Information Services Division


Clone of Preparing ISD services for Start of Session 2020

ISD has an extensive programme of work underway to support UCL for the 2020-21 academic year. Here are some of the ways we are supporting staff and students to prepare for the start of session.

Delivering Live Teaching

Platform for Live Teaching – licensing Zoom

We will upgrade UCL’s ability to deliver live synchronous teaching on a global scale through licensing and integrating Zoom. We will provide guidance for all teaching platforms.
Project Executive: Fiona Strawbridge
Project Manager: Grant Mearns

Zoom FAQs

Mentimeter for in-class interaction

We will replace the classroom-based TurningPoint electronic voting system with an online alternative – Mentimeter which can be accessed via a browser or mobile device.
Project Executive: Fiona Strawbridge
Project Manager: Allan Fisher

Core Platforms

Moodle capacity expansion

We will enhance infrastructure of Moodle to support remote teaching
Project Manager: Gary Timmins

Digital assessments and e-exams

We will enable remote delivery of examinations and improve UCL’s provision for digital assessment, marking and feedback through implementation of a scalable e-assessment solution. The project will cover ‘e-exams’, both on UCL premises and remotely invigilated exams, and will support alternative, authentic forms of assessment. It will harness digital technologies to improve the student and staff experience of assessment, marking and feedback.
Project Executive: Derfel Owen
Project Manager: Shaun Kent

Ways of Teaching: From physical to virtual

Virtual Teaching Clusters

Will we provide a technical solution that will enable UCL staff and students to access cluster room facilities remotely. This will enable teaching events to continue for students on taught programmes of specialist software.
Project Executive: Simon Banks
Project Manager: Grant Mearns

Virtual Teaching Clusters Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I teach my students using Desktop@UCL Anywhere?

We anticipate high demand for the Desktop@UCL Anywhere service this academic year due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.  We need to manage demand to ensure the increase in usage doesn’t negatively impact the speed or reliability of the service. In addition, Desktop@UCL Anywhere cannot be used in all situations.  Some applications make heavy use of computer resources (CPU, RAM, Disk) and some software cannot run on the Desktop@UCL Anywhere service for technical or licencing reasons.

How do I request a virtual teaching cluster room?

Departmental Timetablers can request a virtual teaching cluster room in the same way as they currently do (i.e. via the Estates Timetabling Team through CMIS).  We will review your request and either allocate a virtual teaching cluster room or recommend the event uses the Desktop@UCL Anywhere service based on your requirements.

Our Departmental cluster room PCs have specific software, will we be allocated to that room?

A virtual teaching cluster room will be allocated to best suit your requirements i.e. the size of the teaching event, the time/duration and software requirements.

How will a student access the virtual teaching cluster room PC?

You will need to signpost students to the virtual teaching cluster room via the course/module Moodle page.  They will then use the Desktop@UCL Anywhere interface where they will receive a new virtual teaching cluster room icon that will give them access to their allocated cluster room PC.

Do you need to know my software requirements?

You will be asked to provide details about your software requirements when requesting a cluster room. This will help us to ensure we meet your needs.  Please select your required software from the drop down ‘Equipment’ list in CMIS.  If the software is not listed, please enter it into the detail field.

I have already requested a cluster room what do I need to do?

Please update your request to include the software requirement in the equipment field and/or put something in the detail field.

Will students be able to physically use the cluster rooms on campus?

No, all cluster rooms will be unavailable and locked.

When will the cluster rooms be reopened?

Estates will monitor the situation and liaise closely with ISD. Once a cluster room on campus is reopened, the PCs in them will no longer be eligible for use as Virtual Cluster Room PCs. 

Can I access a virtual teaching cluster room from my Mac?


Can UCL’s Macs be part of the virtual teaching cluster room service?

No, the service only works with Windows cluster room PCs

Can I share my screen with students via the virtual teaching cluster room solution?

No. The virtual teaching cluster room solution will not replace the need for a digital teaching platform (E.g. Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom or MS Teams).  You will need to use the virtual teaching cluster room solution alongside a teaching platform.

Can students in China access the virtual teaching cluster rooms?

Yes, the Desktop@UCL Anywhere service is generally available from China. However, as with all UK services accessed from China, local restrictions out of UCL's control may apply. For more information, visit the China Connectivity Pilot FAQs

Can students use a virtual teaching cluster room PCs for ad-hoc use?

This is not currently available, but we are working on a solution for students. We will update in due course.


Remote Labs & Practicals

Academic staff who deliver practical teaching in specialist spaces need online solutions to replace the physical session. We will deliver a solution or solutions to provide the tools required to enable UCL to continue to deliver world class teaching to students across multiple domains in a fully supported teaching platform.  We are exploring options such as Lab Simulation Software and common software to enable remote learning.
Project Executive: Fiona Strawbridge
Project Manager: Mark Norum

RITS Online Course Delivery

This project will review the existing Introduction to HPC/HTC (High Performance & High Throughput Computing) course materials (classroom and online) and develop HPC Carpentry workshop materials to support self-paced online and virtual classroom experiences.
Project Manager: Ibironke Oduyemi
Project Executive: James McCafferty

R Studio Expansion (Data Science Platform)

ISD runs a small RStudio Server service, this project will upgrade the version and the capacity of that service. This will facilitate rich interaction between instructor and learner and among learners and can encourage modern approaches to learning to code such as pair programming, as well as traditional pedagogical group work.
Project Manager: Chris Kennedy
Project Executive: James McCafferty

Supporting Staff and Students

Loan equipment for staff (tablets and visualisers)

To support UCL’s teaching activities during the Covid-19 restrictions we will provide additional remote visualisers and graphics tablets for staff to use from home to enable visual teaching to take place remotely. This project covers the procurement, supply and distribution of these visualisers.
Project Manager: Tim Burles

Supporting Researchers Working from Home

This project will provide a set of digital resources and a series of webinars to support the UCL research community working remotely to UCL.
Project Manager: Donna Swann
Project Executive: James McCafferty

PC for Students

To replace out-of-warranty laptop loan machines, student cluster room machines and computers in other study spaces, providing students with equipment of an appropriate standard required to support their studies, thus improving the student experience.
Project Manager: Tim Burles
Project Executive: Jeremy Speller

End User Device Logging

We will develop new support models for remote workers to support them in the event of critical security issues with their ISD device.  The expected benefits are increased protection of all systems in UCL reducing the risk of disruption to all or part of the universities activities (including research, teaching and professional services) as the result of a cyber-attack.
Project Manager: Yasmin Walker
Project Executive: Rob Maughan

Render Farm

We will establish an Institutional rendering service to support teaching and research activities that involve production of high-end graphics and remove the need to provide or access on-site equipment currently performing this function. The Render Farm service will be: accessible to all UCL academics and students; available remotely 24/7; process render jobs within acceptable time frames; works with a variety of media formats; scalable.
Project Manager: Maggie Tarkowska
Project Executive: James McCafferty

China Connectivity Pilot

UCL is taking part in a technology pilot with other leading UK universities which aims to provide direct bandwidth from China to UK universities. We have joined the pilot which is being managed by Jisc, a membership organisation which provides digital solutions for UK education and research, and Alibaba Cloud, a Chinese cloud computing company.   For more information about the pilot, take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions.
Project Manager: Pervin Hussain




Extra-curricular support

Virtual common rooms

We will use globally accessible technologies to facilitate social interaction among UCL students, wherever they are based. For more information about the project see Virtual common rooms.
Project Executive: Deborah Gill
Project Manager: Dominic Black

Virtual events

We will provide UCL with the ability to host and manage quality and effective UCL events online to support conferences and virtual fairs.
Project Executive: Jeremy Speller
Project Manager: Mark Norum   

Student Experience

Academic Model Project

To standardise processes, normalise data structures and implement required policy changes. Further improvements are being worked on to improve online self-service, automation, reduce the administrative burden on staff and most importantly improve the student experience.
Project Manager: Lynn Burke
Project Executive: Derfel Owen

Start of Session 2020

We will ensure that all Start of Session activities over the main ISD central support services are effectively co-ordinated in order that new students have access to IT services as required for their student registration.
Project Manager: Sue Walker
Project Executive: Derfel Owen

Student Success Platform

We continue our work to provide a unified student engagement system to facilitate and enhance a range of student support services across professional services and academic departments. The benefits will be a major new institution-wide platform to support and enhance a range of critical student success services, resulting in an improved student experience reflected in student surveys, and improved staff experience and engagement by providing access to the appropriate information required to deliver services.
Project Manager: Aaron Crompton
Project Executive: Wendy Appleby

Unified Communications: Contact Centre Project

We will support Admissions to manage telephone enquiries from pre- applicants, applicants and 3rd parties (particular on A-level results day) whilst workers are remote.  We will do this by utilising call centre management functionality and the ability of adapting other online tools such as web chat and chat bot.
Project Manager: Nick Newton
Project Executive: Iain Fowler

Admissions 2020

We will review UCL’s clearing and adjustment capability and implement the changes required to enable the capacity for 21/21 Admissions process (in the context of the Covid-19 crisis). We will identify further improvements required to support the admissions processes, focusing on applicant experience.
Project Manager: Anita Yang
Project Executive: Sarah West

Digital Document Signing

The onset of Covid-19 has seen a surge in requests for eSignature capability as printing, scanning and sending paper documents has become more difficult. The project will implement a single platform delivering significant savings on wasted time, effort and resources preparing and sending contracts in the post. A single platform will provide a consistent experience and a more cost effective license model as well as providing compliance with external requirements.
Project Manager: Tim Machin

Infrastructure & Security

SITS upgrade

We will deliver an upgrade to the SITS software to ensure continued Tribal support of SITS software.  This will ensure that Tribal continues to support SITS, and all dependent applications interfacing with SITS are upgraded as required to ensure that they maintain their functionality.
Project Manager: Ibironke Oduyemi

Infrastructure & Application Monitoring

We will implement an Infrastructure and Application and performance monitoring platform with dashboards allowing real-time security and performance alerting with automated response.
Project Manager: Karim Hady
Project Executive: David Cooper

Tactical Enterprise MFA for O365, VPN & UCL Anywhere

We will introduce Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to Office365, (ISD and UCL) VPN and Desktop@UCL Anywhere services to introduce an additional layer of protection for core services. The expected benefits are Strengthened Security, Improved Compliance, Simplification of Login Process and Improved UCL reputation among researchers including the reduction in the number of security incidents related to compromised accounts or leaked data.
Project Manager: Yasmin Walker
Project Executive: Rob Maughan

Digital Wellbeing

We have delivered a Digital Wellbeing check-in survey and this is being complete on a weekly basis for staff and postgraduate research students. The data will be used to find out how our community is coping with the changes caused by coronavirus and support future improvements.
Project Manager: Stephen Ball