Two of the university’s most helpful academic services, normally housed on the Homer Babbidge Library’s second floor, are now available for online assistance. The Writing Center, open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, continues to have online tutoring for students to bring writing assignments, ideas and drafts from their classes or projects. The Quantitative Learning Center (Q Center) is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, and continues to offer online tutoring across various subjects like chemistry, math, statistics and physics. The transition has had its challenges for both its tutors and students, but both have adjusted well considering the unique circumstances.
“So we’ve been working through WebEx, and the Q Center transitioned surprisingly fast to be able to still help students as we’ve gone online,” Ava Zahedi, a fourth-semester mechanical engineering major and Q Center tutor, said.
Zahedi explained that most tutors have been keeping their same shifts, with the center checking to see how the new circumstances affected their availability.
“This is definitely not the ideal form of tutoring, as I feel that in-person instruction has a lot of benefit, but we’ve been able to manage by showing work through the webcams or sharing screens,” she said.
The Q Center’s full tutoring schedule and tutoring “front desk” are accessible through the website’s front page. Students can log in, and a receptionist will direct them to a virtual room that has a tutor that can help with their particular subject.
“We usually have more resources in the normal setting because we can ask other tutors if we have questions or use textbooks, but those aren’t as accessible now since we can’t get into other WebEx rooms without logging out and back in,” Zahedi said about one of the challenges of going virtual. “We can still get by, for sure, it’s just more difficult.”
Zahedi also described a possible decline in students utilizing the Q Center, with about one person coming in during her shift compared to multiple in person earlier in the semester.
“We really encourage people to still come to the Q Center though,” she said, mentioning how there may be more people dropping by to get tutoring during finals week. “Especially because some of these quantitative courses can be really tricky to begin with and we know that online learning doesn’t make it easier.”
The Writing Center has similarly transitioned well to online functioning to continue providing tutoring. An online tutoring walkthrough, including tips for getting the most out of your online sessions and how to make an appointment, can be accessed on the front page of the Writing Center’s website.
“The Writing Center is fully operational by doing video appointments instead of in-person,” Yasmine Shwayhat, an eighth-semester management major and Writing Center tutor, explained. “Through our website, we are able to video chat, and our writers share their work with us through Google Docs. Then we hold each session as normal, and we are able to leave comments directly onto the Google Doc so our writers have feedback to use when writing their next draft.”
Shwayhat described the Writing Center’s preparations to moving online prior to spring break.
“For me as a tutor, this has been an adjustment, but not one that we were unprepared for,” Shwayhat said. “We knew there was a good chance we would have to move completely online once COVID-19 start[ed to get] worse in the U.S., so we were all completely trained for online tutoring before leaving for spring break.
As a senior, Shwayhat misses being able to finish her weeks as a tutor in person, however, has enjoyed the experience.
“I miss getting to work with people in-person, and I especially miss my co-workers,” Shwayhat said. “But I feel very fortunate that I’m able to continue working with students during the rest of my time at UConn.”
Hollie Lao is a staff writer and the social media manager for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.