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A Journey Towards Digital Learning Environment – The PolyU Digital Learning Environment

The PolyU Digital Learning Environment (PDLE) is a set of services leveraging advanced technologies to create a personalized learning environment for individual students to enjoy their study in a comfortable, convenient and productive environment. Our journey was started from an abstract concept of digital learning environment and the direction is to address our space limitation and support mobility with consistent user experience that enables students to learn anytime, anywhere with any devices. The new digital learning environment embraces great opportunities in technology adoption, service design, customer expectation management by breaking our traditional IT support model.

This digital transformation initiative is not about technology, it is to create an ideal digital learning environment to cultivate our students “to learn and to apply, for the benefit of mankind” (The Motto of Hong Kong Polytechnic University).  Our direction is to facilitate technology-enhanced learning anytime,  anywhere and with any devices.

PolyU is committed to delivering the best digital learning support to our students. Our design philosophy is mobility, high performance, secure and unique user experience. Indeed, the Virtual Student Computer Centre (vSCC) is one of our key components in PolyU Digital Learning Environment (PDLE). It is the first global deployment of Win10 in a virtual desktop environment with the support of Microsoft as well as the largest scale deployment for students in Asia. The service is powered by high-performance infrastructure, e.g. all flash storage, high-speed internet connection and high-speed Wi-Fi network with 100% coverage, to support over 30,000 students. Students can start an application in just 2 seconds once they have logged in to vSCC using any devices and utilize the fast and secure storage with backup protection service.

Through this journey, many key IT hardware were upgraded and the foundation to transform the University towards a digital learning environment has been laid. Apart from the technology challenges, we have successfully   managed the user expectations, gain the support from the senior management and the buy in from faculties. Meanwhile we also transformed our conventional IT support model to fit for the new service model.
It is a fruitful experience to drive the digital transformation in a University. We need to transform ourselves so that we are ready to transform our University as well.  This paper highlights the important milestones of our journey, our challenges and opportunities, and our future plan.