Maybe You’re in Pyjamas
Air Date: August 31, 2020
#2 Maybe You’re Still in Pyjamas
0:00 Interview with Irene Tencinger, Liaison Librarian
14:00 Interview with Andrea Dalimonte, Student Care Coordinator and Tony Massi, Brantford Operations, Student Union
- Learn about all the Wellness Education options for Fall 2020, including The Golden Rules: Laurier’s Resiliency Program and Thrive Week October 19-23 and October 26-30, 2020
30:30 Interview with Tyler Hall, graduate of the Game Design and Development program.
Thank you to Melissa Weaver for One Market graphics and Nicole Morgan for campus promotion. Music by Scott Holmes.
Bruce Gillespie 0:03
Welcome to One Market, keeping the Laurier Brantford community connected. I’m Bruce Gillespie. This week, we get some good news about the resumption of book borrowing and an update on library services as we head towards the fall semester. Then, we learn about a new program designed to help students become more resilient. And finally, we get the scoop on a brand new game created by students and alumni that rolls out during Orientation Week and is designed to help get new students ready for remote learning. Plus, we explore some rumors about an evil wizard on campus and portals leading to alternate dimensions. All that and more coming up on this episode of One Market.
Our first guest is librarian, Irene Tencinger. For most of the past six months, it’s been impossible to retrieve books and other physical materials from the library. But as Irene tells us, that’s changing as borrowing services start to resume
Irene Tencinger 1:02
At the moment. We’ve implemented a bookmobile service to serve the Waterloo campus and Kitchener and we do have books coming to Brantford, so if you request something from either of the other Laurier campuses, it can be sent to Brantford now, and you would pick it up at the Brantford Public Library the way you normally would during the hours of operation.
Bruce Gillespie 1:31
That’s amazing. That is such a huge change from, like, the last six months I can’t, it doesn’t even seem real.
Irene Tencinger 1:37
Yeah, yeah, it’s nice to have access to the print collections again, at least the Laurier print collections, it’s going to take longer to get access to resources at other institutions, but that is on our radar and planning is happening to see what we can do in that regard. Although RACER still works as an interlibrary loan service, so if there is something that you needed outside of the Laurier collection, you could submit a request in RACER and, you know, the library staff will see if they can get a hold of it or not.
Bruce Gillespie 2:16
Irene Tencinger 2:17
But it would be a digital, like that works best for articles and stuff that can be you know, digitally shared, for sure.
Bruce Gillespie 2:26
So, does that mean there are actual librarians and library staff working in the library building at the Waterloo campus now? Like, there’s actually people back in the stacks?
Irene Tencinger 2:34
Well, okay, so for the library at the Waterloo campus, there are Laurier employees inside the building, but it’s closed to patrons. So, it’s only the library people that have access to the library. And so, what they’re doing is they’re pulling stuff from the shelves for the bookmobile to deliver outside. So, that’s the other nice thing if it’s raining, you don’t have to wait in the rain in Brantford, whereas in Waterloo or, you know, if it’s raining, you’re out in the rain.
Bruce Gillespie 3:10
Waiting for someone to bring you your book.
Irene Tencinger 3:12
Bruce Gillespie 3:13
That’s great to hear. It’s nice to have access to those materials again.
Irene Tencinger 3:16
Yeah, it’s not true that everything is available electronically. People have been missing access to the print collection. So, it’s very exciting that that service is now available.
Bruce Gillespie 3:30
I think it’s funny, or at least it was funny for me, to realize how often I felt like I needed access to the print collection, because I think in my head, I always think oh, most of stuff I use is digital, it’s okay. And then the last six months, half the time I wanted to find something like oh, it’s only in print.
Irene Tencinger 3:45
Yeah, I think that’s true for a lot of people, we tend to think that print is no longer as relevant or as important, but it will vary from discipline to discipline as well, right? So, it really depends on the subject area. Some subject areas are more reliant on print than others.
Bruce Gillespie 4:04
So, besides the print collection stuff, I presume that you and your fellow librarians at Brantford are all still doing the same remote kind of appointments with students and staff and faculty that you’ve been doing since March.
Irene Tencinger 4:16
Yep. So, we’re just as available as we would be otherwise, it’s just slightly different for getting in touch with us. Now, it’s best to email and we can set up the Zoom meeting, I had a Zoom meeting with a student recently, and that went really well because you can share your screen and they can see what you’re doing and you can communicate, they don’t necessarily have to turn on their camera. So, for those of you who might not want me to see what your home looks like, or maybe you’re still in your pajamas, it’s okay just don’t turn the camera on. We can just communicate by audio. It works perfectly fine.
Bruce Gillespie 5:02
That’s a really good point, because I know sometimes when I’ve gone to folks for help some of it’s like, I’m trying to use this new database, that doesn’t make sense to me like, what do I, what should I be pressing here. And so, it’s a matter of in pre-pandemic times having someone sit at a computer with you and say, press this press that, you know, fix this, which would be very hard to do by audio, but right, but by sharing the screen, you don’t have to be in the same place, you can say, okay, you know, one of us shares our screen, we’ll walk you through the process. So, that’s actually really handy.
Irene Tencinger 5:30
Yes, yeah. So, that works really well. And you know, what I do with students in case they’re not familiar with Zoom, it’s less of a concern if I’m working with faculty or staff, because by now, everybody has experience with Zoom. But, some of the students might not. So, I do have a handy one-, one- or two-page guideline for what students need to do to be ready for the Zoom meeting that I can just send to them. One of my librarian colleagues created it. So, it’s very convenient to just send that along, when I booked an appointment with the student.
Bruce Gillespie 6:07
That’s great. So, everybody’s ready to go.
Irene Tencinger 6:09
Yeah. And it worked. It worked fantastic with this student, and she, you know, she got what she needed out of the interaction. And it really would have been very complicated if I had to try and answer her question through email, because it was a very complex search, you know, and so, depending on what the student is researching, sometimes I can do with an email, and that works okay, but sometimes you really do need the direct, real-time interaction.
Bruce Gillespie 6:42
Yeah. And I’ve always found whether, for the students who are listening, I’ve always found it so illuminating to watch how a librarian would search for something in the databases versus how I would do it. I mean, I think I do a good job of most times, I watch a librarian doing it like, wow, I would never think like, it’s so much more efficient, or it’s looking at different places, or the keywords you’ve used are much more focused than the ones I start with, it’s, it’s really interesting to watch how you folks work. And it’s, it’s very educational.
Irene Tencinger 7:10
Well, you know, it’s actually the same for me. So, you know, if I watch one of my colleagues do something, it gives me new insight of, “Oh, I didn’t think about ever doing it that way,” right? Or, “I didn’t know about that option.” Because librarians do have different specialties. And we do have, you know, different ways of approaching research. So, even, so there will be differences between librarians and we do learn from each other. So, for anybody who is reluctant to approach a librarian for help, keep in mind that even we continue to learn throughout our careers. It’s not, and that’s the other thing, it’s not static. So, the databases can change,
Bruce Gillespie 7:56
Right, and do change all the time.
Irene Tencinger 7:58
And I’ve actually had this happen to me, I will prepare for a class in the morning, I will double check, I will go into the database, I will go into a class in the afternoon, and sometimes the database will look different, and I’m, like, “Oh this is interesting.” So, like that, that isn’t typical, that is a bit unusual, but it can and does happen, right? Where you’ve looked at something in the morning and by the afternoon, it’s like, oh, “This is different.”
Bruce Gillespie 8:29
It just never happened with print materials.
Irene Tencinger 8:31
Exactly. It’s the the fluidity of the digital environment, you just never know what to expect, right?
Bruce Gillespie 8:40
Irene Tencinger 8:40
And like, this is the other thing even for librarians like, I know that this is one of the biggest obstacles, people are reluctant to come to librarians for help, because they think, a) you know, they should already know this, and it’s kind of awkward to admit what you don’t know. Because nobody wants to look like, you know, Oh, “I can’t believe you don’t know that.” And of course, the librarian is never going to think that I guarantee I have never thought to myself once no matter what question was asked, “Well, that’s a dumb question,” because any question is legitimate. If you don’t know, that automatically makes the question legitimate. So, you don’t need to worry about that. And then too, I’ve also had students say, and this happened with an actual encounter, a student came to see me and she said, “I’ve been searching for three days, and I haven’t found anything that I can use, and I don’t think there’s anything you can do, but I decided to come and see you anyway.” And then, within about 20 minutes, I was finding her things that were ideal for what she was working on. Now, I don’t guarantee 20 minutes because it’s not pizza delivery.
Bruce Gillespie 9:56
We’re gonna start our timers, we’re going to talk to Irene.
Irene Tencinger 9:59
But, and sometimes, you know, I have had to say to students, you know, it’s not coming together right now, I need to work on this a bit longer. And I will take their contact information, and I will get back to them because sometimes it’s not falling into place in that particular moment in time, and I need more time to work on it. So, even like, you know this, so, this is the thing to be aware of, and with the student who didn’t think that I would be able to help her, sometimes it’s all about how you’re thinking about the question or about the research. And so, the way you may be thinking about it, you may not be thinking about the right keywords, or you may not be thinking about it in particular way and it can help to enter into a dialogue to shift your thinking, and that will lead to more success in your searches.
Bruce Gillespie 10:49
And it’s not just students and faculty who can book time with a librarian to get some help with research, you folks help some of our staff as well, right?
Irene Tencinger 10:57
Yes, that’s right. I am very happy to help the staff and I think not all of them are necessarily aware that as employees of Laurier, they have access to all the library resources, including the librarians, so if any of them are doing research for any reason, personal interest, a course they might be taking, or in connection to the work that they’re doing. They’re welcome to book an appointment with one of us.
Bruce Gillespie 11:26
So, generally speaking, how have the last six months been for you? And sort of making the shift from working on campus and being around students and staff or faculty all the time to working remotely? What’s that been like for you?
Irene Tencinger 11:40
Well, it’s been interesting. I mean, I miss the interactions that you typically have with colleagues throughout the workday, you know, those serendipitous encounters or, you know, just dropping into somebody’s office for a chat because something has come up. I mean, it takes much more effort to connect with colleagues now. And for some reason, I do sometimes feel a reluctance, like, I don’t want to bother them. I don’t know what they’re doing, you know.
Bruce Gillespie 12:09
Whereas if we walked by your hallway and your doors open, we would totally pop in, right?
Irene Tencinger 12:13
Exactly, it’s much more easier. It’s easier to approach someone when they’re right there and you can see, you know, whether they might be receptive to an interruption or not, right? And so, it’s more difficult to initiate those interactions virtually. In some ways, it’s not that different, because I used to teleconference a lot for my meetings in Waterloo. So, I’m used to attending things remotely. And in some ways, I’m seeing my colleagues more than ever, because, you know, now we’re doing it through video conferencing. Whereas before, I’d be on the telephone and so all I would hear are disembodied voices.
Bruce Gillespie 12:55
I guess that’s a nice change, then.
Irene Tencinger 12:57
Yes, yeah. So, it’s nice to see my colleagues, you know, in person more and to interact with them, even if it is virtual. And it’s a lot quicker to go from meeting to meeting. It’s a lot less exhausting than walking around campus.
Bruce Gillespie 13:15
That is true. I mean, especially in bad weather.
Irene Tencinger 13:18
Yeah, yeah. So, that’s nice. So, it’s not all bad.
Bruce Gillespie 13:23
Well, I’m certainly happy that through these times of uncertainty, our librarians are still there for us virtually remotely helping us get stuff done. So, thank you for all you do. And thank you for joining us today, Irene.
Irene Tencinger 13:34
Oh, it was my pleasure. And thank you for inviting me and it was very nice talking with you. I look forward to the fall term, and you know what, I’ve decided I’m going to view it as an exciting adventure.
Bruce Gillespie 13:48
Good. I will join you on that adventure. Adventure, here we come!
Irene Tencinger 13:53
Bruce Gillespie 13:55
Irene Tencinger 13:56
Bruce Gillespie 13:58
Our next guests are Andrea Dalimonte, and Tony Massi. Andrea is the Student Care Coordinator in the Dean of Students Office. While Tony is director of Brantford Operations for the Students’ Union, along with some of their campus colleagues, they’ve designed a new program called The Golden Rules, which will roll out to students virtually this fall. Here’s our conversation about it.
Hello, Andrea, and Tony. Thanks for joining us today on One Market.
Andrea Dalimonte 14:25
Hi, Bruce. Thanks for having us.
Tony Massi 14:27
Hi, thank you.
Bruce Gillespie 14:28
So, you guys have, along with a number of your colleagues on campus, designed this program called The Golden Rules, which is Laurier’s Resiliency Program. And resiliency sounds like something we could all use more of these days, to me. So, we’d love to hear more about what this program is and how it’s been developed. So, can you tell us a little bit about the origins of the program, I guess first of all, because it’s still fairly new.
Andrea Dalimonte 14:52
It is, yeah, we we piloted this program in January. So, winter of last year, winter term, and it kind of came about in a few different ways. I, Tony and I had been talking along with two of our colleagues, Jamie Poole, who’s our Transition and Orientation Coordinator, and then Jodie Lockey-Duesling, who’s our manager in the Student Wellness Center, we have been talking about how in all of our respective roles, we are seeing this need for resilience and this need for just kind of showing students that they have all of these skills, and how to implement them when they are transitioning into university life. And not only that first year transition, but also working throughout.
And so, I stumbled upon this training through Ryerson University, and it’s called Thriving in Action. It’s originally a program that was created by Dr. Diana Brecher. And Dr. Dina Shafer, who are both faculty members at Ryerson. So, I went and did a two-day training back in 2018, I believe, and I was blown away by the program. And one amazing thing about the Thriving in Action Program is that anyone who attended the training could take the program, take it back to your institution, make changes, use it exactly how it was intended, or kind of do whatever you wanted with it, as long as you were able to kind of give a nod to the creators, and, and we’ve been able to check back in with them, I attended a follow up training, and it’s been really, really, really excellent to be able to bring it to Laurier Brantford and get a really great perspective from my colleagues about how we think that this would best work with our students. So, I think Tony can explain a little bit more kind of what we did from that point on.
Tony Massi 16:41
Yeah, and I, and thanks, Andrea, I think the goal of the program is really for students to develop that ability to overcome those common challenges that most students face in post-secondary, while becoming stronger from them. And as Andrea alluded to, that they do possess, and we all do possess those skills to be able to overcome those challenges. Everything from, you know, the everyday challenges of new space, new people, new living environments, to, you know, not getting the the intended mark on a test or on a midterm or something like that.
Bruce Gillespie 17:12
Or maybe living through a global pandemic.
Tony Massi 17:14
Yeah, I mean, that’s part of it, for sure, because this last six months has definitely given us a boatload more material to work with, that’s for sure. But, that was kind of where, that was kind of where this this all kind of started from. And then, it was funny, it sounds made up, but we were actually sitting talking about, you know, how are we going to put this together and build this program, it would be really nice if there was something that existed that we could try and, you know, beg and borrow a little bit from or get an idea to see how another group put together. And within I think a month or two, Andrea stumbled upon this, this program from Ryerson. So, it sounds really convenient, and it’s because it kind of was for us. But, it they’ve been really great to work with. And they’ve been so supportive of the building of this program. And I think one of the key pieces that kind of started this era that we focused on in building this five factor model has been kind of rooting it in that level of wellness, and that wellness education piece we wanted to, we noticed that a lot of the programs that we were seeing across the province and the country had been rooted in academic success. And we thought that that is while very important, one part of what we believe is that well rounded, successful student set of competencies, if you will. So, we really wanted to route this in that level of wellness and wellness education. And that’s kind of why it lives where it lives, if you will, on campus.
So, really quickly, the the five factor model is basically, follows five specific pieces, one of them being mindfulness, that idea of being present, and kind of in the moment and recognizing things that are good in your life. This allows us to take stock and gather resources of what we have. The second one is the focuses on gratitude, you know, noticing those good things that are happening and savoring those things like kindness and generosity of others taking pleasure in opportunities that you can explore, leading very aptly to a level of optimism and hopefully, you know, finding more ways of adding optimism in your life, and explaining the good things, and why they happen, but also why the bad things happen as well. So, to kind of shift that mentality from maybe more of a pessimistic mindset to an optimistic mindset. From there, you have a module on self compassion, where it talks about, you know, being our own best friend, kind and supportive, patient and loving in moments that truly matter. And then the last one is a level of grit. And really grit is just the kind of that determination factor and that notion of when things do kind of go wrong. Where is that passion and perseverance to achieve long term goals. So, that’s kind of the general idea of what the modules really cover and we try to break it up over, it’s typically about a five week program where we do, you know, one of them a week, a couple of different times and days to accommodate schedules and those types of things. That’s what we did at least in the winter term, and we cover another one each week and kind of walk students through a program so that they can kind of keep track with notes, activities, and all those types of things.
Bruce Gillespie 20:16
I love the idea behind this, because I think on the one hand, students are not always aware of how resilient they are. So, I’d like this idea of reminding them and making them thoughtful about hey, “this isn’t brand new,” you do this kind of stuff already. And the fact that you then sort of built on top of that is like, “You are already resilient. Here are concrete ways you can go about making yourself even more resilient.” Again, it feels very, very timely. Can you tell me a little bit about the reaction from students who had, who piloted this program in the winter?
Andrea Dalimonte 20:45
Sure, um, actually, yeah, we created, we collected at the end of each module, so we did two a week, we collected feedback for students who attended, some attended all five modules, all five weeks, some did individual sessions based on, you know, what, what fit their schedule and their needs. But, a lot of the feedback that we got was really positive, which was really nice to see, and even the feedback that we got that maybe it was more constructive was still very positive for us. So, we had a lot of students speak to the fact that just like what you brought up, Bruce, is, you know, recognizing that actually, you know, I have a lot of these skills already. It’s just looking at it in a different way, in terms of how can I highlight those skills now that I’m in a new setting in a university environment.
So, a lot of, we had students say that after the workshops, they better understood the difference between surviving and thriving at university, because that’s our main kind of topic at the beginning of the very first module, and we go through the differences between surviving and thriving through all the modules. We had some students who plan to express more gratitude in their life after completing the program, so towards themselves and towards others. We also found students saying that this five factor model that Tony brought up earlier was extremely useful information that they could apply to their life. So, not only their personal wellness, but also their academic life. So, that was a really big kind of bonus for us, and we were really happy to see that feedback. And it was nice to see students who wouldn’t typically be in a space together, be brought together to have those group discussions, personal reflections, things like that. So, we had students from first-year, all the way up to master’s students attending the modules, which was fantastic.
Bruce Gillespie 22:36
It must have made for some really interesting conversations.
Andrea Dalimonte 22:39
It really, yeah, it really did, because we had, you know, a first-year students coming in, and then we had mature learners, we had students who are parents, we had international students. And again, like I said, graduate students participating. And it was, it was a really nice perspective to gather for the group.
Bruce Gillespie 22:57
So, I know you’re continuing on with this program, presumably, you will be offering it in a remote kind of way going to the fall. Can you tell us a little bit about your future plans?
Tony Massi 23:07
Yeah, sure. I can jump on that one. So, I think as with basically everything else, across the country it feels like, and probably most of the world, we are going to be moving this into a remote learning environment. And kind of just building the same kind of program into you know, each module or each session will be kind of built into its own sub section within a “class.” So, students are going to be able to engage with the, you know, the presentation slides we’re looking at, you know, adding in levels of audio recording and other resources, like, the videos that we show within the presentations and things like that, all of our activities are able to be easily transitioned into an online learning platform. And we think that we feel pretty confident that this program is going to run relatively successfully in an online session, I think everything is going to be through a little bit of a different lens, because of it all being online.
Tony Massey 24:03
But I think in the grand scheme of things, this material, I think, will be not only, you know, ridiculously relatable, given the circumstances, but the the information that we provide, or the content that we cover, isn’t necessarily, you know, “earth shattering” or anything like that a lot of it is really just that uncommon, common sense, where, you know, one of the big focuses that we talked about right away when we first start the program is anybody that’s been sitting in this session at the moment has already proven a strong level of resiliency alone, just getting to post-secondary education, or an institution is not an easy thing to do, especially with the amount of competition and those types of things out there. So, it’s one of those pieces that we try to continue to cover and then build.
Andrea Dalimonte 24:49
And I was just going to add on to what Tony had to say. Yeah, so we’re just kind of working out the details now, but we’re looking at offering each module twice during the week. During a morning or an afternoon session, and then we’re also going to be opening up an evening session as well. And we’ll be doing synchronous and asynchronous. So, we’ll do live webinars that students can engage with us as presenters. And then we will also record one of those webinars weekly, so that if students can’t attend any of the three live sessions, they will have the opportunity to do the recorded session and be able to submit on one of the activities as kind of proof that they attended the session, because as we currently have it, students on the Brantford campus are able to attend The Golden Rules modules for a BF credit, Judy Eaton has been really wonderful in working with us to do that. We also have students are able to if they complete all five modules, they’ll receive a Wellness Education Certificate, which is a really great thing to put in your portfolio for when you’re done university. And then, we’re also offering Laurier Experience Record credit for any of the modules that you complete. And one really exciting piece for this upcoming year since we are moving online, and we are opening it up to Waterloo students as well, which is fantastic. So, we’re eager to see how many students we’re going to receive. So, that’ll be a fun and exciting challenge, I think to look forward to.
Bruce Gillespie 26:21
That’s great. I’m curious, since you’ve done so much thinking about this, since you’ve been leading all these sessions and programming it. What have you as, as presenters, I guess, what have you gotten out of this? I mean, again, especially in these times, and what have you, what have you learned about your own resiliency in going through this process?
Andrea Dalimonte 26:41
I can, I can start if you want, it was a really great question. I think, for me, I’ve always been one that’s quite good at time management and good sort of juggling a lot of things in the air, being a parent, and I’m a student myself, doing my masters and then working full time and, and all of those things. So, it was looking at ways that I can kind of reflect on my own resiliency and bring those examples into the sessions because I know that part of the feedback that we did receive from students during the sessions and afterwards was how much they appreciated some of the examples that we as presenters gave during the sessions and how we had it less of a stand at the front of the room and talk sort of set up and more of a of a group discussion and sharing of those experiences as students as, parents, as you know, Laurier graduates, Laurier Brantford graduates. So, it was really nice to see the connections that we can make with students in a different way than we might do in our professional relationship with students that we have through our roles on campus separate to this program.
Bruce Gillespie 27:52
How about you, Tony?
Tony Massi 27:53
Great, great comments, Andrea, and again, a great question, Bruce. I think, you know, not echoing what Andrea had already said, I think that piece about the connection to those students and letting them see that, you know, we as you know, “adults”, I’ll use that for myself, you know, struggle with very similar things with, you know, uncertainty, with career uncertainty with the future, all those types of things, even our own academic endeavors and whatnot. There’s a level of you’ve been there before, but there’s also a level of we all still deal with a lot of different anxieties and challenges that life kind of presents to us no more, you know, no more exemplary than what we’re dealing with right now. And I think there was a great level of, of kind of open, that open dialogue, as Andrea said, in that palms open approach, I think for me, specifically, it helped me better understand and connect and realize with what all of our students are all of the students that have attended are truly dealing with, I think one of the big mistakes, if you will, that a lot of folks in PSE make from a facilitation standpoint and Student Affairs is that they make assumptions on, you know, what students are going through and how they’re feeling and what types of things they’re struggling with, and what types of things they’re going to need help with.
And I think that was one of the big things for me was that we’ve kind of, you know, Andrea, myself, Jamie, Sara and Jodie, have been kind of beating a drum of, you know, we need to make changes, and we need to kind of meet students where they are gathering and bringing information to them. And I think if we start by doing that, they’ll bring more information to us, by way of, you know, the suggestions and those types of things that we’re always looking for, that every department seems to be gathering and looking for is that student feedback. And it was really, really great for me anyways to be in those sessions and to think back on, you know, how different it was maybe when I was in a first-year student, or second-year student, or upper-year student, but also to think about my day to day life now and going wow, like these, these young folks are doing so much more than we would have ever thought, and caring so much more than we would have ever thought. So, it really kind of checked those assumptions as well, and gave me a wonderful, another wonderful perspective of what that post-secondary student is experiencing.
Well, this sounds like a great program. I’m so glad to hear that you’ll be rolling it out remotely for students across Laurier, this fall, we’ll be sure to put some information on our website about how students can register if they’re interested. Andrea, Tony, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been great to chat with you.
Andrea Dalimonte 30:23
Thanks for having us, Bruce. I really enjoyed it.
Tony Massi 30:25
Yeah, very much the same. Thank you very much for the time.
Bruce Gillespie 30:29
Our final guest is Tyler Hall. Tyler is a graduate of the Game Design and Development program, he was actually part of the first graduating class, and this summer, he was the project manager of The Laurier Way, a five game adventure designed to help incoming students learn about working together, and how to navigate a digital academic environment. I started by asking Tyler how he got involved in the project.
Tyler Hall 30:53
As an alumnus, I was just putting out feelers around as COVID hit, and as I was not able to maintain something in the entertainment industry of escape rooms, that shut down very fast. And so, I just started putting out feelers right away, and ended up on a phone call with Scott about an opportunity and then ended up wrapped into the project very, very fast, very soon after that. So, we started on what would have been June 15. And I believe I was told about the project just about like a couple weeks before that, and then we did hiring, hit the ground running with that, and the rest is history.
Bruce Gillespie 31:34
So, that seems like a really tight timeline to develop and roll out a brand new game from scratch.
Tyler Hall 31:39
Yeah, absolutely. Essentially, we have developed a series of five interconnected games for Orientation Week to help students in a variety of ways. So, the learning outcomes really vary from anything of how to get involved as a student leader, or academic preparation. So, they’re sort of built into three categories of building and forming social connections, laurier knowledge and academic preparation. So, when it comes to the things that we’ve had to incorporate, we’ve had a range of 10 learning goals that we’ve built into the series of five games that are interconnected from one day to another. And in previous O-Week, programming blocks, right, you have students interacting in person and going from event to event, they don’t really have to be connected. Because there is so much emphasis on drop in, drop out, or like sort of different scheduling happening, we totally understand that there’s different schedules happening at all different times among students, staff, volunteers, etc. But in an atypical environment like this, we have the opportunity to create a connected set of programming, which is what we identified here for the Laurier Way games, to give people something to consistently engage with, over the course of the first O-Week where it’s more focused on social programming. But, the second week that we’re, that we hand them off to is more focused on academic programming.
But, we are teaching these ways of academic preparation and Laurier knowledge and social connections through ways of game based learning, and utilizing the different technologies that are available to us and sort of getting them familiar with the services that they’re going to be using as students. So, whether it’s My Learning Space, or whether it’s Zoom, or whether it is self assessments within My Learning Space, we’re trying to get them familiar with the different services that are available to them on campus as a reiteration actually on Laurier 101. So, this is also like there are multiple hands in multiple jars here in terms of people’s involvement at the university. So, we’re very thankful that we’ve had correspondence from the Students’ Union, and Transition and Learning Services, and Teaching and Learning, and a lot of support from all sorts of departments that have ranged in participation to just make sure that it runs smoothly, or that we get connected with the necessary services like the Wellness Centre for wellness topics and wellness, education, things along those lines.
Bruce Gillespie 33:56
That’s great. I think it’s a great example of taking some expertise we have at Laurier Brantford and sort of making lemonade out of lemons, right? I love this idea of saying we have a Game Design program. We have a BGN Lab. We have students and alum who do these kinds of things. Let’s let’s put them to work. Let’s make something great about this. Now, as you said before, the game is actually five different games, but there’s a an overall sort of central storyline to them, right, a sort of plot arc?
Tyler Hall 34:23
Yeah, absolutely. So, day one starts with, and I won’t go too far into spoiler territory here.
Bruce Gillespie 34:29
Tyler Hall 34:30
On day one, which is today, the program would have just finished actually. So, we ran from 1 pm to 2 pm. We had our programming block for the Laurier Way games, they got tossed to us from Orientation opening ceremonies and then what is essentially happening there is they’re logging on to a Zoom call with their pair of Icebreakers. So, we have a different set of ratios between both campuses. This is campus wide, like, university wide so it’s being rolled out for thousands of students and hundreds of Icebreakers to be facilitating amongst first-year students. Essentially, today was an involvement of a choose your own adventure game, collaboratively making decisions in order to overcome obstacles and get acquainted with this different world that we’ve built out that has parallels between the world of Laurier and the world that we have built as this fantasy context. So, we’ve pulled on the strands from O-Week’s mascots. So, the Ridgebacks, and the Mystics and such, have these associated mascots of these animal figures or creature figures that we’ve sort of pulled on into the games and their narrative, in order to signify that they come from these guilds that once vanquished this wizard that was long ago opening up portals, and anybody who has been at the university for a little bit probably has seen My Learning Space referred to as an online portal, for example, an online learning portal. And ultimately, what we do is we direct them to, afterwards, on the game and its gameplay, we have students engaging with My Learning Space.
So, after the first game, they gain access to the content on My Learning Space, in order to signify as a sort of real world parallel, and game parallel, called The Inn, and they log on to The Inn each day to connect with the material that is necessary for each game to run and be facilitated. So, the icebreakers have them in Zoom calls, each one is facilitated over Zoom that has them engaging in different ways with each other throughout the course of the week. Whether it’s creating an idea of how to get involved as a student leader, or how to get acquainted with the academic calendar, or your GPA calculator, there’s a different sort of day and learning goals associated with each day. While some are baked in throughout the week. Like, if you’re engaging with a daily Zoom call each day on the same time period, then we have students this week, utilizing those in order to build and form social connections in themselves, because they’ll be with their same group of students and Icebreakers throughout the course of the entire week.
Bruce Gillespie 37:10
It sounds like so much fun. I can’t wait to to grill my students about what happens and how it goes. But, it sounds like such a smart way to try to build, especially in a remote environment, this sense of collegiality and teamwork among new students who are coming to campus and don’t know about that yet. I mean, you’re sort of working through these challenges together in a sort of play based setting with a sort of plotline as opposed to just a list of tasks. It sounds really, it sounds really engaging.
Tyler Hall 37:36
Yeah, we’ve actually ended up with a lot of positive feedback and marks of fun. To tell you the truth, sometimes educational games aren’t thought of as entertaining or fun. But, I think that we’ve built a certain charm into each of these games developed by the students, in order to make this all run properly from day to day to day. And part of the design challenge has been definitely the scaling to make sure that it runs for everybody. So, we’ve tried to utilize, you know, Laurier specific things as opposed to campus specific things in order to create that recognition and familiarity with different services, and try to help people understand what sort of things they can expect at their, like, at their university, and get acquainted with the different services that are available, and then take that and hopefully, at the very least, recognize, in the end, like, oh, wow, I remember engaging with the academic calendar, I should actually go back and take a look at that.
Sort of the way the games are built, is that we can’t guarantee that everybody engages with every single day, right? Because everybody has different schedules, they have different things going on in their lives, we have plenty of people all over, that are going to be tuning in remotely to the Zoom calls. So, part of our team has been very, very diligent in working on catch up videos and story videos that are just essentially 30 second, one minute clips that essentially catch people up on the speed of what they need to know about the day that they’re playing. So, if they missed a day one and day two, they can watch those two videos coming into day three, so that they have an understanding of where they’re meeting up with their team in order to help out with the gameplay itself.
Bruce Gillespie 39:18
Right, so they’re not gonna fall too far behind, they can catch up.
Tyler Hall 39:21
Yeah, and there’s there’s a variety of baked learning goals into each. So, some are more specific. We don’t tell those upfront in terms of what the learning goals are, because we don’t want people to tune out if they hear academic preparation by any means.
Bruce Gillespie 39:36
Your goal today is to discover the academic calendar, whee!
Tyler Hall 39:39
Yeah, we try to make it a little bit more engaging than that. And I think there’s some really unique story beats that we’ve built in regarding part of one of the design challenges that we’ve sort of created is how do we in a game, and its gameplay, how do we communicate the importance of avoiding academic misconduct and academic dishonesty. And I think that was one of our big aha’s is how we do that in our games which, which you’ll see, or you’ll hear about, hopefully, some point later this week.
Bruce Gillespie 40:11
Fun. So, tell me a little bit about the team who’s putting this together behind the scenes, I presume it’s you and a bunch of current students.
Tyler Hall 40:18
So, we have a variety of students in a variety of years, ranging from going into second-year, going into third-year going into fourth-year. So really, we pulled on a variety of students in order to be a part of this project. We definitely wanted people with experience with Orientation Week and the Students’ Union in order to create that collaborative aspect. And it’s been an interesting design challenge in itself too. I know that myself and Scott have learned a lot just in regards to how to maintain an online work environment. And in terms of what’s, what we would usually have in the lab is not what we would have on what we’ve been using as Discord, to tune in and out of different channels, and different sharing of screens and things like that, as we work on these games. It’s been a challenge in itself of, usually in a lab, you have the ability to just walk or like and have a space to be in and independently work. Whereas I know that people on Zoom have definitely felt the pressure of sort of being on and going through these Zoom calls all day. So, what we’ve kind of found a happy medium between is, you know, indicating when you’re working independently as well as when you need to check in with other people. So, ultimately, we still check in daily, and we, we’re all available this week in some context to be able to be liaisons for the student volunteers that are running the games for the first-year students. But, we’ve overcome it in a great way that has hopefully informed the way that future projects as long as we’re remote will be conducted. Because it’s been a, it’s been an opportunity to learn just how game development works remotely in itself.
Bruce Gillespie 41:59
I think it’s good to recognize that, I think we’ve all learned that lesson to some extent over the past six or seven months that, you know, this is, this may be a one time thing, but we’re taking lots of lessons away from if we want to create any kind of projects with people in various places and can’t get them together one place, what are the best practices like how can we actually make, how can we make this work? And I think what a lot of us has found is that things we would have thought were impossible, you know, the beginning of the year are actually quite possible now.
Tyler Hall 42:28
Yeah, it’s really interesting. You say that the things that we’ve determined possible just within Zoom and gameplay, while being on a webcam or being on audio with people is really quite interesting.
Bruce Gillespie 42:40
Well, that sounds like a fantastic way to try to replicate what would normally happen in person during Orientation Week. So, thank you so much for telling us about this, Tyler, again, I can’t wait to hear students’ reviews of how the game goes.
Tyler Hall 42:51
Yeah, thank you so much for having me really appreciate the opportunity to share what’s been going on behind the scenes a little bit.
Bruce Gillespie 43:00
And that’s a wrap. Thanks for joining us. We hope it’s helped you feel a little more connected to the Laurier Brantford community. If you liked what you heard, tell your friends and colleagues. You can subscribe on Apple, Google, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcasts. Worried about missing an episode, sign up for our newsletter. You can find the link on Twitter and Facebook @OneMarketLB. We’ll be back with a new episode in about two weeks. One Market was created and produced by Bruce Gillespie and Tarah Brookfield, music by Scott Holmes, graphics by Melissa Weaver. Thanks for listening. Keep in touch.