Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I'm a nerd herder

So this is the first week that students are back for Sem 2 classes.

I'm ultimately responsible for the running of the online teaching websites - wikies, blogs the online classrooms and a plethora of other technologies. We record in the order of a thousand hrs of lectures a week and podcast them. We get data feeds from the student system and emails from some other system and staff details from yet another system. The online tools via which students communicate with each other, read their lecture notes and submit assignments and the integration code between all these things is all mime to make go and provide staff support. We train the academics in how to use the tools and have a help desk to answer their questions when they didn't listen in class. I also have to look after desktop support for the section of the university in which we are located. I've a good team, some systems administrators, programmers, trainers and miscellaneous IT workers who all work well outside the box of their job descriptions.

On the slowest of days we are busy. Students are accessing their online units 24x7. We are busy on xmass day. Some students do courses that are entirely online and for them the systems I own are the university. This is the time of year that we hire extra support and put the KPI's and strategy meetings aside and knuckle down under the load, do the unpaid overtime and eat lunch at our desks. Academics get stressed and somehow it is our fault when academics do unusual and creative things with their online units. If we fuck up I get 20 thousand emails letting me know exactly how bad we fucked up. Nothing like real time feedback - it is like working naked - everybody can see everything you do and every little mistake.

So far this semester we haven't had a singe piece of hate mail - which after 40+ K enrollments into many hundreds of online units is, I feel, no small achievement.

How was your day?


Anonymous said...

Fuck, that makes my day of grocery shopping,blogging and self pleasure look more than a little pathetic. Oh well, I had fun.

xl said...

Yep, pretty much describes the IT world.

Em said...

a nerd herder... haha... yep that's a good title.

Mark Lawrence said...

My day paled in comparison – the best i can say is I spent the day herding smoke.

Then again, I'm in a bit of down time after meeting a major writing-editing-design-print and distribution deadline, and a minor media event and launch on Monday.

So, I slacked off.

Next time my partner complains about the slow online resources at her university, I'll tell her about your day...

unique_stephen said...

And now one of my key staff has gone and broken his arm (badly) playing soccer.

Keiran said...

Well, Monday night I participated in the launch of website for a major major Australian TV property.

And it was a total farce. The programmers in this case had written the most inefficient code ever and brought the environment to it's knees.

Programmers. Hmph!

Mike Bogle said...

Yep that pretty much sums it up. You're higher up the totem pole that I am too, so you no doubt feel the pressure that much more.

Putting KPIs aside during peak period? I might suggest that :)

Bummer about losing key staff - even bigger bummer about his broken arm :(

Ms Smack said...

WOW so you're um, smart and stuff, eh?


unique_stephen said...

I'm told I have a smart arse at the least