Tutor Talk ushers in an online era


By Megan Pendagast

Student tutors Matt Lichtiger and Tom Lee, both seniors, become acquainted with the new Blackboard IM system while being trained for Tutor Talk.

As the course load increases, free time diminishes and deadlines loom around the corner. The prospect of seeking help outside of class can seem daunting. For some, squeezing in a tutoring session can potentially overload a schedule.


Tutor Talk, a program started by the Student Success Center (SSC) at the start of this month, was created to combat this very issue. In fact, students’ collective convenience is considered a main priority.


Tutor Talk allows tutors and students to communicate with each other from the comfort of their own homes.


No appointments are necessary, as the program is conducted entirely through Blackboard Instant Message, so every student has the opportunity to take advantage of this new option.


It’s ideal for students who are in a hurry, only have a quick question or want a sounding board for ideas.


“The student can chat online with a tutor between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday,” said Jenny Scudder, assistant director of SSC, who developed and ultimately launched Tutor Talk.


The program offers an instant response for the inquiring student. Online tutors can guide participants in the right direction and act as a precursor to an individual or group session with a tutor.


Tutor Talk eases students into the tutoring process by making the program easy to access and utilize.


“Hopefully, as students learn about this option, they will know getting help is as easy as chatting on Facebook,” Scudder said.


This is not the SSC’s first foray into online tutoring; rather, it is a refinement of the preexisting system.


“We have offered online tutoring options for three years and continue to look for ways to make tutoring easy for students to use at Rider,” Scudder said.


Tutor Talk came into existence through students’ suggestions.


“Many have expressed that sometimes they just have a quick question and don’t feel they need an entire appointment,” Scudder said.


By streamlining the program, students in dire need of a quick response can get answers almost immediately.


“I think this could be helpful for desperate situations,” said sophomore public relations major Leandra del Pozo. “However, I feel that tutoring is more effective in person.”


The program can be utilized as a shortcut or a stepping stone, depending on each individual student’s preference.


“Through Tutor Talk students can learn a strategy to work through that brick wall and hopefully schedule a session with a tutor in the future,” Scudder said.


Tutor Talk furthers the SSC’s fundamental objective as well.


“One of the goals of the Student Success Center is to design academic support services that are meaningful, appealing, and relevant,” said Kendall Friedman, director of the SSC. “Tutor Talk is our most recent initiative that is intended as a student-friendly means of assistance that we hope bring students into our center for more individualized support in the future.”


Current and former student tutors are responsible for creating many of the online materials, which are often updated.


While this semester is winding down, Tutor Talk will continue to operate in the fall. Anyone interested can check out the SSC website or click the link on their Facebook page. Students can schedule their own appointments in room 237 of the Bart Luedeke Center.


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