The York College Writing Center pivots online to continue serving students
The newly decorated walls of Humanities 11 stand alone, a place once full of chatter and learning, now vacant. Along with classes, the Writing Center has moved online because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Though the Writing Center had already been offering online appointments for students who didn’t have time in their schedule for in-person tutoring, they were definitely not as popular. “We were already developing online services, we just didn’t ever expect to have all online appointments,” says Kim Peck, PhD, York College of Pennsylvania’s Writing Center Director.
A whole new mode of tutoring
Most of the tutors at the Writing Center are students, many of whom had to learn a whole new mode of tutoring on top of continuing their classes remotely. Kim created an online tutoring manual to help ease the transition. The manual provides step-by-step directions for using online services such as Zoom and Microsoft Word. Some tutors were already familiar with these tools, and have been able to support others who are still learning.
Many of the tutors’ workflows have shifted. Desiree, a peer tutor with two semesters of experience in the Writing Center, sees online appointments as a positive development. “It hasn’t been that much more difficult than in-person tutoring. I feel like there’s no loss of the tutor-to-student connection over Zoom, and I’ve still been able to have meaningful and productive sessions.” They also remarked that online appointments allow them to spend more time on each paper because they have less distractions than they did in the physical space.
Developing new strategies
Abby, who has also worked in the Writing Center for two semesters, has developed new strategies for eTutoring. “I’ve been trying to make myself more available to students. I’ve been telling my appointments to take notes during our meeting, and that they can email me if they have questions,” she says.
The Writing Center currently offers two types of online tutoring: Zoom meetings and eTutoring essay reviews. Students can sign up for appointments on MyYCP, and choose the method that best fits their needs.
In the future, there may be more types of online services available. The Writing Center is also planning to become active on social media, such as Twitter and Instagram, in order to better connect with students. Kim would like all YCP students to know that, “We want to help, and we’re here to support students. We have a lot to offer.”