A Resilient Pack: Supporting Faculty Behind the Scenes
And in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, the statement holds true. The entire DELTA organization has changed and adapted to the needs of the NC State community — specifically supporting faculty in the transition and continuing journey of remote teaching and learning.
Since early March, all members of DELTA have been working long hours to provide instructor training, answer help calls, support our learning technology servers and services, assist faculty with recording lectures, project management to support new processes, providing instructional design expertise, implementing new tools for remote testing, and so much more.
“The entire DELTA organization pulled together to do what we need to do to support our faculty as proactively as we can,” says Associate Vice Provost for Academic Technology Innovation Donna Petherbridge. “I love this team, the culture we have here, and the can-do, customer-focused and positive attitudes of everyone!”
With steady leadership from DELTA’s Senior Management Team, DELTA has stepped up to the plate to provide our services on a much larger scale than usual — all with a service-minded approach showing compassion on each step of the way.
The Instructional Support Services team began by collaborating with the Office of Faculty Development (OFD) to host four Keep Teaching webinars about creating an academic continuity plan. Nearly 180 instructors participated and many submitted their plans to share with others. Working with the provost’s office, OFD and campus units, DELTA staff swiftly contributed resources for the new Keep Teaching website and answered webinar FAQs.
All of our instructional technologists and LearnTech support staff paused current projects to transition their focus to getting faculty — many who had never experienced remote teaching before — up and running online.
DELTA’s training team quickly expanded our collection of video tutorials to help faculty get online quickly using Moodle and Zoom. The team quickly converted all remaining on-campus workshops to online delivery and added sessions tailored to the current challenges and focused on the most pertinent resources. More than 200 participants completed DELTA’s “Getting Your Course Online Quickly” workshop, while many others used the online ancillary materials.
Our LearnTech support staff works six days a week to respond to help calls from instructors while providing excellent customer service, which was evident by their nearly 5.0 average team rating (on a 1 to 5 scale) on customer service feedback forms over the past month.
Content Capture for Online Distribution
“When the announcement came that all courses were going online, the DELTA Video Communication Services (VCS) team went into overdrive supporting faculty that needed assistance completing their remaining lectures for online distribution. The scheduling team worked overtime and through the weekend responding to requests for access to our classrooms and mini studios,” says Senior Associate Director of VCS Tony Pearson.
The team worked to support more than 42 new requests for assisting faculty with classroom capture in addition to the 15 faculty already scheduled to capture their remaining lectures for the semester. The team adjusted schedules to rotate staff on and off campus to adhere to social distancing policies but remained dedicated to faculty support despite obstacles such as building closures and a consolidation of services.
“These efforts allowed faculty to continue using available campus resources while being monitored and assisted remotely by the VCS team,” Pearson adds.
Supporting Increased Storage on DELTA Servers
Moodle has seen increases three times the normal rate. Mediasite views are up 45%. And the number of Zoom meetings is more than 12 times higher than before. In other words, our learning technology infrastructure has experienced serious usage increases since the switch from on-campus to remote teaching.
“Over the last several years, DELTA has invested in beefing up our infrastructure for the WolfWare suite of academic tools, including Moodle, Mediasite and Zoom. While not anticipating a pandemic per se, that proactive work has allowed us to manage the strain of the sudden increase of the move to all online courses without having a major break down,” says Associate Director of Systems Support Dan Deter.
DELTA’s Director of Educational Technology Services Jeff Webster adds, “The work we have done over the last several years to formalize our application updates and deployments was extremely beneficial. The teams are used to our regular schedule of updates every two weeks and emergency fixes mid-week in off-hours.”
So while the number of changes during this time was higher than normal, the team did so within established maintenance routines and did not have to worry about the process of it all.
They focused on making adjustments such as adding Mediasite servers to handle the increased usage, enhancing Moodle for better database performance, altering configurations such as Zoom default settings for better privacy and security, and quickly added new tools such as Respondus Monitor and Respondus Lockdown Browser for monitoring remote testing.
“As always in the IT Systems world, if nobody sees what you’re doing, then you’re doing it right,” adds Deter.
A Resilient Pack of DELToids
“From our business office keeping things humming nicely in the background, to the frontline service and support staff directly helping faculty, to the senior management team members figuring out how to keep our business ‘open’ and our offices staffed — and thinking about ways to put people over process, I am so proud of us,” says Petherbridge.
And to keep the NC State community informed, our communications team has worked by producing articles and newsletters with best practices, advice from our DELTA Faculty Fellows, and more resources.
So many others at DELTA have positively impacted our response to support faculty during these difficult and unknown times. We could continue writing a book about our incredible staff members who go above and beyond to make sure faculty can keep teaching and students can keep learning. A Resilient Pack, indeed.
Thoughts From Around Campus
… workshop evaluations:
“The material was well-organized, and the presenters were very knowledgeable and excellent presenters. I am much better prepared to teach online. Thank you so much!”
“I thought the webinar was very well organized and facilitated. I really appreciated how throrough the presenters were and will definitely be using a lot of the new information going forward.”
“This was excellent, and answered a lot of questions I had, particularly about Zoom. We are fortunate to have these kinds of excellent resources at our university.”
… LearnTech customer service evaluations:
“DELTA staff is always amazing and courteous, and is doing an outstanding job during a very stressful time.”
“I received excellent advice on how to solve a difficult problem. I am always very happy with the support provided by LearnTech. Thank you!”
“Just want to say a BIG Thank you for your dedication and assistance to all of us out there trying to figure this out. You have been so helpful!”
… shoutouts on Twitter:
“Here’s a shout-out to one of our invisible heroes: @NCStateDELTA is helping 100s of noob online instructors transform their courses–and they’re doing it with instant response times and cheerful replies.” – @PublicSci_NCSU
“The rapid transition to online teaching has been made smoother by generous colleagues and timely training by @NCStateDELTA, @NCStateOFD, @bethanyvsmith, @DrAmyNeaves, @docmelissap and @EnvironMegan. Missing many important folks here but DELTA staff are the top of my list!” – @scissorsrunning
“Answer to the question “Are Colleges Prepared to Move All Their Classes Online?” is No. We’re not. But, we will do our best because it is the right thing to do. We’ll ask our students to do the same. Shout-out to @NCStateDELTA because they are working overtime to help us prepare.” –@scissorsrunning
“NCSU community is lucky to have DELTA. Great resources!” – @amandaredwards