WU academic resources remain available in new virtual format during campus closure

Sulan Pathiranage | Staff Reporter

In order to accommodate students transitioning to online instruction, many academic resources have now been moved online, with flexibility for students living in different time zones.

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The Learning Center, The Writing Center and the University Librarians have all transitioned to an online format, using a combination of Zoom video meetings and online chat systems. Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) and instructor office hours have moved to Zoom as well. Large lecture classes are actively using Piazza, a forum where students can answer each other’s questions with input from instructors.

The Learning Center, which hosts academic mentoring programs on campus, plans to continue its usual programming, but will do so online.

“Learning Center’s peer coaches can help students with staying organized in online classes, finding a study routine, communicating with instructors, talking through the change in methods/tools used in courses, group work, study skills, test anxiety and more,” Director of the Learning Center Dr. Jay Sriram wrote in a statement to Student Life.

The Learning Center website includes a schedule of academic mentoring sessions by subject, which will take place over Zoom.

The Writing Center also allows students to book appointments online. Students can upload attachments for their writing drafts beforehand, and then log in and find a link to the video conference at the time of the appointment.

“Every single one of our tutors (professional, graduate, undergraduate) continues to tutor from wherever they are in the country and the world,” Director of the Writing Center Dr. Robert Patterson wrote. “And many of our tutors have even added hours to their schedules, knowing their peers may want a little more help or even just a chance to talk to someone from campus.”

Similarly, the Washington University Libraries’ website has been updated to include information about the outbreak and new online resources. The library’s webpage has links to online databases, remote resources and a responsive chat system that connects students to University librarians.

The librarians have also created a COVID-19 research guide with resources to keep students better informed about the crisis.

“A subject librarian can help students navigate the current information landscape, which can be a challenge with our current reliance on electronic resources,” Classics Librarian Christie Peters wrote.

Contact information for subject librarians can be found on the library’s website.

Since instructors are still adapting to the new online landscape, students are advised to check their inboxes frequently. Despite the resources available, there has been some concern that students may be less inclined to access them.

“In the current situation, I feel less likely to seek out these resources than I was when on campus. It feels more impersonal,” freshman Joshua Chu said.

Despite the difficulty of the online transition, faculty said they will continue to provide resources for students.

“We’re doing the best that we can to keep students informed about changes to our services and to help them connect to the resources that they need to succeed academically,” Peters wrote.

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