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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

ISU Sees Steady Transition From Face to Face to Online Instruction

ISU Chief Technology Officer Charley Edamala said the system has increased usage over the past two weeks, allowing 6,000 meetings and over 2,000 users simutaneously.

As Illinois State University wrapped up its first week of online classes, ISU Chief Technology Officer Charley Edamala said the transition from face-to-face education to online instruction amid the pandemic so far has been smooth.

Edamala said initial preparing for online classes included maximizing the capacity for simultaneous users to avoid technical issues. He said his division expanded peak load capacity from 7,000 simultaneous users to 15,000.

Edamala said system usage has increased in the first week of completely online courses.

"So far no problems, a combination of good planning and divine providence, I think," said Edamala. "No bottlenecks."

Over the past two weeks, ISU has experienced significant growth in unique logins, an additional 2,000 per day, said Edamala. 

Use of virtual private networks (log in from home to a work computer) has grown from somewhere in the 10s per day before the pandemic to more than 1,000 concurrent users, said Edamala. 

Calls for help also rose sharply to more than 6,000 Monday and Tuesday. Edamala said most of those were routine difficulties, like logging on.

"The systems are working well. Everything is holding up," said Edamala.

Edamala said ISU built the system it actually needed.

He said most universities he has talked to have had a similar experience. 

He said the number of video meetings has accelerated sharply as well through the Zoom app. 

"In the last two weeks we have had 6,000 meetings and more than 2,250 active users. Before that we had an average of 108 meetings and 59 users," said Edamala. 

He said the company made good on its promise to handle the increased traffic.

Edamala praised professors for handling the adjustment to online learning.

“I have to emphasize, this doesn’t mean that this is optimal online learning,” Edamala said. “This is faculty making do with what they have very quickly. But it looks like for the most part, they are doing a fine job.”

Edamala said he is expecting user numbers to increase as classes continue. He said people are still learning the system.

We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WGLT will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WGLT can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.

Darnysha Mitchell is an Illinois State University student and reporting and social media intern at WGLT.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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