Online Teaching and Tutoring at UIS

Welcome to our blog about online teaching and tutoring at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS). This blog was specifically created for the American Board of Funeral Service Education General Session for funeral directors. Presenter Emily Boles will discuss online teaching at UIS through her experience as a Computer Assisted Instruction Specialist in the Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning at UIS and presenters Lindsey Perrine, Kristin Nisbet, and Kandice Pryor will discuss online tutoring through their experience as online tutors in the Center for Teaching and Learning at UIS.

Online Teaching at UIS

UIS Online Information
In the last academic year:
  • Students living in 47 states and 11 foreign countries studied online
  • 64.2% of all UIS students took at least one online class
  • 37.8% of online majors pursued UIS degrees from other states or outside the country
  • More than 200 faculty members taught online
  • The average age of our online students was in the mid-30s
  • Online courses accounted for more than 9,650 cumulative enrollments
Hallmarks of UIS Online

  • Integrated into the mainstream academic structure
    Requested and developed by the department, approved through the college and governance structures as part of the normal academic structure of the university.

  • Same faculty teach on ground and online
    The same full-time tenured, and tenure- track faculty teach our face-to-face, blended, and fully online degree programs.

  • Faculty development and support
    Pedagogical and technological orientation, development and support continuously provided online and in person in small group and individualized sessions

  • Data Collection, analysis and research support
    Enlightening decision-making through comprehensive data collection and analysis; promoting best practices and encouraging discovery of new techniques and effective approaches through pro-active research support
  • Online Program Coordinators
    Online Program Coordinators -- an essential role in the delivery of online programming at UIS -- provide support to online students, including student advocacy, problem solving, and informal advising. Giving online students a single point of contact improves their experience at UIS.

  • Small class sizes
    Most UIS online classes are capped at 20. Small class sizes allow students and faculty to develop personal relationships over the fifteen week semester.

  • Low-cost e-Tuition and technology fee
    All students who are enrolled in online-only degree programs and take only online courses pay e-Tuition plus a low per-credit hour technology fee.
    Support office exclusively for faculty teaching online
    The Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning provides broad support for faculty developing and teaching online for UIS. From pedagogy to technology to troubleshooting, the office is a hub for information regarding online teaching.

  • Entire degrees moved online, not individual courses
    Online courses are developed for degree-granting programs, rather than as stand-alone courses.

  • Online student support
    The Career Development Center and Center for Teaching and Learning both offer extensive services for our online students.
Recommendations for Faculty Moving Online

  • Start early
    When you decide to move a course online, start developing it at least one semester before you plan to teach.

  • Work backwards
    Examine your learning objectives and then design your assignments and choose technologies. Let pedagogy drive your technology choices.

  • Adopt technologies incrementally
    Explore many technologies, and then choose just one or two to implement in your course.

  • Focus on student engagement
    Give students plenty of opportunities to contribute to the course and interact with you and their peers. Build student trust and model dialog by front-loading your communication with them.

  • Stay organized
    The key to student success in online environments is a well-organized course structure. Always err on the side over-organizing, over-explaining, etc. Making your expectations clear will help your students succeed.

  • Ask for feedback
    Midpoint and module-end surveys will help you continuously improve your teaching. Make you create a discussion forum for students to ask questions -- try KQS (Keep, Quit, Start).

Online Tutoring Methods

Overview of UIS’ Online Tutoring Methods
The Center for Teaching and Learning at UIS offers online tutoring in mathematics, science, and writing to current UIS students. Students can choose which method of online tutoring they would prefer to use. If they want to meet with one of our tutors, they can schedule online appointments either in an Elluminate V-Room or Blackboard Discussion forum, depending on whether the student wants to meet synchronously or asynchronously. Also, a student may choose to receive online tutoring by downloading our online tutorials.

Synchronous Tutoring via Elluminate V-Rooms

An Elluminate V-Room is a free tool offered by Elluminate so that users can meet with other people online (up to 3 users at one time). View a demo of an Elluminate session here. We use V-Rooms so that our tutors can meet with students for one-to-one tutoring appointments. If a student chooses to schedule an appointment to meet with a tutor in the tutor's Elluminate V-Room, the student will receive tutoring similar to the way they would receive tutoring in a face-to-face setting. The tutor meets with the student LIVE and can share the student's assignment instructions and completed assignment through a "sharing" feature in the V-room. We will discuss more of the details of the Elluminate V-Room at the end of the presentation.

Asynchronous Tutoring via Blackboard Discussion Forums

Blackboard is a course management tool "focused on helping institutions at all levels drive learner achievement by creating personalized and engaging learning experiences, the kind that when achieved on a wide scale can bring about big and measurable change in learning outcomes." One tool in a Blackboard is a "Discussion Forum." We create a group discussion forum so that a tutor and a student can meet privately online. In the forum, the student can post his/her assignment instructions, assignment, and questions about the assignment so that the tutor can use Word Track changes to respond the student's question in the assignment document. The drawback to using this method is that the tutoring is done asynchronously, so the student is not able to respond with further questions unless he/she schedules another tutoring appointment. The advantage to using the forum is that it allows students to post their questions and and receive feedback without having to take the time to meet with someone or drive somewhere to receive tutoring.

Online Tutorials

The CTL creates online tutorials so that students can download materials in various formats and learn on their own. We publish PowerPoint presentations as PDFs, narrated PowerPoint presentations, handouts, and quizzes.

Online Tutorials

CTL Online Tutorials

PowerPoint Presenations in PDF

For visual learners, a PowerPoint presentation about a particular topic might be the best way for a student to learn about the topic. The CTL publishes these presentations as PDFs so that students can download the presentation even if they don't have PowerPoint on their computer. View an example of one of the CTL's PowerPoint tutorials here.

Narrated PowerPoint Presentations

For auditory learners, listening to a narrated PowerPoint presentation about a particular topic might be the best way for a student to learn about the topic. As long as the student has speakers, he/she should be able to listen to the presentation at his/her own pace by navigating to each slide. View an example of one of the CTL's narrated PowerPoint tutorials here.


For learners who learn best by seeing printed words, reading a handout about a particular topic might be the best way for a student to learn about the topic. The CTL publishes these handouts as PDFs so that students can download the handouts even if they don't have Word on their computer. View an example of one of the CTL's handout tutorials here.


For kinesthetic learners, writing the answers to a quiz might be the best way for a student to learning about the topic. The CTL publishes these quizzes as PDFs so that students can download the quizzes even if they don't have Word on their computer. View an example of one of the CTL's quiz tutorials here.

Elluminate V-Rooms: Most Effective Online Tutoring Method

Background about Tutoring
In our professional opinion, tutoring should consist of an interactive dialogue between the tutor and student, mostly the student talking and the tutor listening, complementing, and asking leading questions. This method has proven to assist students in learning how to help themselves so that they will eventually learn how to help themselves independently. Read more about this tutoring method by reading Jeff Brooks' "Minimalist Tutoring: Making the Student Do All the Work."

Features of an Elluminate V-Room
V-Rooms provide a perfect environment for online tutoring due to its sharing feature, audio capability, chat box, whiteboards, and much more. Specifically, the CTL uses the sharing feature, audio capability, chat box, and whiteboards. The sharing feature allows users to share documents from their computer to other users to view and edit. The audio capability allows users to use a microphone so that they can speak rather then type. The chat box allows users without a microphone to type their responses to one another. The whiteboard allows users to draw or type information. To see what an Elluminate V-room looks like, click here.

Effective Online Tutoring Method
Since Elluminate V-rooms allow tutors to meet with students synchronously, the CTL believes that the V-Room is the most effective online one-to-one tutoring method. The synchronous session allows tutors to practice Jeff Brooks' minimalist approach to tutoring: the tutor can listen, complement, and ask leading questions during the session. Furthermore, students enjoy the V-room due to its convenience and accessibility. To view a recording of an Elluminate one-to-one tutoring session, click here.