With the growing concern of how COVID-19 will affect the ability for faculty, staff and students to gather in large crowds, for the health and safety of everyone at Central Caroline Technical College, it was clear that a shift in operation needed to take place. Back in March, the closure of the college’s physical doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic moved all instruction to online and virtual formats. Faculty and staff had to quickly respond using every available method to connect with students and provide instruction as well as communication. CCTC’s Distance Learning department helped make this shift as seamless as possible. This transition included the use of D2L Brightspace, email, Zoom and other resources.
D2L Brightspace is the college’s online learning management system. Faculty members had to rely on this resource more than usual to support the move to complete online learning. Zoom, a web-based program that provides video and audio conferencing, became another essential tool for the college to use. The college increased its Zoom licenses and provided these to faculty and staff so they could hold virtual classes and office hours that allowed students to connect with their instructors when needed. The increased reliance on technology also meant increased need for training and support. CCTC’s Distance Learning staff worked from home and continued to help faculty, staff and students so that teaching and learning could carry on during this unprecedented time.
In addition to these resources that were quickly made available, the college’s Information and Learning Technologies (ILT) department proactively prepared prior to the pandemic in order to support an emergency such as this one. They supplied an additional 72 virtual private network (VPN) accounts for a 90-day period in order to allow faculty and staff to work remotely and have the capability to access internal application resources as well as their desktop computers. The ILT department issued 48 laptops to faculty and staff who did not already have a college-issued laptop at home. In addition to the laptops issued to employees, ILT supplied another 40 for students who required a device to continue their courses remotely.
“Our ILT staff was well prepared for operating under conditions such as these as the IT industry in general has been operating, at least partially, in a remote support capacity for the past 20 years. Our own department frequently performs work from home after-hours and on weekends to minimize the impact of system changes during business hours. As a department, we mostly transitioned to a work-from-home structure mid-March when the college’s physical facilities were closed with little disruption to our normal duties,” says Director of Information and Learning Technologies Brian Davis. “We have maintained our support functions for employees and have had five members of our team working on-site since the beginning of the pandemic. Our employees are continuing to meet virtually for status updates weekly and to tackle the myriad of additional projects and assist with reporting requirements that have come along with the COVID-19 response. Everyone is upbeat and has handled the transition admirably. I’m very proud of the team’s work and response as a support function of the college and we are looking forward to returning to campus and welcoming our students and co-workers back when it is safe to do so!”