CS4CS replaces SysOps

Student investigates new program and the change between the tech help organizations

Arya Jha, Contributing Writer for Spokesman

The start of this school year found many PDS students disappointed, upset and confused to find that the SysOps (System Operators) program had ended and would be replaced by a new, similar program, named CS4CS (Computer Students for Community Services). SysOps had been a useful part of our community and was relied on for all technological needs and questions, from the basic to the complex, leaving many to wonder the reason for the switch.

SysOps began when a need for a technology help center arose following the introduction of iPads in select grades of the Middle School in the 2011- 2012 school year. SysOps was made up of a group of tech-savvy Upper School students. These students serviced the PDS community in many ways, by doing things such as visiting classrooms and aiding students and faculty alike with their technological issues. However, the majority of the help they provided was at their “help desk,” located in the library. Although SysOps was originally meant to provide help with iPads, as that was the main concern in its early stages, the program evolved and was soon providing assistance with all types of technology.

SysOps’ replacement, CS4CS, was launched this past October. According to the official CS4CS website, “This program emphasizes developing service, teamwork and technical skills while providing genuinely valuable services.” The program has similar goals as SysOps, which are to “serve the community by supporting computer and technology needs,” (again, according to the program’s website). However, CS4CS claims to be more focused on educating the school about technological issues that have an impact on the community as a whole. Like SysOps, CS4CS has student volunteers.“However, these volunteers are required to have taken at least the Computer 1 class, unlike the SysOps program,which had no course prerequisites for applicants. These students often work on tasks with the support of members of the Technology Department at PDS and Upper School Technology Coordinator and computer teacher Wei-hsing Wang

Some students feel CS4CS has yet to make its presence felt in the Upper School. “In the past, when I needed tech support, I would walk to the SysOps desk, and there would always be one to two students ready to help,” remarked sophomore Hannah Freid. “Recently, however, I have found it harder to get the help I need. Often, there is no one staffing the tech desk in the second floor of the library,” she added. Speculations are that most of the help is given to the Middle School students and faculty who are having a tougher time dealing with the rapidly-advancing technology.

As CS4CS emerges and develops, there is confusion surrounding how and why the switch to this new program was made. “[Sysops] historically had been addressing needs that we don’t have as much anymore in terms of the way FirstClass was launched as a school wide email program,” Dean of Students Elizabeth Monroe explained. She continued, “Given now how technology has changed and given most importantly how almost everybody’s comfort level with technology has had a dramatic uptick, there just isn’t a need anymore.” She further described the change, saying, “We decided then to look at what needs exist within the school and then what opportunities are there for students to use their incredible talents and insight to address faculty concerns and student concerns.”

Many students feel that CS4CS will be able to help the community just as SysOps had. “I believe that both programs are extremely beneficial to PDS, as both students and teachers use technology inside and outside the classroom. These programs provide resources to ensure that devices function properly and that students and teachers can take full advantage of software and apps,” said senior Saarika Kumar. Sophomore Jacob Chang, who is one of the four CS4CS student volunteers, commented on the two tech help programs: “Both of these systems have their own strengths and weaknesses, so it is difficult to say which one is a better fit. Also, in the future as CS4CS becomes much larger, alongside of our other activities, we hope to provide the same assistance that SysOps did as well.”

Former SysOp, senior Adam Gershen, voiced a common complaint about CS4CS, “As for CS4CS … there was a requirement that you had to take Computers 1 to be a CS4CS person, which I didn’t do, but for SysOps we had an interview process and an application which essentially proved our ‘worth’.” This prerequisite makes it harder to find possible CS4CS student volunteers. Currently, there are only four CS4CS volunteers, which many believe is not sufficient, considering the extent of technology at PDS and the frequent technological problems that arise.

As CS4CS continues to progress and expand, it is sure that the help and service they will provide throughout PDS will prove invaluable.