This week, we sat down with Manjyot Kalkat, the Vice Stick Academic for University of Manitoba Engineering Society about running a faculty specific tutoring program and how he’s expanding the program while everyone is off campus.
Kalkat also talks the discord server UMES is using to stay in touch and keep that school spirit going across the country.
What was your tutoring program like last year?
Before this we just had a registry that was posted on our website. If students wanted it, they would go to the registry, look for tutors under specific classes and then contact them from there.
What are your tutoring program goals for this year?
This season, we’re looking to increase our reach to the undergraduate engineering students. We hope to do this by increasing the tutoring programming through our partnership with Nimbus, adding more tutors so that students will have a number of choices from the different classes and making sure that students know that we have this set up.
How are you approaching this expansion?
After we got the [Nimbus] program set up and I got access to the admin console, my first step was to approach tutors from the previous years to see if they would be interested in joining our new program this year. Once everyone has been transitioned and were accustomed to the new platform, we pushed our promotions. We promoted to various social media accounts and sent an email blast to the undergraduate body. Doing that we were able to recruit more tutors and made sure that the students knew about the program there.
It has been effective. Through the weekly newsletters and emails there has been an increased number of applicants to the tutoring program.
”Through the weekly newsletters and emails there has been an increased number of applicants to the tutoring program.
What made you interested in working with Nimbus?
[Our exec team] really liked what they saw with Nimbus, mainly that everything was encapsulated in one platform. The big thing for me was having the online whiteboard feature, so during these trying times students will be able to teach each other online. Also having a payment feature right there as well, just having everything in one.
I’ve heard a lot of tutors enjoy the ability, when they’re setting up meetings, to use the messaging feature and then they can contact and find out what specific topics that the students would like to address. Then they can be better prepared for their first meeting.
What [the students] enjoy is how you can give feedback on tutors and read reviews that others have posted about them. They can better gauge if they will be a good fit for you.
I could imagine that the whiteboard feature would be pretty necessary with engineering.
It’s really good.
”What [the students] enjoy is how you can give feedback on tutors and read reviews that others have posted about them. They can better gauge if they will be a good fit for you.
What other sorts of strategies have you put in place to cope with the pandemic?
One thing we have set up is this faculty wide Discord server. All the students can come on to chat and there’s different class channels on there. It’s another method for students to have discussions with one another and help each other out. They can just hop on the discord to chat and whatnot, it’s nice and relaxing as well to be in contact with everyone.
Students are always able to come and contact me with any academic needs. I can either help them or I can direct them to someone else who might be better suited to help
Do you have any advice for students this year?
I would say just ask for help, whenever you need it. There are plenty resources that UMES offers the Faculty of Engineering and is offered university wide by the University of Manitoba. – like mental health resources and academic resources. So, making sure to get well informed with those. We make sure to do our job, promoting them as well.
Along with that I would also advise students to try to make connections in these times with other classmates and older classmates.