AVP & CTO Update, September 28, 2020
With the last weekend of September 2020 behind us (and what a beautiful weekend it was) we are now fully and completely on the Fall 2020 fast track. I am amazed at how quickly the last few weeks went by and can only imagine how busy you all have been across the institution.
The recent confirmation that McMaster University will be predominantly remote for working, teaching and learning until the spring seems like a very good time to look back at all we have accomplished over the last 7 months, as a means of propelling us forward. It may feel like every day is a scene out of Groundhog Day, yet there has been so much productivity and accomplishment that we were most definitely not just reliving the same day over and over!
In fact, the value of looking back and enumerating successes and accomplishments can be very helpful for teams as they proceed into new challenges and changes. The reminder of past successes really does create a sense of accomplishment and pride and that can help us with our resilience as we face whatever comes next. There are many amazing things that have been accomplished across units, departments, and Faculties as we adjusted to remote delivery models and faced a whole new kind of Fall semester. I encourage everyone to take time to make a list of things you have accomplished, big or small, since March. I am guessing you will be surprised!
From an institutional perspective, McMaster IT personnel worked together across campus and:
- Expanded our web conferencing access and capabilities: Teams adoption, WebEx license increases, Zoom
- Integrated Avenue to Learn with new collaboration systems (Zoom, Teams)
- Migrated 18,500 people to a new email and calendaring environment
- Rapidly adopted MS Teams for teaching and learning (over 850 classes are being taught on Teams this semester)
- Created interactive programs for our news students: Archway and Ember
- Evaluated and pilot a new online proctoring system
- Developed volumes of documentation and training programs for instructors
- Enhanced/expanded/introduced new teaching technologies to assist instructors in preparation for Fall 2020 (Camtasia, Lightboards, etc)
- Implemented new network capabilities, including enhance VPN access for students including international
- Attended twice weekly Remote Tech Task force conversations for sharing of info, exploring solutions, commiserating on challenges and celebrating successes!
- Reviewed transcript and captioning services, sought and implemented other SAS tools
- Shifted computer labs to virtual access across departments
- Implemented Live Chat in the Registrar’s Office and UTS Service Desk
- Continued multiple projects in progress: wireless enhancement, admissions, CRM,
- Created and implemented Researchers return to work tool (RHPCS)
- Continued IT Governance committees and TRT meetings
- Held IT culture enhancing activities including our Equity Diversity and Inclusion Film Festival, MacIT Coffee Breaks, Resilience sessions,
- Delivered laptops and peripheral devices to faculty and staff to improve their work from home situations
- Took vacation and time to rejuvenate and refresh – one of the more important accomplishments (if you haven’t please plan to do so!!
- Actively investigated and mitigated IT security issues, although thankfully no large ones.
- Maintained all regular operational activities and systems, maintenance, and support, and kept things running, and running smoothly! This is exemplar of all our unsung hidden IT heroes!
What an amazing summer of getting things done! And this is not even touching on many important and specific goals that were achieved in each department or Faculty. If I have overlooked something you feel was a major accomplishment, please share!
Celebrating success, and being very specific about itemizing those successes, is always worth your time. And we don’t do enough of it. It can remind you that over time, so much gets done! When you are having a day of feeling less motivated, that can really help.
I cannot thank you all enough for your continued dedication and energy – I know I speak for all McMaster senior leadership when I tell you just how grateful we are for you.
Have a great week as we swing into October!