Friday, September 11, 2020

Setting Yourself Up for Success as a Learner: A Free Resource for Our Readers

There are plenty of reasons why “learning online” can be hard to do.  First of all, you need a device which will connect you to “online,” such as a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  Second, you need to have sufficiently broadband WiFi access.  Third, you need to be able to hook into high quality teaching platforms.  All of which cost money, lots of money depending on your geographic location and/or other barriers.  Yet, all of these obstacles can be overcome with, you knew it, money.   Therefore, in a civilized country, or one which prides itself for being highly developed and prosperous, (in my humble opinion), it should be the function of the government to take care of these costs, just as it is the obligation of the government to provide decent education, at least up to 18 years of age, free of charge.  If the government does not cover these costs, then the cost is on the parents of the students, or on the students themselves or friends and supporters of the students who are willing to take on that burden.  As we all know, in this “highly developed and prosperous” country, none of the three online learning cost categories as stated above are taken care of by the government.  Maybe some efforts are being made by schools providing computers or the like to students.  That’s a good start, but by far not enough, for it ought to be provided to ALL learners, anywhere in the country.  Plus the WiFi and the choice of quality learning platforms are still missing.  So, for the time being, and in most of the rest of the world, particularly less developed and less prosperous nations, the cost is on the parents and/or the students themselves.  My conclusion of this sad state of affairs, and my recommendation is that the population at large should muster its political power and make the government take on the responsibility for making it possible for everyone anywhere to obtain a high quality education online.  It would solve a lot of other problems at the same time.  Primarily cost.  The cost of education should dramatically decrease vs. the present modus operandi.  Even the worst health risks, such as coronavirus, would be entirely eliminated. 

Yet there is one more impediment to learning online, and maybe plain learning itself, one which has nothing to do with money.  That is:  the curiosity and will to learn anything. 

Although, by design, human nature is such that it is curious and wants to learn things, skills, language, math, what have you, yet, somehow, for many of our natural curiosity and willingness to learn gets dumbed down by environmental factors, such as poor nutrition, deprived living conditions, miserable company, stupid examples, boredom, political chaos all around, and many more.  Therefore, the very prime challenge to meet is to make up one’s mind to learn, learn how to learn, and then keep learning.  All of which costs no money and doesn’t require your government or anyone else to pay for it.  So, here goes: 

Being able to learn, and the act of learning, means being mindful.  Yes, “mindful” like being conscious or aware of one’s thoughts, emotions, feelings, physically and mentally, without judgment, focusing on the present moment, for example breathing, meditate. 

 In other words, to meet this challenge, the very first step is to set up your mind to become mindful.  Once you are, learning will be natural, easy, even a pleasure. 

eMindful (Yes, that’s a company in Florida whose business is mindfulness) has set up a web site for us which will help you to become more mindful and learn how to learn, easily, naturally, at no cost (at least for 90 days). 



Monday, August 31, 2020

Access to the Internet: A Challenge Not Always So Easy to Solve

I am writing this blog post while the Google Fiber technician is doing his installation work at my house, because our existing cable access to the internet is barely sufficient for my husband’s teaching over zoom.  As the technician explained, our download speeds might be fast, but our upload speeds are capped by the cable company, making zoom and facetime and similar live-video-stream connections frequently pause in mid-sentence.  I’m one of the lucky ones – I can afford to pay for whichever internet access service best suits our family’s needs and multiple services are available in my neighborhood.

This blog post is the second in a series that explores the barriers to allowing anyone anywhere to obtain quality education online (the Straube Foundation’s mission).   The first post analyzed the challenge of universal access to online learning-capable devices (laptop computers and tablets).  Today’s post will look at the challenge of accessing the internet to take advantage of online learning opportunities.

Students’ lack of access to the internet has been called “the homework gap,” “a national crisis,”  an “educational crisis.”  While I will focus on the lack of access to internet in the United States, this is an international problem. 

Before the coronavirus changed our daily lives, students of all ages went to their schools, libraries, community centers and other public places to access the internet.  Now, in the time of Covid, these places are closed and free access to the internet is much harder to find.  A picture of two elementary school children in California sitting in the parking lot of a Taco Bell restaurant to access the wifi for their online lessons went viral recently.   College students have been seen spending the day in their cars in a parking lot to access the wifi from adjacent businesses.  That is a resourceful solution to the internet access problem, but not a sustainable one.

Some communities are trying to provide Covid-protective community center locations to give those who need it access to the internet.  While this is well-intentioned, I don’t know that I would feel safe spending much time doing my studies in such places.  I hope these communities will maintain these internet hubs in the post-Covid era, as that will be very useful.

Many schools and local governments have been giving away wifi hot spots to students that don’t currently have internet access.  Many of the laptops and tablets that are being given to needy students, as discussed in my previous post, include wifi hot spots.  This strategy assumes, however, that the communities in which the students live have good internet coverage.  In many rural parts of the US, including the Navajo Nation, this is not the case, meaning that students have to figure out where to take their new hot-spot containing device to be able to access the online classes they need to attend.

Some college students are renting large houses (college collab houses), in part to emulate the dorm experience their colleges are not providing this fall, and in part to ensure that they have the access to internet they’ll need to do their coursework online.

Education policy makers are making the argument that universal broadband coverage – internet access for all – should be considered a public utility, an essential feature of everyday life, much as we consider electricity and culinary water.  The quest for universal broadband coverage will require two separate actions:  installation of internet infrastructure that reaches all populated areas of the country, and attention to the affordability of the available internet coverage.  The US House of Representatives considered providing funding to address the affordability issue as part of the first coronavirus stimulus bill.

Online education requires access to the internet.  Providing that access to all students, free of charge, is a laudable goal, but difficult to implement.  The solutions have to be tailored to the students’ specific situations and geography.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Back-to-School Online Resources in Continued Times of Coronavirus

It’s getting time for schools to reopen, with each school district and higher education institution taking a different approach in these continued times of Covid-19.  Some are starting the school year with in-person classes, some are doing all instruction online, some are doing a hybrid.  Even those schools starting in person may end up going online at a moment’s notice (see, e.g., what happened the first day of school in a county outside Atlanta, Georgia after a child tested positive).

Here are a few back-to-school resources we’ve recently collected:

·      Smithsonian museums streaming individual programs, multi-part courses, studio arts classes, and virtual study tours inspired by their research, collections and exhibitions.

·      Financial assistance resources for special needs students during online learning.

·      Supplement distance learning from traditional K-12 schools with student- and subject-specific targeted learning programs.  Khan Academy is one source for such content, free of charge in many cases.

·      On Call Tutoring offers STEM tutoring online for high school students and college undergrads.  Sample lesson available here.  They are fundraising to offer their services to low-income students.

·      Over 450 college courses from Harvard and other top-ranking schools are available for free.

·      Do some brain training, helping your brain learn how to learn.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Access to Online Learning Devices: Relatively Easy Problem to Solve (with enough $$)

In my last blog post, I outlined a series of challenges to the effectiveness of online learning, issues that act as real barriers to allowing anyone anywhere to obtain quality education online (the Straube Foundation’s mission).  In this and future blog posts, I intend to dive a little deeper into some of those barriers, and suggest ways that they may be overcome.

Online learning does not work well on a cell phone.  I’ve seen it with my ESL students, refugees who are so proud to own a smartphone, yet so frustrated that they can’t easily manage the reading or the homework assignments or the test-taking on the small screen.  And it’s not their lack of English skills that’s causing the frustration; it’s the limitations of the device.  I just watched a video in which students around the world expressed their inability to complete remote learning during the coronavirus, citing as one reason the difficulties of using a cellphone to participate in virtual classroom discussions while also reading the text, completing a written assignment or performing computations. 

Some schools in China recently started broadcasting online classes on special TV channels, but that may not be a panacea solution.  Families with more than one child (relatively rare in China, of course) need to prioritize which child gets to “go to school” when.  Other family members can’t watch any shows when online school is in session.

In Nigeria, an estimated 89% of K-12 students do not have access to an internet-ready device.  A charity has created a virtual learning hub to provide education during the coronavirus, and is giving tablets to the students in a low-income community (slum) in Lagos to enable them to participate in the online school.

It is highly preferable to have a laptop or tablet for successful remote learning.  With the closure of libraries and schools due to the coronavirus, free access to such devices is no longer available.  Or, as some libraries and schools reopen, access requires students to risk their health by spending extensive time in enclosed spaces with random strangers.

This is one challenge to online learning that seems relatively easy to solve, if enough cash is thrown at it.   Some K-12 schools have been delivering laptops or tablets to their students’ doors to empower their participation in online learning during coronavirus times.  These devices can be considered loaners or gifts; it is their presence in the home that matters. 

Corporate foundations such as Apple have historically provided devices to schools with high percentages of underserved students, or provided cash grants for the schools to obtain devices to distribute to needy students.  Some schools provide a laptop or tablet as a required school supply.  In three local counties where I live (Utah), the local volunteer helpline (dial 211) is working with United Way to give away free computers to low-income families with a child 5-21 years old to facilitate online learning.

The pandemic has cast a spotlight on how big the need is for online learning-ready devices, and how unprepared the educational system as a whole is to meet that need.  There is the matter of logistics for identifying students who need a laptop or tablet and finding available equipment to give them.   Individual schools themselves can, and often do, take on this facilitation role.  They can make public their needs and solicit donations (in-kind and financial).  School districts could assess the hardware needs across their schools and work with foundations to fill the needs.

There is a role for anyone who wants to help provide access to online learning devices.  Each individual who upgrades to a new laptop for themselves can contact a school in their community to offer the older laptop (appropriately cleaned of content, of course) for use by a student in need.  Donors with greater means can choose to donate multiple devices or funds to purchase devices to their local schools (elementary through university level). 

As a society, we need to do what we can to overcome this first hurdle to quality education online – provide every student with the use of an effective device to access the online learning material.  All it will take is a little logistical ingenuity and money.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Plutarch’s Advice: Learning how to learn …

The Greek philosopher and teacher Plutarch (Ploútarkhos in Greek, 46 to 119 AD) said: “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.”

Precisely!  That’s what learning is all about. To make students think and figure out, not to cram their minds with figures and facts which are easily forgotten as quickly as they have been learned.

Our existing school systems do teach primarily facts and figures to remember, to obtain a good job, to impress the rest of the world with one’s knowledge.  There is certainly no harm in being able to come across as “knowledgeable.”  Actually, for many jobs, academic, industrial, and otherwise, it’s all the facts and figures one gets tested for and which, hopefully, can be applied in whatever work needs to be done.

Yet the real accomplishment comes from “how” the knowledge, whatever knowledge, was used to arrive at a solution.

Therefore, it is far more important to learn “how to learn,” and keep learning than accumulating figures and facts.  For, after all, the facts and figures you can look up in an instant on Google or from other sources.  Actually they’ll be more precise and up to date too that way.  Yet the resolution process needs to be functioning smoothly to arrive at the correct result.

It’s the ONLINE world which makes this process possible, at least much easier than where one has to deal with heavy tome books in remote libraries or no books at all. 

Conclusion:  The time for old-fashioned schoolroom teaching and learning is over (for many reasons, including #1 cost, #2 Cost, #3 COST, #4 availability and access, #5 personal convenience).  ONLINE is the modern-day medium for providing education, which it can do in many new ways, often better, than the brick-and-mortar schoolhouse ever could.

Yes, of course, teaching online, in all its forms, needs to be quite different from what used to be good “classroom teaching.”  Actually it means better preparation, using more media, more live interaction, 24 hours a day reaching the remotest locations on earth, and more.

And the basis, I hope, is not to disseminate facts and figures, but “teaching HOW to learn,” not just at the beginning of one’s life, but lifelong, for the facts and figures are changing all the time, and we need to work with them to achieve our goals.

Thus “learning how to learn” has become a major part of our Foundation’s “objective to show how anyone anywhere can obtain quality education at little or no cost.”  Please stay tuned in.  More than facts and figures to come.  

This blog post was written by Win Straube.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Everyone Was Learning Online This Spring: Mission Accomplished?

The objective of the Straube Foundation is to show how anyone anywhere can obtain quality education at little or no cost.  In the past few months, the coronavirus caused virtually all teaching to go online for the Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 semesters, and many schools’ plans for Fall 2020 are still in flux.  Some have questioned whether the foundation’s mission has been accomplished and we can close up shop.

Not quite …

In this blog post, I will outline some of the issues that have been highlighted in the past few months which act as real barriers to allowing anyone anywhere to obtain quality education online.  I intend to explore some of these issues in more detail in future blog posts, with a focus on what can be done to reduce or remove the barriers.

Not everyone has access to the internet.  There’s not much more to say on this, except to emphasize that free access to the internet (at schools or libraries or other public places) has been shut down for months due to the pandemic.  Some creative folks have taken to using the wifi in parking lots for their internet connection, but how effective is it to load the family into the minivan for a 5-hour school session?  If you even have enough laptops or tablets for everyone to use ...

Not everyone has a device (computer, tablet) appropriate for online learning.  Sure, a vast majority of people (and kids) have cellphones these days, many even have smartphones.  These are not ideal devices, however, for the extensive reading / writing / exercises / taking tests that are the essential tasks of online learning.  Many lower income families in the US do not have any computer at all.  Or they have only one computer that needs to be shared, in coronavirus times, between the adults (if they are able to work from home) and each of the kids (for schoolwork).  But let’s say you are fortunate enough to have internet and enough devices …

Many homes do not have a quiet space for study.  Watching HGTV may have you thinking that every family has a large living room/dining room space and a family room and one bedroom per person.  So not true.  With the adults possibly working from home right now (or looking for a job), and the kids going to school from home, the demand for a quiet work space greatly exceeds the supply.  And this gets even more challenging when the work that needs to be done online includes conversation (think Zoom meetings and class discussions).  Now, imagine the ideal situation with a nice quiet study space, a good laptop and a strong internet connection …

Many parents are unable to adequately supervise or facilitate their child’s learning.  For many parents of K-12 age children during the time of coronavirus, they have become the ultimate multi-taskers, balancing their own work-from-home demands with entertaining, feeding, and facilitating the online learning of their children.  Studies have shown that parents neither have the time, patience, nor often the skills to successfully accomplish these many tasks, and many students have fallen months behind when classes went online.  And then you need to consider whether the kids themselves are motivated to learn online …

Many students are not motivated to learn online.  While some K-12 students are thriving with online learning, away from the bullying and other negative aspects of modern classrooms, many simply are disengaged without the face-to-face teacher support and peer pressure.  A friend’s son teaches at a magnet junior high school that decided not to give grades this spring, because so many students were not participating in the online school work (for various reasons). 

University of Utah students surveyed about their experiences with online learning this spring cited two major challenges:  lack of personal motivation (70% of students surveyed) and lack of space to work (22%).  Some college students are so disappointed in their online learning experiences that they’re threatening to boycott universities that plan to offer the fall semester in online format only.  Which begs the question of what’s missing with online classes …

Online classes, if poorly designed, do not replicate the social and emotional benefits of F2F learning.  As I’ve discussed in an earlier blog post, the experiential and interactive aspects of classroom teaching are often key components of the learning experience.  Designing online classes in a way that provide for interactivity and hands-on practice is possible, but it’s not easy and it’s not intuitive.  Meaning that the instructors share some responsibility here …

Many instructors are not motivated to teach online, or simply don’t know how.  A friend of mine is Dean of Science at a smaller college.  One of his most difficult challenges with moving all classes online this spring was the fact that some of the older professors could not even use a computer, which prevented them from pivoting quickly to an online format.   That is an extreme example, but many faculty are comfortable teaching the way they have done for years, and don’t want to invest the time needed to change their class to an effective online offering.

Designing an effective online course often is not as easy as simply turning an existing F2F course into a videotaped lecture.  While there are many resources available to faculty to help them design online courses and use online platforms, it takes time to make this happen.  And not all students have the same learning needs …

The challenges are increased for students with special needs.  When English is not the students’ first language.  When students with learning disabilities or behavioral challenges have been mainstreamed with the general student population.

There are plenty of experts who are suggesting that the shift to online learning during the coronavirus is an arbiter of the promising future of expanded online education.  I would agree that the current situation has validated the vast potential for “everyone everywhere … obtain[ing] quality education at little or no cost.”  The challenges I’ve outline are not insurmountable.  We just need to get to work on overcoming them.

Friday, June 19, 2020

IT Ops during a Pandemic – view from the technology trenches

In a “normal” summer, we would be busy getting existing classroom information technology (IT) and audio-visual (AV) systems upgraded, we would be installing new AV equipment that had been planned and purchased over the past year, and probably performing a ton of faculty and staff computer upgrades, all in preparation for a busy fall semester.  But as we all know, things are far from normal this year – and probably every year going forward.

Summer this year does offer us a bit of a breather as we assess how best to begin our fall semester of teaching at the University of Utah SJ Quinney College of Law.  Our goal is to hold in-person classes, but in a much different environment than we ever have before.  We can also take a look at what was in place that helped us get through the last few weeks of this past spring semester, how we have transitioned into an fully online summer semester, and what things are missing as fall semester looms in the not-so-distant future.

What was in place and worked well?
Back when we were facing the last pandemic scare -- remember H1N1 back in 2009? -- our law school decided to take steps to leverage the crisis and implement changes that would make the law school more nimble.

Lecture capture video.  First, we implemented a lecture capture (LC) video solution.  This was no easy undertaking, and the technology and processes to support this service have gone through numerous changes over the decade since we first implemented it.  But through careful change, we have made this service an expected amenity at the law school.  Both students and professors alike have come to depend on the availability of daily recorded lectures to deliver information for absent students and for review purposes.  Initially, our pre-COVID LC solution process was highly dependent upon physically teaching in the law school building. As we transitioned to fully online teaching and learning via Zoom, whether our professors consciously thought about it or not, they were accustomed to being recorded and having their lectures available for students in their classes.  And students expected that they could access these materials asynchronously to review and prepare for the next class or for an exam.  Just having this mindset in place was a huge advantage as we went to online classes literally overnight in March 2020.

Aggressive computer replacement/move to laptops.  Second, we began an aggressive computer replacement plan that sought to place a laptop in every faculty and staff office.  The goals of this project were to:

·      Create a completely mobile workforce for the College of Law – support for a possible remote work initiative.
·      Develop computer savvy workers, as people took their computer equipment home and learned more about how to use it out of necessity.
·      Develop a more connected workforce – just due to the fact that they have their work computer with them at night or over the weekend, they check-in to “work” things more often.
·      Eliminate the dual computer assignments and the management overhead associated with someone having a desktop (primary) and a laptop (secondary).
·      Have a person’s computer become an unnoticed amenity. The fact that everyone has the same “level” of computer makes it no more unique than the light switch in your office – it’s simply a necessary utility.
·      Support energy efficiency plans of our then-future new law school building (which is now platinum LEED certified).

This laptop standard has been in place for so long at our law school, that I do not even remember when we last evaluated or purchased a desktop computer.  Since all faculty and staff were completely familiar with their own assigned laptop, all 100+ faculty and staff members simply took their assigned work technology home and began working with familiar technology the very same day they were booted from campus and our law school building due to Covid-19.  This proved to be one of the most successful technology plans implemented at our college.  We always planned for the privilege of working remotely, not necessarily the reality of being required to work in a social distanced environment.  Of course we have everything in place on college owned computers to make this remote work solution manageable; e.g. inventory management agents, active antivirus and malware solutions, and remote support agents all give IT services a complete view of where our machines are, who is using them, whether the software on them is up-to-date, and the ability to get to the equipment and assist with repairs of problems.

Move to cloud-based solutions.  Last, and probably the least noticeable by non-IT focused individuals, we worked over the last decade to move all law school information services to cloud-based solutions. We didn’t want any system or information needed to “run” the law school dependent upon a piece of physical equipment that was located at the law school.  Email was moved to large hosted campus solutions, data storage to a campus-approved cloud environment, Learning Management System (LMS) needs moved online to a campus-supported platform, and exam solutions to an online cloud provider.  All faculty and staff have been trained to leverage all of these services over the past decade, and as we moved off campus to perform our daily work efforts during Covid-19 shelter-in-place, access to information was never a concern.

What was lacking and what were we missing?
For all the things that simply worked and that went unnoticed for the most part, there were some things that we, like many teaching institutions, had to advance rather rapidly.

Expanded use of Zoom Meetings.  We already had Zoom Meetings in our IT toolset, and we used it weekly for conducting interviews or including remote participants into large meetings.  We even employed Zoom Meetings when faculty needed to teach remotely, although this was a rare need.  Nonetheless we were familiar with this platform pre-Covid, and benefited from its end-user ease of use and understood how to manage Zoom meetings (host vs attendee).  As we moved online in March 2020, we rapidly ramped up Zoom user licenses to manage the number of classes being offered and the number of professors who needed to host those meetings.  At first, faculty support staff handled all of the scheduling and hosting of class meetings, but as staff also needed to attend coordination meetings using Zoom, and professors became much more comfortable with the Zoom meeting management requirements, Zoom license needs exploded.

To handle this mass transition to Zoom-based instruction, we implemented group and 1:1 Zoom training – via Zoom.  Professors would attend a group session via Zoom to learn how to manage the basic aspects of a Zoom meeting. They could then schedule a 1:1 session to cover more detailed uses of the platform.  The fact that the college has its own AV support team fully trained in video conferencing solutions, and well versed in Zoom specifically, turned out to be our ace in the hole.

Increased use of online scheduling tools.  Due to the increased need to schedule Zoom training support, we increased our use of online scheduling tools.  We have employed the use of Acuity Scheduling for years in support of admissions visits, office hours for students, and community legal clinic assignments; but now we needed to leverage this online approach for scheduling support resources for efforts where people had been used to simply walking into a support person’s office. Now we had to make resource availability visible and schedulable.  We turned to Calendly to advance this need.  Again, we already had these concepts in mind, and the necessity of the situation simply advanced the process.  This is a difficult change for people used to concierge type service, and some people still desire an immediate video conference connection akin to a virtual office walk-in.

Move to virtual events coordination.  Events!  Oh, this is an ever-changing target.  The law school hosts over 500 events each year, both big and small.  We use the Zoom Webinar platform, but this had been used only a couple of times in the past 2 years and we had not developed standards for how we produce events in this manner.  Now, starting in March,  suddenly all of our events are virtual events and we have been scrambling to develop improved processes for producing them properly to add value to the participant and viewers.  We can certainly host more events due to the availability of the platform and people (they don’t have to travel and our virtual space is always available); but it is a daily challenge to figure out how to brand the event, add value for the law school, and manage the “overload” of virtual event requests coming in daily .  We have shifted our events staff personnel assignments and combined them with the AV staff to create a new virtual events coordination team.  People who are used to coordinating onsite logistics, such as caterers and setup staff, are being retrained to work directly with session presenters to take them through Zoom trainings in preparation for participating in virtual panels.  This is an ongoing process for certain.

Improved work coordination.  Lastly, we have had to find a better way to coordinate our work on a minute-by-minute basis.  IT teams have always leveraged team chat tools; at our law school, the IT and AV staff heavily depend on the Slack team collaboration platform to coordinate and communicate our every effort.  But the rest of the staff and faculty are entrenched in the “fire and wait” email process for coordinating and collaborating.  Not only is email too slow, but it wastes a ton of time and is very disruptive to the workflow process in a remote work environment.  In the first few days of coordinating the online Zoom classes efforts, we quickly adopted and moved communications to the Microsoft Teams platform. This system was easy for people to learn and made cross-team coordinating efforts a breeze.  IT has tried to implement collaboration efforts using these types of tools in the past, but without a good crisis, there is little appetite among non-IT personnel for adopting such change. Now many faculty and staff have Teams up, and communicate more in this manner (and with better results) than we do with email.

What are we still missing?
Additional camera equipment.  We are still adding equipment to classrooms in preparation for a hybrid approach to synchronous teaching this fall.  These include the addition of cameras in the front of the room, so that remote lecturers can be provided with a view of the in-person class participants that they are presenting to.

We are also working to route the existing back of the room camera view, currently used only for lecture capture, and provide this view for class participants who choose to watch and participate in class remotely.  This effort is also an attempt to give the remote students equal opportunity to participate in class by being seen by the presenter and in-person students alike.

These are not easy technology changes and will require much advanced coordination to make the experience work for all involved.

There are many things that we cannot achieve in education by just deploying more technology, no matter how much effort and money we put into it.  We are working hard at improving the current situation by focusing on our student experiences, along with their wellbeing and safety.  All the while working to attend to individual faculty and staff, and implementing new processes to support our college’s mission and goals for our students and the broader community at large.

Guest blog author Mark Beekhuizen has been managing Information Technology (IT) and Audio Visual (AV) services for the SJ Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah for a bit over a decade.  Before venturing into IT support for an academic unit, he managed a rather large team responsible for IT operations and support for the University of Utah Health Sciences Center (hospitals and clinics), and before that, 15 years working Department of Defense contracts, and before that, his first professional job was as a member of the US military.