Out on the farm

The University has a number of farms that are used to allow students to gain practical agricultural skills. The farms are based at two locations in close proximity to the campus. Coates Manor Farm and Harnhill Manor Farm total 491 hectares in size (1,200 acres), and offer very different farming systems. There is also an equine enterprise providing a stabling and livery facility at Fossehill Farm and a large dairy complex in Kemble. You can read more about the farms on the RAU Website.

RAU cows at Harnhill

RAU cows at Harnhill

It is important that the farm management team  know who has visited the farm and what exactly they have been doing while there. At the moment this information is collected through texts but we have been working with Dale Webb, who manages the farms, to see if there is an easier process. We have now added a tile to the myRAU app that allows students to register their visit through an online form.

Earlier this week Dale took us on a tour of the farms to check the network signal at the farms – the all important factor when using an app. The signal was really strong and use of the app and tile is now being piloted by visitors to the farm.

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Hopefully it will make the farm team’s life a little easier and they can concentrate on keeping the cows, sheep and pigs happy!

Update 1st April 2019

There are now posters up advertising the app.

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.

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)

myrau-data-octiber-2018

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.

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I can see a campaign starting…

Welcome to myRAU!

After a long summer our students are back. Today as well as registration they will be participating in a ‘Find your way around campus’ activity that requires them to pick up loot on the way. On the IT desk we have myRAU flyers for them and hope to help them get set up on the app – though I’m sure they won’t need any help!

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More information about myRAU is available from the RAU website and on our digital screens around the campus.

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We also have a lovely new myRAU poster that adorns the IT service desk area.

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Get on the myRAU app

myRAU is ready to go for the start of the academic year.

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One of the main challenges we now have is making sure that students find the desktop site and mobile app, sign up and start using it. Over the next few weeks we will be pulling together all our ideas on how we make this happen, from induction week treasure hunts and myRAU flyers, to making sure all routes (or links) lead to myRAU. Our marketing team are working on a myRAU page to complement (or possibly replace) our internal support page. It’s really important that the service is as visible as possible. Colleagues have even suggested that I dress up as a mobile phone and hand out leaflets!

I’ve created a couple of links to help students find the app – links to the App store and Google Play along with QR codes.

QR_myRAU_Googel_Play (1)QR_myRAU_Googel_Play (1)

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We’ve also been admiring how other universities share their myday service so the idea above is borrowed from Anglia Ruskin. University of South Wales has a slick video (we might try this later on) and University of Leicester provide lots of useful information.

We believe that once students start using the service they won’t look back – but we need to get them on there first!

myRAU usability testing

We’ve mentioned myRAU (our version of myday) on the blog a few times. It is a portal that collects, displays and pushes information from different RAU systems and brings them together into one customisable tiled interface. Think of it as all the services you need for a university day brought together in one user-friendly, customisable desktop and mobile app.

myRAU will be available for all students to use from the start of the next academic year.

Last week ITS carried out direct usability testing on the service with a number of RAU students. The students were given a series of tasks and asked to think out loud while completing the tasks on their own devices. The testing team looked out for any usability issues and technical problems. All feedback will help us to improve the service before its final release.

Pedzisai Nemadziba tests the myRAU desktop app while observed by Danny Saggo from ITS

Pedzisai Nemadziba tests the myRAU desktop app while observed by Danny Saggo from ITS

Feedback on the service was overwhelmingly positive and the students are looking forward to having our own myRAU app.

Usability testing for myRAU

We are now ready to run some usability testing on myRAU with students. Usability testing involves systematic observation under controlled conditions to determine how well people can use the developed product. Feedback from the testing will allow us to make changes to myRAU service in advance of release and provide us with the best opportunity of releasing a service that is fit for purpose and without issues.

We will be using the ‘five users is enough’ approach and aim to test on five RAU students. We have set ourselves a challenge and would like to make sure that we cover some key areas in our testing to ensure accessibility. We are keen to recruit at least one student in the following areas:

  • a student with dyslexia (RAU has over 25% dyslexic students and accessibility will be one of the principals of our digital strategy)
  • a student with sight issues
  • a mature student

A recruitment campaign will be launched later today (see poster below).

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The testing will cover both the mobile and the desktop version of myRAU. Prior to testing we will make an inventory of the participant’s hardware (mobile phone, tablet, laptop) they will carry out a series of tasks while being observed. We will be looking at areas including:

  • How the system works with a range of laptops, tablets and mobile devices with different screen sizes and hardware configurations like a hard keypad, virtual keypad (touch screen) and trackball etc.
  • UI issues such as button layout, tile colours,  methods for moving forward and back, appropriate text, font size readability, appropriate personalisation and customization etc.
  • General feedback on usability.

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Appy about myRAU

I haven’t written about myday for a while. That’s because we have been rethinking how we use it and what we call it.

After a review of our existing applicant portal (currently called myRAU) we have decided to embed some of it’s functionality into our myday incarnation. The real benefit of this is that we can call our version of myday by the much more appropriate name – myRAU. Students will also benefit from a much smoother use of systems on their RAU journey as they will be introduced to myRAU at the start of their application process and will continue to use it through their student life. This is all good news, but the rethink has put us back a little timewise.

Things are now back on track and we are just about to move on to user testing with students using both the web version and the mobile version of myRAU.

The mobile version has just been released on the app store and Google play – though there is still work to do before we advertise it to students.

MyRAU on the App store

MyRAU on the App store

We hope to carry out user testing in the next month and will be releasing the software shortly after.

In the meantime we will continue to argue about the colour of the tiles….!

 

Make myday…

In early 2018 we will be rolling out myday at the RAU. The RAU version of myday will be called RAU Hub.

myday is a portal developed by Collabco that allows students to access all university resources via one login on their smart phone, table or laptop – delivering email, calendar, lecture notes and learning tools, library resources as well as extra-curricular services to them. myday will also provide a way to communicate with the student population either en masse or identity-driven across the courses, and can also be used for open days by those prospective students that are considering applying.

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The benefits of implementing myday at RAU are that it will:

  • Offer single sign on allowing access to the information most commonly accessed by RAU students: e.g. library, balance information including printing, mail, attendance information, VLE, social media, news etc.
  • Potentially increase student use of Gateway through improved usability
  • Improve the user experience when accessing through a mobile phone
  • Reduce the need for IT intervention due to integration and intuitive design
  • Allow targeted communications and interventions through push mechanisms

We are now setting up our integrations but hope that the initial release of the app will include access to:

  • student email
  • student calendar and timetable
  • the RAU Library Catalogue and learning resources
  • Gateway (our VLE) and module information
  • your attendance
  • up-to-date RAU news
  • online balances including Uni card, papercut and WPM payments

Once released if users would like to see new tiles they can let us know by emailing rauhub@rau.ac.uk

We will keep you posted on developments!