Unicon Update - Working During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Published on: March 31, 2020

Top 10 Toolkit

When you need to make good decisions quickly, Unicon can support the learner, the leader, and the institution.

  1. Online Course Development Support
  2. Instructional Design Packages for Faculty Support
  3. Online Lab Conversion (AppStream2.0)
  4. Data Collection - Data Lake Set Up
  5. Data Organization - Wire Up Visualization Tools
  6. Data Analysis - How to organize and use your data
  7. Shibboleth 4.0 Upgrade and Hosting
  8. Grouper Implementation Evaluation
  9. IAM in the Cloud (Open Source or Proprietary)
  10. IAM - Open Source Support

 

Update - July 2020
It's been three months since we authored this piece about immediate and near-term responses to the pandemic.  Your institution is now likely tackling the tasks in the "Near-term Next-semester" column in the tables below in preparation for fall classes, even if you're still not sure how those classes will be delivered.  We're working alongside clients as they prepare for the realities of another fully- or partially-online semester.

We are still in the early stages of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic impacts, but the toll is already being felt.  As we talk to our clients about their technical challenges in maintaining academic continuity on campus and within school districts, we also hear about the stress being put on their people - those working tirelessly to move courses online and to support infrastructure that wasn't implemented to scale to the numbers they are currently experiencing. At this critical time, our people are here to help, whether help is sophisticated instructional design or simply additional hands to move course materials online or upgrade core services to handle load.  

When you are thinking about how to provide your teams with the downtime they will need while still delivering on expanded online capabilities for your institution or school district, having a partner who can help you create continuity in your operations is a valuable thing. Below are some of the common activities we hear our clients are focused on, or anticipating in the coming months, along with the support that may be required from partners or vendors to get this work done. We have intentionally limited this information to immediate and near-term; clearly there are longer-term considerations we all need to be preparing for, but the immediacy of the critical need is our focus at this time.   

MOVING CONTENT ONLINE
  Short-term
Next 30 - 60 days
Near-term
Next semester
Allowing learning to continue via online interactions You are likely to value speed over all else to satisfy the immediate needs of your learners Needs shift to a more thoughtful approach to online courses, but there is still a sense of “quality enough”
Support you may need Additional capacity to move learning materials into an online system

Additional capacity to migrate assessment content into an LMS or assessment tool for final exams
Instructional designers and user experience designers and developers to convert classroom materials to effective online presentations

Learning tool implementation and deeper integrations for more seamless access for all your constituents, including instructors and students in higher education as well as parents and students with at-home learning needs.
SCALING TECHNOLOGY TO MEET THE NEEDS OF A FULLY ONLINE POPULATION
  Short-term
Next 30 - 60 days
Near-term
Next semester
Scaling systems and processes to handle increase load Ensure core services, like IAM, VPN, web conferencing, and core systems like LMS, video capture, assessment tools can scale to meet load

Mitigate infrastructure gaps identified during short term crisis; plan move of key infrastructure and workloads to the cloud leveraging capabilities that allow for rapid scaling

Performance testing and optimization for your learning tools to reach students with limited or low bandwidth internet access.

Support you may need

Additional “hands on deck” to support and upgrade core services to handle load

Scaling for security, including potential multi-factor authentication adoptions

Augmented staffing for core services in the event IT staff becomes unavailable

Performance and scalability testing and tuning services

Augmented staffing for core services in the event IT staff becomes unavailable

Outsourcing hosting and managed services of infrastructure and security identity services where IT staff has single points of failure

PREPARING INSTRUCTORS TO TEACH ONLINE
  Short-term
Next 30 - 60 days
Near-term
Next semester
Training and supporting instructors to enable online learning Shift in focus to remote teaching. Enable instructors to navigate systems like Zoom for virtual interaction, creating and managing recordings made in Zoom. Put more tools in instructor hands and improve quality of interaction. This is the early shift from remote teaching to online learning.
Support you may need

Additional “hands on deck” to support instructors as they navigate new tools and ways of interacting

Additional support material available for all your constituents,including instructors, students, and parents supporting students.

Communications planning/execution, training, and support for instructors navigating new online tools and methods

Expanded onboarding materials targeted for instructors, students and parents as they are assuming the home school teacher role.

RE-ENGAGING STUDENTS
  Short-term
Next 30 - 60 days
Near-term
Next semester
Reaching and supporting students in fully online interactions Engage students online and provide course materials and instructor access to allow learning to continue Acknowledge and tackle the impact of this crisis on the student experience: how to prevent enrollment loss due to job loss, health issues, care issues; how to engage students juggling health issues and care issues with schoolwork; how to replicate student support capabilities online
Support you may need

Communications planning/execution and other change management support for reaching students and engaging them online

Extended help desks

Communications planning/execution and other change management support for reaching students and engaging them online

Development of expanded student support services, both personal and academic

Case or interaction management tool implementation and integration, training

You are asking your students and instructors to embrace big changes but you are not asking them to do that alone. Your staff is no doubt working overtime to support them and set a foundation for collective success. Consider how we might be able to bring that same level of support and reassurance to your team. Our experience as a remote workforce in education technology allows us to quickly jump in and address challenges alongside your key staff when workloads are high.

How are your teams doing?  Are you thinking about how your needs will change over time?  Where can you make the best use of help from an outside partner?  How can we help you?