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and some Ph.D.s, according to the Web site.
“I would be concerned about the credentials of the tutors, but the Smarthinking company is assuring the institutions that they do a very thorough job on this,” Birdsall said.
“We certainly have students whose schedules might make this very useful for them to have access after hours when the other labs are closed, but that of course is determined by the quality of the tutors,” she said.
Although Birdsall believes Smarthinking will be useful to students, she mostly sees it as an addition to the tutoring program at this college that she is confident in despite not being available 24 hours a day.
Birdsall claims that students simply do not use the college’s current online tutoring service.
“If you read the literature (Smarthinking’s) carefully, there’s certain hours that you would need to make sure there is someone available,” Birdsall said.
Students at this college are required to submit a request on the SLAC lab Web site two weeks in advance for an online tutoring session.
Only two sessions can be scheduled at any one particular time because only two stations at the SLAC lab are available for online services.
“This (Smarthinking) is something that I feel very neutral about,” Birdsall said. “I’m not arguing against it. If it is useful for our students as an additional resource for our students, I’m all for it.”
Zeigler is not sure if or when Smarthinking might make its way to this college, but sees the spring semester as a hopeful target if all considerations point to a recommendation.
In October, St. Philip’s had a grand opening for their newly renovated tutoring and technology center which houses a wealth of adaptive tutoring technology for students, Tim Rasch, manager of academic support at St. Philip’s College, said.
“A student might be blind and need a computer that talks. A student might be deaf and need a computer that has a special kind of keyboard. Maybe a student wants to have their books put on a CD,” Rasch said.
“But now we have a new viewpoint, because it occurred to us one day in an epiphany that what we really wanted to do was to supply those technologies to everybody.”
This is a sentiment that Loston wants to carry to the entire district.
“I think it’s great when we can bring a best practice from one college and say, ‘Now we want to make it available to over 50,000 students,’” Loston said.