Technology Assistants Program Is in Full Swing

Posted: January 19, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Emily Yaghmour

Exactly one year ago, New Century College and the Division of Instructional Improvement and Instructional Technologies (DoIIIT) launched a pilot program to meet several needs: to train undergraduates in technology skills, to give them practical work experience, and to assist faculty members and departments with their technology needs. The pilot was successful. Twelve New Century students participated in the program, providing assistance on a dozen projects. This year, the Technology Assistants Program (TAP) can accommodate twice that number of students and projects, and includes students from other units within the College of Arts and Sciences.

TAP offers academic credit to undergraduates for supporting faculty members and instructional units with their technology needs. Each semester, program coordinator Elena Collins accepts proposals from undergraduates who would like to become technology assistants and from faculty members who would like technology assistance. “A selection committee then evaluates proposals and matches students with faculty members,” says Collins.

The students who are accepted into the program receive 45 hours of instruction through DoIIIT. Each assistant can choose one of three program tracks: web design and development, spreadsheet design and development, or classroom mentoring. The assistants work 90 hours on the project or projects to which they’ve been assigned.

Other universities have programs that pair tech-savvy students with faculty members who need technology assistants, but those programs differ from Mason’s TAP in a couple of important ways, says Collins. First, most programs pay their students for the technology assistance they provide, while TAP offers students academic credit instead. “I think that’s a fantastic cost-saving benefit of this program,” says Collins. Second, TAP requires each participating faculty member and student to develop and sign a learning contract, which “clearly spells out the student’s learning goals and responsibilities for the semester and the faculty member’s responsibilities toward the student.”

For more information about TAP, contact Elena Collins at x33897 or ecollin2@gmu.edu.

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