Meet Ana, a Swinburne Online eLearning Advisor (eLA) going into her fifth year of teaching with us. Ana eLAs for first-year units in the Criminology and Education disciplines and has some insight on what her role really entails.
How can you best explain the role of an eLA?
I am the first point of contact for all of the students within my learning group.
I am there to support my students throughout the teaching period with all of their course materials and help them to develop the skills they need to succeed in their studies.
What are the main areas of support that you can provide students with?
The main things that I help students with relate directly to the unit. Any content specific questions or uncertainty with concepts or theories should be directed straight to me.
The same goes for assignment support. If students are looking for help on a particular assignment, I am there to help them out, especially if they are struggling with the theory or the marking criteria.
Student Advisors (SAs) are also available for assignment support, however they can only offer generic tips, such as how to structure an essay or correctly cite scholarly articles. If you are unsure who to go to, just give the SAs a call and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
What do you enjoy most about it?
The thing I enjoy most about being an eLA is teaching the first year units.
In these units, I get to witness students developing their confidence and skills from when they first begin studying online. It is great to see their journey from the start to the end of the teaching period, and their improvement on both the discussion boards and their assignments.
It’s really rewarding to be able to see your students grow
Do you have a favourite unit to eLA?
This year is my fifth year taking Introduction to Forensic Psychology.
I really enjoy taking this unit because the content is fascinating and students are usually quite passionate about it. Students often choose to take this unit as an elective from a range of different disciplines because of their interest in fictional and true crime series.
How do you connect with students when all of them study online?
The things to remember about students in first-year units is that a lot of them don’t even know what an eLA is. So I like to start off by making an initial connection over the discussion boards. By getting to know the role and me better, students can start to feel more comfortable with asking me questions.
Another thing I do is touch-base with all of our students throughout the teaching period via the discussion board, email and real-time interactions with collaborate sessions. This ensures that students are continuously aware of our relationship to them and the unit, and the support that we can offer them.
What is one piece of advice you would give to your online students?
Studying online for the first time is like learning how to drive.
When you first get behind the wheel, everything is scary. You feel like you need to be paying attention to everything at once and it’s quite overwhelming.
But once you have had more practice with driving, the little things that you needed to pay attention to start to become second nature and you start doing them without thinking about it. Studying online is exactly like that. There’s a lot to learn at the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, you will be on autopilot.
With the help and support available from your eLAs and Student Advisors, you will never be alone at Swinburne Online. If you are unsure about anything to do with your studies, don’t hesitate to send a quick email to your eLA or give the Student Advisors a call on 1300 937 765.