UMSU launches peer-to-peer tutoring app

UMSU’s peer-to-peer tutoring app has arrived.

The app connects student tutors to possible tutees. Students can set up an account through the app, which is available on iOS or Android mobile devices, and can then connect with course-specific tutors.

The app is hosted by Nimbus Tutoring, a peer-to-peer tutoring service founded by McGill University alumnus William Liu, and is home to similar apps for universities across Canada.

Tutors can charge up to $15 an hour for their services, which are paid directly by the student through the app.

The app, which was an election promise by the Elevate UMSU slate during the 2018 UMSU general elections, was originally promised to be active in “mid to late September.”

UMSU vice-president of student services Carly Mastromonaco led the process of bringing the app to the U of M, including setting standards for possible tutors.

“Tutors are required to submit proof of their achievement of A or higher in the class(es) they wish to tutor, as well as a small blurb about why they want to become a tutor,” she said.

“They are then interviewed by our peer tutoring co-ordinator.”

The U of M offers a student-centric tutoring program through the Academic Learning Centre (ALC). Located in the Tier building, the centre offers peer writing tutors, peer study skill coaches, online tutoring, writing workshops and more.

Outside of fees included in base tuition costs, all these services are offered free of charge.

The ALC writing tutor position and the ALC content/study skills tutor position both remunerate $17 an hour.

ALC director Monique Dumontet said the centre’s services are all well-used by U of M students.

“The free weekly review sessions, which are facilitated by peer mentors who have previously taken the course, as well as additional ALC training, are each attended by approximately 20-25 students,” she said.

“ALC one-to-one tutoring — content, study skills and writing — is also very well used by students. In fall 2018, U [of] M students made 2,969 one-to-one tutoring appointments. We have also had very good attendance at ALC workshops.”

Dumontet, along with the U of M’s executive director of student engagement and academic success Brandy Usick held a meeting with Mastromonaco and UMSU president Jakob Sanderson Sept. 24 to discuss UMSU’s goals with the app.

“At the meeting, Brandy Usick and I had the opportunity to learn about UMSU’s plans,” she said.

“We also had the opportunity to share information about existing Academic Learning Centre supports and programs, including course-specific supports, supplemental instruction and ALC content tutors.”

According to Dumontet, ALC tutor training was also discussed at the meeting — ALC tutors receive between six and 16 hours of training on various tutoring strategies  — and UMSU agreed to “encourage tutors on the UMSU Nimbus registry to mention their completion of ALC tutor training in their biographies.”

Despite this, UMSU does not require the app’s tutors to take part in any kind of training, but according to Mastromonaco, “tutors are highly encouraged to partake in the tutor training offered by the Academic Learning Centre.”