The Colleges at Trent have launched a new academic support program to help first-year students navigate the demands of, and thrive within, the online learning environment during the fall term.
Coordinated by Academic Skills in the Colleges, the Online Learning Student Assistant (OLSA) program embeds trained upper-year student mentors in Blackboard course sites, while also providing a content folder that contains a curated set of academic resources, including web pages, tip sheets, and videos, supporting students as they build the skills necessary for success in online learning. The mentors – known as OLSAs – answer student questions related to navigating the online learning environment, while course content is supported through instructors.
“We developed this program to provide easy access to skill-building resources and connections to experienced student mentors”, said Academic Skills team lead, Erin Stewart Eves. “This program has the goal of engaging, motivating, and supporting skill development for first-year students as they become familiar with online learning platforms.”
The program was piloted in 13 courses from various disciplines during the second summer term. Five OLSA mentors engaged students in weekly activities, designed to foster intellectual community online, including lecture watch parties, time management planning, and study groups.
“Students told me that they felt relieved and less stressed after talking with me as an OLSA because I was able to clarify concepts that may have been confusing for them,” notes Robin Brownlee, fourth year Biology student and OLSA mentor. “I was excited to be part of this pilot project designed to guide students in their learning journey at Trent University.”
For the fall 2020 term, the expanded program will support many first-year courses in the Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities.