ResNet 2009: The Symposium

Now that my ranting about the travel is over, I figured I’d share my thoughts on this year’s symposium. Overall, it was a great conference. I went to some awesome presentations and got even more out of talking to people one on one (or sometimes in small groups).

I attended 2 PDS (professional development) sessions. The first one was on customer service. It wasn’t exactly as I thought it would be, but I did get a lot from it. I’ll be going back to that when I put together my student training at the end of the summer. The second session was on being the boss. It ended up with so many tangents that I couldn’t follow. I wish it had continued the original path, even though it was helpful for many people to get their own questions answered. I did get a bit from it, but I’ll be reading through the booklet we were given to get a bit more out of it.

I missed the keynote on the first day of the actual symposium. I had gone out the night before and forgotten to take my phone off vibrate after the PDS sessions. I woke up after it had started, but heard that it was pretty boring from others. Out of the 5 ResNets that I attended, I really only enjoyed 1 keynote. That was last year (it’s about halfway through that post). I attended 2 sessions before I had to present my own. The first session was on managing and evaluating students. It was interesting to see how the school did it, but they have almost 200 student employees and don’t even know them all by name (I have a hard time, but I can usually guess who the student is with mine). They use a neat piece of software along with several student supervisors to take care of the process. It’s a great system, but it seems more designed for larger institutions. I was taken aback when they said they were going to package the software and sell it. Most colleges package it and release it as open source. The second session was on strategic planning of a computer lab. I had hoped it would go more into the actual planning process rather than be about the lab, but I did get a bit out of it.

My first presentation was a panel discussion on Helpdesk Ticket Tracking systems, though it didn’t end up in a lot of discussion. I only had about 10 minutes to do my portion of the presentation because the first 2 guys took too long. I think if we do something like it again, we’ll organize more of it beforehand rather than have each of us make up a presentation and just do them one at a time. It seemed well received and I got some comments from people afterward that it was helpful.

The second day was a half day of presentations followed by our own activities. I had a presentation first thing in the morning. My presentation was on our department’s outreach efforts to get input from the college community (mainly faculty, staff, and students). I had originally asked for a 90 minute session, but the scheduling put both of my presentations back to back. I was offered a 60 minute session and took it, not really wanting to present for an hour and a half and unsure that I had enough content to fill that whole time. In fact, I was worried I wouldn’t fill an hour session. I guess I just needed to have a little faith in myself. My session went 5-10 minutes beyond the slated time, and most of the people didn’t seem to mind. There was a lot of great discussion, and I received a lot great feedback both in person and through the evaluations (if you were at my session and want more information on any of it, please feel free to email me, I ran out of time to get through all of my information).

As part of my role on the Program Committee, I moderated the next session on starting a walk-in help center. Unfortunately, it’s probably not something we’ll be able to do, but some of their procedures were interesting. I do want to start a walk-in center, but we don’t really have the space for one (though we are working on it). Money may also become an issue for us in the creation of this space. We’ll see how things pan out. The session had a lot of great discussion about the various procedures they use.

The final day had a single morning presentation session. I attended an awesome session on Microsoft Live@Edu by the guys at Western Carolina University. As a school that just implemented Live@Edu, it was perfectly timed. I learned about all sorts of great features available in the product.

The session was followed by a town meeting for the organization. It included many great suggestions for keeping the organization alive and bringing in some money. As someone who has been a part of ResNet since I was a student at UConn (with a couple years absence), I am committed to the organization (so long as I stay in the same line of work). They are considering a membership fee of $25, which I would gladly pay myself to become a member and support the group. What’s up in the air is what the fee will include.

This was the last major event of the symposium, aside from closing dinners and raffles and the like. All in all, it was a great event. I think I made more connections at this one than any of the others in the past (getting involved paid off it seems). I am really enjoying presenting at this conference. It’s more like a large group of friends than just a bunch of people from the same industry (of course, I do have a bunch of actual friends in the organization, made some new ones this year, too). If you’re involved with student computing of any sort on a college campus, this conference is for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a network admin, a helpdesk guy, a technician, or even just a student manager with few technical skills. This conference has something for you. It’s not just residential networking anymore.

ResNet Symposium

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