Tech Talks at Penguin Plug-In

March’s Tech Talk took place at the Penguin Plugin by the IT Service Desk in Kilcawley Center. Sean Melnick (right) was among those available to help. Photo by Christopher Gillett / Jambar Contributor

By Christopher Gillett
Jambar Contributor

Youngstown State University’s Information Technology Training Services has been working to engage more with students and educate them on YSU-related technology. Throughout the spring semester, IT staff members have hosted monthly Tech Talks.

March’s two Tech Talks took place at the Penguin Plug-In by the IT service desk in Kilcawley Center. The month’s theme was getting digitally organized, with a focus on using Microsoft 365, One Drive and Blackboard.

Sean Melnik, the associate director of IT Training Services, was among staff available to teach students about the products. Melnik said the idea of Tech Talks was in the works for a while.

“We’ve been kind of working on the Tech Talks since the beginning of the last academic year and using an academic cycle to identify technology needs for students,” Melnik said. “We did kind of a needs assessment in the beginning of fall semester last year, just to kind of see what students are submitting ticket requests for or what they were inquiring for with the service desk.”

Cara McEldowney, a technology trainer in IT services, was also involved in last March’s Tech Talks. McEldowney said she draws on previous skills to help out.

“I was at Mount Union [University] for 29 years in the IT department. So, I’ve gone from manager of [the] support desk to manager of instructional technology,” McEldowney said. “[My favorite part is] helping people. That’s been my goal the entire time I’ve been in IT. Making technology easy to use, understand and make life easier.”

Melink said when working with students, he tries to understand their perspectives.

“The hardest part is being able to take the information and the technology and making sure I put myself in the shoes of my students,” Melnik said.

McEldowney agreed and said communicating the information is a hard part of the job.

“The hardest part is making sure that we’re communicating well enough — making sure we’re communicating to the students in a way in which they’re understanding how to use the technology so that it benefits them and saves them time,” McEldowney said.

For McEldowney, engaging with students is meaningful.

“Getting out in the campus community, engaging with the students and knowing that we are providing them a service with all of the ways that they can incorporate technology, either with their assignments or within Blackboard,” McEldowney said.

Melnik said helping students is also his favorite part.

“[My favorite part is] engaging with students, helping them to not only learn about the technology, but how to apply the technology in their learning and career path,” Melnik said.

At Tech Talks, Melnik has also helped students transition from the old Penguin Portal to Ellucian Experience. Melnik said an issue many students have is navigating the new software.

“The biggest issue is just the navigational change. So, you went from sort of a list view to more of a tile view and it’s highly customizable. A lot of times we just had issues with individuals that would reach out to us. They’re not quite able to find the same information in the same place,” Melnik said.

The date and location for April’s Tech Talk will be announced to students through email.