Before You Send Students to the Help Desk


I need some patience here…

Think about what’s going on this semester. You’re (the collective faculty “you”) learning a new Blackboard system and Harold and I have sent repeated messages that there’s only 2 of us to support all faculty in learning / using the new system.

And the message Harold and I repeated at any training sessions is that you need to be the first line of defense in helping your students. I’m here to reinforce that.

When you send your students to the help desk with every problem related to Blackboard, all of those calls end up in one place. Me and Harold. And we’re already busy helping you. We can’t even begin to do justice to your students. Sure, we’ll do what we can but we can’t do everything.

I really, really need to ask you to triage those calls before you send students to the Help Desk. Or even to T207 or the Assisted Learning Lab or a tutor at a campus center. Because, honestly? The folk in T207 and the Assisted Learning Lab and tutors are going to come up with alternatives that maybe you don’t want your students to do. (Translation: they are going to make things up!) They are going to recommend reasonable-sounding alternatives that your students are going to follow because they can’t follow your directions.

If you have a student you see in class, or even an online student who is willing to come in and meet with you, I need you to sit down with that student for 5 minutes to see what the problem might be. Resolving a problem for one student may alert you to the fact that either something isn’t working as you had thought or that the students do not understand how to perform some actions. You can address any questions about your online course materials / assignments / quizzes faster that way.

If someone else assists multiples of your students with the same problem, then you don’t know it’s a question / issue / problem until they all revolt on you at one time and then you’ll be asking, “Why didn’t someone tell me?” The truth is that unless it’s a major problem, we simply assist the student and go on to the next crisis. We tell the student to tell you but, well, you know how that goes.

When it’s something truly technical and individual to the student, then, yes, send the student to the Help Desk. But there have been a number of “I don’t know how to…” problems that, well, you can answer better that we can because it’s your course. We don’t know how you want something done. We don’t know your backup plan. We don’t know what you don’t want students to do.

Spending the time with your students in an investment in sanity. For everyone.


6 thoughts on “Before You Send Students to the Help Desk”

  1. I have forwarded it to my faculty with instructions as you suggested. I haven’t heard any BB complaints but sometimes they don’t get to me.


  2. thanks mj for that advice, but what I hear most from students is that they are having trouble with their gcc email, and yes, I usually send those to the student lab, but is there something I should know to help them first?? thanks…

    1. If they have *login* problems, then, yes, send student to the labs or the help desk. Username and password problems we (and the help desk) can fix!

      It’s the troubleshooting individual problems within courses that’s tougher to do!

      Good question!

  3. One perspective: THANKS for all you are doing. You two have a herculean task-and I truly appreciate you! I have not sent any students down, and will try not to. KG Kathleen T Gurak, MSEd.,CMAA Assistant Professor, PE/Health Genesee Community College ________________________________________

    1. Thank you! It’s frustrating when we can’t help students the way we would like… as much as it’s a cliche, we are all in this together and have to work together!

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