Northern Essex Brings on ‘Peer Ambassadors’ to Aid College Students New to Online Learning

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Northern Essex Community College is bringing on 15 to 20 “peer ambassadors,” beginning today, to help those students who may be new to online learning.

Because the college’s fall course schedule is 90 percent online, the institution is investing $100,000 to ensure even reluctant online learners have the tools to succeed. Peer ambassadors will spend 10 hours a week reaching out to students and connecting them with college resources, such as IT, the library, academic coaching, tutoring and more.

“In the past, our students could decide whether they wanted to take online classes, but now they may have concerns about whether online is a good fit for their learning style,” said Audrey Ellis, director of student success management. “It became apparent that we need to step up our outreach to make sure our students are successful.”

Ambassadors will communicate with students using a new chat tool, email, texts, phone and Blackboard—the college’s learning management system. Individual students may also reach out to an ambassador with questions. Students who seem to be struggling will be referred to an ambassador by a faculty member.

Northern Essex transitioned to remote learning mid-semester this past spring when COVID-19 first became an issue. Early this summer, the college announced 90 percent of fall 2020 courses would be offered online. Only classes that require a face-to-face experience, such as health and science labs, will be taught on campus.

The college is also putting resources toward a laptop requirement for students that will ensure all students have the technology needed to succeed.

To learn more about peer ambassadors, Ellis may be reached by emailing [email protected].

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