The Tomato

A hologram
After a trial run with on-campus students, many realized the TA’s were unresponsive. Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum

Call me, beep me, if you want to reach me

The University of Ottawa has announced ambitious reopening plans for the fall semester after declaring 30 to 50 per cent of courses will be held in-person.

One included plan is to distribute holographic teaching assistants (TAs) to students, so they can ask questions and have physical company. 

However, after a trial run with on-campus students, many realized the TA’s were unresponsive, but not due to technical difficulties.

“Every time I would press the little button to ask a question, they wouldn’t show up for like two hours,” said Mac Aronni, a first-year nutrition student. “By that point, I’ve moved onto another assignment or started a movie.”

Aronni claims that it takes anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks for his holographic TA to respond to him, which has prompted him to give up on the device.

“These days I just ask them random questions or to help me with my laundry, which doesn’t work out because he’s holographic,” said Aronni.

Di Daniels, a fourth-year software engineering student who works as a teaching assistant, shares the other perspective. 

“A lot of times, I just don’t feel like going,” said Daniels. “I always tell people to email me instead, because I forget to respond a lot too.”

“Also, being a hologram is just weird. People have nasty rooms and I get nervous even though I’m not physically there.”

Daniels says the university is working out the technical issues and will release the holographs for the summer semester before making a decision in the fall.

“Honestly, being a hologram pays pretty well and the students I have bothered to talk to have pretty good discussions,” said Daniels. “But I don’t think I could do this for a full year.”