Building links with our University community – working together to work differently

The global pandemic has impacted all our lives in countless ways, and within the University the way we work, teach, learn and undertake research has changed dramatically. A particularly positive outcome of the ‘new normal’ is the way colleagues have come together as a community to tackle complex issues. Teams within IT Services have been sharing inspiring stories about their new ways of working with departments and divisions, building relationships which will enable collaborations to continue well into the future.

Supporting tools for teaching and learning

Over the last few months, teams in IT Services and the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) have collaborated to support colleagues around the University in the move to remote teaching and working. During the quick transition to accessing all systems online there was increased demand for guidance to assist staff, academics and students. New online courses and workshops were developed to support the use of key applications such as Canvas, Teams and Panopto sharing expertise from CTL and IT Services. New features were introduced to existing services such as recording, dial-in numbers and live events in Teams, as well as enhancements to WebLearn to support remote assessment and examinations. Staff from both departments worked together to establish a dedicated Teaching Remotely Service Desk to provide specialist advice to academics and this is likely to continue for the remainder of the year (contact  

Transitioning training programmes

The IT Learning Centre (ITLC) has transformed its entire programme, adapting courses and, particularly in the early days of lockdown, providing teacher-led sessions to quickly upskill staff in the use of Teams. ITLC staff have also worked closely with the CTL who run Teams awareness sessions tailored for educators, and the Educational Media team who run sessions about Panopto, administering their webinars in the course booking system, CoSy.

CoSy is the University’s central course booking system. Over the past year, it has been adopted by an increasing number of divisional offices and central departments to manage their training administration. As the courses have been hitherto predominantly classroom-based, a joint team from the ITLC and Student Systems helped support a wholesale move to online delivery to ensure that courses could continue to be delivered. The groups are adapting their courses, taking bookings through CoSy and are delivering their sessions via Teams, Panopto and other video conferencing tools. Some are also investigating and including new e-learning courses. Since the end of March, 545 online courses have been set up.

ITLC staff have greatly appreciated the tremendous ‘can do’ attitude they have experienced from all colleagues across the University; no one has said it is too hard to make the change.

 ITLC supported People and Organisational Development (POD) when we transitioned to web courses in CoSy. They were on-hand to assist with, and solve, all our technical issues in a patient and helpful manner (Liisa O’Brien, POD Administration Team Leader)

Transferable skills from projects

Whilst our service teams have been adapting to new ways of working, our project teams have continued with the delivery of active projects, coming up with new virtual ways to run workshops, interactive sessions and testing in order to keep timelines on track. The skills of our IT project managers have also been called upon to support the University’s business continuity planning groups. Their expertise of planning, identifying actions and managing risks and issues demonstrates that IT Services staff have transferable skills beyond those needed for core IT systems.

Dealing effectively with Covid-19 business continuity and recovery issues, requires managing multiple stakeholders; logging issues, risks, actions and decisions; dealing with dependencies; and following up with individuals and staff to ensure timely completion of allocated tasks. In short, this requires project management. Having identified this need I turned to IT Services for help, who seconded their experienced project manager, Simon Colling to support the organisational response to Covid-19.

Having Simon’s support has been invaluable and helped the Business Continuity Bronze Subgroup achieve its objectives and ensured the organisation not only resolved business continuity issues but also the Silver team received timely assurance on the state of play. More recently, Simon has brought his project and programme management skills to bear while supporting the Return to On Site Working (RTOSW) programme of building reopening. Working alongside the project lead and Estates, Simon created a GANTT chart tool to match the divisional/departmental demand for buildings to be reopened with the capacity of central services to support the reopening.” (Lukasz Bohdan, Director of Assurance)