Welcome to the new academic year! Through careful planning and lots of hard work over the summer, Technology Services has been instrumental in supporting our students, faculty and staff as another fall semester commences. Whether it was the opening of the new Gladdings Residential Commons, the launch of the new free GRTC service agreement, compliance with new privacy laws, or a host of other initiatives, Technology Services team members were closely involved. For this month’s entry, I would like to share an in-depth look at the Academic Technologies group:
Academic Technologies (AT) is an integral part of the Technology Services team, responsible for the university’s teaching and learning technologies, instructional media services, and essential academic computing. In alignment with VCU’s strategic plan, AT supports and transforms the technologies in our academic spaces across all campuses and online. Services under the AT umbrella include designing, building and supporting innovative classrooms with the latest audio/video components, podiums, and computers as well as managing and supporting systems such as lecture capture, learning management systems, multimedia collaboration, and teleconferencing. Academic Technologies is made up of 5 specialized teams, directed by Colleen Bishop (email@example.com). Jana Avery is the department’s project coordinator, assisting each team with project plans, marketing, communication, presentations and reports.
- Learning Systems (LS), led by Eric Harvey, is responsible for maintaining and supporting teaching and learning systems and tools. This team handles the technical administration and support of these technologies, assisting dozens of faculty, staff and students daily. They collaborate with departments, faculty, and others to identify and implement new tools to enhance the teaching and learning experience at VCU. Some of the systems they manage are Blackboard, Kaltura, Echo360, VoiceThread, and Collaborate Ultra. There are many integrated tools within these systems that are also supported by the LS team. They offer specialized faculty support through workshops, consultations and online materials.
- Labs and Classrooms Computing (LCC), led by Houston Griffith, is committed to maintaining and supporting academic computing in centrally and non-centrally scheduled classrooms. This team ensures that all PCs in classrooms and labs on both campuses have the most current and reliable OS, compatible software and security features; and are properly installed, configured, and imaged. The LCC team proactively monitors the classroom computers and works quickly to troubleshoot and resolve any potential issues. In addition to traditional learning spaces, this team also maintains 60 rental laptops in the library kiosk. Almost 14,000 times each year laptops are rented, free of charge, by faculty, staff and students. LCC now offers laptop rentals to departments who may not have the need for a full laptop cart, computer lab, or may just need laptops for events. With a fleet of 50 Dell laptops,and 50 Lenovo laptops, there are plenty of rental options for departments who may need to host an event and provide access to a workstation.
Media Support Services (MSS), has evolved over the years and is currently comprised of three teams that provide strategic, operational, technical and creative multimedia support. John Bogan, Academic Technologies’ Deputy Director, oversees up this group.
- Classroom Support (CS), managed by Jared Parker, provides classroom audio/visual system support and training for centrally scheduled classrooms. This team of specialized technicians provide vital classroom service via TechSquad and hotline phone numbers to ensure classroom needs are serviced right away with minimal disruption. Hotline phone numbers are posted in each centrally scheduled classroom so that faculty can request immediate support. Additionally the CS team monitors classrooms daily to proactively address any issues or concerns that may arise.
- Engineering and Design (E&D), managed by Drew Barker, works with campus departments to design and build audio/visual systems for classrooms, conference rooms, labs, and other facilities. This team handles the scope development, design, project management, and system programming for all levels of audio/visual systems. The team focuses on ensuring these spaces are functionally aligned and equipped for the latest technologies, and designed for future scalability.
- Video Production and Teleconferencing (VP&T), led by David Morefield, provides broadcast-quality recorded programs on location or in-studio for instructional, informational and documentary uses. One example is the ICA’s “Artist’s Choice: Perceiving Architecture”. Other services offered include: high-tech video editing; live video streaming for real-time viewing on desktop or mobile devices; video conferencing through network codecs; and Zoom, a software-based web conferencing application that allows users to easily connect and share video, audio and computer content Among the events regularly streamed by VP&T are the university’s Spring and Fall Commencement ceremonies and the President’s State of the University address. This team also streams special events such as the groundbreaking of VCU Health’s joint venture with Sheltering Arms, a new state-of-the-art, inpatient rehabilitation hospital.
Each of the teams in AT work together to provide the best possible teaching and learning environment for VCU through innovative uses of technology, combined levels of experience, and commitment to service excellence.
One other note for this month: Congratulations to Thom Mattauch for co-authoring the lead article in the August Educause ECAR update, “IT Change Management: A Practical Approach for Higher Education.” As is always the case when working with outside groups, whether that is writing an article, teaching a class, presenting at a conference, working on a conference committee, etc. , Thom learned at least as much from this group as he provided to the group. This is a great example of professional development that is a little out of the ordinary. I encourage all of us to seek and support professional development opportunities like this.
Best wishes for a relaxing holiday weekend, and thanks to all for a great start to the new school year!