Week 3 – Roll with Those Punches #20wkTechTransformation

I love a good challenge. The more impossible the better. So here we are. I’ve been at my current institution for roughly seven months. I’m looking at this university and, with each and every glance, I fall in love with it a bit more. The campus. The possibilities. The people. The support. The empowerment. The beautiful slate. And, for the record, my lenses are not of the rosy variety. They are crystal clear. There is tension. There is change. There is fear. There is wonder. There is passion. But mostly, there is opportunity. And there are distractions. I love a good challenge. The more impossible the better.

We know where we are. We have twenty weeks (-ish) until the close of this fiscal year and the opening of the next. As an institution we have goals. As an IT team we have goals that must align to and with the institutional goals.

Focus for Week 3 – Roll with Those Punches

Last week’s entry focused on planning. Oh those fun, fabulous days where the gnarliest head-scratcher was how to prioritize the steps to ultimate success. Fast pace? Yes. Lots of options? Sure. Too many- oh wait, what’s that?

Well hi!” I exclaim in my southern cat voice to COVID-19. Coronavirus? Are you kidding me?! Deep breath.

In one week we went from planning our tech transformation to ideating on ‘what if’ scenarios surrounding a pandemic (surely not!) then -BOOM- classes have officially gone online effective today. But you know what? It’s ok. These are the moments that define us. And rather than being supremely reactive and making panicky decisions and expenditures, how we are responding today is directly in line with continuously revisiting what our overarching tech transformation requires of us.

We have effectively started to support a remote campus. Effectively, but humanly – we’re improving through it. We are figuring out what our valued colleagues and students need to succeed in this (hopefully temporary) ‘new normal’. End of day one. You’d expect horror stories. Nope. A bit of feedback:

“I have been working with a lot of faculty today and some of the most difficult users or less tech savvy have really started to catch on. A couple of examples would be one faculty member had not been trained on Panopto, but after a personal training session this morning he is rapidly recording his next five lectures and was excited enough to say he would help another faculty member sort it out. The second case was a faculty member trying to set up Collaborate to teach his classes interactively and once we sorted out a few issues he bribed some of his students (promised to answer some of their class questions) if they would help him test the setup. After we managed to get everything working for them he continued the Collaborate session answering their questions (like this was a tool he had been using for a while).”

Y’all this is a big deal. Our university will never be an online-first university. Absolutely not in our mission or DNA. But there is room for us to be more playful in and out of the classroom. And old friends are trying new things and having fun. I’m excited to see how it all turns out.

By God we will use this unexpected gut punch for good, for betterment, for learning.

So on to our task at hand. We’ve made progress. Despite the punch we’re rolling with! We are starting the process of putting an official timeline to ERP updates, meeting next week to start assessing for improvement in financial aid and mapping out network updates. Thanks to our punch we’re escalating our virtual desktop plans. Multi-factor authentication after that. As soon as the administrivia dust settles, we’ll be finalizing our primary computer standards and publishing those. Then we need to square away our budget request for next fiscal year and in-source some of the most talented folks at TU. It’s a great time to be punched!

But seriously. It’s a lot. And it happens. It’s a mindset change. THIS is where we learn and grow. And we have great people. I need to make sure they KNOW and realize they’re learning and growing. These are the transformational stories we’ll be telling in a few years.

To everyone on the outside? HANG IN THERE!

The cover photo. For real. We’re fine. But whew! I think we all feel a bit like this.

My southern cat reference is here: