By Sharlotte Thou

What is the Digital Master plan?

ANU’s Digital Master Plan is a “key component” of the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan.

The term ‘digital’ encompasses the use of technologies to improve services for ANU students, researchers, academics, professional staff, and external stakeholders “in ways consistent with [ANU’s] values”. The plan also noted that the University will use “technology and data to rethink how we operate, how we deliver value and how we strengthen our culture”.

 How can ANU’s current digital approach be improved?

Stakeholder feedback has revealed weaknesses in ANU’s current digital approach. Significant issues include the current inadequacy of systems and processes, underinvestment in digital literacy, cybersecurity, technological implementation outcomes and benefits loss.

The University has also acknowledged that “low maturity in data governance has resulted in poor quality, incomplete, siloed [inaccessible] and duplicated data which is no longer sustainable”.

Additionally, there are concerns that the current digital system is not adequately accessible. Accordingly, Access and Inclusion have recommended the removal of duplicate processes that require students to “provide the same information to multiple services to access services/supports”.

Notably, a member of Corporate Professional Staff stated the ANU’s digital environment “does not support our work in a seamless and effortless way”, and instead “often creates frustration and re-work”. Further, a research academic commented that navigating the current digital system is akin to “trying to type while wearing oven gloves/mitts (that someone else dictates that I wear)”.

What are its outcomes?

The plan lists four goals, which are:

  1. “A stable digital foundation (people, process, information, and technology) which is secure, future-proofed and continues to support and enable further research, learning and teaching and operational digital needs.
  1. A personalised experience in which digital services are human centred and co-designed with those who use them.
  1. Connected environments in which digital complements and extends the physical campus experience…enables seamless collaboration between colleagues, students and communities.
  1. Data driven insight and decision making through the connection of data silos…continued protection of private information and the appropriate provision of data to empower our people and our partners to invent and create.”

What are the plan’s student-specific outcomes?

 Student feedback has revealed that ideally, there would be:

  1. “A single point of all information – timetables, exams, meetings, etc.
  2. Different digital engagement based on the types of student (UG/coursework, HDR/research).
  3. Less systems and consistency across our learning journey (e.g., no differences between academic colleges).
  4. A more seamless blend of on campus and online teaching.
  5. Easier and more consistent connectivity with teachers and peers.”

How will these outcomes be achieved? 

The Digital Master Plan has three phases, which will span from 2021-2030.

Phase 1 (2 years): Stabilise our Digital foundation, remediate urgent gaps and plan the transformation

In this phase, experience, learning, research and engagement with students and partners will be prioritised. ANU has stated it will be prepared to implement a “no-regrets” tactical policy if a “transformational” shift is required in any of these areas.

Proposed infrastructure upgrades in this phase include: the use of automation to “weave digital initiatives together”, data management and integration updates, and an enhanced and expanded network and virtual desktop infrastructure.

Phase 2 (3 years): Transform our Digital core and connect our fragmented services

In Phase 2, ANU aims to “absorb duplication from the edges of our digital environment into the pre-integrated elements of our core.”

The University plans to invest in digital literacy, significantly evolve the University’s data analytics platform and capability to “enable interaction with various sources of data across the University” and to further modernise end-user computing, including implementation of application virtualisation.

Phase 3 (5 years): Rapidly evolve our services at pace, driven by our people

Phase 3 will be “driven by [ANU’s] communities and innovators”. The University expects an acceleration of environmentally sustainable technology through Green IT and new ways of interacting with data through a “variety of human/machine interfaces that include mixed reality… and ambient computing environments”.

Chief Information Officer Garry Whatley acknowledged that achieving these goals requires “deep shifts in [ANU’s] ways of working, thinking and effecting change”.

For more comprehensive information, ANU’s digital master plan can be found here. 

Graphics by Joseph Oh 

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