Students can now get tutoring from home

April 22, 2011 Feature Print Print
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Long-distance English tutoring has come to the OCCC campus via Echo 2.0. The Communications Lab uses Skype to connect students with tutors in real time, even if they are miles apart.

Bethany VanderSchans, an Echo English tutor said students can’t always come to campus to sit down face-to-face with a tutor.

“For a campus that has so many nontraditional students, this is an innovative way for the tutors to come to you,” VanderSchans said.

Non-traditional students include those who have full-time jobs or are taking all their classes online.

 

Echo 2.0 is a Skype-based tutoring system that allows students to connect to tutors and receive help on papers for their OCCC classes.

Once students have set up a Skype account, they may e-mail their papers to the lab so the tutors have a chance to look at it before meeting with the student. Students then log on at the designated time and begin their tutoring session from the comfort of their own home.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, and 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

For many nontraditional students, the drive to campus is enough of a hassle to stop them from receiving the help they need.

The Communications Lab had previously been using e-mail tutoring, where students could e-mail their paper into the lab and a tutor would proofread it and e-mail the paper back with corrections and any additional suggestions.

Nick Webb, who brought the Echo system to OCCC, said the e-mail tutoring was not allowing students to get the face-to-face time with tutors that research has said makes an impact.

Webb said he thinks the Echo 2.0 system has “improved the quality of online tutoring through solving this simple problem.”

Rachel Olsen, director of the Communications Lab, said synchronous tutoring, or tutoring in real time, allows a higher level of engagement for the students.

Synchronous tutoring differs from the online tutoring system that was previously used with the e-mails, which was asynchronous. Asynchronous tutoring means the tutor and the student are working on the project at different times.

Webb’s ultimate goal for the online tutoring would be a merger between the two types of tutoring, “a service that allows students to choose.”

A problem for Echo 2.0 is that it can only be accessed while the lab is open so it still has its limitations.

The tutors that are on Echo have been specially trained for the Skype tutoring, VanderSchans said.

She said she is still trying to get the hang of this new way of helping students.

She said she wants to learn the best ways to channel her knowledge through the web.

Students have mixed feelings about the program.

Student Amanda Campana said the set-up seems like a lot of work. However, Webb said, if students are having trouble setting up and using a Skype account, the lab is willing to help get one started.

Campana said she would rather just go into the Communication Lab itself, though she understands why this tutoring system would be useful to other students.

On the other hand, John Dewberry, a film student, raved about the online tutoring and said that he will definitely be back to use it again for his course work.

For more information on Echo 2.0 or other tutoring opportunities, call 405-682-1611, ext. 7379 or visit the Communication Lab located at 1N7 of the Main Building.

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