There is no greater burden than potential. That’s the experience Lindsey Voisin, Student Learning Coordinator of Writing & Academic Skills at Nipissing University, felt about her school’s peer tutoring program. She was keenly aware of the benefits peer-tutoring programs bring to students but, faced with the burden of an analog database, didn’t have the time she needed to help the Nipissing peer tutoring program flourish.
Nimbus Learning was able to help alleviate many of the challenges Nipissing was experiencing in launching their tutoring program, leading to a significant jump in sessions in just one semester. (79 times more sessions compared to the previous year, to be exact.) After developing a vibrant and functioning tutoring platform, Voisin also says she still has time to connect with tutors and help them develop critical soft skills that will benefit them for years to come.
We sat down with Voisin to hear about Nipissing’s first year with Nimbus, how Nimbus gave her time to focus on what matters and where she intends to direct the momentum.
How were you managing your peer tutoring program before Nimbus?
We’ve gone through a couple of different things. At one point, we had a binder filled with requests for tutors and a binder filled with applications of tutors with the courses that they could teach. We kind of played the memory game.
Our database and programming team did everything that they could with what they had. But, in the end, it was an internal database and we spent quite a bit of time just trying to make it what it could be.
We know the importance of peer-to-peer education and the value of that vicarious learning model, but we couldn’t offer it. We just couldn’t do it justice. Nimbus has really, significantly changed my interaction with a program that I have wanted to see succeed, but was being held back by its own realities. And that means the world.
What drew you to Nimbus?
I was spending a good chunk of my days either running defense on database issues or trying to support peer tutors and make these connections, when there was a whole other part of my job that needed to happen. That’s really what drew us to Nimbus – the ability to actually spend time with my tutors, to spend time on their training and their development.
I should add – it reduced a lot of barriers for students. Our former system was full of barriers, from the initial cost output to the amount of time it would take to set up a session. Students also had to go down to the finance office and bring us a copy of their receipt to show they paid for the session. There were all of these extra steps that Nimbus has taken care of.
Nimbus has really, significantly changed my interaction with a program that I have wanted to see succeed, but was being held back by its own realities. And that means the world.
How was the onboarding process with Nimbus?
Seamless. I have no complaints.
I think the most helpful thing was that I honestly felt like there were no dumb questions. I am sure I came up with some ridiculous things, just because I was having trouble conceptualizing things and understanding program credits and sessions, but I never felt like there was a bad question.
What are your goals for the first year with Nimbus?
I think I’ve achieved them. I definitely want to get more students onto the platform. At this point I feel good with my tutor recruitment. Now I’m focused on getting more students on here, because we can see the students who start using the platform make use of it multiple times. Something is working there – we just need to get more of them on.
I feel that Nimbus has pulled out all of the stops. We’re building a new baseline and it’s doing good so far.
If you want perspective, we did the math and we’ve had an 8,000% increase in sessions over this time last year. I should say that that means that we had one tutoring hour this time last year – but that’s meaningful, right? It’s still, vis-a-vie other institutions, a small number, I admit that. But for us, that’s huge. And for each of those students, that’s huge.
We’ve had an 8,000% increase in sessions over this time last year.
You said you like to spend time with your tutors so they feel like they get some personal development out of this as well. What does your training look like?
I’m pretty proud of our training program. We offer paid training for all of our tutors which, to me, shows we value their time and their commitment in a meaningful way. We don’t just offer a certificate of completion or whatever, but some money.
We run training in a few parts. Tutors do virtual modules on all of the standard institutional requirements: workplace health and safety, accessibility, training, harassment, discrimination. Next, they do a training module about academic integrity. They then have a training session with me where we actually go through the program policies and procedures, how to use Nimbus, what their expectations are, et cetera. Finally, they’re added to a Microsoft team that’s dedicated to the tutors. That’s where they can have conversations with other tutors and we have short training videos on different topics that we throw into that team. Any resources that we come across we put into files, and they have access to all of those materials.
We’ll also have a January check in as well, to make sure they have everything they need.
Whether or not they’ve had a session, they also get recognition as being peer tutors on their co-curricular transcript. This way they get recognition for doing that training. Then, if they happen to have sessions as well, they can get recognition on their transcript for that.
(At Nipissing, the co curricular transcript — called the Record of Student Development — formally tracks students’ out-of-classroom learning. Things like training, workshops, volunteer opportunities and certificates, all get put on Nipissing University transcript with the goal of demonstrating the transferable soft skills they develop at school.)
Was there anything else you'd like to add about your experience with Nimbus?
Honestly, we’ve had a lovely time. It’s been nothing but support this entire journey.
At Nimbus, we’re not just rooting for you – we’re actively working to help your program succeed. If you have any questions or are looking for support while recruiting more tutors (help drafting email campaigns, marketing materials, et cetera) we want to help! Connect with us today to get started.