Students may benefit from online tutoring

As more papers are being assigned for classes, there are different services students can use in order to perfect their writing.

Students can receive tutoring from any location on or off campus with the Online Writing Lab offered by the Writing Center.

The OWL provides service similar to the typical session at the Center but is an online venue for students to get writing and grammar help from the comfort of their own home.

Allie Shaw, a senior from Cuba studying elementary education, instructs a student over the Internet Tuesday at the Writing Center in Morris Library. Shaw said she has been a tutor at the Writing Center for 2 years. “I feel like we are well-equipped for peer reviewing,” Shaw said. nathan hoefert | Daily Egyptian

Through the program, students and tutors meet in an online instant message format. Once logged in, a student can download his or her paper, and then both the student and tutor can correct any mistakes.

“The tutor reads the paper and then chats back and forth with the student about the paper,” said Jane Cogie, director of the Writing Center. “The tutor can ask questions and connect the student to a resource that can help them.”

Cogie started the program in fall 2009 to connect with students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to be in touch with a tutor any time.

“The program meets the needs of students; whether they are a fair distance away, or if they are not feeling well, or if their child is sick and they do not have childcare for that day,” she said. “They can still get help with their paper or chat with a tutor.”

The OWL Program runs on less than $1,000 per year, all funded through a Veterans Grant provided by the state of Illinois through the Disability Support Services on campus.

While the OWL Program provides a more convenient form of assistance, Cogie said online service might not be the best tutoring style for everyone.

“There is something about face-to-face communication that is better for some people,” she said. “They can hear your tone of voice and the student writer can hear more of the tone of the message that the tutor is trying to get across.”

Jerry Panosh, a sophomore from Elmhurst studying sports administration, said he prefers the face-to-face contact from the Writing Center tutors because it is easier to follow.

“It is a lot easier to understand someone talking to you compared to reading through text,” he said.

One of the tutors, Andy Harnish, a graduate student from Quarryville, Penn., in creative writing, said he agreed individuals might favor certain methods, but both are competent means of tutoring.

“I think they both have strengths,” he said. “Face-to-face tutoring can be more efficient, but I think the OWL is a nice option for people who do not have time to go to the center. It’s nice to have an option for someone who wouldn’t come to the center otherwise.”

Cogie said some students may prefer the online tutoring because it’s less personal. She said the more a student is involved in each platform, the better. The online session has more built-in involvement, Cogie said, so some students may find it easier to have a lack of physical presence.

Cogie said regardless of which method an individual prefers, the OWL does provide one luxury that the typical tutoring services offered at the Writing Center do not.

“This program allows for a student to get assistance while in their pajamas,” she said.


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About Ben Conrady

Ben Conrady can be reached at bconrady@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext. 282.

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