At Nimbus, we’re always thrilled to start a new partnership – to connect with the new teams and support their unique campus culture. With that, we are beyond excited to announce a new partnership with the Mount Allison Student Union in New Brunswick.
We sat down with Charlie Burke, the Vice President of Academic Affairs at the Mount Allison Student Union, to talk about the union’s ambitious plans for centralizing the various campus tutoring programs using the Nimbus platform and how they intend to meet the demands of a hybrid campus.
What drew you to partner with Nimbus?
Previously the Student Union hasn’t been involved with peer tutoring. Last year, our president became really interested in Nimbus and seeing how we could help play more of a role in connecting students with tutoring. I got involved to bring Nimbus to campus and figure out a way that the student union can promote and centralize the tutors across societies.
My main goal is when students think “I need a tutor,” they can just go straight to the Nimbus app, instead of having to go searching through the different student societies to find a tutor in the subject they need.
Our previous format also really wasn’t efficient because once the students found a tutor, they would email them only to find out they weren’t available, or they were on exchange or something.
So my main goal this year is to just centralize and make today more efficient.
Will you manage the tutors, or will it still be under the discretion of the societies on campus?
We’re stepping away from the on-boarding of tutors so the societies can still put their tutors on this app. The societies know what kinds of tutors they need and we don’t want to interfere with that.
We’re partnering with the Meighen Centre this year, which is our location for any students who need any type of accommodations, whether that be like learning or physical. They have a pretty strict set of rules that their tutors need to have and need to be qualified in order to be Meighen Centre tutors. We don’t want to step on their toes because they’ve got a system that works really great over there; we just want to make sure that it’s more accessible and efficient for students.
The big thing that we like with Nimbus is that we can now send out surveys and see tutor ratings and see where complaints are. We’re excited to use these tools to pinpoint where tutoring needs to be more efficient and where organizations can do better. We’re looking to get a better experience for people to use this year.
Have you changed your approach to the tutoring program at all this year due to COVID?
Because of COVID things are just different because they need to be quite virtual now, or have the option of being virtual. Partnering with Nimbus gave us that option to have virtual tutoring sessions and tools like the whiteboard to run them.
This fall Mount Allison is doing this 50/50 hybrid of in person classes and online classes. So we wanted to make sure that students who were learning remotely weren’t completely left out of peer tutoring, because they couldn’t FaceTime a tutor or something.
It’s also a good safeguard, just in case any outbreaks or anything happens that sets back restrictions. We have Nimbus as a safety net because it has that virtual option.
So you are primed to go almost completely virtual if you need to.
Yeah, exactly. That was one of the biggest reasons why we went ahead with Nimbus this year and got so much University support. So many of the different organizations across the university really wanted to come in on this with us because it gives that safety net where if things need to move online, we can quickly transition.
Do you have any advice for tutors who are going to be navigating online teaching?
My advice is to be patient – I think that’s my advice generally this year. Even with students when talking about faculty – it’s different. It’s really different. And it’s not gonna go as smoothly as things could be just because we’re in this crazy world right now and we don’t really know what’s going to happen.
Take things slow. Learn the tools and try out different methods of tutoring and you will get that same success at the end of the day.
This is that new normal that everyone’s talking about, right?
Yeah, exactly. It’s gonna be different and so many people can’t wait for things to go back to how they were. They might go back to normal, or you might be on Zoom for quite a while.
Try to embrace the new things that are coming out of this; utilize all the opportunities and cool things online and remote tools that are coming out. Just because something’s online doesn’t mean it’s automatically less valuable. It could end up being something super useful, that you end up using on a daily basis.