Student Learning Technology Rovers

This month, we are profiling student rovers supporting faculty and staff with learning technologies at UBC Vancouver. Our guest contributors are:  

  • Stephenie Ho, third-year Chemical Engineering student; Learning Technology Rover with LT Hub 
  • Ellysa Paskalitsa, third-year Sociology and Adult Education student; Learning Technology Rover for Faculty of Medicine  
  • Catherine Slamka, fourth-year English Literature and Language student; former Academic Continuity Rover for Faculty of Science 


What are student learning technology rovers?

In 2014, the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) inaugurated the Learning Technology Rover (LTR) program, which sees students seeking meaningful work experience hired to support faculty, TAs, staff, and fellow students in need of troubleshooting support and creative problem-solving in using learning technologies.

Students are hired for four- or eight-month terms and develop key skills, contacts, and understanding of how technologies are applied to teaching and learning. At first, rovers were embedded in Faculties, but when this type of support was particularly needed at the onset of the pandemic, the program was expanded temporarily in collaboration with the Learning Technology Hub to include Academic Continuity Rovers (ACRs). Today, the program includes LTRs based both in Faculties and in the LT Hub. 

Here, three of the program’s participants share reflections on their experiences: 


Q1. Why did the rovers program interest you?

SH: As STEM students, we are taught that our grades define us. Through classes, we learn the technical aspects and theories that are supposed to provide us with a stable future, but we were never taught that this knowledge isn’t applicable to the workforce without the help of soft skills. The rover position stood out to me because I wanted to learn the soft skills that UBC doesn’t teach in class. 

EP: As an aspiring learning designer, I appreciated the intersection of education and technology. The role offered the opportunity to deepen my understanding of educational technologies and support the UBC community.

CS: Prior to onboarding, I admit that I expected it to be primarily a customer service role, which is something I was comfortable with, and part of what had me gravitating toward it. I was, however, delightfully surprised to be as wrong as wrong could be; because while yes, customer service is a critical component, it is so much more than that. Faculty requests went beyond expectations in challenging me to think creatively to problem solve.


Q2. What types of support do you provide?

SH: As an LTR for the LT Hub, I provide technology support to students and faculty. I help create and resolve tickets, host virtual drop-in sessions and answer a help hotline.

EP: I help faculty with IT troubleshooting, software conversion support, and with course design and administration. I often receive requests from Faculty of Medicine students who require assistance in creating their own learning module. I support them by troubleshooting and training with them on Articulate Storyline. I find it very fulfilling and fun to help their vision for a module come to life. 

CS: Most requests concerned helping to incorporate learning technologies into online courses, and answering questions about how to download or use different learning tools. My favorite requests were those about technical issues. The more intricate, the better, as they really challenged me to come up with solutions. When those solutions yielded success, it felt like such a personal victory!


Q3. What excites you about the rovers program?

SH: With the past few school years being online, I watched many instructors and students struggle with the transition to remote learning, so being part of a team that builds a safe environment for UBC staff and students to learn about technology has been incredibly fulfilling for me.  

EP: I am consistently challenged and given opportunities that spark my interest and develop my desired areas of growth. The balance of autonomy and cooperation in this program results in a highly creative, collaborative, and efficient environment, ideal for students seeking to grow in their co-op position.  

Working with self-starters in a communicative team is what makes the LTR program a truly unique and satisfying work experience. Furthermore, this role is tailor-made for students interested in instructional design and learning technology. I am able to learn skills directly related to my career of interest and see how a project evolves from start to finish. This role has exceeded all my expectations.  

CS: Because of the vast array of opportunities for professional development, there is a sense of freedom, as you can explore projects that are most appealing to you. You can challenge yourself to develop skills you may not have initially set out to hone, such as when I decided to explore front-end website development. This freedom lets you figure out what you want most out of your experience. For me, getting chances to flex my technical writing muscles by drafting reports and proposals helped me feel more secure in my love of writing.    


Q4. What else would you like people to know?

EP: As a rover, you are encouraged to explore various responsibilities, learn new skills and work cross-laterally with an array of people across UBC and products across platforms. Most importantly, you are given a close-knit base of support and guidance alongside this wide range of opportunities. You work both collaboratively and independently, and this type of supported autonomy is essentially the “Montessori of jobs” at UBC: a confidence- and skill-builder ideal for all students at all stages of their degree. This role is an important offering for co-op students seeking to advance in their career and widen their horizons instead of just doing basic entry-level work. 

CS: Rovers are involved in many more facets of learning technology used at UBC beyond LT support. We not only rigorously test new and updated learning technologies prior to release, but also research new learning technologies, develop user guides, and participate in initiatives to better support students and staff as a whole.  


Q5. Tell us about one of your projects.

SH: I have written both student and instructor guides for the LT Hub website such as the Gradescope Instructor Guide and the Gradescope Student Guide. Common feedback that I receive is that technology is extremely complicated and jarring to use. The UBC Tool Guides created by LT Hub have been crucial to both instructors and students, especially during the pandemic, as the guides provide documentation and resources for the many applications UBC uses. In addition to supporting instructors and students, these guides are often referred to by Learning Technology Rovers to ensure we are providing the correct information to our users.

EP: I participated in a playtest and white paper on gamification in learning. We aimed to address a lack of practice in clinical judgement in medical education by exploring how these competencies may be developed through game-based learning. We used the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Discovery Tour educational digital game as an example.  

Our project’s scope was to:  

  1. explore and evaluate the game to help inform practices using educational media and technology in higher ed/medicine  
  2. evaluate the use of game-based learning, gamification, storytelling, interaction, general media design, and  
  3. assess potential applications within the UBC Faculty of Medicine curriculum.  

We began with a literature review in order to establish a theoretical framework, then explored the game experience and detailed our analysis and findings. We received great feedback, and our report documented feasible applications of game-based learning the Faculty of Medicine may undertake to enhance its instructional effectiveness. 

CS: I was given the opportunity to lead the project of updating the UBC Skylight website’s Learning Technology section in preparation for the return to campus in fall 2021 and the introduction of the hybrid learning model. After doing analytical research to determine the scope of the updates necessary and drafting a proposal, we designed an entirely new section dedicated to hybrid and online teaching methods, restructured user guides, and introduced new guides to prepare for hybrid teaching. It was a team effort to get the updates done in time, and as team lead, successfully completing the undertaking within our proposed schedule was a real confidence booster. 


Q6. How has working directly with faculty changed your perspective?

EP: By virtue of being part of a small team, the student rover is exposed to upper leadership and is able to learn from and develop connections with leaders in the UBC community. This changed my overall perspective and relationship with faculty from a somewhat anxious apprehension to a more assertive and approachable understanding.

CS: In their support requests, I could practically feel faculty members’ desire to support students and make their online learning experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible. That helped humanize them to me. Faculty dedicate themselves to such an admirable degree to their students, so it was very gratifying to be able to be a part of the system that allows them and their students to thrive.


Q7. What did the program help you to learn about yourself?

SH: The rover program has taught me to be open-minded when it comes to building a career, and that soft skills will be applicable no matter where you choose to work. Under the guidance of [program facilitators] Tim Kato and Kalev Hunt, I’ve also learned to focus more on my strengths rather than my weaknesses. Their coaching approach to supervising co-op students has really inspired me to work towards a leadership-based career and to work on my team-building skills. I really hope that one day, I’ll be able to build the same safe and warm environment for growth that they provided for me and the other co-op students at the LT Hub.

EP: The program helped me to realize my expertise in logic and tech-based tasks and how much fun it  is for me to assist in the creation of learning materials and portals. I found I was much more capable than I previously thought, and that I also rose to the challenge more than in prior, less-supportive work environments. I have been astounded by the wonderful people that comprise my team and by their excellent skills, and I feel that their mentorship and example helped me realize my potential in the field of instructional design and educational technology. 

CS: My experience gave me confidence in my capabilities, and allowed me to move forward as a more assured and capable individual. It also helped solidify my love of writing, which helped me know with greater confidence that I am moving forward in the right direction with my education and career.

Get involved

Faculty at UBC Vancouver can access the support of student learning technology rovers through their Instructional Support Unit or the LT Hub. UBCO faculty can access support through the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

Opportunities for students to become rovers are posted with co-op offices (Arts, Engineering, Science, and Sauder) approximately two to three months prior to each co-op work term’s start date. Read more about the program here.

Enjoyed reading about student learning technology rovers? Learn about other topics we covered in the April 2022 edition by reading the complete Edubytes newsletter. To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

Are you interested in staying up to date on the latest trends in teaching and learning in higher education? Sign up for our newsletter and get this content delivered to your inbox once a month.