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


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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.


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