Writing Center offers tutoring service online

Maureen Nagg

You just got home from a long day of classes and don’t feel like heading all the way back to campus to get help on a paper. Or maybe, you really want a second opinion on that paragraph, but it’s just too cold to leave your dorm room.

The Writing Center has a service available so students can do both.

With its Online Writing Lab, students can e-mail their paper to the Writing Center. A tutor will critique it and e-mail the paper back along with comments and suggestions.

This type of tutoring is helpful for students who work or have children and can’t always be on campus.

“The purpose is to meet the demand of non-traditional students and commuters,” said Joe Dudley, English instructor and Webmaster for the Writing Center and the English Department.

It is also useful for students whose schedules conflict with the Writing Center’s hours.

“OWL allows student flexibility with work time,” said Gayle King, director of the Writing Center.

Students using the OWL still need to make an appointment with a tutor, though they can e-mail their paper hours before the actual appointment.

“The benefit of it is that it allows students not to be tied to a physical space,” said Melissa Selby, graduate student, English instructor and former writing tutor.

The turnaround for critiqued papers is about an hour after the appointment time.

While the OWL helps save time, it does have downfalls.

Emily Zank, senior English major and writing tutor, said some important elements of nonverbal communication are lost when using the Online Writing Lab.

“Comments can seem kind of harsh through the e-mail,” Zank said. “I always wonder if they actually understand what I am saying.”

Zank said she uses smiley faces on her e-mail critiques to convey what she is thinking.

Dudley said even though face-to-face appointments were regularly booked, only about 20 students used OWL last semester.

The center is currently in the process of establishing another form of online tutoring called Learnlink.

With Learnlink, a tutor and a student will be able to communicate through a camera and microphone connected to both computers.

This will give students some of the benefits of face-to-face tutoring without having to leave home.

Students interested in using the OWL should make an appointment with the Writing Center by either stopping in Room 318 of Satterfield Hall or calling (330) 672-1787.

For more information about the Writing Center, visit its Web site at dept.kent.edu/english/WritingCent.

Contact arts and sciences reporter Maureen Nagg at [email protected].