Have you ever wondered what other Tutor.com partners are doing to generate excitement for the service, with both staff and students? We sat down with Derk Riechers, Director of the Online College at in South Carolina, to give you an inside look at his institution’s Tutor.com program. He discussed when the need for online tutoring became clear, how they were able to launch a successful pilot program during the most difficult time of the year (the summer!), and what he hopes to achieve from his program moving forward. We hope you enjoy hearing about this program as much as we did!
“My philosophy is that online education should mirror onsite education, regarding the modalities of educational philosophies and pedagogies,” says Riechers, “We have found here at Florence Darlington that in past years, our online students were not receiving the same type of service that our onsite, face-to-face students were receiving. We had tutors on campus, but no tutoring support available for our online students unless they came to campus. We had received overwhelming commentary from faculty, staff and students that students were lacking direct support in order to succeed in the online academic environment. This inspired us to find an online tutoring company.”
Florence-Darlington Technical College conducted their pilot during an unconventional time, the summer semester. Riechers explains the choice. “We want all of our projects to be data-driven initiatives, so we initially ran Tutor.com as a summer pilot program. Pilots are meant to help us evaluate the success and the value of a service before committing to a full-term contract. Our Tutor.com pilot allowed us to gather data and feedback from the faculty, students and staff.”
Riechers credits the success to three critical elements. “Our Tutor.com pilot program was excellent. It excelled for three reasons: 1) Our excellent faculty, staff, and administration here at Florence-Darlington who helped support this initiative, 2) Tutor.com’s project manager, Jerin, and its IT support staff that set everything up, 3) The culture here at Florence-Darlington, which centers around the desire to see our students achieve. These three elements combined are what attributed to the pilot’s success.”
In addition, Riechers acknowledges the faculty’s vital role in encouraging adoption. “The faculty has been integral in marketing the service in their classrooms, raising their students’ awareness of the service. I’ve had many faculty members approach me to report that Tutor.com has been a great support service that complements their instruction in the onsite/online classroom. If it weren’t for this faculty support, I don’t believe that our Tutor.com service would have been as successful as it is.”
Now that Florence-Darlington Technical College is out of it’s pilot and in a fully launched Tutor.com program, Riechers discusses what he hopes for the program in the future. “One of the major outcomes that we would like to see from this initiative is the continuing usage of the service. One of our missions is to keep the word spreading about Tutor.com and make sure that the students are accessing the resource. I have an open door policy in my office, meaning that I welcome students to come in if they’re curious to learn more about Tutor.com, and I believe that contributes to the success rate of the program. When I see these students return happy and excited about the service that Tutor.com provides, that’s what helps reaffirm the success of the program for me. I can’t tell you how many students visit my office and say ‘I was going to drop this class,’ or ‘I’ve been struggling with this class. But with this online tutoring, it has helped me tremendously.’”