The College of the Canyons Information Technology department will be recognized with two tech awards at the 2021 California Community College Chief Information Systems Officers Association Virtual Technology Summit on Thursday, Feb. 11 for their outstanding support in transitioning the college’s operations and instructional programs to a remote environment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The division’s Computer Support Services Team will receive a CISOA 2021 Technology Excellence Award, which annually recognizes demonstrated excellence through technological advancements by a community college.
In addition, Dr. James Temple, the college’s Vice President of Technology, who leads the IT division, will receive a 2021 Excellence in Technology Leadership Award by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, which distinguishes individuals demonstrating exemplary leadership contributions within the technology profession.
“I wish to congratulate our Computer Support Services Team, led by Hsiawen Hull, and Dr. James Temple for these incredible honors,” said College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook of the tech awards. “Our transition to a remote format would have been impossible had it not been for their unified vision, hard work, creativity, sense of perspective and tenacity.”
The college’s CSS team was nominated in recognition of successfully transitioning College of the Canyons to a remote working and instruction format in March 2020.
In a matter of weeks, the 12-member CSS team created www.canyons.edu/online, which would serve as a one-stop shop for all of the college’s instructional and non-instructional technology needs.
In preparation for the shift to a remote format, the team ran back-to-back training sessions for hundreds of faculty and staff on how to use Zoom, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, and Adobe Creative Cloud applications. They created a series of short-form training videos allowing employees to access the information they needed without sitting through an hour-long training session.
Realizing employees would still require support in their virtual environment, the CSS team turned to Zoom to augment existing remote support tools to ensure employees could still receive technical support through the department’s Help Desk while working from home.
“With little notice and no real background in providing 100 percent online support, our team was tasked with what could only be described as an insurmountable challenge,” said Hsiawen Hull, director of technology services at the college. “Never deterred, the team worked together to put into motion a process which quickly became a model of support that was mirrored throughout the district.”
The team collected more than 1,000 laptops from classrooms throughout the campus to distribute to students and employees during the transition. In addition, monitors, webcams, headsets, and other peripherals were procured and distributed to employees who were working from home.
With the help of Student Services, Business Services, and college vendors, the team was also able to purchase another 1,500 laptops for students that were distributed throughout the spring, summer, and fall 2020 terms.
“This whole new world needed a team willing to roll with whatever was thrown at them, and the CSS team was up for the challenges,” Hull said. “As the manager of this team, I can honestly say without all of their hard work and perseverance, this process would have been impossible. I am thankful to them for getting our district through this process.”
Temple was nominated for leading the IT division’s efforts during the college’s shift to a remote environment. He expanded the availability of remote access to campus applications, increased the availability of Zoom accounts for employees, worked with faculty to identify and fulfill their technology needs to help maintain the quality of instructional programs in the remote environment, procured instructional software applications to support virtual science labs and course assignments, and facilitated moving the COC Board of Trustees meetings fully online using Zoom Webinar.
“I am honored to be chosen by the Chancellor’s Office for their Technology Leadership Award,” Temple said. “During my 24 years at College of the Canyons, I have been fortunate to grow and advance my leadership skills through valuable career opportunities while working alongside an exceptional group of IT professionals. I am equally proud of the recognition our Computer Support Services team received from CISOA for their extraordinary efforts this past year. This effort took all of us, working together, to support our employees in order to minimize the disruption and continue to provide educational opportunities for our students.”
Temple also received the Excellence in Technology Leadership Award in March 2018.
In addition to handing out tech awards, the CISOA organization represents the IT professionals throughout the California Community College system and provides advocacy, training, and educational opportunities for its members.