Badges and the Help Desk Environment

One of my responsibilities as eLearning Director at Tacoma Community College is to manage our student computer lab, the Information Commons.  In this lab we have a fully staffed help desk for studnets and faculty.  I have been trying to figure out a way to showcase a help desk staff member's expertise with applications to make it easier for students and faculty to find the help they need.  We have a board in the Information Commons with everyone's picture and I thought maybe we could post little icons on the board, but realized we would soon run out of space.  Then I started to hear about an open badge project with Mozilla and became very intrigued.  I recently joined the Open Badges and Assessment group at P2PU and have been learning quite a bit about the Mozilla project.

A way I envision using this open badge system in the Information Commons is to develop assessments around competencies for the different applications/devices we support.  When one of our staff complete an assessment they are awarded a badge that can be added to an Information Commons Help Desk Staff profile page.  This profile page would make it easy for students and faculty to find someone that can help them with their particular issue.  This would help expedite the resolution of a support issue which would make the student/faculty member happy.  In addition, our support staff would have a way to document their skill level with various applications/devices which could be added to a resume or portfolio and help me determine areas of support where we need to build capacity.

A Learner's Story

Andy is working on a project for his chemistry class and needs to plot some data points in Excel, but he hasn't done anything like that before.  He approaches the help desk to find someone that can help him with Excel.  One of the help desk staff, Amy, follows Andy to his work station to give him a hand.  Andy explains the issue he is having and Amy realizes that this issue is outside her area of expertise with Excel.  Amy goes back to the help desk and asks her colleagues if anyone has the skill necessary to help Andy.  She finds Bob who knows how to do this and brings him over to Andy.  Bob is able to show Andy how to plot data in Excel and Andy is able to finish his project.

How Badges Can Help

With the implementation of badges in the help desk environment staff members can showcase their competencies with various applications.  This will make it much easier for end users to determine who will be their best line of support with a given issue saving valuable time.

A Learner's Story with Badges

Andy is working on a project for his chemistry class and needs to plot some data points in Excel, but he hasn't done anything like that before.  Andy opens up the help desk staff page on his computer in the lab to see who might be avialable to assist him with his project.  He sorts the list by Excel and further by charts/graphs.  He sees that Bob has sufficient experience and will be coming on duty in a few minutes.  He sends Bob a quick email message letting him know what computer he is on.  When Bob comes to work he checks his messages and notices a message from Andy stating he needs help with Excel and heads to the listed work station to provide support.