Academic Resource Center to offer one-credit UM experience course online

The Camner Academic Resource Center (ARC) will offer the Ultimate University of Miami Experience course (UMX) online as an alternative to the traditional classroom version for the first time this fall.

UMX is a one-credit freshman experience course offered at UM to help freshmen and first-semester transfer students acclimate to college and life at UM. It teaches students what professors expect them to know about several topics including technology, faculty interaction, housing, the health center, library services, and advising, among several others. The course typically meets once a week for 50 minutes.

“UMX is your ‘how-to’ guide for college,” ARC Director Mykel Billups said.

With the virtual course, students will be able to work at their own pace, timing the completion of their modules around their other classwork. The online class will use videos and narrated PowerPoint presentations to introduce students to all of UM’s resources.

“It is like having a tour guide at your fingertips,” said Jennifer Wilson, assistant director for UMX.

Students can submit assignments for the UMX course via Blackboard, which is one of the university’s main tools to facilitate classroom communication between students and instructors. Through the online course, students will also be able to interact with other students using blogs and online discussions.

Freshman Devika Bodhoo said that when she took the course, her UMX professor invited guest speakers from specific departments, like the Toppel Career Center and Butler Center, to come in and speak to students in class. She believes that UMX online would not work.

“An online version would not provide interaction with people who can help advise and explain what the campus offers, or address specific questions,” Bodhoo said.

But Wilson said there is no need to worry about missing out on face-to-face interaction with faculty and staff. Students will still have the opportunity to meet in-person with important members of the UM community through residential and academic programming events.

This fall, the online course will supplement the traditional version that has been offered in previous years. It will serve as a pilot course.

“Students that take the course online this fall will give feedback that will be used to structure the UMX course for fall 2013,” Wilson said.

Students who did not choose UMX when selecting courses can visit the ARC, located on the second floor of the University Center at Suite N201, or speak with their academic adviser during orientation to add the class.

The ARC offers other services like free individual peer tutoring sessions, workshops on academic skills and strategies, and one-on-one meetings with learning specialists.

Peer tutoring is a favorite among UM students. Students are eligible to receive up to two hours of help per subject per week.

“The ARC’s individual peer tutoring sessions really helped me get an ‘A’ in Bio I,” junior Cassandra Pino said. “I recommend it to anyone who needs help with any subject.”

In order for students to be eligible to tutor other students, they must have received an ‘A’ in the course they wish to teach. Sophomores and other upperclassmen can apply to become paid tutors at the ARC. Along with a completed application, students must submit two teacher recommendations and an unofficial transcript.