Online Tutoring for Every Community College Student in California
On November 1, 2019, we launched STAR-CA, a shared online tutoring solution. Four member colleges contributed online hour of tutoring coverage using Pisces® as the online tutoring platform. The local tutors' availability was supplemented by NetTutor® to ensure online tutoring is available when students need help.
A CCC Project Organized by LSI
STAR-CA is an independent consortium of participating California community colleges (CCC) and Link-Systems International, Inc. (LSI) where participating colleges may obtain access to shared CCC tutoring resources and LSI technologies and services. Ideally, STAR-CA will become a project under one of the existing CCC project umbrellas, organized by LSI as an extension of our partnership with the Foundation. This will establish a scalable, sustainable online tutoring program for the California Community College system. With the realization of this plan, the CCC project would fund certain components (like the CVC-OEI funds Pisces) while members would contribute to the function of the consortium at their own cost (i.e., pay their tutors).
Decentralized, Yet Highly Coordinated
During the Spring 2020 semester, LSI will continue to run the program administration. This includes synchronizing and publishing tutor schedules, access to NetTutor and Pisces, providing marketing and promotional support, monitoring and distributing usage reports, and managing costs. LSI administration also included training tutors, performing accuracy reviews of tutoring sessions, and addressing support/QC issues as they arise. Each college identified a single point-of-contact and sometimes a second, alternative contact.
Why should my college offer online tutoring?
All students can benefit from having access to quality tutoring at the moment they need help. There are many reasons why:
- Online tutoring meets the accreditation requirement to support students who are taking online courses.
- Online tutoring helps non-traditional students who may be unable to visit campus for tutoring because of their job or family obligations.
- Online tutoring can be a resource for students whose subject is not offered in their on-campus tutoring center.
- Online tutoring can help students who are seeking assistance when the on-campus tutoring center is closed (e.g., late hours, weekends, holidays).
- Online tutoring offers students (and tutors) a more practical way of accessing academic support services off campus.
- Online tutoring is a more anonymous way of students receiving assistance as they learn how to ask for academic support.
- Online tutoring is a practical resource for students who travel off campus for school obligations.
Advantages of Forming an Online Tutoring Consortium
There are significant advantages, which include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Using your own tutors is a much more cost-effective way to offer your students access to online tutoring.
- By sharing tutors, colleges will be able to support online tutoring for more hours and subjects than they would be able to cover individually.
- The California Community Colleges maintain control over how tutors are trained and decisions about which subjects/hours are offered.
- With all other conditions being met, tutoring may only qualify for apportionment if and only if students and tutors are from the CCC system.
Who can join?
Any college that already has a NetTutor partnership is welcome to join.
STAR-CA offers live, drop-in tutoring. Students can connect with a live tutor and get private, one-on-one tutoring in real time. The schedule and subjects for the Fall 2019 pilot have not yet been determined.
Easy Access for Students
STAR-CA is entirely web-based. Students will be able to access STAR-CA using their desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device (smartphone/tablet). They do not need to download or install any software. STAR-CA integrates with Canvas through the existing NetTutor access.
Each college is responsible for providing qualified, trained tutors. Technical training for how to use Pisces is aligned to the ACTLA Online Tutoring Standards and conducted by LSI weekly.
The STAR Model
STAR-CA is ambitious, and if planned and executed carefully, will become a model for other colleges nationwide. That being said, there are several examples of successful system- or statewide online tutoring programs. STAR-CA is modeled after STAR-NY (www.starny.org).