As classes and meetings continue to transition to online workspaces such as Zoom, tutoring for students is following that trend.
Educational Program Coordinator Katie Robinson is an educational counselor for the TRIO office and also coordinates the tutoring program at Keene State. Robinson explained that her transition into coordinating online has been a learning experience, but everyone she works with is handling the transition well.
”It has been interesting,” Robinson said. “Just kind of not knowing week to week really how things are going to change, but, I have to say, everyone’s really risen to the occasion. We’re all in this together and it’s all gone really well.”
Robinson’s knowledge and comfort with technology has helped her through these difficult times and to the transition to working remotely. She also explained that being at home with her husband and her dog has also helped with the transition.
Assistant Director of the Aspire Program Jeanne Hearn provides educational counseling to students as well as coordinating tutors in the Aspire program.
During this transition to online tutoring, Hearn has to correspond with over 100 tutors in the Aspire program.
“We try reaching out to folks as much as possible,” Hearn explained. “That way we can stay in contact with our tutors and check in on them.”
Although first-year student Mackenzie LeClaire prefers paper copies and physical books to the online ones that are provided on Canvas, she has been getting used to the online tutoring environment.
“It took me a while to adapt to online learning,” LeClaire explained. “We all went to college to get an in-person education. If we wanted to get an online education, we would’ve chosen to do online schooling.”
As for science classes such as biology and anatomy that require labs, the online classroom can never replace the in-person experience.
“My tutoring for anatomy and physiology includes studying for lab practicals, which would involve going to the laboratory and seeing the material hands-on when we were on campus,” LeClaire stated. “Now that we are online, that has obviously shifted.”
Second-year student Emma Golden also expressed that not being in person for her labs has affected her tutoring and the most difficult part about online tutoring is the fact that she cannot meet with her tutor face to face. “It’s really challenging to adapt to online learning and online tutoring when you are used to being able to meet in person,” Golden explained.
Another challenge that Golden has had to deal with was the ability to focus during her sessions. She explained that since she is not able to learn in the same locations as when she was on campus, it makes it difficult to concentrate on the material.
Not everyone has access to a computer or internet, so Aspire has a system in place to combat this issue.
“Some tutoring is happening over the phone,” Hearn explained. “Email connection is important, so at that point, the student could say, ‘I’m having trouble connecting to the internet.’ It’s certainly an option to do it over the phone.”
Although there are major differences between learning over online conferencing and in person, Robinson explained that, while there has been an adjustment period, tutors were already knowledgeable with online services, as the tutoring program made a big change at the beginning of the semester.
“The adjustment started at the beginning of the semester because we just recently transitioned over to using the EAP platform to schedule and coordinate our tutoring sessions,” Robinson explained. “So I think in a way, that really helped them.”
Although there are a variety of differences and challenges that are present when dealing with online tutoring sessions such as internet connection and poor audio quality, LeClaire explained that she is learning almost as much as she would be if the tutoring sessions were still in person.
“My tutor is using the video conference online resource Zoom Conferencing and has learned the tools within Zoom to provide us with tutoring that’s as close as she could get to in-person tutoring,” LeClaire explained. “She also provides us with study material like she was in person, now just through email. She’s continued to do the same and provide us with all the things she would in person but has just needed to adjust her approach to make it just as effective.”
However, Golden had a different experience and stated that she has not learned as much as if she were still on campus. “I think that it is much easier for me to learn in the college environment,” Golden said. “Had the semester not been moved online, I think it would have been much easier for me to gain a deeper understanding of things that require hands-on learning.”
The Aspire office continues to meet with students daily and continues to operate as if they were in the office.
If you want to schedule an appointment with a tutor, you can still do so through EAB. You can get there at https://www.keene.edu/office/aspire/
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