The Writing Center and the shift to remote services
Miina McCown/The Broadside
Writing A+ worthy essays and effectively studying for classes can prove to be a difficult task, especially if one is juggling multiple courses on top of extracurriculars and other obligations. Luckily, the Writing Center at Central Oregon Community College is one of the many free resources available to all students.
The Writing Center can help students with writing assignments for any COCC class, including generating ideas for writing, understanding reading assignments, studying effectively, revising/editing, formatting and much more. It is currently open and available over Zoom to students, with no appointment necessary to join in. The current scheduled hours can be viewed on this page. All other information can be found along with the other tutoring and testing resources on the COCC website. The Zoom link for the Writing Center and other tutoring services can be found in Blackboard in the “COCC Tutoring” tab, as well as the scheduled times of each particular tutor.
Jennifer Forbess, the Writing Center coordinator stated that even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, she had been thinking about starting up a Writing Center presence on Zoom so that students especially from northern campuses could access a tutor from wherever they were.
“When it came down to going remote for the spring term, I set up all of the writing tutors with the Zoom room and there was quite a bit of training for the writing tutors, like how to tutor remotely and how to handle Zoom… For the spring term, everyone was in their own separate Zoom rooms, and that was okay but it had some drawbacks. The writing tutors never saw each other, and we were all used to being in-person together in the Writing Center, so it was just very isolating,” she stated.
For the summer term, all of the tutors worked in the same room and operations generally ran much smoother. In the fall term, the Writing Center “was just as busy as usual and it ran smoothly with only the occasional Zoom glitch,” Forbess remarked.
While there was a decrease in students’ use of the Writing Center when the pandemic first began as enrollment dropped off from the winter to spring terms, the center remained busy from the summer and fall terms of 2020. Forbess also recalled that there were many times where multiple students were in the center working together.
So how does the actual tutoring work over Zoom? When a student logs in and comes into the Zoom room, they no longer have to use a sign-in sheet or log in physically. Instead, a tutor fills out a form when working with a student to track the time they spend at the center.
“It’s different to not be able to sit with the student and look at things like physical handbooks and other resources, but tutoring is working relatively well on Zoom. We just have to figure out how to do things digitally. We have students pull up their assignment and the documents they’re working with on their own computer, share their screen and then the student is the one working on the document and making the changes. In tutoring, you want students to do their own work so it’s been running surprisingly well,” said Forbess.