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Education

Alcorn partners with Upswing to provide increased academic support services

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(Photo courtesy Alcorn State University)

Alcorn State University is partnering with Upswing, an online student engagement organization, to connect students with integrated support resources such as live, online tutoring, advising, a virtual assistant that provides answers to students’ questions, and 24/7 engagement services to increase student success rates.

Upswing’s solution for Alcorn State includes user-friendly, online advising and tutoring, and a virtual learning classroom environment easily accessible to students with the look and feel of social media platforms. Students can connect with both Alcorn advisers and tutors and Upswing tutors through the integrated services platform and receive academic support, tutor session feedback and analyses.

President Felecia M. Nave is excited for Alcorn’s students. She believes the platform will greatly impact the student experience going forward.

“We want our students to have leading-edge tools available to them at all times,” Nave said. “Upswing provides robust academic resources that will help make the Alcorn learning experience richer for our students. In addition, the platform gives students the increased flexibility to schedule their advising and tutoring while expanding the reach of the University’s student support services.”

Dr. Keith McGee, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said that the new service is an excellent learning tool for students.

“We need to reach all of our students, but especially online students who are out of state and other nontraditional students to help them feel connected to the campus,” McGee said. “The overall goal is to have our students engaged and connected to campus and provide them with academic support when and where they need it.”

Upswing focuses on increasing student achievement for diverse populations by scaling student services, supporting 24/7 online tutoring, and optimizing student engagement with Ana, an SMS-based, people-backed virtual assistant.

Ana mimics a personal adviser’s experience through automated nudging sequences, two-way conversational interactions and sentimental analyses, and acts as a mass communication tool to reach students on their phones. Alcorn students will use Ana daily to get their questions answered, receive reminders about important dates such as financial aid deadlines, and schedule live-support sessions on their mobile devices.

McGee believes that Ana will be a beneficial resource for students to have their questions answered at any time of the day.

“It’s important that our students can find answers to their questions in one area instead of being transferred to several different campus offices. Ana provides our students with quick responses on their phones,” McGee said.

Through the integrated services platform, students can connect with both Alcorn advisers and tutors and Upswing tutors to receive academic support, tutor session feedback and analyses.

McGee said that Upswing would be valuable in connecting students with after-hours access to tutors.

“The majority of our students’ study hours occur after hours when on-campus tutors are done for the day,” McGee said, “so using Upswing tutors is a huge boost for our nontraditional students and student-athletes.”

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