IT staff works to support students, faculty, staff through remote learning and work

A student types on a computer keyboard.
Image Credit: Rachael Mooney

As students, faculty and staff members adjust to learning, teaching and working remotely due to health and safety concerns over the COVID-19 virus, Grand Valley's Information Technology has adjusted approaches, been nimble and flexible to help everyone succeed in remote applications.

Sue Korzinek, associate vice president and chief information office, said IT staff has worked hard to help with logistical challenges and been responsive to new needs.

Korzinek said the university's IT team is wonderful — "The best team on the planet," she said — and has risen to the challenge of providing services off-campus, training faculty to teach remotely, all while still managing daily tasks.

Korzinek said the shift to online education has driven a spike in the use of both Blackboard Collaborate and Panopto, which are online video and learning tools that can be used by students and faculty for classes. Use of Collaborate increased 800 percent, and Panopto saw a 725 percent increase in use.

The IT department has also finalized a contract for off-hours support for Blackboard so faculty and students can have Blackboard support 24/7, and helped nearly 100 faculty and staff members implement technology that allows them to work from home with access to their GVSU desktop.

Other support requests have included equipment needs, like headsets and microphones, as well as computers and document cameras.

On the e-learning side of IT, the e-learning team provided hands-on faculty workshops to provide quick-start sessions on moving courses to remote education. From March 12-14, 40 separate sessions were offered, with more than 700 faculty members participating.

Because remote work is increasing for employees who are able to do so, additional licenses for VPN access were needed, and licenses were also acquired for audio/video meeting software.

Phones had to be directed to forward calls to new locations, and staff had to be shuffled to handle calls to the help desk as well as staff some computer labs on campus.

"The change from face-to-face instruction and work to remote in such a short period certainly had its challenges, but our team was responsive, adaptable, and worked incredibly hard to make a new situation for everyone as successful as possible," Korzinek said.