Friday, 22 February 2013

The Power of the Hashtag!

Yes, I'm a CIO and I know what's going on the technology world - big data, data centres, Janet 6, transformational IT, Cyber Security, BYOD, etc. etc.  But I have to confess, I'm not quite up with all the the social media lingo!
We work closely with our student community to understand their requirements and challenges from their perspective.   I meet with the Student President, Freddie, and his team monthly - it also gives us an opportunity to explain what we're working on - and why.   This week I found out the power of Social Media when Freddie started a #wheresdean frenzy on his twitter page.  On Tuesday a colleague said to me 'hashtag where's dean' and I had no idea what they were talking about! Dean is a member of my senior management team and responsible for the University's ICT infrastructure.  Over the course of a few hours, many photos of students looking for Dean were posted on the twitter pages.    The result... by Thursday - we have sorted out the student radio station server problems! Genius...    It's always great to work with such enthusiastic and supportive young people.

Stronger together. The university has a huge and excellent IT Services team, like the helpful Dean here. St Andrews Radio offer high quality student broadcasting throughout the week, led by Kate. Alas, the STAR server has been expensive, slow and unreliable. Good thing Dean and his team are so willing to help then. IT get their power behind students, STAR get cracking support. Good teamwork guys.
Dean Drew, Associate CIO & Kate from STAR
(St Andrews Radio)
From Freddie fforde's (Student Union President) blog -:
"Stronger together. The university has a huge and excellent IT Services team, like the helpful Dean here. St Andrews Radio offer high quality student broadcasting throughout the week, led by Kate. Alas, the STAR server has been expensive, slow and unreliable. Good thing Dean and his team are so willing to help then. IT get their power behind students, STAR get cracking support. Good teamwork guys."

Wifi Provision in Schools

The provision of Wifi within Schools has again appeared in the headlines. If the decision as to whether wifi should be installed within a School is one made by the Headteacher it will always be balanced against other spending priorities. Enriching the learning process in our Schools to me is fundamental especially if we wish to continue to raise the aspirations of our children and stimulate curiosity and a deeper understanding. There is also a clear linkage with Further and Higher Education as there is an expectation now that Wifi will be everywhere. Its no longer a nice to have and maybe the point has been reached where it has become like power or water......

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Six Months On... The IT Apprentices

Peter, Sam and Steven (our IT Apprentices) have been with us for six months now…  here’s what they think about their time in St Andrews so far. 

Peter Woodbridge - Apprentice Web Developer

What I like about my job:  are all of the staff have been supportive and very welcoming, I have also enjoyed working with the web team as I'm always kept busy but never bored with the work that I have to do. 
What I don’t like about my job:  I honestly can’t think of any thing I don't like about working here. 
What I’ve learnt so far:  I have learned how to use basic HTML, how to co-operatively work within a team and I have also learned a lot in Microsoft Windows 7 and Cisco Networking. 
The support I’ve received so far:  I really enjoy being part of the web team as they are all very friendly, I have been supported     throughout the apprenticeship well and I have always been made to feel fully part of the team. 
Training from QA:  I passed both of the City and Guilds assessment's with relative ease. 
Career plans:  The short period of time that I have spent here has already made me want to pursue a career in IT.
Sam Foster - Apprentice Service Desk Analyst
What I like about my job:  I like how varied the job is.  Everyday I’m meeting new people and new problems!
What I don’t like about my job:  I can’t think of anything at the moment!
What I’ve learnt so far:  I could go on and on… so much! I think my communication skills have improved, along with my general        troubleshooting knowledge.
The support I’ve received so far:  All of the team are great.  They’ve sat down and taught me so much and are always happy to answer questions.  I really feel part of the team already.
Training from QA:  I’ve enjoyed the Cisco and Microsoft courses  - they’ve been fairly easy going, but realise that’s not even the        barebones of what I need to know. 
Career plans:  Although I’ve only been working in IT for a short time, I do feel this has helped to confirm that I want to pursue a career in IT. 
Steven Gonzalez - Apprentice Desktop Technician
What I like about my job:  I enjoy opening up the laptops/pcs to change a part, etc. 
What I don’t like about my job: tidying away cables after matriculation or waiting for data to transfer when setting up a new machine!
What I’ve learnt so far:  I’ve learned a lot about fixing hardware problems and my understanding of Windows 7 and networking has greatly improved.  I now know how to use a mac (never used one before) and how to service a variety of printers.
The support I’ve received so far:  I enjoy working with the team as you get a good sense of achievement when you have completed a task, e.g. matriculation.
Training from QA:  I have learned a lot from the Cisco and Microsoft courses.   Very interesting and a lot more to learn. 
Career plans:  This has confirmed I would like a career in IT—particularly in the hardware side of my role.     

About QA: 
QA are the lead apprenticeships provider on Microsoft’s ‘Get On’ pledge (announced by Alex Salmond last week) to create 2000 IT Modern Apprenticeships by 2016.

QA have just won 'Apprenticeship Programme of the Year 2013' from the Learning & Performance Institute for the second year running. 

I'm keen for us explore the possibilities of taking on more IT apprentices. 

Find out more here:




Friday, 8 February 2013

We expand our wifi coverage for University visitors - through BT partnership

Press Release:
University of St Andrews expands wi-fi coverage for town.
BT partnership secures greater access for town and university visitors.

BT Scotland Director, Brendan Dick and CIO, Steve Watt
 The University of St Andrews has joined forces with BT to take the first step towards providing greater wi-fi access within the town.

Visitors to the University are now able to access BT Wi-fi across the St Andrews campus.
The new service makes St Andrews the first university in Scotland to offer university-wide wi-fi to all visitors. It is free to BT Broadband subscribers and a number of BT partners*, while charges may apply for other network users.  Later this year, the University hopes to expand its wi-fi coverage across further areas of the town.

As the University’s existing wi-fi network is only available to staff and students, the new service allows visitors to University buildings such as the library, halls of residence, Gateway building and conference delegates to access the internet wirelessly.

Steve Watt, Chief Information Officer at the University, said: “We have a large number of public visitors to the University and previously could not offer a wi-fi service to them (due to licensing restrictions).  
"This solution removes these barriers and is also underpinned by BT’s excellent support operation.

“We are delighted to be working with BT in this partnership to deliver and expand our wi-fi provision within the University whilst also further leveraging the investment we have already made in our infrastructure to create a truly world-class experience.”

BT Scotland Director Brendan Dick was among the first visitors to connect to the new wi-fi network.

He said: “We’re really excited to be working on this project with St Andrews University, bringing a 21st century technological advantage to a historic town.

 “It will not only provide widespread wireless internet access for visitors to university sites, but has the potential to be extended out across the town benefiting local residents, business people and visitors.

 “A public BT Wi-fi network would be a major new asset to help enhance the visitor experience for the thousands of tourists, shoppers and golfers who make a significant contribution to the local economy.

 “The University of St Andrews is to be commended for its vision and its wish to make sure that its local community can also reap the benefits of its technological development.

 “We look forward to working closely with the University on the project in the months and years ahead.”,199202,en.php


* Customers of EE, O2 and Vodafone who have free BT Wi-fi in their mobile contracts will be able to receive a free service.
For further information please contact the BT Scotland press office on 0800 085 0660.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

SDI accreditation - a UK first for a University

During the course of 2012 we have been going through an accreditation audit in order to achieve  Service Desk accreditation through the Service Desk Institute (SDI).  Service Desk certification is recognised world-wide as delivering the best in services related to the IT provision within an organisation.  SDI first visited us in April 2012 and again in December 2012 to complete their audit process. 
The accreditation wasn’t just about the Service Desk team –  far from it - it involved every area of the IT Service, looking at our processes, development of staff, our communication methods,  etc..  Nine areas were measured in the audit:  Leadership, Policy & Strategy, People & Management, Partnerships & Resources, Processes, People Satisfaction, Customer Satisfaction, Performance Results and Social Responsibility.   
We have recently found out that we have achieved accreditation status.  We are the first University in the UK (and Europe) to achieve this accreditation – and the second University in the world…   Other well-known organisations with accreditation include:
O2, Sodexo, Co-Op banking group, Logica – as well as Kent County Council, NHS Tyne and Wear and North Yorkshire County Council.   
I'm absolutely delighted for my team.  The audit and providing the supporting evidence processes was fairly gruelling - and their determination and commitment to achieving accreditation was evident throughout the process. 
The SDI will be back in December 2013 to audit us again... and they'll expect us to be even better!