Insights

What higher ed really needs from a remote support tool

Chuck Leddy

March 14, 2023

Higher education has IT support challenges that are unique from other industries, impacting what they need in a remote support solution. Here are some of the biggest challenges higher ed IT teams are facing today and how remote support tools help resolve them.

Support challenges in higher ed


Multiple internal stakeholders

Higher ed help desks serve multiple end users – students, faculty, and staff – who all have different needs, expectations, and devices that require different solutions. These end users may be working on or off campus, as campuses are increasingly more conceptual and less about physical spaces, and involved with in-classroom, fully remote, or hybrid learning models. Each comes with its unique set IT support needs.

The need to remain flexible

Higher ed help desks also need to stay flexible and resilient, while maintaining their ability to scale and grow as their university expands inside and beyond its campus borders. Many higher ed orgs were caught flat-footed when the shift to remote learning happened at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Today, higher ed IT teams need to be sure they have the right tools in place to flex with whatever challenges come their way.

The staff makeup of IT support teams is a great example of this need to flex every day, as teams typically rely on student tech staff who are constantly onboarding and offboarding during the school year, as well as relying on seasoned full-time IT staff. 

Departmental differences

Different departments within the same university may have their own IT support groups that focus on managing IT challenges specific to their area. For example, colleges, schools, and departments in the healthcare space, like a Pre-med degree program or a full-blown medical school, will need to stay HIPAA compliant to protect private healthcare data, just like any hospital or healthcare provider would be. 

Because of the differences in departmental requirements, departments often procure their own solutions for remote support, which means a higher ed organization may have a handful of remote support solutions in use across the university.

IT support solutions tailored for higher ed

What would a successful remote support solution look like for higher ed? These four features are absolutely essential:

  1. Security.

We’ve already discussed the heightened level of data security needed for supporting healthcare-related departments. But whether a department needs to meet compliance regulations or not, security should be a non-negotiable across the board. 

The growth of remote learning represents a big security challenge, as malicious actors unfortunately seek to exploit digital vulnerabilities. In order to put everyone’s mind at ease, look for the following remote support security features:

  • Government-approved encryption: Your remote support tool should use TLS 1.2 transport security and AES-256-bit encryption, the same level of security used in the financial industry to stop hackers and protect data at rest.
  • Secure connections: End users should be certain they’re getting help from you alone, not from malicious actors. You’ll need the ability to customize support entry points with the unique branding of your higher ed institution.
  • Additional security measures: These include optional security measures like PIN code validation (allowing only PINs generated from your account to work) and domain validation, preventing anyone from setting up a “dummy” page to lure end user into fraudulent support sessions.
  1. Ease of use

Your IT support is meaningless if resolving issues is time-consuming and frustrating for all involved, including your end users, student help desk staff, and admins. Everybody expects speed and simplicity. Your remote support tool needs to deliver exactly that with:

  • Fast connection times: Less than 30 seconds for end users to connect should be the starting point for improved resolution speed.
  • Fast access to device metrics: This enhances speed-to-diagnosis and ultimately faster resolution times.
  • Robust administration settings: These include the ability to control what techs can or cannot do during a session and detailed reporting with session histories, recordings, technician activity, and other critical analytics needed to drive down resolution times while offering insight into staff training needs.
  1. Return on investment (ROI)

There are a few important factors to consider when evaluating ROI. 

  • Time to value: The right tool should begin reducing resolution times within the first month and deliver noticeable efficiencies within three months, if not sooner.
  • Cloud versus on-premises: On-prem tools may be cheaper initially, but long-term maintenance and upgrades can prove costly. A scalable cloud solution frees you up to focus on customizing a support solution that better targets your school’s needs, reducing future expenses commonly incurred with on-prem assets.
  • Data insights: Any remote support tool should aggregate session data in real-time to help monitor and manage your help desk team. This data should be deployed to improve team performance.
  1. All-device support

Today’s end users are more reliant on mobile devices than ever. But don’t forget about physical equipment you must also support, such as classroom AV and lab equipment. Ensure that you can support any device with a remote support tool that enables you to:

  • Mobile diagnostics: Pull diagnostic information from the mobile device for easier troubleshooting. Access specs quickly, allowing for enhanced speed-to-diagnosis, and faster resolution times.
  • Device configuration: Easily configure mobile devices by pushing quick configurations, such as email, network and Wi-Fi settings, passcode requirements, restrictions, and web shortcuts.
  • Mobile chat: Communicate simply and transparently using mobile chat.
  • Camera sharing: See physical equipment and spaces with a live video feed through your end user’s mobile camera and guide them through a resolution remotely.

One solution for every higher ed support need

Rescue for Higher Ed has everything your higher ed helpdesk needs to deliver fast, frictionless support to all the devices and equipment your faculty, staff, and students rely on. Learn more about Rescue for Higher Ed.

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