i. Virtual Campus

The Virtual Campus’ current situation

The e-MTA Campus experience in spreading educational content through new technologies goes back over 10 years. The UIB pioneered the implementation of videoconferencing rooms for on-line classes and the development of a virtual campus based on open-source collaborative tools. This all took place under the umbrella of the Campus Extens brand.

Meanwhile, the UdG has pioneered the development and application of tools to design and plan skill-based qualifications and tools and has shifted planning to the virtual classrooms (which supplement face-to-face teaching). This has been taking place for several years in the UdG’s development lecture rooms (La Meva). Since the academic year 2009-2010, with the widespread implementation of the new degree courses, they have progressively become Moodle classrooms. Moreover, by means of a research group, the ACME platform has been developed to provide ongoing assessment of different subjects, based on very powerful exercise and problem generating tools with self-assessment. In fact this platform is currently being integrated into the UdG’s Moodle-based teaching intranet and applied in secondary education centres as an integral element of their vertical curricula(see decision of the Reinforcement call). The UdG has provided strong IT support for degree courses through IT secretaries of the faculty.

All of the tools mentioned above, along with other emerging innovative tools, are intended to serve as a support, from a logistic point of view, for integration at an educational level in strategic member organisations, such as the PRES-PM and the e-MTA Campus.

In the case of the UIB, these initiatives have served to integrate a region that is broken up due to being spread out on various islands, while having a multiplying effect on teaching. This situation is being reproduced on a larger scale in the spatial break-up of the 6 PRES-PM university campuses. The UIB currently has 24 videoconferencing rooms that the lecturers set up themselves. These are spread out on the three largest islands (Majorca, Minorca and Ibiza). More than 4,000 teaching content hours are broadcast each year. Moreover, the virtual campus offers more than 900 subjects. There are also 22 computer rooms spread out on the three islands to carry out classroom-based teaching activities and a Wi-Fi network has been implemented in all of the UIB’s buildings.

The UdG is promoting the UdG 2.0 Program as the driving force behind the progress within the framework of its Strategic Plan

At the UdG, before the migration to Moodle, the number of subjects in the virtual campus was 2,663 out of a total of 3,086 subjects. After the gradual migration to Moodle, as the new degree courses are being introduced, the number of subjects on the campus will be 100%. The success of the skills-based qualification and degree planning tools has led to them being exported to other educational institutions. There are 29 computer rooms throughout the various centres, and the Wi-Fi network has been set up in all buildings. To conclude this section, it is important to remember the e-administration initiatives that are already being carried out in the UdG. The e-billing system has been implemented this year and two pilot tests for e-voting have been launched, which will come to an end in September when it will be used in over 10 different university bodies, and implementation of e-recruitment is planned. Other areas in which progress is being made towards greater technological integration of the university with its surroundings are Cloud Computing, Identity Management, disaster recovery and 24×7 continuity, virtual campus and security. Furthermore, recently the “UdgMóvil” website has been set up, providing researchers with access to the management of the various projects funded and students to a number of teaching-related services. The launch of a newsfeed specifically for tablet devices and smartphones is planned for the academic year 2011-12.

The university 2.0, engine for change (the Virtual Campus’ current situation)

UdG2.0The University 2.0 concept began in 2008 when the University of Gerona (UdG) approved its Strategic Plan for the 2008-2013 period. The main ideas behind it are promoting the UdG brand, international expansion, postgraduate courses and research, and links with pre-university education, always placing an emphasis on intelligent use of ICT. Furthermore, this university has made changes to its governance, which will make it easier to adopt new procedures.

When the Web 2.0 was implemented in 2010, the UdG launched the UdG2.0 programme (PUdG20), which not only promotes the introduction of social networking practices (Social Media) in all aspects and places in the University, but is also emerging as the driving force behind development towards a university strongly linked to its local area, while always maintaining a regional approach (the e-MTA Campus in this case) and an international perspective (for example, the PRES-PM). The actions taking place under the PUdG20 and the UdG’s Strategic Plan are clearly closely related.

The PUdG20 specifically focuses on improving internal and external communication through social media, but also, in particular, on creating strong communities with secondary education, ex-alumni, academic staff and administrative and service staff, as well as links with other universities. Moreover, it emphasises the use of mobile devices and deals with new tasks to maintain the UdG’s strong internet prestige.

The PUdG20 will also help the university in its aim towards internationalisation through two of the strengths related to the e-MTA Campus brand: personal mobility (students, administrative and service staff and academic staff, internal and external), and designing a new international web 2.0 parallel with English language immersion policies at the UdG’s Campus.

New communication channels (the Virtual Campus’ current situation)

Based on these foundations, the e-MTA Campus intends to expand its teaching and research dimension through new 2.0 broadcasting and communication channels to reach a larger number of current and potential students and other social groups other than traditional university students. Moreover, the success of the master’s on Animation, MAISCA and the digital TV congress being held at the UIB, together with its involvement in the audiovisual cluster, places the e-MTA Campus in an ideal position to take a leap forward to international excellence in ICT aimed at audiovisual content for education, training and innovation. Moreover, in order to bring about change within the UdG, the UdG20Labs unit and the communication team recently set up at the Scientific and Technological Park, near the Girona 3D Cluster and the MediaLab, which groups companies, spin-offs and research groups related to the ICT-Media industry. The MediaLab will conduct R&D&I in various fields that are emerging market niches in which the UdG is especially well-positioned and differentiated from other similar Catalan centres. This R&D&I will be carried out as part of alliances with companies recognised as powerful industrial players.

It should be pointed out that the member universities are developing pilot programmes for live internet broadcasts (streaming). On the Virtual Campus this streaming, which will be interlinked with hosts such as livestream or ustream and platforms such as iTunes, Apple TV or Universia TV, will become a normal occurrence, coupled with collaborative systems that enable telecommuting, long-distance meetings and the use of private social networks.

The e-MTA 3DTV Channel

Within the framework of the Virtual Campus, the groundwork must be laid to allow the participating e-MTA institutions to broadcast 3D material (classes, conferences, events, animation, videogames, simulations, etc.) in the near future. By doing so, they can offer users and viewers an enhanced experience. This will be made possible through the e-MTA 3DTV channel and the connected UdG 3DTV and UIB 3DTV channels, with a tool that will include all the necessary staff and equipment for the production, management and distribution of 3D materials. Access to such content will be available online to ensure it will be freely available to everyone.

With regards to the 3D format, the current surge in films, sports broadcasts and other audiovisual content in a stereoscopic format shows that this will become the standard format for viewing audiovisual materials. In this respect, special attention will be paid to 3D material related to historical, cultural, natural and landscape heritage in the geographical regions of the e-MTA Campus. These materials will become an important tool for marketing and promoting tourism in the Euro-Mediterranean region and will help to attract high-quality tourism.

The e-MTA 3DTV Channel will benefit from the previous know-how of the UdG and will make the leap from 2D to 3D thanks to the MEDIALAB, a unique infrastructure created by the City Council of Girona that will be up and running by the end of 2011, and is located in the UdG’s Scientific and Technological Park. It consists of two laboratories: 3DTV and 3DLab. The equipment available in 3DTV will make it possible to create and manage 3D material. The 3DLab is a laboratory where 3D material can be processed, using technology such as Motion Capture, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

The Virtual Campus as a tool for relations outside of the university environment

The UdG has wide experience in social research communication and off-site contact with non-university public, in particular at secondary school level and among the elderly. In order to strengthen its relationship with its natural geographical surrounding area, it has already taken the first steps towards developing a new pre-university research centre, which will be located in the Scientific and Technological Park. Since it is compulsory for students in Catalonia in the fourth year of compulsory secondary education and the final stage of secondary schooling to carry out a Research Project, bridges between non-university and university education are particularly easy to build in this field. This experience could perfectly well be one of the main identifying characteristics of the e-MTA Campus.

Communication flows in the UdG

Social networks, blogs and open-access digital repositories are three key factored for disseminating university activities, promoting the universities, and creating a social perception of their excellence.

Moreover, the UdG’s electronic information system (internet) will progress towards a system that can be directly personalised depending on the access points (in-campus, off-campus, Catalonia, e-MTA Campus, Europe, Asia, etc.) and the target audience. This will enable it to directly target individual interests and provide the best educational options.

social networksThe CanalUIB initiative was launched by the UIB in 2010. This is the embryo of a future web TV station, which will house the audiovisual content for scientific education, institutional communication and cultural information. CanalUIB has been included in new UIB website, which was launched just a few months ago, having been completely re-designed from a technological and communication standpoint. CanalUIB will expand to a multi-platform scope (digital TV, 3G mobile telephony, etc.) to offer other contents (teaching, electronic management, etc.) and to offer new services (cultural promotion, a-la-carte scheduling, multi-language, integration with social networks, etc.). CanalUIB will be a platform that will multiply the e-MTA Campus’ presence nationally and internationally. It will provide information about scientific progress and projects, teaching content, local culture, etc. and will generally provide potentially infinite visibility for our universities. The financing obtained through the reinforcement program to promote this initiative should be highlighted.

There is clearly a need to encourage the use of 2.0 tools (called TuUdG2.0 and TuUIB2.0) by all university groups, so that the members of the community themselves provide content through their conversations. Just as one can refer to citizen science, one can also refer to a citizen university. CanalUIB or CanalUdG will compile the information provided by the University’s communication area and the information provided by the members of the university community themselves, which is particularly important in the case of students and researchers.

The creation of blogs is particularly relevant by pooling information from different research and teaching groups, the true driving force of the universities and therefore the e-MTA Campus.

CanalUdG, which can easily be linked to CanalUIB, will focus on producing multiplatform multimedia content, therefore TVUdG (a 24/7 channel) will allow people to find out about all the UdG’s news in just a few minutes. It will be broadcast on large screens in strategic areas throughout the campus and related research centres.

Emerging internet access technology (the Virtual Campus’ current situation)

The future of communication is mobile, whether in the form of a laptop computer, a tablet or a mobile phone. As mentioned above, in recent months the UdG has launched various applications for mobile devices, targeting students and researchers ( Therefore, the UdG, within the framework of its UdG 2.0 Program, is driving forward the conversion of its IT environment to optimise it for mobile environments, taking advantage of the possibilities presented by augmented reality and services based on geo-positioning. Some positive experiments have already been carried out on the use of augmented reality to show tours of historic interest. It will soon be used for tours of scientific interest.

The UdG’s quality will be made visible through promotion of livecasting, blogging and microblogging among the communities of academic staff, administrative and service staff and students. Therefore, UdG20Labs (Unit 2.0) will be set up in such a way that it will include staff from all three groups, and will collaborate with the Advertising and Public Relations, Cultural Communication (Culture 2.0) and IT courses, and link up with study and research units such as the Institute of IT and Applications, and the Chair of Scientific Culture and Digital Communication (Science 2.0). Special attention will also be paid to the area of Tourism 2.0.

The future of computer rooms (the Virtual Campus’ current situation)

Another initiative that will be developed is the conversion of the on-site computer rooms into virtual classrooms, taking advantage of the Wi-Fi connection throughout the e-MTA Campus and the server and desktop virtualisation tools. Computer desktops may be taken from one place to another and students will be able to retrieve the required applications to carry out practical tasks from anywhere. It will therefore be necessary to develop tools and equipment that enables any student/teacher on the campus to carry out practical tasks and activities in classrooms without being tied down to a particular place due to the students’ increasing use of laptops. This will allow the best use to be made of the Campus’ space, reducing the area taken up by computer rooms, reducing energy use and replacement rate of lecture room equipment. This ambitious target for virtual classrooms is to provide not only traditional lecture rooms in any part of the campus with the possibility of becoming computer rooms through the use of the students’ laptops, but also to include several rooms in the virtual campus in a single room without needing to move to a computer room. The Campus Extens virtual classrooms can be placed anywhere on the campus thanks to new technologies, bringing the virtual on-site but without tying it down to any specific place. This would also ultimately be possible from lecturers’ and students’ homes providing their home connections were sufficiently reliable.

e-labs (the Virtual Campus’ current situation)

Similarly, we intend to set up e-labs, which will provide researchers with on-line collaborative tools equipped with library metasearch tools, research group management, etc. E-labs will make it possible to reduce researchers’ management work and aid groups’ multidisciplinary collaborative work through shared tools (workflow tools, group curricula, generating educational websites, videoconferencing included in the desktop, etc.). The shared research tools will build longer-lasting relationships with groups in other countries and help retain the talent generated through those relationships. If the tools are attractive for renowned collaborators, the exchanges and future action by the research groups will be promoted.

In the case of the UdG, these e-labs will be included in UdG20Labs, the special unit for managing and promoting the UdG 2.0. Moreover, corporate microblogging services (such as Twitter or similar private services) will be used en masse to exchange information instantaneously. They will be complemented by internal social networks and the use of external social networks (first Facebook, but later networks that can be tracked on RSS).

All of these initiatives will also encourage greater integration in society and, above all, a change towards an ICT- and knowledge-based economy.

Electronic Communication on the e-MTA Campus

An advanced international project as ambitious as the e-MTA Campus cannot be self-contained without interaction with society or its peers. It also should not be limited to communicating its progress through traditional means. We propose that the e-MTA establish new means of communication that take it into the first quarter of the 21st Century, and that, thanks to its own merits, position it at the forefront, both nationally and internationally.

Electronic communication about the e-MTA Campus will be easily carried out through a networked centralised structure due to the possibilities of remote collaborative work, maintaining permanent contact with the existing communication units in each university and research centre, which will show its aim to change and adapt to new communication challenges in the second decade of the 21st Century.

All electronic information systems have at least one static part, which undergoes minimal change over time, (a static web, or what in technical terms could be referred to as a Wiki), a section for consulting the database (for example, articles published, information about lecturers, continuous information about mobility possibilities etc.), e-administration (teaching, enrolment, etc.), and finally the section related to changes in the static web, with details of all the activity generated by e-MTA group: the newsfeed.

Currently, with the launch of Web 2.0, the newsfeed is an essential element in an institution’s communication, moving to the very forefront, ahead of static information. The concept of change is so deep-set within Web 2.0 that social networking sites like Twitter and GooglePlus are based on this very concept of innovation and change. Of course, everything must be undertaken with sufficient forethought, without overloading the recipient, with the intention of improving the e-MTA framework’s prestige and increase its social impact.

Based on the web site already in use for the e-MTA Campus, the eMTANews system connects the blog/web-based newsfeed with more widespread channels for its dissemination such as Twitter or Google+, and social networks like Google+ and Facebook, without overlooking important social mediums such as those used to share videos and photos, for example Youtube or Flickr. Furthermore, it supports geo-positioning systems and the use of mobile technology, ready for a future in which everyone has a mobile smartphone or tablet device.

In order to do this, eMTAnews will work closely with eMTA20Labs, which is set to become an innovator in this field, above all in services based on geo-positioning, augmented reality and mobile technology.

eMTANews will have access to a multimedia material archive, using freemium internet tools, where it can create a large data bank (photos, videos, texts, archives, presentations, etc.) accessible from within the eMTA website and externally, thus maximising its impact in search engines, its visibility and the service quality for its nearest community, while also segmenting different types of target market.

Any kind of structure with a presence in the world of social networks should set up a Press Office 2.0. This is an online space that acts a point of contact between an institution and all its users. This platform offers possibilities for marketing and communication teams to deliver corporate information to both the online and offline media in the form of reports, presentations, videos or audio files, etc. One advantage this offers, apart from the availability of materials in different formats, is that it is also very focused on internal communication and improving its image.

The e-MTA Campus is international, and thus the day-to-day language use should be the current lingua franca: English. However, the primary context of the Campus is Spanish, not forgetting its cross-border nature which requires a partial use of French, as well as its strong links to the Catalan-speaking territory.

All this means that communication could be in up to four languages. It is not our plan to translate all communications into all four languages, not only because of the exorbitant costs this would imply, but also because it would be quite absurd. On the contrary, the communicative nature of the e-MTA Campus must be global and therefore English will be the primary language. Spanish will be another main language, particularly in actions targeting the Spanish and Latin American public. In cross-border actions, in connection with the PRES-PM, French will also be used. Lastly, in more regional communication, to target internal audiences and the web site’s nearest community, the e-MTA campus will have a version in Catalan.

The final aim of eMTAGlobal is to communicate with everyone in English, with slight adaptations in Spanish. French and Catalan will be used in specific sections though not as the result of direct translations. Of course, it will be up to the communications offices of each member organisation to decide how to communicate and which language is most appropriate, as they will communicate more directly with their target audiences.

Objectives of the Virtual Campus

  1. Building a web TV channel as a platform model for broadcasting and distributing content.
  2. Expanding CanalUIB and setting up CanalUdG as a content and themed channel portal.
  3. Improving the campus network and servers to make most of the computer rooms on-line areas
  4. Expanding the Campus Extens computer facilities
  5. Implementing all the collaborative work tools to generate e-labs
  6. Increasing funding and resources for producing 2D and 3D audiovisual content
  7. Reinforcing students acquiring laptops and portable devices such as tablets and smartphones.
  8. Strengthening the open-access digital document repository and maximising the quantity of content accessible from outside a strictly university scope.
  9. Placing preference on new augmented reality applications and the basic services for geo-localisation, linked to new social networks.
  10. Planning all the activities of the e-MTA Campus on an international level, by means of Internet tools.
  11. Arranging effective coordination in the electronic communication of the e-MTA Campus by means of key eMTAGlobal, eMTARoom and eMTANews actions.

Strategy 2.0

The 2.0 strategy of the e-MTA Campus consists of the following:

  1. Developing applications for mobile devices: Tablet PCs (Ipad and equivalent) and cell phones (Iphone, Android and equivalent)
  2. Developing applications for augmented reality that aid processes for searches of historical information and projects about the future, including those contained in the eMTA
  3. Promoting Open Linked Data, compatible with privacy regulations (e.g. involvement with the DBPedia Project)
  4. Creating UdG20Labs, a innovation unit within the field of University 2.0, and locating it at the Media-ICT environment area of the Science and Technological Park of the UdG
  5. Adapting the IT electronic system (Internet) to the different types of visitors and the different languages
  6. Promoting the use of social media and networks, especially blogs and microblogs, among all the members of the community
  7. Setting up a Pre-university Research Centre at the UdG Science and Technological Park

Virtual Campus actions

The actions related to the eMTA virtual campus are as follows:

  1. A.B.3, Learning Centre
  2. A.C.4, Actions to adapt to the EHEA
  3. A.C.5, Training collaboration networks
  4. C.C.2, Virtual employability environment
  5. C.C.4, e-MTA WebTV
  6. C.C.9, Press Office
  7. C.C.10, Exterior promotion programme

Proyecto financiado por el Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte en el marco del Programa Campus de Excelencia Internacional

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