SIGUCCS 2021 Conference Takeaway – Lessons Learned from Massive Pivots Due to Physical Campus Closures

Over 120 people signed in for our session Lessons Learned from Massive Pivots to Physical Campus Closures which consisted of three sessions.

  • Supporting the Rapid Adaptation to Remote Teaching Modality: Software and Hardware Edition with Dan Herrick
  • Low-Cost, Scalable Technology for Hybrid Learning with Allan Chen
  • I’ll See You Online with Miranda Carney-Morris

Supporting the Rapid Adaptation to Remote Teaching Modality: Software and Hardware Edition

How did University of Colorado, Boulder prepare for faculty teaching from home in Fall 2020?

As a result of the ad-hoc attempts to shift to off-site teaching in Spring 2020, they came up with a process to deliver hardware, peripherals, and software to support off-site teaching and learning for Fall 2020. They developed a three-part project to accommodate preparations in these areas.

Bulk purchase over the summer allowed them to provide 368 faculty and instructors with laptops to be able to teach from off-site. They were able to also bulk purchase peripherals like webcams, headsets, voice amplifiers, tripods, and document cameras and distribute those to 600 teaching faculty and staff. This project also involved offering a safe pickup procedure and appointment bookings for combined laptop and peripheral pickup.

Regarding software delivery via virtual and remote access, the team decided to utilize existing empty computer labs to expand the VDI pool to allow access to limited use software.

One thing that they learned is that they did not have data to fulfill this type of shift effectively. There was no central tracking of technology in place. They ended up overestimating the need and demand, but were able to use the extra laptops to fulfill departmental purchases at cost.

This crisis also accelerated the rollout of other projects and the collaboration between teams was exceptional.

Read more in the ACM Digital Library

Low-Cost, Scalable Technology for Hybrid Learning

In the early days of the pandemic, California State University, Northridge, started a project to investigate classroom technology to allow Hyflex teaching in their classrooms in the future. Because so many schools had to make adaptions to their existing classroom structure over the past year, this presentation focused not on the specifics of the technology but the project itself.

Some lessons learned:

  • It’s important to stay focused on the target and original goals – it was easy to go off track and think bigger because of the crisis situation.
  • Critical thinking, on a small scale, about a HUGE problem was important.
  • Bring in the right people for collaboration…but don’t bring in too many people – stay agile and efficient.
  • Have the right attitude about what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Communication in the right ways to the right people is important. Pay attention to how people want to be involved and track all the contacts.

Read more in the ACM Digital Library

I’ll See You Online

At Lewis and Clark University, the class delivery mode prior to March 2020 was primarily face-to-face. Some of the graduate programs has some experience with online and video conferencing, but not much.

The original expectation in March of 2020 was to continue in person classes with support for students in quarantine. However, that quickly turned to sending all student home and teaching remotely. Their educational technology team initially offered virtual and face-to-face drop-in sessions but as campus closed, they had to switch to remote for that as well. Having a short period of in-person allowed provided an opportunity to test the technology and synchronous instruction process while students were still on site. 

By spring break, everyone was remote. A boot camp offering for faculty transitioned from formal workshops to a flexible format of consultation – giving faculty exactly what they needed when they needed it. Additionally urgent in-class support and individual support requests were much higher than normal. The team was able to accommodate requests for support and help faculty remotely with a quick shift in plans.

Read more in the ACM Digital Library

About SIGUCCS Editor

The Special Interest Group on University and College Computing Services (SIGUCCS) is an association of professionals who support and manage the diverse aspects of information technology services at higher education institutions. SIGUCCS is one of 36 special interest groups of ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest educational and scientific computing society. SIGUCCS focuses on issues surrounding the support, delivery, and management of those services, and provides professional development opportunities for its members and the other individuals in the field.