Tutoring in an Online Environment Deborah Hardwick, Manager Online Tutoring Program Houston Community College
Working Online is Different • Many believe that tutoring online is just like working face-to-face with students, but that isn’t true!
What is a Tutor? • View results from: Dictionary | Thesaurus | Encyclopedia | All Reference | the Web • Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Sourcetu·tor ˈtu tər, ˈtyu-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[too-ter, tyoo-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation • –noun 1.a person employed to instruct another in some branch or branches of learning, esp. a private instructor. 2.a teacher of academic rank lower than instructor in some American universities and colleges. 3.a teacher without institutional connection who assists students in preparing for examinations. 4.(esp. at Oxford and Cambridge) a university officer, usually a fellow, responsible for teaching and supervising a number of undergraduates. 5.the guardian of a boy or girl below the age of puberty or majority. –verb (used with object) 6.to act as a tutor to; teach or instruct, esp. privately. 7.to have the guardianship, instruction, or care of. 8.to instruct underhandedly; coach: to tutor a witness before he testifies. 9.Archaic. a.to train, school, or discipline. b.to admonish or reprove. –verb (used without object) 10.to act as a tutor or private instructor. 11.to study privately with a tutor. • [Origin: 1350–1400; ME < L tūtor protector, equiv. to tū- (var. s. of tuérī to guard; see tutelage) + -tor-tor ] • —Related forms • tu·tor·less, adjective • tu·tor·ship, noun • and at HCC – to tutorize! • —Synonyms 6.See teach.
Two Types of Tutors • Teachers • Out-of-class conferences • E-mail conferences • Phone conferences • Non-teachers (at least, not that student’s teacher) • Private, paid tutors • Peer tutors • College-hired face-to-face tutors • Online (or distance) tutors
Three Types of Online Tutoring • Small group – This can be done in chat rooms. • Large group – This is also done in chat rooms or through message boards. • Individual – this is the most common form and can be synchronous or asynchronous.
Online Tutoring Platforms • Ask-a-Tutor – some schools use a phone system. • E-mail – a school’s internal e-mail system may be used. • IM (Instant messaging) – this is useful for short questions but impractical for longer ones or papers. • Tutoring Platform – this is an integrated system with multiple modes of contact.
Why We Need Multiple Methods • Not all students learn the same way. • Not all students are comfortable asking for help. • Getting tutoring help still carries a stigma in many students’ eyes. • Our students often have complex lives.
How Is Online Tutoring Different? • In a traditional face-to-face setting, tutors get many cues from conversation with students. Immediate clarification can be asked for and given. Online, tutors need to be more intuitive and read the student’s submission much more carefully in order to provide not only overt help, but also covert help.
Let’s Look at Similarities and Differences • Before we can get into HOW to tutor online, we need to start with what you already know from f-2-f tutoring. • Then, we can move into the virtual realm!
Significant Differencesbetween Online and F-2-F Tutoring • Online tutoring entails • No visual feedback • Communication delays • Mastery of technological tools • More work in written communication (typing takes longer than talking) • Often incomplete information about assignments
Significant Similarities in All Types of Tutoring For the student, both face-to-face and online tutoring • require engagement, initiative, assertiveness, and self-direction. • demand a commitment to growth, and that commitment involves time and energy.
In face-to-face and online environments, tutors must • address individual learning needs. • help students minimize learning gaps. • address academic anxiety and fears.
Tutors’ Roles: Online and F-2-F Tutors Must Never • undermine the teacher’s role. • second-guess the teacher’s judgment. • take sides in a debate about grades. • do a student’s work.
Online Tutors Must Be Role Models • If you are tutoring in a synchronous platform (phone, chat room, IM), you MUST be there when you are scheduled. • In whatever format, use correct English. Students may use text-slang – tutors never should. • Humor can be cutting – it must be used sparingly and cautiously.
If you want students to take tutoring seriously, you must treat it seriously. Be respectful, professional, and humane.
Communication – there are no visual cues, and the time lag in asynchronous online tutoring can lead to frustration for students and tutors. This is directly related to the lack of immediate feedback. Tutors don’t know if they have hit the mark, if students understand what they said, or if there are related questions. Please post suggestions for dealing with this problem through the “Communication” thread in REPLY. Online Tutoring Challenges
More Challenges • Establishing boundaries Because students may be sitting in their underwear (and tutors may, too!) it is easy to forget that this is a professional relationship. Students may confuse their tutor(s) with other friends who e-mail on a regular basis, adding personal notes and comments that are inappropriate.
On a Related Note ... • When does the work cease to be the student’s and become the tutor’s? • This is a crucial issue. Program managers must set guidelines for how often a piece of work can be reviewed and how much work can be done. Remember that teachers have to grade student work, not tutor work.
Unreasonable Student Expectations • Just as some students expect f-2-f tutors to do the work, they also may expect it of online tutors. They may submit a list of physics problems from the text without even trying to solve them. They may send a teacher’s assignment and ask the tutor what they should do / write / answer.
Scheduling and Time Management • Whether you are working in a synchronous or asynchronous environment, timeliness and punctuality are important, not only for the reputation of the tutoring program, but as a model for students. • Know your program’s turn-around times and always strive to beat them.
Online Tutoring Advantages • Online environments can increase the comfort zone for tutors and students. • In an online environment, students usually can be trained to • include the prompts (Ask questions) • pinpoint particular problems (Identify concerns) • Online platforms limit or eliminate rambling, making the time use more efficient. • Asynchronous tutoring allows tutors time for reflection and carefully constructed answers.
Tutors’ Role in Tutoring:Tutors must always • lead students to answers, not give them answers. • find something praiseworthy in any work students do. • be honest yet optimistic with students. • keep students’ confidences except when there is a perceived danger to self or others. • tutor the student, not the subject.
Students’ Role in Tutoring:Students must always understand • what tutors can and can’t do, especially that tutors will not do their work for them. • the time constraints of tutoring availability. • how to prepare for the tutoring session. • that tutoring is not a substitute for studying.
Good tutoring leads students to answers rather than giving them. Online Tutoringusually makes studentswork harder, as they cannot “con” tutors into doing “just one more problem...”
In summary ... • Online, or distance, tutoring is here to stay. It is new, so what we do in the next couple of years will determine the path it will take. Those of us working in the field now are developing best practices, and those who follow can learn from the work of all who have gone before.
Contact Information • Deborah Hardwick, Manager, Online Tutoring Services • Deborah.firstname.lastname@example.org (best way) • 713-718-5340 (leave a message)