Switching to online and hybrid learning continues to be an adjustment for students, staff, and faculty at Illinois State University. To help with the adjustment, ISU's College of Arts and Sciences has recruited students to help individuals navigate the technology world.
The CAS Tech Consultant Squad consists of 10 students who are available to help faculty with common Zoom connection issues, Office 365, lecture videos, chat room monitoring, and ReggieNet configuration.
ISU senior and lead consultant Allyse Ketter said helping professors set up Zoom meetings, utilize ReggieNet, and other resources to help their students be successful has been rewarding.
“So it's cool that I can go to a meeting, even if it's over Zoom,” Ketter said. “I don't get to meet with them face to face, but I know that I'm impacting their teaching. Afterward, the professor I worked with was just so thankful because she was trying to make the class the best that it could be for her students, and it was really rewarding to know that I was helping her do that.”
With 80% of ISU’s classes online, Ketter said the team has been getting a steady flow of requests for other issues like setting up quizzes, tests, and course materials on ReggieNet. Faculty can fill out a Google Form detailing their request that goes to the students to work on.
“Most of us usually are working on two to three requests at a time, but there are some requests that are also ongoing throughout the entire semester,” Ketter said. “There may be a consultant that attends every single one of the professor’s classes and they help monitor Zoom chats every single time, or maybe they sit in on the class and all they do is record it on their computer and then they help the professor.”
Ketter said the squad comes from different majors and diverse skill sets. Some students work in different departments at the university while some work on issues such as setting up Zoom, cameras, or ReggieNet configurations. She said the students have been learning the ropes of technology while helping faculty hone their skills.
“It's all about just adapting to what the professor's needs are, and trying to work through issues that you may not have much knowledge on,” Ketter said. “It's researching and helping them at the same time. I really like it because it's different every day and you're getting to learn a lot of things that you wouldn't know otherwise.”
Ketter said she has found that online classes improve time management skills. She said Zoom features such as breakout rooms, Zoom reactions, and the chatbox better help students communicate with their professors for help.
“It’s a lot easier to get feedback from students without disrupting the class. You can pop a question in the chat bar and the professor can get to it.”
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