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MTSU Writing Center guides students through classwork in cyberspace

Kelsey Talbott conducts online tutoring sessions with students under the auspices of the MTSU University Writing Center. All tutors are working remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Talbott is a senior biology major from Manchester, Tennessee. She has tutored for the UWC for three years. (Photo submitted)

Nearly 30 tutors remain available to help with both undergraduate and graduate projects in online sessions. Each session is either 25 or 45 minutes long and empowers a student to communicate with the tutor in real time either with or without audio/visual technology. “I am overwhelmed by the ability of our tutors and front desk workers to switch to this new reality,” said Erica Cirillo-McCarthy, center director and an assistant professor of English. Each student schedules an appointment through WCONLINE, the center’s online scheduler, by going to mtsu.edu/writing-center/ and clicking on the blue “make an appointment” button. Upon entering the virtual tutoring session, students see a series of instructions on a whiteboard on which they can paste their writing projects for review by the tutor. To the left is a space for audio/visual contact, which is totally optional. To the right is a chat box in which tutors and students can “talk” with each other in a text-messaging format.

Allie Haslett tutors students online under the auspices of the University Writing Center. All UWC tutors are working remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Haslett is a master’s degree candidate in the criminal justice administration program. She is from Smyrna, Tennessee, and she has worked for UWC for two semesters. (Photo submitted) On March 22, the first day of the online process, the center conducted 27 tutoring sessions. One particular session that shows the human dimension of the relationship captured Cirillo-McCarthy’s imagination. “The tutor first asks if the student wants to use A/V (audio/visual), and the student declines because … baby brother is sleeping,” Cirillo-McCarthy said. “So sweet!” Cirillo-McCarthy said the center ramped up its online capacity last year with a generous grant from MTSU Online. For more information, go to the aforementioned University Writing Center webpage, call 615-904-8237 or send an email to uwcenter@mtsu.edu. — Gina Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

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