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Max’s Minute: Things That Will Endure the Pandemic

Max Davis-Johnson, CIO Office of Information Technology (OIT), discusses how COVID has been an accelerator and an opportunity in unexpected ways from a technology standpoint. He discusses the governance and technological factors that contribute to an optimistic future for Boise State. Max summarizes with the three things he believes will endure post-pandemic.

Max's Minute Video Transcript

(Teaser: These things are going to endure, blah, blah, blah, and we’re going to evolve and transform–poof!)

Hi, this is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State Office of Information Technology.

Today I want to talk about COVID…again, and the pandemic, and when we come out of the pandemic. I want to talk about what’s going to endure, especially from a technology standpoint.

If you had a chance in October, I talked about COVID-19 and the pandemic and lessons learned. And certainly, COVID has been an accelerator and it’s been an opportunity.

I wish there had been better ways to accelerate and create opportunities.

The good news out of this from a technology standpoint is that certainly we have some one-time funding through the federal government, through the state government, made available to us and we were able to make considerable amount of investments in technology, classrooms, additional laptops, access points, hot spots for students hopefully creating access for students.

We were also able to invest in some of our network infrastructure to build in some needed redundancy.

So, from that standpoint it has been a blessing from a technology standpoint.

Online Learning

Online learning–that’s going to be a big one.

We’ve made a substantial investment from a technology standpoint in online learning. But we essentially flipped the whole University basically in a week to go to online learning.

And then over this summer we had a chance to refine that. And we’re going to continue to evolve that. Certainly as we come out of the pandemic we are going to have more opportunity to have in-person classes, similar to what we had before.

But these classes will be more the hybrid model. They’ll have the ability to record, to simulcast it if needed. It’s really going to change a lot of how we deliver content.

And this is really going to be exciting.

Equitable Access to Technology and Content

I think coming too we’re going to see better, equitable access to students, faculty, and staff, to this content. I’ve talked a little about how we’ve made additional workstations available for check out, have hot spots available for checkout, but what you’re going to see, especially now, in the rural areas there’s a recognition that broadband, when I say broadband, network access, Internet access to rural communities is not very good.

And so there’s going to be state money available, there’s going to be federal money available that will be building out broadband to rural communities here in Idaho and across the country. And it’s going to give us an opportunity to deliver content where we haven’t been able to deliver content before.

A Distributed Workforce

The distributed workforce is going to endure.

It may not be quite like it is now, but a lot of our staff once we come out of the pandemic, will continue to work from home.

And they’ll continue to Zoom into meetings. Certainly there’s an expectation they might come onto campus for large meetings, for trainings, various things, but the majority of their time will be spent at home.

So we need to put policies in place. We need to figure out equipment, home office environments. We’re going to need to figure out how to work with our distributed work force.

Information Security

There’ll be security things we have to ensure. It’s a little bit harder from an information security standpoint to protect, detect, and mitigate risks if you’re in a home environment.

We have some work to do to help the University move forward there and we’re certainly planning to engage in that.

Funding Models

Another thing too that I think we need to think about is a long-term funding model. At the end of the day, public institutions, Boise State is no exception, we’ve invested a lot of one-time money currently and in a number of years from now we’re going to have to either rework and continue to invest money in additional sources of revenue to use to evolve and transform this new technology that we’ve put in place.

The Three Big Things

The pandemic…a lot of things are going to be enduring. There’s going to be a lot of good things that come from it. From a content delivery standpoint, from an equitable access standpoint, from a distributed workforce standpoint: to me these are the three big things that are going to evolve and certainly transform us as an institution and us as an IT organization.

Thank you.