State of IT 2020 – US:IT Service Highlights

IMPACT OF Subject matter experts    |    classroom Technology and media services pitch in  |
removal of sunset legacy systems 

impact of subject matter experts

Over the course of 2019, the IT Service Delivery and Support team worked to create, hire, and onboard three new IT Subject Matter Expert positions. Now, in 2020, we have been able to see the full benefit these new positions have brought to the University of Maine System (UMS). These Subject Matter Experts (or SMEs for short) were designed to fill a critical gap that was identified within the US:IT division – having a deep understanding of the needs, best practices, and business processes of our students, faculty, and staff and marrying that with the technical knowledge of the tools available to the UMS community. Through their efforts, we are ensuring that new solutions are built in the best way possible and existing services continue to grow and expand to meet our needs. Here’s a closer look at the impact each of the SMEs has had in 2020:

Photo of Justin Hafford

Justin Hafford – Teaching and Learning IT Subject Matter Expert – Justin was onboarded right as the Brightspace implementation project was kicked off in late 2019. He was integral to the successful launch of our new Learning Management System in Fall 2020. Justin’s many years of experience in instructional design and technology were crucial to connecting the needs of student, faculty, and instructional support staff to how Brightspace was configured and designed. In his role, Justin was also heavily involved in a number of service offerings that have been vital for remote teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Zoom, Kaltura, TurnItIn, Labster, and Respondus.

Photo of Monica Palmer

Monica Palmer – Customer Relationship Management IT Subject Matter Expert – Monica has been the primary administrator and caretaker for the new UMS Salesforce shared-instance implementation. This platform is critical to recruitment and admissions efforts, supplying both a modern, robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool and advanced marketing communications via the Salesforce Marketing Cloud solution. Initial implementation of a shared-instance for UMFK and UMPI completed in early 2020, with the subsequent addition of the UMF Graduate Program. Investment in CRM and marketing solutions will continue to be essential to enrollment success, given the current pandemic-related recruiting challenges. Monica has also  worked closely with campus stakeholders to prepare a RFP for a CRM platform  that could potentially replace TargetX.

Photo of Christina Stephens

Christina Stephens – Student Administrative Systems IT Subject Matter Expert – Christina joined the team after a number of years as the Registrar at Maine Maritime Academy. Her experience with the student lifecycle and how that relates to key business processes in our Campus Solutions student information system has been invaluable. Christina has helped to get the Highpoint CX student system interface platform prepped for the imminent launch of a pilot at UMM, with a goal of a wider rollout in 2021. Additionally, she has been crucial to organizing and administering the student-related portions of the ERP Assessment project, helping to deliver a thorough report and roadmap for our MaineStreet ERP systems.

classroom technology and media services pitch in

In response to the COVID pandemic and resulting shut down of in person classes, the Classroom Technology and Media Services (CT/MS) team members banded together to provide support for the UMS community in the new remote environment. The team assisted with all aspects of Zoom including scheduling, real time support for classes, meetings and events, and webinar planning. Some recent high profile events included remote press conferences, the Brightspace Symposium, Nursing Pinning ceremonies, Stonecoast MFA Summer Program, and Center on Aging Colloquial.   

Staff members collaborated by implementing new processes, including Google Chat group to support fellow IT colleagues and customers and the adoption of LiveChat developed by the Support Services team. Working together across several campuses provided the opportunity to become a more unified team.

The CT/MS teams were also responsible for the installation, documentation and training for web conferencing systems in 124 classrooms, critical for the start of the Fall semester.  The systems allowed faculty and students to participate in synchronous in-person and remote courses.  The team also provided in person orientations and training sessions for the two weeks prior and into the start of Fall semester.  In addition, system-wide documentation and a training video were created.

removal of Sunset legacy systems 

Decommissioning of Legacy Phone Systems

After three decades of service, the University of Maine at Farmington’s legacy phone system was shut off on October 5, 2020. Replacement of UMF’s phone system was accelerated in early 2019 after the system stopped forwarding calls. While the phone system did start operating properly again after a few hours, it provided a stark reminder that technology, even telephone technology, doesn’t last forever.

Networkmaine and Support Services worked together over the following 19 months to identify, trace, inventory, and ultimately replace the roughly 1,600 phone lines on campus.  Many desktop phones were replaced with IP Phones similar to the ones used elsewhere in the University of Maine System,  while others remain as analog phones due to cabling challenges in some of the buildings on campus. Along with new phones, Voicemail sync with GMail and Fax over IP are also now available to the UMF campus.

Decommissioning of Legacy Services

In 2020, US:IT was able to decommission a number of legacy services and retire a number of systems that were no longer supported by the vendor.  This included the retirement of old “SPARC” hardware utilized by MaineStreet, Novell “eDirectory” services, and many Windows “Active Directory” environments that were created prior to our current system-wide Unified Active Directory.  Retiring these older unsupported environments has allowed us to provide a faster, more consistent experience to members of the campus communities across the state.