COE’s technology team continues to tackle technical issues amid staff, process shifts

Dan Hyde, George Babos and James Kunkel
Dan Hyde, George Babos and James Kunkel

Keeping up with speed-of-light evolutions in the market of technology can border on the impossible, even for the gadget lovers and early adopters.

Add to that challenge the responsibility of explaining and servicing technology for users, along with changes in personnel and policy, and you’ve defined the world of the College of Education’s expert Technology Innovation and Learning Services team.

Dan Hyde, George Babos and James Kunkel are staying atop it all six months after the departure of former boss Steve Builta and five months after shifting the process of fielding technical support calls to NIU’s Division of Information Technology.

“On a day-to-day basis, we’re all about taking care of the high-priority work orders. We always have ongoing projects we’re working on, and George is still in the process of updating all the machines he can find from Windows 7 to Windows 10,” says Hyde, who has added Builta’s management responsibilities to his regular workflow.

Kunkel has taken on the responsibility of inventory, and continues to provide primary support for Live Text. The Technology Oasis, meanwhile, has re-opened, and the entire team shares the duties of supporting students, faculty and staff in what Hyde calls a “fantastic space.”

“We’re also looking into moving any server equipment located up here in Graham 431, virtualizing that and putting it over in DOIT’s hands,” Hyde says. “DOIT will be responsible for the backups, and for the hardware that goes along with that, so that we don’t have any disasters up here that impact the ability of people to do their jobs.”

The partnership with DOIT on service calls – both via phone at (815) 753-8100 and via email at – remains intact.

Margaret Thacker and Rich Casey
Margaret Thacker and Rich Casey

Staff at DOIT try to resolve the issues on first contact, Hyde says, but engage the College of Ed team for “local” matters.

“People can email as they have in the past,” he says. “We continue to monitor that, and if we see something come in that’s high-priority, that we know is going to end up on our desk, then we can get a head-start on it.”

Helping the College of Ed team is Rich Casey, instructional designer in the Learning Center, and Margaret Thacker, office support specialist in the Learning Center, which lends technology, hosts webinars and virtual meetings and contains moveable group work tables and whiteboards, a computer lab and three smart classrooms.

Also on the job is Nicholas Ruscetti, a student-worker who spends part of his time staffing the Tech Oasis and the rest of his hours helping to repair equipment or prepare it for surplus.

Todd Gilson, acting associate dean for Research, Resources and Innovation, is impressed by the accomplishments of the Technology Innovation and Learning Services.

“Any time you lose personnel bandwidth, it takes the entire unit to coalesce around key priorities,” Gilson says. “With Dan overseeing technology, as well as the Learning Center, the College of Education has a skilled leader who understands the nuances of the college and the people his team supports.”

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