Tutoring — Sharing My Experience With Others

The tutoring poster I developed for the department.

Tutoring has been a big part of my life for the past two years. I initially started out as a Computer Science tutor when I was majoring in Computer Science. Once I switched to Digital Media and had a few semesters under my belt, I was able to start tutoring for Digital Media instead. Tutoring has been an absolute joy and a valuable learning experience for me. It has allowed me to expand upon my knowledge and skillset at a more rapid pace than if I were only taking classes.

Besides the need to have a deeper understanding of the tools and concepts I have learned throughout my time studying Digital Media, tutoring has enabled me to further develop my interpersonal communication skills. I have learned how to be a better listener and a better communicator.

When tutoring I must analyze what a fellow student is really asking when they ask a question. Sometimes a student will say something like, “I just don’t get InDesign at all.” From that statement I will try and break down the problem into manageable chunks.

I will ask the student what software they are comfortable with and try and relate InDesign to what they already know. I will show them the basic functions they need to know to get by with InDesign as a starting point to help build their confidence. And I will lead students to outside resources for learning InDesign that they can do on their own when the tutoring lab is closed.

There are times when students will ask me how to do something that I don’t know how to do. When this happens I will tell them I have never done that before but let’s figure it out together. I will go to Google and look up how to do that particular task. One of the main goals of our tutoring department is for tutors to help equip students to become independent learners. By walking through the steps of how to search for information I don’t know, I am encouraging students to try and figure things out on their own. Not being afraid to ask questions and being able to find solutions are valuable skills in this industry.

In order to promote Digital Media tutoring on campus, I was tasked by both the Tutoring department and the Digital Media department to develop a poster that showed when and where tutoring was available, what software and classes we tutor, and which tutors could assists with the different software programs.

This task required me to coordinate with all of the Digital Media professors and each of the Digital Media tutors. I emailed all of the Digital Media professors and asked them what software they used in the classes they taught. I compiled an Excel spreadsheet with all of the different classes and corresponding software. I then sat down with professor in charge of the Digital Media program and we made sure all of the needed software was installed on each of the lab computers. We then listed which computers would be best used for each software program because the stations in the Digital Media lab are each setup to handle different types of development.

Now that the scope of the software that we needed to support was established, I contacted each of the Digital Media tutors and asked them which software programs they were comfortable tutoring. Once I received the list from each tutor I was ready to fill out the rest of the spreadsheet. I then transferred that information into a poster using InDesign.

The main take-away from developing the poster was an improved ability to gather information and organize it in a pleasing and effective way. Developing this poster was really an exercise in Information Architecture on a single page. There was a ton of information to display, and it was a challenge to present it in a clear and concise manner. Overall I am happy with how the design has turned out and it has benefited the department because several students have started coming to the tutoring lab for help after seeing the poster around campus. This was my first paid project and it felt good to be making something to help achieve an organization’s goals.

Russell Andlauer is a student in the Digital Media program at Utah Valley University, Orem Utah, studying Interaction & Design. The following article relates to extra-curricular activities and is representative of the skills learned.