Jason Alley, director, Learning and Research Technologies
Preparations for the upcoming fall semester start in spring for Jason Alley. That’s when his team assists the Math, Chemistry, and Languages and Literary Studies departments as they coordinate placement exams through Moodle for first-years. “It’s a small slice of their onboarding,” Alley says.
Alley, who has been with Lafayette 15 years, has a multi-pronged role in Information Technology Services (ITS) that involves overseeing teams that manage Google Workspace, Moodle, Kaltura, and more. His team supports those using Moodle, Qualtrics, WordPress, Google Drive, and Zoom. His team also talks with newly hired faculty to discuss their computing research needs.
His team supports high-performance computing that enables researchers to turn around complex queries in a fraction of the time it would take on their personal devices. He points to an example where Andrew Clarke, assistant professor, government and law, was researching campaign finance reporting. He wanted data by counties, but because reporting rules changed in the 2000s, the dataset was massive. “There would be gobs and gobs of data, and it would have been impossible to look through new data,” Alley says. “He was forced to go back to analyze older datasets.”
But thanks to high-performance computing that ITS brought on a few years ago, “you can now do that,” Alley says. “That’s very exciting for me.”
Once the spring semester wraps, Alley’s team plans training sessions for new faculty and updates the Moodle learning management system. His team goes through 100 smart classrooms to make sure the computers and AV equipment are operational, and everything is ready to go. Team members check on equipment in the engineering labs to make sure printers work and labs are operational. They also go through classrooms and labs at the Arts Campus to check media equipment, digital SLR cameras, light kits, and tripods—fixing/replacing pieces as needed.
“I’m always excited about the energy on campus in the fall—the groundswell of excitement as campus becomes abuzz,” he says. “It’s inspiring to see students meeting and learning. And I want the faculty, staff, and students to know that we are here for them.”