Information Technology Expands Help Desk Hours

Vicki Rice Kraeger

From late nights into the wee hours of the mornings students are up working on their classes, and they often need information technology support during those times. UNK is now providing that needed support 24/7.

Since November, Information Technology Services has been working with Connected Learning Network in Kentucky to provide after-hours support.

“As far as we can tell, it’s working out,” said Deb Schroeder, assistant vice chancellor for Information Technology Services. A driving force in having round-the-clock support was accreditation for distance programs, Schroeder said. “One of the requirements is having assistance available for students doing Web-based courses, studying at all times of the day and night.”

The services are also available for after-hours use by UNK faculty, staff, administrators and on-campus students. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., callers will still be able to contact someone on the on-campus Help Desk.When the office is closed, though, phone calls are now forwarded to Connected Learning Network. Schroeder said the company has been provided information about potential questions that might be asked. The service primarily provides support for Blackboard,Web e-mail (iNotes), Microsoft Office, browser and Internet issues, along with authentication for Blackboard, Lotus Notes and WebEASI.

“We’re not seeing massive usage of this (the service) — about 10 to 20 calls a week,” she said.

Schroeder said that random surveys of people who have used the service have provided positive feedback.

A UNK employee has to go through a fair amount of training to be able to work at the oncampus Help Desk, Schroeder said, and the office can’t have just one person trained to help, which is why ITS is outsourcing the service.

While Connected Learning Network personnel can’t solve every problem, such as a printer in a campus computer lab that’s out of ink, the company does communicate back to UNK ITS staff about both the problems it has solved and those it can’t.

There is no plan to outsource all of the Help Desk services ITS provides, Schroeder said.

“We have to go do things.We still need an on-campus Help Desk, and we need people to respond,” she concluded.