Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a diligent college student as much as needing writing guidance with a class deadline looming.
The Margaret H. Ordoubadian University Writing Center at MTSU is determined not to leave students in the lurch as they work on their assignments off-campus during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Nearly 30 tutors remain available to help with both undergraduate and graduate projects in online sessions.
Each session is either 25 or 45 minutes long and allows a student to communicate with the tutor in real time either with or without audio/visual technology.
“I am overwhelmed by the ability of our tutors and front desk workers to switch to this new reality,” said Dr. Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, the center’s director and an assistant professor of English.
When they enter the virtual tutoring session, students see a series of instructions on a whiteboard, where they can paste their writing projects for the tutor’s review.
To the left is an optional space for audio/visual contact; to the right is a chat box where tutors and students can “talk” with each other in a text-messaging format.
On March 22, the first day of the online process, the center conducted 27 tutoring sessions.
One particular session that showed the human dimension of the virtual relationship captured Cirillo-McCarthy’s imagination.
“The tutor first asks if the student wants to use A/V (audio/visual), and the student declines because … baby brother is sleeping,” Cirillo-McCarthy said. “So sweet!”
Cirillo-McCarthy said the center ramped up its online capacity last year with a generous grant from MTSU Online, the university’s nationally recognized online learning program.
For more information, visit the University Writing Center’s website, call 615-904-8237 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Gina Logue (email@example.com)