integration with Allocate+ and Databee for class timetabling and exam scheduling
  • personalised views of student-centric information
  • splitting out of non-personalised content into a public-facing site - Current Students - so that everyone can access it.
Current Students - public-facing site

We are continuing the build of the portal, with a few primary aims for 2020. These include CRM integration, site rationalisation, content rewrites, and extra platform integrations.

In Q4 2019 we established a backlog, which we reviewed at our Albury summit in January 2020. We are now working with the project team to prioritise the backlog. This work will then be estimated and the scope defined.

In parallel, there is ongoing auditing and rewriting of the portal content. This ensures the content provided is relevant, useful and accessible to students when they want it.

We will be sending out more regular updates on the works between CRM and Student Portal as part of a joint communications plan.

Subscribe to DIT News and stay tuned!

Stakeholder Management / External Engagement System

The focus of the over-arching CRM project continues to be the "current students" system. Running in parallel to this over the last few months is the Stakeholder Management System project.

The Stakeholder Management System project team has been working with staff from the Office of Industry and Community Engagement to configure the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform to accommodate their needs.

Leveraging the application developed for CSU Alumni, the solution has been built to support the work of the directors of external engagement and community relations officers.

The new system provides the ability to record, track and report on engagement with our key external stakeholders. It will also support marketing campaigns and event management.

The individuals we engage with sometimes represent multiple external organisations. For example, a councillor who also works for a major local employer as well as a sporting body. The system has been configured to take this into account.

Capturing all engagement with external stakeholders means that we have a holistic view of our interactions. This results in more informed and targeted communications.

Next steps

The project team is working through the likely rollout of this system to other groups, such as the Office of the Vice-Chancellor.

Following this, we will allow time for the system to be in use and collect feedback from users. Further development and rollout across other areas of the university will then be considered as a separate activity.

For more information contact John Smith - Associate Director, IT Project Portfolio.

ASSIST – Live in 2019

The Assessment Scheduling and Student Interactive Support Tool (ASSIST) - previously known as EASE - was developed as part of the Transform Online Learning (TOL) strategic initiative within the Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences.

ASSIST consists of two major functions:

  1. Flexible assessment due dates for students: Students are able to request alternative assessment submission due dates within predefined windows for subjects that are set up for flexible assessment. Subject coordinators set the subjects and assessments to be flexible, and the rules around that flexibility. Intended for online students to better manage their assessment due dates around their day-to-day lives, the system is not limited to online subjects. Any subject can be set to use flexible assessment scheduling functionality.
  2. Dashboard and reporting capabilities to help support online students: Charles Sturt is trialling the introduction of the Online Study Advisor (OSA) role. OSAs are assigned to support students in selected online subjects. OSAs will track student progress and reach out to students who might be at risk, directing them to available university help and tools. If necessary OSAs will flag students to their teaching academics for assistance.

Key benefits

ASSIST went live in 2019 and delivered some significant benefits.

Students are able to gauge and organise their workload to fit into their life. They can track submission date-change requests and receive notifications about upcoming tasks. If needed they can request support for their enrolled subject(s).

Online Study Advisors receive notifications about students who need support. They can also identify students who are at-risk and provide them with relevant help. This leads to increased subject completion and student retention.

Academics are able to check student progress for their subject offerings and identify students who are having issues.

More information

Check out the ASSIST showcase from December 2019.

If you have any questions contact Dan Francisco - Project Manager, Division of Information Technology.

Padlock with with Password

Creating strong passwords

Creating a strong password is fundamental to protecting yourself, the university, and our students.

We are implementing further enhancements to our password management system which will ensure you are choosing a strong password, helping to protect Charles Sturt accounts and data.

The next time you change your password there will be an additional check which will validate your new password against a list of known weak passwords.

If you attempt to create a password that does not meet the password strength criteria or is on the known weak password list, you will receive an error message directing you to choose a different password.

One way to ensure your password is strong is to use a passphrase. Remember your Charles Sturt password can be up to 30 characters long.

It's time to choose your new password matrix

Find out more about password management at Charles Sturt.

Contact the IT Service Desk for support.

New Nursing Simulation facility for Port Macquarie

In early 2019 the university decided to introduce a nursing course on the Port Macquarie campus, with a proposed launch date of Session 1 2020.

The challenges

There was a lack of space on campus for the new teaching facility and a short timeframe for the design of the facility. All construction works had to be completed by November 2019 to allow for accreditation.

The new facility required the installation of a suitable and cost-effective AV solution to support teaching, as well as specialist equipment.

There was also not much time to recruit the staff needed for the new offering.

Despite these hurdles, the work was delivered on time and on budget. To achieve this outcome the following activities needed to take place within some very tight timelines.

  • The costing and tendering for the design of the new space.
  • User group consultations during the design process until everyone was happy with the final design.
  • Relocating admin staff to make the space available for the new Nursing Simulation facility.
  • Demolition of the old office area to allow construction to begin on the new facility.
  • The order and delivery of specialist equipment to meet the accreditation deadline.
  • The recruitment of new staff.
  • The inspection for accreditation.

The outcome

With all the work completed, we now have a state of the art nursing facility with its first students just starting.

The new nursing facility consists of the following areas:

  1. A simulation clinic for use as a classroom for formal teaching and a practical area for nursing students to experience activities undertaken in hospital wards. All practical demonstrations can be recorded and or streamed to a remote site or the debrief room.
  2. A part-practice room for use by students to practice procedures that a health care provider would undertake on a day to day basis. Activities in this space can be recorded or streamed to either the Sim clinic or debrief room using a tripod-mounted wireless video camera.
  3. A debrief room for use as a classroom and viewing area of live or recorded practical demonstrations undertaken in either the Sim clinic or part practice room.

Thank you!

We could not have successfully delivered this high-pressure project without the support of the Port Macquarie staff, the Faculty of Science, and the Division of Facilities Management.

It is amazing what can happen when everyone works together for a common purpose.

Online Shop – Phase 2

This project plans to implement additional e-commerce transactional portals for Charles Sturt. The aim is to improve end-user experience, enable more secure compliance and make best-practice improvements across key areas of the university.

Where are we at?

The project team has successfully completed the underlying platform upgrade from version 10 to version 12. This upgrade introduced new features and capabilities which are available to the university and associated users of the online shopping platform.

Enhancements include:

  • a more user-friendly editing environment
  • improved data privacy
  • drag-and-drop visual page editing capability
  • smarter web forms
  • a simplified e-Commerce Business API

What are we working on?

The project team has kicked off the next deliverable, focussed on introducing a new and refreshed store template. The template will incorporate elements from our recent brand transformation work and the platform's updated software.

Page structures, colours, fonts, logos, and navigation will all be updated to provide a fresh and seamless experience from our existing web environment over to the online shopping platform.

Managers of the online shop environment will also have new capabilities available to them, such as multiple product images and videos.

What's next?

Following the template implementation, we will introduce a new shop into the platform for Charlie's Store.

This is an important high-activity service area for students, staff, and alumni. Transferring Charlie's Store into our successful online shop platform gives all users the same seamless shopping experience.

Memorabilia, clothing, faculty and school uniforms, academic dress, merchandise and much more will soon all be available via our streamlined online shop portal. This will enhance purchase confidence and reduce manual effort while also improving online shopping safety and security.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about this project contact Ivan Saric - Project Manager, Division of Information Technology.

Future Student Hub

The new Future Student Hub - study.csu.edu.au - was introduced in stages from August 2019 to February 2020. The project has transformed the future student web sites into a market-oriented, brand-aligned and leading digital recruitment hub.

The delivery of Future Student Hub supports the University Strategy 2022, by improving Charles Sturt’s ability to recruit, and thereby meet student market share and growth targets.

The new Future Student Hub is based on a competitive and journey-driven approach that drives prospective students to the next best action.

Key improvements include:

  1. Personalised information that will guide prospective students through the marketing funnel. It provides prompts that encourage and assist them to take the next best action along their path to application.
  2. A user experience (UX) strategic roadmap and key persona journey framework across the prospective student primary channel and key dependency sites/pages - accommodation, research, apply, offer, homepage, scholarships, alumni, finance, social.
  3. The ability to connect paid advertising with the Future Student Hub and generate advanced lead management.
  4. The latest web technology, including a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) audit and implementation to improve and advance internal and external search metrics.

We will continue to update the hub with the addition of further personalised information and prompts specific to identified marketing opportunities.

More information

For any enquiries or more information about the new Future Student Hub, contact the Web Office.

COVID-19 scam messages

Using fake emails and text messages, scammers are taking advantage of the current COVID-19 situation and exploiting people’s uncertainties. Their primary goal is to gain information such as passwords and banking details.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is aware of a particular COVID-19 themed scam that is being distributed via text message.

The text messages appear to come from ‘GOV’ as the sender and include a link to find out when to ‘get tested in your geographical area’ for COVID-19.

The link in these text messages is not legitimate. If you click on it, it may install malicious software on your device, designed to steal your banking details.

Protect yourself from phishing scams

  • Don’t click on links or open attachments in emails or text messages from people or organisations you don’t know.
  • Hover over links before you click on them to see the actual web address the link will take you to - usually shown at the bottom of the browser window. If you don’t recognise or trust the address, try searching for relevant key terms in a web browser. This way you can find the article, video or web page without clicking on the suspicious link.
  • If you're not sure about an email or text message you receive, check its legitimacy by contacting the relevant business or organisation. Use contact details sourced from the official company website.

If you have received one of these text messages and you’ve clicked on the link, or you’re concerned your personal details have been compromised, contact your financial institution right away.

If you think you may have been tricked by a phishing scam change your Charles Sturt password immediately.

To stay up to date on the latest online threats and how to respond, sign up to the Stay Smart Online Alert Service.

Start of session activities – Client Services and Computing teams

The Client Services and Computing teams started planning and preparing early for the start of session 202030.

Our preparation activities include health checks and audits of the rooms so that we can resolve any issues before the session starts. This involves checking and testing room equipment, such as computers and audio visual equipment. As well as any specialised equipment, lighting, and the general state of the room.

The Client Services team is providing training for academics in using interactive videoconferencing and audio visual equipment in the learning and teaching spaces. This assists academics to deliver successful and uninterrupted classes. Keep an eye on What's New for training dates.

We also provide training sessions and knowledgebase articles for Student Central. And to ensure students get connected to our wi-fi we provide wireless support.

We have replaced 304 computers in our public access, audio visual and videoconferencing spaces across the university campuses:

  • 223 student access computers
  • 51 learning and teaching space computers
  • 30 video conference room computers

When the timetable is finalised the Service Desk checks that all classes have been correctly booked in the system. We do this to make sure that classes start and end at the right times, and that they are recorded if requested.

Software requested by academics is being updated in readiness for teaching, and we perform regular maintenance on our computer fleet. This ensures staff and students are using updated computers that deliver optimal performance.

The team is processing CSU Replay booking requests to make sure recordings are ready to begin from the start of session. These recordings will be quality checked after session has started.

Our preparation work means we can be certain we are providing enhanced learning and teaching spaces, improving the student experience at Charles Sturt.

TEQSA and ESOS Legislative Compliance project

The TEQSA and ESOS Legislative Compliance project aims to investigate and implement changes in the way we manage and report regulatory compliance activities.

As part of our legislative responsibilities under the TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency) Act 2011 and ESOS (Education Services for Overseas Students) Act 2000, we have an obligation to report on, analyse and monitor student performance indicators as defined in the TEQSA Risk Assessment Framework.

At Charles Sturt we currently collate and analyse various pieces of information from a combination of our student systems and excel spreadsheets. This is a manual time-consuming process that impacts on our student support resources.

We are working with the Division of Student Administration to identify how we can improve our processes and systems. If our staff can detect student issues sooner, this will result in enhanced student experience and improved retention.

Where to next

We are in the definition phase of the project. Our first milestone, due on 28 February, is to demonstrate to TEQSA that we are taking steps towards becoming compliant. We will meet this milestone by producing a prioritised objectives document, which will also help us to maintain focus on the project’s priorities.

Work also continues in defining the scope and requirements for the project. After this, we will create some prototypes to test which process and system improvements will help us to meet compliance.

More information

If you want to find out more about this project contact Anita Kim - Senior Project Manager, Division of Information Technology.

Research Master v7 upgrade

The Research Master v7 upgrade will provide our researchers, students, ethics applicants, and research administrators with an easy and efficient way to manage all research activities.

This project aims to ensure Charles Sturt University remains a leader in research excellence and that we can continue to deliver meaningful outcomes for industry, government, business, and our communities.

Research Master v7 will supply us with improved system functionality and performance, making information more presentable, accessible and useable. New features, such as the dashboard widgets, provide a better user experience. Relevant information will be more available and presented in a useful manner. This will assist in producing better research and ethics outputs.

Sample RME7 Ethics screenshot - uses all available browser windows

Project Status

We held a three-day workshop in December 2019 at our Wagga Wagga campus. Each area of the Research Office had the opportunity to spend time with the vendor and view the updated product. We also used the time to engage with our other stakeholders in the faculties. And we investigated new options such as the costing and pricing, and examinations management tools.

We are currently in the build phase of the project, with the configuration of new Development and Quality Assurance (QA) environments.

With a new and improved user interface and new features to test, we are expecting to spend some months in QA. This will enable us to fine-tune the system to our needs, update our manuals/user guides, and engage with the wider user community.

A go-live date is yet to be confirmed but we are looking at early in Q3 this year. Stay tuned!

More information

If you would like more information about this project contact Phil Costello - Application Support Officer - Research.

24/7 IT support enters the second year of operation

Charles Sturt is one of the largest providers of online tertiary education in Australia. Online students may be studying at any time of the day and night. We need to provide a flexible learning experience that fits around their lives.

In February 2019 we extended the availability of IT support services for our students to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to our existing IT support services delivered by Student Central and the IT Service Desk, we partnered with Blackboard Student Services to provide telephone support outside business hours. We have renewed this extended support service for 2020.

The availability of IT support around the clock helps to alleviate some of the stress involved with using online systems and software. It provides peace of mind for students to know that help is there when they need it.

Students can access 24/7 support by calling the Student Central support line, which redirects to Blackboard outside business hours. Blackboard Student Services has access to our knowledge base, enabling them to offer first-level support for problems with technology and Interact 2. Any interactions requiring in-depth troubleshooting are escalated to the IT Service Desk to resolve during business hours.

The service is integrated with Cherwell, which means that all calls are logged, with reporting and analytics available at any time. Full integration also means any escalated calls are never missed.

Over the last 12 months, the Blackboard support service has been stable and available, but its usage has not been very high. The Division of Student Services is proposing to market the service more broadly in 2020, to ensure that more students are aware it is available and feel comfortable using it.

Designed to provide basic IT support as well as Blackboard Learn (I2) support, this service helps to build our relationship with students. It strengthens our ability to remain competitive with other universities, offering another good reason for students to opt to study at Charles Sturt.

International Studylink

The International Studylink project kicked off at the start of February with a workshop at the Wagga Wagga campus. Stakeholders from the Office of Global Engagement and Partnerships (OGEP), the Division of Student Administration (DSA), and the Division of Information Technology (DIT) took part in an intensive three-day discovery session with the Studylink Connect vendor.

International Studylink workshop - Wagga Wagga

Purpose

The project was set up to establish the Studylink Connect solution at Charles Sturt. The desired outcome is to streamline the international admissions process. Our goal is to provide a transparent and efficient system for the processing of international admissions and the management of international agents.

Key benefits

The Studylink Connect solution will deliver the following key benefits to the university:

  • A significant increase in international student applications, offers, and acceptances, through the digitisation of application and processing.
  • The ability of agents to monitor applications in real-time, reducing turn-around times.
  • Access to new data and reporting that will enable better business intelligence, opening up opportunities in future student markets.
  • Transparency of international agents' data and performance, enabling real-time reporting which supports our TEQSA obligations.

Status and next steps

We have set clear goals around the quick delivery of the project. It is already transitioning from the launch stage into the first increment, with a focus on product planning.

We are working with the vendor to develop a minimal viable product for release late in the second quarter of 2020.

More information

For more information about this project contact Mike Charles - Senior Project Manager, Division of Information Technology.

Admissions Review Project

The purpose of the Admissions Review project is to improve the admissions process at Charles Sturt.

The project involves three key streams:

  • Technology and Systems
  • People and Culture
  • Procedures and Processes

We aim to implement changes that will provide a customer-centric experience, with cohesive and seamless processes for admissions and supporting staff.

What are the benefits?

The Admissions Review project will:

  • deliver an innovative admissions function with a customer-centric focus to improve the applicant experience
  • transform the limited transparency and accountability of the management of the admissions funnel
  • standardise operational procedures and processes
  • tighten alignment between teams to reduce the need for internal handovers
  • foster a culture of insight-driven decision making that shapes how we manage and track admissions
  • provide training and professional development activities to support the transition to the new approach.

What have we been working on?

Since commencement in December 2019, the Admissions Review project team has been working on a number of recommendations and desired outcomes, including:

  • Simplified, streamlined admissions systems and processes for applicants and staff
  • Process improvements for seven selected courses to provide a better experience for applicants and staff
  • Changes to enable Research Higher Degree applicants to apply for scholarships through the online application form
  • Improved applicant communication sign-off process
  • Development of an upload facility for supporting documentation
  • Additional staff engaged to support the peak admissions period

We have also established a team to revise communication templates for admissions, including offer letters and CRM canned responses.

Stakeholders from across the university attended a Lean process improvement workshop, and Bathurst admissions staff have undertaken student-centred culture training.

What’s next?

The project team has a busy time ahead. We will be recommending a strategic technical process solution, as well as building and testing the new Admissions HDR online application form.

We also plan to implement the admissions communication approval process and review the credit application process.

Admissions staff in Albury-Wodonga and Wagga Wagga will undertake student-centred culture training.

Find out more

For more information contact Rochelle Wraith - Project Manager, Division of Information Technology.

Workflow: Change of Grade

The Change of Grade (COG) workflow project aims to replace the existing COG pdf form and manual process, with a single web form and streamlined workflow.

The outcome of the project will be a modern, interactive and intuitive user experience. On authorisation of a COG request, grades will automatically update in Banner. This reduces the number of touchpoints occurring through the process, minimising manual effort.

Why do we need this change?

Under the current process there are:

  • 5,200 single change of grade requests
  • over 400 multiple change of grade requests
  • 50,000 - 60,000 touchpoints in one year

This process can lead to delays in the finalisation of grades, which in turn disadvantages our students.

Final grades are required for student progression, appropriate future enrolment, and third-party applications.

The short timeline between grade release and graduation means that delays in final grading may prevent students from graduating on time.

What are the benefits?

The new COG workflow system will deliver the following benefits:

  • Efficient checks during the submission process, automated workflows (routing and notifications) to direct key decision-makers and a centralised view of information.
  • Real-time form validation and automatic Banner updates, reducing manual data entry errors.
  • A centralized repository for tracking all COG requests for audit purposes.
  • Reporting capabilities for use within assessment committees and the ability to drill down for statistics.
  • Automatic notifications to decision-makers to take action via daily email digest.
  • Automatic notifications to students when there is a change of grade.

Check out the COG Showcase delivered by the Division of Student Administration.

Go-live

The new COG system is scheduled for business go-live on Wednesday 11 March 2020.

Resources

Request change of grade screenshot
Approve change of grade screenshot
Report/Search grade requests screenshot
Advanced search screenshot

For more information about this project contact Dan Francisco - Project Manager, Division of Information Technology.

Bronze medallists for IT services in 2019!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Service Quality survey conducted in September/October 2019.

Our ranking against other participating universities improved from the 2018 survey. We moved up into third place, making us bronze medallists in 2019!

Below are some of the positive results, and some areas we identified for improvement which we are now focussed on.

You can also read our earlier 2019 IT Service Quality Survey news post.

We hope you will take part in the 2020 survey in September. Your feedback is invaluable in helping us ensure we are delivering excellent services to staff at Charles Sturt.

Kicking off technology initiatives – 2020/21

The recent 2020/21 round of new Technology Initiatives (TI) resulted in over $4m of TI and SSAF funding being allocated across 11 new initiatives. Of these, four rated as critical priority and six rated as high priority.

Table 1 below details the priority and funding for each project.

A continual challenge with TI portfolio planning is the scheduling of the new initiatives and trying to ensure that we can kick-off as many of the higher priority initiatives as soon as possible after funding decisions are made.

The need to start some of the new initiatives was even more crucial in this round, with some addressing critical compliance and legislative issues and others fundamental to the delivery of the strategy.

All the critical priority projects have now started, three of them kicked off in January and the fourth recently. Four of the high priority projects have also commenced. Planning is underway to start the remaining two projects.

More information about each project, including key resources such as the sponsor, project manager, product owner and business analyst, as well as estimated timeframes, is available on the published TI schedule. This document is regularly updated.

Another useful resource is the Technology Initiative Summary page, where you can find information about the intent and objects of each active project, as well as the 5Ps and latest status report.

Each month we produce a TI Portfolio Health Report, which provides an indication of the progress of projects and state of play. The monthly health reports are available from the Roadmaps and Reports page.

We will publish updates as the new projects progress, make sure you subscribe to DIT News so you don't miss out.

If you would like specific information about any of the active or scheduled projects please contact John Smith - Associate Director, IT Project Portfolio, or the relevant project manager.