For many professors, managing in-person classes while simultaneously following new COVID-19 procedures has caused extra stress in class. To alleviate additional pressure experienced by professors at Southern Adventist University, administration has created an opportunity for each class to have a teaching technical assistant.
According to Cynthia Gettys, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Biblical Foundations of Faith and Learning, the positions were developed in response to numerous conversations with faculty on campus about feeling overwhelmed with the additional technical requirements associated with COVID-19.
“This is the first of many ways we are seeking to support faculty during this difficult time,” she wrote in the email.
According to Gettys, professors are allowed to select one student from their class rosters to hire as a tech assistant. The role would include coming to class ten minutes earlier to assist professors with setting up technology, monitoring zoom chats and assisting with band checks and seating charts for contact tracing. Students would be offered resources and adequate training for the position.
“Administration will pay for the cost of the tech assistant,” Gettys wrote in an email to faculty. “[The students] will earn $75 for the remainder of this semester… In Winter 2021, if this was provided for a full semester, these students could earn up to $150 for serving as a tech assistant for a course.”
According to the email, Southern’s Online Campus will provide resources for the students as well as on-going training opportunities. Gettys hopes tech assistants will be beneficial for classroom efficiency.
“Our goal is to help you [faculty] provide the best Seventh-day Adventist Biblical, Christian worldview instruction for each student while maintaining your excellence in the classroom,” Gettys wrote in the email
Rachel Williams-Smith, dean of the School of Journalism and Communication (SJC), reacted to the newly-created tech assistant positions.
“There used to be a time where I could walk into class five minutes early with time to spare,” she said in an interview with Accent. “Now, I walk into class and there are lots of procedures to follow. And to have one person handle it all is very difficult.”
Williams-Smith selected a technical assistant for her class who has been helping even before the position was created. She believes the assistance has allowed her to start on time and run the class more smoothly.
“Having a tech assistant does not stop all of the problems that arise,” Williams-Smith said. “But it gives you another hand in addressing the problems instead of solving them by yourself.”