A learning management system (LMS), such as IVLE, has served educators and students well. However, being a walled garden, the LMS is not very well suited to take advantage of the latest internet developments, particularly Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, social bookmarking and the like.

CIT's new service - Nexus - serves to plug the gap between private and public accessible learning systems. It can also include personal services which makes it a tool for more than learning, hence:

Students and staff who access Nexus will find that predefined services have already been added. Nexus allows you to access IVLE, NUS Libraries services, Network TV and webcast lectures directly. You can also view external services like Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and games from the same tabbed interface.

Nexus consolidates all these information streams in one consistent interface and location. Users are free to add various widgets which are available within Nexus. An RSS widget allows you to pull in any RSS-enabled content such as blogs and news to your Nexus interface.

In the near future, staff or students can also develop widgets for use in Nexus, which will make it a system which is develop by users for users.

For more information about Nexus, contact Mr or read the Nexus blog.

As the construction begins at University Town, project planners have envisioned the living and learning spaces of the future. In particular, CIT is working with the Office of University Town Development, Office of Estate Development, Computer Centre and the School of Design and Environment to develop a learning space for the future at the Education Resource Centre (ERC) at the heart of University Town.

ERC at NUS University Town

The ERC will be a low-lying building with plenty of open space. The challenge for the designers is to come up with a multi-purpose space which is comfortable and adaptable. Perhaps most challenging are the soft aspects of the design: will the space allow for students to explore new paradigms and harness their creativity?

In order to move forward, we must look at the current learning spaces available on campus and identify their shortcomings. A cursory glance at lecture theatres and tutorial rooms here reveals a basic design which has been relatively unchanged for decades, if not centuries. Implicit in the layout is the relationship between lecturer and students and even students with other students. It is decidedly a one-way relationship, much like a performer’s relationship with his or her audience.

While it is arguable that the amphitheatre layout of lecture halls cannot and should not be changed significantly, there is plenty of room for improvement and experimentation with small group and informal group settings. Students are required to discuss, share and collaborate both during class and outside of tutorials and seminars. Students also take lead roles during presentations.

The design and layout of learning spaces should reflect this reality and enhance the learners’ ability to work effectively in a fluid environment.

Our learning spaces need to be flexible.

From the layout to the furniture to the technology – the future learning space should allow for a wide range of use, limited only by our students’ imagination. The spaces need to have easy-to-use enabling technology – wireless access, power supply, presentation means, collaboration affordances – that does not get in the way physically.

It will be a challenge to meet these varied expectations and design specifications within a finite budget. With this challenge in mind, a working committee will be exploring flexible learning spaces in the United Stated and the United Kingdom so that we can study the best practices in this area and formulate flexible learning spaces within the ERC of University Town. Stakeholders – staff and students – should also be consulted in this process.

In the long term, the lessons learnt can be applied across the NUS campuses, so that the university remains at the forefront of education – a Global Knowledge Enterprise.

The Audio-Visual Information-Technology Local Area Network (AV IT-LAN) is a combination of a file-sharing system and an archival system for video projects.

With an average of almost 100 video projects (both productions and live recording) each year, there needs to be a way to enable efficient use of production resources as well as a systematic, searchable and thorough archival system.

The AV IT-LAN fulfils these requirements through a combination of two solutions. The first is EditShare, an all-in-one collaborative shared video storage solution. The EditShare Server, pictured in the diagram, provides central storage for all video projects. It is connected to the PCs of CIT's Multimedia staff, allowing each person to work on their part of the video project from their workstation.

While EditShare runs on LINUX, it connects across platforms, allowing projects to be shared between Windows and Macintosh computers. Likewise, EditShare supports Adobe Premiere and Apple's Final Cut Pro.

This is an improvement over the previous manual system, where anyone assigned to the video production had to digitise the video footage on their personal PCs before handing it to others who might be working on the same project. This was particularly problematic as CIT is spread over three locations on campus. With EditShare, the footage is digitised once, and is shared out to the relevant personnel, regardless of their physical location.

The second element in the AV-IT LAN is CatDV. CatDV allows CIT to archive source files, the final output and other media related to the production such as graphics, photos, scripts and storyboards.

On project completion, the producer will clean up the production materials, saving the necessary video and data. These will then be sent to a staging area, where the video elements will be compared to a checklist. The project is only archived once all required materials have been submitted. Once this is done, archival with the CatDV system will proceed. This new workflow also provides for a physical tape backup which will be catalogued to correspond to CatDV's database.

With CatDV, CIT staff can easily search, locate and procure previously recorded footage. This benefits the NUS community as staff will able to source for archival material. It also aids in projects where videos have to be updated.