Lancaster – In a world where college students are spending much of their time online, Associate Professor of Computer Science Technology Christine Wolfe is taking her office hours to her students. Wolfe holds office hours every Tuesday night from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. online through Adobe Connect.
"I started this several semesters ago for an online class. I sent out a survey to see what day and time was most convenient for my students. I had included times through the day and evening. I was surprised that evening was the clear favorite time for students," said Wolfe. "I'm not sure why the evening hours are popular but I think it might be because that is when students start their homework. The non-traditional students like it because they can have the kids settled down and the dinner dishes cleared away, but the television shows haven't started."
After two terms of having online office hours available to students in her online classes, she opened up the online office hours to all of her students. Wolfe found that more students showed up for her online office hours than for the face-to-face hours she had available.
"Most often, we just use the chat function although sometimes we use audio and video. The text just seems to work best. The students can share their screen with me so I can see the error messages from their compilers when they are debugging computer programs. I can share my screen with them if I want to demonstrate something," said Wolfe. "Students show up in the online office hours with all sorts of questions. Sometimes they want help with planning their schedule of courses; other times we go over homework problems or course material."
Wolfe said more than one student at a time can access her online office. She offers them the opportunity to privately chat, but often finds that they don't mind chatting with her in front of other students.
"It's nice being able to meet with several students at once. Sometimes, they pitch in with suggestions to help each other," said Wolfe. "Sometimes a student will say they don't have questions but they want to hear what other people from a class are asking. It's great to be able to use technology in a way that is helpful to students."