In an interview with the Program Support Supervisor at Teaching and Learning Center’s Cara Farnell,  Farnell explained what the TLC has been up to since the new year started and offered an overview of resources they are offering students during this pandemic and a fully online quarter. Farnell also talked about what they have learned along with what students should know about the upcoming year regarding the TLC.

Q: What resources are you providing to students during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

The TLC has largely continued offering the same services, just via Zoom! In some ways, we are more accessible now because the quantitative side has started offering appointment-based help instead of ‘drop-in’ style we had on campus. And not having to come to campus probably makes it easier for a lot of people to have an appointment, we hope!

Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your ability to provide resources?

We can’t offer face-to-face in-person appointments, but there is so much we can still do thanks to Zoom! And our writing side has always had asynchronous appointments where you upload your paper and the consultant reviews it without you being present, so really, we were well-prepared for something like this. 

Q: What have you learned during this pandemic? 

We’ve learned how to offer our services in this new way, via Zoom! This will be helpful in the future even when we return to campus since there will be students who want to talk with a consultant but might not be able to come to campus.

Q: What has been one of the larger hurdles faced during this pandemic?

The swiftness of the transition was a hurdle! We had to be nimble and responsive but also careful and deliberate. It’s a tough thing to balance and like many services at UW Tacoma, we learned a lot from the process and continue to incorporate what we learned by tweaking our systems.

Q: What do you wish students knew about the TLC both know during COVID-19 and in general? 

Three things:

  1. We are open! I think some students have assumed that since campus was ‘closed’ so are we, and they didn’t seek out our services like they would have on campus.
  2. We hope students know about two of our unique services. Our Digital Learning Peer Consultant can train you or point you to online resources to develop the digital capabilities needed to be successful in your academic activities. The Peer Success Mentors will help you navigate learning in this new way but adapting existing and adopting new successful learning strategies.
  3. Make sure you’ve downloaded the Zoom desktop client. It allows you to chat with classmates and tutors and participate in breakout rooms. Just entering a Zoom meeting via your browser is not the same thing as having the full Zoom app!

Q: What advice do you have for students?

You can do this! In my capacity as a learning consultant, I’ve had many conversations with students about learning from home. The common theme is “this is too different and I’m just not an ‘online learner’ like other people.” First of all, if you believe that, you’ll live up to it and sell yourself short! 

You have done your own homework, taken your own tests, and written your own papers — you are already an independent learner who knows how to structure your time and your studies. Online learning isn’t as different as regular learning, as long as you are employing effective learning strategies. 

You are in college to learn and being flexible with how you learn is actually a part of that! It might look like other people have it figured out more than you, but it is actually just that you aren’t seeing their struggle and their process to adapt and grow from this experience.

Q: What role do you see yourself playing in relation to student learning?  

My role at the TLC as the Program Support Supervisor is to help things run smoothly, so I’m constantly taking in feedback and bringing it to our staff to see what we can do to improve. My role as a Learning Consultant and supervisor to the Peer Success Mentors means I’m helping individual students learn how to be their best student selves through their learning experiences.

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