Language programs update to virtual tutoring sessions

The University of Rhode Island’s Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures programs’ tutoring services have undergone major changes in the past year.

These language programs were online last semester, and their new system introduced this semester, called SimplyBook.me, has revamped how the language programs work online.

This system has become a necessity with classes online and with the only “one or two” options for in-person tutoring currently, according to Higher Education Administrative Assistant Monica Gallego. Before the pandemic, these programs were almost entirely in-person for years. 

According to junior Mariah Paulette, a Spanish tutor, online tutoring was an option for students before the pandemic, but that system has changed entirely. The system that language departments use now is significantly different from the system used last semester— which itself was significantly different from the system used before COVID-19.

“We did have to adapt to a different system, and that was a little bit difficult,” Paulette said. “But for me, personally, I really like this switch and I think that the students do too.”

Gallego said that SimplyBook.me is organized much better than the system that was used last semester, which was one of the main reasons that it was replaced.

“Everybody was scattered,” Gallego said. “We felt like we had less control and oversight, and we didn’t know how many students were using things.”

SimplyBook.me offers many services, including new ways to book appointments and the ability to connect Google Calendar with the system, which will remind students of their appointments.

Liam Roberts, a freshman who tutors Italian, said that all of the changes have helped make his job easier. Between having the contact information for all of the other tutors, the uniformity of the system in how it is organized and its general convenience, this system is much better than the old one, according to Roberts.

He said that links to different events put on by the language department are part of the new system, such as the Italian department’s Quattro Chiacchiere and the French department’s Conversation Buddies.

Gallego said that the language programs may change how students sign up for events using SimplyBook.me. Students can sign up for many events, such as online movie nights in advance on the new system.

Neither the German and Chinese Language Flagship programs made the change to SimplyBook.me, since they already have their own programs. According to Gallego, the German Language Flagship program was already using SimplyBook.me, and the language department decided to implement SimplyBook.me with other languages as a trial run.

According to Paulette, the only issue that tutors have faced with the new system was having to inform students that there was a new site they had to use for these services.

Jenna Briggs, a higher education administrative assistant within the program, said that the program is set up to help students at every level of language learning with tutoring help.

“There’s tutoring help with the 100-level and 200-level classes and so on, so they can sign up for appropriate tutoring,” Briggs said. “If they enjoy working with somebody specific, they can book with that particular person.”

Paulette said that she works with around 10 different students weekly and Roberts said he works with around three students a week. Next semester, the program plans on moving back to primarily face-to-face tutoring, although Briggs and Gallego said that there will still likely be an online option.

“I have noticed that some of these later sessions are around 6 p.m.,” Gallego said. “I can imagine that would still be a pretty popular thing to do online. [We may] continue to do the hybrid methods.”

This story was one of two published in the April 22, 2021 edition of the Good Five Cent Cigar- the final edition published in my sophomore year of college.

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