Tommie Tech Student Resource: Tips for Faculty and Staff – St. Thomas E-Learning And Research
Student Systems of Support, Uncategorized

Tommie Tech Student Resource: Tips for Faculty and Staff

This article describes the University of St. Thomas student technology resource called “Tommie Tech“ Canvas site, and how faculty and staff can use this resource to support student success.   

What is Tommie Tech?                                                          

All current St. Thomas students have access to a Canvas site called Tommie Tech, an orientation to St. Thomas technologies and online learning resources. There is both an undergraduate and a graduate student version. The current COVID pandemic has further reinforced how students need equitable digital access to resources to enhance participation in virtual spaces.  

Tommie Tech invites students to: 

  • learn about key tech systems such as Canvas, Zoom, Murphy, Office 365, and OneStThomas; 
  • set up their devices including free apps to download; 
  • practice with technology tools; and 
  • locate additional resources while learning online. 

Tommie Tech includes videos, tutorials, and optional activities so that students start their classes knowing how to upload assignments, set their notifications, find 24/7 help, and more. Tommie Tech Site Facilitators keep the site current, post occasional resource updates, and help students find the technology resources such as the UST remote tech desk help.  Tommie Tech complements (does not replace) the more specific college/department level orientation provided to students, and enhances the course-specific student prep module that instructors may include in their courses. 

What do students say about Tommie Tech?  

Many students report finding value in having access to the Tommie Tech site, especially early on in this program.  Here are a few examples of impact from this resource:   

  • “I loved having the screenshots that walked me through how to access the platforms step-by-step!” 
  • “I think the best thing is the canvas app because you are able to see and get notifications on your phone.” 
  • “I thought it was cool that we get 1 terabyte of free cloud file storage in OneDrive.” 
  • “That’s awesome there is 24 hour help available for students, it makes me more confident that if any tech problems arise, I’ll have help to solve them.” 
  • “The in-depth tour of Canvas helped me get the hang of how classes will be organized. The “preparing your devices” section helped me catch and address a few potentially-frustrating tech shortcomings.” 
  • “I have a strong background in technology and have taken many online classes. Combine that with this very thorough orientation and I feel ready.” 

How do students access Tommie Tech? 

Students find Tommie Tech on their St. Thomas Canvas dashboard. If they have trouble finding this site, please contact services.stthomas.edu or the techdesk@stthomas.edu. 

Tommie Tech is especially pertinent for newer students, students who have had less access to or comfort with technology or academics, and/or students unfamiliar with St. Thomas technologies. However, some more experienced students also use the site. Students get to decide when and if the site is helpful for them.  

How can faculty and staff access Tommie Tech? 

St. Thomas instructors and staff are invited to self-enroll into the Tommie Tech Sample Sites: 

Try out the activities and share your feedback on ways to further improve the resource. 

How might instructors, advisors, and program leaders use Tommie Tech with students? 

Professors, advisors, program leaders, student service team members hold a special role to help students to find and use this resource. A few ideas to consider: 

  • Instructors could point out this resource to students on your course site home page or in course announcements. Prior to a new semester or course start, include a message in your pre-class or week 1 note such as “All students are enrolled in a Canvas site called Tommie Tech. Please explore the resources in this site and try the suggested activities by or before the first week of class” OR you could point out certain activities that you’d like them to try. 
  • You are welcome to include the student course URL in your current course or student communications. 
  • There is an option in both sites for students to receive a St. Thomas Tommie Tech certificate if you would like students to document a certain level of engagement with the content. (Note: Starting fall 2020, all first-year freshmen undergraduate students were required to complete Tommie Tech before their first semester and receive a certificate of completion.) 
  • Advisors, Counselors, or Disability Services team members – If you see a student having technology challenges or needs, ask them if they know about the Tommie Tech site. If not, help them find this course on their Canvas dashboard. 
  • In your advising notes, say “For additional technology support, explore the Tommie Tech Canvas site-there for you, 24/7. If new to St. Thomas, we suggest completing practice activities in the site too.” 
  • If a student has unresolved tech needs, point them to the services.stthomas.edu or  techdesk@stthomas.edu for one-on-one support.  

Where did Tommie Tech come from (in case you are wondering…)?  

These sites combine ideas from both the Orientation to Online Learning site (launched in Summer 2018) and the fall 2019 Tommie Tech sites. The earlier versions of both sites had a lot of student, faculty, and staff input that guided us on what to include in this current site. At the start of the COVID 19 pandemic (spring 2020), all students became automatically enrolled in the respective site to ensure equitable access to technology support for all students.  

Starting May 4, 2020, all current and upcoming students are automatically enrolled into the respective site (graduate or undergraduate). There is a daily enrollment feed to ensure that students are not missed. After students are given access to the site, if they do not want to be in the site, they can request being removed at any point (see the home page for unenroll option).  

This post was written by Jo Montie, Online Learning Student Success Facilitator (jkmontie@stthomas.edu) with the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email Jo at jkmontie@stthomas.edu. 

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