Academic Success Exchange Recap: Moving From All Virtual to Hybrid Support

19 May 2021


For the very first Academic Success session on May 13, 2021, center managers and higher education professionals met to discuss concerns, challenges, and ideas for transitioning to a hybrid model of support for students. We had a rewarding discussion about moving from all virtual support to hybrid support (a blend of both in-person and online) and exchanged ideas about this important move. Below are some of the questions and ideas that were discussed.

“How can we let students know about the changes and our services moving forward?” 

This question arose early in our discussion and those in attendance offered up the suggestion of emailing the students (as permitted). Accudemia users can take advantage of the email messaging system and send mass emails to student groups. Many schools also have institutional email programs that allow them to get in touch with all students or large groups of students very quickly. Contact your school’s IT office to inquire about these options.

“What do you do when emailing the students is not permitted or is limited?”

One suggestion offered was to speak to the institution’s marketing department to see if a scheduled email blast or student newsletter post would be possible. Another suggestion was to post fliers/posters in higher traffic areas and send them out to department offices. 

Another idea was to work with the faculty members, do class visits if possible, send out a syllabus statement for faculty include, or create a short video and ask instructors to play it in class. If you don’t have the resources to reach out to all faculty, start with the instructors who teach the highest-traffic courses you assist with or those whose students appear most often in your center.

Other possibilities include placing a message in the student portal or LMS system. See if IT can help create a pop-up message in these systems that the student would see when they log in. 

Another creative idea was to wrap a bunch of water bottles with custom-made labels with information about your center and place them out on tables near the main walkways for students to grab on their way to class.

"How are you dealing with the unpredictability of demand for tutoring online vs F2F?"

Several attendees stated they would have specific staff members or specific hours designated for online vs in-person support to make it more manageable. If you include in the name of your services in Accudemia either "online" or "in-person" that will make it easier to manage and assign staff to those specific services in their schedules; plus it makes it clearer for students and staff, and make for better reporting.

One suggestion for centers trying to offer both at the same time or wanting to remain more flexible was that you might enable a waiting line in Accudemia for online services and then cast it to a visible screen in the center so that staff can see when someone is waiting for help online.

"How are you setting up your center for social distancing?"

An important point made was to make sure that you have a traffic flow and clear directions/signage. If possible, have a separate entrance and exit, or if you must, have a spot marked for staff and students to stop and wait for others to exit/enter to help keep people apart.

To help keep things safe, it was recommended that ID card readers be used and have staff fill out the sign-in kiosk selection path rather than have students check themselves in/out so that only one staff member is touching the keyboard and mouse.

Some centers have installed plexiglass dividers at tables and others are spacing small desks/tables around the room and have a stack of clean and dirty handheld whiteboards and markers for working out problems together.

Additionally, some centers are still staggering which staff members work from home and which work in the centers when space is limited.

"Will you be going back to pre-COVID operations or will you be forever changed?"

Almost all centers represented said that they were either considering or had dabbled in offering online tutoring/services before the pandemic. Now that they have figured out the management of this, they plan to continue to offer online services even when things return to normal.

Please comment below if you have additional questions or insights you wish to share on this topic.

Academic Success Dialogue, Join us on Tuesdays from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EST for this engaging networking session!

Have questions for other centers and institutions about Accudemia or other topics of interest? Get connected and ask!

This is a great way to network with other academic center administrators to exchange ideas and collaborate. While we will host and moderate the live session, the discussion will be driven by academic center administrators such as yourself. Each weekly session will have a preset topic voted on by those who attend. We invite higher education professionals to join us Tuesdays for our discussion.  See more details at the Accudemia Weekly Sessions website.

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