TechTeams at SFU Surrey.
Transition from high school to university is difficult in most cases. One can even feel isolated and lonely. Having many friends at school and coming to an environment of complete strangers can be sometimes shocking. Sort of an icebreaker is offered at Simon Fraser University through various clubs and events. I would like to talk about TechTeams, a relatively new student organization, which is hosted at SFU Surrey.
TechTeams are groups (maximum 25) that meet weekly in a casual setting. Each Team is led by two students who completed TechOne last year. TechOne faculty and staff provide assistance and mentoring as needed. Team leaders plan activities for the first few weeks and consult with their Teams about what activities, events, outings, workshops, or other initiatives they want to engage in. Being on a TechTeam enriches your first year university experience, lets you connect with other students, and gives you a strong voice in your online community - the TechZone.
I have taken on a mission to do a short interview with two key individuals behind the TechTeams. The first one is Drew Paulin, who is a faculty member of the TechOne program and a faculty mentor for the TechTeams.
Question: When, who and why came up with the idea to form TechTeams?
Drew Paulin: The idea was first brought up during the TechOne Focus Group discussion last year. And so Anita Bates is the one behind the original idea that was discussed during spring and summer semesters in 2008.
Q: What are TechTeams about?
Drew: TechTeams are envisioned to get TechOne students to get involved in the university’s community. It is also called to provide social opportunities to meet with peers and instructors outside classrooms and access to people who has gone through TechOne program with a chance to learn and improver technical skills.
The TechBytes Program provides students in IAT and TECH courses with software & technical support to enhance learning needs across the SIAT curriculum. Such support is delivered by our Technical Peer Educators (TPEs) within the TechBytes Program. They are individuals with broad software and technical skills and are willing and ready to offer aid to any students in need.
Q: How different are TechTeams from TechBytes?
Drew: We do workshops as well, sometimes - inviting educators from TechBytes. However, it is geared towards fun and social opportunities in a casual setting.
After this, I found Anita Bates and asked her a couple of questions as well. Anita is the Student Engagement Coordinator and Staff Advisor.
Question: I have some general information about TechTeams from Drew Paulin. Would you mind telling us a little bit more about the origins and how you came up with the idea?
Anita Bates: Sure. As Drew mentioned, after having TechOne Focus Group discussion we had a vague idea of what was missing. There was also a research conducted, showing that students who could interact with their peers and instructors in a less formal environment helped them to ease the university transition. Additionally, those students have less probability of dropping out.
Some of those students, who voiced their opinions at the discussion, later became TechTeams leaders.
At first we wanted to make another non-credit or one credit course. Unfortunately, it was impossible to make it a full course within the limited time before new students come in September, so we decided to make it an extracurricular course.
Q: Were there any challenges that TechTeams’ executives had to overcome?
Anita: The main challenge was to promote TechTeams to students. We missed the Clubs Days and it was hard getting the word out about TechTeams. So we had to stick with emails.
Being a first year student myself, I didn’t find the university transition to be very difficult One of the reasons for this is that I didn't go to university right after high school, and the other is because I managed to get involved with the university's community from the very beginning. In TechTeams I was meeting new people and expanding my connections within the university and outside of it, especially, in a field where I might want to find a job after graduating.