SMU STAR Program

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Tips for getting the most out of
your time with a STAR Student.

Here are just a few suggestions to getting the most benefit of your time with a STAR

Understand the purpose of the STAR program.

The Student Technology Assistant in Residence (STAR) Program was founded in 1998 to promote the appropriate use of technology in teaching and learning at Southern Methodist University. We do this by recruiting and training students who are proficient in the use of technology to support the most common needs of faculty using technology in their courses.

STARs are not fully-trained professionals

While several STARs have achieved strong competency in basic Blackboard and other web support tools, you should expect that more advanced topics will require the student to come back to the ACS Media Lab to learn how to do what you need.

Also, STARs are not gofers or clerks and should not be asked to do copying, research, write content, or other unrelated tasks.

STARs are assigned to projects not people.

A STAR is assigned to a your specific, short-term instructional technology project. If you want to make a major change to the project, please check first with the STAR program manager. We may find another STAR is more appropriate for your project's needs.

STAR assignments are limited to the current semester.

Because STARs are students, we do not schedule any of their work for more than one semester. If your project is not completed by the end of the current semester, you will need to contact the program manager to extend your request for STAR assistance.

STARs are not available at certain times:

  • between the end of summer session and the beginning of fall session.
  • from fall finals through the beginning of Spring semester.
  • during finals and "reading days."
  • during breaks, such as Fall Break, Thanksgiving Holiday, Winter Break, and Spring Break.

The STAR program is funded only during the regular academic year.

If you need STAR help during the summer, please contact the program coordinator at the beginning of spring semester to determine if a STAR could be made available during the summer.

Keep the STAR Program Manager informed.

STARs are students, not highly trained professionals. However, with good supervision and guidance they are able to do excellent work. The program manager wants the STAR assigned to you to be useful and so he needs to be kept informed about any problems or changes.

Please report:

  • any problems working with the STAR
    Please let the program manager know if there is any problem working with the STAR that you cannot resolve in a friendly manner. We understand that sometimes a faculty member just cannot work with a particular person. You are not “stuck” with the STAR we assigned. We can either counsel that STAR or assign another one to the project.

  • any changes in the project scope
    STARs are assigned to support projects based on their skills and experience. If you change the scope of your project, a different person may be more appropriate to assist or we may need to draw on other resources. We understand that once you get into a project it may become clear something else needs to be done. If so, just contact the program coordinator to close the current project and start a new one.

  • any major changes in the project schedule
    We often have more requests for STARs than we can fill so if the STAR is not needed for your project we need to reassign that person to another, more immediate need.

Organize your work and make the goals clear.

While the STAR may be technically knowledgeable, he or she is probably a first year student who is in the process of developing time-management and organizational skills.

Define the goals of your project.

The STAR needs a clear idea of what you are trying to do with your project. STARs are constantly reminded about taking accurate notes when meeting with you and summarizing expectations by rephrasing them back to you. Nevertheless, a common problem is leaving without a clear understanding of what needs to be done. The less you take for granted the more success you will have.

Identify deliverables and create a schedule.

Once you have identified the goals you need to determine what actual products the STAR needs to produce and when these need to be done (e.g., a WebCT course site with a syllabus, calendar, three discussion groups and five biweekly quizzes). Otherwise the STAR may never know when the work is done.

You are responsible for content.

You are the expert on what you teach. All text should be in computer-readable form (e.g., MS Word documents) so the STAR only has to copy and paste things into your product — not type them. It is also your responsibility to proofread the material produced by the STAR.

On a related note. We do not permit STAR Students to process or put online material not covered by educational Fair Use unless you have obtained the appropriate copyright clearances. A good place to look for information about copyright is the latest edition of "Questions & Answers on Copyright for the Campus Community" which is available on a variety of websites.

Have your materials ready.

The STAR is assigned to you for only a limited time. By having most of your materials ready, you will get the most out of that time.

Your materials, your choice.

If you have materials you would like the STAR Student to use or convert for your course, it is your decision on how you want those handled. If you don't want the materials to leave your office, the STAR office, the city or the state, just let the STAR know. We will be happy to lock up any material while they are in our office on your request.

Also, please remember to ask for the materials back as they are finished being used in the project. If you are concerned about the returning of your materials, please make a copy before giving the materials to the STAR Student.

Work with the STAR to achieve success.

It is in both your interest and the STAR’s that your project be a success. By providing clear instructions, expectations, and feedback, you go a long way toward making this success happen. The best STAR projects have come from the professor and the STAR student working directly together.

Meet or communicate regularly with the STAR.

Regularly scheduled meetings either in person or by phone reinforce the idea that the STAR has a job to get done. It will make you and the STAR comfortable and thus foster a good working relationship.

Make your deadlines clear.

A STAR may be working on other projects plus carrying a regular load of class work. Clear deadlines make it much easier for the STAR to arrange a reasonable work schedule or to ask for help if necessary.

Review the STAR’s work regularly.

Regular reviews prevent the STAR from getting off on the wrong course. Catching a problem early can prevent extensive rework later in a project. In a large project, we recommend you prototype a representative part of the work, review it, and make any changes before you try to schedule the entire project.

On a separate note..

Things the STAR will not do.

  • The STAR will not come to your home.
  • The STAR will not work on student projects.
  • The STAR will not be the "webmaster" for your web site.
  • The STAR student will not be assigned to you and you only (even if you pay them).
  • The STAR will not teach your class for you.
  • The STAR will not work on perpetual projects.

21.08.06

The contents of this Web site are the sole responsibility SMU STAR Program, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Southern Methodist University.

©2006 by Academic Computing Services, Southern Methodist University.
STAR Program web site and logo created by Ian Aberle.