Technology Oasis: New NIU Tech Help Desk Project A Hit

Technology Oasis, a new project from the Northern Illinois University's College of Education was a success from the start. Since first opening in 2011, it became a go-to destination for anyone, faculty, students or university staff, who were having issues with their digital devices. Even after three months of operation, the most common question remained "How do I turn it on?"

Steve Builta, information systems manager for the college, and one of the brains behind the Technology Oasis project said that, far from being annoyed at simple questions like that, the whole purpose of the project was to tackle the everyday difficulties some experience by being slightly out of step with the technological world.

After all, they recognized a need for a tech-support service for electronic portable devices for students and faculty members. They also saw a need for the service to be available in a warm and comfortable room that did not further intimidate users and provided space for tutors who are computer savvy to teach all forms of current software.

"We've created a warm, inviting space," Builta says. "Our goal was to design this room so people feel comfortable learning the capabilities of the technology that surrounds them."

After all, turning it on is the first step, and as Mary Barker, the instructional designer for the Oasis explained, people who only last month were looking for the "On" button, are now coming in for advice on how to tackle much more complex projects, such as putting together a multi-media presentation. The goal of the Technology Oasis is allowing users to take advantage of everything their gadgets have to offer.

The Oasis is also there to help those locate any hardware they might need to make their ideas a reality.

If students and faculty members do not own the tools to create or edit video for their class projects or the knowledge to manipulate computer graphics that allow their lessons to reach beyond words, the Technology Oasis does – and help is available within minutes.

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