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MTSU Writing Center guides students through classw...

MTSU Writing Center guides students through classwork in cyberspace

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.

Kelsey Talbott conducts online tutoring sessions with students under the auspices of the MTSU University Writing Center. All tutors are working remotely because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Talbott, a senior biology major from Manchester, Tenn., has tutored for the UWC for three years. (Photo submitted)

Kelsey Talbott conducts online tutoring sessions with students under the auspices of the MTSU University Writing Center. All tutors are working remotely because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Talbott, a senior biology major from Manchester, Tenn., has tutored for the UWC for three years. (Photo submitted)

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.

Dr. Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, Department of English, director of University Writing Center

Dr. Erica Cirillo-McCarthy

“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.

Each student schedules an appointment through WCONLINE, the center’s online scheduler, by going to www.mtsu.edu/writing-center and clicking the blue “make an appointment” button.

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.

MTSU graduate student Allie Haslett of Smyrna, Tenn., tutors students online through the university's Margaret H. Ordoubadian University Writing Center. All UWC tutors are working remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Haslett, a master's degree candidate in the criminal justice administration program, has worked for the UWC for two semesters. (Photo submitted)

MTSU graduate student Allie Haslett of Smyrna, Tenn., tutors students online for the university’s Margaret H. Ordoubadian University Writing Center. All UWC tutors are working remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Haslett, a master’s degree candidate in the criminal justice administration program, has worked for the UWC for two semesters. (Photo submitted)

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 uwcenter@mtsu.edu.

— Gina Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

 


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