Administration to review eTutoring service

Since the fall, 21 universities in Ohio have taken part in eTutoring, an online program that involves real-time tutoring sessions in a variety of subjects ranging from mathematics to writing.

Last week, the Ohio Board of Regents granted all public and private universities in Ohio expanded access to the program free of charge, but Youngstown State University is not yet involved.

This wasn’t the first time YSU elected not to enlist in the program’s services.

“ETutoring was offered to all of Ohio’s universities in the fall, but few of them took part,” said Kim Norris, OBOR spokeswoman.

By making the program free to universities, Norris said she hopes to see participation from all 107 universities in Ohio.

Teresa Riley, associate provost, said YSU is evaluating the program under the new agreement and needs to hire a distance education director before making a final decision.

Robin Sakonyi, assistant director of supplemental instruction and student tutorial services, said she hopes to see the program offered in the fall.

Sakonyi will be participating in a webinar on the program on April 10 and discussing the future of eTutoring at YSU with the administration in the coming weeks.

“I think it’s a great idea, and we should get started on it,” said Jack Fahey, vice president for student affairs.

Sakonyi said the plan has changed since it was first introduced in the fall, which is why she believes the program is more feasible now.

Initially, the program cost $5,000, and the university was required to hire a minimum of five tutors.

According to the press release, eStudent Services will underwrite the annual fee for all interested public and private institutions.

“Now it appears that the tutoring will be provided by current staff,” Sakonyi said. “The Center for Student Progress already provides tutoring in all subjects.”

That means the university would be saving $5,000.

Jonelle Beatrice, director of the CSP, said that even though the upfront cost to the university has been eliminated, a cost for YSU still exists.

“The university pays for student employment, so if our tutors are being used, there will be a cost,” Beatrice said. “If we have the opportunity, we will certainly find the funds to pilot some courses.”

Though Sakonyi said students prefer face-to-face tutoring, she recognizes the availability and convenience of online tutoring.

“[YSU] is a commuter campus, so if students are at home and have a question, they may hesitate to come in [to the CSP],” Sakonyi said.

Sophomore Robert Clark said he would prefer electronic tutoring because of the convenience.

“It’s nice to have the freedom to do it on your own time,” Clark said.

Norris said online tutors have to be as qualified as any other tutor.

New eTutors must successfully complete online training.

Oscar Ramos, director of the Academic Success Center at Kent State University, said eTutoring has worked well for students there.

“It’s a really nice feature to provide for students that live in a technological age,” Ramos said.

Some students prefer the traditional hands-on approach.

“Typically, I’d say I prefer it to be face to face,” graduate student Breanne Romeo said. “But I’d be willing to try [eTutoring].”