ITS modifies help desk: meet ResTech

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

With classes now in full swing and computers starting to break, Swarthmore students have begun flocking to ITS for technology help. But instead of the familiar dorm techs and the ITS help desk, students now have to turn to ResTech.

There are two parts to ResTech: the internal help desk and the external phone line. The ResTech help desk, located in Beardsley, is staffed by dorm techs, while the phone line (x6222) is routed to Distributed Systems Services (DSS), a computer firm located in Allentown, PA. Previously, the help desk was staffed only by professionals, and students could only bring computers there after it had been checked out by a dorm tech. Now, students can stop by anytime during hours (M-F, 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.) to ask questions and drop off their computers.

But unlike in past years, there will now be a fee for having work done to one’s computer–$10 for students and $35 for faculty and staff. Said ITS’s Robin Jacobsen in an email, “Recent years have seen a large increase in the number of non-College owned computers dropped off for repair and software fixes. Many of these systems require extensive and time-consuming troubleshooting of operating system problems or virus recovery. The new fee is in line with the College’s long-term practice of requiring students and faculty to pay for parts needed for hardware repair and a nominal fee for non-warranty labor.”

The ResTech phone line is open around the clock. When a student calls, DSS enters the call into a tracking system and attempts to solve the problem. If it cannot, the problem is then elevated to ITS. The student may then be requested to bring their computer to ITS, or a dorm tech or ITS professional will be sent out to help.

In addition, ITS has added P-Synch, a password management system. According to Jacobsen, it had become common for students to return to campus in the fall and realize that their password had expired–meaning they would have to get ITS to reset it. “Password-related issues represented up to 20 percent of all help desk support requests in August when the ITS staff was trying to focus on preparing for a new academic year,” she said. P-Synch allows students to reset their forgotten or expired password on their own. And since it can be run through a web browser, students can access it when they are off campus.

Time will tell how successful these changes are, but Jacobsen thinks they will be: “I feel in my heart that we have made a big improvements in supporting students with their technology needs.”

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