As students and administrators seek anytime, anywhere access to the cloud, higher ed IT teams must face their fears and get to work.
Universities across the Eastern Seaboard are feeling the impact of Hurricane Sandy. While most colleges cancelled classes before the storm hit, IT departments are ensuring that students can access course materials and other resources from the safety of their dorm room, apartment or home.
Administrators are communicating with students and faculty via Twitter, Facebook and text messaging after power outages took down the main website and e-mail. Luckily, all students and faculty weathered the storm without incident.
The University website (www.fordham.edu) and e-mail systems are down due to a power loss by our external vendors. We have no timeline for restoration of the Fordham website nor e-mail.
NYU is located in Manhattan and has been directly affected by Hurricane Sandy. Classes have already been cancelled through Wednesday and it is unclear if the campus will reopen to students this week. Two of their data centers have been left without power but many IT services remain intact:
Con Edison has notified the building manager for our data center in lower Manhattan that there may be a need to cut power to the building as a preventive measure. I am glad to report that key communications systems -- including the NYU network, the phone system, the NYU website, and the NYU email -- as well as other key systems -- including Blackboard and NYUHome are NOT expected to be affected.
All three Rutgers campuses have been slowed down or shut down as a result of the hurricane. Classes on the Camden campus are set to resume Thursday but the New Brunswick and Newark campuses are closed at least until Monday, Nov. 5.
During the height of the storm, the electrical infrastructure throughout the region sustained major damage. Widespread power outages continue, which are significantly affecting campus operations, as well as the lives of our students, faculty, staff and their families. Public transportation in parts of New Jersey is compromised due to flooding and electrical problems. In New Brunswick, the public water supply has also been affected.
Read more on Rutgers.edu.
Campus has already been closed to students through Wednesday. Most of the area is without power but Princeton's cogeneration plant is powering some buildings on their campus. You can watch a video on the cogeneration plant here. Information about closings and cancellations can be found on Princetown.edu and on the The Daily Princetonian Twitter feed.
Classes will resume tomorrow and most of their technology access has not been affected. According to an update on the university's Facebook page, they lost one Internet link and are working with limited bandwidth for the time being.
Classes will resume on Thursday but in the meantime, professors can record material that will be missed due to the storm and students can still access cloud-based e-mail and other learning management software.
Faculty can consult IT’s technology options for course continuity webpage for information about Sakai@UD, PO Box, UD Dropbox, Google Apps, UD Capture and other tools that may facilitate communication.
According to Paul Hyde, IT Academic Technology Services, “Faculty can use UD Capture not just for classroom recording, but also to host faculty-produced course recordings, perhaps recording material to replace a class meeting cancelled due to the weather.”
Washington, D.C. was not hit as hard as areas further north but classes at Georgetown have been cancelled for a second straight day. The HOYAlert system is keeping students informed by e-mail and text messaging. Technology services remained intact but the IT Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery website offered tips and news for students and faculty.
UPenn is set to resume classes on Wednesday and wisely used social media as a tool to suggest activities to students during Hurricane Sandy.
— Penn (@Penn) October 29, 2012
Harvard did not run into as much trouble as other schools in New England, but they took the opportunity to give students a behind-the-scenes glimpse at their hurricane preparations in The Harvard Gazette.
The University’s emergency preparations started last Thursday. Officials conferred twice a day in conference calls with the National Weather Service and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. University leaders also organized conference calls, three or four times a day. They discussed staffing and preparedness, readying Harvard for Sandy’s massive punch. Participating in those calls were Harvard’s incident support teams and local emergency management teams.
Starting late last week, Harvard crews inspected the University’s steam and chilled-water plants, steam manholes and steam tunnel, electric stations, and district stormwater-pumping stations. Emergency staffing and essential personnel were scheduled for Monday.