The UNC CAUSE Conference: It’s Not Just for Techies Anymore

By Yiling Chappelow, Stacy Gant, Marc Gracieux, Ashley Grantham, Laura Stephenson, Scott Watkins and Mark Wiest

In late October, several DELTA team members traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina for the annual UNC CAUSE conference, a gathering of higher education IT professionals throughout the UNC system. The conference focused on several themes, including security and compliance, teaching and learning with technology, leadership and management within IT, infrastructure and development, and support and training.

Photos from UNC CAUSE
Photo montage from UNC CAUSE 2014

Over the course of the three-day conference, DELTA staff gave several presentations, two related to Mediasite and one about DELTA’s Summer Shorts program offered to NC State instructors. Stacy Gant and Ashley Grantham’s talk focused on lessons learned from 16 iterations of the Summer Institute (recently re-named Summer Shorts) and they highlighted key changes to the program.  In 2014, DELTA adopted a track approach, running the program like a mini-conference. Sessions also incorporated pedagogy and best practices content throughout in an effort to better complement the technical, “how to” instruction. Stacy and Ashley’s talk was highly interactive, with discussion and audience polls, and participants enjoyed a lively exchange about the design and delivery of effective faculty development programs.

Mark Wiest and Yiling Chappelow’s presentation, “Handing Over The Keys: Training and Supporting Faculty to use My Mediasite,” focused on the implementation of My Mediasite at NC State. DELTA recently brought My Mediasite to campus allowing faculty to create and control their own desktop recordings. The session addressed the challenges of launching a new technology and providing support and training at a large institution like NC State. The session provided a good opportunity for attendees to ask questions about My Mediasite and to learn more about what DELTA is doing in the content capture area.

Laura Stephenson’s presentation, “Move Over Technology, Get Out of the Way,” focused on the proven processes, strategies and workflows DELTA has put into place to attract faculty to use our content capture enterprise services at NC State. The goal is for faculty to focus on teaching instead of the technology and through automated and seamless workflows, best practices and support they do not need to be challenged with using video in their course. The session demonstrated how NC State provides four distinct options for instructors to record content for online delivery that are not only user friendly, but easy to get started and be successful.  The session received great reviews and attendees commented on how impressed they were at the work DELTA has done in the area of content capture and online delivery of recorded video content.

In addition to presenting, DELTA staff attended many interesting sessions. Several people attended a demo by staff at AppState who showcased a new web portal designed to help faculty select the right learning technologies for their courses. They discussed their efforts to help instructors identify their teaching goals first and then find tools to match. When using the site, instructors can navigate across a well-curated collection of technologies and they can also rank the tools on a star-rating system and comment on their utility.

A panel of faculty across the UNC system spoke at the session “By Design: Innovation and Collaboration in Online Teaching and Learning.” They took turns talking about their experiences in a course development institute (i3 @ UNC) sponsored by UNC General Administration.  Faculty presenters, including our own Alton Banks, highlighted course design changes they made as a result of their participation, such as incorporating video into their classes and elements of gamification.

During the conference, DELTA staff were able to gather important information about ServiceNow, the call tracking system that will replace NC State’s antiquated Remedy software. DELTA’s LearnTech Help Desk is a heavy user of Remedy, and is looking forward to the service improvements that ServiceNow will offer in the coming few months as it is implemented at NC State. A presentation by OIT and a talk given by the ServiceNow vendor were both helpful to our team, as we build our knowledge of ServiceNow and prepare for the pending transition.

Interesting LMS data were presented at the session, “The LMS in Higher Education: Portrait of a System.” Sue Grinder from Western Carolina presented LMS survey data (from 2012) showing usage of various products across the UNC system, highlighting similarities and differences in both the tools used and user support strategies. This session generated interesting discussion about the current state and future directions of LMS deployment and support models at our various campuses. Participants expressed interest in continuing the discussion, perhaps through online meetings. Sue invited anyone interested in joining in on those talks to contact her directly.

The conference sessions were informative and interesting. In addition, social events in the evenings, such as a team trivia contest and a Carolina Panthers football game, encouraged networking and gave attendees a chance to have some fun with their colleagues. The UNC CAUSE conference was a valuable professional development event that can be attended without major travel expenses, and overall, was a rewarding event for the DELTA staff that attended.