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Cold coffee April 28, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.

icecoff   Sometimes it feels as though students and faculty circle my office in a holding pattern waiting for their chance to swoop down and ask a question. Please do not mistake this observation as whining since I love being able to assist where I can. It is just that some days it takes me hours to make a cup of tea. I start by picking up a teabag at 10, get around to boiling water by 11, re-boil it at 12 and 1, give up entirely by 2 and choose, instead, to finish up the cup of coffee still sitting on the corner of my desk that was hot seven hours earlier.

At least I get to meet some interesting people, help with some new challenges, and know I am providing a needed service where. I also do not have to sit through interminable meetings throughout the day. I discovered today that where my office can be of greatest use to students and faculty in the college is by helping them sort through the myriad of technology choices they face.

The case in point for this came today when a graduate student came in waving a VHS tape but was not sure what she needed to do with it exactly. All she knew was that her research was on this and many other tapes, they were too bulky to carry around with her, and she needed to be able to share some of the video in PowerPoints and some of the audio needed to be removed and stored separately.

To determine this took several questions that, to some of our clients, sound like challenges to their research or even their intelligence. I calmly ask my four, five, or six questions until I get to the root of what they really need. In the case of this graduate student, we were able to digitize a short segment of video for her. In a stroke of luck for her, rather than record an interview with her subject on a completely different media, she just left the videotape running and captured the subject’s voice. I was able to extract that audio with ease and create an mp3 for her. She left with a copy of her treasured video and a CD containing a video and a separate audio for later analysis.

The next step is to teach her how to do the process herself and to teach my team how to ask the same questions so we get to the same happy place with everyone.



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