Friday, August 31, 2012

Edison Takes Innovative Steps Online for Tutoring, Classroom Learning

A student logs in to the eTutoring site at one of the
terminals available in Edison Community College’s
Learning Center, located in the library of the Piqua Campus.
Students who are looking for additional help with their classroom assignments at Edison Community College are now able to rely on a series of free online tutoring services that are available through the college and the University System of Ohio.

Last year, the college expanded the availability of eTutoring, a free online assistance program to all Edison Students. The program allows students to obtain assistance in their classes by submitting questions via email through the web site and in live chat rooms.

“Last spring, we had around 100 hours per week of tutoring provided to our students through eTutoring here at Edison,” said Loleta Collins, Assistant Dean of Academic Advancement. “This has enabled the Learning Center to double our availability on a weekly basis.”

Edison’s Learning Center is a free service located on campus in the library that provides academic tutoring and resources to students free of charge and additional resources to students enrolled in developmental courses, first generation college students, students with learning disabilities and students re-entering school after a long absence.

A similar online tutoring service being employed at Edison and several other colleges around Ohio is the newly launched Scaffold To The Stars. The service is an OhioLINK program, and has partnered with Edison and six other colleges throughout Ohio to support students taking a sequence of math courses, as well as applied engineering statics.

Edison’s involvement began when associate professor of mechanical engineering Tom Looker began working on a textbook affordability grant with faculty from Miami University and Sinclair Community College. It would eventually bring the engineering statics course into the Scaffold To The Stars program, which at the time was only being used to support math classes.

“Knowledge isn’t something that’s placebound anymore,” said Looker. “This type of structure applies to every kind of learner out there and gives them the ability to go back and review and rely on more sources. We’re now looking to refine what we have and make it more robust.”

Students enrolled in the class have not had to purchase a textbook for the past two years.

“I implemented it in my beginning algebra and intermediate algebra classes by showing open source videos during my lecture. Students could also use these web links as resources outside of class because we did not use a textbook,” said Lisa Hartwig, mathematics instructor at Edison. “The students liked watching the videos before I lectured over the topic because it gave them a different perspective on how to solve the problems. Out of 11 students, only one wanted a textbook and the rest said they did not miss it.”

Outside of the classroom, Edison has worked to make the eTutoring program even more accessible, with more “live chat” features and turnaround times for responses that rarely exceed 48 hours.

By logging onto, Edison students can review an extensive resource library that is full of tips, techniques for improving writing skills, and links to information on other subject areas. New resources are continually being added and available for download.

To get started, students need to go online to, log in, select the Ohio eTutoring Collaborative and then select Edison Community College. Students can then use their Edison student ID as their username and “edison” for the initial password. Passwords can be changed after the first session.

One of the largest requests on eTutoring has been for assistance with writing assignments and paper reviews, according to Collins.

Through the Online Writing Lab, students can request help with a variety of writing assignments, including essays, research papers, and lab reports, by submitting their work for an online review. Students provide an eTutor with as much information as possible about the assignment, and then upload the document to be reviewed. Tutors then respond by offering recommendations on improving what has been written within 24 to 48 hours.

There is also live assistance available for academic questions from one of the live eTutors. A student and tutor can work together in a dynamic web conferencing environment integrated into the platform. After logging into, the student can check to see if there is a tutor available in the subject area, and go right into the chat room. A weekly tutoring schedule is maintained to allow for students to get the help they need in math (developmental to calculus) and statistics.

Additionally, students can post a question in any of the subject areas, including writing. From here, eTutors will be able to assist them to develop strategies to find answers or resolve problems on their own. Although tutors do not serve to correct grammar or solve any math, statistics, or other problems for a student, they do provide the guidance necessary to solve the problem.

Students can review an extensive resource library that is full of tips, techniques for improving writing skills, and links to information on other subject areas. New resources are continually being added.

“I definitely think online services are the wave of the future, but they are still in the beginning stages of working out the kinks,” said Hartwig. “The best way to make them more effective is to make them more user friendly, easier to access, and streamline the math “lingo” so students know how to find what they need.”

As one of the first colleges to bring eTutoring to campus that wasn’t part of the pilot program, Edison is working to help students take full advantage of its services and make improvements along the way.

“There are 10 consortiums within eTutoring, and the Ohio collaborative is the largest,” said Collins. “Submissions are picked up on a case-by-case basis, so an Edison student is not tied to any one particular school or instructor. However the tutors are trained so instructions given to students are uniform across the board.”

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