IS&T’s New Organization Supports DUE’s IT Strategy

By Christine Fitzgerald, IS&T Manager of Communications

On July 1, Information Services and Technology (IS&T) announced a new organizational structure focused on the major Institute functions – education, research, and administration.

New IS&T Organizational Structure - as layers

The new organization is working to provide simpler, user-centered systems that cost less to maintain. It’s also striving to improve consistency in project and service delivery and to develop innovative uses of IT that provide long-term strategic advantage to the Institute through collaboration with key partners and sponsors. While DUE staff may interact with many areas within the new IS&T organization, we primarily intersect through Education Systems and Customer Support.

Education Systems

The Education Systems area, led by Eamon Kearns, serves as IS&T’s gateway for key sponsors including the Dean for Undergraduate Education (DUE), the Dean for Graduate Education (DGE), and the Dean for Student Life (DSL), as well as the MIT Council on Educational Technology (MITCET). This area focuses on the Stellar course management system and on student systems including the MIT Student Information System (MITSIS), Financial Aid, and Admissions.

The  Education Systems area brings course management and student systems together into a single area to better integrate and manage these interconnected systems. IS&T will now be able to more effectively leverage its resources to anticipate and meet the community’s IT needs with regard to teaching and learning. Education Systems will continue the long-standing collaboration between DUE and IS&T around student information systems. DUE’s strategic theme of Championing IT to Provide Information to Students and Faculty, led by the Registrar, Mary Callahan, provides the foundation for this partnership.

As part of the larger Education Systems roadmap, the Student Information Systems Next Generation (SIS Next Gen) project will create an effective, sustainable, and user-centric means of delivering student services. Key priorities for the SIS Next Gen project include:

  • Digitization
  • Enriching support for advising
  • Creating a seamless user experience
  • Stabilizing the technical infrastructure
  • Fulfilling mandated changes

SIS Next Gen evolved from the VISION Study and the Next Generation Student Services Systems (NGS3) projects, in which DUE and IS&T were considering how to update or replace outdated student systems. These projects and an assessment of the available options led to a recent joint decision to take an incremental approach to improving existing student systems.This incremental approach will enable implementation of high-impact, customer-facing functionality to better serve MIT students, faculty and staff. The first project will be online grading, which is targeted to pilot during IAP 2011. Concurrently, progress will be made toward a technical stabilization of the SIS to assure long-term sustainability.

Callahan is excited about the path ahead for DUE and IS&T:

Recognizing synergies in business needs across departments, creating technical solutions, and strengthening system sustainability will allow us to provide the community with important new tools and innovative services.

Customer Support

In addition to the broad suite of Help Desk, Accessibility, and Usability services available to the MIT community, Customer Support includes a Faculty and Student Experience (FSX) group led by Oliver Thomas. The group’s focus is on:

  • developing a deep, strategic understanding of faculty and student technology needs and then helping IS&T and its partners at the Institute to develop the capabilities to address those needs through their service offerings.
  • guiding faculty in taking full advantage of the rich ecosystem of technology services available to them.
  • working closely with MITCET, the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology (OEIT), the MIT Libraries, and others in IS&T and at the Institute to support an innovative computing environment for faculty and students.

Existing partnerships, such as the Academic Computing Coordination group (ACCORD), remain critical in coordinating activities across departments engaged in academic computing support and educational technology delivery. Strong collaborative efforts, with direct participation from students, faculty, and key departmental stakeholders, will continue to shape the technology environment that supports student life and learning at MIT.

Recent examples of this ongoing collaboration include:

  • a project with the Software Tools for Academics and Researchers (STAR) group in OEIT over the spring semester in which staff from STAR and IS&T worked with students to augment development and support of educational software (http://web.mit.edu/star/).
  • several recommendations from the Athena Working Group (sponsored by MITCET and chaired by Professor John Brissom) that will get under way this fall will greatly improve student printing and influence new technology spaces on campus.
  • a video portal, jointly developed by staff from OEIT/DUE, IS&T, the Libraries and OCW, is set to become part of the Teaching With Technology site in August. This portal will serve as a terrific new resource for anyone at MIT engaged in video capture for educational purposes.

IS&T LogoIf you have questions about the new organization, please get in touch with IS&T’s Senior Staff. For specifics about initiatives in the Education Systems area, contact Eamon Kearns. For general IT questions, send mail to the IS&T Help Desk or call 617.253.1101.

See detailed IS&T organization charts with services and staff