WSCC adds online tutoring service

SCOTTVILLE — Some students at West Shore Community College need a little extra help in their studies, and the college is always happy to accommodate them with tutoring assistance.

West Shore Community College dean of students Chad Inabinet speaks to the WSCC Board of Trustees on the new online NetTutor program the college is offering.

West Shore Community College dean of students Chad Inabinet speaks to the WSCC Board of Trustees on the new online NetTutor program the college is offering.

However, WSCC dean of student services Chad Inabinet said that in their traditional face-to-face tutoring assistance there is some limitations on what they can provide. So they are implementing online tutoring assistance through the college.

“Although we offer face-to-face tutoring Mondays through Thursdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon, there is those evenings and Friday afternoons that can be hard for students to get that type of tutoring assistance,” said Inabinet. “Oftentimes depending on the needs of students we don’t always know what subjects they will always be struggling in. If it is a course that we haven’t had a lot of tutoring requests for it can take a few days to a week to find someone who has the expertise to help them.”

Inabinet said another drawback is being a commuter college, students sometimes have difficulty coming back in the evening to receive that tutoring assistance.  Sometimes it doesn’t fit in when they are on campus or there are childcare problems for the student.

“Those were the premise of why we started to dig into it and I have to give all the credit to Amy Pepper, our interim director of the learning and testing center, as she did the majority of the work on finding an online tutoring program,” said Inabinet. “We reviewed five different vendors including NetTutor, Thinking Storm, TutorMe, Tutor.com and Varsity Tutor, which were the most common.”

After reviewing all five, Inabinet said they wanted to give NetTutor a start as a pilot program.

“We are starting it this winter and measuring the outcomes to see how many students are using it as opposed to the traditional face to face tutoring,” said Inabinet. “The reason we selected NetTutor is it does offer a lower bandwith program for screen sharing and chat for those students who may live in an area with limited bandwith. It has a cell phone and other mobile device platform. Their program also directly integrates with our campus.”

Inabinet said what also put NetTutor apart from the others was Spanish speaking tutors and representatives. They also house all tutors in two physical locations, which allows for a better turnaround time. There average response time is four to five minutes.

“Another nice thing is they record the session just in case there were any concerns that come up,” said Inabinet. “It also is a consortium agreement from the Michigan Community College Association, so what that does is allow us reduced pricing based on volume.”

Inabinet said that they are implementing the program right now and hope to have it up and running by next week.

He also reported that the recent transfer day/college night events at the college were a success in allowing current WSCC students and area high school students the opportunity to speak with representatives from four year learning institutions.

“College Fair is an opportunity for our students to talk with various university partners including military personnel about options and opportunities after West Shore,” said Inabinet. “Our College Night is for the community and the high school students as well as our own students to have a little one-on-one conversation with our four year partners, military personnel about opportunities in their interest area.”

Inabinet said it is important in talking about student success that there is a great deal about working better with students to help them prepare for the transfer to a four-year school.

“I think this is an important endeavor to provide that sort of connection for our students,” said Inabinet. “We had 24 representatives at the afternoon college fair. There were 23 colleges and one Army representative. It is hard to gauge how many students actually attend because it is in our campus center and we have our day-to-day students walking through for lunch and things.”

Inabinet said they did estimate that around 75 students took part in the college fair.

At the evening College Night, he said there were 36 representatives and besides colleges there were representatives from the Mason County Promise Scholarship Program, the Northeastern Michigan Works, Army, Marines and National Guard representives.

“We did have a little smaller attendance as the year before we had 178 attend and this year 124 students attend,” said Inabinet. “Our attendees offered appreciation for West Shore hosting this event.”

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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