Alberta’s Free Online Tutoring Program Closes

21 June 2017

 

Since February 2014, Alberta post-secondary institutions have worked together to provide free online tutoring in writing and mathematics via a consortium called eTutor Alberta. Despite three years of successful operation, the consortium is now slated to close in June 2017. Factors influencing this decision include the financial pressures at many Alberta post-secondary institutions as well as the dissolution of eTutor Alberta’s founding sponsor, eCampusAlberta, in early 2017.

Over its three years of operation, the consortium provided professional, personalized student support via award-winning tutoring software. The program grew rapidly, ultimately serving students from thirteen post-secondary institutions, including universities, colleges, and polytechnics. Students created over 4700 accounts and submitted more than 5700 papers and 400 questions for feedback from eTutor Alberta’s professional tutors. Tutors also supported students through more than 60 real-time tutoring sessions. Students consistently reported high satisfaction with all of these resources: 92% of 950+ survey respondents rated the service as “helpful” or “very helpful.” Indeed, in 2016, two eTutor Alberta tutors received international recognition for high-quality work.

Like many collaborative projects, the consortium promoted efficiency by coordinating services and pooling resources. For example, the consortium offered students up to 90 hours of support each week, but each institution contributed just 5-18 hours. Students could access support from any tutor, not simply from their own institution’s team, meaning that they could get help when they needed it most. Moreover, the consortium offered administrative efficiencies: eTutor Alberta trained more than 45 Alberta tutors in best practices for online tutoring and offered regular professional development sessions. Finally, eTutor Alberta provided a community of practice for Alberta’s institutions to learn and share ideas.

eTutor Alberta’s tutoring services end today, June 21, and the consortium will close on June 30. While eTutor Alberta is unable to continue operations past this point, it has demonstrated the value of online tutoring and disseminated best practices throughout the Alberta post-secondary community. Many former member institutions plan to develop their own online tutoring programs to support students who cannot access onsite support.

eTutor Alberta’s success results from the commitment of its partners and members. The consortium especially wishes to thank eCampusAlberta for its vision and support. eTutor Alberta is also grateful to BCcampus, the CTDLC, and WriteAway for their leadership and collaboration and to SAIT, Ambrose University, and Northern Lakes College for providing valuable infrastructure. Finally, eTutor Alberta thanks all the institutions who have contributed to the program over the years: Bow Valley College, Concordia University of Edmonton, Grande Prairie Regional College, Lakeland College, Lethbridge College, MacEwan University, NAIT, NorQuest College, Northern Lakes College, Olds College, Red Deer College, SAIT, and the University of Lethbridge.

For more information, please contact Elizabeth Gripping, eTutor Alberta program coordinator (phone: 403.410.2000 x5904; email: info@etutoralberta.ca), or Lucinda Jenkins, eTutor Alberta coordinator for Northern Lakes College (phone: 780.751.3361; email: jenkinsl@northernlakescollege.ca). 

For a PDF copy of this announcement, click here