Forum Notes

see also:

  • MCC's STA Work Group
  • STA resources
  • Student Technology Assistant Clearinghouse

  • STA Ocotillo Forum

    This open forum will be held August 4, 9:00 AM - 12:00 noon, Mesa Community College, Kiva Room.

    We have invited Phil Long (Seton Hall University, to join us via internet videoconference, to discuss the STA programs he has developed first at William Paterson College and then at Seton Hall University. Some students from Seton Hall will join us, too.

    technoNote: We will be using the software from iVisit ( for the video conferencing. Please note that this is pretty much an experiment in using this technology! See a snapshot of the computer screen from the meeting.


    • Brad Kincaid (MCC)
    • Linda Collins (MCC)
    • Chris MacCrate (EMCC)
    • Manny Griego (GCC)
    • Naomi Story (DIST)
    • Dean Peterson (CGCC)
    • Tom Russo (PVCC)
    • Cindy Cloud (PC)
    • Greg Brush (MCC
    • Carole Saccoccia (MCC)
    • Connie DeRosa (MCC)
    • Chris DeRosa (MCC)
    • Patricia Inchausti (MCC)
    • Linda Hopf (MCC)
    • Paul Schmitt (MCC)
    • John Williams (MCC)
    • Kerry Skinner (MCC)
    • Myrna Eshelman (MCC)
    • Douglas Koerselman (MCC)
    • Gail Mee (MCC)
    • Don Sutton (MCC)
    • Rodney Holmes (MCC)
    • Alan Levine (DIST)

    Overview of STA pilot at MCC

    Linda Collins
    STA Working Group

    Brad Kincaid
    TLTR chair

    • Goal is to provide students with an enriching and meaningful work experience that supplements both their academic goals and their income
    • STA program is a working group of the MCC Teaching, Learning, Technology Roundtable, chaired by Brad Kincaid. STA Chair for 1997-98 was Myrna Eshelman; chair for 1998-99 is Linda Collins.
    • Students will receive on the job experience, opportunities to work on projects of personal interest, opportunities to develop resume/portfolios.
    • "It's not your typical student job!" - includes development of high demand job skills plus problem solving, communication, critical thinking, and customer service skills.
    • Faculty involvement includes initial training, group mentoring, individual development planning, and portfolio development.
    • Faculty benefits include tech support for projects and development fo class materials
    • Staff benefits include increased support in public technology areas.
    • STA activity in 1997-98: define project goals, address student benefits/pay, research other programs, research community needs, discuss application process
    • STA activity for 1998-99: develop assessment plan, implement STA pilot, identify possible project areas
    • See also : MCC's TLTR web page, including the STA Work Group

    Open Discussion

    • Brad Kincaid (MCC) identified obstacles to starting STA program were timing (trying to get started too soon); deciding how to manage all of the participants (programs elsewhere have coordinator positions). who should be "in charge"
    • Manny Griego outlined how GCC has been running similar programs since 1987 through two different groups, each chaired by a full-time faculty member. Instructional Computing was developed as a means of supporting the High tech Centers, where staff needs were defined by support for OE/OE courses. It has full-time staff as well as teams of "Instructional Associates", mostly students, who are trained in key areas of customer service (week long before and between semesters), main criteria for hiring are people skills. The other support area is the Innovation Center, with full-time staff as well as student workers, to directly support faculty use and development of technology.
    • Myrna Eshelman (MCC) was in favor of developing the team concept, perhaps starting small with support in the multi-use labs.
    • Rick Effland (MCC) suggested looking where the needs were-- multi-use labs, InforMation Commons, and specific faculty projects
    • Dean Petersen (CGCC) pointed out the many certification programs we offer (Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco) in which support experience through working as a STA would be very influential in later employment for these students. Lines on a resume are as important or more so than hourly pay rate.
    • Gail Mee (MCC) asked about the benefits for students, how do you document the student learning? What are the rewards? certificates?
    • Manny Griego cited GCC's numerous inquiries from local employers for skilled workers from their Innovation Center. He described the networked surveys that are available at the GCC High tech centers that allow users to commend the support staff.
    • Naomi Story (DIST) suggested documenting work through portfolios.
    • Brad Kincaid (MCC) cited instances where letters of recommendation from him were important to students who had worked for him in the past.
    • Rick Effland (MCC) suggested that we pay more than minimum wage.

    Internet Video Conference

    The next phase was communicating with students who were STAs at Seton Hall University. This was accomplished using software from iVisit.

    See an example screen capture from the session

    We first talked to Brad Stout who works as a faculty consultant on technology projects, who while not an STA, is familiar with the program.
    • Presently there are over 100 STAs at Seton Hall.
    • Salaries are on a sliding skill that increases with responsibility

      We were then joined by Tracy, a current STA

    • STA's started at entry level pay and can move up to be supervisors
    • During the summer she works 33 hours; during the school year 12-20 hours per week.
    • She has worked on web pages, taught classes on creating web pages, and is using Lotus Notes.LearningSpace to help develop a web course in Math
    • The STA contract does more than protect the students; it serves as a guide for the students to design their learning, as a form of service learning
    • She heard about the STA program during a pre-freshmen review before she enrolled
    • The real benefits are the valuable work experience, and getting to know the faculty in a different relationship than sitting in class
    • To be an STA, a student needs a GPA of 3.0 or better; no computer experience is required.

      Dr. Phil Long then joined and described the STA programs he has been involved with, both in his prior position at Wiliam Paterson College and presently at Seton Hall.

    • Presently Seton Hall is deploying "mobile computing" of 1600 laptop computers for faculty and students; more than 150 STAs will be involved in the implementation and support
    • Goals of STA program are developing the mentoring relationships between faculty & student as well as between student & student; students gaining of valuable work skills; and student providing support for their peers
    • Keys for getting started was engaging all in development of this "relationship" between students and faculty. ANother was getting executive sponsorship/support. The coordinator position is critical and should not be "grafted" on top of someone's current responsibilities.
    • At Wiliam Paterson, the STA program was supported by student technology fees (that they approved); at Seton Hall, budget comes from work study funds.
    • They are working on development of a certification portion of STA.
    • On average, students are available for about 2 years before they move on.
    • The coordinator position requires someone with a background of teaching, people skills, some technical skills, and a clear understanding of the program goals.

      Next, Dr. Long and some of his students answered some questions from our audience

    • "What are some of the selection criteria"?
      Applicants provide a resume and a statement of interest. We also conduct interviews, more to identify personal skills, not to asses technical skills.
    • "What was the interval between initiating the program and the point at which it became "self-sustaining"?
      The first semester was "chaotic", the second we had addressed the major issues, and things were relatively smooth after the 3rd semester.
    • "How many STAs did you have the first time you developed the program?"
      About 30 at William Paterson and 28 here at Seton Hall.
    • "Do STA's get to specialize in an area?"
      Sometimes; many are interested in web page development which there is a strong demand for. Others are more interested in learning about hardware or software.
    • "What kind of team concepts do you use?"
      I think small teams are the only way to grow a program. Ours are about 6-8 in size, with a student serving as a supervisor.
    • "Do STAs have workspaces dedicated to them?"
      In essence all students will with the deployment of our laptops to all students and staff. In addition, STA's have access to a reserved station in all of the open computing labs.
    • "What is the relationship between STA and the administrative computing group?"
      The STA takes care of their own networking. There is a centralized repair facility which is managed by full time technical staff.
    • "Are most of the STA's computer majors?"
      No, they represent all academic areas; business, biology, a lot from the sciences.
    • "What does it take to run the initial training?"
      About 15-20 students and 5 full time staff.
    • "Do you have any final recommendations for getting started?"
      1. Piggyback on existing programs. For example, Quinsigamond Community College in Massachussetts, has a program in "Computer Systems Support Technology" (; the program requires an internship experience that provides students in STA roles.
      2. Assess your needs and identify most likely areas of success
      3. Someone needs to "own" the program as a responsible leader
      4. The 2 year degree of community college environment does nor present a problem! Industry statistics indicate the technical support turnover is about the same length of time. "Students moving on to better jobs is not a failure but a success"
    Please feel free to contact Phil Long with more questions at