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CYBERSPACE TUTORS GIVE STUDENTS HELP IN WRITING PROJECTS.

Byline: Edith Paal Associated Press

Having trouble with a writing project? Cyberspace can help.

Schools around the country are creating on-line writing centers where people can get help on projects.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has teamed up with the Oak Ridge branch of Roane State Community College in Tennessee to create a cyberspace writing project. The on-line lab pairs Roane State composition students with graduate writing tutors at UALR.

Barry Maid, an associate professor at UALR, had graduate students who needed teaching and consulting experience. Jennifer Jordan-Henley directs the writing center at Roane State and some of her undergraduate students needed writing consultants.

``Her students send drafts of papers to me via e-mail,'' Maid said. ``Students read and comment on drafts and set up an (on-line) meeting.''

Maid said he hopes to start something similar by next spring with three Arkansas community colleges - Westark Community College in Fort Smith, Pulaski County Technical College in North Little Rock, and Garland County Community College in Hot Springs.

In the UALR-Roane State collaboration, students on both sides get training in the fundamentals of on-line work. Some students have had virtually no on-line experience.

Others had trouble adjusting to communicating in real time without using body language or making eye contact.

``You're always dealing with other human beings,'' Maid said. ``The same rules apply, because technology doesn't change humans.''

The rooms where students meet to discuss their papers are described on line, and the descriptions include such details as the view outside the window.

Students and tutors can pour themselves `cybercoffee,' and one tutor started his session by hosting an on-line, imaginary picnic.

Dianne Cofer, director of the Learning Acceleration Center at Garland County Community College, said she's not sure what form a computer collaboration with UALR would take at her school. On-line writing critiques are an option, she said.

``It does take extra work on the instructors' part,'' she said. ``I feel like it's a possibility.''

Faculty and administrators at the school have supported increasing students' access to technology, she said.

The composition students in the UALR-Roane State program have been doing more extensive revisions of their work, instructors said.

``(Ms. Jordan-Henley) is convinced that the greater revision helped the quality of her students' work,'' Jordan-Henley and Maid wrote in a paper on the project, published in the Writing Lab Newsletter.

UALR also plans to open an on-line writing center to respond to writing-related inquiries. The site is being designed by graduate student Paula Puffer.

The site, expected to go on line by the middle of October, will feature grammar and writing tips. Other items are to be added later, Puffer said.

The site also will take inquiries from users, to be answered by grad students. Faculty, staff and students from UALR will have first priority, but queries from the public also will be fielded. The site indicates a response will take about 24 hours.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: Graduate students Catherine Spann, right, and PaulaPuffer, give on-line tutorials at writing center.

Associated Press
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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 7, 1996
Words:504
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