ONE OF THE MOST PLEASANT side effects of working in third level education at Tipperary Institute has been the comfort of knowing that the floors would be cleaned by professionals, the hot food cooked by catering staff and the electronics would be cared for by technicians. Unfortunately, with the cold winds of fiscal austerity sweeping across Ireland, at least one of those support structures will be reduced in the near future. If casual cross-talk over coffee has any credibility, the technical support and dedicated information technology services given to our small campus in Clonmel will be reduced from September. The head count reduction follows on the heels of Tipperary Institute amalgamating into the Limerick Institute of Technology. But there may come a time when the level of tech support is not high enough to run scheduled academic classes on account of snags.
Over the past 10 years, while working on the Clonmel campus, I have used line-of-sight support from tech support at least twice a month. Having the technician available meant being able to continue a scheduled lecture or practical session without having to crawl around on the floor or to arrange for a step ladder to reconnect a cable. Because the college relies on easily-mustered technical assistance, new devices have been rolled out across the campus. The tech staff trains people in the best ways of using the equipment and responds to questions on reconfiguring settings when the equipment is left out of running order by a staff member or student. I really like using high-end technology when delivering lectures and conducting hands-on creative multimedia sessions. But if I cannot depend upon a responsive level of technical support--assistance that I have routinely requested every month of the last 10 years of teaching--I'll need to upskill in some technical fields, reduce the number of concepts that I teach every semester, or stretch my teaching schedule from 12 weeks into 14 weeks. These are real knock-on effects and I'm starting to feel that I'm meant to improve my professional productivity by brushing up on the technical support skills that I once used in my primary job. But that job was pre-2000 and a lot of the technology has changed since then.
Any suggestions on what I should expect?