Sunday, November 9, 2008
Help Desk 2.0: Proposing a New Direction for Technology Training and Support on Campus
In the business world a technology support department typically services a similar group of users, hardware and a core group of applications. Workstations in the business environment are often locked down, only certain applications are allowed to run and strict policies govern user activity.
In education though, administration and some classrooms need business class information terminals while some others demand flexibility, the kind of access that allows creative exploration and use.
Further, traditional support structures rarely incorporate anything more than reactionary training initiatives on core support programs (grading, school databases, office applications). As a result most schools have no training programs, sporadic dog and pony shows, or very expensive models that involve IT integration specialists who most often are often not infrastructure literate and train users only on systematic approaches.
With all those variables, IT support departments in education typically structure themselves in a business model. This rigidity often results in stifled educational opportunities.
Education often focuses on training adults and expecting the results to trickle down to students. The cold, hard facts are that students are often more technically literate than adults. Rarely are students provided advanced access, a venue to interact or collaborate in training initiatives or participate in technical support beyond the traditional classroom setting. Incredible opportunities exist if we shift these traditional philosophies.
Building off two years of success with the IT Internship Program, we unrolled this new Help Desk Proposal this Fall. This new model has students and adults working to create a Help Desk for their peers... everyone on campus. Another step in putting the "personal" back in personal computing. Our final round of discussions on this new proposal continue this week. We'll post our detailed plan shortly.