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Online Learning Assistant Program (OLA)

Application deadline for Spring: September 25, 2017

Interested on incorporating an Online Learning Assistant to your course? Apply today!

Click Here for Application


Ideas on how to incorporate an Online Learning Assistant into your course.

Incorporating an OLA

What is a CAPS Online Learning Assistant (OLA)?

The Online Learning Assistant program was developed in collaboration with UNM Extended Learning. OLAs are trained CAPS tutors that are embedded in undergraduate online courses. They are UNM students who have previously taken the course and excelled. OLAs work with students under the instructor’s guidance during the duration of the course. They focus on helping improve student learning outcomes and foster engagement with course material and challenging course concepts. (OLAs are only available for main capmus courses.) 

Benefits of having an Online Learning Assistant

  • An OLA offers students in your course the perspective of an experienced student in class discussions.
  • Through a peer tutoring model, OLAs can and build community among online students.
  • It can help expose students to tutoring who may not seek it otherwise.
  • OLAs are CAPS employees and thus your department does not inquire any cost in you having one for your course.

How do I request an OLA for my course?

Due to the limited number of tutors available, there is a short application process. Applications will be reviewed by a committee. Assignment of an OLA to a course will be dependent on tutor availability, the type of course and the way the OLA is incorporated into the curriculum. Applications will become available the semester prior to when the course will be offered.

Is my course the right fit for an Online Learning Assistant?

Here are some characteristics:

  • The curriculum for your course allows for minor adjustments to incorporate the tutor.
  • Your course has frequent, challenging assignments.
  • It is a traditionally challenging course for undergraduate students.

Who can I contact for more information?

Please contact Dayra Fallad-Mendoza, Program Specialist for Online Learning at CAPS at 505-277-7059 or send her an email.

Role of Learning Assistants

Academic Support

  • Engage in difficult course material with students.
  • Provide opportunities to deepen content.
  • Encourage students to think critically about the subject.
  • Lead group or one-on-one tutorials/discussions on the content covered in the course.
  • Provide feedback on student writing or other assignments.
  • Grade low stakes assignments with a rubric.

Online Setting Support

  • Model and teach appropriate netiquette.
  • Share successful online learning/academic strategies.
  • Show students how to maximize the benefits of online learning.
  • Guide and maintain student's involvement in online discussions to encourage active construction of knowledge.

Building Community

  • Model and encourage communication between students in the course.
  • Provide online group review sessions for the class (through World White Board or Learn).
  • Help promote and model diversity and inclusion among learners.

Faculty/Instructor Roles and Expectations

As OLAs support your course we ask that you make the following commitments:


  • Meet with the tutor for at least 1 hour/ week. Communication between tutor and instructor is key for the OLA program. This can take place online or in person.
  • Communicate with Online Program Specialist throughout the semester.


  • Attend mandatory Center for Teaching and Learning OLA session/training. Faculty Training will be October 20, 2017 1-4pm.
  • This training will provide ideas and guide the instructor on how to integrate an OLA into your curriculum.

Embedding the Learning Assistant

  • Incorporate the OLA into your curriculum.
  • Provide opportunities for the OLA to interact with your students through assignments, review sessions etc.

This is what the OLA will look like in your Learn course.

 Online Tutor Link Image