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Resources for Virtual Advising

In partnership with SSD and Academic Advising Initiatives, recommendations for accessibility have been gathered for the academic advising community.


Zoom is Virginia Tech’s platform for video conferencing. It allows screen & document sharing – something that cannot be done with a traditional phone call.  It can be used on personal computers, in classrooms, and in conference rooms. Zoom meetings recorded to the cloud appear in My Media in Canvas. The Virginia Tech Zoom website is available at Current Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff members have Virginia Tech Zoom Pro accounts, where you can host, schedule, participate in, and record meetings for free on the cloud. Faculty and staff members can host meetings with up to 500 participants and external collaborators can join VT Zoom meetings. 

During your meeting you will need access to a computer with video chat capabilities (internal or external camera) and a microphone. You can use your smartphone or tablet for virtual advising if necessary; however, access to a computer is preferable as you may want to share, receive, or view documents and resources that are easier to view and save them on a computer.

Zoom best practices for protecting meeting security and privacy from the Division of Information Technology.

Zoom breakout rooms allow you to split your Zoom meeting in up to 50 separate sessions.

Virginia Tech 4Help provides robust support to assist advisors in making effective use of Zoom. See specific information on installation, logging in, and configuration.

  • Virtual advising relies on a secure, quality Wi-Fi connection. Please ensure that you have a good connection prior to your appointment.
  •  Conduct your meeting in a place that is quiet and free of distraction to help make the meeting as efficient and productive as possible.
  • Driving during a virtual advising appointment is prohibited. Advisors must comply and require their students to do so as well.
  • If you are in a public setting, you are responsible for the information communicated in your meeting in compliance with FERPA. We highly recommend that you wear headphones to ensure that others surrounding you are not privy to any personal academic information that may be discussed.
  • Be prepared for your meeting.

The Waiting Room feature in Zoom allows you to control when an advisee joins the meeting. You can meet with one person while another waits in the waiting room and then allow the person waiting to join the meeting. This special feature is important to utilize in an effort to maintain student confidentiality.

Once you have started your Zoom meeting, be sure to click on "Manage Participants" to see who has arrived in your waiting room and then confirm they can come into your meeting room.

Steps for a Successful Virtual Advising Meeting

Virtual advising involves conducting advising sessions using email, telephone, or video chat technology. This style of advising gives both students and advisors the opportunity for a face-to-face conversation if a student is unable to come into the advising unit. While technology allows advisors to be adaptive in their approach, it is not intended to replace in-person interactions. Therefore, it is recommended advisors meet in-person with their students at least once during the term.

A variety of video conferencing software for conducting audio and video interaction in real time between users at disparate locations is available. Video chats are typically conducted via a computer, tablet or smartphone device, and may involve one-to-one interaction or one-to-many interaction. Examples include WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Talkey, ooVoo, WeChat, Google Hangouts, UberConference, and Zoom. The latter platform is hosted by Virginia and will be referenced throughout this document. Generally, the tips and strategies outlined can be applied to any email, telephone, or video conferencing software.

  • Set up Zoom.
  • Review your advisee’s digital advising notes, typically found in Navigate (i.e., advising notes, advising reports, appointment summaries).  You may also need to review the Banner Document Management (BDM) system and/or Hokie Spa.
  • Be prepared with the curriculum (or agenda) for your meeting. This should be guided by your established learning outcomes for this interaction and/or the advisee’s identified reason(s) for requesting the appointment.
  • Begin the meeting with an open ended question (i.e., How can I help you? Or how did that History exam go?)
  • Express genuine care and concern for the student by following up on any special events or circumstance discussed in previous meetings.
  • If your advisee has identified issues or concerns, make sure to attend to those items before addressing your advising curriculum. Ask the advisee to articulate their need or concern. You may need to gather additional information from the student using effective questioning skills to help clarify.
  • Paraphrase the issue or concern identified by the advisee giving the student a chance to clarify, elaborate, correct, or confirm your interpretation.
  • Identify possible solutions collaboratively giving the student an opportunity of generate possible solutions. It is also important that you discuss the pros and cons of each solution identified. You may need to review decision making and goal setting strategies with your advisee.
  • Assist student in identifying the best option(s), establishing what specific steps they must take, and determining the appropriate timeline.
  • In closing the virtual meeting, summarize what has transpired and encourage future contact; perhaps scheduling the next meeting.

This legislation protects the privacy of student records and regulates how information is utilized.

Once a student turns 18, or attends school beyond secondary school, the rights of access to the student’s records transfer to the student. This means that all academic information regarding students goes directly to the student unless the student has given permission to release that information to someone else. 

Examples of student education records protected under FERPA include, but are not limited to:

  • advising notes
  • class rosters
  • student course schedule/enrollment in courses
  • graded assignments
  • emails exchanged with a student concerning their academic progress (i.e. in a class, as an advisee)
  • card swipe data (e.g. in advising offices, at campus events)
  • field site/internship evaluations for experiences done for course credit
  • student registration holds
  • student ID photos

In addition to maintaining records effectively, you must ensure that your advising practice, meetings, and interactions in no way divulge information about individual students. See more information about FERPA at Virginia Tech, including training.

You can continue to use your normal means of setting up your advising appointments. Regardless of whether you require students to schedule in advance or use a drop-in format, most technology will accommodate your preference. You are encouraged to make use of the Navigate to allow students to schedule appointments based on the availability that you provide. This platform facilitates your ability to proactively contact students to arrange virtual advising appointments.   

You may visit our Navigate Resources page and look for "Transitioning to Virtual Advising within Navigate" to view a few short videos to assist you in using Navigate for students to schedule appointments.

Other Resources

Available only in the U.S., Google Voice uses VoIP, which lets you make voice calls over a standard broadband internet connection. It’s often used by small businesses to keep costs down, but it’s also convenient for everyday users. All you need is a good internet connection and microphone.