Night Watch

Back to work: after last week’s vacation in southern Pennsylvania, I’ve
returned to the summer work regimen, earlier today holding five consultation
hours in the Writing Center. It’s just the second week of the Summer II
session, so the scene was still. Two high school seniors-to-be came through
mid-day working on one-page summaries for a Summer Bridge course they are taking
on campus.

Now, again tonight I’m on the clock with a consulting experiment using iChat.
Our Writing Center is pushing for a couple of online options by the fall.
I’m on board with testing them out and fine-tuning them before the fall
semester. Two-and-a-half hours on hand for drop-in IMing.
Temporarily this is aimed at lending support to SU writing courses taught in
Manhattan this term. Within a week or so, the IM consultations will be
scheduled in advance, so the timing will be somewhat more structured. I’m on
until 11:30 p.m., so while it is quiet, why not blog?

The other online offering through the Writing Center is asynchronous.
Students complete a form and submit a work-in-progress to a list of consultants
who respond in rotations. I responded to one last week while in PA.
I have many more apprehensions about drop-off consultations, largely because the
threshold for engagement drops away for the student (some have called this the
dry cleaning model of WC work). The consultant addresses the student’s questions
or concerns with due diligence, but the dialogue is scaled way back. There
is no conversation, usually, just more ‘sending’ an hour’s worth of comments
into the abyss.

I’m sure I will have more to say about how it goes in the weeks to come.
My appointment runs another five weeks, two weeks longer than my other summer
stints teaching an online intro to the humanities course and guiding four new
online instructors through their first terms teaching via computer alone.


  1. I wish FaceBook had a way to make organization accounts; the use of my “virtual office hours” soared when I started doing them online in Facebook chat as well as in my virtual office.

    Virtual office hours= I’m the lonely Maytag repairman.

    FaceBook office hours= “Hey Ms. Lattimore, I have a question about my paper…”

    Glad you guys got home safely and had a good vacation.

  2. We’re getting some online consultation appointments, and when it’s slow, it’s due to a combination of summertime, pilot programs, and getting the word out. I don’t think we’ll tie into Facebook any time soon; iChat, Jabber, and AIM are the clients the current setup mentions. But all of this stuff is changing at such a clip that I’m sure we’ll revisit it half a dozen times in the year ahead.

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