In-person to online: how students have adapted to tutoring at home

Butler’s tutoring options switch to online. Photo courtesy of


On-campus tutoring groups are offering online options following the university’s switch to online learning for the duration of the semester. 

The Writer’s Studio, Speaker’s Lab and music tutoring programs have all switched to online tutoring sessions due to Butler moving to online classes. The online tutoring sessions will be similar to the in-person options offered on campus, but each organization has slightly different options. 

Writer’s Studio 

The Writer’s Studio was prepared to make the transition to online before leaving for spring break, in case the situation with the coronavirus were to escalate. 

Sunny Hawkins, the director of the Writer’s Studio, said she was prepared to make the switch to online and was able to train the tutors on the technical aspects of online tutoring and give them tips on how to tutor online through a PowerPoint presentation. Hawkins said it can be easy to want to make changes in client’s papers online, so she reminded students to help the students learn from their mistakes rather than just correcting them.  

The Writer’s Studio is offering two different types of online tutoring through the WC-Online website. 

The online tutoring option on the sign-up page is most similar to an in-person appointment at the Writer’s Studio. Online tutoring appointments allow for real-time interaction between the tutor and the client, similar to a Zoom meeting. 

E-tutoring, the other option, allows the tutor to make comments on a submitted paper during the time slot the student signed up for. There is no face to face interaction between the tutor and client with e-tutoring. 

Hannah Salisbury, a sophomore Writer’s Studio tutor, said commenting on a paper can be difficult. 

“When I say something in person, you know, there’s tone of voice, facial expression, like stuff like that,” Salisbury, an English and Spanish double major, said. “When it’s just a comment on like a Word document, I want to make sure that I’m very careful about the words I use because I don’t want anyone to think like, I’m either trashing your paper or you have to take my suggestion.” 

Students can schedule for Writer’s Studio appointments in the same way they would on campus, but the only options are for e-tutoring or online tutoring. 

Salisbury said she hopes students continue to use the Writer’s Studio, even though appointments are no longer in person. The tutors have also continued weekly Zoom meetings to check in on one another and the online Writer’s Studio. 

Hawkins said the Writer’s Studio is willing to virtually help students with any writing assignments, no matter the size.  

“The smallest assignment, we are more than happy to help people with if it makes them feel a little more supported and a little more on top of things right now,” Hawkins said.

Speaker’s Lab 

The Speakers Lab also made the decision to switch to online tutoring. The tutoring sessions offered by the Speaker’s Lab are being done through Zoom and are offered in 30-minute and hour-long sessions. 

For students interested in signing up for a Speaker’s Lab appointment, they can do so as they would normally through the Speaker’s Lab website. Once the appointment is scheduled, it is up to the tutor to send out a Zoom meeting link 24 hours before the meeting. 

Speaker’s Lab tutors were trained to help students with online platforms such as Zoom and Panopto.

Sally Perkins, faculty director of the Speaker’s Lab, said that co-managers Stephen Graham and Mariesa LaRosa worked to provide tutors with a variety of videos to teach them about online platforms. The tutors were also gifted headsets to improve the audio quality during their Zoom sessions. 

“We found some good links to have our tutors at least familiarize themselves with both platforms,” Perkins said. “And I indicated to the faculty that our tutors are familiar, but they are not the tech experts.

Perkins said the transition to online has been “pretty smooth.” Even though the online Speaker’s Lab is different, Speaker’s Lab co-manager Mariesa LaRosa said the tutors have made the transition work. LaRosa said the screen-sharing and White Board features on Zoom have been especially helpful during her sessions.

“Obviously, I do miss seeing everyone in person and just having them walk by and everything like that,” LaRosa, a junior communications sciences and disorders major said. “But everyone is giving it everything that they can, and I’m so thankful that we have great tutors and great, great leadership on our side.”

The Speaker’s Lab will also be posting a list of quick tips for students unfamiliar with virtual presentations. 

With both the Speaker’s Lab and Writer’s Studio having success switching to online tutoring sessions they are hopeful they will continue to help students off campus, but unsure whether online sessions will be offered once we return to face-to-face learning.

Music Lessons

Along with the Writer’s Studio and Speaker’s Lab making the switch to online, many Butler Community Art School teachers have made the switch as well. BACS provides children and adults access to arts instruction, which includes individual lessons, group classes and summer camps. 

Charlea Scheler, a first-year master student studying violin performance, said Butler BCAS teachers and parents were given the option whether or not to continue their lessons online.

Scheler decided to continue offering her violin and piano lessons online. She has done so over a number of platforms, including Zoom and FaceTime, to make sure students can access her. 

Scheler said teaching online has forced her to be more descriptive while teaching, and made it more difficult to make adjustments in sounds and movements. Scheler teaches a range of students from ages six to 28, and adjusting positioning for younger musicians has been one of the larger challenges.  

“One of the girls, her wrist was too far bent for her left hand for violin, and so I had her set her instrument down and then wave at me and then hold her hand,” Scheler said. “We made a couple letters with our hands and our body kind of like a cheerleader and straightened her arm out … then she was just fine. Whereas before, I would have just moved her wrist back, with my own hand.”

Austin Sandoval, a first-year graduate student studying guitar performance, teaches guitar and violin lessons. In an email to The Butler Collegian, Sandoval said although the situation is not ideal, it has had some positive impacts. 

“I can make sure I’m fully warmed up and ready to go,” Sandoval said in an email. “I also have access to my entire musical library and all of my instruments which is very helpful!” 

Social distancing and self quarantining have given people more time on their hands, which is something Sandoval has noticed in his lessons. Sandoval’s fairly flexible schedule has allowed him to accommodate the students’ new schedules as well. 

“They have adapted well and have been practicing more,” Sandoval said in an email. “I’m seeing a lot of great progress!”

Sandoval said there are technical difficulties that come with online teaching, which make it tricky to hear if the student is using incorrect technique, but using the technology has only gotten easier since he started. 


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