Proactive IT support in higher education

By now, on most college campuses students are finishing finals and leaving campus for the holidays.  In K-12, educators and staff -- even in Ed Tech -- are also on their way home for a few short weeks but what about Education IT on the typical college campus?

Marc Wagner
By now, on most college campuses students are finishing finals and leaving campus for the holidays.  In K-12, educators and staff -- even in Ed Tech -- are also on their way home for a few short weeks but what about Education IT on the typical college campus?

The time constraints faced by Education IT in higher education are often quite different than those faced by most local school districts.  While Ed Tech in K-12 has to meet the needs of students each and every day, the length of the school day, combined with an extended summer vacation, leaves the typical school district with ample time for infrastructure maintenance when students are not in need of services.  On the typical college campus however, IT services are delivered 24 hours per day, year-round.  The only opportunities for upgrades are often during those short windows of time when very few students are on campus and no classes are in session.  This means Christmas break, spring break, and those short windows between summer sessions are the only opportunities for maintenance of wide ranging services. 

Because of these severe time constraints, the need for careful planning and coordination becomes critical.  Reactive IT support -- putting out fires -- just won't work on a college campus supporting tens of thousands of students year-round.  To support this many students, IT departments in higher education are often composed of hundreds of employees organized into small groups with specific responsibilities.   Coordination between these groups becomes absolutely critical. 

Projects which can be phased in -- those affecting only a portion of the student body at a time (such a lab upgrades) -- can be performed over the course of the summer, when student populations are relatively low but centralized services which impact all users must be coordinated across multiple groups both inside of and outside of Education IT -- including comprehensive communications with students and faculty -- who are critically dependent upon your services.

Do you have some Education IT experiences to share?

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