Skip to main content

Strategic Priority 1

To offer an exceptional student experience and high quality education, leading to improved progression, attainment and excellent career opportunities for our graduates

Goals

1.1  Develop high quality learning and teaching spaces
1.2  Develop the Queen’s Online Student Portal
1.3  Improve the student experience of library services
1.4  Use technology to enhance learning, teaching and assessment
1.5  Exploit mobile communications
1.6  Prioritise staff development to improve the user experience
1.7  Enhance mechanisms for authentication and authorisation
1.8  Prioritise support for students with disabilities
1.9  Develop systems to increase student engagement and progression?

A summary and details about our goals and actions are available in the tabs below.


Summary
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6
1.7
1.8
1.9

The provision and support of high quality independent learning spaces, and the services and resources that go with them, will be essential to delivering an exceptional student experience.The popularity of the McClay Library with students is clear and has demonstrated that, even in an increasingly online world, our students value high quality physical learning spaces.The McClay Library is not only attracting very large numbers of students, but is driving up student usage of books and other resources and of services such as subject support and Special Collections.Students are scoring us highly in the ‘Learning Resources’ section of the National Student Survey and our goal is to maintain and improve those levels of satisfaction.

In the period ahead we will need to cope with increasing numbers of students while maintaining the quality of the individual student experience of our learning spaces.To do this we will:

  • Continue to enhance and refresh the facilities available in the McClay Library
  • Work towards the realisation of a new, combined Medical and Biomedical Library on the Health Sciences Campus
  • Develop plans for other independent learning spaces across the campus including: Student Computer Centres (SCCs); group study spaces; wireless enabled social spaces (see Wireless Campus, below) ; and standardised central and School-based PC provision to give a common student experience

However, we need to recognise the risk that, particularly in the medium term pending the creation of a new combined Medical and Biomedical Library, students may become dissatisfied with overcrowding in the McClay Library and additional actions may be required to ensure that the building fully meet the needs of users.

The emphasis on student self-service will continue, as a way of expanding the availability of services and focusing staffing resources on those areas where intervention and assistance is most required.Plans include replacing traditional barcode technology with RFID, to improve the management and circulation of stock, and the acquisition of an automatic book sorter to improve self issue and return, reservations and stock availability.At the same time, we will continue to provide the ‘personal touch’ to users and will ensure that our staff have the skills to provide a quality, user-centred service to all.In parallel, we will exploit social media and other forms of online communication to ensure effective engagement with our users and responsiveness to their needs.

In addition to providing high quality learning spaces, we will fully meet the needs of students in the virtual environment, through the provision of electronic resources, services and support.Our plans will also take account of the growing use by students of their own devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones, both on and off campus.Pervasive wireless will support the use of these devices across the campus, thereby maximising the effective use of space, while our online services will increasingly be personalised to the user and accessible across the fullest range of devices, independent of location - this will build on the work already undertaken through the QUB Mobile Service to deliver library, smart card, timetable and other information to students using mobile devices, expanding the range of services to include learning resources, the library catalogue and the resource discovery platform.Queen’s Online will continue to be developed as an essential platform for all students, bringing together in one, accessible location all of the resources and services required for learning, support and communication.

Information Services will work proactively with Academic and Student Affairs to promote the use of e-learning technologies, as set out in the University’s Education Strategy, with the aim of increasing flexibility and innovation in teaching and learning, through measures such as interactive lectures, lecture streaming, online courses, personal response systems, online assessment, distance learning and use of video. Developing and supporting an e-learning culture and practice will require resources and proactive collaboration among stakeholders, but an effective e-learning environment, facilitating flexible learning, will be necessary to meet the needs of students and to enable the University to expand in the areas of distance and part-time learning.

The period ahead will also see significant change and improvement in the provision of teaching facilities and services, to support the goals and principles of the Education Strategy.An important development will be the Student Centred Timetabling Project, one of the outcomes of which will be enhancement and standardisation of the teaching technologies in use in lecture theatres and classrooms, with Information Services taking on much increased responsibility for audio-visual provision and support across the campus.

1.1 Develop high quality learning and teaching spaces

Information Services will continue to provide and develop high quality learning and teaching spaces, which anticipate and meet the requirements of users, promote innovative and effective forms of teaching and learning and support developments in pedagogy.

Actions

  • Develop strategies to cope with increased student numbers in the McClay Library, while maintaining high levels of student satisfaction
  • Continue to work towards integration of the Medical and Biomedical Libraries in a new library
  • Develop, with Estates, plans for the enhancement of SCC, group study and other spaces across the campus
  • Align the teaching technologies used in School-based and centrally managed rooms to ensure a common experience across the campus, with enhanced AV facilities in up to 45 School-based teaching rooms

1.2 Develop the Queen’s Online Student Portal

Over the planning period the Queen’s Online Student Portal will expand to offer students the resources and services required for learning, support and communication.We will also look to exploit the relationship between Queen’s Online and cloud based services such as Office 365.

A key component of Queen’s Online is the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). VLE services will be extended and integrated with other support tools to provide a learning platform that can support changing learning and teaching needs. Key developments will include new assessment services, additional online courses and increased integration with third party and social media products.

Actions

  • Explore the relationship between Queen’s Online and Office 365, with the aim of offering students a seamless experience when accessing Queen’s Online services, email and storage
  • Review the design of the Queen’s Online Home Page
  • Move Queen’s Online to the Enterprise version of SharePoint

 

1.3 Improve the student experience of library services

We will seek continuous improvement in the quality of library services for students in both the physical and virtual environments. In the context of our library buildings, this will involve keeping opening hours under review and providing high quality student support both in person and electronically. We will implement RFID technology along with an automatic book sorter in the McClay Library to improve the circulation and availability of stock and ensure that the catalogue remains accurate. There will also be improvements in managing access to the Library as a result of upgrades to the Sentry system.Work will continue on improving student access to required reading material and Subject Librarians will collaborate with colleagues on a more integrated approach to student training and skills development.

As access to our virtual services is equally important to students, we will continue to work on a range of enhancements in terms of access to e-resources and services including provision of multiple access routes, improved personalisation options, integration in Queen’s Online and support at the point of use. New mechanisms for assessing student needs and communicating with them in innovative ways will also be explored.

Actions

  • Implement RFID in the McClay Library
  • Consolidate and further exploit self-service technologies (e.g. automatic book sorter)
  • Explore new ways of providing help and support to students – twitter, pre exam sessions, extended use of courtesy notifications before loans fall overdue, etc.
  • Develop a student mentoring programme (Library Ambassadors) to support new students/international students
  • Integrate access control and smart card systems to ensure that only eligible users can access the McClay Library
  • Install graphical display units at the McClay Library entrance and exit gates.
  • Introduce a high quality scanning service for students
  • Explore options to improve access to required reading material - consult Schools on preferred model and investigate potential for integrating reading lists in the My Modules area of Queen’s Online
  • Explore the use of LibGuides to create interactive subject support web pages and raise awareness of this service
  • Continue to collaborate with theLearning Development Service on student training initiatives
  • Improve access to e-resources – e.g. embed QCat Discover search box at module level in Queen’s Online, investigate personalisation options and analyse e-resource usage

 

1.4 Use technology to enhance learning, teaching and assessment

Information Services will support the goal, set out in the Education Strategy, of ensuring that ICT is used pervasively in teaching, learning and assessment, to meet the skills and needs of students in a rapidly-developing ICT and mobile environment. We will support the creation of online course provision and the development of a flexible and powerful assessment framework. We will work with the Centre for Educational Development to increase the use of e-learning technologies to both enhance the learning experience and support flexible delivery.

Actions

  • Promote the use of teaching templates to develop online courses
  • Foster programmes to help embed rich media into course provision
  • Develop proposals for multifaceted lecture recording and streaming, with a range of room-based, studio-based and portable options for lecture video/audio capture
  • Introduce up to eight enhanced presentation spaces and systems for lecturers
  • Work with CED to develop the range of tools to support formal and formative assessment
  • Support the e-Affect project which aims to transform staff and student experience of assessment and feedback across Queen's University through the effective use of technology

 

1.5 Exploit mobile communications

We will build on and expand the range of information resources and personalised services already available through the QUB Mobile Service, as part of a wider program of support for new communication technologies.

Actions

  • Further develop features for timetable and location information, communications facilities and access to learning materials
  • Implement a mobile interface for the Library catalogue and resource discovery platform
  • Release core VLE services on the mobile platform
  • Explore the use of QR codes to enrich information provided to library users
  • Explore the use of text messaging for delivery of some library notices

 

1.6 Prioritise staff development to improve the user experience

The ongoing emphasis on service orientation and the “personal touch” will continue over the next couple of years. Information Services will seek accreditation for the quality of staffed services and internal staff training initiatives in pursuit of enhanced effectiveness will continue. Development of staff to meet specialist roles as well as prepare the next generation of leaders will continue.

Actions

  • Investigate national options for accreditation of customer service staff
  • Promote the use of calendaring and collaboration tools to improve internal communication/efficiency
  • Continue to promote a flexible approach to staffing service points by building a wide range of expertise among Information Services staff
  • Carry out a skills audit as part of appraisal to facilitate mutual sharing of knowledge and consider exchange opportunities for Information Services staff
  • Investigate the viability of Subject Librarians enrolling for PGCHET to enhance their teaching role

 

1.7 Enhance mechanisms for authentication and authorisation

Our key goals are: common authentication (a single set of credentials, centrally managed, which can be used across all major systems); authorisation (the ability to offer different levels of access and entitlements, where appropriate, depending on who the user is); and single sign on (the ability to log in once only to access multiple services).

Actions

  • Standardise, as part of a wider ‘shared services’ agenda, on a single core Active Directory for the University
  • Develop our Identity Manager system to provide (via information supplied from Qsis and iTrent) the additional fields required for granular authorisation
  • Develop and implement the Shibboleth authentication service for HSC users
  • Set up authentication to provide a failsafe system for EZProxy and pursue integration of Shibboleth/EZProxy login into Queen’s Online to provide single sign on across different systems

 

1.8 Prioritise support for students with disabilities

Information Services will continue to work closely with other support areas in the University in order to meet the needs of students with disabilities

Actions

  • Improve awareness of assistive technology among Information Services staff and students
  • Provide mental health awareness training for front line staff

 

1.9 Develop systems to increase student engagement and progression

We will continue, in conjunction with other stakeholders, to provide and enhance systems that encourage student engagement, including Queen’s Online and the Student Gateway.The development of an Enterprise Architecture (see below) offers new opportunities to provide, via Queen’s Online, a personalised ‘one stop shop’ experience for students (through, for example, the creation of a single financial view) and to develop new systems to support student retention.

Actions

  • Work with DASA to identify IT solutions to aid early identification of students at risk and/or not engaging with the University
  • Set out a programme to enhance the range of personalised, student focused applications and information available through Queen’s Online
  • Improve student induction and orientation, and ongoing engagement, through the effective use of social and other online media and technologies