By Paige Lilly, Contributing Writer
Before the pandemic, tutoring was one of the most readily available services for students at UMF. At almost any time, students could walk into the Mantor Library and there would be a tutor waiting to help them with their needs. Additionally, students could set up times to meet with tutors in specific subjects.
However, COVID-19 has made these services more difficult to access. Without searching, it would be easy for students to assume that tutoring services are currently available. However, tutoring is still a service that can be used by students if they need it. Cassidy O’Donnell, a sophomore actuarial science major who has been working as a tutor for the computer science department and the learning commons since the beginning of the academic year, has been a tutor since the beginning of this year. Therefore, pandemic-style tutoring through Zoom is all she has ever known.
The style of tutoring is different for each job. “The computer science department creates a flyer of all of their tutor’s zoom meetings and the times. Then the department emails it out to their students,” said O’Donnell. “Students are free to come to the sessions whenever they need help.”
There are multiple tutors for the department, most of which do not overlap with each other. O’Donnell says that this is convenient because students can check the list and find a time with a tutor that works for them.
With the Learning Commons, students control the schedule instead. “Students can schedule appointments using the Navigate app or online through Navigate, which is accessible through MyCampus,” O’Donnell said. In the Navigate app, students are able to select their tutor, the time for the session, what subjects they need help with, and any additional information they would like to provide to their tutor. This allows students and tutors to find times that work with their busy schedules.
Mullein Francis, a sophomore biology major and tutor, is also employed through The Learning Commons tutoring program. She highlighted a few challenges that tutoring on Zoom has presented. “It can be hard when tutoring subjects like math, when you really just want to point to something on the paper to show them,” said Francis. “When you’re on Zoom, you have to work with the camera, switching between writing things on your paper and holding it up to show the person you’re tutoring.” Although this is a struggle, Francis said that tutoring over Zoom has generally been a positive experience.
One thing that Francis likes about tutoring over Zoom is the flexibility that it offers for both the tutor and the student. “It’s nice because Zoom meetings can be a lot easier to fit into my schedule,” Francis said. “When you’re in person, it can be harder to find a time that works, because you have to factor in the time to physically get to the meeting, which can make it tricky.”
O’Donnell enjoys the positive impact that tutoring has on students. “The tutoring program is confidential so students don’t have to worry about tutors talking to each other or other students about them,” O’Donnell said.
Francis also encourages students who need some extra help to sign up for a virtual tutoring session. “School can be so stressful,” she said. “It’s rewarding to be able to help people get rid of some of that stress.”
To schedule a tutoring session with the Learning Commons, download the Navigate app on your smartphone’s app store.