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Digital Support Update, August 19, 2020

Digital Support Update, August 19, 2020

Dear faculty and staff,

Greetings again from the IT Digital Support team. We have five updates this week, focused on preparations for fall courses.

  • Moodle unavailable Friday (8/21) 5 p.m. to Monday (8/24) 8 a.m.
  • Assistants for courses
  • Workshops
  • Last week to apply for fall faculty iPad program
  • “Back to school” support, including emergency consultations

Details are in the corresponding numbered sections below. 

As always, please submit help questions via the Request Help link on the digital support site: (Smith login required). Requests that go to individual staff members may take longer to get an initial response and may introduce delays in getting you connected to a person who can help with your specific question.

1. Moodle is unavailable this Friday (8/21) 5 p.m to Monday (8/24) 8 a.m.

Moodle will be completely unavailable during this time period so we can complete the final transition to our new, upgraded Moodle service. This specific timing was chosen to be as soon as possible after SSW end of summer term activities are completed but still as early as possible before the beginning of the fall term.

After this change has been completed, all Moodle courses can be accessed by logging into Please send any questions by selecting Request Help on the digital support site.

2. Assistants for courses

We have two programs available that provide student assistants for fall courses.

Student technology assistant (usually short-term): This program provides a student worker to assist with basic uses of technology in your remote course, focusing primarily on Zoom and polling. ITS trains, supervises, and pays these students. The student technology assistant can provide some basic support for a few sessions, for those faculty who would like some extra help at the beginning of the term or who may have a specific activity later in the term that would benefit from assistance. In limited cases, we may be able to provide a student technology assistant for a longer period of time in the course. To request a student technology assistant, please complete the application form (Smith login required) at least two business days ahead of the class session in which you want assistance.

Student course assistant (semester assignment): This program allows faculty to have a student with disciplinary knowledge assigned to provide technical assistance in assigned courses for the full term. ITS trains and pays the students. The student will complete all work remotely. The faculty member teaching the course (with assistance from their department, in some cases) recruits the student, who must be based in the U.S. The faculty member supervises the student and is responsible for prompt approval of the student’s weekly timesheets. The student course assistant attends regular class sessions, provides basic assistance with standard course tools, moderates class communication channels, assists with polling, and provides other general technical and communication support. The student is required to attend regular ITS meetings throughout the semester to remain in good standing. Faculty may submit hiring requests here (Smith login required). We will accept student course assistant requests through September 11, 2020.

3. Workshops

These workshops still have space available as of this writing. Signups available here.

  • Humanize Your Online Course with VoiceThread - Mon, 8/31 at 11am
  • Making & Sharing Recordings - Thurs, 8/20 at 9:30am
  • Orienting your students to learning online - Fri, 8/28 at 9:30am
  • Poll Everywhere: Basics - Thurs, 8/20 at 11am, Wed, 8/26 at 11am
  • Teaching Community of Practice: Conversation on Assessment - Wed, 8/26 at 2pm
  • Teaching with Slack - Fri, 8/21 at 9:30am, Mon, 8/24 at 1pm, Wed, 8/26 at 1pm, Thurs, 8/27 at 1pm
  • Teaching with Tablets & Digital Whiteboards - Fri, 8/21 at 3pm, Mon, 8/24 at 11am, Tues, 8/25 at 3pm
  • Teaching with VoiceThread: Essentials - Fri, 8/21 at 11am, Tues, 8/25 at 1pm, Thurs, 8/27 at 3pm
  • Zoom Take the Wheel! A hands-on Zoom host experience - Fri, 8/28 at 2:30pm
  • Zoom Take the Wheel! Breakout Rooms - Tues, 8/25 at 10:30am
  • Zoom Take the Wheel! Screen Sharing and Managing Windows - Thurs, 8/20 at 3pm, Mon, 8/24 at 3pm
  • Zoom Take the Wheel! Viewing and Engaging Your Students - Thurs, 8/27 at 9:30am

4. Final week to apply for Fall 2020 Faculty iPad Purchase & Loaner Program

We will accept applications for the Fall 2020 Faculty iPad Purchase and loaner program through August 28 at 5 p.m. Applications will be processed on a time permitting basis. We will make decisions about potential spring programs in the December-January timeframe.

5. Back to school support

The week of August 24th, the digital support team shifts into our intensive “Back to school” phase, which goes through the third week of classes. Our primary focus will be on final preparations for course readiness and on responding to help requests as quickly as possible, in order of urgency. Some of the things to look for next week, as part of this final push to get ready for the semester:

  • A technology help document instructors can link to from your syllabi, to explain technology support options to your students
  • Updates on arrangements for specialized software
  • Phone support for the IT Help Desk (during regular business hours) 
  • Technology training sessions for TAs
  • Information about just-in-time, emergency consultations (for those especially urgent questions or help requests)
  • A redesigned digital support site

Thanks for reading this far. On behalf of the digital support team (with colleagues from ITS, CATS, the Libraries, and more), I send you our best wishes for your final preparations for the fall term!