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So You Wanna Be an Online Tutor Deborah Hardwick, Interim Director Houston Community College Online Tutoring Program.

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Presentation on theme: "So You Wanna Be an Online Tutor Deborah Hardwick, Interim Director Houston Community College Online Tutoring Program."— Presentation transcript:

1 So You Wanna Be an Online Tutor Deborah Hardwick, Interim Director Houston Community College Online Tutoring Program

2 Contact Information Deborah Hardwick, Interim Manager Deborah Hardwick, Interim Manager Houston Community College Online Tutoring Houston Community College Online Tutoring

3 Online Tutors are Special Online tutors are in the forefront of a new method of academic support. We are inventing the rules as we go, and re- inventing them even more often. Online tutors are in the forefront of a new method of academic support. We are inventing the rules as we go, and re- inventing them even more often.

4 In many ways, online tutors do exactly the same thing as face-to-face tutors, but in a different way. In many ways, online tutors do exactly the same thing as face-to-face tutors, but in a different way. –We must listen carefully to what students need. –We must encourage students to achieve. –We must lead students to answers, not give them answers.

5 We must exhibit professionalism in all we do. We must exhibit professionalism in all we do. We must be role models for students. We must be role models for students. And we must do all of these without ever seeing the students we tutor! And we must do all of these without ever seeing the students we tutor!

6 Online Working Environment To many of us, online tutoring provides an ideal work environment – home! We can work in our underwear if we want. We can work in our underwear if we want. We can smoke, drink coffee, pet the cat, nurse the baby, and munch snacks as we work. We can smoke, drink coffee, pet the cat, nurse the baby, and munch snacks as we work. We never have to worry about fighting traffic or finding a parking spot. We never have to worry about fighting traffic or finding a parking spot. We dont have to shave, put on make up, or fix our hair. We dont have to shave, put on make up, or fix our hair.

7 We dont have to worry about lines of students waiting to see us. We dont have to worry about lines of students waiting to see us. The only phone calls that interrupt us are our own. The only phone calls that interrupt us are our own. We can work at 3 in the morning or 11 at night. We can work at 3 in the morning or 11 at night. We can go to the bathroom whenever we want. We can go to the bathroom whenever we want.

8 We can work from Starbucks, a cruise ship, the beach, or a hospital waiting room. We can work from Starbucks, a cruise ship, the beach, or a hospital waiting room. We can see what other tutors have done. We can see what other tutors have done.

9 But... We work alone, lacking contact with others. We work alone, lacking contact with others. We have limited access to materials. We have limited access to materials. We have to make many more judgment calls ourselves. We have to make many more judgment calls ourselves. We have to be self-motivated and self- disciplined. We have to be self-motivated and self- disciplined. We have to accept fluctuations in income. We have to accept fluctuations in income.

10 Realities of the Online Life: Self-motivation Online tutors must be self-motivated. Just as Distance Learning isnt right for all students, online tutoring isnt right for all tutors. Online tutors must be self-motivated. Just as Distance Learning isnt right for all students, online tutoring isnt right for all tutors. Those with a tendency to procrastinate may find that other tutors have grabbed all the work. Those with a tendency to procrastinate may find that other tutors have grabbed all the work. Procrastination lowers the paycheck. Procrastination lowers the paycheck.

11 Realities of the Online Life: Self-discipline Online tutors are typically assigned days of the week rather than hours of the day to work. Online tutors are typically assigned days of the week rather than hours of the day to work. It is the tutors responsibility to check online frequently to see whether or not there is work. No one is around to remind her. It is the tutors responsibility to check online frequently to see whether or not there is work. No one is around to remind her. It is the tutors responsibility to schedule the rest of his activities to leave time for tutoring. It is the tutors responsibility to schedule the rest of his activities to leave time for tutoring. It is the tutors responsibility to keep track of hours spent working. It is the tutors responsibility to keep track of hours spent working.

12 Those working in a synchronous environment (chat rooms) must keep the posted schedule. If students log in, they expect a tutor to be there waiting. Those working in a synchronous environment (chat rooms) must keep the posted schedule. If students log in, they expect a tutor to be there waiting.

13 How It Works In our system, tutors can choose to be notified by when students submit work. Alternatively, tutors can check our web site throughout the day. In our system, tutors can choose to be notified by when students submit work. Alternatively, tutors can check our web site throughout the day. When there is work, tutors work. When there is none, tutors can do whatever else they have to do. When there is work, tutors work. When there is none, tutors can do whatever else they have to do. Our system tracks time online. Tutors keep duplicate records to double-check. Our system tracks time online. Tutors keep duplicate records to double-check.

14 Tutors can access archived work from all tutors to see if a students question has already been answered. Tutors can access archived work from all tutors to see if a students question has already been answered. Tutors can me (the supervisor) or call me at reasonable hours if there are problems. Tutors can me (the supervisor) or call me at reasonable hours if there are problems. I check tutors work frequently, so there is more oversight than in most traditional face-to-face settings. I check tutors work frequently, so there is more oversight than in most traditional face-to-face settings.

15 Dealing with Plagiarism It may come as a great surprise to you, but students sometimes plagiarize. * It may come as a great surprise to you, but students sometimes plagiarize. * As a face-to-face tutor, you can point out the problems and ask for more information or for the definition of words you are quite sure the student doesnt know. Adeptly done, the student will usually admit to the copying, and you can do a quick lesson on attribution and citation. As a face-to-face tutor, you can point out the problems and ask for more information or for the definition of words you are quite sure the student doesnt know. Adeptly done, the student will usually admit to the copying, and you can do a quick lesson on attribution and citation.

16 Plagiarism In the online environment, it isnt as easy. If you suspect plagiarism, you can take a few minutes to Google a particularly distinctive sentence and send the link to the student. In the online environment, it isnt as easy. If you suspect plagiarism, you can take a few minutes to Google a particularly distinctive sentence and send the link to the student. If you know its plagiarized because of stylistic or vocabulary differences, but you cant find the source, you can tactfully suggest that the student has forgotten the citation. If you know its plagiarized because of stylistic or vocabulary differences, but you cant find the source, you can tactfully suggest that the student has forgotten the citation.

17 Stuff I Shouldnt Have to Mention! All the following insanities have happened during our year and half of online tutoring. Its sad. All the following insanities have happened during our year and half of online tutoring. Its sad.

18 Its a Job! Just because you are working at home in your robe and fuzzy slippers, you cant let your standards slide: Just because you are working at home in your robe and fuzzy slippers, you cant let your standards slide: –Coffee or a soft drink is OK; a six-pack of Budweiser or a bottle of Merlot isnt. –Marlboros are OK; marijuana isnt. –Aspirin are OK; Demerol isnt. Dont work if your judgment is impaired. Dont work if your judgment is impaired.

19 You Are a Professional Jokes that you can explain your way out of in person dont work online. Jokes that you can explain your way out of in person dont work online. Work the question whether or not you agree with the students point of view. Work the question whether or not you agree with the students point of view. Keep your personal opinions to yourself. Keep your personal opinions to yourself.

20 You Are Not Alone Supervisors watch what you do much more frequently than is usually the case in face-to-face tutoring. Lying about what you said or did will be found out. Supervisors watch what you do much more frequently than is usually the case in face-to-face tutoring. Lying about what you said or did will be found out. Your time is tracked by the system. Lying about how much you work (padding your time sheet) will be found out quickly. Your time is tracked by the system. Lying about how much you work (padding your time sheet) will be found out quickly.

21 You Need a Computer Working online, using library computers until you can afford your own, probably wont work. Your availability to tutor is limited to the librarys hours. Working online, using library computers until you can afford your own, probably wont work. Your availability to tutor is limited to the librarys hours. A 386 wont work, and neither will a slow dial-up modem. A 386 wont work, and neither will a slow dial-up modem. You need Microsoft Word because that is what most students use. You need Microsoft Word because that is what most students use.

22 You Need to Be Computer Literate One applicant told me that she hates computers, but would learn to use those darned things if she got the job. She didnt. One applicant told me that she hates computers, but would learn to use those darned things if she got the job. She didnt. Another asked if I could teach him how to turn on his school-supplied laptop because he couldnt figure it out. He didnt get the job, either. Another asked if I could teach him how to turn on his school-supplied laptop because he couldnt figure it out. He didnt get the job, either.

23 You Need to Write English Well Even if you are tutoring math or science, you need to be able to explain processes. Terrible English is impossible for students to understand. Even if you are tutoring math or science, you need to be able to explain processes. Terrible English is impossible for students to understand. Likewise, we are part of the educational process. IM and texting abbreviations are inappropriate in communication with students b/c imho u r rol mdls. Likewise, we are part of the educational process. IM and texting abbreviations are inappropriate in communication with students b/c imho u r rol mdls.

24 You Need to Type Well Messages to students that are riddled with careless typing errors send a terrible message. If we dont care how we are perceived, why should students care? Messages to students that are riddled with careless typing errors send a terrible message. If we dont care how we are perceived, why should students care? Use spell-check, for heavens sake! But also check for those words spell-czech doesnt ketch. Use spell-check, for heavens sake! But also check for those words spell-czech doesnt ketch.

25 You Need to Understand How Your System Works Take time to learn the ins and outs of the system you use before you actually start working with students. Take time to learn the ins and outs of the system you use before you actually start working with students. If you havent had sufficient training, ask for more. If you havent had sufficient training, ask for more. Know who to contact if there are system problems. Know who to contact if there are system problems.

26 The Joys of Online Tutoring Online tutors have much more flexibility than face-to-face tutors in scheduling and choosing a comfortable work environment. Online tutors have much more flexibility than face-to-face tutors in scheduling and choosing a comfortable work environment. For those to whom tutoring provides supplemental income rather than is the mainstay of the budget, it is a chance to earn extra money. For those to whom tutoring provides supplemental income rather than is the mainstay of the budget, it is a chance to earn extra money. For those who love a challenge, being at the forefront of a new movement is exciting. For those who love a challenge, being at the forefront of a new movement is exciting.

27 You Can Make a Difference Students who may never come through the door of a tutoring center because of time limitations or embarrassment use online tutoring in droves. We help students who would otherwise flail around in the academic sea. Students who may never come through the door of a tutoring center because of time limitations or embarrassment use online tutoring in droves. We help students who would otherwise flail around in the academic sea.


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