BREAKOUT: Ulster University - Ulster's Journey to Managed Hosting, The Whys , The Hows and What We Learnt - PRES: Andy Jaffrey

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In 2014 Ulster University commenced an initiative titled Digital Futures 2015-18 The corporate plan required our department to deliver a Digital Learning Strategy underpinned by agreed pedagogic and business principles, and to provide prioritised recommendations for its implementation and evaluation, to include infrastructure development, academic development and governance.


Digital Futures is strategically important as Ulster is currently building a new city centre campus in Belfast and opening new buildings on both the Magee and Coleraine campuses which allows us to rethink the classroom, standardise aspects of the online environment, rebalance online content and interaction and to refresh and innovate in our curriculum.


This strategic ambition necessitated, under challenging conditions, a review of our digital learning infrastructure which resulted to an open tender process to procure a hosted, managed digital learning environment that would support the ambition. Blackboard was successful in the procurement process and we signed contracts in June 2016 - this resulted in an ambitious and interesting collaboration between Ulster and Blackboard Professional Services to migrate our infrastructure by August 2016.


The Office for Digital Learning, at Ulster, project managed the migration whilst also maintaining service for our existing environment. We learnt a lot and there were many things that we wish we had known before we started - thus the purpose of this presentation. It will be practical, honest and will deal with human, procurement and technical aspects - we therefore hope it will be of interest to a wider variety of colleagues who support digital learning services.