Tech Supports Remote and Reentry Teaching & Learning
Support for students and faculty turned into an all-hands-on-deck effort last spring when the University went remote. With fall 2020 came COVID-19 precautions on campus and a still-significant need for remote support. That meant summer preparations by Classroom Technology Services and the Office of Student Computing Resources doubled.
During summer, Classroom Technology Services takes advantage of the smaller student population to upgrade the technology in centrally scheduled classrooms. This summer, they updated eight rooms. Additionally, due to COVID-19 and the change in teaching modalities, they had to ensure all 240 rooms met the needs for remote learning.
Document cameras (ELMOs) formerly streamed directly to the room projector. CTS technicians reconfigured the cabling to feed the document camera into the computer for sharing in Zoom or Panopto. They also added webcams so that faculty can now capture audio and video in all the classrooms.
In addition to working on their centrally scheduled classrooms, CTS assisted 5 departments with setting up their classrooms and specialized Zoom rooms. Through the government’s CARES Act, CTS also purchased equipment for departmental classrooms that needed it.
In all, CTS purchased 400 webcams and 125 document cameras for use in 19 colleges and departments across campus
When the University closed buildings last spring, OSCR student workers suddenly had no labs to staff. They immediately shifted their software assistance role to online Zoom consultations to meet the new needs brought on by remote learning. OSCR student workers also supplemented the 24/7’s support staff and helped faculty by serving as proctors in Zoom classes.
OSCR’s Gear-to-Go was one of the few locations on campus that remained open by appointment. In addition to the usual camera checkouts, Gear-to-Go became a distribution point for equipment that students, faculty, and staff need to successfully work from home. Checkouts include webcams, headsets, stylus tablets, and cellular Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as laptops for faculty and staff.
Over the summer, OSCR student workers tested the Covid Watch Arizona app and Wildcat WellCheck program to make sure they were ready for students coming back to campus. They also helped the UITS Knowledge Management Team make video tutorials.
Last spring, VCAT (virtual computing service which allows students to access software from home) was thrust to the forefront when the computer labs closed. For the fall semester, OSCR staff added more software titles and licenses to VCAT (vcat.arizona.edu).
OSCR also had to prepare the computer labs for the fall, including removing furniture and computers for proper distancing. They increased cleaning protocols and developed a logout notification so that the lab consultant knows when to wipe down a computer. Some buildings are still closed (such as the Rec Center and Main Library), so labs and their computers were relocated. (You’ll find OSCR’s Zone multimedia lab in McClelland Park 102 this semester.)
If that wasn’t enough, OSCR also had to pack up their own offices; they finally moved into the Esquire Building.
OSCR and CTS staff continue to go above and beyond to support faculty and students, whether instruction is on campus, online, or both.