Online tutoring makes help convenient for students

Suzi Starheim

In a typical academic year, the Academic Success Center tutors 20,000 students in math. But beginning this semester, the center hopes to increase that number by offering students online tutors.

Kent State’s new online tutoring program, called the Ohio Collaborative e-Tutoring Network, was launched as a pilot run this semester. Its service is available to students who attend classes at the Kent and Trumbull campuses. The subjects available for tutoring are math and writing.

This program is a collaboration between Kent State and 15 other public higher education institutions in Ohio.

Dean of Undergraduate Studies Gary Padak, is the Kent State representative to the e-Tutoring consortium.

“We had always wanted to do this at Kent State, but it was too costly with commercial software and they (the consortium) give us the ability to do it at a lower cost,” Padak said.

Among the public higher education institutions making up the consortium with Kent State are Cleveland State University, the University of Akron and the University of Toledo.

Randy Ruchotzke, mathematics specialist in the Academic Success Center, coordinates the program and said he wants to make sure the program works for all students across the consortium.

“If it works well, then I’d like to expand this out to other areas, and if it doesn’t work, well at least we gave it a shot, and maybe it’s just not right for this campus,” Ruchotzke said.

It’s too soon to tell how many students have used the program yet, Ruchotzke said, but he plans to look at the numbers in May. Integrating more subjects will be something to be considered at that time.

Beginning online tutoring

Diane Munson, assistant dean of Undergraduate Studies and director of Student Support Services, said the university began looking into online tutoring services one year ago after surveying student and faculty members.

“It was interesting to us because students said that they would be most likely to use it not in place of, but in addition to, face-to-face tutoring,” Munson said.

Munson said they received nearly 800 student responses to the survey across all campuses.

“We have been the main supplier of academic support face-to-face, so it made sense for us to be the ones to start looking for it, and then the consortium came about,” she added.

Munson said the benefit she sees of the online tutoring consortium is that it makes free, quality services available to students regardless of their location.

“This would make services available to students regardless of where they were, regardless of what their circumstances were, regardless of what their competing responsibilities were,” she said.

Munson added many students may not be aware of this program.

“It takes students to realize that the resource is there and then once they know it’s there, it takes them a while to get into using it,” Munson said.

Contact academics reporter Suzi Starheim at [email protected].