Tutor Away – 10/20/2012 Update on the Economics Council Project

This week has been a busy week implementing the much needed scheduling system for the Econ Council’s Tutoring program. But it’s pretty much all set to go now and I’m hoping to launch trial runs in the very near future (as soon as Professor Gabaldon e-mails me the tutor’s names, e-mail addresses and I can write up instructions on creating an activating their accounts.) But of course, what’s all this without a detailed description of exactly HOW the system works? So without further ado, here’s an overview of the new system:

Step 1: Someone wants to schedule a tutoring session.

To schedule a tutoring session, right now you need to direct yourself over to http://econcouncil.appointy.com. Eventually, this will not be necessary and will instead be an integrated part of the new, upcoming Econ Council website, making it even easier and more accessible for USD students. When you get to the site, you’ll be presented with the list of open time slots available over the next 7 days. If you want to search by a particular tutor, you can do so on the left hand side of the screen. When you know your time, you simply click it and fill out the subsequent messages.

Here, I require the students to enter their USD ID Number and the class that they require tutoring for. Now, this isn’t a real security measure, as the system has no way to verify if their ID number is valid, but what it allows us to do is retroactive lookups of students who have come in for tutoring and verify that neither the tutor nor the person being tutored is abusing the system.

Step 2: Confirm the Appointment

After a person has scheduled themselves, two e-mails are sent. One to the person who just set up the appointment, reminding them and the other to the tutor who they were scheduled with. At this point, the tutor can approve or deny the tutoring session (and furthermore, make sure they add it to their schedule). Once the tutor themselves approves the appointment, the person who set up the session gets another e-mail telling them that their appointment was approved. All three e-mails are below, in order:

Step 3: Enjoy the Free Tutoring!

Now that everything has been set up and confirmed, it’s time for you to head to your free tutoring session. Because registration on Appointy requires a phone number, the tutor can text to be sure to set up the right time, place, and date. In order to cut back on no-shows, the system sends an e-mail 24 hours before the scheduled appointment and sends an SMS text message about 2 hours beforehand. Enjoy the free Economics tutoring provided by the great Econ Council program!

And that’s the process as of now for the scheduling system. This system has numerous other advantages as well. Our goal right now is to either weekly or monthly send out e-mails to all of the students who receive tutoring and ask them to fill out a short SurveyMonkey overview of their experiences with the program and tutor. What we want to be able to do here is collect enough metrics to make informed decisions about the hiring of tutors. Since this is a paid position, we want to make sure that our tutors hold themselves to a high standard of quality. What these metrics will tell us is if a certain tutor is slacking or not teaching the material very well. If they’re poorly rated across the board, they won’t be rehired again the next semester. Beyond the tutors themselves, the survey should provide great metrics for me as well once the system and site is fully running. I can take in suggestions, comments, concerns on the usage of the Econ Council website and tutoring system and make changes based on the opinions and needs of the students using the services.

Hopefully this system will run well in its current incarnation. I’m really looking forward to the trial run of this in the near future! Cya all again next week once the Econ Council site starts to take shape!


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