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The Students Behind the Curtain

amv

If you work with Web Services often, you have probably received an email from (or maybe even had the pleasure of meeting) a student worker on our team. Many offices around campus thrive with the help of student workers and our office is no different.

Web Services employs 4 Bethel students who help us with day-to-day requests, website launches, web development, and much larger projects too. I directly manage 2 students (Evan and Tyler) who work on the communications side of our team, while Andy Altepeter manages the other 2 students (Mark and Eric) who are technical developers.

When you send an email to web-services@bethel.edu, a Footprints job is automatically created for us in the Web Services project queue. Part of my daily responsibility is to manage this queue—looking at each request individually and deciding where it should go. Many daily requests, such as fixing broken links, updating text, and loading new catalogs or publications to the web, get assigned to our students. Generally, they complete the task and then get in touch with you to let you know it’s been finished.

We also put our students to work each time we launch a new site. When it comes time to actually build out your site in new Silva, there’s a lot of content to load. Our student workers copy, paste, and reformat text for each individual webpage. They also load the images and any files (pdfs, docs, xls) your site might need. After everything is loaded, they link it all up and then double check the links to make sure they’re working properly. This is a big task for our students but for the most part (luckily!) they love it. It’s exciting to be a part of a website launch and we’re thankful they play such a big, important role.

Web Services hangs onto our student team over the summer as well. This is when those bigger, long-term projects come into play. This summer we’ll be asking our students to load all of Bethel’s professional photography into our new Flickr account. This will be a challenging task. Each photo must have detailed descriptions and tags so they’ll be searchable by topic and easy to find. This will be a significant help to our team and others by allowing us to find relevant photos faster.

Sometimes it’s difficult being in a “behind the curtain” role where others don’t often see your achievements. But we’re thankful for our students and try to communicate that as much as we can. They are a valuable part of our team and we wouldn’t be able to manage without them!

A Day in the Life of a TA

amv

Well, I’m sure all of you have been dying to know what a Web Services TA does all day. I’ve been a TA (that’s Technical Assistant – not Teacher’s Assistant) since the beginning of my sophomore year. That gives me almost two years of experience working with Bethel’s website and learning about Silva and let me tell you, it has been a crazy ride.

When I first began as a TA most of Bethel’s web content was stored on Dreamweaver. My first job ever was to finish transferring content (all of it) to Silva. Because Silva is a very different content management system (CMS) than Dreamweaver not only did transferring content include copying and pasting text and reuploading pictures, it meant reformatting each individual page to look the way it did in the old CMS. That was quite the task.

Now that most everything is located within Silva, however, my job tends to look a little different. Often I’m assigned to put brand new content on the web. I create web pages for things such as Seminary events, Focus, Heart & Mind, and Tapestry issues, NYCAMS, and much more. During my down time I work on Checkbot. Checkbot is a program that monitors Bethel’s site looking for broken links. I go through and try to fix these links so they direct you to the correct place—which makes everyone happy. :)

One of my favorite tasks is Silva Training. I am privileged to work with Bethel faculty, staff, and their student workers to aid them in creating and updating their own Bethel websites. I generally teach Silva Basic Training with individuals who are taking the next step to maintain their web pages. This is my favorite because it gives me the chance to pass on my knowledge of Silva to others. After training I always encourage people to contact me if they have any questions because I know how frustrating it can be if you have a problem while working in Silva.

That just about covers everything I do as a Web Services Technical Assistant. Sometimes there is downtime and I have to search for jobs to do, but there is never a dull moment because I have a wonderful team up here in Townhouse H3.