Information Technology Services (ITS) was busy over the spring and summer to bring the highest-priority technology to our students, faculty, and staff at the start of fall term. This includes crucial changes and updates to support and enhance our new class-delivery methods to support remote learning.
See highlights below from three departments in ITS — Academic Technology & User Services (ATUS), Enterprise Infrastructure Services (EIS), and Enterprise Application Services (EAS).
Academic Technology & User Services (ATUS)
Professional Development Workshops
During summer 2020, a team of instructional designers and technologists bridging ATUS, Outreach and Continuing Education (OCE), and the Library carried out 50 professional development presentations and workshops to support remote teaching. Stipends for these offerings were made possible via the CARES Act. A call for faculty to lead some sessions resulted in an additional dozen to round out the expertise.
Justina Brown, Instructional Designer for ATUS and Director of CIIA, and Andrew Blick, Director of Online Learning, estimate that almost 1,000 faculty and graduate teaching assistants completed the offerings. And with multiple registrations for some people, the total number of active registrations was closer to 2,439. See our full list of offerings.
While our support team is still wrapping up the summer support, they have been hard at work preparing materials for fall. They are grateful for the faculty’s willingness to learn with them during this difficult time. They look forward to working through any challenges ahead as they continue to support teaching and learning. Remember, our support team is here for you!
Online Software Tutorials
Our Student Technology Center (STC) has created a sizable catalog of online tutorials covering dozens of common software applications. These tutorials are available to anyone at Western and are in a format which can be easily imported into any Canvas course. Engage with these materials by self-enrolling in the STC Online Workshops.
The tutorials are skills-centered, as opposed to software-centered. From learning vector illustrations in Adobe Illustrator to making a table in Excel, each module is broken down into topical skills videos so you can jump straight to the technical aspect you or your students need. See our resource regarding the ability to import these materials through Canvas Commons.
Computer Lab Access from Off-campus
In addition to the ATUS general university computer labs that are open on-campus, we have made workstations in our labs available to students and faculty from off-campus through remote access tools. With these tools, students who can’t get to campus or who would choose not to go to campus can access the same computers and software as if they were on-campus.
A remote access dashboard provides an interface that displays live computer availability and allows students to connect to campus computers remotely. To gain access, see these instructions.
Migrating from P: Drive to SharePoint
To aid access to necessary files from off-campus, ATUS has set up new SharePoint Online hubs for a dozen departments and assisted moving files from the P: Drive to SharePoint for several other departments.
SharePoint offers many advantages, compared to the P: Drive. It allows individuals easy access to departmental files in the cloud through Microsoft 365, improves the ability to collaborate, and offers better search and versioning capabilities.
Because the hardware that the P: drive runs on is nearing end-of-life, and with employees continuing to work remotely, now is the time to schedule your department for a migration.
Teams Tips and Trainings
To help faculty and staff move from in-person to virtual meetings, we’ve created more than 200 Microsoft Teams for individuals and conducted more than 80 trainings affecting about 500 employees. In addition, we’ve provided numerous one-on-one trainings.
Over the last 90 days, almost 5,000 Western users have participated in more than 17,000 Teams meetings. They have used about 38,000 hours of audio, 33,000 hours of video, and almost 50,000 messages to help transform communication and collaboration to meet the evolving needs.
Zoom Pro Licensing
Zoom Pro licenses are now available to all faculty, staff and students. Our new licensing allows anyone with a Western email address to host meetings of any length for up to 300 attendees.
If you are already a licensed Zoom user, you do not need to do anything.
If you are new to Zoom, you do not need to request an account. You just need to sign into your Zoom account to activate it. See our ZOOM FAQ for more information.
While Zoom is the preferred platform for most instructional situations, Microsoft Teams remains the recommended meeting platform for administrative meetings.
Enterprise Infrastructure Services (EIS)
Microsoft Teams Voice
We are actively moving the university off of the legacy phone system, and onto Microsoft Teams Voice. Through the end of August, we moved more than 700 individual and department phone numbers, and we’re aiming to move all individuals and departments before the fall 2020 term ends. This will greatly improve Western’s ability to teach, learn and collaborate remotely, so we can continue to provide a high level of service to our students and community.
For more information, or to schedule your department’s migration, see https://atus.wwu.edu/kb/teams-voice-migration.
Video Content in the Cloud
With the pivot to remote instruction, demand for video content has grown significantly. Through Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Stream, we are providing a cloud platform to easily record, upload and distribute video content to the university community.
And for those situations where a cloud service is not the best option, we are designing an improved on-campus data storage system that will be able to handle the large media files managed by MABEL and other applications. We’ll have exciting new developments on this front in the coming months.
While folks are staying home and staying safe, EIS technicians and engineers will be working hard to expand and improve the wireless data network on campus. This means that our students, faculty, staff and visitors can enjoy a more robust network when they return.
Enterprise Application Services (EAS)
EAS worked with Admissions, Registrar Office, and other functional areas to modify many programs in Banner, the university’s main information system. Western can now offer these new class-delivery methods to our students: face-to-face (FTF), hybrid, remote-synchronous, remote-asynchronous, remote blended, and WWU online. You can find the definitions of these offerings in ClassFinder.
Also, our analyst worked closely with Student Success Initiatives and successfully migrated the student advising system from Student Success Collaborative (SSC) to EAB Navigate. This new system will provide additional analysis and information to our advisors and ensure that our students persist and graduate.
Our ESign Team created more than 30 new ESign forms so that students, faculty and staff can conduct their day-to-day activities remotely. Some examples are First Time Western Card application, Veith Family Scholarship application, Grading Mode Change, Language & Culture Program Registration, Major and Minor Declaration, and Change Form. Before COVID-19, these functions were mostly conducted face-to-face on campus.
COVID-19 Daily Attestations
In addition to modifying programs in Banner, we designed and created COVID-19 daily attestation applications for employees and visitors. This was a joint effort between ITS’s EAS, Human Resources, and the Western Incident Command System (ICS) Planning team.
For student attestation, EAS worked with the Student Health Center to implement the new Point & Click (PNC) COVID-19 modules. Students that come to campus in the fall for face-to-face classes can conduct their COVID-19 survey using their mobile phones through the PNC portal.