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Virtual Tutoring Pilot Program: Questions and Considerations for the Future

Abstract

"This case study describes a Virtual Tutoring (VT) pilot project funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) Math Science Partnership (MSP) sub-award. The project investigated the efficacy of using internet and Smart Board technology to link university and secondary school students. The unique attribute of this project is that in addition to traditional goals of tutoring, in this case supporting high school students struggling in mathematics, further goals were to generate interest in the teaching profession among university student tutors and to stimulate high school teachers' thinking about the use of technology in teaching and learning. The project faced and overcame many obstacles: changes in school district personnel, difficulty in finding times when both tutors and tutees were available, a shortage of secondary students seeking tutoring, and many technical challenges. As documented by the project's ethnographer, this pilot project was generally deemed valuable by all involved, including tutors, tutees, teachers, and administrators. This study also pointed to the importance of better understanding the types of learning communities that can best be supported through online linkages between high school students and college students. The technical solutions and other lessons learned should be of considerable use to future projects of this type."

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