Students can receive virtual tutoring through the TLC website.

Students don’t have to study by themselves, those who miss studying with their peers can find solace in the Teaching and Learning Center.

The TLC is another place on campus that has faced a virtual makeover due to COVID. Cara Farnell, the TLC Program Support Supervisor, explained that through its live and synchronous tutoring sessions the center assists students academically as well as emotionally. 

“Using the TLC can help students feel more connected and find support where it does exist,” Farnell said. “Since we have peer consultants, they are fellow students who understand what you are going through, which we’ve been told really helps you feel less alone.”  

She noted that if someone isn’t getting as much time as they normally would with their professor or classmates, working with the TLC can prove to be extremely beneficial.

“The virtual sessions are done over Zoom video or audio calls,” Farnell said. “Lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to 50 minutes, a student can bring whatever assignment or concept they are working on and get assistance from the consultant.” 

She said the prior disadvantages of online tutoring have largely been mitigated via technological functions.

“Some of the tutors have tablets which can work as a virtual whiteboard,” Farnell said. “Zoom also has its own function like that. On Zoom, both participants on a call can annotate a document via screen share, which is kind of like physically writing on the paper or making changes together via something like Google Docs.”

Farnell also brought up that the TLC has maintained a strong network of connections through Zoom. Staff are always available during work hours to help troubleshoot any possible system errors and consultants can also use the chat feature in Zoom to ask fellow consultants for help in that same way, which can often result in quicker and more efficient answers. 

One of the reasons the TLC has transitioned so smoothly to virtual sessions was because they were already offering many online services. 

“Before the pandemic, the Writing Center had e-tutoring, which is the asynchronous paper upload style appointment,” Farnell said. “We continue to offer this service, so we were well-equipped to operate remotely in a lot of ways already.” 

Students have continued to consistently use the TLC during the pandemic and are able to make appointments for the next day and sometimes even the day of. Some parts of the TLC have even extended their hours. 

“Quantitative consulting has extended their hours. We’re open until 8pm in the evenings and added Sunday hours,” Farnell said. 

She noted the change to online tutoring hasn’t been easy but they’ve done well with what they had.

“It has been an adjustment to go to all schedule-based appointments instead of drop-ins like we used to have,” Farnell said. “We all concur that we miss campus and the social aspect of our community there, but we feel we pivoted pretty well to the adjustment and we’re excited to be able to continue to support UW Tacoma students in their academic success.”

Students may get a first-hand glimpse of a possible tutoring session at https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/teaching-and-learning-center/learning-consulting and can make an appointment at the TLC webpage, https://tacoma.uw.edu/tlc

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