Writing Center Staff Website





Online Tutoring

Peer tutor Amanda Harber (A&S '05) piloted an online tutoring program in Spring 2005 that we will be advancing in academic year 2005-06. This page provides links to useful materials online and allows you to download materials from the pilot.

As we were deciding how to implement an online tutoring program, we wanted to work in real time with writers: commenting on papers and sending them back is too much like what students already get from their teachers. The type of tutoring we have decided to use in our program is called synchronous in the literature (as opposed to asynchronous tutoring).

We decided to use AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) because it is free, easy to download, and fairly simple to use.

Right now, the online tutoring is by appointment. Students who wish to be tutored via AIM can email a paper to writecen@pitt.edu along with a description of their goals for the tutoring session and the information that we usually collect on our intake sheets. (Please don't delete any messages from the writecen email account: we will use them for recordkeeping.) Tutors can download the paper and quickly read it, the way they would if they were working face-to-face.

If you are getting started with online tutoring, make sure that you download AIM and read the collected materials from the previous implementations.

Technical Capability

You can download AIM from the AIM site.

The Writing Center AIM account username is PittWCtutor. Sandy or Jean can give you the password.

Collected Materials from the Spring 2005 Pilot Program

Amanda Harber's research on online tutoring.

Sample AIM conversations from the pilot program.

Some of Amanda's journal entries from the pilot.


Collected Materials from the Fall 2005 Expanded Pilot
Ann Litman, Clare Connors, Bethany Hofstetter, Mukai Shumba

Online tutoring schedule

Flyer advertising online tutoring (Powerpoint file)

Boilerplate greeting text for prospective tutees.

Online tutoring evaluation for tutees

Information on Online Tutoring

Praxis has published a useful article on the attitudes of writing center directors and faculty toward online tutoring.

Praxis offers an article arguing the pros of online tutoring environments.

"Interfacing the Faceless: Maximizing the Advantages of Online Tutoring" by Justin Jackson.

In our library, we have a copy of Taking Flight with OWLs: Examining Electronic Writing Center Work edited by James A. Inman and Donna N. Sewell and Wiring the Writing Center .

"Pr(owl)ing Around," by Jane Lasarenko was published in Kairos. This article provides links to a range of colleges and universities that offer online writing labs in one form or another.

Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch blogged on the WCJ blog about online writing centers in Nov. 2005. Here are direct links to her entries:

Thoughts About OWCs
OWC Models
Closing Thoughts About OWC


Information on Asynchronous Tutoring (for comparison)

University of Washington-Bothell offers a scholarly paper.

Western Washington University offers an OWL training manual.


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webmaster: writecen@pitt.edu.



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