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April 29, 2011

End of 24/7 Bb Support for Students/ DoIT Help Desk moving to RLC

On May 26, DoIT will no longer outsource student support of Blackboard. Instead, like faculty and staff, all students will now contact the DoIT Help Desk by calling 410.455.3838. As a reminder, the DoIT Help Desk hours are 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Mon-Fri), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sat.) and Noon-5 p.m. (Sun.). Before, during and after these hours, everyone is encouraged to 1) consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Bb or directly at www.umbc.edu/blackboard/help, or 2) submit an RT (“Request Tracker”) ticket via the myUMBC Help menu or directly at http://rt.umbc.edu. Also, DoIT has found that customers who can supply a “screen capture” of a software problem help us resolve the issue more efficiently or effectively.

Since November 2009, DoIT has been piloting a 24/7 outsource of Blackboard support with Presidium Learning, Inc., in part to address staffing challenges from turnover, retirements and current budget challenges. During this time, we’ve tightened our standard operating procedures by having to explain them to a third party. Also, Presidium’s approach to managing support through metrics has also complemented our own. DoIT began publishing monthly support statistics last January, including results of voluntary customer satisfaction surveys when an RT ticket is resolved.

Unfortunately, outsourcing support to a third-party has been more challenging than expected. As announced last Fall, DoIT ended 24/7 Bb support for faculty due to challenges in supporting the depth and variety of faculty Blackboard needs. While students have continued to use the 24/7 support, especially the online knowledge base designed for self-service, our analysis of ticket volume shows very few students were submitting support tickets after our Help Desk’s current hours of operation.

Finally, as part of the Retriever Learning Center’s opening in the Library this fall, DoIT and the Library have decided to join forces in providing on-site support of students. As such, we are exploring moving some of our current operations from the Help Desk in Engineering 020 to the RLC’s first floor of the Library. Details are still being discussed, but we imagine having more trained, student IT workers available and roving in the RLC to answer customer questions directly. Since most of DoIT’s current customer support is provided remotely (by phone or online), this will be a dramatic change in how we do business. But we are intrigued by the possibilities of working more directly with customers in the RLC. We will continue to provide direct, remote support during existing Help Desk hours, but ask customers to consult our online knowledge base before submitting an RT ticket.

In addition to feedback and suggestions, DoIT appreciates your patience as we work through this transition in Bb support specifically and IT customer support generally.

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