From the CTO

10 September 2020

We are returning to campus during unsettling times. I have a deep appreciation for the fact that growth can come from moments of tension, but 2020 has been almost unfathomable. I would not have believed we could simultaneously have a pandemic, a financial collapse and societal unrest over racial justice. And in this setting, each of us is preparing for another academic year with many, many new variables. I have ideas about which aspects of these changes will persist and lead to growth, but for now, this ‘welcome back’ edition of the ITS Update will focus on updates about Carleton’s technology environment that are relevant for Fall Term. 

Fall Term will introduce new permutations of where faculty, students and staff will be located and how they will be interacting with each other, so it is good to know that we have a foundation of Zoom experience from Spring term. The PEPS team continues to maintain its Instant Video Support service, which is an open Zoom session waiting for people to join them. Please feel free to join them if you have any questions about how to optimize your use of Zoom and Google Meet, or if you want to learn more about hosting videos in Panopto or our new streaming service, Imagen.

The Academic Technology team had a lot of changes this summer, with two departures and several new arrivals, starting with Wiebke Kuhn as the Director of Academic Technology. She hit the ground running and is making a wonderful impact already. I am sorry to announce that Celeste Sharpe and Andrew Wilson left Carleton this summer for new opportunities at Normandale Community College and Pomona College, respectively. Wiebke and I decided that this was not the time to search for their replacements, given the intense work that needed to happen this summer in preparing the campus for the wide array of teaching modes required this Fall. Instead we hired two fifth year interns, Pilot and Aaron, and a 6 month contractor, Brett Coup

Among many summer projects, ITS staff made changes to ENROLL to support course searching using new teaching modes and developed an OnBase workflow for contact tracing notifications. In addition, we finished up the work of installing technology infrastructure in the Science complex and migrating from a PBX phone system to Voice over IP (VoIP). The rest of this newsletter has information about the work of ITS staff members to ready the campus for new pedagogical approaches and social distancing.

Every June, ITS reflects on the past year. Our 2019-20 Annual Report provides a summary of the work of ITS staff members, as well as key statistics and stories about campus collaborations. Even with the additional constraints on our time this year, we still found great value in this reflective practice and in archiving the impact of COVID on our work.  

It was impressive to see how quickly faculty and staff adapted to new ways of working and teaching. I want to thank all of you for your innovation and for your partnership during these unusual times. I am very grateful to be part of this community. 

Welcome back!