“Tech Tutors” Help New Faculty Learn CSUN Technology

In line with the growing role of technology on campus, this year’s New Faculty Orientation (NFO)  focused squarely on technology, helping new professors navigate CSUN’s wide array of resources with several key sessions and workshops.

Among the most innovative was a “tech tutor” session on the second day of the program. According to Professor Whitney Scott, Director of New Faculty Orientation & Programs who invented the concept, 50 new faculty members had the opportunity to pair up with faculty members who volunteered from departments all over CSUN.  These tutors shared their own tips and experiences on using the university’s technology, meeting together in the Oviatt Library computer lab.

“It was really handy because we all had a computer. They were on either side of me and we could have discussions about what kind of classes they were teaching, what their objectives were and what they needed help learning how to do in the Learning Management System.”
Stefanie Drew just began teaching in the psychology department this semester. Though she already tries to integrate technology in her teaching, she still learned plenty from her tech tutor and the other faculty members.

“I think there was a distinct advantage to learning from a peer,” she says. “It was really nice having someone there to say, ‘Here are some of the things I was overwhelmed by when I got started,’ and to actually walk us through the process.”

The most useful thing Drew says she learned from her tech tutor was how to use Moodle to its fullest.

“Moodle was a slightly different system than I’m familiar with, and it has some really great features to help me augment learning,” she says. “The session gave me a chance to see how I actually input information and how it will appear to my students. It was really helpful to see it from the student perspective as well.”

Ben Quillian, associate vice president of IT, enjoys the opportunity to help new faculty members get acclimated to CSUN’s technology resources. He sees the NFO as a way for IT to work with faculty, answer questions and resolve issues before semester begins.

During the orientation, Quillian taught faculty members about tech topics including the campus email system, wireless connectivity, the Virtual Software Library and various tips for computer security.

“I’d like them to think of us as helpful, flexible, and responsive to their needs,” Quillian says. “We know faculty are working on very tight deadlines, particularly if they’re in the classroom.”

The entire NFO experience left a positive impression for Drew.

“You get to meet a lot of different people,” she says. “You could form new friendships, people you might collaborate with later on. I actually still have coffee every month with a couple people I met from the New Faculty Orientation.”

Drew thought the two-day session was very engaging and that the tech mentors — and other professors who volunteered throughout the course of the NFO — were passionate about teaching new faculty.

“The number one objective this year was building relationships,” Scott says. “Everybody on campus says that their NFO was where they met people that made a difference in their lives.”

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