The Perfect Match: OG and Technology by Fay Van Vliet F/AOGPE and Susan Christenson M.A.
Fear is often what keeps us from pursuing new paths, so those paths are frequently left for the youth who are not laden with the gift of caution that time may provide. For those of us who work in the area of dyslexia, technology is an area that may cause angst. At the Reading Center, it is mind-boggling that
growth may be attributed to the benefits of online tutoring as it meets the needs of working parents, saves travel time, fulfills requests from school districts needing our tutoring services, and allows the tutor to work in the comfort of their home! This is a win-win situation for the parents, students, school districts, and tutors. What has made the difference? How do we engage apprehensive tutors? Which students qualify for on- line instruction? What tools do we need, and what are the costs? How do we keep tutoring multisen- sory and consistent with the Essential Elements of OG Instruction?
Jean Osman, pioneer in the field of dyslexia and co-founder of our 65-year-old organization, is the one who has lead us into the technological age, ex- ploring areas in which e-tools may help those who struggle with dyslexia. As Jean Osman posed to us, “What would Orton do with new technology?”
Our non-profit organization, The Reading Center, intrepidly began online tutoring in 2003 with Fel-
lows Nancy Sears and Jean Hayward leading the way using NetMeeting. This platform had excellent capabilities, and the initial start was exciting. Unfortunately, NetMeeting became unavailable due to an intellectual property rights conflict. With skeptical tutors lacking adequate tools, online tutoring at the Reading Center was stagnant for several years.
Our first difficulty was, and continues to be, getting tutors to take the plunge into the cyber world of tutoring. We now do training for online tutors the same way we do OG tutoring, using all the pathways to the brain and hands-on learning. In addition to classic OG training, we have implemented those steps to find and develop confident online tutors.
In 2012, however, we began to use WebEx as a tool and ex- perienced a boom in the percent of our online lessons taught
as we now have the tutors with technol- ogy to provide the service. The Reading Center has experienced a steady growth in the percentage of our total lessons taught via the Internet compared to total lessons taught: 2012 – 1.5%, 2013 – 9.59 %, 2014 –16%, 2015 – 18%, and as of the 3rd quarter of 2016 – 21%, 1/5 of lessons are being taught online! This substantial
1. Identify tutors who (a) have a need for tutoring online. Family needs often drive tutors to learn how to deliver OG online (health, location, transportation, family situa- tions, etc.). (b) have some technological ability. 2. Directly teach tutors how to use WebEx, making instruction hands-on.
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