April 21, 2020
As AUCA prepared for its recent transition to online learning in light of the ongoing quarantine, student tutors from AUCA’s Writing and Academic Resource Center (WARC) stepped up to train peer advisors to use the online meeting platform WebEx. In total, 17 WARC tutors volunteered to train others in WebEx.
Elizabeth Davis, Assistant Director of the Institute of Education and an assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, has been coordinating the larger effort to prepare for the transition to remote learning.
“In this training role, balancing practical knowledge with general approaches for online learning is tricky,” she said. “I think most people want to know how to do it, and it is hard to make time to think about the approach and instructional design when there is so much stress in learning new technology.”
Owing to his prior experience with WebEx and his facility with computers, programming tutor Pavel Ges, a software engineering major, was selected to serve as an IoE Fellow. In that capacity, he helped show faculty, staff, advisers, and fellow WARC tutors the ins and outs of Webex, particularly its more advanced functionalities. In total, Pavel estimates that he spent some 12 hours delivering trainings, as well as additional time on various other organizational and troubleshooting tasks.
“I was glad that I received such an opportunity to help AUCA in such hard times,” he said. “I am happy if my participation helped to increase the smoothness of the transition and to enhance the quality of online sessions even by a little bit.”
Prof. Davis added that she hopes that as the practical side of using online platforms grows more familiar, there will be more room to consider the nature of online pedagogy in and of itself.
“It will be fun to see what we learn through online learning for the remainder of the semester,” she said. “We as professors want to make sure our students stay engaged, and this was probably the most common question I heard from faculty who joined the trainings: ‘How do I ensure my students are participating and staying engaged?’ Through this question, I could see how much the faculty care about their students and their learning.”