Academic Advising Online
Guidance for Advisors on how to deliver academic advising online.
How do I approach advising online?
Academic advising, office hours and student one-to-one meetings
It is recommended that you use the Student Attendance System which enables you to manage scheduled and one-off meetings with students. Training guides are available on the link above along with other resources to explain the benefits of the system and how it works.
If a student wants to meet on campus that should be accommodated. If your office is not easily ventilated, then please book alternative space for meetings with students or colleagues
How you approach Academic Advising in an online or blended context will depend to some extent on your local model of advising. However, some basic principles apply, and they are not very different from good practice in face-to-face advising:
- Outline some points for discussion in advance via email or in the invitation to join an online meeting, that way you will be both be prepared and your students will know what to expect.
- Consider having access to a shared document where you can make some notes – again this provides a framework for your meeting and a record to take away, ideally a Journal in Blackboard. The Journal function is designed to provide a personal space for students to communicate privately with their tutor, or as a self-reflective tool.
- If you can share your screen (e.g. using Collaborate), you can prepare some links to refer your students to: For example; the Careers Service Website or My Learning Essentials (See the Academic Advising toolkit for links).
- Try to use video where possible so that you can have non-verbal cues that aid effective communication.
Things to be mindful of when arranging virtual meetings
- Not all students have Wifi or sufficient data on their phone to respond to an invite from an online platform - so if they are not responding and you are concerned please contact them by phone (someone in your School or Counselling will be able to access their number).
- For some students, especially those whose first language is not English, it may be preferable for them either to have asynchronous communications with you, such as email) as this helps students to not miss fast spoken language, especially for a group chat with multiple speakers, and to mitigate possible poor sound quality.
- It may be necessary for advisors to think through the implications of possibly having students in different time zones and consider arrangements such as recording any online synchronous interaction to allow students to refer back at a later date.
- International students may have particular concerns around their accommodation, visas and travel so please signpost students to the University's Student Support site. This group of students may be feeling particularly vulnerable at this time and need extra reassurance.
- See also, the section Interacting with students remotely.
Tools and software for advising online
It is recommended that you use the Student Attendance and Engagement System which enables you to manage scheduled and one-off meetings with students. Training guides are available on the link above along with other resources to explain the benefits of the system and how it works. The engagement monitoring system is available at: Engagement monitoring.
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is an online classroom or webinar tool.
You can use Collaborate to hold online office hours - just let your students know when you’ll be in the 'classroom'.
You can also schedule an online seminar, in which you can share slides and run polls to check student understanding. Students can ask questions using the chat panel.
Please be mindful that not all of our students will be living in the same time zone, and factor this into your interaction plans accordingly.
MS 365 and Microsoft Bookings
Microsoft Bookings allows anyone to book a date/time, and individual person; get a confirmation email and calendar invitation; and reschedule or cancel if necessary, and so could be used to simplify how students book academic advisor sessions. More information is available on this Jump to 365 - Bookings page.
MS 365 and Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams offers a space to chat, hold meetings, make calls and share files in one place. The familiar suite of MS Office tools, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc. can be used as a team to create, edit and co-author files at the same time. See Guides and resources for staff for more information, as well as the Microsoft 365 at UoM Yammer Group for collaborative discussion while the institution rolls out this new software.
The University has committed to Zoom’s availability going forwards - including for reaching our students overseas - as a business-critical tool.
Connection issues have been investigated and are minimal, but if you do become aware of issues with connections in China (or elsewhere), please provide the Media Services Team, via email@example.com with details such as the affected host/participant’s email address or preferably the meeting ID, and they will endeavour to help. They can also set up test meetings to assist with any issues you may be experiencing.
Support is also available to staff via the Zoom Users Yammer Group.
Ice-breakers for use in a group advising situation
When an academic advising takes place in a group, it is important that all students feel included and comfortable about contributing.
- The Building an Online Community toolkit contains some icebreakers to aid online socialisation.
- An article from Bustle.com recommends 21 Icebreakers to liven up Zoom calls
- An article by National Teaching Fellow Gary C. Wood suggests Four Ice-Breaker Activities for Virtual Classrooms
Being aware of how we use technology and how its use can affect us has never been more important in terms of living and working sustainably.
- Resources to support discussions around Digital Wellbeing with your students are available on the Digital Capabilities Effective Practice Hub. (Developed by Dr. Jane Mooney and Dr. Sarah Shepherd, FBMH)