Hannah Rosenberg / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Students who worked for Cornell’s Academic Technology Center on campus provide technological support to professors from their homes.

May 4, 2020

Students Provide Technological Support for Professors to Ease Transition to Online Learning

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As professors plan online and in-person versions of courses for the fall semester, students working at Cornell’s Academic Technology Center seek to ease the transition to online learning for professors.

Frannie Lach ’22 worked on campus for the Academic Technology Center at Cornell, providing academic technological support to members of the Cornell community. Now, she works remotely from her home in Brooklyn, New York.

During the online transition, Lach offered technological support to professors.

“Recently, the Academic Technology Center has created a webinar series to help professors with the transition to online learning, on Kaltura, a video-viewing app connected to Canvas,” Lach said.

Lach and six other members of the team also spent their weeks editing captions for nearly 50 Zoom tutorials catered to professors.

“To make the videos more user-friendly, we have been editing the automated captions that are assigned to videos, so that it’s easier for professors to look through the video and understand the step-by-step instructions to using platforms such as Zoom,” Lach said.

Working two days a week, Lach was able to take on the same shifts that she had while she was on campus. However, she said that the center experienced a decrease in the volume of work since classes went online.

“The volume of work that we have has definitely slowed down because when we were at school, the job was very active,” Lach said. “We would have people come in with questions or requests for things they needed in their classroom, or call in with questions about academic learning strategies.”

Due to the decreased workload, Lach and other students working for the Academic Technology Center at Cornell are now working on other side projects.

For instance, Lach assists Prof. Daniel R. Schwarz, English, in building his website.

“He updates his website pretty frequently with updates to his CV, his accomplishments, or travel articles that he’s written about his travels, so I generally use HTML, which is a basic web developer language to add his updates to his website,” Lach said.

Though working remotely is new to Lach and many other students, the center hosted team meetings and continued to communicate with the team through Slack to ensure that everyone is comfortable with doing work from campus.

“It has definitely been a supportive environment,” she said.

Yet, the biggest challenge to Lach’s shift from on-campus work has been managing her newfound free time.

“Since I’m not answering phone calls and having professors’ requests throughout my work sessions determine what I do, I kind of have more freedom to choose which tasks I’m going to complete in a given amount of time, and determine what is most important to get done the most quickly,” Lach said.

Lach still prefers to be around her other workers back at school, despite playing a vital role in helping professors transition to online learning.

“It’s harder to communicate when you’re not sitting in an office with all the people you work with,” Lach said. “I miss seeing people’s faces. It’s definitely better to sit down at work. It’s a student run job for the most part, so it’s definitely cool to see other students working on the same things you are, so I miss that.”