For those of you who don’t know me, I work in a college IT department supporting students, faculty, and staff. I’ve been doing this for over seven years at my current institution (I’m in my second position here, basically an upgrade over the first one). Prior to this, while I was in college, I worked for ResNet at the University of Connecticut as a student RCC (Residential Computer Consultant) supporting networking problems, and eventually other types of issues as well, for the students who lived on campus. It was there that I learned about the national ResNet organization.
If you’ve never heard of ResNet, it’s an organization for IT professionals in higher education who support student use of technology. While the organization had it’s origins in networking the residence halls (in the early-mid 90’s), it has evolved, as technology has changed, to support IT professionals who support any student use of any technology. ResNet consists mainly of a very active email listserv and a yearly conference, now known as the Student Technology Conference (previously, ResNet Symposium), which I have attended for the past six years.
ResNet has been an amazing resource for me. I have used suggestions from members for managing my student employees, managing the daily operations of the Helpdesk, learning new tricks to resolve various issues, etc., etc., etc. ResNet has allowed me to connect with my peers at other colleges and universities. It has helped me grow as a manager, and it has helped better my support and service skills. The best part of ResNet is the diverse membership that includes IT professionals from schools – both public and private, large and small – around the US and even some from Canada and outside North America. I have also used ResNet to share my own knowledge and experiences with my peers, as all institutions have their own quirks. I have since given back to the organization and community in a much larger role on the Board of Directors (an all volunteer board) as the Director of Member and Volunteer Relations.
The conference is the best conference I have attended. The presentations range in “techiness” from no technical skill needed to a high level of tech talk, as the attendees include people whose primary role is to supervise student employees, the people on the front lines of tech support, IT directors and managers, and network and server administrators. But the presentations are only one part of the learning that goes on at the conference. The ResNet membership is one of the most sharing and collaborative group of people I have ever experienced. The learning continues during meals and breaks. There are “Birds of a Feather” sessions held throughout the conference. These are small “break out” sessions that lack a single presenter but allow people to just sit and talk about a given topic of interest. The conference starts a day early if you decide you want to partake in any of the professional development seminars that they hold (there is usually an additional cost for these as they bring in people to instruct the seminar). I have attended these at almost all of the conferences I attended and they have greatly increased my own abilities. These range from learning new technical tools and skills to learning how to be a better manager.
While this might seem like a long post on a single topic, this only briefly touches upon why I love ResNet and what it has done for me. If you work in a college and support student usage of technology, you should check out ResNet. If you know someone who works in a college and supports student usage of technology, you should suggest they check out ResNet. The organization is currently working on creating a new website, but see the links below for more information.
ResNet Wiki (will be replaced by the new website)