Normally bustling with learning activities, the Mississippi College Writing Center is back in business with a new format.
In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, the MC Writing Center staff switched to a 100 percent online approach. Changes for the center based at the Leland Speed Library began March 23. It will stay that way through the end of the Spring semester in late April.
As of Tuesday, with Mississippi reporting 320 Coronavirus cases, MC transitioned earlier this week to online instruction for the university’s nearly 5,000 students. Institutions nationwide have gone to online instruction for millions of college students.
Seventeen Mississippi College student tutors along with two online receptionists seek to provide the best services they can during this worldwide pandemic.
The opening of operations on Monday went well, but the center wasn’t overwhelmed with phone calls or emails.
“It was slow yesterday (March 23),” said Lingshan Song, the Writing Center assistant director. “My speculation is that students are still getting settled and used to their online classes. Not many assignments are due early this week.”
Writing Center tutors are providing online chat sessions. With new technology, tutors engage in face-to-face sessions with students needing help with their writing.
“Tutors work with writers on what to focus on and help them come up with their own words and ideas for writing,” Song says.
So far, so good. “The tutors are positive and supportive,” says Writing Center director Steve Price.
The Writing Center, he said, is reaching out to faculty and working to get the full slate of online classes involved.
An English professor, Price is getting his English 101 class involved with the center for their assignments.
In addition, the Writing Center staff will use social media to get the word out about its new Spring format. “We may have an online writing contest or ask people to join us on social media,” Price added.
“We think the Writing Center can be a bridge to link members of the MC community and to provide both academic resources and entertaining relief,” he said.
At times, technology issues occur. For instance, there could be a short delay in the audio. Or it may be harder to read body language during tutoring sessions.
But, “tutors are good at troubleshooting technical issues,” Song said. They are “flexible with options available to students.”
MC Writing Center tutors have moved to Zoom as their primary platform to offer academic help to students.
Online Writing Center consultation hours run from Monday through Thursday. The hours are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Writing Center staff pledges to return all emails within 24 hours. Demand for their services should be growing soon and stay that way for through late April.