One-on-One Tutoring via WCOnline & Teams
WCOnline, our scheduler and data tracking tool for the Tutoring Center, is equipped with videoconferencing tools, such as video and audio feeds, a whiteboard tool, and the ability to upload documents (but only in plain text format). To augment WCOnline, we will also be using Teams, which allows tutors and clients to view/work simultaneously on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files.
Additionally, we will be implementing a stringent protocol for our asynchronous tutoring. Limited only to the professional tutors, students will be able to submit their completed drafts to WCOnline (referred to as “e-tutoring” in WCO) for tutors to review, comment on (via tools provided by Word). Professional tutors will have a 72-hour turnaround time, responding first to global concerns (e.g., lack of thesis statement, underdeveloped paragraphs, etc.) and then local concerns (e.g., grammar, syntax, style concerns). APA format will be considered a local concern.
Virtual Learning Labs via Blackboard Collaborate & Teams
Blackboard Collaborate, in conjunction with Teams, is the best approach for operating learning labs remotely. Blackboard Collaborate provides the usual tools to operate a virtual, synchronous classroom: videoconference, chat, sharing materials. We are currently testing the tools provided by Blackboard with a pilot course, “Tutoring Center Learning Labs.” Beginning with the Nursing Focus Groups, our aim is to provide group tutoring via Blackboard Collaborate, with supplemental help from Teams. Students with access to a Blackboard course will have access to the Collaborate tool. As our peer and professional tutors already have access to the appropriate Blackboard course, the next step is training personnel to use the tools (see below).
Future seminars and workshops, including those on TEAS prep and career services, will be conducted through Teams or Blackboard Collaboration, which will allow the sharing of PowerPoints as well as virtual instruction through video and voice over. The seminars will still be held at specific dates and times to allow for direct instruction and student questions.
Surveys & Data Collection
Peter Bocala, our Senior Peer Tutor, is already working on a solution to ensure that the tutoring surveys are accessible to all clients. Using Microsoft Forms, we are building One-on-One, Opportunity Programs, and Learning Lab Surveys that can be embedded/emailed to students at the end of conferences, learning labs, and seminars. With Forms, the clients can complete the surveys while the tutor is still online, rather than waiting for an electronic survey to be emailed via WCOnline.
Communication with Tutors via Teams
We will be communicating to tutors via Microsoft Teams, and when necessary, phone calls. We hope that Teams will be a one-stop for communication, information, and instruction (see below), as well as reduce the amount of phone calls we will undoubtedly receive. A Team site is currently in development.
Instructions, Protocols, & Training for Using Virtual Services
To initiate this form of remote tutoring, we will be providing directions that include directions on preparations and best practices for the students. The WC Online interface will work best for documents such as papers, writing responses, and discussion board posts. WC Online will also be useful for tutoring situations requiring explanations that can be delivered through verbal discussion or text explanations in the whiteboard space. If WC Online does not meet the needs of the student due to the limitations of the interface with regard to images and PowerPoints, tutors will offer directions about how to move the session to Microsoft Teams.
Prior to beginning to accept tutoring appointments, all peer tutors will receive instruction from Colleen or Jason about expectations regarding conducting remote tutoring through WC Online and MS Team. This instruction will include data tracking, professional expectations for remote tutoring, and technical requirements. This will help ensure that all tutors are trained before their first conference and assist their clients as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the potential limitations of this form of support? Although there is no substitute for face-to-face tutoring, synchronous tutoring can facilitate many of those features provided that both tutors and clients are prepared for the conference. This means having materials available in digital format for easy sharing and logging into the software at least ten minutes before the scheduled conference.
- What are the anticipated technological glitches for this form of remote support? Devices often fail at the most inopportune times. To minimize disruptions, tutors and clients will be encouraged to update their passwords & contact information, check the reliability of their Internet, updated all devices, and perform a function check prior to the tutoring conference.
- Where can a tutor or client go for technical help? If a student cannot access their Blackboard or Maria email, they should reach out to the IThelpdesk@mariacollege.edu. For help with WCOnline, students should contact Jason Coley or Colleen Reilly. Although phone consultations are available, we will direct tutors to our Team site. We will email/distribute instructions and sources to all students and staff, but perhaps we can also post links to our website.