The Alma Mater Society at the University of British Columbia had an incredibly successful first semester with Nimbus. They increased the amount of sessions run by their tutors program by 7.5 times the previous semester’s count, reduced their administrative workload, and began a group online tutoring feature which will be fully supported by Nimbus at the start of this year.
We spoke to Sheldon Birkett, the coordinator for AMS Tutoring, about launching a completely virtual tutoring program and how they worked with Nimbus to tailor the app to exactly what they needed.
AMS has had a really successful year so far. How did you guys set yourselves up at the start of the semester to hit the ground running?
At the very beginning of September we held virtual Imagine Day, a day where students can go around to different booths and ask questions and see different clubs. We mainly focused on Nimbus, and I think that really increased the initial interest in it.
This year we also had tutors pre-record announcements for class which I actually sent to all the major first year courses like the sciences and other big courses. We also sent the professors some materials the Nimbus business development team provided me about the app. I also made a course banner they could add to the syllabus, like a QR code on the syllabus they could scan and go to the app or find out how to access other services offered by AMS Tutoring.
Nimbus helped a lot because they reached out to many AMS constituencies – the clubs and organizations at UBC, like the arts undergrad societies, the economics society, geography… Nimbus reaching out to them helped promote the service because there’s only two of us overseeing 30 to 40 tutors for both in group and private tutoring, so we don’t have that much time to devote to marketing.
”This year we also had tutors pre-record announcements for class which I actually sent to all the major first year courses like the sciences.
What sort of supports did the Nimbus business development team provide?
Mainly it was any technical issues or anything that had to do with repayments, like refunds or anything like that. I would also ask [the Nimbus team] to also help out with marketing for the app. What we really appreciated at the start of the year was self-promotion tips for tutors on the Nimbus app. That was a great idea because tutors can have much further reach than a coordinator can by just doing the promoting online.
We can only provide a certain number of courses because the AMS is funded through UBC AMS and we can only provide so much. Nimbus is a great solution because the Nimbus platform made it possible for AMS Tutoring to bring on the engineering undergrad society; there’s a big demand for engineering courses that we can now offer.
Do you feel that Nimbus has helped you with the growth of the program?
Yes. I think that it made it more accessible. I’m on the app and its intuitive to use, especially during COVID it made the service a lot more accessible for students…I think that’s a major reason why a lot of students prefer using Nimbus rather than going through Zoom. Also, the appointment [feature] to book one on one; I think students really appreciate that.
”What we really appreciated at the start of the year was self-promotion tips for tutors on the Nimbus app. That was a great idea because tutors can have much further reach than a coordinator can by just doing the promoting online.
Has Nimbus helped you reduce your administrative workload at all?
This saves a lot of time for me because we have, in addition to the constituencies, tutoring for UBC varsity athletes. A large part of our tutors are appointment tutoring in previous years, and this year as well, because varsity athletes get subsidized tutoring…In terms of the payment structure, what the coordinator used to do at the end of every term would tally up all the training sessions and hours and everything and send it over to varsity, extended the payment, everything. On the Nimbus app, …[UBC varsity] they just pay on an as needed credit basis through the app, which is super helpful for myself as I don’t have to keep track of that. They have their own console on their end to deal with it.