By Allison Campbell-Jensen
This fall’s online learning will be different for undergraduate students, who will be seeking support and tools. Podcasting has been really popular, says Charlie Heinz, who leads Media Services for the SMART Learning Commons. “I have a packet that helps people work through the process,” he says, from choosing a story through uploading it to YouTube.
“There’s a lot we can do to help them be successful,” says Heinz, who also offers media consultations to faculty. The U of M Libraries hosts SMART Learning Commons, where this fall undergraduates can seek academic support online through Media Services, Peer Research Consultants, and Peer Tutors. In-person Media Services support will be limited to appointments only at Walter Library.
Need for Media Services
Heinz expects some classes will require students to produce videos. Media Services can provide information on storyboarding, the art of the interview, editing, and more. They can offer access to royalty-free music and images as well.
Once Walter Library re-opens, they will be circulating equipment — cameras, monitors, tripods, and more, by appointment. In addition, Heinz says, this fall there will be media production workstations, spaced six feet apart, in Walter, Wilson, Magrath, and the Health Sciences libraries.
Peer Research Consultants return
“This spring, the PRCs did a fantastic job at switching to online consultations,” says Andrew Palahniuk, Lead of the Peer Research Consultant Program. “We expect they’ll resume the same high-level of service this fall.”
PRCs are like Libraries ambassadors who provide library research assistance for papers. They help undergraduates and participants in College in the Schools to navigate the Libraries website; choose good databases and keywords; find and evaluate scholarly articles; narrow a topic and create research questions; and explore undergraduate research opportunities.
They now number five, with a PRC hired in partnership with Writing Studies to provide peer support for students in WRIT 1301. The Libraries partnered with WRIT 1301 to create information literacy activities integrated into the curriculum.
Among the challenges Palahniuk faces this fall are creating a sense of cohesion on the team and keeping communication open, which are more difficult in an online environment. He also wants to continue to foster relationships with the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence and other partners, even in a time of physical distancing.
He says he’s excited about the possibilities as publicity for the program moves from print to online, particularly to social media. He’ll also ask PRCs to spread the word through student groups and will use the resources of the SMART Learning Commons and the Libraries.
Peer Tutors at the ready
Peer tutors help students integrate effective learning and study strategies. This fall, plans are in place to increase the number of tutors available to help student learning. Currently, support is available for over 250 different courses including math, chemistry, writing, physics, computer science, and more.
Tutors will be using new tools such as GoBoard and digital whiteboards to help with online tutoring for classes like math, statistics, and chemistry. Crystal Lee-Thao, Tutor Coordinator, also hopes that collaborations with academic and student service departments will increase the number of students accessing support services on a consistent basis.
As the majority of instruction moves online, student services are available virtually, too. Says Heinz: “We’re still here to help them.”