Videoconferencing and Academic Advising

Using Desktop Videoconferencing to Promote Collaboration and Graduate Student Success: A Virtual Advising System

Pamela Havice, William Havice, Tony Cawthon, & Guy Ilagan

The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal

2009

NETS standards that are addressed

Teachers

  1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
  2. Model Digital Age Work and Learning
  3. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

Students

  1. Communication and Collaboration
  2. Technology Operations and Concepts

This article was very interesting to me because it did not only focus on advising students, but it’s main concern was how to meet the demands of advising graduate students specifically since their lifestyles and needs tend to differ from those of undergraduate students.

From the few studies that have been done solely on graduate students, it has been found that academic advising is important in maintaining retention, student success, and student satisfaction. The four main areas that were seen as most important for graduate students in terms of  their adviser were:

“Gives me regular and constructive feedback on my research.”

“Available when I need help with my research.”

“Gives me regular and constructive feedback on my progress toward degree completion.”

“Available when I need to talk about my program and progress.”

The most common concern for graduate students who were not happy with the advising done at their university was that their advisers seem inaccessible and hard to track down.

Since most graduate students manage full time employment, the needs of children and family members, and community responsibility on top of their schooling, their needs are often different from most undergraduate students. It is also common for graduate students to commute to campus or take a majority of classes online. To accommodate for travel time and busy schedules, this study used videoconferencing to have one-on-one appointments between advisers and graduate students.

Students in this study who had an appointment with their adviser via videoconferencing had overwhelmingly positive responses to it. Student were given a simple Virtual Advising System (VAS) kit which they installed on their computer and included a webcam. They were able to have one-on-one time with their adviser without having to waste time traveling to campus. Although most of the students admitted to likely face-to-face interactions better, they stated that they were still satisfied with VAS.

In my experience as a student, it can be very frustrating when advisers are not in their office during office hours, or when they are hard to track down. Although I do not commute to school, I have found that many of my peers travel at least 15-20 miles at least for their on campus classes. I think that using software such as Skype or any other videoconferencing system is something that is extremely beneficial to commuting students and is hopefully something we will be seeing more of in the near future.

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3 thoughts on “Videoconferencing and Academic Advising

  1. Hi Ashley! I’m glad you decided to address the mentoring side of teaching. I am planning to teach at the community college level and I’m always been so focused on instruction in the classroom; I forget that I will most likely be required to advise students as well. I think retention, success and satisfaction are the results of good advising not only for graduate students, but also for undergraduates. In my class for designing and teaching online courses, we looked at some teleconferencing software such as Google Hangouts and we had the idea of using it for virtual office hours. I think any teacher could benefit from using teleconferencing software for advising or otherwise, it doesn’t necessarily have to be meant for commuting or distance students. It’s just another way to make ourselves open and available!

  2. If you were advising students via video, how you would change your approach to advising? As a student, how would respond to or prepare differently for video based advising? Do you think video should only be used in distance courses or also with on-site graduate students?

  3. I have noticed that students find it much more comfortable to talk to their teachers after school if it’s with a method they use with their friends. Several of my students either have added me on Facebook or at least know how to send me a message. Many others send me text messages or email me. I have told them that they can send me a message or phone call on Skype, but none of them have picked that method. I think that just letting the students know that you welcome them trying to get a hold of you when necessary is very important to them. Many staff members act like when they get home they are no longer a teacher and won’t even check their email. While I understand how frustrating it is to feel like you have a 24 hour job, it really does give off the impression that you don’t care about student success sometimes.

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