STAR and Campus Tech come together for the new Tech Service Desk

Photo by Zonghui Li | Prospectus News Pictured above are Parkland’s Tech Service Desk staff members from left to right, Sara Stone, IT Service Desk Coordinator, Jason Gordan, part-time Service Desk Lead Assistant, and Beth Followell, Senior Computer Operator, on Tuesday, March 22, 2015, in room A184.

Photo by Zonghui Li | Prospectus News
Pictured above are Parkland’s Tech Service Desk staff members from left to right, Sara Stone, IT Service Desk Coordinator, Jason Gordan, part-time Service Desk Lead Assistant, and Beth Followell, Senior Computer Operator, on Tuesday, March 22, 2015, in room A184.

Humna Sharif
Staff Writer

On March 30, 2015 the Student Technical Assistance and Resources (STAR) desk in the library was wrapped up and closed to make way for a new approach to technical support services here at Parkland. The Campus Tech team and STAR decided to pool their resources to form a joint Tech Service Desk in room A-184. Prior to this, the Employee Tech Support Desk (Campus Technologies Hotline) and STAR were completely separate entities with separate phone numbers, websites and locations on campus.

“We did this in an effort to simplify things, and to make getting technical help less complicated for our users,” IT Service Desk Coordinator Sara Stone said. “Since these two were essentially the same, so it made much more sense to combine them into a single entity which is now the new Tech Service Desk.”

The new Tech Service Desk employs two full time and three part time employees who assist students, faculty and staff with all Parkland related electronic systems, such as email, Wi-Fi, Cobra, My Parkland and printing. Tech Services is also the place where employees report any issues that may arise pertaining to Parkland computers, printers, phones and audio visual equipment.

“We can help with password resets and navigating through the various components of those systems,” Tech Service Desk lead assistant Jason Gordon said. “We can also assist users in setting up the Parkland email account on their smart phones and provide basic assistance with personal devices.”

According to Stone, bringing together the resources of STAR and the Campus Technologies Hotline streamlines services, allows Tech Services to offer extended hours and assist with a wider range of issues.

“We have also rolled out a new repository of tech related information and FAQs.  It is called the Knowledge Base and it is an ever expanding web-based searchable database designed so that users can instantly look up information on their own,” Stone elaborated.

On average, the tech service desk assists approximately 20 students per day.  However, during peak times at the start and end of each semester almost 50 people per day rely on Tech Services. Some of the most common issues dealt with on the phone are from students who face problems logging into the Parkland Wi-Fi and email. Walk-in students tend to have more trouble with software, such as installing Microsoft Office 365 as well as other class specific software.

This summer the college will also be switching its system over to Microsoft Office 365. Outlook will be used for e-mail and cloud based applications, such as OneNote, for file storage. This will be a big change for users and the new system will require more training and time commitment on the part of technicians. The Tech Service Desk employees expressed enthusiasm about the prospective changes. They commented that they are ready to meet this new challenge head on, and will ensure that all students and employees get their questions answered.

The Tech Service Desk only plays a small role in the maintenance of overall technology at Parkland. The technology at Parkland, in general, is maintained and kept up to date by the Campus Technologies Department. There are three separate components within this department: Microcomputer/Technical Support Services, Network Support Services and Programming Support Services.  A diverse staff of over twenty full-time employees, and approximately ten part-time employees, work together to ensure that Parkland’s hardware, network and digital systems run smoothly and efficiently.

Connie Macedo, Associate Director of Technical Support Services/ Campus Technologies, explained that Parkland College is currently in the process of making some major changes to its network and hardware systems.

“These changes will position us to better respond to our users, enabling our faculty and staff to do their jobs better and providing students with increased access to the tools that they need to succeed,” Macedo provided.

Macedo explained that this is an exciting time for the college and for the people in the Tech Department.

“We’re in the middle of some huge projects, and I have no doubt that in a year we’ll all be looking back in amazement as to how much we accomplished in a short space of time,” Macedo added.

The Tech Services desk can be visited in room A-184. They are open from 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Fridays. Their webpage can be accessed at parkland.edu/techSD. For more information students and faculty can also e-mail Tech Services at TechHelp@parkland.edu or call the hotline number at 217-353-3333.