As online learning options increase, TAFE SA has found a mutually-beneficial way to meet a growing demand for student IT support while training the IT leaders of the future.
Last year, TAFE SA’s ICT Services team piloted a two-week pop-up help desk where they recruited TAFE SA IT students to provide support to staff and fellow students on campus.
During this time the volunteer students gained valuable operational knowledge of the workings of a large IT environment, and TAFE SA’s ICT team gained valuable insight into student needs when using TAFE SA systems.
Given its success, the Student IT Support Desk opened again during Semester One this year, when 13 IT students supported more than 450 fellow students to reset their password, connect to campus Wi-Fi and resolve their everyday computer problems.
TAFE SA IT student Jason Madden volunteered for the help desk to add the experience to his Diploma in Computer Systems Engineering study. The 35-year-old thought he would be providing support to students for just two weeks but an unexpected vacancy in the TAFE SA ICT team offered him a temporary employment opportunity that is hard to come by – a place behind the phones on the ICT Service Desk.
After three months on the desk, Jason has learned just how involved ICT is in supporting a large organisation and has been able to use his course training in practice.
“The troubleshooting skills developed during my training have been of most value to my work on the Service Desk,” he said. “For example, my training covered group policy settings which has helped me in troubleshooting computers when staff call.”
Like Jason, 25-year old Kamal Karwal applied for the volunteer opportunity hoping to get experience under his belt. He was also successful in gaining a temporary contract on the Service Desk and said the opportunity shows how supportive TAFE SA is to its students.
“I chose TAFE SA [for Diploma in Computer Systems Engineering] because it allows flexible learning, whereas universities aren’t as flexible,” Karmal said. “I needed to be able to have a job as well as study and I have found my experience to be really great.
“I also felt I would get more practical experience at TAFE, which I have.
“It’s hard to get into IT without having the experience, and starting from the Service Desk is giving me an understanding of service management within the ITIL framework.”
TAFE SA ICT Services Client Engagement Team Leader Simon Hallsworth said having skilled computer studies students on the Service Desk phones has provided significant value.
“With a sound knowledge base from their training course, Jason and Kamal were able to pick up the job quickly and better resolve problems at the first point of contact,” he said. “Because of the benefits for both staff and students, ICT Services plans to continue the Student IT Support Desk into 2018.”