‘Triple Play’ promotion aims to be thrice as nice for Parkland students

Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer021_tripleplay

As Campus Technologies at Parkland gears up for a massive email transfer, they’re also busy looking into other ways to benefit students, faculty, and staff. They have condensed these benefits into a new plan called the “Triple Play”, which provides new and useful technology services- most of which are free.

“Triple Play” gives Parkland students and staff the ability to download the Office Suite at no charge on up to five different machines; purchase affordable Dell computers that will soon be sold in the bookstore; and access a professional development website called Lynda.com for free that provides online training in a multitude of different courses.

Tanino Minneci, a student development advocate who provides guidance to students in the Center for Academic Success, says he is happy to see a new way in which students can better themselves, learn, and save money all at the same time.

“I think this a huge step forward for Parkland. We’re making sure our students are even better prepared to tackle the college experience. And these new benefits are going to potentially save our students a lot of money. Everybody wins,” he stated.

Amin Kassem is the Chief Information Officer for the college. He’s been in that position since October 2014. He oversees the Campus Technologies department both administratively and academically.

Kassem has been a proponent of making technology more readily available for students, staff, and faculty. He described some of his intentions as CIO here at Parkland.

“Part of my objective is to make technology more accessible to students. We want to be able to prepare them for the workforce and overcome any issues with technology they may have,” Kassem continued. “I’m constantly looking for opportunities to help them overcome these difficulties and make it easier for both students and faculty alike.”

The first part of the “Triple Play” promotion is the free download of the Microsoft Office 365 suite. According to Kassem, the availability of this was possible due to the email change.

It was a toss-up between Google and Microsoft. With Microsoft offering access to all its software, it ultimately won out.

Now, any current Parkland student has the option to download the Office Suite on up to five different machines. There are several different programs offered in the Office Suite. There are familiar ones such as PowerPoint, Word, and Excel.

There are also less known ones such as OneNote, which is a useful note-taking program. Then there is OneDrive, which is a cloud-based storage system to allow storing and sharing of certain files. Guidelines are still being developed on what exactly can be stored within it.

“The idea here is to make these programs more widely available. We want to help alleviate the financial burden that comes with purchasing them,” Kassem stated.

There will undoubtedly be issues when thousands of students attempt to use these programs. That’s why Kassem urges students to utilize the new Tech Desk in the A Wing.

“I want to position the department to be more responsive with students’ needs. We’ll spend the time and money, as the budget allows, required to accommodate. If students do have issues, they should visit the Tech Desk for assistance,” he explained.

The second part of the Triple Play promotion is the offering of affordable Dell computers in the bookstore. There will be several options available, such as a good, better, and best. They’ll range in price from $200 to $400.

When questioned, the bookstore could not provide an exact date that the computers would be available. They did confirm that they would be purchasable with financial aid money, just as with textbooks.

The plan is to actually extend the current bookstore to provide space to sell these computers. There is a small janitor’s area next to the bookstore that will be converted to do this. The time is not set in stone at this point but it will likely be finished by the start of fall semester.

The third and final aspect to the “Triple Play” promotion is the access to a website called Lynda.com. This website is a professional development website and provides online training in a multitude of different courses. When Kassem was spearheading the implementation of this “Triple Play” promotion, he found that it wouldn’t be that much more expensive to provide everyone at Parkland with access to this site.

Lynda.com itself states that it is a trusted source for knowledge. There are nearly 4,000 different video courses offered on the site.

According to the website, which has helped train more than four million people world-wide, their members have been able to, “stay ahead of software updates, pick up brand-new skills, switch careers, land promotions, and explore new hobbies.”

The use of this website is really twofold. On one hand, the goal is to help provide learning avenues for all the new technology that will be implemented with the Microsoft Office Suite and the incoming email change. The other part is to provide a free way for students, faculty, and staff to branch out their skills and train themselves in ways that they see fit, at their own pace.

The course options on Lynda.com vary from 3D animation to photography to web design. The website states that it provides on the go learning as well so you can access all this information from a computer, tablet, or mobile device. Students will be able to start signing up for Lynda.com on July 1.

Many around the college feel positively about the technology changes being implemented. Minneci, who presents the technology portion of the new student orientation from time to time, spoke about how the college is getting the word out about some of the “Triple Play” services.

“During our student orientation sessions, we’re able to give all new students the good news that they’ll all have free access to the Microsoft Office package. It’s an exciting new benefit that we’re able to offer our students, and we hope they’re as excited about it as we are. I know that the college is also trying to market the promotion heavily so that continuing students know about the new benefit as well,” Minneci explained.

The Microsoft Office Suite download is available now. If students need help there is more information on their My Parkland portal under the Knowledge Base tab. They just need to simply search Office 365. It should be one of the top documents on the page.

For students that need more hands on information they should contact the Tech Service Desk at 217-353-3333 or stop by in room A184.