Imagine standing in front of 250 students with a full slate of materials to cover in this class period when you accidentally hit a button and your technology goes dark. Even for naturally-savvy tech users this can be a daunting experience, but at GW, immediate help is just one click away at the Academic Technologies Solutions Center.
General purpose classrooms on the Foggy Bottom campus are equipped with a phone and a direct line for immediate access to a trained technician. Armed with remote assistance technology, technicians can log in to the classroom computer to immediately attempt to resolve the issue.
“We can resolve about a third of the calls we get with remote assistance. That allows the professor to go right back to teaching, with minimal interruption,” explains Brent Delaney, CCAS ‘18, who manages the Solutions Center. In an average semester, the Solutions Center fields about 2,000 requests for support. In addition to permanent staff, student workers help to respond to these inquiries, giving them a hands-on opportunity to gain valuable career skills in the booming technology sector.
If the Solutions Center staff can’t resolve an issue remotely, a field technician is dispatched to the classroom to provide in-person support as quickly as possible. The Solutions Center is staffed beginning at 7:30am for early classes until 8pm for the beginning of evening sessions.
Dr. Kamal Beyoghlow, professorial lecturer in the Elliott School of International Affairs and professor at the National War College, is grateful that field technicians are there to resolve any issues without wasting class time. “I want to make sure everything is working just perfectly well: the audio, the DVD, the PowerPoint, the computer,” Dr. Beyoghlow says. “It’s really for the interests of the students.”
Over the years, Dr. Beyoghlow has gotten to know some of the field technicians, including Patrick Hart, CCAS ‘18, who has been at GW for four and a half years. “He’s been very helpful, not only as a manager, but also in trying to solve problems as they come up,” Dr. Beyoghlow says. “He’s very adaptive, nimble, and flexible and that, I think, really helps the mission of teaching and education.”
More than just troubleshooters, technicians work proactively to help professors understand their classroom’s system. Through one-on-one training sessions, usually in the classroom in which they are teaching, professors are trained on the available technology.
“The Solutions Center is based on the idea that ongoing support for technology in the classroom is necessary to ensure an exemplary student experience,” said Delaney. “We’re committed to making every class session the best experience it can be.”
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