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Phase I

Page history last edited by Baynard 12 years, 10 months ago

Phase I: Determine Relative Advantage


The Teaching and Learning Problem


A. Student and School Information

B. Teaching/Learning Problem

C. Rationale and Target group

D. Technology-based solution

E. Relative advantage

F. Background Research


A. Student and School Information  


1.Name and location of the organization:

This project takes place in a small, prestigious liberal arts college in upstate NY.


2. Numbers of students/teachers:

My Project took place in the media studio.

There were 28 student employees and one manager.

The students were in three tiers:

    - 3 Consultants (leaders, typically seniors)

    - 15 Junior Consultants (sophomores to seniors)

    - 10 Trainees (freshmen to seniors)


3. Student characteristics:

The College

The college is "a highly selective, residential, coeducational liberal arts college. Consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country, the college is renowned for pioneering achievements in education, for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the beauty of its campus."



The College "has more than 260 faculty members, virtually all holding doctorates. All classes are taught by faculty members. The student-faculty ratio is 9:1. The average class size is seventeen. Over 70% of the faculty live on campus. One or two faculty families live in each residence hall as House Fellows."



"The College has approximately 2,400 students; roughly 60% come from public high schools, 40% from private schools. In recent freshman classes, students of color have comprised up to 21-26% of matriculants. International students from over 45 countries comprise 8% of the student body (for more information specific to international students, see the International FAQ)."

Basic information regarding the profile and demographics taken from the About page.

Enrollment data screenshots taken at StateUniversity.com.


Demographics Data



Admission Details

Admission Details

Sat Scores

Sat Scores


Student Employee Characteristics

When I interviewed and hired the media studio students, I asked them to do five minute presentations on any technology topic of their choice. Thus, the students we hired have a certain inclination towards technology, the ability to communicate with people and a certain confidence. The student employees who worked at the media studio were a fantastic bunch, both in terms of technology and in terms of helping people. They typically felt very comfortable with technology, and with tackling new things. Nearly everyone that works with technology understands that it is a perpetually changing landscape. Roughly three-quarters of the traffic that came to the studio is routine, but the rest was unique and required unique solutions. The students who worked at the studio were comfortable looking for answers or fiddling (or helping others fiddle) until an answer was found. The student employees were very strong in "googling" for answers to address specific needs. They were also a very collaborative bunch. It was common that a challenge brought together two, three or four people until the best strategy was identified. They were comfortable asking each other for help. They were comfortable searching for help. It was quite common to use the strengths of everyone in the room, if needed. It was a wonderful group problem solving atmosphere (though not the quietest place in the library). They were both strong independent learners and strong collaborative learners.


4. Permission: I acquired permission from Steve Taylor, the Director of Academic Computing Services. He was my supervisor.


B. Teaching & Learning Problem


The media studio was a "do-it-yourself" media production facility located on the second floor of the college's main library. I managed over two dozen student employees, from freshmen to seniors, that worked in the media studio. The studio was open all hours the library was open, from 8:30 in the morning to 1:30 at night (when school was in session), seven days a week. My hours were from 8:30 to 4:30, Monday - Friday. I tried to schedule each of the students with a few hours during the week where our paths intersected. Similar to librarians who have other responsibilities besides hiring, managing and training students (Kathman & Kathman, 2008),  I played a role in supporting academic technology for faculty on campus; I often consulted, in meetings in the library, or around campus. Suffice it to say, I was spread thin. I needed a way to provide in-depth training to all staff members that they could complete independently and asynchronously.


There were four main categories of media production that the studio supported: video editing, graphic design, web design and sound design. The student employees were the front line help for people coming to the Cloisters (which was open to anybody and everybody on campus). The students acted as informal ambassadors for the media studio, and indirectly, the library (Kathman & Kathman, 2000). Typically the students were good in one aspect of the four media areas, but needed cross training in the other areas. Sometimes new hires were relatively unskilled (but enthusiastic). Everyone needed training and it happened informally in fits and starts. Training needed to be consistent and more thoroughly developed as a keystone to better serving the needs of the campus.


Another important challenge was the fact they the media studio employees were students first, as Cynthia Golden states (2000), "The drawback, of course, to relying so heavily on student employees to provide key services is precisely that they are students, and we believe their primary responsibility is to be a student." Their efficiency as employees was influenced by the cycles of the academic calendar. Just when their skills are needed the most by their fellow students, it was likely that they would be under similar schoolwork pressures. The training needed to fit into the rhythms of the academic year; it needed to be ongoing and not too intense. It also needed to be provided in a supported environment and in a well-tracked manner. It also needed to be clear that advancement was contingent upon successfully completing the training modules.


C. Rationale & Target Group 


The Media Cloisters served the entire campus, but primarily students and faculty. Typically, when students or faculty had media production to work on, deadlines were extremely tight (e.g. this is due tomorrow). People generally didn't have time to come back later or the next day, they needed help right then. Training the student employees was an excellent way of providing better academic technology support (indirectly) to the entire campus. I believe also that if this model was effective, it could be replicated in other departments (i.e. the Help Desk, the library, Career Development, etc.) or on other campuses.


"The library benefits from a productive worker who presents a positive image to the public." (Kathman & Kathman, 2000). The students benefited from efffective training because they could cultivate the opportunity to develop job-oriented technology training. This was especially useful at our college, where the focus was on a very traditional approach to liberal arts, and technical training was deprecated.


D. Technology-based Solution 


For my capstone project I devleoped an array of training materials for the student employees of the media studio. The training program developed the learning objects for baseline training in technology expertise, as well as customer service and needs assessment. There were pre-training and post-training surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of the training. The learning objects were a mixture of step by step directions and and video tutorials. Student employees completed these when they were at work. Each module required about an hour of work. Each module produced a "deliverable" (a sound file, a poster, a video and a web site).


Elliott, Foster, Hagerty and Spak (2008) indicated in their pharmaceutical training program that asynchronous online learning objects were effective in training participants using complex materials as long as locally-based efforts at community building are in place. The student employees in the media cloisters were already engaged in a strong local community so I predicted a high rate of success.


After each training module was complete, I evaluated their success by using a rubric that tracked each student employees achievement. After all the modules were complete, the student employees completed a Likert scale style survey assessing the effectiveness of the training (similar to the initial survey). I also solicited feedback on how to make the training better, as this was an invaluable step in an effective training program (Golden, 2000).


In order to prevent some of the networking issues that can impede asynchronous online training materials (Elliott, Haggerty, Foster and Spak, 2008) I made the training materials available without using a firewall.


E. Relative advantage 


Asynchronous online training materials made possible consistent training and cross-training for all students. Training one-on-one or in small groups was not feasible considering everyone's over-packed schedules. The students were generally comfortable searching for and finding solutions to technology issues with online content. Asynchronously accessed online multimedia provided self-paced learning environments for all student employees, reinforced by a local culture of supporting and prioritizing skill development.


F. Background Research


Asynchronous Training in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: A Model for University and Industrial Collaboration explained a number of pitfalls to be avoided when developing asynchronous training materials. Brown (2008) explained the vital role and worthiness of investing training time and funds in students in the IT workforce. Golden (2000) covered a number of effective strategies in cultivating student employees who work with technology. Kathman & Kathman (2000) examined the diversity of knowledge required by library employees.


Asynchronous Training in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: A Model for University and Industrial Collaboration. International Journal on E-Learning, 7(1), 67-85. Retrieved September 26, 2008, from Education Research Complete database.

Brown, J (2000). Student Workers: Can Campus IT Departments Live Without Them? Retrieved October 5, 2008, from Educause Web site: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0331.pdf

Golden, C (2000). Opportunity Knocks! A Student Employment Preparation Program. Retrieved October 5, 2008, from Educause Web site: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM001B.pdf

Kathman, J., & Kathman, M. (2000, May). Training Student Employees for Quality Service. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 26(3), 176. Retrieved October 5, 2008, from Education Research Complete database.





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