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A few years ago, we introduced a structured way of working at Nyenrode aimed at building continuous improvement to help us collaborate more effectively for the benefit of our students, participants, clients, and alumni. Major steps towards improvement have been made since and these benefits now reflect in our operational results.
In the beginning, the emphasis was mostly on primary processes support, such as the learning environment. After those processes were roughly outlined, the attention of our business optimization shifted more towards the operational processes, for example in the field of finances.
Although the results of some of these projects may not be immediately visible to our business relations, these are important improvements for the organization that will also contribute to the quality of our services.
A 'Projects' department was set up as a next step towards further embedding of project-based work within the internal organization.
After all degree programs and some executive education programs switched to learning management system Canvas in September 2018, we began further developing education with Canvas as a basis for blended learning. The project team provided lecturers with design and inspiration sessions and with individual coaching. The team also launched initiatives for several programs to create an academic skills module and promote the continued development of lecturers’ digital competences.The desire to respond to new developments in blended learning and the successful introduction of Canvas, created the need for tools to for example facilitate flipped classrooms and lecture recording. A new video content management solution gives us the option to save videos and share them in the Canvas digital learning environment. It is also possible to record lectures or broadcast them live.
Because it was no longer possible to use the physical lecture halls due to the corona measures in the spring of 2020, and because falling behind was undesirable, almost all lectures of the degree programs were held online from that moment on. Within a week after the first lockdown, online lectures were already held with successful use of the Panopto and Teams solutions, as already introduced in 2019.
From the second half of 2020, mainly in executive education, experience was gained with hybrid education. This meant that part of the group of participants was physically present and that the other part followed the classes online. Lecturers and program staff were guided through this process by both ICT and educational experts.In addition to technology, attention was paid to the didactic side from the educationalists. Lecturers received help with the transforming of their way of teaching. This is not a one-off promotion and will receive a lot of attention in the next period. Further development of educational innovation will be managed by an educational support team as part of the Academic Services Center.
The goal of digital testing at Nyenrode is to help improve the quality and efficiency of our education: for students, lecturers and the (testing) organization. Evaluations among students show that our students really appreciate digital testing at Nyenrode. Nyenrode facilitates digital testing with the use of Chromebooks and Cirrus testing software and the Wi-Fi network was upgraded to match the requirements for digital testing. Digital tests have been administered within the various degree programs during the 2019 – 2020 academic year, with the number of digital tests steadily growing. In 2021, digital testing with Chromebooks and Cirrus will also be made available at the Amsterdam location.
Due to the corona measures, as of spring 2020 it was no longer possible to administer exams in the sports hall. Digital testing from home brings some challenges. Normal proctoring activities, to check if students are taking the exams in a fair way and according to the rules, are different when students are taking the exams from home and not under the watchful eye of the proctors in the sports hall.
An online proctoring service (Proctorio), integrated in the Cirrus testing software, was implemented. Proctorio is an addition to the Cirrus testing system and was successfully introduced. Recording of the private environment of students via webcam and microphone, has a major impact on their privacy. In collaboration with the exam committees, an ethical impact analysis was executed which formed the basis for new policies.
The roll-out of the new student administration system OSIRIS was successfully completed. The system is now live for all degree programs that used to work with the old SAN system in the past. The objectives were to harmonize and automate the primary administrative process and to set up the possibility for students and participants to register online. Now that the OSIRIS-system is up and running, a road map has been developed to take further advantage of the possibilities the system has to offer.
Mid-2021 an OSIRIS-app will become available. By using this app, our students can easily view their obtained results and their schedule for lectures, among other things.
An automated link between OSIRIS and Canvas has been established. Student enrollments in OSIRIS are now automatically processed in the Canvas system.
HR future fit
The entire administrative process for recruitment & selection and additional HR processes was digitized mid-2019.In the context of employee Learning & Development, a Learning and Development portal will be introduced in 2021. Reason for this implementation is the professionalization and digitalization of HRM within Nyenrode, making explicit of growth paths, the need for in- and oversight of training costs for general management and implementation of Nyenrode’s strategy “Transformation of Human and Organization”, which requires a focus on a specific level of knowledge and competence.
New financial administration system
Last year, after an extensive market survey, Nyenrode selected Exact as provider to replace the current financial administration system. The new system will bring benefits to Nyenrode, including consistent accounting records, efficiency, accessible management information and increased user-friendliness for employees. A thorough analysis had been carried out and the project was delivered early 2021. With the introduction of an automated workflow process, various financial activities such as invoice requests can be executed more efficiently. The system architecture is more future proof as well because interfaces for other systems such as Osiris with other state-of-the-art tools (Azure Unified Pipeline) have been built.
Nyenrode has extensively overhauled the office automation environment. Based on target groups (personas) and the functional design (scenarios), the new digital workspace has been successfully introduced in phases. A key aspect was the transition to the cloud. This change has a broad impact. Not only does it affect the IT systems, it also leads to changes in areas such as security, user experience and management. Furthermore, the choice of the cloud is strategic, as it is intended to be the target environment for the long haul. The introduction of a new intranet for employees and students was part of the digital workplace project.
Working from home
As of mid-March 2020, all employees suddenly had to work from home due to the corona lockdown. This was realized quickly, partly due to the implementation of the new digital workplace and the laptop-when-possible policy that was introduced in 2019. Only a limited number of specific applications such as financial administration and reception functions could not be executed from home right off the bat, but these were also available within a week. With the help of the previously introduced collaboration system called Teams, it was possible to continue to have all meetings. Remote working turned out to go surprisingly well, although the employees did miss direct contact with their colleagues, students, and other participants.
Hiring of third parties
In this project, the various procedures for hiring third parties, such as self-employed individuals and temporary personnel, have been consolidated into a uniform, professional policy and process which brings us into compliance with laws and regulations and enables us to avoid risks.
Last year, several initiatives took place to boost employee knowledge about cyber security. Examples included a security game with more than 100 employees participating and an online learning environment that had been made available to highlight the topic of cyber security in a fun and engaging way. Nyenrode periodically has its IT environment tested by means of a security assessment. As part of the updated office automation, two-factor authentication has been introduced as an additional security measure for all staff. In 2021, the second year of the awareness campaign kicks off with the use of cases that took place at, among others, Maastricht University and Pathé. An online version of the security games is already available.
Automated provisioning of digital identities
An example of a less eye-catching improvement are the plans of the IT department to upgrade the Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems. These systems allow for automated processing of the creation, updating and removing of our digital identities, our student and employee accounts. With more and more lectures held in some sort of hybrid form (onsite and online), almost all lecturers will need a Nyenrode account. Besides degree students, more and more EEOD programs will depend on online presence. This project will improve speed, security, and quality by providing these accounts to all education and support system users.