A Cowbell and a Dream: The KUWC Turns Ten
Compiled by Lisa Gerardy, Writing Center Specialist, with thanks to Dr. Kara Vandam, Vice Provost; Marla Cartwright, Center for Teaching; and Joni Boone, Center for Teaching
Ten years ago, Vice Provost Dr. Kara Vandam was the Chair of Composition when she first thought about having a writing center at Kaplan University. With a team of Composition faculty members, Dr. Vandam created the Kaplan University Writing Center in 2004. In 2005, when I became a full-time
Composition faculty member, I was chosen to be a tutor. At first, the KUWC, as we call it, only had asynchronous resource documents. Soon, it became obvious that a synchronous meeting space was needed to best have one on one tutoring sessions with students.
The first live tutoring room was chat only, meaning that tutors and students typed to each other on the white board or in a chat box below the board. Tutors and students could not speak using microphones as we do now, and we definitely did not use video, like some BRAVE tutors do in our current Adobe tutoring room. The original room was drab and quiet, except for the cowbell.
Whenever a student entered the room, a cowbell would sound to alert the tutor. This allowed tutors to work on other things like creating resources. We did not do paper reviews yet at that time. We just had the growing resource library and regularly scheduled live tutoring sessions.
Paper Reviewing became an official KUWC service shortly after Live Tutoring began. Initially, Net Tutor completed all paper reviews. Once the KUWC had enough tutors, and a dedicated email inbox (KUWC@Kaplan.edu) in place, all paper reviews were done in house. This process is still in place now.
The KUWC continues to grow. We regularly serve over 1,000 students each month. As we head into our second decade of serving, Kaplan students we will continue to add new resources to our library and update existing resources. In addition to the original written documents, we now have many video tutorials, recorded workshops, and podcasts. KUWC tutors continue to do all paper reviews and hold live tutoring sessions seven days a week. We have come a long way in ten years, and we will continue to improve to best serve our students.