Joe Stariha has a unique perspective of the World Campus HelpDesk experience—because he sees it from both sides. He graduated from Penn State World Campus in May, 2010, with an Associate’s Degree in Information Sciences and Technology, and was hired as a HelpDesk technician in October, 2011. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in IST at World Campus. We asked Joe to share some tips and insight based on his dual roles.
What were some of your most memorable experiences as a World Campus student?
One of my most rewarding and challenging highlights was working with a virtual team comprised of a project management team from Penn State and another team from The National University of Singapore. We were charged with developing a high level, international, disaster preparedness and post disaster information system. It was a challenge to arrange team meetings with members who were literally half way around the world. It was also exciting and rewarding as I have earned the respect and gained the friendship of fellow students both in the U.S. and in Singapore.
Did you have much experience in dealing with the HelpDesk as a student?
I did. I found the HelpDesk to be integral to my online success during the initial learning curve of using an online LMS, and the technologies associated with it. Over the years I have developed a deep respect and appreciation for the HelpDesk staff. I believe they were instrumental in helping me to stay the course over the years and not to abandon hope in some of my darker student moments.
Anything that surprised you about what it’s like on the other side?
I am surprised by the number of responsibilities, and commensurate capabilities, the HelpDesk staff has for handling many issues from many areas, even non-technical ones. Every one of the staff is an ambassador for PSU in general, and specifically the World Campus and Continuing Education programs.
Are there common problems that students call the HelpDesk about?
The most common issues are forgotten passwords, verification of submissions, access issues to course material, and how to use various technological tools and software applications.
Anything students might find interesting about what it’s like to be part of the HelpDesk?
Everybody is always learning, even the seasoned vets. There is always something new to discover, even old solutions for new technologies, and everybody helps everybody else as needed.
Now that you’ve been on both sides, do you have any tips or advice for students, as far as tech issues in general or how they can help make things easier on HelpDesk staff when they need to call with an issue?
It may not sound technical, but I would stress the importance of reading course welcome letters and the syllabus very carefully and thoroughly at the beginning of each semester. It is important to know early in the semester what the software and system requirements are before you need to use them for an exam, project or assignment. Always be aware of the dates, especially regarding the submission of proctor information forms and exam request forms, and periodically check the syllabus for updates. When calling the HelpDesk, and particularly when leaving a voice message, please have your student ID and User ID if possible.