Published October 27, 2020
The work of learning is necessarily challenging—and we are all learning new things this year. I want to thank two groups in particular who have been putting in the challenging work of learning how to better support our faculty in a time of great change.
These groups comprised educational support staff from UBIT, the UB Center for Educational Innovation (CEI), UB Libraries, and UB’s individual schools and colleges. They approached their work with confidence and optimism, despite great uncertainty about the fall semester and the unique challenges of supporting our diverse faculty.
I want to take a moment to thank them and highlight their hard work, and the impressive results of that work, which will have a lasting positive impact on the culture here at UB.
Chaired by Bethany Gladkowski, UBIT Customer Service Manager, and Tim Knab, Director of Technology for UB’s School of Nursing, the Online Instruction Technology Solutions Committee worked to improve the experience of faculty teaching online.
Armed with trust in our faculty, and lessons learned from the spring, this group tackled the daunting task of inventorying existing instructional support resources from around campus in order to minimize the “noise” for faculty and fill in gaps in support where needed.
The new UB Teach Anywhere website is the result of this group’s efforts to curate the best of these resources and present them in a digestible way. This group also supported an ambitious schedule of virtual training sessions for faculty, both well attended and well received, on tools like Zoom, Panopto and UB Learns.
While the Online Solutions committee explored teaching in the digital space, the Hybrid Classroom Solutions Committee focused on the possibilities and pitfalls of teaching in physical spaces in the wake of COVID-19.
Co-chaired by Chris Clune, Director of UBIT Customer Service, and Martin Camacho, Assistant Dean for Technology for the UB College of Arts and Sciences, the Hybrid Classroom team advocated for a high-quality experience for students and faculty alike, despite the demands of physical distancing and the implementation of various hybrid models of delivery.
Their findings underlined an important reality of teaching and learning in the age of COVID: despite the logistical and fiscal challenges of providing a safe, effective and high-quality education, the costs of providing a substandard experience for students and faculty are much higher.
Their recommendations added remarkable value to UB’s campus, including new upgrades bringing Zoom conferencing and Panopto recording to most UB classrooms, and mobile audio/video equipment like webcams available for loan to faculty from UB Libraries so faculty can take advantage of flexible teaching spaces.
If you’re a faculty member at UB, I hope you’ll trust that we see the hard work you’re putting in, and the challenges you’re facing. I’m so proud of these groups because of the way they’ve committed to facing these challenges alongside you.
And that work continues today. As I write this, collaborators from UBIT, CEI and the Libraries are building a long-term cross-departmental group to continue the hard work these groups started to ensure a better experience for faculty and students at UB in the future.
Every member of these groups is a dedicated member of UB’s far-reaching network of people who support the mission of UB and help elevate it by supporting the work of its faculty. While these two groups encapsulate and concentrate their work, thanks is really owed to them all.
They are too many to name, but their work is invaluable. Please join me in thanking them.
J. Brice Bible is the Vice President and Chief Information Officer (VPCIO) for UB. UBIT is a service division at UB that provides enterprise technology leadership and guidance.