By definition, Hokie SPA (Student Personal Access) is “a tool for students, faculty, and staff to view academic, financial, and other pertinent information about their relationship with Virginia Tech.”

The definition further states that “students can also find grades for previous semesters, class schedules, financial aid reports, and much more.”

It is the broader "much more" category that Barry Simmons, director of university scholarships and financial aid, says he is eager to illuminate for students and parents. He has long championed the value and benefit of narrated tutorials to illustrate the range of resources and services offered by Hokie SPA.

During the fall 2011 semester, a Hokie SPA planning team was formed, uniting several units across campus that feed content to Hokie SPA, including University Bursar, University Studies/University Academic Advising Center, and University Scholarships and Financial Aid.  A team from the Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning facilitated the initial meetings and developed a process for the creation and recording of the content for narrated video tutorials.

Team members worked together to prioritize the most important topics, starting with an ‘Introduction to Hokie SPA’ video tutorial for students to debut during the 2012 freshman orientation.  To create greater authenticity, Virginia Tech student Josh Thompson and Maggie Jaronski, a financial aid advisor for the Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid and 2012 Virginia Tech alumna, served as the narrators.

 “The goal of this project is to develop resources to help students and parents understand the functionality available to them in Hokie SPA,” says project manager Noah Schoenholtz, a former graduate assistant in the Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid.

Family Day held during the fall 2011 semester served as the ideal venue to host a focus group to gather baseline data from both students and parents. The data revealed that video tutorials explaining Hokie SPA and its uses would be beneficial to all users of the system.

The team says they have plans to build an online library of video tutorials that students and parents can access from the Virginia Tech website and within Hokie SPA.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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