Written by Sanskriti Maheshwari, Senior Research Assistant, Transforming the Instructional Landscape
The Tech2U program launched in the fall of 2021 with the goal of humanizing classroom technical support to foster innovative teaching and learning in an increasingly technological classroom landscape. The initiative was launched as part of Transforming the Instructional Landscape (TIL). Tech2U is a partnership between Learning Space Management and the Innovation Hub.
What makes the Tech2U program unique is that it not only supports instructors with their technology in the classroom – even bringing the right technology right to them and setting it up for them, but it provides employment to students on campus. The program was a large undertaking – there were 14 full-time Technical Co-Pilots hired to support the classrooms, and a full-time Operations Coordinator. Additionally, 131 work-study students were hired as Student Classroom Ambassadors, providing direct technical support to instructors while earning valuable work experience under the supervision of a full-time Student Experience Coordinator.
The Tech2U Impact Report Fall Winter 2021-2022 has recently been published.
As the Team Lead for the TIL project at the Innovation Hub, my team and I witnessed first-hand accounts from both work-study students and instructors about the benefits of the program and how it helped them. We’d like to share a bit of what we saw as the benefits to both instructors and the Tech2U work-study students. Instructors can put their focus on teaching.
For instructors, interacting with technology can be an overwhelming experience, especially when their focus is on multiple aspects of teaching at once. With support from the Tech2U team, instructors told us that they were able to focus on teaching and engaging their students in the courses – which were often delivered both in-person and online simultaneously. Tech2U has had a positive impact on the well-being of instructors and has empowered them to work with technology, enhancing not only their own skills but the experiences of their students.
One instructor told us:
“I’m able to show students both in the classroom and attending online the main lecture material, field online and in-person questions, carry out experimental demonstrations, engage in zoom polling, and accommodate student needs. There is no way this could have been achieved without the Tech2U program.”
Tech2U has a made positive impact on the day-to-day lives of both students and instructors. Not only did it allow instructors to focus on what truly matters, their students, but it has been crucial in helping to build meaningful connections between students and staff members.
Students gain employment and valuable work experience
Throughout the program my team and I have had the chance to interact with the Tech2U Student Classroom Ambassadors. It has been heartwarming to see the confidence, the sense of belonging, and professional skills students have gained during their time in this program.
One student reflected on their experience:
“Honestly, when I started this job I was questioning myself if this is the right thing for me , but now I feel like I am getting better every week, and that is my win-win!”
Many of the Tech2U Campus Ambassadors were students who were on the campus for the first time during the training sessions in September. For many of them, it was also their first time in Canada, working in their very first job.
Given the challenges of settling in an unfamiliar country and learning to integrate oneself in a new culture, our team saw that the Tech2U program helped make the transition easier on many. One student recalled that they “met five new friends in the Tech2U program which help[ed] [them] a lot because [they’re] not a talkative person and [they] have to practice English because [they’re] not a native speaker. “
The Technical Co-Pilots have been incredible mentors to these students, and have also shared students have grown . One co-pilot mentioned that “some [students] have very impressive successful troubleshooting. I’ve seen their skills and confidence build tremendously.” Another co-pilot stated “every interaction with my [students] is a joy — they have come into their own.”
There are exciting times ahead for Tech2U as the first cohort of students has recently completed their work-study term and a new group of students are being hired for the summer of 2022. My team and I are proud to have played a part in the launch of this initiative and we hope to see it continue to grow and thrive in the future.