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COVID-19: Update on IT Support for Courses, Remote Work, and More, March 20, 2020

COVID-19: Update on IT Support for Courses, Remote Work, and More, March 20, 2020

Dear faculty and staff:

I write with a lengthy update around the ongoing IT support for courses and for remote work. Many of the items below refer to the COVID-19 Digital Support site we launched a week and a half ago. We are updating this site regularly with more resources, materials, how-tos and help options. Please bookmark https://sophia.smith.edu/covid19-digital-support/ for ease of access.

Our team is also launching a lightweight consultation process for offices that are struggling to find the right tools to keep work moving in this new mode. Wherever possible, we want to help match you to existing tools that might solve specific problems and that have already been vetted to meet Smith’s requirements for ease of use, data privacy, cybersecurity, reliability and accessibility. More on that in the staff section below.

Please continue to direct your general COVID-19 info requests to covid19info@smith.edu, and your digital support requests through the “Request help or volunteer” form at https://sophia.smith.edu/covid19-digital-support/. This makes sure that your request doesn’t get buried in the email of an individual team member who may be fully dedicated to one or more aspects of our COVID-19 planning and support.

Faculty

  • Next week’s slate of pedagogical consultations and technical preparation workshops will be posted this evening. Go to the COVID-19 digital support site, click or select the faculty section, then select “Sign Up for a Workshop or Consultation.” Note in particular the workshops offered by two faculty volunteers, Simon Halliday and Jordan Crouser; a workshop on remote access and VPN; and the addition of several “Take the Wheel” workshops, in which faculty who have already completed introductory Zoom training can practice hosting a class with friendly staff volunteers playing the role of students. Check back next week for short workshop descriptions on the main site, so you can browse details before you decide what to sign up for.
  • We are updating the COVID-19 digital support site to include materials from workshops as well as additional documentation that may be of use to you. Most of these will be added by next Monday, informed by the feedback in this week’s workshops. This will include some recordings as well, which we know many of you are eager to see.
  • The Sherrerd Center is also offering consultations with faculty peers who are ready to help with this unprecedented and rapid shift to remote instruction. You can sign up for these by going to the COVID-19 digital support site, navigating to the faculty section, and selecting the “Sherrerd Center Consultation” option. To learn more, read this letter from Sherrerd Center Director Sara Pruss.
  • We are working through your volunteer requests and will be in touch in the coming days about possible ways you can help. If you haven’t yet volunteered but would like to, please complete the “Request Help or Volunteer” link on the COVID-19 digital support site.
  • Next week, our IT academic continuity team will expand our focus to include planning for “Zoom assistants” you can request to join your course, and we will also plan for more general training for students. More on those efforts soon.

Staff

  • Next week we will continue Zoom training, to be expanded in the coming days to include Google tools. To sign up, go to the COVID-19 digital support site, navigate to the Staff section, and select “Sign Up For a Workshop”.;
  • We are adding more resources and learning materials to help you use the tools to stay connected while working remotely. Refer to the new “Resources for Remote Work” link in the Resources section on the home page of the COVID-19 digital support site, which includes this new Tools for Working Remotely guide.
  • If the move to remote work has created a gap in your office business processes or workflow, we might be able to help you identify a Smith tool that already meets Smith requirements for ease of use, data privacy, cybersecurity, reliability, and accessibility. On the COVID-19 digital support site, select “My office/department needs a consultation”, then fill out the request for consultation.

Notes for everyone

  • If you or someone in your team took desktop computing equipment home from Smith and did not first request permission to do so, please fill out the equipment request form so that we can track equipment location. (No need to do this for Smith-issued laptops). Faculty and managers are responsible for the safekeeping of equipment assigned to their labs and offices.
  • Equipment distributions continue. For students, we are prioritizing equipment loans for those students who are designated at a high or medium level of demonstrated financial need, as determined by Student Financial Services. If we have equipment left over after we meet the needs of those students, we will then connect with students who have lower demonstrated financial need. Faculty and staff equipment requests are being processed as well. The links to the equipment request forms are available on the home page of the COVID-19 digital support site.

Many thanks to colleagues from ITS, CATS, the Libraries, the Sherrerd Center, the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Student Financial Services, the Office of the Dean of the College, the CIRT, and the many others around campus who are partners in this ongoing work.

Wishing you peace,

Samantha