Cardiff and Vale College is one of the largest colleges in the country with more than 20,000 students and 1,000 staff. From specialist courses for those with learning difficulties, as well as a broad range of vocational courses, the college also focus on higher level courses with a large A-Level Centre and a Higher Education Centre.
Cardiff and Vale College offer an innovative and progressive learning environment that supports 20,000 students. As part of its ongoing efforts to provide the best possible education facilities, the College put forward proposals to develop a brand new £45m campus supported with funding from the Welsh Government.
For stakeholders at the college, the IT infrastructure supporting the campus was crucial. Evan Davies, Director of Information Services and IT at Cardiff & Vale College explains: “E-learning is a key driver in education nowadays. You won’t find a classroom without some element of IT. We really wanted an IT solution that prepared students well both for higher education and the changing world of work.”
Circle IT initially worked with Cardiff and Vale College’s Senior Leadership Team to develop a joint IT and ILT strategy, to help deliver an improved learner experience. Something which the college admitted had been neglected for a number of years. One of the fundamental problems with the architecture was that staff didn’t have enough confidence that the technology would work and therefore avoided using it as part of their teaching.
Over many months, Circle IT audited the IT supporting the old campus and drew up plans for a replacement infrastructure at the new facility. Davies Says: “We wanted the new infrastructure to bring us right up to date. Our goal was for good Wi-Fi connectivity to support up to 3,000 users in every part of our building. We planned to encourage collaboration inside and outside of classrooms to enable independent and collaborative learning.” Stakeholders wanted the IT environment to support a bring-your-own device strategy. “To make e-learning effective, we wanted people to be able to bring and use their own devices at the college.”
Based on the IT strategy, Cardiff and Vale College issued a tender for a single IT solution to support the new facility. Davies remembers: “Clearly the technology was important, but we were also keen to establish a relationship with our IT provider. We wanted a trusted advisor, which could help with the strategy and through the design, deployment and support stages.” Circle IT responded to the tender with a proposal built around a Dell end-to-end solution.
Working in partnership with the college a Dell solution was designed and implemented. The infrastructure had to support a Microsoft-based environment using a combination of on-premise and Office 365 cloud-based applications. Circa 1,000 devices were deployed including a mixture of Apple and tablet devices. In addition to standard teaching environments, specialist music recording labs and film studios were required to support the college’s vision to support its learners to thrive in the 21st century.
Following the successful completion of the project, Circle IT currently provides onsite IT managed services, with a team of five Circle IT staff now based at the college full-time.
“Clearly the technology was important, but we were also keen to establish a relationship with our IT provider. We wanted a trusted advisor, which could help with the strategy and through the design, deployment and support stages”
Evan Davies, Director of Information Services and IT at Cardiff & Vale College