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Case Study

Nanyang Technological University

CampusPress and NTU

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is a top-ranking research university in Singapore. NTU is highly regarded for their undergraduate and postgraduate programs in Medicine, Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

NTU has been a CampusPress customer since 2015.

BLOGS@NTU – A LIBRARY SERVICE

The CampusPress platform, blogs@NTU, is a service offered by the university’s Office of Information, Knowledge and Library Services (OIKLS). The aim of blogs@NTU is to provide a campus-wide blogging and publishing platform for the NTU community.

Like many forward-thinking libraries, OIKLS uses blogs to communicate with the NTU staff and students. Library staff have collaborated with faculty to set up blogs for a variety of purposes.

According to Yew Boon, Director (Knowledge, Learning & Research) OIKLS –

We have started small at first by focusing on the library’s needs for blogs. Over the years, we have steadily diversified and expanded the blogs@NTU services by introducing course, research, marketing, portfolio, community and e-journal blogs…we believe that providing blog services and helping faculty to develop blog applications to enhance and even transform their research, teaching and learning activities could be a key role for librarians.” (link)

ONE PLATFORM, MANY POSSIBILITIES

Staff and students at NTU understand that the possibilities are limitless when they have their own WordPress Multisite network, like CampusPress. To date, more than 2,000 blogs have been created. Some NTU blogs are private and require the university community to log in while others are public and allow for the benefits of an authentic global audience.

There are three main types of sites amongst their impressive showcase:

  1.   Academic and research blogs
  2.   Community and portfolio blogs
  3.   Administrative and outreach blogs.

ACADEMIC AND RESEARCH BLOGS

An important part of academic work is the communication and sharing of research ideas and interests. Staff at NTU are increasingly finding that establishing blogs or personal/faculty websites offers many advantages.

Academic Profiles

Many staff members have embraced the idea of having their own e-portfolio or academic profile on the Blogs@NTU network. These sites might either be set up as a blog with regular updates or as more of a static website.

The content on these academic portfolios is diverse. It may include research, a curriculum vitae, press mentions, publications, talks, awards, and so on.

Professor May O. Lwin’s site provides a detailed description of her various research work and grants, as well as her teaching experience and services to other communities in Singapore.

Assoc Prof Shirley Ho has established a comprehensive site that complements her work at the university. It is regularly updated through her blog posts and provides a thorough record of her academic career.

Being a WordPress platform, staff would have the option to easily export their sites if they change employment in the future.

Research Sites

Sometimes scholars are looking to organize exhibits, performances, or conferences. At other times, they’re aiming to share their latest research updates, crowdsource research participants, showcase learning, or expand their research network.

There are many examples of research sites on the Blogs@NTU network.

The Early Cognition Lab by Asst Prof Setoh Peipei calls for parents to consider participating in their baby research studies.

On the Miao Lab site, Asst Prof Miao Yansong provides an overview of the biomolecular research currently being undertaken in their laboratory.

The Wearables blog is a research showcase of striking textile works by Assoc Prof Galina Mihaleva.

Site & Space is a site which showcases collaborative research on South-east Asian history and culture by different researchers across the region.

Course Instruction

The course instruction that’s delivered on a blog may include text, audio podcasts, quizzes, and video. The following examples are a just a small snapshot of the way blogs are used with classes at NTU.

For example, students in Asst Prof Luca Onnis’ Language Acquisition course have been building on a wiki for a number of years. Asst Prof Onnis explains that the purpose of this wiki is twofold:

First, it is meant to provide a basic-level introduction to a few selected topics in the acquisition of a second language. For this reason, it was written by students for students, with minimal supervision of the instructor. The blog is divided into “chapters”, just like you would expect a course book to be.

This brings us to the second purpose of this initiative: to contribute to the growing global initiative of open-access educational materials. By making accessible quality information on a given topic for free, we hope to create instructional materials that can be used by schools and universities that cannot afford to pay (for) costly books.

Asst Prof Felipe, who uses blogs@NTU to run his “Impact of Chemistry on Society” course had this to say about using the service:

Well I started using NTU Blogs about four years ago and I decided to collaborate with NTU Library, especially with NTU Blogs, because I wanted to make my course more relevant, make it more attractive and try to deliver some of the content to the students in a lot of ways; something that would be slightly more aligned with the current times of developing multimedia and interacting with the students in a non-standard setup. I strongly recommend the use of NTU Blogs for any course if you want to try something different for your teaching.

Class Discussions

Learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and options for class discussions can enhance the learning experience for all.

Sometime, simple threaded comments are used for class discussions; other times there are dedicated forums as part of the blog.

For example, Asst Prof Judith L. Walls has established a weekly discussion for her Business Gone Green course. Students can log in to their private class forum to add posts and reply to others.

Student Contributions

The author of a course blog doesn’t just have to be the instructor. There can be student contributions and learning reflections via blog posts.

For example, in Asst Prof Katherine Hindley’s Medieval History course, student posts are automatically added to a page using post categories.

Links and Online Hubs

A course blog can be the ideal central hub to showcase or link to student work.

For example, Assoc Prof Michael David Gumert has been using student blogs in his Conservation Psychology course for a number of years. A page is used as a directory that links to individual student blogs.

Dr. Ho Shen Yong also uses the Making & Tinkering blog as an index for the different project blogs which serve to record the development process for the students. Other course blogs use the same format to link to blogs set up for group assignments.

COMMUNITY AND PORTFOLIO BLOGS

Blogs can support events or community groups, or offer an administrative hub for a range of community activities.

Student Communities

These sorts of blogs can be ongoing, or for projects that run for a set period of time.

Collab4Good is a Social Initiative by the Student Community Engagement team. This program allows student organizations to apply for grants for community service and partnership initiatives.

About Still Life (at) The Substation Gallery was established as a virtual space to promote and accompany an art exhibition.

Seeing Beyond Ourselves aims to showcase the different ways that NTU students are giving back to their community.

Project Showcases

Aungsoe Illustrations is an online database of periodical and book illustrations from Bagyi Aung Soe, a well-known artist from Myanmar. The database was conceived by Asst Prof Yin Ker as an efficient way to make his materials available to the world.

ADM Portfolio is an impressive collaboration between students and staff in the School of Art, Design, and Media (ADM) and OIKLS. Students are invited to showcase their final year projects and market themselves as practicing artists and designers to a global audience. Designed and maintained by OIKLS, the blog also allows ADM staff to reach out to prospective students during Open House and recruitment events.

The Exhibition for Literature and Medicine showcases the student projects done for their module and also the physical exhibition of their output as an interactive panorama.

ADMINISTRATIVE AND OUTREACH BLOGS

Many other schools and administrative departments have also used blogs@NTU to host sites for new school programmes, administrative initiatives, or conference events.

Programmes

MscTIP is a site created by the Nanyang Technopreneurship Centre for the alumni of the flagship Technopreneurship and Innovation Programme to return and share their stories and experiences to inspire others in the current programme.

The School of Arts, Design, and Media used the platform to create a site that explains more about their new Masters in Museum Studies and Curatorial Practices in a visually concise manner.

Outreach

The School of Humanities runs a digital magazine for their school called Constellations and they have used Blogs@NTU as a way to put it online for everyone who is interested in the humanities in Singapore to read it.

ADM Careers and Entrepreneurship site is used to reach out to ADM graduates who are seeking a job, and also for companies interested in doing recruitment or industry collaborations.

Events

TEDxNTU was set up for the independently organized TED event held at NTU during 2017.

Memes, Schemes, and Dreams was set up to display the contents and information about a 2016 seminar series and workshops on urban studies. It also hosted the videos of the panellists after the event was over.

AN EXCITING FUTURE AWAITS

One feature that sets apart blogs@NTU is the outstanding service provided by library staff. This dedicated team of professionals assists staff and students with blog set up, design, and technical support. Backed by a highly responsive CampusPress support team, the NTU community can relax and focus on their core business.

blogs@NTU has allowed NTU OIKLS to provide a platform that lets the faculty and students of NTU showcase their work, communicate their research, or engage with each other. The flexibility of the WordPress platform, together with the support from CampusPress, permits us to meet the different needs across the various user groups.” – Tham Jing Wen, Librarian, NTU OIKLS

It’s clear that the staff and students at NTU are open to the idea of their CampusPress platform being a blank canvas. The creative and purposeful ways they use their network has established NTU as a role model for other institutions.

It’s safe to say, the future of blogs@NTU is bright!

Feature Image: Vvvolvol CC BY 3.0 from Wikimedia Commons