December 3, 2012

APOP_411, a Helping Hand for the College Community

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Although it is part of the basket of services included in APOP’s Collective Professional Development Fund, the online help tool APOP_411 has been available to all users of technology in colleges regardless of their status. Indeed, asked on the phone, submitted by email or through videoconference technology, questions come from an amazingly wide variety of academic departments and services. Teachers, professionals and support staff comprise about 33% of the queries we receive.

What are the current preoccupations of your colleagues? Among teachers, four fields of interest stand out: publishing content (26%), the operation of advanced features of PowerPoint presentation software (15%), CMAP concept mapping software (11%) and interactive whiteboards (7%).

In the professional category, Microsoft Office Suite has the lion’s share (56%), followed by project management/archiving software (19%). Among these users, we note that the sub-category of “IT pedagogical counselors” focuses on subjects directly connected to information technology, such as publishing content, digital whiteboards, CCDMD resources, public domain software and social media.

For support staff, one subject stands out; 91% of the questions relate to the Microsoft Office Suite.

Distribution in percentages of requests for assistance at APOP_411 from September 2010 to November 2012

Furthermore, a case can be made for a correlation between requests for help and overall software use within the network, as presented in the Profweb column of April 2012 Small and Grand Passions – Teachers Express Their Opinion on Their Choice of Academic Software and Web Applications.

If you think that this “just in time” and “made to measure” service is purely for technical help in real time to put out fires, the following illustrations will allow you to get a bigger picture of the services available through APOP_411 for academic practice and management.

When integrating a podcast into the content of a website poses a problem…

Media content involves the use of various tools and software to process files. A teacher called the APOP_411 service in order to get guidance to digitally process an audio sequence, and then to integrate it into a WordPress site. A member of the APOP management team acted as a resource person and guided the user from beginning to end of what was, in this case, a two step process. During the first stage, information was provided by phone, but later an illustrated custom-made guide for the specific needs of the caller was provided.

Extract from a user guide provided as a result of this APOP_411 request from a francophone teacher.

Another example of a custom guide created for an APOP_411 request.

In a second step, when editing the first audio clip, the resource person accompanying the teacher in the integration of the podcast file created a custom “cheat sheet” to ensure that the caller could function independently when adding capsules in the future. Once this “one on one” help is at an end, the user is reminded that the service is always available should additional information become necessary.

Or when the interactive whiteboard broadens perspectives!

The introduction of new media tools, such as the interactive whiteboard, allows teachers to try new pedagogical strategies, using software applications that they are already familiar with. For example, a teacher wanted to use the potential of the interactive whiteboard to have students learn a simple way to make their program portfolios done in PowerPoint more dynamic. The resource person and the teacher analyzed the relevance and ease of use for various functions of the interactive whiteboard, and selected elements that could bring presentations to life, including the adding of action buttons and the insertion of multimedia sequences. To facilitate carrying out these operations, a graphically illustrated guide, similar to the one shown below, was sent to the teacher to make the steps of the process easier.

Extract from a guide sent to the user which deals with managing data in Excel.

These various examples of requests for service that have been received at APOP_411 illustrate their diversity as well as the level of personalized service. As each of our guides specifically targets one applicant’s situation, however, illustrating the wide range of our offerings is challenging!

Helping Teachers Promote the Use of IT in the Classroom!

APOP_411 service is also available for students! It can be used for academic projects of a technical nature in diverse learning contexts, both in and outside of the classroom, including strategies to foster academic success, technological skills acquisition and the implementation of software or technology tools such as laptops and tablets. When a project is related to a particular topic in the IT Student Profile, the students can receive a Démo_express, which is an information capsule targeting skills acquisition. For example, to facilitate the use of digital tablets in class, Demo_express can touch upon the parameters of a tablet, as well as applications improving productivity and essential communication for individual or classroom-based learning activities.

Similar to the service offered to college personnel, APOP_411 for students is available during business hours, Monday through Friday, from 9 AM to 5 PM. How does one ask APOP_411 for
students a question? By web-based form, by phone, email and by Skype! When required or technically possible, the VIA video teleconferencing platform comes to the rescue through APOP_online. As for the promotion and dissemination of the APOP_411 student service within a college, the message is broadcast with the help of customized promotional posters “tailored” according to the targeted project and taking service features and the information space available into account.

A dynamic image of APOP_411 targeting student users.

Follow-up is also a part of the service. Each call is either recorded or digitally tagged and added to a database which is transferred to colleges in a monthly statement.

One could say that, by analogy, the APOP_411 service constitutes a technological “emergency clinic” which can be called upon for “just in time” assistance through the skills and advice of a trained “practitioner” who can identify and resolve the inevitable “technological pitfalls” that arise.

Call APOP_411 for all your IT needs!

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