Rather than hidden in the trenches of the Exley Science Center, the Information Technology Student (ITS) Help Desk is now in a detectable place near the front of the newly renovated lobby. The department saw this move as an opportunity to provide better service for its students after the area saw augmented traffic and was gifted with a permanent exhibit of 22 of Dr. Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, and P’09’s photographs, titled “Wakaya Octocorals and Giants.”
“Our new location and sign should make us more accessible and much harder to miss for students,” ITS employee Arjun Shah ’17 said. “The brightly colored walls and sleek furniture add an energy that was lacking in our previous office. We also have a new window for quick pick-ups and drop-offs.”
This is not an original idea, however, as the desk is returning to where it was situated one decade ago. Innovative lighting, paint, furniture, a 65” display, and a stylish service window will create a more inviting atmosphere and make more people aware of the service.
“We have gotten many more requests and favors from a lot of other students because now they can see an ITS Help Desk Sign,” ITS employee Isaac Son ’18 said.
Administrative User Services Manager Vince Spiars manages the help desk and holds bi-weekly meetings with the entire staff and alternating bi-weekly meetings with the managers. He makes it a point to always be accessible if his employees need any assistance.
“This is a fresh start that will help visibility, and the presence is much better as an open venue,” Spiars said.
The ITS page on the University’s website reflects Spiars’ message.
“The Student Helpdesk is a student-run and managed operation that provides all technical services and support to undergraduate students,” the webpage reads. “This includes assistance with software support and hardware support for student-owned computers and other devices.”
In addition to the flashy optimism that the desk provides, the department is in the process of replacing two new positions.
“Everyone in that personnel group, plus the entire staff, is stepping up and helping when needed,” Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer David Baird said. “We are a team of people who provide support to the faculty, support to the classroom, and support in helping work with faculty to learn technology for teaching.”
Academic Computing Manager Jason Simms came to Wesleyan in 2013, but decided to part ways and take a job as an instruction technologist at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. Jolee West also departed from Wesleyan after serving as Director of Academic Computing and ITS Library Collaborations since December 2007, among many other positions.
“When staff have been here for a long time, it is often necessary to change the job description before posting the position,” Baird said. “Personnel in that group will be looking at those positions, and the jobs will be posted sometime soon.”
Baird elaborated on the significance of not cutting any corners when it comes to the hiring process.
“It is more important to find the right person than someone fast,” Baird said. “Typically, academic jobs take two to three months to fill and are often done in between semesters, typically. In theory, we will have people for the spring semester, but it could be earlier.”
Even with the shortage of employees, when Baird was asked if he felt there were more problems this year than in others, he said that if anything, it was the opposite.
“All of these things were communicated to the faculty, and actually, I feel that this is one of the best starts of the school year in the last four years,” Baird said.
When discussing classroom technology support, there are many different ways that ITS can be of assistance to the faculty.
“We do things from making sure that the touch panel works well, to knowing how to move old courses to new ones in the Moodle, to altering grading schemes, to exchanging assignments between students and professors,” Baird said. “We also help faculty create websites for themselves or their research labs via WordPress, and we also work with programs in different classes such as lecture capture and Echo360, as well as the clickers.”
The ITS staff, equipped with its new help desk, will continue to support students and faculty when technical concerns surface. The desk is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.