College of Charleston students might be learning remotely for the next few weeks, but that doesn’t mean they have to do it alone.
The College’s Center for Student Learning (CSL) is gearing up to offer all of its tutoring and student support services virtually during the institution’s e-learning period due to the coronavirus pandemic. Services offered will include tutoring, supplemental instruction, peer academic coaches and study skills services.
“Our plan is to offer the same academic support services we always offer – at the same times and on the same days, with the same peer educators – using the Zoom platform,” says Lindy Coleman, director of the CSL.
The biggest challenges, says Coleman, are getting the CSL’s more than 160 student employees trained and ready to provide services through online platforms and getting students who want to access these services comfortable with using them virtually.
“We have been a centralized, brick-and-mortar center in the heart of campus for more than 40 years, and students are very familiar and comfortable with the friendly, helpful and knowledgeable assistance they receive face to face in the CSL,” says Coleman. “It could be difficult for them to imagine how they will get that same type of support online. But they will be surprised! Our tutors are ready to talk with them and help them become comfortable with using these online platforms.”
The shift to online services isn’t completely foreign to the CSL. The center launched CSL After Dark in the fall of 2019 with around 12 tutors who were trained to offer online learning sessions via Zoom for students wanting help outside of the CSL’s normal campus business hours.
In addition to Zoom, peer academic coaches – who provide one-on-one support to students to develop goals, help them stay on track with assignments and manage their time – will meet with their students virtually via Google Hangouts.
Starting on Monday, March 23, 2020, students wanting help from a tutor should call or email the CSL and ask for a tutoring session. CSL staff will schedule 30-minute sessions, and then an assigned tutor will send the student a Zoom link where the student can go to “meet” with the tutor for their session.
“We will do this for all of our tutoring services every day we are open, until we are all physically back together again,” Coleman says.
As the College’s approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students prepare to attend classes online, many for the first time, Coleman says students should consider researching the online platforms their professors are using and do a practice session or two so they won’t lose confidence or momentum when classes start next week.
And, she says, remember: Online classes are real classes. Students should treat them just like traditional, face-to-face classes.
“Carve out regular chunks of time for prep time, class time and study time. Block them into your calendar or planner so they are nonnegotiable,” Coleman says. “Choose the same location to do your work – each and every time. Create an office or classroom space for the class. One of the problems with an online class is that, since it is ‘out of sight,’ it very quickly becomes ‘out of mind.’”