Due to the pandemic, 2020 saw a huge boom in online learning. Statistics suggest that 98 percent of all universities in the US moved classes online. Around 75 percent of all schools entered 2021 with the plan to conduct online classes only. As vaccines were rolled out, classes soon left the online-only system and moved to the previous in-person system.
While there were many obstacles because of this, students have benefitted from online academic assistance from their teachers as well as teaching assistants (TAs). And this is something schools and colleges should carry on, even when in-person classes are going on in full swing.
Helping students with their studies online can be daunting. However, things can be made a lot easier. Here are 4 steps that all schools and colleges should follow to help their students with their academics online.
Set Up a Dedicated Online Support Team
During the lockdowns, it was easy to put the entire TA team on support duty. And as long as faculty members did not have any class to take, they too could provide consultation or support to the students in need. However, now that in-person classes have started, schools and colleges cannot afford that luxury. Hence comes the need for a dedicated online support team.
Since faculty members have to take classes like before (pre-pandemic situation), they should not be a part of this support team. However, what academic institutions can do is hire more TAs and student tutors (STs) so that a certain number of them will be available for online support.
The team can follow a roster where they take turns providing online and offline consultations. That way, students will always have the option to reach out to this support team whenever they need it. They need not visit the campus when they do not have any class just to get help on an assignment or homework.
Establish an ‘On-Demand’ Assistance Platform
Setting up an appointment with a faculty member or TA can be painful, especially when they are busy and cannot give time to everyone. So what schools and universities can do is establish an on-demand assistance platform, where students can post their questions or problems in dedicated channels or servers (via Slack or Discord), and the TAs available at that moment (from the support team) can attend to them.
Online tutoring and homework assistance platforms have gained a lot of success following this model. SweetStudy, an online study service, has received amazing feedback and positive reviews because of implementing such a system. With a dedicated team of expert teaching professionals, SweetStudy caters to its students using the on-demand model.
Be it Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Biology, or any other subject, they have dedicated tutors for them all. And whenever a student posts a request for assistance with their homework or assignments, one or more tutors will respond to that request. The student can then decide who they want to take help from, and proceed accordingly.
This model works best when students are struggling with their homework or assignments right before the deadline, or are facing problems before quizzes and exams.
Opt for Appointment-Based Consultation in Serious Cases Only
There will come times when students need more than just guidance on pen and paper. For such situations, schools and colleges should still leave the option for the students to directly communicate with their TA or faculty member. And only in such situations should they be asked to seek an appointment.
The easiest way to do so is to have someone from the online support team handle these appointments and requests via an online form. Of course, not everyone will be free at any given time to attend such direct consultations.
In this case, the students should know that they have to wait at least for a day before they can get to talk to their respective tutor or faculty member. This method will not be very effective for students when they have to solve a problem or query instantly, or when they have a fast-approaching deadline.
Prepare a Cloud Storage of Resource Materials
Students often face problems that are solvable without any sort of outside assistance if they know what resources they should follow. So for that, educational institutes should set up cloud repositories for all courses and subjects where they can have videos, books, slides, and notes related to the respective course or subject.
TAs and STs can refer students to these materials first before taking on their problems directly. It will be the same as using on-campus resources but via cloud storage.
In most cases, students will find a solution to the problem they are facing. This will help save time, as well as allow the support team to attend to other students in need of assistance.
Once all these are done, students will surely reap the benefits. This model will allow students to communicate better with their teachers and TAs and will help them make it through all sorts of academic difficulties they might be facing.