eLearning Technology Blog

Virtual Mentor program adds new staff, training

by WSU Online 22. May 2013 17:01
margy fotopoulosI am pleased to announce that the student activities fee committee has renewed funding for the Virtual Mentor program. It is rewarding to know that the program continues to be seen as a benefit to students.

Each spring we summarize how we spend the funds we received, and how we expect to use the funds we request. This process requires us to look back, and look ahead.

Looking back, we had several notable events.

A model for others. I am particularly proud to report that an academic institution attending our Virtual Mentor webinar was inspired to create its own Virtual Mentor program. We shared our course files, course space and expertise with them and they are on their way to having a program of their own.

Face to face meetings. Three of our VMs staffed a booth at our March Tacoma Rendezvous. It was a great opportunity for them to meet students and to answer questions.

Exceptional VMs hired. The aspiring VMs who completed  the spring training workshop were exceptional and we hired six of them; they are shadowing other VMs this summer and will be taking on their own classes in fall.  We only conduct one training session per academic year, but we are happy to keep students’ names on file for the next session.

Looking ahead, we have some improvements in the works:

Technology Training. Students are increasingly required to use Blackboard Collaborate, Tegrity, and, most recently, VoiceThread in their online courses. To better support them, we are going to train the VMs on all three technologies.

New sandbox. In addition to training, the VMs now have access to a course space where they can practice using the aforementioned programs.

Different access level. In the past, VMs have had instructor access to the Angel course space. But instructor access was more than they really needed based on the tasks they are permitted to do under the Virtual Mentor mission statement. Now, the VMs will be listed as students rather than instructors in the course roster. This change will not affect their role. The exceptions are the Lead VM (Anne Ramsey) and her assistant (Alina Zollfrank) who will continued to have instructor access.

We’ll be sending out an e-mail in August asking you to request a VM for fall. When you get a VM, be sure to encourage your students to contact them about non-content related matters. They want to help!

Looking both back and ahead, it’s always great to see instructors and VMs becoming a team, each with different expertise but the same goal of providing students a rewarding online experience. 

Margy Fotopoulos

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