by ALEXANDRA RETTER
After students raised concerns about Winona State University’s (WSU) implementation of a program allowing education majors to track their teaching experiences, the university will go forward with the platform.
Earlier this semester, WSU announced that education students should buy Tevera. This program can track the times and locations of their teaching and field experience assignments and the evaluations they receive from professors and K-12 teachers, according to the product’s website. Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Acting Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Ted Reilly, said students can purchase the program from Tevera for $230 or purchase it for about $260 at the WSU Bookstore, where students can use financial aid funds.
Some education students have expressed concerns about the cost of the program, and one student started a petition to allow students not to purchase the program. In response, WSU hosted a forum for students to discuss their concerns with university leaders. Now the university is “pausing our current implementation,” Reilly said.
“What we’re hoping to do is remove the requirement for current students, and that would address all the concerns we’ve heard there, and a better message going forward,” Reilly said. That message would include explaining to students what Tevera is, he said, and what WSU considers its benefits, as well as making sure all faculty are aware of what it is and how it works. what WSU considers its value. He said WSU wants all students admitted to the College of Education before this semester to take the program voluntarily, but the university will not require it. However, for prospective students, it would be a requirement. “I believe the plan is, coming up for students who get admitted next semester and then subsequent years would be when they get admitted,” he said. He added that the plan is still being worked on and the university has yet to share information with students.
Junior Amanda Bissen, who studies elementary education with a focus on early childhood, said some students admitted to college this semester have already purchased the program. She added that she felt it was fair because they could use the program to track their classroom experience hours over the next few years when she doesn’t have as much time left to complete her degree as she does. ‘she has to keep an eye on .
Bissen said she started the petition to highlight student concerns about the cost of the program. A classmate told her she didn’t know how she would earn rent, for example, she said. “It was just hearing that everyone was struggling,” she said. “It wasn’t just, ‘Why do we have to pay all this money?’ but, some people have actually struggled or are struggling or need more time to put that money aside before they have to buy something.
Students also pay to take another program in which they create a digital portfolio of a series of lessons they teach, Bissen said. Plus, they pay for state testing, insurance, and background checks. She said it would be helpful for students to know if they should purchase the program before the start of the semester, when financial aid is disbursed.
Bissen said she thinks there may be benefits to using Tevera. “It looks like a very good program. I’m not going to lie. That wasn’t really the original intent of the petition,” she said, criticizing Tevera’s usefulness. “It was more about the speed with which they launched it to us and the cost. But it looks like a great program. When asked if she would prefer to use a tool like a spreadsheet she created herself or Tevera, she replied, “I know I originally thought, ‘Oh, I can follow my own hours. It’s not that hard.’ Which, I mean, I could still do. But, I understand where they’re going with this program, because there’s going to be a way for us to commit our hours to it and it’s going to be transmitted…” C It’s a convenient way for multiple people to review and approve her hours, she says.
“I think it’s a cutting-edge tool that will be of great benefit to our students, and I think it might have the potential to make them more marketable by locating work and getting the fit right and being able to present in an organized, documented way, “Here’s where I’ve been and here’s my plan,” Reilly said.
Meanwhile, Bissen said some Student Senate representatives are trying to figure out if there’s a way to reduce the cost of the program.