Postcard from an Online Writing Tutor

By Virginia MacCallum

online tutoring studentLinfield is a member college in a group of some 30 colleges and universities in the NorthWest region participating in an online college tutoring program, called the NW e-Tutoring Consortium. For the last few months, I have been an online writing tutor for the program.

While I also teach writing in the classroom, I find that tutoring online is a rich experience, although it is different than the conventional classroom.  Online, I can be much more of a one-on-one writing coach, establishing a relationship with a particular individual at a specific time and on a specific product of writing.  It becomes a personal contact with a student I will probably never see in person, but it is nonetheless interesting and enriching.

I have the opportunity to read papers for many disciplines and purposes.  While it’s true that most of what we writing tutors see are essays and research documents from English composition and literature classes, students also submit written documents for virtually every college subject.  A glance at the list of submissions awaiting help reveals applications for scholarships and admission to programs, nursing notes and documents, literature reviews for varied subjects, psychology research, gender studies, communications, comparisons of business management styles, critical analyses of photographic art, and so on.   Our goal as a group of writing tutors is respond to a student submission in 48 hours or less.  This noted, it would not be a wise idea to submit today a paper that must be turned in as final tomorrow morning!  We will help students with problems for which they seek input, but we do not ever revise, rewrite, or edit for students.

Another interesting aspect of online college tutoring is the opportunity it provides to work with students whose first language is not English. I really appreciate and respect the courage it takes for someone to write at college level in a language he or she has learned fairly recently!  Moreover, their stories are fascinating glimpses into other cultures that fill me anew with wonder at both the beautiful diversity of humanity and our commonalities as well.

Linfield Adult Degree Program students also have access to online tutoring in accounting, statistics, and math (developmental through calculus).   Many other subjects (not taught at Linfield) are also available to students from other colleges in our group.  Other services include live tutoring, which is an electronic chat setting, and offline questions, wherein the student submits a question to the tutor who will respond within 48 hours.

If you are a student who has access to an online tutoring service, take advantage of it! You will find qualified, trained tutors and teachers will respond to your questions.  You can submit work any time of the day or night and any day of the week.  In addition, you may have available to you an almost-synchronous situation like a chat room with a tutor in your subject, which can be very helpful.   Help can be as near as your laptop computer, so come see us.  We’ll be waiting for you!

Interested in learning more? Current Linfield ADP students can try out eTutoring services today by logging in with your CATnetID here. Prospective Linfield ADP students can contact Virginia MacCallum by email or phone, 541-888-7284

Virginia MacCallum is a writing tutor in the NW e-Tutoring Consortium and has been an Academic Advisor in the Linfield College Adult Degree Program for 15 years. She is a writing instructor at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay, OR, and an active teacher and mentor in literacy training with adults for whom English is a second language.

Human Resources Certificate: Not Just for HR Folks

By Sally Alkazin

It would be easy to assume that studying for a human resources certificate might only benefit someone either wishing to move into or currently working in the field.  Guess again.  HR certificates are not just for HR folks: business professionals of a variety of backgrounds can gain invaluable insight through the HR certificate courses.  And with the program offered 100% online, it has never been easier for you to complete the program, no matter where you live or travel.

AHuman Resources Certificate Leads to Satisfying Careerss a small business owner or entrepreneur, an HR Certificate can provide you with information about HR issues that can impact your bottom line.  By learning the basics of Human Resource Management, a manager will have more confidence in their choices of new employees and retention and motivation of current ones.   Turnover of employees is expensive in replacement and training costs, as well as the potential of losing customer goodwill.   After completion of the certificate program, the small business owner will be able to recognize when they need to get additional outside resources to deal with a Human Resource issue that has a higher level of complication.  This can avoid costly and time-consuming lawsuits.

Supervisors or managers in any field will better understand the motivations of the employees who report to them and help find ways to assist their employees in reaching their highest levels of performance.  Daily challenges of management will also become easier – such as conflicts between employees, abuse of sick time, and staffing challenges.  The same benefits would apply to managers and directors at a non-profit organization.

One of Linfield’s HR certificate students, currently a Nurse Manager at a large health care system, reports the HRM classes have been extremely valuable, providing knowledge that she applies regularly in her leadership and management roles.

Of course, if you are currently working in the Human Resources field but do not have Human Resource Management (HRM) credentials, then a Human Resources certificate will provide you expanded knowledge and credibility in the field.  It will teach you how and where you can find current information on Human Resource topics that you are interested in, and also indicate to your employer that you want to improve your knowledge and competency level.  It also may afford you more chances to move up in your career as openings occur.

And if you are not currently working in the Human Resources field, but would like to, then the Certificate could be instrumental in getting you hired into a Human Resources position.  For those interested in earning the professional credential of Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) a minimum of two years of work experience in the field of Human Resource Management is required.  A Certificate in Human Resource Management can be your “ticket in the door” to get that first Human Resource job which will qualify you for PHR and/or SPHR eligibility.

Linfield offers an online HR certificate where all four HR courses are offered online, making access to an HR education easier than ever.

Sally Alkazin has been teaching HR courses for Linfield College’s Division of Continuing Education for 13 years. She is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management and the American Society for Training and Development.

How to Communicate in an Online College Environment

student communicating online with their professorCommunicating effectively is an important aspect of any college experience, both online and in the traditional classroom.  Navigating your way through student and professor interactions in the virtual classroom may feel somewhat different. In this article, learn about appropriate online college etiquette to boost your success as an online student.

Start by becoming thoroughly familiar with the online college technology and learning management system utilized by your school. In most online learning situations it is recommended that you use the management system to communicate with your professor and fellow students versus using a personal email account.

For example, Blackboard is Linfield’s learning management system and this is where email strings and discussion forums are posted for all students in the class to view and respond. Most often these discussions are asynchronous, taking place over a designated time, such as a week, without requiring students and the professor to be online and responding in real-time. Flexibility is the nature and greatest attribute of online learning.  Topics appropriate to discuss in the online classroom are generally related to the course, such as specific assignments and course material questions.

Blackboard provides students and instructors with the ability to send an email only to the instructor, instead of to the whole class. If you have a question that is unrelated to course material, for example if you have to reschedule an exam due to jury duty, sending your professor a message for instructor only is appropriate.  The instructor will reply to you individually in this regard.

Using Email outside of the course learning management system is another asynchronous medium that is often relied upon as an effective way to communicate with your academic advisors, school administrators, and fellow students, on topics unrelated to the course assignments.

Most colleges and universities will expect you to be reachable by email at the email address that you established as a student of that institution. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of checking your college email regularly for updates about registration, courses, and graduation. Setting up an “email forward” to your personal email address facilitates your receiving the school related email quickly.

Communication between professor and student, student to student within the online classroom is privileged communication, and only registered students in that course may participate.

Share & Discuss

Professors give considerable weight to a student’s online participation and interactions with other students when assessing grades, and it is typical to see 15 to 25  percent of an overall grade be allocated to this. Just as it is important to raise your hand to answer and ask questions in a physical class, seeing and being seen in the discussions shows the professor how involved each student is and how they are progressing.

Make It Personal

Don’t be afraid to put your personality out into the virtual classroom by expressing your opinion or an experience you had that can explain your perspective on the topic. It is through practical applications in real-life scenarios that we often learn the most, and sharing this with fellow students can enrich the entire class. Further, the virtual classroom is capable of becoming a virtual community, so the more you participate, the sooner that community will begin to take shape. A learning community will boost the overall experience in the exchange of viewpoints, and in contributing to your own learning, which in turn is likely to increase your chances for earning higher marks.

  • Utilize student friendships to share notes or materials
  • Organize a study group with those in your area by meeting at a coffee shop or public library to prepare for the midterm or final
  • Organize an online study group that meets weekly through the “chat room” feature in many course management systems.
  • Possibly increase your chances of making life-long friends with similar interests to you!

Online Learning Communication Etiquette

Etiquette is an important factor in sharing ideas and discussing topics in an online setting. The easiest rule to live by online is to imagine interactions in one-on-one and group settings are no different than interacting in person. To reach out to talk with the professor, approach him or her as if it were a face-to-face conversation. If making a statement to be read by the entire class, imagine physically standing in the front of the room. Finally, when providing feedback in discussion strings don’t forget to be constructive and polite.

When participating in online discussion boards in class, here are some tips to follow before you hit the send button:

  • Think through your idea or question for clarity
  • Make the communication as concise as possible
  • Add an appropriate subject in designated field, such as the class name, number, and brief description of the related topic (for example: Midterm exam, Chapter 11 reading, or Week 3 assignment)
  • Begin with a salutation (for example: ‘Dear Professor’)
  • Complete the body of the text, or subject line content
  • Finish with an appropriate closing being sure to write your complete name.

An important aspect of online college communication and education in general is to understand that the more one participates, the greater the personal experience will be. In an online university or classroom setting it takes bringing into play both communication awareness and technically savvy skills that can be acquired and refined over time. The effort will pay off because continually improving your communication skills will leave you more professionally prepared upon graduation when navigating the work force and  advancing in your professional field.