Tips for Faculty

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 Canvas 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 a gofer or clerk 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 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

STARs are available during the academic year except during "reading days," finals, and breaks. A STAR may be available during larger breaks, summer & winter, as needed.

The STAR program is funded only during the regular academic year

If you need STAR help during the summer, please contact the STAR Program Manager at the beginning of April to determine if a STAR student could be made available during the summer.

Keep the STAR Program Manager informed

STARs are students, not full-time staff. However, with good supervision and guidance, they can do excellent work. The program manager wants the STAR assigned to you to be useful, 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 particular 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.

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. Otherwise, the STAR may never know when the work is done.

You are responsible for the content

You are the expert. All text should be in a computer-readable form (e.g., MS Word documents, RTF file) so the STAR only has to copy and paste things into your product — not type them. It is also your responsibility to proofread any 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 is 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 typical 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 for your project:

  • The STAR will not come to your home.
  • The STAR will not assist with student projects.
  • The STAR will not be the "webmaster" for your website.
  • The STAR 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.