UE Pandemic Response
UCR Keep Teaching is designed to be an information resource and a campus community to help you teach remotely during campus closure. The Keep Teaching website contains Quick Guides to Zoom, iLearn, and Yuja, as well as Best Practices for Exams in iLearn and suggestions for online assignments, Recording Lectures, and more.
The Keep Learning website, which has served as the remote learning hub for students since the shutdown. UCR's online learning support site for students, Keep Learning contains remote learning tips, goal setting, and time management resources, online assignment resources, online proctoring information, instructional technology tutorials, resources on free software, loaner laptops, and Wi-Fi hotspots to help students keep connected to their academic experience.
Prior to the pandemic, UCR had invested in a chatbot to provide student support. ScottyBot is a chatbot, which uses a crafted knowledge base to answer users' questions and provides guidance regarding campus resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. Due to staff transitions, the bot was sitting on a digital shelf and wasn’t being utilized. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated staff across campus, multiple units pulled together to complete the bot and launch the service. To date, the chatbot has had 19,000 conversations with users since it was launched on June 22nd, 2020. Those conversations resulted in over 50,000 interactions with users. Careful attention was placed upon making all answers accessible, with clear contact information and calls to action for students. The bot was designed with language accessibility, incorporating an ability to communicate in English, Spanish, and Chinese–the three most frequently used languages by students and our community. Most notably, additional time was spent to craft, revise, and incorporate our first-gen Jargon guide into ScottyBot to better help address student questions and better navigate the higher education environment. Students have posed answers such as, "What is a Pell grant?”, “How to apply for loans?”, and “How to get a NetID?" ScottyBot makes referrals to campus personnel when unable to answer questions, and LiveChat features are being launched over the next year to better communicate with students.
Growing from student feedback that campus resources were difficult to find online, the First-Gen Initiatives group and the Office of Undergraduate Education at UCR designed and launched a student one-stop resource site. Ask.ucr.edu was designed to be a student resource hub, providing guidance to where answers were located across the institution. The site features the ScottyBot chatbot, a Library-hosted ‘Ask a Student’ live chat, referrals to online learning support resources, a widget of important campus deadlines, video tutorials, and resource introductions, and links to major campus student supports and engagement opportunities. From the beginning, AskUCR was dedicated to providing quick referrals to campus resources and easy navigation to browse the depth and breadth of possible supports. AskUCR has been a robust source for student support, garnering over 4,000 unique views in the first month alone. AskUCR is dedicated to helping students find resources and putting campus services in accessible language to reduce barriers to asking for help. If you don’t know, AskUCR!
Campus sought to address the profound sense of isolation and impacts to the sense of belonging expressed by students as a result of remote learning. Students indicated they wanted less time on their computers in Zoom rooms. Students expressed it was hard to connect with one another and wanted ways to authentically connect with one another. To address these concerns, UCR launched a text-message based mentoring program (Campus Collective) for incoming freshmen and transfer students for the fall of 2020. Utilizing volunteer peer mentors, the campus quickly had over 2,100 continuing students register to support their incoming peers. Within the first three months of the program, over 36% of the freshman class and 27% of the transfer class (as of Feb. 2021) have engaged volunteer mentors. Students have exchanged over 39,000 text messages with one another and have sent UCR critical feedback on how mentees were feeling and where they needed support. Mentors, trained and provided with mentoring resource sites, have made amazing strides in providing a sense of ‘after class’ conversations, or ‘hallway’ mentoring to students who have never set foot on campus.
Slack is a communication platform that allows for enhanced communication and collaboration, both inside and outside the remote classroom. Courses can add a Slack workgroup, which will allow instructors and students to engage in meaningful conversations, share course material, host office hours, participate in study groups, and communicate outside of class time synchronously and asynchronously. Slack can organize different and unique communication streams through channels to create better clarity and focus. It is a great way to keep students engaged regardless of whether they are on a desktop or mobile device. Limited Pilot by Invitation in Winter 2021. Anticipated wider release in Spring 2021.