SIGUCCS 2021 Conference Takeaway – Lightning Talks

fist with lightning bolt
Fist with blue lightning illustration in vector

Lightning Talks are short seven minute presentations. The presenter provides a concise summary of a single topic with useful information in a short time. This year, we had a nice grouping of lightning talks!

Slacking On: Organizing 50 Student Staff Remotely with Kevin Chapman

Using Slack, and focusing on specific channels for different needs, as well as policy for communication, Carleton College was able to manage re3mote student staff on their help desk phones during the pandemic. Lessons learned:

  • Number of channels is important. Find a good balance between too many and not enough.
  • Threading is very important. Be sure your users are creating threaded conversations!
  • Pinned posts were used for relevant information that needed to be seen by all.

Good Migrations: Finding New Home for Support Articles, Done with Minimal Resources with Mo Nishiyama

Planning a migration of their documentation to a wiki, the project team did much planning through surfing the internet, playing with other wikis, and learning how to best use the wiki. The planning of the project was also based on reality, not a specific due date. However, even with a lot of planning for reality, they team had to expect the unexpected. This project started just before the start of the pandemic and required changes in timing due to issues with a move to remote work.

Lessons learned:

  • Keep it simple
  • Experiment
  • Remember the humans

Board Games As Relationship Building Tools with Kevin Tschopik

An opportunity to play board games on a break or lunch provided this new employee an opportunity to break the ice with colleagues around the university and form personal relationships with the persons that you need to interact.

Games that are suitable need to be

  • Setup, teach it, and play it within one hour
  • Themed games with cross appeal


Too Much Too Soon vs Too Little Too Late with Kevin Chapman

Kevin shared the ways his college prepared to provide technology to the campus. He also talked about ways they were surprised by how faculty and students used that technology. This sparked a lively conversation among attendees about what we are all facing as we return to campus.

Everything Counts: Making a Difference with Inclusive Words with Mo Nishiyama

This was a great reminder of how IT is fraught with terms that minimalize marginalized communities. In this case, a simple outreach offered an opportunity for change.

Bringing up a situation where a fellow employee was disturbed by a specific language used began a process to review documentation and remove racially charged language from all documentation.  A new style guide was created to learn about and use inclusive language.

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.