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TRANSCRIPT: Tales4Teaching ep. 81 – Student’s leading from the front: inside Deakin’s student TechAssist initiative

Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Joan: Welcome to Tales4Teaching, a podcast where we explore stories with purpose for higher education. We’ll share expert insights, engaging interviews, and thought-provoking discussions that will inspire your teaching. On behalf of Deakin University I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the unceded lands and waterways on which you are located. I acknowledge the Wadawurrong people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners on which this podcast was recorded, and I pay my respects to Elders past, present and future.

My name is Joan Sutherland and this is Tales4Teaching, brought to you by Deakin Learning Futures.

Hello and welcome to today’s podcast. Today I’m here talking to two students that were part of our Student TechAssist program. Hello, Vamika and Peni, welcome to the podcast. Hello. Thank you Joan. It’s great to have you on board here. It’s always great to get a student perspective. So just to get started. Uh, can you just introduce yourself and the context for you being at Deakin?

Peni: Hello, Joan Thank you so much. First of all, thank you for inviting us onto the podcast this morning. My name is Peni and I am currently doing my master’s in health economics, based at Burwood Campus and also a library student assistant at Deakin Burwood Campus. Thank you. Fabulous. And Vamika.

Vamika: Thank you, Joan, for inviting me to the podcast today. I am a third year student doing a double degree criminology and cyber security at Burwood Campus, and I’m also a library services assistant as well as a student ambassador. So yes.

Joan: Oh, wow. We’re a lot of hats by the sounds of things. Vamika, what did the program offer?

Vamika: It offered quite a variety of support for students. So during my experience, I was able to help out not just students, but just the general public coming through to the Burwood Library with issues such as wi-fi or printing. Those were the main issues that popped up. But as well as just the applications and software Deakin offer that were free for students to use. So had quite a few, quite a few queries about that. So that’s been my experience with the student TechAssist.

 Joan: There’s always wi-fi issues. No matter where you go. There’s always 1 or 2 of those isn’t there. So it’s been a really successful program we’ve heard from Megan. How did your experience in this program contribute to your own learning journey?

Peni: For me personally, it really helped me to understand, to overcome my fear of talking to new people. Uh, especially when it comes to when I need help, you know? So that experience really taught me to overcome that fear of, uh, not knowing someone totally new coming out of my shell, but being able to overcome that barrier, to be able to get the help I need. Yeah.

Joan: And look at you now. You’re on a podcast. What a great thing to achieve through a program.

Peni: Oh, definitely it is.

Joan: And Vamika?

Vamika: I must agree with Peni here. Being a tech student and of having experience in the tech industry, communicating is probably the one trait a lot of technical individuals don’t have. So through this experience, just talking to individuals, even though they might have issues that have been bugging them for a long time, and it’s just it puts that pressure off of them as well as us because we can communicate with them quite easily. And it’s a friendly environment where they feel comfortable to come and talk to us and not be afraid. And that also helps us because we can let down our guard and we can be like, oh, I’ve had that issue before. It’s fine. We can help you.

 Joan: By normalising it for people, by the sounds of it. I’m really interested that you both, um, from a communicative perspective, that was one of the key skills that you gained. What support was provided to you through the program?

Peni: Before the program started, we had a Teams site that was set up Megan and the team, and we had, a training before as well. And even during the four weeks, we also had again, that that Team’s comms. That was really helpful because what what went on there was other TechAssist. They had gone through, um, different situations and different problems in their shifts. And we kind of referred to them and read on them, and that really helped us during the process itself, the four weeks. And, uh, we kind of learned from each other, uh, picked up a few pages from our other TechAssist. Uh, there was some really great support that we received. Yeah.

Joan: That’s great. A Teams site is always a good way of, communicating, especially when you’re not on at the same time. Vamika, what about yourself?

Vamika: I must agree, um, I was. I only have a few shifts to the experience, so it was hard to catch on with what was new with Deakin sites. What was new with the library and things like that. So just asking around and knowing that experience at other student TechAssist individuals have had before. So learning from their experience really helped me. And so the Teams communication chat was the biggest key in helping me out with what I was supposed to do when I got when I had to support, um, the students during my time. So yes, that’s for sure.

Joan: A lot of peer learning that was happening by the sounds of things as well. Yeah. Now, you mentioned earlier that the most common issues that you had was around, like wi-fi and printing, were very common issues. Were there any was anything else and space, how did you adapt your approach to different users given that you mentioned earlier that communication was such a challenge prior to this?

Peni: I think Vamika touched on earlier. Um, she mentioned something about the free, um, software that’s available to Deakin. Uh, one other thing, uh, for me was I come from a health background, but some of the other TechAssists come from technical backgrounds. And so just learning from them and the different types of software the students come in. This is the first time I found out that there are other softwares out there that supported and are not supported by Deakin. Oh, I found out about that was through the other TechAssists that are really knowledgeable into that field. And so, uh, it was just a really great learning experience.

Joan: You learned other skills other than the communications around for an applications. And did you learn how to use them or more? And the support that was offered and awareness of what was there?

Peni: I took my time in definitely just sitting and seeing how they approached the, uh, how they solve the problems. I even have a recording, three minute recording of how he did it. Yes, I went and watched it over. Over. So when another person comes with the same problem, um, this was regarding bypass codes. At the beginning of the four weeks, there was only one person in our team that knew how to do, uh, bypass codes. But by the end of the four weeks, it was a few of us. It’s just we did it from him, and we took our time in trying to learn from each other and helping each other out.

Joan: What a great initiative, but a program to support it as well that you actually recorded it to learn it, saying that there was one student. And then by that peer learning that you upskill yourselves essentially because you know what you need to learn.

Peni: Exactly.

Joan: Vamika?

 Vamika: That’s right. Yeah, that’s quite right. I, I have like a whole OneNote with like, all the questions I’ve been asked. And, um, I had a health student come up to me asking me about the database. And I was like, I’ve never heard of this before. And, like, I couldn’t help her at that time. But after a few minutes, I figured it out, and I was I was so bummed that I couldn’t help her out. But then another individual with the same issue popped over and I was like, oh yes, I can finally help. And it’s written down. And the same went to it like like learning how to do like printing through like ubuntu OS systems, which I’ve never done before or like Mac and I’m just like figuring this out. I’ve never used this user experience before, so that was pretty cool. Just learning that as well as just taking my time to help this individuals out, because not just having different individuals, but they have different experience with like their technical knowledge as well as like working around with their software systems because it’s different for every single individual. So wrapping my head around that, so essentially was just taking my time and communicating well. And that really helped with working with all these different students and different varying technical proficiencies that like that calmed me down and went like, okay, I can help these individuals if I just take my time. So yes.

Joan: That’s awesome. And I you know, I love how much excitement that you actually responding with and how much joy you got from actually helping others. It’s making me excited about the program as well, and how you mentioned about the different operating systems, because that’s not easy either. I’m a Mac user. That’s always a Mac issue. Um, so it’s really heartwarming to hear how you just adapted to the user experience and really took that lens off the user of saying on a PC or on a mac had those. So it sounds like there was a breadth of experience that was shared. Now my next question is around, you’ve touched on that peer learning and other technicians. So while you were actually, um, supporting your peers and other students, does it, does it, um, did it change your perspective on the student experience and from Deakin side or the higher education institute side of things and the challenges that have faced?

Peni: For me, it really was a really rewarding experience. Um, it really made me appreciate the roles that these, um, similar and support roles play for students and the staff that do that on a daily basis. It just makes me appreciate that even more through that experience with the TechAssist for the four weeks. Yeah.

Joan: Did you find yourself actually helping people along the way outside of the actual program?

Peni: It did. Even when the, uh, even when the project ended, it’s it was like second nature to just see someone standing at the printer and having trouble. And I just ask them, do you need help with that?

Joan: And often it’s that first step. It’s the awareness that someone’s there. Someone could be struggling and just offering that assistance and that communication side of things.

Vamika: Yeah, I would say it’s quite similar for me as well. So I think, um, this program did actually make me understand how important it was to have this sort of support program for these students, because although the queries might be as simple as wi-fi and printing, it can often just put that pressure on them and be like, I need to figure out, I don’t know where to go to. It’s such a stupid question. Just having that resource available in the library that really just help them, and seeing that the students could just resolve those issues within few minutes or within that period of time. That made me realise how important that support program was. And even outside of the program, I had one of these individuals who was just it was random day. I was working away and she popped over and she’s like, oh, you helped me with this before, right? Can you help me with this again? And it was just it I could tell like this. It really helped her. And this program doesn’t just influence within the library, but also outside because they can recognise you and they’ll be like, oh, you helped me before. I thank you so much. It’s really grateful to see that. So I could tell how rewarding it was to be a student TechAssist.

Joan: So you paying it forward in a lot of ways by the sounds of things. So that’s fabulous. And you mentioned that, um, you know, even though there are simple things as wi-fi or printing, but they’re big things, right? If you can’t connect to the internet, that’s a big thing. You can’t necessarily do your learning or, um, search different things. So you’re really it’s an integral part, um, to relieve that friction point for any learner. So thank you for all the work that you’ve done there. There’s a lot going on there. So how has this influenced your professional goals in any way if if it has at all?

Peni: For me it is uh, really, um, enrich my personal skills, my personal communications, people skills. And so, um, moving forward with my professional goals, it would for me, it’d be a really great asset personally, um, dealing with people. So I’m no longer timid, uh, no longer because I have that mindset now to help them and make sure that at the end of the day, if they walk away, if we’re able to help them or not, um, they can always see, us that we are approachable and it’s a safe place. So yeah, that for me has been a great, uh, learning experience at TechAssist.

Joan: And I wonder if you take that forward knowing that it’s a safe space that you can approach someone else like you ask that you mentioned earlier in the podcast as well.

Peni: Definitely, definitely taking that forward. Yeah.

Joan: Fabulous. And Vamika?

Vamika: I think rather than influenced, I think it more solidified my professional goals because I’m already in the tech industry. It it’s often a hesitant area to be like, oh, do I just want to figure this out and be in a position where I can communicate with clients and customers? But having this experience made me realise that although I will be in the tech industry in the future, I also have communication under the bag. I can I can carry that goal and and carry that experience that I’ve had through student TechAssist and move further in that industry. And I’m quite happy that I had this experience because it made me realise how how just how rewarding it is to help individuals out when you are in that industry and to see that your work is actually fruitful. So yes, I, I think it really has solidified my professional goals overall.

Joan: I can definitely see and hear in your voices that, um, it’s been a rewarding experience and you’ve got a lot out, which I’m guessing is so lovely to hear from the organisers of the actual program itself. My next question before we let you go, is there any, um, any advice you’d give other students that were looking to do a program, wondering whether to get involved in a program like this? What advice would you give those students?

Vamika: I would say, don’t hesitate. Just just put your foot forward and participate, because it might feel a bit daunting to be in a program where you might not even have the skill sets to help out other students. But you will learn in the journey and it will help you in that journey as well as other individuals and grow in your knowledge overall. And I think it’s it’s amazing to have that kind of experience and just grow in it as a student TechAssist as well as have like relationships with other individuals in the same program, bond with them. So it’s very rewarding for yourself and others. So I would say don’t hesitate to give it for it. It’s worth it.

Joan: That’s great advice. And then you get to do a podcast. Yeah, absolutely. Peni, have you got any advice that you would give anyone?

Peni: So adding on to that awesome advice from Vamika. Um, this I think a lot of students, uh, that I’ve spoken to the normally look for jobs that are in their field. Uh, but library TechAssists are such an awesome role. If they if they’re thinking about it, please go ahead. Um, like Vamika just said see your personal growth at the end, um, is such a wonderful and rewarding experience and do go for it. Keep an open mind, uh, and be a team player and just just get ready to be surprised on all the good stuff and definitely podcast is an added bonus.

Joan: I’m glad to hear that. Look, I want to thank you both for your time. It’s been really, really lovely chatting to you both and hearing your experience and how much you’ve grown through what some would perceive as just another program or like a different program. So it’s really nice to hear those different skills, like communication coming through and not being so timid. Like that’s an I would imagine unexpected outcome. So thank you so much for your time and, um, sharing your stories with us.

Peni: Thank you so much, Joan, for having us. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.

30 May 2024

Last modified: 12 June 2024 at 3:58 pm

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