Navigating a New Way to Learn
Kyra Richardson ’21, a digital media intern in LITS and a student writer for the Communications office, describes her new role on LITS’ virtual Student Support Center.
As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Hamilton students have, along with faculty and staff, embarked on an unprecedented virtual learning journey. Despite Gen Z’s frequent classification as “digital natives,” or, a now impressively felicitous term, “Zoomers,” I know from my own experience that the transition has been anything but natural or intuitive.
For example, during the first two days of remote classes, I couldn’t quite adapt to using the “hand-raising” function on Zoom and continued to instinctively physically raise my hand whenever I had a comment or question. While on one level, I use this point to expose the amusing degree to which my classroom habits are ingrained into me; on another, it shows that virtual learning takes — as one of my professors keeps reiterating – patience and compassion, for yourself and others.
One notable display of patience and compassion is LITS’ institution of the virtual Student Support Center, an online email, chat room, and Zoom-based resource staffed by student digital media and research tutors. As a digital media tutor, I and my team are committed to aiding fellow students with Zoom-related research and digital project queries they might face in the coming weeks.
Our training for this role combined our prior campus tutoring experience, our personal engagement with Zoom, and LITS’ online resources and other virtual learning procedures. I’ve already found our work successful through the support my fellow tutors and I have provided to our peers. For me, it also serves as a way of maintaining one of my Hamilton sub-communities. Although each of us tutors now resides in some location that is not Hamilton, as we work together on Zoom, in some ways it feels as if we are back in the Research and Design Studio in Burke Library.
The Virtual Student Support Center is available 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, and 12:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. Students can email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or chat with research tutors via the LITS homepage, and video chat directly with digital media tutors via Zoom with any queries they might have, like how to use the “raise-hand” function on Zoom (now, a personal favorite), how to access Blackboard’s discussion boards, or how to create a podcast.
Although for many of us, virtual communication is all but second nature at this point, I’ll be the first to admit that navigating these new online learning platforms alongside my other responsibilities as a student, a member of a family, and a member of a world facing a global pandemic can, at times, be tough.
We at the Virtual Student Support Center hope to provide fellow Hamilton students with some consistent peace of mind and support throughout the remainder of the semester, whether that is with the technology they use to access their classes, or the online research they do to fulfill their assignments.