December 26, 2012

Statewide online tutoring services extended to Cedarville, Urbana students

By Meagan Pant, Staff Writer, Dayton Daily News, originally published 10/18/12

Cedarville and Urbana universities are joining Ohio’s online tutoring network that offers students free help in writing, math and science. Forty-two colleges and universities statewide have joined the Ohio eTutoring Collaborative connecting their students with trained tutors. This year, all universities and colleges in the state were invited to join at no cost by the Ohio Board of Regents. The schools do pay for tutors.

The platform allows students to seek help outside of the hours a typical on-campus academic support center would be open. Students can chat live with a tutor, submit questions and receive feedback on paper assignments. Tutors are generally available from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. About 2,400 students used the service last year, out of the 134,587 who had access, according to the Board of Regents. Three years ago, the state launched the service as a pilot with five schools. Local participating schools also include: Central State University, Clark State, Edison and Sinclair community colleges, and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

“It’s slow, steady growth,” said Karen Boyd, eTutoring coordinator. Boyd met with coordinators from Cedarville, Central State, Edison and Urbana on Wednesday. Other meetings will be held throughout the state, as well. Gary Cates, senior vice chancellor at the Board of Regents, said he hopes the free tutoring allows students to get the academic help they need to stay in college and graduate. Half of the people who enter higher education in Ohio do not earn a degree.

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Distance Learning,Technology

June 30, 2011

West Hills CC turns to online tutoring service

By Heather Somerville, originall published on 5/11/11 in The Fresno Bee

Outsourcing has infiltrated the college classroom.

When some students at West Hills Community College turn in their work, it’s forwarded to an anonymous tutor hunched over a computer in Bangalore or San Diego, or somewhere in between. No one at West Hills seems to know who or where the tutors are, or how they’re qualified. Administrators and teachers say it doesn’t matter; with the tutors’ help, students’ writing and math skills are improving.

But educators across the nation argue that such services devalue teachers, threaten student-teacher relationships, undermine students’ education and pose ethical quandaries. “It’s a creepy-crawly thing,” said Marilyn Valentino, an English professor at Lorain County Community College in Ohio and a national authority on college composition instruction. “You’ll [eventually] go to one master syllabus and one teacher, and all these invisible people behind computers.”

But online tutors will never take teachers’ jobs at West Hills, said Susan Whitener, associate vice chancellor of educational planning, not “by any stretch of the imagination.”

Online on the Rise

Online tutoring services are on the rise as colleges and universities deal with budget cuts. In some cases, full-time faculty have been replaced with part-time teachers. Teddi Fishman, director of the International Center for Academic Integrity, said the part-time teachers, many of whom have other jobs, are assisted by online tutors.  Also, some students take online courses and seldom come to campus.

In 2006, West Hills hired RichFeedback, a Virginia-based online education assessment company, to give teachers one more low-cost option to help students who lack basic math and writing skills. Administrators say students who use the virtual tutoring service are more likely to stay in school and make better grades. RichFeedback hasn’t been widely used by West Hills faculty. Only 2% sent classwork to the virtual tutors this year — all in online classes, Whitener said.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Distance Learning,Technology,Tutoring Practices

March 23, 2010

SAT Prep Gone Wild

by Liz Dwyer, originally published on 2/23 on the Good website

Only wealthy kids are lucky enough to get primed for their SATs with a formal prep course, right? Not anymore. The online social enterprise I Need A Pencil (INAP) is leveling the playing field for students from all economic backgrounds. Founded by Harvard junior Jason Shah, INAP targets low-income students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to college advice, online lessons, mentors, or 24/7 email support– and unlike Kaplan and Princeton Review, it’s all free. “Families shouldn’t have to spend the equivalent of a college classes’ tuition just to get ready to take the SAT,” says Shah…

Since launching in 2007, over 30,000 high school students from families with an average income of $40-80,000 have prepared for the SAT using INAP’s program. Like Princeton Review and Kaplan, INAP users begin by taking an SAT practice test. The site then creates an estimated SAT score as a baseline starting point and provides users with areas of content strength and weakness.

INAP users get 60 custom lessons tailored to academic weaknesses, and an unlimited number of custom SAT questions and practice tests. In comparison, Shah says Kaplan’s SAT Online program offers 30 lessons for $399 with only four practice tests. The Princeton Review’s SAT Live Online costs $699 for 20-30 hours of tutoring with four practice tests. Shah is critical of the prices. “Charging so much puts SAT prep out of most families’ reach. What are we saying?” he asks, “That only rich kids deserve to be prepared for the SAT?”

The site’s beginnings stem from Shah’s 2005 visit to his sister’s sixth-grade Teach For America classroom in West Philadelphia. “One student asked me three times in a half hour how to spell the word ball,” he says. When the kids talked about going to college, Shah, who was only a high school sophomore at the time, couldn’t imagine how they’d be able to score high enough on the SAT to be accepted anywhere.

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Community,Distance Learning,Free Programs/Software,Technology,Tutoring Practices

September 29, 2009

Virtual tutoring now offered in high school

by Pat Lee, Staff Reporter, Nova Scotia News – the, originally published on 9/3/09

African-N.S. students helped with science, math

A program designed to help Nova Scotia students of African descent do better in math and science has a new way to reach out to them.

Imhotep’s Legacy Academy has launched a virtual tutoring program that will allow science and math tutors at Dalhousie University help high school students across the province without having to leave the Halifax campus.

Program director Emmanuel Nfonoyim said the pilot project is being launched at Citadel High in Halifax, Cole Harbour High and Prince Andrew High in Dartmouth, Sydney Academy, Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro and Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High. He said the program will help about 15 students per school. "I’ve been all across the province and everyone’s really looking forward to having this support for their kids," Mr. Nfonoyim said.

A learning centre has been set up at Dalhousie and computers with a webcam and video conferencing software will be in the schools or in students’ homes. Lt.-Gov. Mayanne Francis is scheduled to launch the learning centre at a luncheon today at Dalhousie University. This is the first time the four-year-old program has offered help to high school students.

Up until now, the project has offered support to about 90 junior high students across the province in after-school programs. Mr. Nfonoyim said it was time to extend that help to the higher grades, especially where students are taking more difficult college-track courses in math and science. "We’re very eager to continue our support right through Grade 12, thereby increasing the chances for a better outcome for the students," he said. The virtual tutoring program is for high school students only.

Click here to read more.

Filed under: Distance Learning,Pedagogy

August 9, 2008

Free Online Conferencing Tools for Tutors

Originally posted on CSNYS on 7/11/08

A number of tools, such as TeamViewer, DimDim, Yugma and Acrobat Connect, let you display information over the Web. You can show everyone the applications or documents on your computer, interact via text chat, or even video conference, all for free. They might be just the thing for your next team meeting.

How do they work? The basic function of online conferencing tools is to provide an online “meeting room.” Typically, a moderator creates the “room,” and participants enter via a particular Web address. Some tools require participants to download a small application the first time they’re used, an important consideration if many different people of different technical skill levels will be participating.

Participants who join a meeting can see everything the presenter displays, and interact with the presenter and with each other. Features vary substantially between applications, but may include the ability to see the presenter’s desktop, text chatting, displaying slide shows or documents, or video conferencing. Some even let presenters hand over control of their desktop to one of the participants.

Click on the following link for more of Free Online Conferencing Tools for Tutors

Filed under: Distance Learning,Free Programs/Software,Technology

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