Academic support services move online

Tulsa Community College’s (TCC) academic support services –tutors, success coaches, research librarians – are ready to serve students just as they were before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, they are just a click and Zoom away.

While students spent their Spring Break dealing with the challenges and changes at home, academic support teams scrambled to expand services that went online when classes resumed March 30.

A spot check of TCC academic support services indicates technology rollouts and training comprised phase one of this effort. Phase two involves outreach and spreading the word of how to find your favorite tutor or librarian.

The library was well-positioned to go entirely online, said Adam Brennan, Metro librarian, who spoke to the Connection via Zoom.

“We just had to make a couple of tweaks to our existing services, and the reason for that is our library already had a very strong, robust online presence to begin with,” he said.

Library staff has updated the website with a massive coronavirus-related section on library access and remote support.

From there, students can schedule research consultations and faculty can contact a liaison librarian for assistance. You can read the answer to a “Question of the Day” or ask one yourself, see a list of how to get emergency Internet access, and more.

Got some time to browse? Click the menu button “COVID-19 Pro Bono Offers” to see a compiled list of vendors, publishers, and software companies offering free teaching and learning resources during the pandemic.

“The response from the educational community in this time of need has been pretty good. And we’ve certainly tried to create sort of a best of the best highlight,” Brennan explained.

While the library cannot check out physical books to patrons during the shutdown, anyone who has a library book can keep it without penalty until further notified.

“So all in all, we’re doing okay,” said Brennan. “I for one miss being on campus, but we were still able to maintain a strong and robust online presence, and we have a robust chat and email feature available off the main library website. If you click on that red tab that says ‘Get Help,’ there are many more of us monitoring that chat service now than there were. That’s a fantastic way for students to get direct help, if they would like it.”

At the Writing Center web page, students can schedule live, face-to-face Zoom meetings with a writing or ESL tutor, or have their paper reviewed via email exchange.

These online services had been offered previously, but the system has been expanded with more tutors participating and with the technology offered via Zoom, according to Sydney Teel, faculty director of the Writing Center.

“We did offer two forms of online tutoring before where students could get the email feedback, and where they could meet live with somebody on Collaborate. … Quite a few students have taken advantage of the email feedback, mostly who were already online students. But we probably weren’t advertising that as well as it could have been,” Teel said.

The Writing Center trained all tutors in procedures for live or email tutoring and revised scheduling systems accordingly. There remains outreach work to spread the word to students that the labs are online.

Teel advised that in addition to tutors emailing their regular customers, the Writing Center has reached out to faculty and published blurbs in The Daily email newsletter. Plans include putting videos on the web page to show how to connect with a tutor and use the technology.

Teel encouraged students unfamiliar with the technology to have faith and patience. Where there’s a will, there’s a Zoom.

“Once students try it, they will see it’s not that bad at all and it’s really easy to connect —like right now, we’re on Zoom right? — You can see the person, they see you, you can also pull up the paper right there and talk about it. I think when students try it and they see it helpful, it will be a really good thing for them in the end,” Teel said.

Teel explained that anyone having trouble can always call and talk with a tutor by phone and the tutor can walk you through the process. Tutor email and Google Voice numbers are listed on the tutors’ appointment page, she said.

TCC student Cole Toering greets Dagny Griffin, writing specialist with the Metro campus Writing Center, during an online tutoring session conducted via Zoom on April 8.

One notable update: World language tutoring schedules have been added to the Writing Center website, so you can go there for help in ASL, Spanish, French and Japanese.

Roberto Maduro, longtime tutor and instructor in foreign language, believes the online platform offers certain advantages for language instruction. For instance, he has used the chat function to insert points of guidance in group sessions while students converse. He foresees users embracing the technology once they become familiar.

“Yeah, this is not too bad,” he said. “This may be advantageous in a number of points in the sense of, you know, connection. I’m not going to say intimacy, but more directness. It plays very well for language needs.”

A TCC instructor since 2001, Maduro put a philosophical take on the remote learning experience.

“With every little group practice tutoring session, we are kind of conquering this challenge, at least to keep life not only normal, but also be nourished by the challenges that we have. It takes a while to go through this adjustment, not only in the skill of doing it technically on the computer, but also on letting go of the feeling that you have never been using this. You’re going to get it,” he said.

“We are walking them step by step through the process with the vision that a new way of delivering quality instruction, not just survival instruction, but quality instruction — live, living, breathing instruction — is emerging here,” Maduro said.

TRIO director Joseph Schnetzer explained his team has been reaching out to students to let them know they can connect with advisers and tutors via Zoom. TRIO Student Support Services is a federal outreach and support program for first-generation degree seekers or individuals from underserved backgrounds.

In addition to one-on-one sessions, TRIO students are meeting as a group once a week to discuss challenges they face in this difficult time.

Schnetzer stressed that it is critical students know TCC will do everything possible to help them be successful with remote learning.

“For some students, not just in TRIO but even at the college, just the thought of online classes was more than they could handle. They just want to immediately unplug and go, ‘Oh, I’m done, withdrawing.’ … Those are the ones that we really want to try to reach out to and say, ‘Look, you can salvage this.’ Each department, the department chairs and the faculty, are really finding ways for those low-tech students to still be successful in their course one way or the other. I believe any student who’s trying even just a little bit, they’re going to go the distance to help the student cross the finish line. They want everybody to be as successful as can be this semester.”

At the time of this report, TRIO still had 10 spots open for qualifying students. You can review criteria and apply on TRIO’s webpage.

Success coaches in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion have also been busy reaching out to students who participate in program, many of whom take developmental courses, according to Dr. Dewayne Dickens, director of the Academic Success Coaching program.

Dickens and his team developed a tracking system so they can follow up with students, and help them work through life challenges to keep them learning in the online environment.

They are letting students know they can go to the link on the Success Coaching webpage and schedule sessions via Zoom. If a student lacks a computer, there is always the phone. The connection is the important thing, Dickens explained, recalling how he worked with a student who contemplated dropping out this semester.

“I was giving him a kind of lifeboat to say you can still make it to shore, but you need to get back in the boat. And you need to let me help you by giving you some information, encouraging you and giving you some strategies for what you are going to do next. … He’s okay. He’s on a list where our peer coordinators will call him every week anyway. So just making sure that he is connected, that he’s heard and that he’s encouraged. We have to help the students know that they’re not alone, basically,” Dickens said.

Academic support links:

Library

http://library.tulsacc.edu

https://guides.library.tulsacc.edu/LibraryAccess/RemoteSupport

Click “Get Help” button for immediate contact.

Writing Center

https://tulsacc.mywconline.com/

email writingcenter@tulsacc.edu

918-595-7465.

Math & Science Lab

https://www.tulsacc.edu/student-resources/tutoring-centers

(Scroll down to Science and Math Lab; note: you may have to copy and paste the link to a browser)

email mathsciencetutoring@tulsacc.edu 

918) 595-7751.

World Language Lab

https://tulsacc.mywconline.com/

email languagelab@tulsacc.edu

 (918) 595-7750

TRIO

https://www.tulsacc.edu/student-resources/trio

triosss@tulsacc.edu

 (918) 595-8970

Success Coaches

General info: Visit https://www.tulsacc.edu/ and search for “Success Coaching”

Make an appointment: https://calendly.com/tcccoaching