A number of Catalyst partners are reaching out to us for information and contingency planning in response to the growing and fast moving COVID19 situation. We fully appreciate that likely measures to delay or reduce the spread of the virus will depend upon remote delivery or engagement via your online learning platforms, managed by Catalyst. The key queries or concerns being raised include our ability to continue our operations and the robustness of our Business Continuity Plans, along with the ability of the online learning platforms, infrastructure and services to cope with increased load. In response to this the below presents our readiness and response to allay such concerns.
Catalyst’s business continuity readiness
Our systems, staff and processes are well prepared for any scenario which might involve restricted travel or measures to reduce person to person interactions. Whilst our head office in Brighton is the primary place of work for a number of our UK/EU based personnel, we also have a matured remote worker setup with all staff able to continue to perform all duties via our systems from any suitably secure internet location, such as their home address. All staff in the EU region, and those who provide our 24/7 support in our Australia region, are provisioned with suitably secure and encrypted laptops and VPNs into the Catalyst corporate network, there is no impact on our services as a result of restrictions on travel or similar.
Online platforms ability to scale and meet demand
In all partnerships where Catalyst are providing hosting and infrastructure management services the underlying cloud provisions in use are able to scale rapidly and extensively in order to meet increased demand. Catalyst can scale the systems in advance of known increases in load and welcome our partners reaching out and keeping us closely informed as response plans develop. We will be particular interested in the methods employed by our partners to remain in contact and fully engaged with their students and staff during scenarios such as closure of campuses or guidance to restrict on campus/premise attendance to a minimum. Many of the most likely solutions to this will significantly increase load to your learning platform and we are fully prepared to scale to meet this demand, in addition we expect increases to webinar and virtual classroom services accessed via your online learning platform. If you require additional solutions or coverage for such services Catalyst are business partners with the Big-Blue-Button web conferencing and virtual classroom provider (Blindside Networks) and can rapidly provision additional webinar and virtual classroom solutions to deal with increased demand for such services.
Solutions for assessment and examination challenges
A number of our partners are asking about potential solutions to the upcoming examination period. In the event of traditional physical examination and invigilation setups being unviable, online learning platforms may have a larger role to play in supporting submissions or examination via quizzes or tightly time controlled assessment submission windows. Catalyst have been exploring emergency solutions with our clients that would deliver high powered single purpose online learning portals designed for the submission of large numbers of file submissions or high concurrency online quizzes. We are suitably prepared to provision such exam/submission portals rapidly in the event the situation worsens in the run up to exam periods. Please reach out and discuss these with us if your institution is considering such measures at this time.
Supporting your staff and students
And while we support your IT technical needs, we can also support your users. Our Product Specialist team can arrange online, remote training sessions for your tutors. Distance learning has challenges which may be different from those faced by staff who would normally teach in primarily face to face or blended environments. Our team has the expertise to help make that transition, to identify areas to support the curriculum and your learners - moderating online forums, running real-time chats and webconferences, desigining online learning activities. The current situation creates many challenges, and our Product Specialists can help you and your staff meet those challenges and continue to provide high quality learning opportunities for your students.
As your mitigation planning evolves in the fast changing landscape, we welcome your reaching out to us to discuss anything not covered in this communication, including alternate scenarios being considered and/or alternate solutions you have in mind for upcoming periods. You are able to raise questions via the WRMS system or respond to me directly with anything regarding the COVID19 situation.
Please be aware, some scheduled project work may be delayed slightly in order to prioritise urgent support for staff and students at partner institutions, where necessary.