ITS and OEL Have Weathered the Transition of Campus to Online Smoothly

Despite all classes shifting to an online format at UM-Flint, ITS and OEL have managed to keep most technical troubles at bay.

University of Michigan-Flint

Despite all classes shifting to an online format at UM-Flint, ITS and OEL have managed to keep most technical troubles at bay.

Ryan Lanxton, Writer

With UM-Flint transitioned into an online format amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, ITS and OEL have been working hard to keep up with the increased use of remote services.

Since all face-to-face classes have been cancelled and UM-Flint’s campus has been closed indefinitely, students and faculty are relying on the use of services like BlackBoard Ultra and Zoom to continue their education.

This has put a larger-than-normal strain on ITS and OEL. However, despite the increased amount of traffic to deal with, things have been going smoothly so far. 

“There were a couple minor hurdles at the beginning like implementing softphones for our Administrative and Helpdesk staff and verifying that our remote support tools were up to date,” said Kenneth Heiser, associate director of ITS, “but our staff was highly prepared for this and they have all done an outstanding job transitioning to supporting campus remotely.”

Heiser said his team has been able to help with the online transition smoothly and has received very little complaints. In fact, the ITS team has received a lot of positive feedback for their work in supporting an online campus.

“I attribute this to all of our incredible staff in ITS. They have all done such an outstanding job continuing a high level of support for the campus community. I couldn’t be prouder of our team,” said Heiser.

OEL has also seen a smooth transition. Responsible for online education at UM-Flint, they have now gone from assisting just a fraction of the campus community to the entire university. According to Nicholas Gaspar, director of OEL, the workload OEL usually saw in one month is now what they see in one week or less.

“The workload at OEL has had a fairly dramatic increase, but our staff have done a wonderful job keeping up and providing high quality service to our campus community,” said Gaspar.

To handle the sudden influx of online usage, OEL has subdivided into four main groups: technical administration, support, instructional design and communications. Gaspar said this format has worked well by improving efficiency and communication amongst the staff.

OEL has received a lot of help from ITS for any technical issues they have had, as well. 

“ITS has been very helpful during the transition and I would like to thank them for all the support they have given both OEL and our campus as a whole,” said Gaspar. 

It’s still not clear when regular campus life will return, but with the support of technical and administrative groups like ITS and OEL, hopefully this new normal can continue as easily as possible.