Project Title: Enhanced Student Technology Training
Award number: 0313
Project Leader: Cj Johnson
Report Period: mid-year
Student technology learning needs were addressed when the Technology Fee Advisory Committee created a Student Training Specialist (STS) position and student trainer positions that have been funded by student technology fees since December 1997. The STS coordinates training and supervises a group of student trainers. The group became known as the Technology Learning Center (TLC). In Fall 2000, the TLC acquired a cluster (IACC 150G) which is now a comprehensive learning center where students can receive classroom training on and individual assistance with many computer topics-mostly NDSU standard software topics.
Currently (Spring Semester 2003), the TLC is offering more than 75 computer classes to the general student population. New classes are added each semester, and this semester's new classes include:
- "Adding Video and Sound to PowerPoint"
- "Excel: Goal Seek and Scenario Management"
- "How to Build Your Own Computer"
- "Photoshop: Perfecting Your Image"
- Revised Dreamweaver and Flash classes
In response to student requests for AutoCAD training, three AutoCAD classes were offered in Fall 2002 and are currently scheduled for this semester as well. The AutoCAD classes have been well attended and received high ratings.
The TLC not only provides training for the general student population, but also instructors can request training for specific groups of students. TLC staff members have provided in-class training upon request on topics including Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Scanning, and InDesign. Often this training is customized to cover specifically what the students need to know in order to complete their assignments.
The TLC computer lab is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Monday-Thursday 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.; and Sunday 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. Classes are held between 4 and 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Trainers' hours and their areas of expertise are posted in the lab.
During open lab hours, students can:
- get help with computer-related coursework and projects on a walk-in basis or by appointment;
- meet in small groups to work on projects (e.g., group Web sites);
- get follow-up help after attending a TLC class;
- use self-paced learning materials and reference books available in the TLC resource library (e.g., for learning keyboarding skills);
- get help setting up and using email and Blackboard;
- learn how to capture and edit video using I-Movie;
- learn how to scan, use a digital camera, and work with images;
- try out and use software that is not available in the clusters, e.g., Macromedia Flash, WinZip, Adobe Acrobat, Publisher (Several instructors assign newsletter projects, and MS Publisher is a popular, easy-to-use desktop publishing tool that is only available in the Morrill 111 cluster and in the TLC. Many students have used Publisher in the TLC this year. As a dedicated training center, the TLC acquires free copies of Microsoft software);
- practice presentations that incorporate the use of technology like PowerPoint;
- meet with instructors to work on class-related projects or course work.
Due to a high demand for Java tutoring, in Fall Semester 2002, the Computer Science department began providing funds for a Java tutor to be on duty in the TLC for 10 hours per week. The STS is exploring possibilities for more partnerships of this kind with departments who utilize specialized software in their classes (e.g., AutoCAD, statistical software). Such partnerships could reduce dependency on student technology fee funds, but would require more software and more space for the TLC.
Walk-in lab assistance has been well utilized and continues to increase in use as students become more aware of TLC services. TLC staff continue to seek ways to increase awareness of the TLC. For example, the NDSU student email list is used each semester to inform students of classes and services offered. Also, the TLC works closely with the University Studies 189 classes to inform new freshmen students, in person, of available services and to provide support for the technology component of Skills 189. A third example of promotional activities is TLC Cookie Days, which is held early each semester to distribute copies of the semester schedule of classes and to inform students of TLC services.
From July 2001 through June 2002, the TLC recorded nearly 2300 student contacts for almost 2500 contact hours. During Fall Semester 2002, an Access database was designed for recordkeeping that will enable the TLC to keep more accurate records of student contacts.
Initiatives Implemented Last Year
Two new initiatives were funded by the TFAC last year, and both have enabled the TLC to become more efficient and productive.
The first, the Enhanced Instructional Technology Support for Students initiative, provided funds for Media Assistants to join the TLC student staff to assist students with video and audio capture and editing and other multimedia projects, especially related to classroom assignments. An increasing number of instructors require students to create Web sites, presentations, and other projects that contain multimedia components including graphics (static and animated), audio, and video. Along with the STS and the ITS Multimedia Coordinator, the Media Assistants help with project planning, identifying best methods, and developing learning resources for students. The Media Assistants are also available for in-class training. This semester, two instructors have asked for in-class training for their students on video capture and editing. TLC and Service Center employees are informed about assignments, so they can be better prepared to assist students.
Another important part of enhancing support for instructors and students was the development of a new Web site, by ITS staff, called SPONGE (http://www.ndsu.edu/sponge), which uses the metaphor "Soak up the knowledge." At the SPONGE web site, students can access learning resources organized by project (Create a Web site, PowerPoint Presentation, Create a Video, etc.) or by subtask (scanning, using a digital camera, etc.). The STS and the ITS Multimedia Coordinator plan to update the Web site this summer. The SPONGE initiative facilitates collaboration and communication among ITS service areas (the TLC and the Service Center), ITS staff members, instructors, and their students.
The second initiative was providing funds for a student manager. A student manager works 15-20 hours per week and assists the STS with:
- developing and maintaining the TLC Web site;
- preparing and managing the computer lab schedule;
- teaching classes and working in the lab as needed;
- recordkeeping and database management; and
- marketing and advertising (creating posters, arranging other methods of informing students of the TLC services, e.g., talking to student groups).
Duties of the STS and Student Trainers:
The STS and/or the Student Trainers:
- provide lab coverage for just in time learning in the TLC computer lab (IACC 150G);
- deliver classroom training at times and locations convenient for students;
- deliver classroom training with the assistance of the ITS training team;
- assist instructors with project planning;
- serve instructors by providing training opportunities for their students, upon request, either during class time or outside class time, on either a required basis or for extra credit;
- create and review student surveys and evaluations to identify training needs;
- collaborate with ITS staff (including student staff) to develop tutorials and classroom training modules on existing and requested technology topics;
- research, review, and evaluate training materials;
- revise current training offerings and develop new ones, based on student evaluations;
- create handouts and other resource material to augment classroom training;
- evaluate existing online and CBT (computer-based training) courses for possible use at NDSU;
- engage in professional development activities when possible and appropriate;
- promote and market technology courses to students by using the Spectrum, an electronic list, a Web site, posters placed around campus, contact tables at Memorial Union, and other appropriate methods;
- reserve facilities when needed;
- continue to expand the student training library to assist students with learning new software or to help them develop their current skills; and
- continuously encourage responsible use of NDSU computers.
The TLC continues to look to the future and to consider new ways of serving NDSU students. Long range plans include developing a new web site that will allow students to search by topic to receive information regarding which trainers are on duty at any given time and what their expertise is; related books and software available in the lab; and related online resources (e.g., SPONGE resources).
The STS is also exploring the possibility of providing timely assistance and information via online chat. Students working at home could ask a trainer questions online while the trainer is on duty in the TLC lab. This was implemented at Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA. According to Cynthia Grainger: "The Computing First Aid Chat proved an instant success, growing to account for over 40% of all questions in its second semester" (SIGUCCS 2001 Conference Proceedings, 53). Considering that many students work on computers at home and may be unable or unwilling to visit TLC, especially during the coldest months, implementing online chat services has the potential to become a well-utilized service.
The TLC has been well received by NDSU students. Student evaluations of services are overwhelmingly positive, often expressing thanks. Recently, a student sent this email to the STS:
Let me write you a few of my impressions about the working of Technology learning centre, at our NDSU. During Summer-Fall, 2002, I had a chance to work as an Intern with Virginia Polytechnic(VT). This experience gave an opportunity to compare the conditions at VT with the ones we have in NDSU. I was surprised to learn at VT students don't have access to a learning center like TLC as we have at NDSU. I learned a few things from your TLC (such as designing a web page, Introduction to UNIX, Photoshop, Dream weaver etc..) which are of great help to me in regular work. Let me thank you and your other tutors at TLC for the wonderful service you are offering to students.
As the above email message shows, students who acquire technology skills will be more marketable when they graduate and begin seeking employment. Many students appreciate the learning opportunities afforded by the TLC. In addition, during their college careers, students will be required to use increasingly sophisticated technologies as technology becomes more integral to teaching and learning. A diverse level of competencies continues to exist among our student body. A first year freshman right out of high school and an older-than-average student enrolled as a freshman have similar needs but may have very different technological skill levels. The TLC is committed to making sure that all students at NDSU have the opportunity to play on a level IT playing field. Continuing to fund the Student Training Specialist position and the student positions will enable the TLC staff, through the support of ITS and the TFAC, not only to continue to provide current services, but to work to! enhance, improve, and expand the services of the TLC.
Progress toward Milestones:
The following milestones were achieved. During Summer 2003 and Fall 2003 semesters, the TLC held 158 classes for students (both for the general student population and as requested by instructors) and had approximately 2,770 total student contacts for 3,825 contact hours. Of those student contacts, approximately 1,545 were individual or small group assistance.
06/2003 Hiring completed for summer; begin summer training; conduct student assessment; schedule lab hours
08/2003 Meet with instructors, as necessary, to plan projects; review and update student resources for fall semester
09/2003 Hiring completed for fall semester; begin fall semester training; conduct student assessment; schedule lab hours
11/2003 Meet with instructors, as necessary, to plan projects; review and update student resources for spring semester
12/2003 Evaluate fall training; revise modules accordingly
01/2004 Hiring completed for spring semester; begin spring semester training; conduct student assessment; schedule lab hours
04/2004 Meet with instructors, as necessary, to plan projects; review and update student resources for summer session
05/2004 Evaluate spring training; revise modules accordingly
06/2004 Hiring completed for summer; begin summer training; conduct student assessment; schedule lab hours
This data reflects activities and expenditures for the first six months of the grant period: July 1-December 31.
NDSU fund number: 1547
YTD expenses: 42477.93
Anticipated remaining expenses: 52000.00
Unspent amount: 2560.08