During the second annual IT Recognition Awards Ceremony on Friday, June 4, 2021, the IT community recognized colleagues from DoIT Academic Technology. Learn@UW–Madison, the service that manages the Learn@UW suite of learning technologies, won the Team Achievement Award for their part in the continuity of instruction effort the university underwent during the pandemic. Naomi Bernstein, with DoIT AT’s project management group for only a little more than a year, won the Rising Star Award for serving as the lead project manager in the effort to move Summer 2020 SOAR online in just eight weeks.
Being recognized by peers is always an honor especially as the whole IT community has done stellar work over the past year supporting the university during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Interim DoIT AT Director Andy Goldstein noted “Our successes have been due in no small part to our collaborative relationships with our technology and instructional colleagues across the university.”
Team Achievement Award
Recipients: Learn@UW–Madison, the service managing and supporting Learn@UW, the suite of learning technologies that facilitates teaching and learning
Team Members: Kristy Bergeon, Theresa Ballweg, Lisa Burley, Cliff Cunningham, James McKay, Andrew Mueller, Andy Posselt, Keegan Shaw, Susan Sloan, Saundy Solum, Andrew Jason Turner.
Focus of Nomination: As part of the broader continuity of instruction effort, the service worked with instructors and instructional staff to support the rapid pivot to remote instruction during the pandemic.
Award Description: Recognizes a single team of IT community members whose collective teamwork on one or more projects have made a significant impact to the university.
Managing the tools and supporting the users of the Learn@UW suite that includes the Canvas learning management system, Kaltura media management environment, and ten other learning technologies, is a challenge even when a pandemic doesn’t require a rapid shift to remote instruction. The extremely adaptable team is made up of a collection of learning technology system administrators, escalated end-user support specialists, and learning technology consultants, all of whom are oriented toward providing outstanding customer service for our faculty, instructors and learners and supporting student success.
As part of the broader continuity of instruction effort, Learn@UW–Madison worked with instructors and instructional technologists to support the rapid pivot to remote instruction in spring 2020. In addition, the team flexed to deal with a dramatic increase in support volume as instructors utilized innovative technologies, in many cases for the first time. The team grappled with challenges from vendor-partners who, at times, struggled to keep up with the massive technical demands associated with the intensive use of video and rich media to support remote learners. They also worked hard to implement and integrate new tools and capabilities into the digital learning environment, including Zoom for video conferencing, human captioning within Kaltura, automated proctoring services, learning analytics dashboards, and the ability for students to assert their pronouns within Canvas. Moreover, the team supported a massive influx of additional non-credit, compliance, orientation, and pre-college entities making use of university’s e-learning systems in lieu of being able to provide face-to-face interactions.
For this work, they were awarded the Team Achievement Award. However, in his nomination letter, Andy Goldstein made sure to highlight the team itself and not just their work. “They are a collaborative group and spend a considerable amount of time engaging with key partners across campus, constantly communicating about their services, calibrating services offerings to meet evolving needs,” noted Andy before adding “Most importantly, they are a dedicated, empathetic and conscientious team of experts who have been endlessly flexible and adaptable during some very challenging circumstances.”
Kristy Bergeron, Learn@UW–Madison service leader supervisor, accepted the award on behalf of the team. In her remarks she shared how honored she was to work with her team and impressed with how much they have accomplished over the past year. Looking forward, Kristy noted “I know the team is poised to continue doing great work to support the core teaching and learning mission of the university.”
Rising Star Award
Recipients: Naomi Bernstein, project manager in DoIT Academic Technology
Focus of Nomination: Serve as the lead project manager for the urgent effort to rapidly move Summer 2020 SOAR online in eight weeks for about 9,000 new UW–Madison students.
Award Description: Recognizes a rising IT community member whose records reflect ongoing and exceptional growth in contribution to the profession
Naomi Bernstein joined DoIT Academic Technology’s project management group on March 30, 2020, two weeks into the pandemic and only having set foot on campus for an interview. During the whirlwind of those first weeks, it is no surprise that Naomi’s skills were needed immediately.
Just a few days in, she began as the lead project manager for the effort to move Summer 2020 SOAR online in eight weeks for about 9,000 new UW–Madison students. It was critical to ensure new and transferring students could successfully start their journeys as Badgers, and guide their student orientation, advising, and registration processes supporting a healthy and prepared 2020 incoming class.
In his nomination letter, Interim Service Leader Supervisor Jon Orum explained “One of the greatest challenges Naomi faced in this effort is that SOAR involves stakeholders within multiple levels of Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and every school and college.” And he noted that she was immediately up for this challenge by stating “She immediately provided strong value to this cross divisional team, by facilitating a highly collaborative and productive project environment, while maintaining positive forward momentum right up to the finish line.”
Naomi was also nominated by Chris Diorio from the Center for the First-Year Experience who noted “I can genuinely say that if it wasn’t for Naomi, our shift to online advising and registration system would not be as successful.”
Even though supporting the transition of SOAR was a huge undertaking, it was not the only project Naomi handled during her first year. She also served as the project manager for the provost’s Student Learning Assessment (SLA) initiative and teamed up with the Learn@UW–Madison service to conduct a campus-wide student survey, requiring about 160,000 surveys, to better understand student-to-instructor/student interactions during the pandemic.
Jon Orum noted Naomi’s attributes that make her a success in his nomination letter by stating “Naomi embraces gratitude, has a disarming demeanor, and uses a humble approach to connecting with team members at a personal level which fosters a learning mindset for all involved. She makes every team they are a part of stronger, and embodies the true role of a project manager and teammate.”
When receiving the award, Naomi recognized the support she received from all across the university as well as from home. “I wouldn’t be here if it had not been for the encouragement and support that I received from my husband to completely change careers from being an engineer to trying IT project management.”
Starting her time with DoIT AT when everyone was remote was a challenge, but Naomi said her DoIT AT colleagues made her feel truly part of the team. Being a true team player, Naomi finished her reparks by stating “I also want to thank my campus partners: the Center for First Year Experience, Office of Undergraduate Advising, and Student Learning Assessment team for their support as I quickly learned about the university, its mission, and helping them fulfil the Wisconsin Idea and Wisconsin Experience.”