SLAC lab coordinator wants students to get tutoring there

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Brainfuse Online Tutoring service provides students 300 minutes per semester.

By Sergio Medina

The academic coordinator of the student learning assistance center wants students to use that lab first for tutoring and treat Brainfuse Online Tutoring as a secondary resource.

The college provides Brainfuse help at no cost to students, but the number of students using it has increased the cost to the college, academic Coordinator Geraldo Guerra said in an interview Feb. 23.

Students at this college spent about 950 hours on Brainfuse Sept. 1-Jan. 31.

Brainfuse is a website that provides a range of online tutoring services on topics such as business, computers and technology, English, math, nursing, science and social sciences.

Guerra said the Alamo Colleges has provided Brainfuse to students for about four years. It is accessible through Canvas in some but not all courses.

The SLAC lab first piloted Brainfuse in spring 2015.

It has proved so popular that Guerra said this college goes over the limit of hours purchased yearly for $25,000.

“We have to pay additional funding,” he said. “We average around $38,000 (per year).”

Guerra wants students who physically attend face-to-face classes to take advantage of the SLAC lab as a primary resource for tutoring.

Guerra said Brainfuse is mostly dedicated to online students who “can’t come to campus” to receive tutoring here.

“That’s who it’s mainly for,” he said.

Brainfuse can be accessed by students only through Canvas. The link to Brainfuse is listed on the courses’ navigational panels, where grades, modules and quizzes are found.

Previously, students could access Brainfuse under the student tab on ACES.

On Brainfuse, each student is provided with 300 minutes to use per semester, regardless of the number of courses the student is taking.

Under the Brainfuse tab on Canvas, the instructions point out that each tutoring session is a maximum of 30 minutes.

Brainfuse also provides a writing lab where tutors review students’ papers. This service deducts 35 minutes per use.

Furthermore, Brainfuse also provides other services such as flashcards and the ability to create them; a learning library with lessons, quizzes and tests; and online study groups. These activities do not deduct minutes.

“We evaluate the (Brainfuse) satisfaction,” Guerra said. “Students want more hours, but then we explain to them, ‘You know, it’s a bit difficult. It’s supposed to be there to help you when you can’t get to face-to-face tutoring.’

“The college really wants us to push the resources that we currently have for those students because making that face-to-face connection is a lot more important to us than somebody who is not on campus.

“Those (Brainfuse) resources are always good because you get a different perspective, but at the same time those tutors are not here in San Antonio,” he said. “The tutors that we have here throughout the campus were former SAC students.”

The familiarity of the tutors with this college contributes to a better tutoring experience, Guerra said.

Guerra was unable to provide a list of all the courses at this college that have access to Brainfuse through Canvas.

For information about SLAC lab tutoring and Brainfuse, call 210-486-0165.


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