Cornell IT, headquarters pictured above, is confident that Zoom can sustain the 2,000 lectures that will potentially use the software.

Nicholas Bogel Burroughs / Sun File Photo

Cornell IT, headquarters pictured above, is confident that Zoom can sustain the 2,000 lectures that will potentially use the software.

March 12, 2020

Cornell IT Confident in Zoom, Canvas Preparedness as Thousands of Courses Move Online

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As students and faculty sort out plans for departing campus at Cornell’s urging, concerns arose regarding the logistics of all-online classes.

While the move was a surprise to some students, Cornell’s support services have been shoring up operations for weeks as part of a contingency plan, according to David A. Lifka, vice president for Information Technologies and chief information officer.

Precautions included verifying bandwidth and software licenses and reviewing additional technical support, Lifka said.

According to Lifka, Cornell has “more than enough” bandwidth to support the over 2,000 undergraduate courses whose lectures will now be hosted online.

Zoom, Canvas and other “critical applications” for conducting distance classes are hosted via cloud service, and Lifka said that both companies have assured Cornell — and the other Ivy League schools transitioning to online courses — that their servers and support are ready to meet the increased usage demands.

Lifka said he does not anticipate Wi-Fi availability to be an issue in light of the significant numbers of students departing campus.

While Cornell charges students for monthly internet usage past a cap of 250 GB, CIT is planning to waive the charges for any student who remains on campus and exceeds the internet maximum.

To help professors bridge varying comfort gaps with lecturing online, CIT assembled a resource hub to guide the transition — which comes in a year that already saw professors learning a new management system in the move from Blackboard to Canvas.

In her Tuesday announcement cancelling on-campus lectures, President Martha Pollack urged professors to begin the transition online now.