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Student mentors help with iPad set up and tech support

One of Liz Webb’s favorite things about being a Buckeye is meeting first-year students and providing some initial support to their Ohio State experience.

The senior has done that since her sophomore year when she was hired by Ohio State’s Digital Flagship team as a student mentor, helping students set up their iPad kits and providing tech support throughout the year.

“I really enjoy helping first-year students begin to get acclimated to Ohio State life or answering random questions they might have,” said Webb, a public management, leadership and policy major. “I like to get to know them and find ways to share some of my Ohio State experience and give them advice to see if I can make their experience a little bit better.”

Along with teaching students how to use iPads and apps, student mentors help test new apps and build resources for Digital Flagship.

Ohio State began distributing iPads to students in 2018. At that time, Webb and her student mentor colleagues provided in-person iPad set up during orientation.

This year, to adhere to COVID-19 protocols, Digital Flagship took a different approach to iPad distribution, with a portion of the nearly 13,000 iPad kits being distributed at St. John Arena during designated times and others shipping directly to the homes of regional campus and all-online students. No matter how students received their devices, they could set up using online instructions and student mentors were standing by to provide iPad support through virtual appointments. As in past years, students keep their iPads after graduation.

Research has shown students believe the iPads are a valuable and versatile tool. Digital Flagship has also found the peer-to-peer mentorship to be important.

Students really benefit from learning from their peers, which is especially true with technology said Cory Tressler, director of learning programs and Digital Flagship. “When we talk about study skills or the student life side of academia, student support goes a long way. They’ll relate to their experiences better.”

Webb and Kenneth Fisher were two of the initial student mentors hired by Digital Flagship in 2018. According to Fisher, student mentors are able to reassure students who may be apprehensive about an entire semester of online classes. Talking to a mentor is a great opportunity not only to discuss using iPads in class but other tools such as Zoom or Carmen Canvas.

 “If we didn’t have the iPads and Digital Flagship, it’d be difficult to do the amount of distance and remote learning we’re planning this semester,” said Fisher, a senior world language education major specializing in French and Korean. “But because we have them, it eliminates one of the barriers for a lot of students so they can prioritize their health and safety and the safety of their families.”

Want more tips from Webb and Fisher? Check these out:

  • Make sure you have a personal Apple ID, not one tied to a family account, so you control personal access to files.
  • Be patient in setting up your iPad, but if you need help, reach out to a Digital Flagship mentor.
  • Take time to play around with the iPad so that when you log in to your first class, you’ll be familiar with how it works. The Digital Flagship handbook has helpful information about the apps you’ll use most often for classes.
  • Understand that instructors also are experiencing tech and online challenges. Reach out and be honest and forthcoming about any problems you’re having. More than ever, instructors are partners in this learning environment.
  • Along with Digital Flagship student mentors, you have access to many other helpful resources.

Published: August 31, 2020

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