The Library’s Tech Training program helps international students get IT-savvy.


This story appears in UBC Library’s 2013/14 Community Report. Read more to find out how we’re supporting economic, environmental and social sustainability at UBC.


You’ve spent most of your life in a refugee camp halfway around the world. You’ve also just been accepted to start at UBC next September.

Now what?

The international student experience often begins with digital instructions on an array of topics: tuition, registration, email accounts, course accessibility and more. Students are also typically assumed to have basic tech competencies for the 21st-century classroom – but that isn’t always the case.

“With students from 151 countries, it’s important to be mindful of context in that students coming from different places may be coming from varying degrees of experience and access to technologies,” says Michelle Suderman, Associate Director, UBC International Student Development.

Enter UBC Library as an intercultural bridge. For the last two years, the Library’s Chapman Learning Commons (CLC) has provided a customized Tech Training program to UBC students from the World University Service of Canada Student Refugee Program (WUSC-SRP). The program is delivered by a CLC student assistant and Julie Mitchell, the CLC Managing Librarian.

International students are offered an overview of technology basics – including email platforms, understanding the differences Macs and PCs, course management programs (such as Connect), scanning and printing, and software programs available at UBC Library. The program accelerates technology fluency and inspires confidence, thanks to new-found skills that can be applied immediately in course assignments and research.

“Growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya limited my ability to access technology,” acknowledges Rhoda Philip, an undergraduate science student who took the program last year upon arriving in Vancouver. “Everything is about technology here.” After a couple of weeks of training, Philip felt more at ease, thanks to the program and the peer-to-peer learning experience that it fosters.

Cameron Frayne, a CLC student assistant who co-developed the Tech Training program, said several students are requesting more advanced program services – which could include instructions for tech tools and programs such as Adobe Illustrator, HTML and data visualization.

The program also fosters a spirit of community – some students participate in Tech Training development, while others promote the program to the next crop of WUSC-SRP students. The program will begin its third year in fall 2014.



The heads of PKU and UBC libraries at the signing agreement.

Dr. Zhu Qiang, Director of the Peking University Library, and Ingrid Parent, UBC’s University Librarian, at the signing agreement in Beijing. Photo credit: Peking University Library.

UBC Library and the Peking University Library (PKU Library) look forward to collaborating on collections, cataloguing and more thanks to an innovative agreement between the two organizations.

The agreement, which takes effect as of December 1, 2012 and can be renewed after five years, involves the exchange of staff and expertise related to cataloguing and conservation, especially for Asian materials. The libraries may also exchange academic works from professors at UBC and PKU.

“In an increasingly connected world, collaboration is key to successful initiatives,” says Ingrid Parent, UBC’s University Librarian. “I am honoured to enter into this innovative agreement with Peking University Library – we look forward to sharing knowledge and expertise with our PKU colleagues.”

Photo of Peking University campus

Tower on Peking University campus. Photo courtesy of ML Duong (Flickr)

“International engagement plays a vital role in advancing the University’s goals and commitments,” says John Hepburn, Vice President, Research and International at UBC. “Agreements such as this one between UBC Library and PKU Library help cultivate UBC’s reputation as a globally influential leader.”

UBC and Peking University, based in Beijing, China, have a wide range of research and other collaborative agreements, some dating to 1980. Professor Stephen Toope, UBC President and Vice-Chancellor, and Professor Shanlu Zhu, Chair of the University Council, Peking University, signed a university-wide student mobility agreement earlier in 2012.

In September 2011, Alvan Bregman, UBC’s Librarian for Preservation and Collection Management Programs, visited PKU Library. The aim was to learn traditional methods of repair for Chinese rare books, and explore how these techniques could be applied to special collections at UBC’s Asian Library. Visits were also made to other conservation facilities and special collections libraries in Beijing. The trip was a valuable learning opportunity for UBC Library and an excellent way to engage with rare book and conservation institutions in China. 


a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Library





Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia

Spam prevention powered by Akismet