Tech ITS gearing up for telecommuting, online instruction
With classes at Tennessee Tech set to go online Monday and most of the faculty and staff telecommuting from home because of COVID-19, Tech’s Information Technology Services (ITS) has been busy preparing for these new challenges. “ITS has worked with all departments on campus to assist in making sure the resources to transform face-to-face classes and the daily work of the university available to the faculty, staff, and students can continue with the workforce distributed while working remotely,” said Yvette Clark, executive director of information technology services. “We have interacted with academic and administrative units to determine what equipment would be necessary to allow the workforce to continue to perform job duties while maintaining the security and privacy of the institutions data and digital delivery systems.” Earlier this week, ITS distributed more than 180 laptop computers to faculty and staff to help with those who will be telecommunicating from home to campus and with students. “There was a lot of preparation that went into this,” said Erika Smith, a business information technology major from Cookeville. “It started last week, making sure all the laptops had the software and that faculty could access what they need to. We have been here working and working and we are finally glad to be handing them out.” Besides handing out laptops, Clark and the rest of the ITS staff have been looking at the services that would be utilized if more courses were taught online and through alternate digital delivery methods. Some of the things ITS has done to prepare for the shift to on online includes: - Bandwidth Increase - Higher Capacity VPN solution - Mobile prepare all faculty and staff as necessary - Extended HelpDesk hours for the initial push to online class delivery - Made available multiple avenues of online training - Created Learning Paths for Remote workers to navigate the change to remote working - Consolidated online campus resources into one online platform to allow workers to be more efficient
“Several months ago, we implemented the increase in the bandwidth capacity for campus from a 3GB pipe to a 10GB pipe. We also recognized our regular Virtual Private Network (VPN) would not handle the capacity if the university where required to move classes online,” Clark explained. “Therefore, we made the decision on how to upgrade to a higher capacity to meet the needs for the entire workforce We have also worked with software vendors to ensure we can legally server the software via remote access pathways for students to access and successfully finish the semester. This means we changed the way we served out software and the existing physical computer lab to give the students the best remote experience possible.” Having classes move to the online format and having employees work from home is a big change from the normal day-to-day operation for Tennessee’s only technological institution of higher learning. But, ITS feels like it is up to the challenge. “I think we are fully prepared because various departments have been working around the clock to make sure students can finish the semester with a great ending,” said Demetric Gould, a business information technology major from Gallatin. “This shows that the school cares about people and wants them to have the necessary tools to do what they need to do.” For more information on ITS and COVID-19, go to https://its.tntech.edu/display/MON/COVID-19+ITS+Response.