In summer 2020 Georgetown launched a student-faculty partnership whereby students, in the role of Instructional Technology Aides (ITAs), use their technological skills to help facilitate a seamless hybrid or online learning environment for students and faculty. Now in its sixth semester, the ITA program at Georgetown enables students and faculty members not only to work smoothly with technology, but also helps them forge new personal connections, seize opportunities for learning, and develop mentorship relationships. For this post, CNDLS Graduate Associate Chelsea Zhang interviewed three students who have worked as ITAs and participated in training newly appointed ITAs:
Making Connections with Faculty and Students
Davlyn Velez is a lead ITA, a current senior in Sociology, and has been helping a professor in the Anthropology department. Davlyn has been an ITA since the 2020-2021 school year and enjoys mentoring new ITAs. One of his greatest enjoyments has been connecting with the professors and getting to know them on a personal level. Furthermore, learning from the lectures, getting feedback from the students, and having the stability of a work schedule appealed to Dalyvn. In his experience, professors express appreciation for the technical support because that allows them to focus on other course components, such as teaching and grading. One of the challenges Davlyn mentioned was the need to clarify expectations between the student and professor in the beginning to understand everyone’s skill level. Acting as a mentor for students is a lasting favorite memory of the program.
Learning about Different Subjects
Angelique Besnard has been an ITA for several terms now and is currently a senior in the SFS program. As an ITA, she enjoys the opportunity to sit in and learn about different subjects and lectures that she would not typically be exposed to, such as graduate classes. Furthermore, the special opportunity to develop a relationship with the professor beyond the course material is pivotal, realizing the human aspect of education and the human connection that we all need. Angelique noted that the feedback that professors seek from students to make the courses more engaging is very powerful because professors recognize the voices of students. According to Angelique, while sometimes the amount of time spent in front of the screen can be a challenge, it’s worth it, knowing that your efforts to help the educational system improve are appreciated. One of the greatest takeaways from this program for Angelique is understanding and learning the different ways in which people learn and how to help students learn better using technological tools and pedagogy.
The Mentor/Mentee Relationship
Esther Wroth is an ITA who started in the fall of 2020. An SFS student at Georgetown, she credits the ITA program for helping her discover new topics that she didn’t know she was interested in, such as the class “Feminist Thought,” taught by professor Elizabeth Velez. Velez remains one of her mentors today because of the opportunity she had to listen in to one of her lectures, a moment that opened the door to further conversation. She cites one of the greatest opportunities of the program as the chance to build a real connection with the professor outside of the traditional classroom dynamic, without grades at stake. While initially starting as an ITA, Esther was worried that she might not have the advanced technological capability for some tasks, but she later realized that the professors were appreciative and supportive. Whether taking the job as part of federal work study or for its built-in flexibility, Esther believes that the ITA program is a great opportunity for students to learn and enrich their education.
For more information on the ITA program, click here.