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October 2020

SCU student working at his desk

SCU student working at his desk

New course helps SCU students with the transition to fully remote learning

Learning and Engaging in Virtual Learning (LEVL Up) creates game-like experience to help students online.

Learning and Engaging in Virtual Learning (LEVL Up) creates game-like experience to help students online.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 8, 2020—Santa Clara University has launched a new mini-course to help undergraduate students get the most out of their virtual academic year. 

The LEVL Up (Learning and Engaging in Virtual Learning) course encourages students to adapt to the reality that their learning and most extracurricular activities will be online, while providing resources to ensure virtual student success. 

“LEVL Up is a course on Camino designed by SCU students for SCU students to help with the transition to fully remote learning,” says SCU junior Sandra Jamaleddine. “My favorite thing about LEVL Up is you are able to take the course at your own pace during your own time.” 

The recommended nine-level course, which is optional, offers students ways to hone their skills and knowledge related to goal-setting, time management, technology, study spaces, learning strategies, campus resources, and their SCU virtual community. Each level challenges undergraduates to engage in self-assessment, while  gaining new skills through resources, reflection, and commitment to action. At the conclusion of each level, students receive a badge, and after completing all levels, they earn a certificate of completion. 

“It’s an extension of the ‘Learning to Learn’ online course we had during Spring 2020, but with better content, some gamification, and some community building elements,” says SCU senior Danny Mendoza

More than 80 brief videos capture Santa Clara students’ own experiences in virtual learning during Spring 2020. The student contributors’ voices, along with the activities and challenges provided, create the kind of virtual resource environment they wish they would have had when classes transitioned to the remote teaching and learning format last spring. With its “by students, for students” take on virtual learning at SCU, LEVL Up offers valuable insider perspectives, guidance, and encouragement. 

Since it launched on Sept. 1, Brian Larkin, instructional technology manager, has been following the students’ involvement in LEVL Up.

“We're really happy with the student response,” says Larkin. “Over 3,200 students started to level up their learning, and over 2,000 badges have been shared with students for completing levels."

When students reach the end of a particular level, they are asked to commit to an action. Larkin reports that their choices have typically involved interacting more with classmates and faculty. So far, two-thirds of the students using LEVL Up have committed to reaching out to others when they need support, joining a student organization or club, or making a conscious effort to engage with the teacher and other students during live Zoom class sessions. 

"Santa Clara students have already proven to be dynamic and adaptable, and the LEVL Up course is helping make what was an unusual learning environment a transformative and rewarding one," says Larkin.

SCU junior Abigail Fafinski,  a member of the LEVL Up Student Voices Team, says that in addition to the academic work, the course also addresses the need for emotional, and mental, physical well-being. She believes that addressing these topics is essential because “they really contribute to the grades you get, and the effort that you put in, and just the experience that you get out of online classes.” 

The LEVL Up project team has reached across traditional silos to engage campus stakeholders from all aspects of campus life.

The development team of 24 SCU student leaders is being led by educational consultant and San Francisco State lecturer Kevin Kelly, co-author of the upcoming book, Advancing Online Teaching: Creating Equity-Based Digital Learning Environments (Stylus, Fall 2020).Together, they have created an online, game-like experience that emphasizes key elements of learning and connecting with the SCU community online.

The team is also using LEVL Up promotional materials on Instagram and Facebook to help engage all students, from first-years to seniors

“Whether you’re looking for extra advice about time management or even accessing off-campus resources, LEVL Up provides you with a customized guide to a wide variety of topics,” says Jamaleddine. 

The optional mini-course ensures that once a student earns a certificate, he or she will be a more mindful, intentional, resilient, autonomous, balanced, skilled, values-based and connected learner. 

“The course covers a lot of really important information, from how to stay organized using a Google Calendar or Planner, to more essential things like having a growth mindset and how that really helps you in academic success,” says Fafinski.  “LEVL Up is a really great resource.” 

 About Santa Clara University

Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked among the top 15 percent of national universities by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see

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Deepa Arora | SCU Media Communications | |