Blackboard and Broken Links: Behind the Scenes with a Student Worker

Our student workers truly enrich our work and days. It’s truly enjoyable for faculty and staff to watch students grow in the time they’re here. While the years at university sometimes seems to ebb and flow for students, it flies by for us. Today, senior Jordyn Moore reflects on her time working with the eLearning team.

As my fourth and final year at college draws to a close, I often find myself reflecting upon my time as a student worker in eLearning.

I remember my parents compelling freshman me to find a job on campus. I got on the HR emailing list and waited with bated breath for a non-dining commons opportunity, assuring my parents that I would find a job soon. Come October, I received an email about an open student worker position in eLearning. I immediately applied.

When I came in for my first day of work, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In my first few weeks, I spent most of my work time going through my instructional designer’s (ID) courses and writing APA citations for each outside source.

Looking back, though it was a very lengthy and tedious process, I can see how documenting hundreds of books, articles, and videos helped me develop not only as a student worker but also as just a student: by the time I was done, I was much better acquainted with APA format, Blackboard, Microsoft Office, and Trello. Since that first project, I have completed many different assignments and I’m excited when I think back on all the things I’ve learned from my work in eLearning these last few years.

Share Concerns & Ask Questions

From the get-go, I learned a lesson that has stuck with me throughout college and has helped me in many other aspects of my adult(ish) life: just ask the question.

During the first couple days of training as a student worker, my supervisor would usually tell me what she wanted done and give me a brief verbal overview of how to get it done. At first, I floundered a little. I am a very visual person and sometimes have a hard time following instructions or repeating a process that I haven’t physically seen. It took a bit of courage to stick up for myself in front of my brand-new boss and ask her to visually show me what she meant before I tried to complete the project myself.

Now, a little more than three years later, I can navigate Blackboard and Box well because I took five minutes that first week to tell her how I learned best. I still have questions every now and then, and I have no problem clarifying instructions, due dates, project priorities, and asking how to most efficiently complete a task. Most of all, I know that asking questions won’t annoy people; it will only help me to do my job better.

Tedious Doesn’t Mean Less Important

Living in such a fast-paced world where our impatience is furthered by swiping and scrolling past what we find boring, it can be difficult to come to work knowing that the projects I’m working on are long, drawn-out, and tedious. Recently, we’ve had several of those, and (understandably) it’s harder to work through the tedium with no end in sight.

Some projects require the eLearning student workers to go into a course and change one sentence in an announcement— in every single online and blended shell. I haven’t counted how many shells that is, and frankly, I don’t think it would make me any happier to know.

Tough as it may be, I have to remind myself that there is a reason for all these never-ending projects, and it isn’t that the IDs don’t feel like doing it themselves. My dad often reminded my sister and I to do every job to the best of our ability—because if the job wasn’t necessary, it wouldn’t exist.

I was hired to help my ID lighten her workload by taking on some of the tasks that need to be finished but that she may not have time for. Shells need to be proofread, links need to be checked, quizzes need to be copied, but if my ID has a more demanding project that she needs to complete personally, I am glad to work on whatever I can to take some things off her plate.

Just because a job seems small doesn’t mean that it’s insignificant or that its completion wasn’t necessary and won’t be appreciated.

Job Skills

Having worked in eLearning, I have gained a host of technology skills that will translate well into nearly any kind of job, which is great since I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing after graduation.

I have become even more proficient in Microsoft Office—I used applications like Word and Excel in new and different ways than how I use them for my classes. Trello helps me to keep my ongoing and upcoming projects organized and I have gotten better at prioritizing tasks. I’ve been able to apply my reading and writing skills to proofread material in course shells, which improves readability and content cohesiveness. I made several how-to videos with Screencast-O-Matic to demonstrate essential functions in a Blackboard online class, which has helped me become a more effective speaker and teacher.

My face-to-face communication skills have improved. Being able to ask coworkers for help or report issues in person is an essential skill that seems to be dwindling among younger people. As much as I love everyone’s creative use of emojis on Slack, I find that I much prefer to express myself in person.

Find Joy in the Little Things

Working part-time while finishing my last couple weeks of college is hard. It’s hard to stay motivated. It’s hard finding time to finish my homework between classes and work. It’s hard to push back the temptation to call in sick because it’s only 10 am and it’s already been a long day. It’s hard to find joy in the tedium.

However, it’s times like these I need to take a minute and reflect on the little things that make my job such a blessing. I’ve gained experience working in an office setting doing a variety of tasks and working with different people. The people in this office have expressed time and time again that they genuinely care about my wellbeing and success in life.

I’ve gotten to listen to some pretty heated discussions about the importance of the Oxford comma. There’s been popcorn Thursdays and visits from Labrador puppies and a very sneaky plastic lizard that gets itself into all sorts of trouble. Most importantly, though, I’ve found joy in being a part of an office environment with fantastic people, and I’m going to miss it dearly.

Do you have any wisdom or encouragement to share with Jordyn? Let us know!

Jordyn Moore (senior) is double English and Psychology major. She’s not sure exactly what she wants to do after graduation, but she loves to work with people, especially children.

Author: modelelearning

Our team explores instructional design and eLearning trends. We develop student-centered blended and online courses at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, MI.

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