Interview with Jamie Monville, BlueCorps Advisor
BlueCorps provides face-to-face technology support for students, faculty, and staff. BlueCorps staff is standing by to answer questions about Michigan technologies such as Canvas, Google Suite, Word products, presentation software, and design software. They can also provide in-depth support for assignments involving audio and visual media. This article will take a closer look at how Jamie Monville, BlueCorps Advisor, and her student staff are positioned to work on many levels, helping instructors with in-class support, including workshops for classes and support for instructors as they design assignments with technology requirements.
What is BlueCorps and what specific need does it address?
BlueCorps is a service in ISS that works with students, faculty, and staff. BlueCorps was originally created to provide technology support to faculty and staff for basic instructional technologies such as PowerPoint, Google products, and classroom equipment. Then, when the undergraduate laptop program was introduced, ISS wanted a way to support students who may be unfamiliar with the programs provided on the laptops. Our service expanded. Now, our goal is to be there to answer anyone’s questions. We really want to take away the stigma people feel when asking for technological help. We also want to promote confidence by helping people reach their goals, and even exceed their own expectations.
What do you want students to know before visiting BlueCorps?
First, truly feel as if you can come to us with anything—but understand we don’t know everything and may need to do some research. In fact, we like to incorporate that learning experience into the tutorial to demonstrate strategies for learning new technologies.
If patrons want an intro to a program, they should schedule an appointment. That will give us a few days to prepare so we can use the scheduled time wisely. But feel free to stop by with any questions, anytime. If we don’t know the answer, we will figure it out.
How can BlueCorps Support instructors who want to assign their students a media project such as a blog?
We like to start out with a meeting that includes an LTC consultant and focuses on what instructors want student support to look like. For example, we recently worked with instructors who taught an Art of Film class. They wanted to turn three standard, written essays into audio-visual essays. Our first goal was to make sure students understood what technological resources are available and how BlueCorps can provide support as they navigate the audio-visual essay. BlueCorps created documentation for the students to use as a guide and provided extra hours for students in the evenings right before the assignment was due. We were pleased to have many students come in for the evening workshops.
Another example of how we can support technology comes from working with a children’s literature class. In this class, students were creating children’s books. I led an InDesign workshop for the class. InDesign is an an Adobe product that is traditionally used to layout books, magazines, and newspapers for print, but we integrated it early in the process as a digital storyboard. While instructors want to make sure students have support, they don’t have to be experts themselves. However, I do suggest they dabble in the technology a bit, and we’re happy to work with them on that as well.
How does BlueCorps help students who are assigned video projects and have little experience working with media?
We are comfortable with iMovie, and Final Cut, which are Apple specific programs. Students who do not have a Mac can check one out for twenty-four hours or use the Macs in the Media Center. We also know the more advanced program, Adobe Premiere, which is not platform specific. Our Macs have all three programs: iMovie, Final Cut, and Premiere. Our goal is to be the front line for video questions. For assignments that require more of a production background, we refer patrons to media productions office hours.
Do you come across students who lack confidence in their computer skills?
Yes. We often hear students say something like, “I’m bad with computers.” It isn’t that they are “bad” with computers, rather, they just haven't done or seen something before. For example, BlueCorps has partnered with Stats 250. Students in Stats 250 use the statistical program called R that all Stats students are encouraged to download onto their machines. R requires some coding to download, and most students have little experience with coding. Students lose confidence because they see coding as this difficult thing that only computer science majors can do. The R download isn’t hard, it just takes a bit of time and insight into potential problems that need to be troubleshooted. But how would they know having never tried it? Our job is to walk students through the steps and help demystify the whole process. We have helped 864 students download R since Winter 2016. All they needed was a little support.
What is the best way for students and instructors to get in touch with BlueCorps?
Sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org is the easiest way to get in touch with us. We are also available at our desk in the MLB Media Center, or by phone (734) 763-2985 from 10am - 4pm Monday through Friday.
Visit our desk in the ISS Media Center (2001 Modern Languages Building)