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See this article as it originally appeared in the Chatham Star Tribune, here.

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — If you own technology, chances are you’ve had an encounter with tech support. A new class offered in partnership between Danville Community College (DCC), Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) will provide students with the skills and work experience needed to provide support as a user/help desk support professional.

“IT careers cut across all sectors, and there is a demand for this skill. This class provides an opportunity for students to not only learn the skills required but also to practice them. We know that real-world skills practice makes a huge difference in student learning and helps applicants stand out to employers,” said Dr. Betty Adams, SVHEC executive director.

ITE 182, User Support/Help Desk Principles is a three credit, elective IT course being offered in South Boston at the SVHEC by community college partners Danville Community College and Southside VA Community College. The class will introduce students to a variety of tools and techniques that are used to provide user support in help desk operations.

Topics include help desk concepts, customer service skills, troubleshooting problems, writing for end users, help desk operations, needs analysis, and related topics related to end user (customer) support.

Students enrolled in the course will gain hands-on skills practice through the Community Technology Help Desk (CTHD). The CTHD is a new community program created through a partnership between SVHEC, SVCC, DCC and the SOVA Innovation Hub to help locals of all ages and backgrounds with their technology needs and challenges.

The results of a recent CTHD survey and focus group revealed that the community experiences a range of technology problems from setting up wireless devices and avoiding viruses to troubleshooting email and fear of learning new systems.

“Sometimes, it’s just one small thing creating a huge barrier to access, and our students will be able to identify that key issue and help resolve it,” said Chad Patton, dean of occupational and career technology at Southside Virginia Community College.

Students enrolled in ITE 182 will serve a key role in providing friendly, judgment free customer support to help community members overcome tech barriers.

“There are so many great opportunities available online but not being able to access them holds our people back. Students in this class are not only learning a valuable skill but also providing a community service in helping our citizens get connected digitally,” Adams said.

Enrollment is open for ITE 182, User Support/Help Desk Principles. To register, new and current students need to contact the Community Colleges Office at SVHEC by calling 434-572-5453 or emailing kathy.whitt@southside.edu.