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Tech-Savvy Students Help Faculty Innovate

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Dustin Butler’s own reliance on his smartphone to access documents for his classes was part of the inspiration for a website he created with a faculty member.

As a Student Technology Assistant (STA) in the College of Liberal Arts, Butler worked with the professor to design a website based around a class syllabus with links to supplemental materials, such as YouTube videos, that could be viewed on a mobile device.

That collaborative experience is the foundation of the Student Technology Assistant Project, an innovative Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services (LAITS) program, which connects creative, tech-savvy students with College of Liberal Arts faculty interested in developing instructional technology projects (websites, Power Point presentations, videos and more).

Dustin Butler

“It’s like each website is a problem and I have to design a set of solutions,” said Butler, who graduated over the summer.

The STAs show a knack for visual design work and for acquiring web design skills such as CSS and HTML. They learn on-the-job from professional LAITS staff members and faculty.

The students gain workplace experience, content for their portfolios, a professional attitude and confidence in their skills, said Joe TenBarge, LAITS director.

“Having this job, made me realize I love this industry,” said Ashley Solano, a former STA who plans on pursuing freelance graphic design jobs.

One of Solano’s tasks was to illustrate graphics for a Chinese listening comprehension website and, with direction from a staff member, fill in code. As a Japanese major, Solano said she knew first-hand how helpful a language website could be and what students would find useful.

By Samantha Stiles

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