I just started taking a technology course, and I need additional support. While some students in the class seem to completely understand the content, there are those of us who are trying to determine how to best complete this challenge. Do you know of tutoring services or any other support that might improve my chances of success?
This is a great question! This topic comes up often, especially with the adult learners that I have the honor of supporting.
For many post-traditional students, technology has transformed so rapidly that for those of us who remember changing the ribbon on a typewriter or accidentally erasing an entire hard drive with the push of a key, it can be very overwhelming. On top of that, you may be in a class where others seem to understand all of the technological lingo while you’re still trying to figure out what hotkeys are.
To put this in perspective for our residential undergraduate readers, I actually remember sitting in a technical college computer course in 1995, learning about “electronic mail” and “how to dial into the World Wide Web.” I’ve still got the textbook to prove it.
I ended up dropping out of school later that year (life happened) and didn’t return for 22 years. As a working adult student starting in 2017, I had never taken classes online, used e-books, or had a proctored digital quiz. This wasn’t the way things were done “in the olden days” when you walked into a classroom three days a week, with textbook in hand, and your quizzes were taken with pen and paper while your professor walked the rows watching you.
Technology can be overwhelming, especially when it seems that so many of your classmates get it.
So what do you do when you are taking a course that you feel you need some extra support in, especially when that course isn’t one where tutors seem readily available? This is when you have to dig deep and change your thinking.
Mountains can either be challenges to overcome or barriers to keep you from moving forward. If your goal is to earn a degree, then we’ve got to first think of this situation as a challenge, not a barrier. And if we’re thinking of this as a challenge, then we have to determine how to overcome it.
There are several ways. The first step would be to do exactly what this reader has done, ask for guidance or support. Mercer is serious about its vision statement, “To change the world, one student at a time.” That means we are here to help you throughout your journey, while guiding and supporting you as you reach your goals.
If you are facing an academic challenge, first reach out to your professor. Your professor has office hours, even if that office is virtual. Generally, professors’ office hours are found in the syllabus, but you could also email them and ask. It’s totally OK for you to reach out to your professors. In fact, I encourage you to meet with them even if you aren’t struggling. Get to know them, and let them get to know you. Afterall, they are a fundamental component to you reaching your goal. Let them know you are having difficulty understanding the material. If you are working on an assignment, do the most you can on your own, and then ask for their feedback (long before the due date). Your instructors want to see you succeed, and their goal is that you fully grasp the material they are teaching you.
After reaching out to your professor, also reach out to your classmates. Do this for a couple of reasons. No. 1, you may have a classmate who understands the concepts and can explain it to you in a way that helps you understand. No. 2, you may have classmates who are struggling just as much as you are, and together — working through the material and researching on the internet while also taking notes from the lectures — you will begin to figure things out. Even if you are online, meeting with your classmates can be simple. Through Canvas, you have the ability to message anyone in your class. Once you find classmates that want to pair up, you have access to start your own Zoom meetings. For more information on hosting a Zoom meeting, go here.
Additionally, reach out to the Academic Resource Center. While most of its tutoring is for math, science and writing, the staff may know of individuals who would be willing to help you with technology.
Finally, check out khanacademy.org. This website is filled with tutoring guides and educational videos covering a plethora of subjects. And, if you have children, it’s great for them, too.
You can do this! Remember the saying, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” You didn’t enroll at Mercer to graduate as the same person who started. You came to Mercer to grow into the person that you’ve always known you could be. And we’re here to support you along the way!
Take the steps necessary to overcome this challenge. I promise, you won’t regret it.
As always, I wish you health, happiness and continued success throughout your journey.
Kelly Browning, student success coordinator at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, answers questions from the Mercer community. Email her at email@example.com or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.
Feature photo by Anna Shvets.