Digital Strategy

About Laurier's Digital Strategy

Over the last year, higher education institutions were forced to adapt to unprecedented changes and demands in response to COVID-19, accelerating digital transformation within the sector. As we look forward, we need a digital strategy to help us determine how we can make the most of this momentum to build new pathways between teaching and learning, research, administration and technology.

A digital strategy provides clear and realistic expectations of technology, services and operational practices, and ensures that the solutions we implement are approached purposefully and meet the needs of the communities that we serve. This will enable individual and institutional success, help us to understand the potential of digital technologies and associated services, prioritize our investments, and readily apply them to better serve our diverse community.

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"Accessibility should be at the forefront when creating or updating software."

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"We need to provide the option to participate virtually or in-person which increases participation, is easier to fit into schedules, and removes unnecessary travel."

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"Our digital strategy is the thread that holds it all together."

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"Laurier should maintain balance between accessibility, cost-efficiency, and quality of service."

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"Digital transformation shouldn’t be a steamroller. We need to find a balance between in-person and online. We need to learn what can improve and make digital and what can stay within that physical space."

Outcomes of the Stakeholder Engagement

From October 2021 through January 2022, the Digital Strategy Working Group organized a series of engagements sessions for students, faculty, researchers and staff across the university. This provided an opportunity for community members to contribute to and help shape our strategy and to ensure that the digital strategy we create reflects the diverse needs of our community.

We had very high participation from stakeholders, holding 12 focus group sessions involving 118 participants, receiving more than 2,600 responses to our online survey, and holding interviews with 11 members from the senior leadership team.

Key Strategic Themes

Through engagements with the community and work within the Digital Strategy Working Group, three key priorities were identified as being the most important to our diverse community and imperative to our strategic success. These themes are:

Accessible and Equitable Access to Services, Tools and Resources

  • Ensure that services, tools, and resources are accessible and available to all the communities we serve.
  • Provide equitable digital experiences to our students, faculty, and staff.
  • Adopt people-focused services, systems and applications that are easy to use

Communication, Collaboration and Connections

  • Optimise technology and services that enable communication and collaboration within our institution and with our wider community.
  • Proactively engage and elicit feedback from our community regarding projects and initiatives that support our strategic efforts.
  • Integrate software, systems and infrastructure that ensure a balance between security, privacy, and usability.

Purposeful Transformation in Learning, Teaching, Working and Research

  • Invest in people, processes, and technology that will enable current and future strategic initiatives at our institution.
  • Connect virtual and physical environments to support diverse modalities for working, teaching, learning and research.
  • Empower our workforce, students, faculty, and researchers through training and upskilling.

Our Digital Strategy will assist us in selecting the right combination of technologies, tools and strategies that can be combined to create these experiences. Laurier’s Digital Strategy is not a standalone initiative. We see it as an integral part to Laurier’s current priorities, projects and strategic plans, and essential for all future initiatives.

Timelines

Since the winter of 2020 when the Digital Strategy working group was formed, we have been engaging with Gartner, external partners, and executive leadership to determine the direction and approach that we will take.

This journey did not begin with the development of the Digital Strategy Working Group or in response to COVID-19. Our digital journey has already started through the implementation of various initiatives, including the Laurier Learning Management System (D2L/Brightspace, MyLearningSpace), a wide range of electronic resources, services and platforms available through the Laurier Library, eduroam, the Microsoft 365 migration, ConsignO e-signing solution, the COVID-19 self-reporting application and more.

Phase One, Summer 2021: Developing Our Digital Story

Having engaged with senior leadership and the executive leadership team to get a sense of how they view our digital future at Laurier, we are working to develop a framework and story that tells our digital journey. As we continue to develop our Digital Strategy and implement new projects and solutions, this digital story will grow and evolve over time.

Phase Two, Fall 2021: Stakeholder Engagement

In the late summer and into the fall, we held focus groups, meetings and distributed surveys to define the priorities of different groups and to ensure that their input helped inform our strategy.

Phase Three, Winter 2022: Draft Digital Strategy

Over the winter term, we reviewed the information we had gathered and began to cluster and prioritise goals and objectives to develop our digital strategy. The Digital Strategy Working Group then worked closely with senior and executive leadership teams to review the strategy for final approval.

Phase Four, Spring 2022 / Ongoing: Operationalize Digital Strategy

With our Digital Strategy developed, the way in which we prioritize projects as an institution will change based on how they can help us to meet the goals we have set. We will also work to establish the metrics for our strategy and look for opportunities to provide continual updates to our community about our progress towards meeting our goals.

How to Get Involved

Have questions about our Digital Strategy or want to find out ways that you can get involved? Feel free to contact Kyle Harris, manager, ICT Digital Transformation Strategy, or submit the online form.

Why a Digital Strategy?

Our Digital Strategy has overarching and integrated themes across all strategic areas of the Laurier Strategy (2019-2024) and will be essential to helping the university be successful in achieving its objectives.

Thriving Community

  • Enriching Partnerships: Implementing supportive software and technical solutions that enable collaboration and communication.
  • Inclusive Community: Ensuring that the services, tools and resources that we provide are accessible and available to all the communities we serve.
  • Indigeneity: Fostering engagement of Indigenous groups and communities through access to technology and training.
  • Intellectual Climate: Supporting the generation and dissemination of knowledge and engagement of wider communities beyond our own.
  • Internationalization: Enabling the availability of software, services and resources that will fit around students' lives and schedules.

Future-Readiness

  • Credential Innovation: Providing adaptive platforms and resources to support various modalities of instruction.
  • Enduring Skills: Supporting our workforce, students, faculty and researchers through continuous training and upskilling.
  • Engaged Research: Deploying collaboration tools and robust platforms that support the creativity and research within our institution and the engagement of wider communities beyond our own.
  • Experiential Learning: Adopting new technologies and connecting student experience to employers and community-service partners.
  • Sustainability: Reviewing, renewing or retiring technologies depending on the needs of our institution while reducing our carbon footprint.
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“Digital strategy helps us to determine where we are going as an institution.”

Members of the Digital Strategy Working Group

The Digital Strategy Working group is made up of diverse leaders from across the university that represent various strategic priorities of the university. The group meets bi-weekly to discuss current priorities, work planning and actions required. Sponsors are provided a monthly report detailing the progress that have been made towards developing our digital strategy.

Current Members of the Digital Strategy Working Group
  • Gohar Ashoughian, University Librarian
  • Dan Dawson, Assistant Vice-President, Student and Ancillary Services
  • John Fraser, Assistant Vice-President, Integrated Planning and Budget
  • Kyle Harris, Manager Digital Transformation Strategy
  • Charity Parr-Vasquez, Assistant Vice-President, Research
  • Nela Petkovic, Chief Information Officer
  • Mary Wilson, Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning
Sponsors for Our Digital Strategy Working Group
  • Jonathan Newman, Vice-President, Research
  • Lloyd Noronha, Vice-President, Finance and Administration
  • Anthony Vannelli, Provost and Vice-President Academic
Support Staff
  • Chris Pasierbski, Administrative Assistant ICT

Values of the Digital Strategy Working Group

Our Digital Strategy will provide a shared vision to enhance teaching, learning, research, administration, and service through sustainable digital innovation for Laurier and for our community of partners. In developing our approach, the Digital Strategy Working Group has identified a series of values that will drive its development.

Through this strategy we will:

Implement: Smart and Responsive Tools and Services
  • Services are easy to find, accessible, personalized and provide timely assistance.
  • Easy-to-use digital tools that are available regardless of location.
  • Tools and services that seamlessly integrate with existing infrastructure and institutional culture.
Facilitate: Data-Informed Culture
  • Collect and use data dynamically and securely to inform our strategy and priorities.
  • Harness information to drive user experience and service design.
  • Analyse and use KPIs to assess the effectiveness of activities, services, and programs.
Enable: Collaboration and Connectivity
  • Introduce technology and services that enable innovation, creativity, and collaboration.
  • Seamless engagement between all members of our communities.
  • The ability to share, collaborate, and work easily and securely anytime, regardless of location or resource availability.