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Morrow Academic Center offers online services

As Lyon College students adapt to remote instruction, the Morrow Academic Center (MAC) will help them make the transition by offering academic services online.

Director of Academic Support Danell Hetrick said MAC services will move to multiple online platforms. Supplemental instruction (SI) leaders will hold sessions through BigBlueButton, and the tutors, Writing Center staff and peer academic coaches will hold office hours through Google Meet.

“Our staff have been fully trained to use these platforms,” Hetrick said. “They have worked with professors whose courses they support to get a full understanding of how their respective online courses will be held.”

She said the MAC staff members have begun contacting their students about online sessions and office hours, which began on March 30.

“It was a quick pivot for us,” Hetrick said. 

She and MAC Programming Assistant Courtney Beal had read about virtual academic support, but they had not developed online learning for Lyon courses yet.

“We really had to build everything from scratch,” Hetrick said. “I have a phenomenal team, though, so the development and training process went relatively smoothly.”

“I had just returned from SI training,” Beal said, “and the topic of ‘online SI’ was one we brainstormed quite a bit.”

The MAC staff went from not really considering a need for virtual SI to developing a plan to train current staff and to implement a transition within a few days.

“Through all of it, I couldn’t be more blessed to work with colleagues and student staff that truly care for both one another and the quality of services we offer in the MAC,” Beal said.

Jordan Allred, the administrative assistant for the MAC and this semester’s math tutor, said tutoring was a bit easier to adjust to an online setting since it is “typically one-on-one.” She is using Google Meet to video-chat with students so they can screen-share their homework problems.

“As difficult of a transition as it may be, it is nice to get the opportunity to work with these new settings,” Allred said. “We’ll be more prepared if this sort of thing happens again.”

Olivia Lynch, the Writing Center tutor for the MAC, provides writing assistance for the entire campus. She is using Google Hangouts to facilitate face-to-face conversation and is asking students to copy their papers into a Google Doc so they can look over the assignments together in real time.

“I’m most worried about technical difficulties and the inherent distance that comes with online communication,” Lynch said. 

Although video chatting is wonderful, she feels nothing can make up for having genuine face-to-face contact.

“It really is better to review and mark up a paper that is physically on a page, not just on a screen,” Lynch said. “But I’m very thankful that my work in the MAC can transition easily online.”

Allred said one big challenge is going to be keeping in touch with students effectively since they are getting a huge influx of emails and notifications now.

“We’re working on new ways of reaching out. Many tutors can no longer rely on Lyon App notifications and are now using Schoology groups or personal posts.”

She continued, “I think many of the challenges will come easier once we’ve had some time to practice and try these methods out.”

Lynch said she is excited that the MAC staff still gets to help students.

“I’m also excited about how easy it will be to share my online resources with anyone that visits my office hours now,” she said. “Plus, now my dogs can sit in on my office hours and add emotional support on top of my writing support.”

Beal said every single member of the MAC staff has been bringing “their ‘A’ game to the table” in this transition.

“I’m excited to see how it all plays out,” she said. “I will say, though, that I can’t wait to see everyone back in the MAC as soon as we can! Students are the life of what we do, and we miss everyone terribly!”

Hetrick agreed, saying she cannot sing the praises of the MAC staff enough.

“They are students, too, and the same stresses of moving swiftly to an online instruction model applied to them.”

On top of that, the MAC’s student staff have had to acclimate to a completely new way of delivering support to their peers.

“In training each semester, we drive home the importance of adapting to unexpected circumstances,” Hetrick said. “Over the past couple of weeks, they have proven that they can adapt incredibly well.”

For more information or to fill out a self-referral, visit lyon.edu/mac.