As you know, Northern has transitioned to online delivery of courses for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.  This will necessitate a multi-modal approach to advising as well.  These tools are designed to aid you in this potentially unfamiliar approach to advising.

  

1) Evaluate Your Tools:

  • Work from home may not be possible for all individuals, but working at your office conducting remote appointments may still require additional additional applications and tools. 
  • Charge up your mobile devices and plan to bring them home with you along with chargers.
Ensure you have access to your digital file:
Ensure you have access to Northern's network remotely via Virtual Private Network 
    • Skype for Business (download app to your phone, so you can take phone appointments without using your personal number) #1 recommended
    • WebEx
    • Zoom or other online meeting platforms (also available as an app)
    • Microsoft Teams app (use this to organize our group projects and very easily video conference with one another)
    • Outlook app (to your phone and to your iPad)
    • Box or other cloud storage options 
    • Appointment scheduling software
    • Student Information System-Banner
    • Advising Notes-Degree Works
    • Curriculum plans-Degree Works
    • Learning management system (LMS)-Brightspace
 
2) Remote Appointment Options:
While many of our students may have access to resources which would allow them to maintain an advising appointment remotely, not all will/do, so keep that in mind when choosing remote options. When possible, allow students to choose the method they would prefer.
  • Many advisors schedule phone appointments with students throughout the year, and for a variety of reasons. During a time of campus disruption, phone appointments may be the easiest way to connect with students. 
  • Make sure to remind students to verify that they have provided a phone number (either in the appointment system or in your Student Information System) that they will have access to during the time of their appointment.
  • Be sure to communicate whether you (advisor) will be calling at the scheduled appointment time, or whether it is the student’s responsibility to call.
  • Make sure that the student is aware of the time (and time zone) that the appointment will be held -- sometimes disruption from normal routine makes us forget to convert time zones, if necessary.
  • Recognize that a student may or may not have control over the external environment they are in at the time of the appointment. If they are home, there may be other people/siblings/pets and/or external noises which they cannot control. You can communicate expectations that you would like for them to have access to a computer in a quiet space during the appointment, but be understanding if that is not possible.
  • After the appointment, consider sending a follow-up email with a recap of what was discussed, any website links that the student should look at, and any additional information that the student should know at that time. Since you won’t be able to read the student’s non-verbals over the phone, a follow-up email keeps the line of communication open and allows for confirmation that both you and the student are on the same page about the appointment.
  • Record advising notes, even for phone appointments. In case the student ends up talking with a different advisor the next time, it is useful for everyone to know what the content of the appointment was.
  • Advisors making phone calls from home may not want students to have their home or cell phone number. If you do not have access to a university-issued phone number (through Skype for Business or other), you could consider using Google Voice. This video provides a good overview of the service: https://youtu.be/5mFGhHEhY6I  If you have VoIP phones, e.g., Cisco, you may be able to download an application to your computer which will receive calls. 
You could consider any of these options (not an exhaustive list):
  • Skype for Business
  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts
  • Facebook Messenger Video
  • FaceTime (iOS only)
  • GoToMeeting
  • WebEx
  • Whereby
  • Microsoft Teams
*Please note that there are pros/cons to each of these platforms for advising. If you are making a decision on what to use, consider your overall needs, the length of time you would anticipate needing to use this solution, the learning curve, the available tools (screen share, audio/video options, etc), the ease of sharing link or appointment invitation, etc. MSU-Northern recommends Skype for Business for advising.  Skype for Business can emulate face to face and drop in appointment options for advising.  Skype for Business allows student to instant message (IM), video call or audio call an advisor if they have logged on using their MSU-Northern netid@msun.edu (see below instructions) since it is part of the MS Office Suite. Skype for Business directions and support are available through ___________________________Basic Calling Instructions for Skype
  • If you have logged in with your NetID, you should have access to other MSUN staff and students in your contacts already.
  • To call someone, simply search for their name then
    • Either Right Click on their name and select Call/Video Call/ or IM
    • -OR- Double Click and a chat window will appear. Three blue buttons along the bottom will allow you to select a call/video call/or screen sharing.
 Some considerations for video-conferencing appointments on any platform:
  • Think about what the background behind you looks like on camera. You don’t necessarily need it to be an exact replica of your office, but you probably don’t want a pile of laundry in the shot, either. Some platforms have an option to blur your background which could be beneficial. 
  • Some students may not feel comfortable using their camera during a video conference appointment, and that is okay. Keep your camera on if that works for both of you, or just switch to audio only using the platform.
  • Consider using screen share so that both you and the student are viewing the same item at the same time. This will reduce confusion and also ensure that the student doesn’t get lost in verbal navigation.
  • As with phone appointments, it is helpful to send a follow-up email with a recap of what was discussed, any website links that the student should look at, and any additional information that the student should know at that time. A follow-up email keeps the line of communication open and allows for confirmation that both you and the student are on the same page about the appointment.
  • Record advising notes, even for video conference appointments. In case the student ends up talking with a different advisor the next time, it is useful for everyone to know what the content of the appointment was.
 Some troubleshooting tips (from Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption):
  • If your microphone is not working, use the phone number listed in the meeting invitation. You can use your phone as the microphone and audio source for your call rather than your computer’s built-in microphone if necessary. 
  • If your Internet connection is slow or lagging, consider temporarily turning off your video stream and only maintaining the audio stream. Sometimes, running the web camera on your computer will use up the Internet’s bandwidth in a way that might make communication challenging. Turning off the video should improve communication quality and consistency. 
  • If you have earbuds or a headphone set, wear them! Wearing earbuds or headphones will reduce the amount of noise that your computer will pick up, which will make it easier for your students to hear you. Similarly, you may want to advise your students to wear earbuds or headphones during the call. 
  • Advise students to mute their microphones if they are not speaking and unmute the microphones when they wish to speak. Students may be joining calls from all kinds of different locations, many of which may create background noise that could be distracting. Muting minimizes unnecessary or distracting background noise. 
  • Check the “chat” space for student questions and contributions. Some students may not have working microphones and, therefore, may be unable to contribute via voice. The chat room is a good place for students to contribute, ask questions, and be involved.
While perhaps not the most effective use of time, you might consider offering an email appointment if the student is concerned about access to phone or WIFI for a 30-minute appointment. If you and the student opt for an email appointment, you can instruct the student to jot down all of the questions they were hoping to address during the appointment in one email message. The more specific the question, the better. (Questions such as, “What should I take next semester?” may or may not be answerable, unless you have confirmation that they are still following the same track as discussed during a previous appointment.) Because students are probably used to emailing you with questions, there would be no learning curve for this option.   Some additional questions you might ask students:
  • Do you have any concerns about accessing academic materials (textbooks, notes, etc) that may be on campus?
  • Will you have reliable internet access during this timeframe? Do you anticipate any challenges completing your coursework online?
  • How were your courses progressing prior to Spring Break? Were you at all considering dropping a course prior to the deadline?
 
3. Considerations for Advising:  
  • Check student holds before an appointment to be better prepared
  • If there is a registration error, it is most often caused by either an overlap in courses or lack of a prerequisite.  In either of those cases, you or the student can contact the instructor of the course and request an override.  Be sure to include all specific information, including student name or ID, class and section number if applicable, and whether Summer or Fall.
  • If a student has more than one advisor, be sure to copy the other advisor on emails.  Preference is that you not give students their pin unless they have spoken to both advisors unless you have spoken beforehand
  • Ask students whether they are comfortable registering for classes online. Some students may prefer a paper registration.
  • If student wants a paper registration or needs to have a change of major processed, be sure to send a detailed email that outlines the request and have the student respond back that it is correct.  This email can be attached to a registration instead of a signature.