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Navigating Help Desk Priority Levels: ‘To 9-1-1 or Not to 9-1-1; That is the Question!’

Imagine it’s a Saturday morning at the end of a long week of teaching. After surviving difficult classes, endless meetings, and piles of grading, you are finally able to create your midterm exam in Moodle that is scheduled for the following Tuesday. You open your test questions file and prepare to import them into Moodle. Then, it happens: the red error bar of doom. You’re stuck!

The solution, of course, is simple. Put in a Help Desk ticket! But what priority level should you select? Low? Medium? High? 9-1-1? Before we answer, let’s examine the four priority levels available when submitting a ticket:

PRIORITY LEVEL LOW: Consider these tickets to be open-ended and not time-sensitive. For instance, maybe you’re thinking about using whole forum grading next semester and you want to learn more about it. Perhaps you have suspended users in your participants list and, while it’s somewhat annoying, it’s not a detriment to how your course functions. While all tickets are usually answered quickly after they are submitted (Ed Tech’s department average response time is about 45 minutes), low priority tickets are tickets you would be okay waiting up to 5 business days to have answered.

PRIORITY LEVEL MEDIUM: These tickets are time-sensitive, but with completion not required in the next several days. For instance, maybe it’s Tuesday and you have a quiz on Friday and you want the settings double-checked. Perhaps it’s a week before courses start and you need an old course imported into a new shell. Think of medium priority tickets as those that could wait up to 3 business days for an answer (knowing they will likely be answered sooner than that).

PRIORITY LEVEL HIGH: These tickets need to be completed by the next business day. For instance, perhaps it’s Thursday and you’ve forgotten how to create user overrides for a Friday quiz. Maybe several students are unable to submit an assignment that is due, or an impending forum is set up incorrectly. Maybe you were moving things around in your course and suddenly everything looks out of place. High priority tickets are typically checked during weekends and evenings, and they are often answered during those times as well. If you are stressed about something that needs quick attention, high priority tickets are recommended.

PRIORITY LEVEL 9-1-1: Have you ever called the real 9-1-1? This priority level is like that, but for educational technology. A 9-1-1 ticket means something is broken and disaster is inevitable without immediate help. When a 9-1-1 ticket goes to the help desk, our entire department receives text messages every 10 minutes until the 9-1-1 ticket has been answered. We take these tickets very seriously and drop everything (even on weekends) to answer them the moment we receive them. 

So, when is it appropriate to put in a 9-1-1 ticket? There are two good metrics to use as a guide:

  1. Is Moodle/Ensemble/Zoom/etc. not working or “down”? If you and others are getting error messages when trying to log on to NMC resources, submit a 9-1-1 ticket immediately.
  2. Is something broken that needs to be working right now. Meaning, it’s your testing window and students can’t get into the test, or you’re conducting a group activity and the chat function is malfunctioning, or class has started but Zoom has locked you out.

Okay, so now that you’re familiar with ticket priority levels, let’s go back and answer the example question that started this article.

Considering that the example takes place on a Saturday and the test is on Tuesday, we’d recommend either a “medium” or “high” priority ticket, depending on how many test questions you have and how complicated the quiz might be to create. A medium priority ticket would most likely be completed Monday morning (although maybe earlier), and a high priority ticket would most likely be completed Saturday or Sunday (although maybe Monday morning). You’d be all set by Tuesday’s test.

What if the test was on Monday? We’d recommend selecting high priority in that instance. Remember that you can always use our knowledgebase tutorials to problem solve on your own if it’s after our department’s working hours.

(NOTE: The Help Desk team is currently looking at updating our descriptions of priority levels to assist decision making while creating tickets. Stay tuned)

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