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Handbook

A Brief Introduction to WriteAway
WriteAway Partners
WriteAway Governance      
Listservs
Responsibilities of the Institutional Coordinator 
Asynchronous Tutoring: How it Works     
Tutor Training         
Key Tutor Documents        
eTutoring Platform 
Anti-Virus Software
Accounts       
Managing Student Accounts          
Additional eTutoring Tools
Reports in the eTutoring Platform
Managing Backlogs
Bounced Student Emails    
Evaluation Framework

 

A Brief Introduction to WriteAway

WriteAway is a service in British Columbia that gives students at participating institutions the opportunity to receive online writing assistance. Qualified tutors from each of the participating sites staff the service and provide feedback on students' draft writing assignments.

The WriteAway service was developed in cooperation with BCcampus, the BC Electronic Library Network (BC ELN), and Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (IKBLC), University of British Columbia.

 

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WriteAway Partners

The WriteAway Administrative Centre

The WriteAway Administrative Centre is hosted by BC ELN and is housed at the Simon Fraser University Burnaby campus. One staff member coordinates the Administrative Centre, acting as project coordinator and WriteAway Master Tutor. The WriteAway Administrative Centre provides centralized coordination of the WriteAway service. Broadly speaking, the Administrative Centre:

  • Facilitates communication (e.g. between partner institutions, WriteAway groups)
  • Provides platform and service training
  • Supports committee governance
  • Provides project management and support, marketing materials, and communications infrastructure

BCcampus

BCcampus hosts the platform used for WriteAway in British Columbia, and provides technical support for the WriteAway service through the BCcampus helpdesk.

Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium

The Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium (CTDLC) developed the eTutoring platform, which was chosen for WriteAway. WriteAway was the first Canadian collaborative to join the eTutoring “family,” which now includes eTutoring Alberta and three US consortia: Northeast eTutoring Consortium, Northwest eTutoring Consortium, and the Ohio eTutoring Collaborative.

Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, UBC

The Irving K. Barber earning Centre (IKBLC) contributes financial support for WriteAway, and sits on the BC eTutoring Steering Committee.

 

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WriteAway Governance

Oversight for WriteAway is provided by the BC eTutoring Steering Committee. For more information about governance, see the BC ELN WEBSITE

 

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Listservs

WriteAway has two main service listservs (one for institutional coordinators, one for tutors), governance listservs (e.g. BC eTutoring Steering Committee), and project specific listservs. To be subscribed to or deleted from a listserv, please send a message to the WriteAway Administrative Centre (waoffice@eln.bc.ca)

Institutional Coordinator Listserv (wa-admins)

Members: Current institutional coordinators and their back-ups, WriteAway Administrative Centre staff, BCcampus helpdesk coordinator

Purpose: For all members to communicate administrative items such as set-up, training, platform support, managing backlogs, marketing, and scheduling. This is a closed list; only members can post to it.

Tutor Listserv (wa-tutors)

Members: Current WriteAway tutors, institutional coordinators and their back-ups, WriteAway Administrative Centre staff, BCcampus helpdesk coordinator

Purpose: For all members to communicate items related to staffing the service, such as training, shift swap requests, platform support and service updates. This is a closed list; only members can post to it.

WriteAway Discussion Group (write-away-discussion)

Members: Contacts at various Writing Centres around the province.

Purpose: A mail list for those discussing the development of a provincial collaborative online writing service.

 

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Responsibilities of the Institutional Coordinator

Each WriteAway participating institution is responsible for ensuring the roll out of WriteAway services at the campus level, a process that should be addressed at several points during each semester.

One person (and a back-up) should be designated as the primary institutional contact to the WriteAway Administrative Centre. This person will be responsible for forwarding messages from the WriteAway Administrative Centre to the relevant person/s at their institutions.

A full list of institutional coordinator responsibilities (which can be fulfilled by one or more people at the institution) is available here.

 

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Asynchronous Tutoring: How it Works 

The WriteAway service is offered through a platform called eTutoring, developed by the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium, supported and hosted in BC by BCcampus.

A student at a participating institution must create an account to use the platform. The following information is required to have an account with the eTutoring system:

  • Post-secondary Institution
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Institutional email address
  • User Name
  • Password (encrypted)

Students must accept the WriteAway Terms and Conditions before they can use the service.

Once an account has been created, the student fills out a submission form (containing fields such as course name, subject, description of assignment, areas of concern, etc.) and uploads their paper to the platform.

A tutor at any of the participating institutions will select the submission from a queue, provide written guidance, and upload their response to the eTutoring platform. The student is then notified via an automatically generated email message that their paper is ready to be picked up from the system. The student must log back into the platform to download the tutor’s response.

 

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Tutor Training

WriteAway tutor training occurs in two parts:

  1. Tutor Training Session (live online session – recorded for tutors who cannot attend): The purpose of this online training session is to provide an overview of the WriteAway service and tutoring process, key documents, and supports available to tutors. Tutors will also be introduced in this session to the eTutoring platform and review online training modules.
  2. Online Training Modules – Completed Before Live Tutor Training Session: Tutors need to complete self-paced, online eTutoring training modules. These modules prepare tutors to use the eTutoring platform used for WriteAway, and reinforce the standards of practice used to respond to papers.

Tutors should expect to devote approximately 6-8 hours to complete the different training components.

Please Note: At the conclusion of this training tutors complete a sample response and begin a customized template, and submit both of these to the WriteAway Master Tutor for evaluation. The Master Tutor sends completed tutor evaluations to the institutional coordinator.

 

 

Key Tutor Documents

The written guidance that tutors provide students has a suggested framework so that there is a degree of consistency across all responses. The primary documents used to guide tutors through responding to asynchronous submissions include the the Tutor Response Template, which is offered as a guide in formatting tutor responses to papers submitted by students to the WriteAway service.

 

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eTutoring Platform

The main eTutoring login page is available at: https://etutoringcanada.ca/. To login, click on “Login Now!” and choose your institution from the “eTutoring BC” drop down menu.

Each separate institution has an institutional login page. This page is where you, your students, and your tutors login to the platform. This page is customizable by you (a template is provided by the WriteAway Administrative Centre and available in the Checklist of Resources above). To change this page, log in to the platform, and from the home page, choose “Login Announcement” under System.

 

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Anti-Virus Software

eTutoring uses anti-virus software to check documents as they are uploaded to the system. Tutors and institutional coordinators are recommended to also have modern, up-to-date virus protection software on their computers.

 

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Accounts

  • Institutional Coordinator Accounts: The WriteAway Administrative Centre provides IC and backup accounts to access the eTutoring platform.
  • Tutor Accounts: The WriteAway Administrative Centre provides tutors with accounts.
  • Student accounts: Students voluntarily create their own accounts.

 

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Managing Student Accounts

The WriteAway Administrative Centre leaves it to institutions to decide how student accounts will be managed and in what cases a student account gets deactivated.

Accessing Student Accounts:

Log in to the eTutoring platform with your institutional coordinator account. Under "Organization", choose "Manage Student Accounts".

From this screen, you have two choices:

  1. You can leave all fields blank and click on "Find Student". This will bring back a list of all students (from your institution only) that have created accounts in the platform.
  2. Do a search - You can search for a specific student. You can also search by institutional email address - just put the suffix in the email field (e.g. "@sfu.ca" will find all students that have input email addresses with this suffix).

Deactivating a Student Account:

Deactivated accounts will restrict students from accessing their account info until they formally request to have their account reactivated. Coordinators will still be able to access account histories and reports.

To deactivate a student account from the list of students you have generated, select the box next to the student account and click on the "Deactivate" button at the bottom of the screen. Type "Yes" into the space on the next screen.

In the event that a student tries to log in and finds their account has been deactivated, they will likely contact BCcampus for technical help. In this case, BCcampus help desk staff might contact you to follow up.

Data Retention

CTDLC deletes files (i.e. papers submitted to the platform) one year from date of upload on a rolling basis. Only the paper is deleted, not the record of the interaction.

 

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Additional eTutoring Tools

Announcements

System announcements/notifications can be posted in the eTutoring platform – these will be visible on the home page when someone logs in. To set an announcement, click on System Announcements. The announcement can be customized so that it is visible to students, tutors, or other institutional coordinators.

Email Tool

The email tool allows you to create an email message that can be sent to one or more user groups from within the platform. This tool is found under “Organization”.

 

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Reports in the eTutoring Platform

To access reporting area of the eTutoring platform:

1) Sign in to the platform with your coordinator account information

2) From the home page, choose “Reporting Tools” under SYSTEM

We encourage you to explore the different reports available, however the following four reports might be of particular interest to track usage rates and see feedback:

View Student Usage Reports

  • Allows you to filter all your institutions’ students eQuestions or eWriting Lab submissions
  • Provides a list of all students at your institution that have used WriteAway, when they submitted papers, and when papers were viewed and responded to. You can access the files (i.e. submitted papers) attached to each transaction by clicking on the student’s name.

Account Activity Summary

  • Provides a quick “snapshot”, i.e. the total number of usages by students at your institution

Tutor Login Reports

  • Shows the login and logout times of each tutor at your institution
  • Shows the number of papers each tutor has responded to

Student Activity Survey

Note: Students who fill out post-usage surveys are told that their anonymized feedback may be shared in communications about WriteAway but that their personal information will be kept confidential. If you choose to share student comments, please do not include student names or any identifying information.

*Approximately 24 hours after a student has viewed his/her tutor’s response, they are sent an auto email from eTutoring inviting them to complete a brief survey. The survey allows them to rate how helpful the encounter was (out of 4) and provides a space for comments.

  • Shows the results of post-usage surveys
  • Can filter results to see surveys completed for a particular tutor

Note: If a student scores their experience a 1 out of 4 on the post-usage survey, an alert is sent to that student’s coordinator. The WriteAway Advisory Committee has determined that it is up to the student’s coordinator to respond to the student at his/her discretion, and to pass on the student’s feedback to the tutor’s coordinator if applicable. Throughout the process, the student’s identity should be protected i.e. the student’s name should not be shared.

 

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Managing Backlogs

The WriteAway service goal is to respond to papers submitted within 48 hours. Backlogs occur when the number of papers submitted to WriteAway exceeds tutors’ capabilities to respond within 48 hours. The eTutoring platform posts a message on the student home page (see below) indicating the average turnaround time for responses. When turnaround times increase, the message changes accordingly so that students have advance notice. Students can use this information to decide whether to submit their paper to WriteAway or make use of a different avenue for writing assistance.

When response times rise above 48 hours, the following protocol (implemented November, 2013) is used:

 

Bounced Student Emails

BCcampus helpdesk receives a notification if a WriteAway/eTutoring email message cannot be delivered to a student. BCcampus holds on to these messages for thirty days, after which time the notifications are deleted. If you would prefer to have bounced email notifications for your institutions’ students forwarded to you, please let the WriteAway Admin Centre know (waoffice@eln.bc.ca).

Background/Explanation:

On occasion eTutoring auto email messages (e.g. an email notifying a student that their paper has been responded to by a tutor) cannot be delivered to students. Possible reasons for this might include that the student has input their email address incorrectly, or the student has a full inbox, etc. In these cases, a bounced email message notification is sent to the BCcampus helpdesk.

Options for handling these notifications:

1) BCcampus already holds these bounced message notifications for thirty days. This way, if a student contacts BCcampus about not receiving messages, the helpdesk staff can do a quick search to see if they have received a bounced message notification for that student. If a student contacts BCcampus or the WriteAway Admin Centre after thirty days it is still possible to investigate their account.

2) BCcampus could forward bounced email messages to institutional coordinators. Institutional coordinators can choose what they would like to do with these notifications.

Most institutions choose option 1. If you would prefer to have bounced email notifications for students at your institution sent to you, please let us know by emailing waoffice@eln.bc.ca.

 

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Evaluation Framework

An evaluation framework is being used to monitor the WriteAway service each term. The most current evaluation framework is available here.

 

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