Photo courtesy of AP Images“these last couple of years we’re finally starting to jump into the new era of technology and providing what the local market needs and we’re hoping that the students are responding to that and they seem to be.”
BY KENDALL BALCHAN
College of the Desert does not have an Information Technology (IT) help desk dedicated to helping students with common computer issues. COD’s Sheri Willis, executive director of educational technology, says IT at COD “supports faculty and staff and district-owned devices.” The only technical help currently available to students is help with logging into Canvas and WebAdvisor and registering for classes. IT is not allowed to aid with personal devices, Willis says.
If a student cannot get their personal laptop or tablet device connected to the Wi-Fi on campus they can search the FAQ page on the COD website. This site directs students to the Cyber Café in the Hilb Center. However, no trace of that Cyber Café remains in the Hilb Center. According to COD’s Director of Network and Telecommunications, Glenn King, the Cyber Café originated as the first space on campus for personal use of computers such as checking email. This student-run cyber café opened on campus before cell phones were popular, about ten years ago, and has not been a fixture on campus for many years.
The Hilb Center is another common place students can be found but is often deserted. Many students head to the Cravens Student Services Center and see brightly colored banners offering a variety of student services like veteran’s services, financial aid, and counseling. But there is no IT help desk there either. With nowhere else to turn for IT help, students might find themselves knocking on the door of a Computer Information Systems (CIS) instructor pleading for help.
Mark Rizzo, instructional support for the business computer department specifically the CIS program, is one of those instructors. In his seventeenth year at the COD, Rizzo has seen a lot of positive change in the school’s commitment to being technologically up to date and meeting the needs of the community and students. He says, “these last couple of years we’re finally starting to jump into the new era of technology and providing what the local market needs and we’re hoping that the students are responding to that and they seem to be.”
Despite this commitment and obvious technical growth from a one gigabit per second internet speed to ten gigabit per second, there are still barriers to accessing this for some students. This is an especially common problem for students using Mac laptops which often will say the computer is connected but the user cannot get on the internet. Rizzo says, “students suffer and they try to fill in with some other things in the meantime and nothing seems to take.” Rizzo also notes the widespread use of personal devices, “there’s so many more students that have technology, laptops and whatever available to them. We need to rise to the occasion and see what we can do to offer assistance.”
Students aren’t completely left without support. Rizzo says, “there are resources out there besides campus resources. Best Buy and the Geek Squad have great support for students. Even if you don’t buy a computer from them, you can make an appointment and go see them. Rizzo says, “the biggest thing is to keep plugging away. Don’t give up, keep trying to ask around especially on campus. There are so many resources available that people just don’t know about.”