Welcome to the Digital Transformation blog


Digital is the convergence of a variety of technologies and social changes that have led to a new way of living our lives. Our students are the epitome of this new digital reality – they create and consume content in a very different way to previous generations.

But what exactly is a digital transformation? The Enterprisers Project define it as:

“The integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.

Beyond that, it’s a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment often, and get comfortable with failure.

Digital transformation is not solely about technology. In fact technology is only one part of the puzzle. Digital transformation is about meeting the needs of the new digital consumer – be they staff or student. It involves new understanding and cultural change. For more on this see Paul Boag’s Digital Transformation: The six questions you need to answer.

At the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) we are at the beginning of this transformation process. There is a commitment to develop and a will to act, but so far efforts have not been as co-ordinated as they could be.

However this is about change. We are working on a new Digital Strategy that will form the backbone of our digital activity and allow progress to be made in a comprehensive and integrated manner.

We want to share our transformation with you and intend to blog about the journey, bumps and all.

Making MoJo Movies

In order to develop really great blended learning courses for the Catalyst Programme we will be relying heavily on a variety of multimedia content. Creation and use of relevant, good quality video resources is probably top of our list. However within our Learning Tech team we have varying levels of ability when it comes to video filming and editing skills so it makes sense to get some support from the experts.

Using a hand held rig

Using a hand held rig

Yesterday we had a visit from Cassius Rayner, award winning film maker and media training expert. Cassius spent the day showing us how to use our phones like pros (we are pretty much an all iphone house) and master the art of mobile film making and mojo.

It was a really fun day and we are far from experts but there were some very clear tips that we will be sharing with our wider academic community.

Cassius Rayner setting up a tripo

Cassius Rayner setting up a tripod

General phone filming tips

  1. Always film in landscape – 16×9 is the standard option here.
  2. Don’t zoom on a phone – zooming is a lie, you are just reducing the quality of your video. If you want to be nearer get up and walk, or if your phone has a second telephoto lens use it!
  3. Newer iphones have 2 lenses (tele and wide angle) – if you want to zoom this is one option but be careful about getting in too close and your picture distorting.
  4. Iphones need lots of light so if you can pick light locations. If not there are some features (the AE/AF lock) which can help.
  5. Using a hand held rig can be a huge help in stabalising your phone and connecting it to other kit (like a tripod).
  6. Add a grid to your camera (Settings > Camera > grid) so you can line things up. Use the rule of thirds for interviews (interviewee eyes should be at the intersection of the first square.
  7. When you film an interview always film a cut away shot (like footage of their hands), you never know when you might need it. Extra cutaway shots can also include recorded interviewer questions, nodding, someone thinking, walking etc.
  8. Get good at gliding along as you film people walking. Bend your knees and walk whilst keeping the upper part of your body stable.
  9. Buy some core kit. You can bring in extra light using a reflector. A gimbal is great for counteracting shaky hands. A back screen will allow you to film great interviews with no distracting background and a microphone is essential in noisy areas as a the smart phone mics are normally not great.
  10. Keep your phone charged up and ready to go. Filming will drain your battery. Take a portable charger.
A hand held rig with mic and flash

A hand held rig with mic and flash

Just before lunch we had a break from the hands-on work and were visited by Ben McCammick-Copley, media production manager from UCEM. Ben spent time talking to our academics about the video opportunities that are out there and will support their modules.

Interview filming - photo courtesy of Madeline Paterson

Interview filming – photo courtesy of Madeline Paterson

Filmic pro filming tips

In the afternoon we spent time using the Filmic pro app. which gives you lots more control over your phone camera than your standard set up.

  1. The usual number of frames is 24 frames per second for film and 25 frames per second for video.
  2. Set your white balance – you can use auto but also do manually. Click to lock.
  3. Set your presets in advance. We went for 16.9, HD 2K, filmic pro for standard filming, and also created a slo-mo setting.
  4. Don’t save your videos to the photo gallery as this will cause loss of quality – load them directly on to your computer for editing.
  5. If you want to learn about more ways to use FilmicPro, you will find detailed tutorials on the Filmic pro website.

We ended the day by creating our own little promo and editing it on iMovie.

I think we are feeling a lot more confident about our filming ability, now we just need something to film!

Aurelie works the slider

Aurelie works the slider

Trip report: EMLT – Moving Office365 from the office to the classroom

On Wednesday last week I attended the East Midlands Learning Technologists’ Group (EMLT) winter event.

The focus was on using Office365 within Teaching and Learning with four learning specialists from different institutions presenting their experience on implementing Office365 in teaching and learning. The afternoon was concluded by a demonstration from Microsoft focusing first on Accessibility within Windows tools and specifically Windows 10, then focusing on Teams as a tool.
I will detail below the benefits and issues highlighted by the presenters and the key issues discussed by the attendees.

At Nottingham Trent University, there seem to have a number of success stories using Office 365. Rachel Bancroft was the first to present their experience of using Office 365. Rachel highlighted how Yammer was used to help improve visibility of student for group work collaboration. The students found the tool easy to pick up (like Facebook), easy to use, part of the institutional tools. They are now using Teams for the same tasks, which allows for better document sharing and organisation of concept. As detailed in their blog, the Fresher’s week orientation treasure hunt using Microsoft Forms was very successful and allowed the students to find useful services such as the library and student support services, introduce them to sites of cultural interest in Nottingham and to help them to make friends with other people on their course.

Will Moindrot from the University of Liverpool gave us a contrasting story about two institutions’ approaches. The first example covered illustrated how the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine used Office365 for group work where PowerPoint presentations were created in OneDrive and shared in the VLE as a links.

Will also explained how his new institution, University of Liverpool, uses Office365 integrated and linked in every single course in the VLE; this integration means every course has an Office collaborative space automatically created. It also allows the automatic creation of a collaborative area in the Teacher’s OneDrive area. Teachers can therefore distribute templates and files.
In terms of implementation, the new VLE and Office365 were launched at the same time which means they feel like a coherent set of tools.

One key issue discussed was the complexity of using OneNote, meaning the students needed training, as well as some questions around making One Note documents read-only for submission to staff.

Susan Lowe, formerly of the OU, presented her experience of using OneNote to support students in Personal Development Planning. OneNote was used to provide structured ePortfolio-like templates and focused learners. However, there were some technological issues and users needed training. It needs support and guidance to be used effectively as portfolio tool.
In institutions where there are no ePortfolio systems, it may be useful; as we have the Mahara at the RAU for portfolio, using OneNote in that way would be of little or no benefits.

Matt Hope from Loughborough University discussed how Office365 can be used to facilitate the collaborative experience. The two main discussion points raised were that Office 365 users have been using different tools without the  Learning  Technologists  and IT’s awareness; this has led to their IT teams feeling like they were catching up on support needed. This was a common feeling with many institutions represented on the day.

The second point was a question as to whether Microsoft was set to ‘replace’ the VLE? That discussion revolved around the need for students to improve their digital fluency; the main argument is that students need to study using tools they will use in the ‘real world’ and that therefore they should be using Office tools for their learning. This created much debate in the room and subsequently on Twitter as I raised the question of the future of the VLE and the level of integration of Office tools with Moodle (Gateway) with the CEO of Moodle.

It seems that the overall feeling from the Moodle community and other institutions is that VLE still have a place, which is a different area from the Office tool, with a wider overlap than previously. The Microsoft representative in the room explained that Microsoft have no intention to ‘replace the VLE’ but there is a clear need for institution to identify which tools they make available for which pedagogical purpose, which tools they support and which tools they integrate. With Learning Technologists’ support, a good policy on tools and a good technical integration, those concerns could be minimised.

As a result of this discussion, Martin Dougiamas, CEO of Moodle (Gateway software) explained in his Twitter reply to me, that the messaging system in the latest Moodle version is going to be similar to Teams. They are making improvements to Moodle overall to help with, not only the technical integration but also the user experience  integrations of other tools such as Office365 apps.



The first focus of the Microsoft presentation by Alan Crawford was on accessibility and inclusions. Alan demonstrated Windows 10 tools available to improve accessibility, colour filters, translator, eye control and dictation. Immersive reading was also discussed.

The second part of the demonstration was based around using Teams. This included sharing files and collaborative editing (wiki), assignments with marking including rubric (class notebook, OneDrive file etc.) and using the Polly polling tool.

The detailed recordings of the presentations can be found below:

Making maps

We’ve been having fun making interactive campus maps as part of the myRAU desktop and mobile app.

Campus map viewed on a desktop

Campus map viewed on a desktop

So far we have created two maps:

  • Royal Agricultural university campus map – covering catering, computer room, parking, printers, public toilets, public transport, sports, student accommodation, student support services, supermarkets and teaching.
  • Cirencester and beyond – covering farms, hospital, public toilets, public transport, sports, student support services and venues.

While the campus map is fairly comprehensive there is still more that can be added to the Cirencester one and we hope to build on it using student feedback.

The maps were relatively straightforward to create but did require some editing to Open street map to ensure that all the building for the Royal Agricultural University were available.

Campus map viewed on a mobile

Campus map viewed on a mobile

Hopefully the maps will prove useful for students, especially at the start of the academic year and during open days.

Many thanks to Dan (Sebastian) Meer, Information Services Digital Content Developer at the University of Cumbria who helped me get started with the map app in myday.

Reflecting on RAU Resource Lists

Last week we took some time out to reflect on our Talis Aspire / RAU Resource Lists journey so far.

On Thursday we were visited by David Renfree (Talis), Allie Taylor and Sarah Pittaway (University of Worcester) who helped us run a session with our academics looking at the potential of their lists.

Sarah and Allie presented on “Deep and meaningful learning experiences”:
making the most of resource lists and shared some insights from Worcester on constructive alignment, voice and presence and the need to give students a “purposeful reason to go on frequently and repeatedly”  [taken from Salmon, G. (2013) E-tivities: the key to online learning, Abingdon: Routledge.]

Allie Taylor and Sarah Pittaway (University of Worcester)

Allie Taylor and Sarah Pittaway (University of Worcester) present

David then introduced analytics use in Talis Aspire and began to explore the new list edit view currently being rolled out.

We completed the session with the RAU Resource Lists awards in which academics were honoured for their great lists in categories including:

  • First to create a list
  • Most programme lists
  • Most accessed programme lists
  • Most accessed module lists
  • Longest List

The academics received a certificate and a wooden spoon (we were reclaiming the term to apply to winners!)

RAU academics awarded wooden spoons

RAU academics awarded wooden spoons

On Friday David worked with our library team looking at the the reviews and acquisitions process. we also explored the roll over process for lists.

David Renfree (Talis) helps us explore our reviews process

David Renfree (Talis) helps us explore our reviews process

It’s been a interesting journey so far. Although there have been some minor hiccups (for example in integrations with our catalogue system and VLE),  we have had great engagement from academics and out stats are pretty healthy:

  • 256 lists (including 162 lists for modules and 40 lists for programmes)
  • 3513 bookmarks (2091 books / 1472 importances)
  • 80 user profiles
  • Some programmes with over  80% coverage for module lists
  • “We’ve spent half of our book budget for this year already!”

We are now moving into phase 2 of our implementation. We will be continuing to encourage the creation of lists and will be linking them more closely with our module sheets and module pages on the VLE. There is also work to do using the stats we have to improve lists and encourage use by students.

Panopto Conference 2018

Over 300 delegates congregated in Euston earlier this week for this year’s Panopto conference with a theme of ‘Your Video Learning Ecosystem’.

Rachel opens the conference

Rachel  Avery (head of marketing) opens the conference

Panopto has been about since 2007 and now boasts 100 employees in six offices around the world with an audience of over 5 million. During that time UK HE has gone from promoting lecture capture, making it mandatory with opt out status, creating policies to support this, falling under fire during the pension strike last year and creeping towards an opt in system (explored at the recent UK HE user group). There now seems to be a period of rethinking video use in HE and some interesting questions surfacing around slick versus authentic content.

Rhizomes and the complex nature of learning

The opening keynote of the day was delivered by Dave Cormier (forever known as the man who coined the term MOOC). Dave explored the 3 categories of uncertainty in learning (based on the cylefin framework created by Dave Snowden).

Dave Cormier

Dave Cormier presents on active learning

  • SIMPLE – no subject expertise required – you can spend lots of money, the content won’t change
  • COMPLICATED – subject matter expertise needed, this requires a bigger video project
  • COMPLEX – can only work on part of the problem, disposable learning objects, don’t invest too much

Dave went on to explore if complex learning can be videoed using the analogy of rhizomes and rhizomatic learners (and Japanese knot weed!): ‘Rhizomes grow as networks of roots with no explicit center’, how do we let learners be like rhizomes? Educators should be the ecosystem you want to encourage.

Active learning

The follow up active learning session shared case studies outlined on the Panopto spinner (there were some great graphics at this conference!)


  • Steve Hiron, Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Birkbeck, University of London shared their experience of formative assessment in geology when students recorded their descriptions of rocks and uploaded then to a folder in moodle. The case study is outlined in the the Bloomsbury ebook.
  • Steve Collender, Multimedia Coordinator, Diploma Centre, Law Society of Ireland talked about their use of Panopto to host and livestream videos for their MOOCs.
  • William Seagrim, Lecturer, School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University who leads a professional ethics course on a Bar professional training course presented a great scenario based use case. In an attempt to make the course more engaging they employed an actor and filmed a series of scenarios with questionable ethics. William acted the role of a ‘talking head tutor’ and then played out an approach to how the ethical issues could be dealt with. There were also multiple choice questions embedded. You can see an example from the course on YouTube.
  • Katie Barnes, Advanced Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Alder Hey hospital looked at their use of a non-educational pipeline to deliver training through shared resources

Authenticity vs Facade

Post coffee break there were a series of talks looking at recent evolutions in the video ecosystem. Ines Dawson, PhD student at the University of Oxford and YouTuber (the amazing Draw Curiosity) gave some ideas on how video can make us better teachers. She discussed academics and students’ fear of making mistakes and the need to own these mistakes: perfectionism in academia = fear of failure = procrastination.  Ines also talked about move towards ephemeral video (though Instagram stories) as the younger generation show a preference for authenticity over facade.

This discussion carried on in to the fireside talk between Eric Burns, CEO Panopto and Simon Clark vlogger and video creator. Simon discussed the need to consume a lot to create (he watches up to 10 hours of video a day!) and the move away from the infallible educator or ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘content created by stage’ and a rise in live streaming, through services like Twitch. Twitch is a live streaming video platform and a subsidiary of Amazon. Simon’s advice to potential YouTube vloggers is to be yourself, don’t take the real you out of the picture. Perhaps the element HE can take from this is that ‘the most engaging content is not always the content with the highest production value’.

Fireside talk between Eric Burn and Simon Clark

Fireside talk between Eric Burn and Simon Clark

The morning closed with a look at the top challenges facing those working with Panopto based on the community survey and led by Debra Garretson, Director of Accounts at Panopto. The biggest challenges include:

  • Staff digital literacy – Jennie White, University of Chichester suggested we offer bite size chunks for our academics to try out (micro-lecturers, use video for assessment- get students to assess content themselves, try live marking, create pop up studios etc.)
  • Student digital Literacy – Lucy Atkins, form De Montfort University shared her research and DigiLit work.

In the afternoon there were some great breakout sessions looking at teaching and learning aspects of Panopto and the technical set up. Some take aways for me were:

  • How do you assess the impact of TEL? Some institutions like Newcastle University have been doing a lot of work with their statistics and are including lecture capture in module dashboards. Other institutions (University  of Wolverhampton) shared some interesting insights into how their video is being used (more usage if content is embedded in a page). Imperial College has attempted to assess and share best practice through the Active Learning summer challenge  – it is incredibly difficult to measure what makes good active learning!
  • Accessibility – Can be a real driver for video but also has its challenges e.g. the new accessibility regulations. Tools like Verbit (captioning) are starting to be used more.
  • Distance learning  and partner delivery- At Edinburgh Napier university they may be using Panopto to replace their ‘flying faculty’ for courses in Singapore by using live recordings or narrated slides. They are currently considering how to capture student’s questions by filming the existing cohort. There are also cultural and language issues to consider.
  • Variety of uses – Loughborough university shared some non-academic use cases: external lectures, capture sessions for prospective and pre-arrival students, lecture capture for elite athletes
Mixed media learning model from the University of Wolverhampton

Mixed media learning model from the University of Wolverhampton

The day closed with a presentation from Eric Burns, co-founder and CEO of Panopto that considered some current meaty issues: net neutrality, the unequal web, control of the web by big companies.  He used the “if you are not paying for the product you are the product” idea to advocate for academic freedom and academic integrity. Eric feels these ‘good’ values will be supported by the release of Panopto Pro – a way to share content with those who do not pay for Panopto in a controlled way. Panopto’s heart seems to be in the right place, or maybe that’s the drinks reception wine talking?! What is clear is that the video ecosystem is a continually shifting environment.

Accessibility, VLES and web sites

Last week we had our first cross-institutional meeting looking at the new European Union (EU) Directive on the Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications and its implications for the RAU. The regulations came into force for public sector bodies on 23 September 2018 and state that websites or mobile apps must be made ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’.

At there meeting there were staff representatives from marketing, digital, IT, the Catalyst programme, student engagement and disability support.

A little background information:

  • RAU has a very high number of dyslexic students (around 250 dyslexic students, or 20-25% of the student body)
  • There is a main page on the website that deals with this area, internally there are several VLE pages that cover disability support and assistive technology
  • There is a generic email address available – dyslexia.disability@rau.ac.uk 
  • IT support a significant number of accessibility tools including: Read&write, Sensus access, Dragon, mind mapping tools

The group agreed a number of actions and areas for consideration and will be meeting again early next year to share our progress.

Jisc online briefing

We also sent (virtually) a few people along to the Jisc online briefing on New regulations, new risks which took place earlier today. There were 209 attendees so definitely a hot topic area!


The briefing began with some polls that suggested that on the whole the HE sector is beginning to get ready for the regulation but isn’t there yet. It then went on to explore the main recommendations:

  • To make your VLE and website perceivable, operable, understandable and robust
  • To publish a model accessibility statement on your website that details what content is not accessible and the alternatives provided (a model is provided). It should give a single point of contact for problems.

There will be future work to create a Further/Higher Education (FHE) Digital Accessibility Working Group. Questions on the regulations can be sent to the Accessibility regulations Jisc mail group.


Good things happening on the Catalyst project

It’s time to announce a few good things as we approach the start of the design and development work on the two new postgraduate programmes:

  • MBA Innovation in Sustainable Food and Agriculture
  • MSc Sustainable Food and Agriculture Policy.


Learning technologists

Two new Learning Technologists, Chantal Schipper and Aurelie Soulier, have now both started at the RAU. They will be supporting and guiding the academics working on the Catalyst programmes in designing and developing the online modules.


Catalyst project guidelines

The Learning Technology team have been working hard on developing the Catalyst Project intranet pages. Here you will find:

  •  information about the programmes in development
  • details about the roles and responsibilities of the Catalyst team
  • information about teaching in HE and at the RAU that relates to Catalyst
  • professional development related to distance teaching and learning
  • guidelines on module design, the ‘assessment first’ principle, accessibility, quality enhancement etc.
  • information about the development process and our 12-week development timeline
  • the forms and templates that the Catalyst team will use during development.

The Catalyst Project pages are on the RAU staff intranet (internal only)

Catalyst project intranet

More guidance will be written, so do keep an eye on our intranet site!


Office 365

The IT Services team is working hard on implementing Office 365 for RAU staff. It will initially be piloted within the ITS team and the Catalyst Project will be using “MS Teams” to collaborate with each other during the Catalyst project’s module design and development stages.

To find out more about Office 365 and how you can use it, have a look at Microsoft’s online training videos available here:

Office 365 training centre


What is happening now?

Currently, module leaders are speaking with their specialist contributors to generate ideas for student activities and assessments. On 8 November, the Catalyst team working on the postgraduate programmes will come together for a “Start-Up day”. Supported by the Learning Technologists, the team will shape up their ideas into module designs and will write action plans to develop six modules every twelve weeks.
Meanwhile, the Learning Technology team is working on implementing tools to support eBooks, webinars, e-portfolios, data and reporting and identifying specialists for media production.

The Learning Technology team first started working on Catalyst in spring 2018. At the first workshop, some of the people involved spoke about what was ahead and how that first workshop in July had gone. To watch these short videos, click on the names below.

If you have any questions related to the Catalyst project or learning technology, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Learning Technology team.

Introducing Aurelie

AurelieSoulierHello! I am Aurelie Soulier and I have just joined the Royal Agricultural University as a Learning Technologist to support course design and development for the Catalyst project with Chantal and Madeline, working closely with Marieke. As Chantal said in her previous post, we will be supporting the development and delivery of four new innovative blended programmes.

Before joining the RAU, I have worked for over 11 years at Cranfield University for the Defence and Security School (CDS) based at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham. As a senior learning technologist, my role was very broad. It involved administrating and support the learning platform (Moodle, Mahara and Turning) occasionally on my own and more recently with up to a team of three learning technologists. My role comprised helping course planning and development with academics, delivering staff development programmes for CDS and partnering institutions, road-mapping education technology (Ed Tech) at CDS, helping to develop a toolkit (the Essential Learning Framework – ELF) to support module leaders’ use of blended learning, organising and delivering inductions for new students as well as seeking and sharing best practice with other institutions and present my research and practice at Ed Tech conferences, enhancing CDS’s reputation nationally and internationally with collaboration and project work with Dublin City University, for example.

Prior to working at Cranfield University, I have also worked both as a Modern Foreign Languages and an IT teacher in UK secondary schools. I have undertaken my undergraduate degree in France at Michel de Montaigne – Bordeaux III before obtaining my PGCE from Swansea Institute of Higher Education and an MSc in Computing from Oxford Brookes University.

In addition, I am the volunteer co-ordinator for the Mahara User Group Southern England (MUGSE). I have taken on this role shortly before moving to the RAU and aim to re-launch this group activity in the next few months so I’ll be seeking interest from anyone who’s curious about using Mahara or already using Mahara via the above Twitter feed.

I’m also one of ten elected volunteer committee members for the Moodle User Association. As a general committee member, I help raising the profile of the Moodle User Association (MUA) and contributes toward our main activity: to decide on development projects for Moodle core through developing project proposals that include detailed requirements for those projects.

The way I approach my job is that, essentially, I love to help academics helping students learn. I deeply believe that education technology (Ed Tech) isn’t about the tools and technology, it’s about people, the learners and the educators. The technology is here to help and enable their practice.

I believe that social media and face-to-face networking are key to enhancing our practices by sharing and collaborating to innovate and develop ideas together so you’ll see me on Twitter collaborating with other Ed Tech people and academic colleagues as well as sharing personal ideas and views.

I love to spend time with my two daughters, visiting new places with them, especially National Trust locations. I’ve lived in Swindon for ten years now and I’m a big fan of Swindon’s often poorly known culture and heritage.

In my spare time, I also like to practice yoga, hike and cook. I love to take on new challenges. I completed the Ride London 100 miles ride in August 2013 with only six months training, I have done three smalls triathlons and I have taken part in three ultra-marathon walks in 2018 which means I’ve walked over 500 miles in total with training and events this year. I haven’t decided what mad challenges 2019 will bring, yet. I’m also a qualified nutritional adviser and love to support other people in achieving their wellness goals.

If you would like to get in touch, come and see me in the ITS office, email me aurelie.soulier@rau.ac.uk or phone me.

Scoping our Office 365 roll out

Last week we had a visit from IT consultants Jerry and Corrine Niman who are helping us scope our Office 365 implementation.

For those who are unfamiliar with Office 365 it is (in Jerry’s words):

“A cloud-based suite of office productivity, collaboration, communication and automation tools provided by Microsoft from its datacentres in Dublin and Amsterdam. It provides extensive support for collaboration both internally and with partners, and can be used on PCs, iOS and Android mobile devices, Apple Macs and on any device with an up-to-date web browser. It is constantly updated with new features and improvements and is widely used in the UK Higher Education community.

The Office 365 platform includes an ever-growing range of facilities, currently including:

  • Exchange (email, calendaring, to-do lists etc.)
  • SharePoint (document storage, workflow)
  • OneDrive for Business (a personal file storage space with the ability to share files and folders and to synchronise files across devices)
  • Online Office Applications (web-based versions of Word, Excel etc.)
  • Skype for Business (teleconferencing and videoconferencing)
  • Stream (video file management, storage and delivery)
  • Teams (group collaboration, shared document storage spaces, team web sites)
  • Yammer (social networking for the organisation)
  • Sway (digital storytelling)
  • Delve (searching across Office 365)
  • Flow (process and task automation across apps and services)
  • Forms (creation of quizzes, surveys, questionnaires, registrations etc.)
  • Planner (tools to organise teamwork)
  • Project (project management)
  • PowerApps (building custom Apps)
  • Power BI (powerful reporting tools)
  • Dynamics 365 (Customer Relationship Management and Enterprise Resource Planning)

The diagram below (from Matt Wade) sets out the relationships between the Office 365 components in terms of a ‘periodic table’.


Currently at RAU our students are issued with Office 365 when they join us but our staff continue to use the old Microsoft desktop based tools. We’d like to migrate them as soon as possible.

The main drivers for this change are:

  • The Catalyst project
  • The strategic imperative to improve the digital environment for staff and students
  • The need to replace our telephone system
  • The potential opportunities that the office suite could offer us (for example with our telephony)

During their visit Jerry and Corrine spent time speaking to four stakeholder groups in order to better understand our requirements. These groups were:

  • Technical Group – Those responsible for the technical implementation of Office 365 who will also have understanding of existing technical dependencies and upgrades required
  • User support Group – Those responsible for user support, training, marketing, connections with Intranet etc.
  • Governance Group – Those responsible for ensuring we comply with any regulatory frameworks
  • Users of the system Group – Those who will be using and exploiting the tools in the Office 365. Both exemplar users and standard users.

They have now shared their scoping document with us which suggests a four-phase approach with some degree of overlap between the first two phases:

  • Phase 1 – Project Initiation. Detail planning, investigation and review. High level communications with staff.
  • Phase 2 – Preparation. Set up infrastructure. Generate support material. Specific communications with staff.
  • Phase 3 – Migration. Migrate users to Office 365.
  • Phase 4 – Mop up. Decommission on-premise servers. Archival copies of servers and data. Capture lessons learned. Cancel any redundant software / maintenance contracts etc.

Our first steps will be writing a project plan for the implementation and agreeing the proposal with internal management. We will then need to decide upon the elements of Office 365 to be implemented and set up a pilot group to begin the implementation.

We are working to a very tight time line – so all steam ahead!

Not just for mobiles…

The students have really taken to myRAU and we’ve had a lot of useful feedback so far. Some early quick and dirty analytics shows:

App downloads for September (no data for October available yet)

  • Apple App store – 411 downloads
  • Google play – 138 downloads

Usage (last 2 weeks, 20th September – 3rd October)

  • Average returning users by day 157
  • Number of sessions 7,000
  • Average session length 8 minutes
  • Mail (4199), Calendar (1257) and Courses (545) are the most popular tiles. Below are the next most popular tiles (I’ve removed everything with less than 10 hits)


We are also seeing 97% of usage currently on a mobile. While this is great it seems that we now have a job to do promoting browser use of the site. If we want use to be ubiquitous we need to get the message across that myRAU is not just for mobiles. Students can set it as that home page on their browsers too.


I can see a campaign starting…