McGill Alert / Alerte de McGill

Updated: Thu, 07/18/2024 - 18:12

Gradual reopening continues on downtown campus. See Campus Public Safety website for details.

La réouverture graduelle du campus du centre-ville se poursuit. Complément d'information : Direction de la protection et de la prévention.

Remote ready! How McGill IT Services made the mammoth move to fully virtual operations

When the winter term and operations went remote in March, McGill faced an unprecedented challenge in supporting the University’s community of almost 50,000 students, staff, and faculty. McGill IT Services (ITS) took this challenge in stride and worked with key stakeholders across the University to provide the necessary tools and support to pursue work and study remotely. The success of this endeavor depended heavily on understanding the community’s needs and working with other departments to fulfill them, and was underpinned by IT’s already remote-friendly culture.

Prior to the pandemic, ITS supported remote work and learning with a variety of services, such as the McGill Virtual Private Network (VPN) and the cloud-based Office 365 applications. After the first week of confinement, the number of average daily VPN users had increased from 500 to 2300. To accommodate the demand, ITS doubled VPN capacity by adding new hardware and virtual servers.

In addition, many customer-facing services, such as the Service Desk and classroom IT training, were quickly adapted for remote delivery, and new services in development were expedited to further enhance options for users.

The effective delivery of remote services and initiatives

In preparation for an eventual lockdown, IT Services began its work on the Working remotely page to ensure its timely publication, if necessary. They then expedited the deployment of MS Teams and Webex to the entire McGill community to facilitate virtual meetings and town halls.

The Service worked closely with numerous offices across McGill, namely Teaching and Learning Services (TLS), the HR Service Desk (SSU), Enrolment Services, and the Student Experience & Orientation Task Forces to support a fast and smooth transition into remote work and study. Among the accomplishments, they:

  • Deployed Zoom and made it possible for professors to upload virtual class recordings on MyCourses.
  • Activated new software to allow the HR Service Desk staff to go remote for the first time ever.
  • Introduced virtual campus tours and open houses for Enrolment Services.
  • Provided the Student Experience & Orientation Task Forces with virtual solutions for orientation and career fairs.
  • Implemented a COVID-19 self-assessment form to track on-site health.
  • Created a publicly accessible site containing all COVID-19 related research at McGill.
  • In collaboration with Procurement, Legal, and TLS, facilitated the acquisition of over 30 cybersecure solutions to support instructors and students this Fall.

A Word from ITS to the McGill Community

As we reflect on the past few months, what makes us most proud is our ability to manage our operational activities while adhering to the original timelines of most initiatives. Our interdisciplinary units worked together as one team to deploy several solutions to benefit the entire community.

It has been an honour to help serve the McGill community in these extraordinary times. Our individual commitments towards a team effort laid the groundwork for our success, and our senior leadership guided us with expertise and encouragement along the way.

Looking ahead, we hope that this experience has made us stronger, smarter and better prepared for what the future may hold.

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