Students visit departments, ask faculty to look into SmartSite

The SmartSite online course-management system, with all its features and potential, can seem overwhelming to faculty the first time they dive in. A three-minute introduction might be a more manageable dose.

For two weeks this month, a group of technologically astute undergraduates in the ET students program (ET means "educational technology") are visiting faculty advisers in various departments to deliver a three-minute pitch for a SmartSite training session tailored to that department. A few minutes might be all a busy faculty member can spare, and it's just long enough for the ET students to outline what SmartSite offers.

"It's a proactive way to get faculty involved" in using SmartSite, said David Silva, one of the three ET students who came up with the idea.

Steve  Faith,  Steve  Dana,  David  Silva,  Christina  Blake  and  Jillian  Ng  talk  about  SmartSite  at  a  table  outside  Surge  II  last  springSteve Faith, Steve Dana, David Silva, Christina Blake and Jillian Ng talk about
SmartSite at a table outside Surge II last spring

ET students Silva, Christina Blake and Jillian Ng will also bring fliers to distribute to faculty members. If the adviser is interested in further training for their department, the ET students will prepare a PowerPoint presentation and discussion based on the information they learn from their brief talk. The faculty adviser will then recruit other faculty to attend the longer session.

The idea surfaced when the ET students brainstormed ideas on how to raise awareness of SmartSite among faculty who don't use it, or who don't take advantage of existing training sessions.

SmartSite became the main campus system for teaching, working and studyi ng online last fall, and its various tools--Gradebook, resources, wiki, and many others--will eventually replace older course tools available through the MyUCDavis Web portal.

Many students see SmartSite's potential, the ET students said, but do not use it much in their classes.

"This project is different from the other trainings because it brings a student perspective of SmartSite to faculty," Blake said. "We want to see professors engaging their students with SmartSite."

"[The outreach] is good exposure," said Steve Faith, faculty training coordinator in the Academic Technology Services department of Information and Educational Technology. "It's good for the people they're talking to, to hear about SmartSite from a student perspective."

The student effort aligns with ATS plans to focus more of its SmartSite training in academic departments.

The ET students also plan to set up tables on campus where they could answer questions, distribute fliers and gather comments about SmartSite. "We anticipate tabling in several key locations during fall quarter, but this is subject to response," Blake said. The drop-in times will be advertised.

The students staffed a table during a trial run on Hutchison Drive near the Academic Technology Services offices in Surge II in spring quarter. They talked with passers-by and collected comments from several people.

The ET students, employed by ATS, are trained in the applications commonly used in teaching at UC Davis. The program, overseen by Cheryl Schellhous, was formerly known as ET Partners.

For your own 3-minute presentation, email the ET students at etpartners@ucdavis.edu or call them at (530) 754-2115. For more about continuing training sessions on SmartSite run b y Faith and fellow faculty trainer Fernando Socorro, contact the Teaching Resources Center or visit smartsite.ucdavis.edu.