Facebook: The new college help desk?

College help desks had a first call resolution rate of 62 percent last year.

University of South Florida students can still scour the school’s website, make a phone call, or venture over to the campus’s help desk to answer pressing technology questions. Or they can log onto Facebook.

IT officials on the Tampa campus said this fall that help desk services would be available on the world’s most popular social media site, although the university didn’t promise students immediate answers to their burning questions.

Students who have immediate questions about the campus’s network or library computers, though, might revert to the traditional help desk.

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Students’ Facebook questions will be answered “within hours” of posting the queries to the USF InformaBull page, said Kevin Banks, assistant vice president and dean of students at USF.

“Facebook was a natural fit to making this work – it is accessible to virtually everyone, has the features we needed, and there is no learning curve because students already use the site extensively,” Banks said in a statement, adding that students will save “time and possible frustration trying to figure out the answer themselves.”

“We realized a real-time service to provide students with fast and accurate answers to their USF questions would be very helpful,” he said.

USF’s attempt to move traditional help desk functions to the social web could be a welcomed alternative in higher education: a report released in December called for a technological makeover of campus help desks after years of falling behind student and faculty technology demands.