A day in the life of ...

By Bridie Mackay

I can still clearly recall my first experience with an Internet helpline. My distance studies in Information Management through Monash University required home access to the Internet via a commercial Internet service provider and a piece of contemporary machinery that would hopefully support all the communications in cyberspace that were to occur. I felt quite enthusiastic about the prospect and was even a little smug as I contemplated my new technological prowess. This was not only going to be revolutionary, but easy ... surely?

Well, I hadn't figured on configurations and settings and proxy servers and the language of kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes and 28K modems. Feeling like an impostor in the domain of evidently cleverer individuals, I  began to despair. Communications over the Internet were beginning to look decidedly over-ambitious.

I reached for the telephone (a tug of the modem and the phone was reinstated) and endured some very irritating 'muzac' while I queued with other desperate technophobes for the verbal guidance of an expert. I felt compensated for the hour I spent on hold when the patient and encouraging support person tolerated my ignorance and offered me some simple (yes, they were) solutions to my cyber woes. An hour later and I was online!

That was more than three years ago. I have continued to study in distance mode, accessing most of my materials from sources on the web. I have mastered downloads and uploads and can even recognise a file by its file-type extension. I have not made another call to a helpline since, and I can attribute this both to improvements in the user-friendliness of computer equipment and to the development of my own personal skills, which give me the confidence to problem solve independently whenever I can.

When I began my position in SCIS customer support in 1999, I was reminded of my own first call to a helpline and my bewilderment at facing those alien technologies. I recognise the same trepidation in many of the voices calling the SCIS helpline. While callers' levels of experience vary enormously, the demand for human support in even the most minor matter remains evident.

Longstanding SCIS customers will recall what seemed to be the first significant step in the inevitable revolution of technology: when the microfiche was being phased out to be replaced by SCISCO. Since that time, SCIS customers have demonstrated their adaptability as they have embraced the introduction of products such as SCISWeb and the new SCIS Authority Files with remarkable enthusiasm.

There will no doubt be further advances in technologies and in the products produced by SCIS. However, the role of human customer support will certainly remain an important priority for SCIS, and I look forward to sharing this experience with SCIS customers. After all our role is to make your life a little easier each day.

The CC Club

The CC Club has been established to provide a bi-monthly electronic bulletin offering updates on new and forthcoming titles and special offers from Curriculum Corporation. As well, the latest free teacher support materials such as lesson plans and downloadable activities avai lable from the Curriculum Corporation Website will be announced. To find out more, email [email protected] or register directly at <www.curriculum.edu.au/accessasia/snapshol/ccclub.htm>.

Special offer

While you are on the website, visit our online catalogue, download the order form, fax your order and receive a 10 per cent discount on any purchase, plus postage-free delivery. Your order must be received by 31 December 2000.

Bridie Mackay

SCIS Customer Support

Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS)