Online Learning Student Assistant (OLSA) Program
Supports for Students with Online and Hybrid Learning
The Online Learning Student Assistant (OLSA) program is an academic support program, supported by the Colleges at Trent and coordinated by Academic Skills, to help first-year students navigate the demands of, and thrive within, the online and in-person university learning environment.
Academic Skills instructors and student mentors (OLSAs) provide course-specific resources and answers to student questions related to technical skills, study skills, time management skills, and communication skills; they do not provide support for course content.
Curated Resources for Online Learning
Each participating course gains access to a curated set of academic skills resources, including webpages, tip sheets, and videos, targeting skills necessary for success in a that course. This set will be published into a content folder that can be imported into a course Blackboard site.
Student Mentors (OLSAs)
Participating online courses contain student mentors (OLSAs) who are embedded members in the Blackboard site; they are upper-year students trained and supervised by Academic Skills instructors. OLSAs follow the course schedule and requirements, providing regular communications (emails/posts, videos) and synchronous support opportunities (Zoom).
OLSAs will offer an overview of Academic Skills resources, encouraging students to apply relevant skills to learning activities in the course. OLSAs will make weekly plans under the supervision and direction of Academic Skills instructors for activities that foster intellectual community, such as lecture watch parties, time management planning, study groups, and Pomodoro Method study sessions.
Students learning in-person can access virtual support via the curated OLSA resource folder in participating courses and can contact an OLSA mentor by email.
Learn more from an OLSA Mentor
During the 2020-21 academic year,
- the OLSA program supported 59 first-year courses
- there were over 1,250 interactions between students and OLSAs
- there were over 17,500 student views of OLSA videos and resources
Feedback from OLSA Participants
Biology student new to online learning:
“I found that the documents posted on blackboard were really helpful to transitioning to an online course, I had never done an online course at university and I used the posted documents to help myself stay organized. Thank you!”
Computing and Information Systems student recommends the program for first-year students:
“I thought that the OLSA program is a great idea, and is a great resource, especially for first-year students who are new to University.”
OLSA Mentor Feedback
Robin, 4th year Biology student, OLSA Mentor:
“I would be an OLSA again, because I felt like I was able to help the students navigate Blackboard, improve their time management and develop some new study skills. Students told me that they felt relieved and less stressed after talking with an OLSA because we were able to show them something that seems simple to us, but was confusing to them. “
Jonas, 3rd year Forensics and Biology student, OLSA Mentor:
"Online learning can leave students feeling disconnected but with the help of an OLSA, students can join virtual activities and access resources to help them succeed within their course."
Look for OLSA this Year
For the upcoming academic year, the expanded program will support many first-year courses in the Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities delivered in online, hybrid, and in-person formats.
For further information about the OLSA program or to determine whether you might like to have an OLSA embedded in a course you are teaching, please email Academic Skills.