The front lines online
How one student helped our college community transition to remote learning
The second half of the 2020 spring semester brought unprecedented challenges with the onset of COVID-19. During spring break, St. Scholastica leaders decided to transition to remote learning.
This resulted in a number of faculty and staff making a quick transition to online learning — moving 860 courses to a virtual format. Converting that many courses requires support from everyone, including the Information Technology Help Desk team.
Help Desk team member Reed Erickson ’21 was in a unique situation, balancing his own move to online classes as a student while also helping faculty and staff solve their technology problems.
How have the Help Desk requests changed through this transition period?
A. Initially, we thought that the first day of classes would be a nonstop onslaught of Blackboard issues, password resets and Zoom issues. Fortunately, our Academic Technologies team did a good job getting people set up and prepared. We’ve been working very closely with the various technicians, and everyone has been doing their best to keep things up and running.
One of the bigger changes we’ve had to adjust to is our password reset procedure. On campus, all TA’s are able to reset passwords, but due to the closure only a select few TA’s, myself included, are able to reset passwords. Where previously people would be able to have their password reset within a few minutes, some people might have to wait much longer.
Q. List a creative solution that you used to assist students, faculty or staff make the transition as they began to work remotely.
A. I recently found out that you can convert PDF files into Word documents by dragging and dropping the PDF into Microsoft Word. When I found out you could do this, I walked a requester through the process and then shared that information with my co-workers. It was hands-down the most surprising feature of Word I had come across and I’m glad I figured it out.
Q: How has your student employment changed since you began working remotely?
A: I am fortunate that I have a position that allows me to work remotely. It took a bit of an adjustment, but it wasn’t nearly as rough of a transition as I expected. It’s a much more sedentary job now that I’m not making cart deliveries or going to classrooms to give assistance, but there are a few challenges that come with it, as well.
Communication is a huge deal, and oftentimes we might have students, faculty or staff that contact us, but don’t leave any contact information to return their call. Our phones are set up to email voice messages to us, and we’ve had a few callers that don’t understand that campus is closed and that we can’t pick up the phone. That being said, the vast majority of people have been very patient and understanding of our position.
Q: What tools or technology do you use to assist students, faculty and staff with technology questions and issues?
A: In addition to our password reset tool and Gmail, we also use Zoom to troubleshoot issues, especially if the requester is having trouble communicating their issue or if the solution is more technical in nature. Fortunately, Zoom is actually a very intuitive program and is extremely easy to install.
Q: How do you stay connected with family and/or friends?
A: I’m currently living with my parents during the shutdown, and I regularly go on Discord to talk to my friends and play video games. My girlfriend and I regularly text. We’ve been trying to figure out how best to keep in touch with the rest of the family, and we have managed to visit them while maintaining social distancing. With the weather getting warmer, staying outside and having a conversation is a pleasant way to stay in touch. It’s probably hardest on my mom, since she’s had to keep distanced from her own granddaughters and two of her children.