CIO50 2021 #3: Jason Mangan, University of Auckland
The past two years has seen the technology team led by Jason Mangan deliver unprecedented levels of innovation across the University of Auckland. “Like most organisations during this period, many of these innovations have been delivered to ensure business continuity, protect existing revenue and allow for diversification of revenue streams, and ensure the best possible experience for all customer groups (current and future students, teachers, researchers, and professional staff) through varying levels of disruption,” Mangan says.
Powering these innovations was a maturing operating model that allowed for autonomous and multi-disciplinary teams to act quickly to a rapidly changing landscape, leveraging the now significant base of cloud skills and capabilities (over 240 staff having completed AWS certification pathways) and strategic partners (traditional and non-traditional).
At the start of 2020, Mangan and three other ‘founders’, established an in-house start-up called Connected Experiences, with non-traditional governance and the mission to transform the way the University connects with current and future students, in an inclusive way, through creative technologies and digital outreach.
Through this start-up, they have introduced several new products to support the themes of connect, thrive and succeed. An example is World Your Way, which is a ‘playful’ virtual world through which prospective school aged students can start to explore the university and Auckland in a way that resonates with them and that will inspire them, in their own time and in their own place.
Woven into the programme the university's waipapa narrative and a virtual pōwhiri to welcome prospective students on to the university. This digital asset now forms a key component of the schools partnership, and international outreach portfolios. The experience will continue to be enriched further with personalised creative integrations and interactions.
Another innovation, Kāhu, is a new student mobile offering targeted at current students which connects those students, in a personalised way, with university places and spaces, academic resources, clubs and events. Alongside Kāhu, a new wayfinding service has been deployed that maps all of the University’s campuses and over 200 buildings, for easy accessible navigation. During the initial lockdown, and before the govt Covid Tracer app, Mangan’s team created its own check-in service on top of this wayfinding, to allow for easy contact tracing for staff and students.
Supporting at-risk students
Ensuring that the learning experience of over 2000 students who could not return to New Zealand for their studies was not compromised was a primary driver for the technology teams. At their place of international residence, the student experience was constrained by varying levels of technology provision and performance — a situation where we could not control those external factors. In order to ensure the best possible experience, we redesigned and optimised the content delivery platform, established a content delivery network in Hong Kong and partnered with local partners to support the best possible experience and access. Currently over 135,000 hours of learning content is streamed weekly.
Of the 20,000 devices at the University, 5,000 are located within student labs and information commons for use by the students and to access university applications for their chosen area of study. In order to ensure students could continue to access the hundreds of applications used in every area of study the team rapidly provisioned FLEXIT enabling our students to access these applications from any device, at anytime and anywhere.
On campus innovation
Over 650 teaching spaces were digitally enhanced to support flexible learning. From enabled rooms, students can seamlessly connect in huddle style pods enabling national and international students to learn together in a hybrid posture, and work on common deliverables. Lecturers can teach and interact with the classroom from any location.
Within the Business School the Trading Floor has been established and is fully equipped with world-class technology providing students with a real time learning environment to help them master trading and analysis, and understanding the complexities of international financial markets.