IT team supports Penn State School of International Affairs through remote learning period

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – When Penn State made the decision to move to remote learning amidst the coronavirus pandemic there was less than a week to prepare before classes restarted. Fortunately, the Penn State Law and Penn State School of International Affairs Information Technology and Digital Learning teams had started planning early.

The technology teams began working on a continuity plan as COVID-19 spread across the U.S. By the time the pivot to remote learning was announced on March 11, their plan was ready to be implemented.

“The IT team went above and beyond in an unprecedented situation,” said Dean Hari Osofsky. “Their proactive planning and individual work with faculty played a crucial role in Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs being able to effectively serve our students and transition to remote instruction. Their work allowed us to pivot to remote instruction without missing a single class and with strong attendance.”

Zoom links were created for each of the courses in both schools and placed into course Canvas pages for easy access by students and professors. The team then coached faculty on best practices in using Zoom for remote synchronous teaching. They also supported staff working remotely and their wide array of technology needs.

IT staff also assisted faculty and staff in their homes, provided one-on-one remote support sessions, and came up with creative solutions to technological problems. For the first week of remote classes, at least one team member sat in on each class to ensure a seamless transition. Later, the team supported both schools’ remote final exams, outlining processes for faculty and students and making themselves available for support.

As the semester ended, the IT team played a critical role in the Penn State Law virtual commencement ceremony and the School of International Affair’s graduate recognition ceremony. Their work allowed both schools to recognize each individual graduate and include key elements of graduation programs.