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DeAnza College Students' Testimonials

These are some feedback memos submitted by students in the on-line Elementary Statistics (Math 10) class taught by Susan Dean at DeAnza College. The students who wrote these memos all participated in the study group and tutoring sessions conducted by Virtual Classrooms' tutors, Helen Mesheryakova, Alexander Bystrov and Roman Koryakin. This program was supported by the Los Angeles Region of the California Virtual Campus. 

Spring quarter 2002:

From: Rosalie F.

"I really enjoyed the online tutoring sessions. Having the immediate verbal and visual feedback was extremely helpful, considering it was a distance learning course and I had no other way to receive such attention. Working with the tutor on the whiteboard really illustrated how to do the work and whenever I was confused being able to talk or type it out was also helpful. I believe that having this online tutoring session is essential and will be appreciated by future classes/students who can really utilize this form of assistance. In the confusing world that is online classes, having this link to actual people is very beneficial and motivating. You work harder because you don't want to appear stupid in front of your classmates. And you also want to make sure that you are prepared for each session to ensure that you fully utilize the capabilities of the 
Centra meetings. Going in there with no aforehand knowledge really wastes what little time you have with them. I've seen a definite improvement in my grade since I started to regularly attend my online tutoring sessions and I can't thank Alex enough for all his help."

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From: Jennifer N.

"First off, I would like to thank you for the great job you have done for online tutoring. I have enjoyed distance learning classes due to my work schedule. Since we only show up for tests, it really helps to have an online tutor to work hands on with the homework problems. At first, it seemed inconvenient but once I started to attend the online tutoring sessions, it really helped me keep up with the homework and reading. Helen you were my tutor for every session and I think you did a wonderful job. Having other students there with you getting the wrong answers and then having you there to explain the correct way to work it out really gets me to understand what I am having a hard with. I feel that this tutoring benefited every student because without it, you may not fully grasp important parts of learning Statistics. I really enjoy the sessions the most when there is only 2 people. You get more information and learn more and get to usually work out more problems. I think that online tutoring is a great new way to work with other students outside of the classroom. Helen, you did a wonderful job explaining how to work out problems that made no sense to me. I also think the Centra software is awesome. I loved that we got to make graphs and work out problems on a whiteboard. Online Tutoring is a great idea and perfect for people like me who do have time to sit in a classroom. I hope that this is something that continues on in the future. Thanks for all you help Helen."

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From: LeAnn R.

"--- Helen- Thank you for letting me attend the session tonight, Monday June 17. I will be there! I wanted to write in response to your email asking for feedback on the tutoring sessions. I think the tutoring sessions were VERY helpful! Your English is
phenomenal and you really helped to go through the problems step by step. I appreciated that you worked closely with the professor to know exactly what chapters we were in, and what sections to focus on. I also appreciated the practice tests you gave us and your willingness to move at the pace that we set. Technical problems did not often get in the way of our sessions, and I was amazed at how much we were able to accomplish in 2 hours. 
As for suggestions, I do not have many, because you were extremely thorough in your preparation for the sessions and you put in extra time in writing us emails, etc. My one suggestion would be that Susan try to send you a calculator like those we use. (But, it also worked out for other students in the chat room to help each other out on the directions). Thank you again for your help, LeAnn R."

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From: Jenny L.

"Hi this is Jenny L. and I'm in Roman's group. First of all i have to thank you for all the help! At the beginning when I take this class (math 10) in distant learning I was kind of worry. Because I think that in a math class we have to practice a lot and get all the problems and questions solve before the next chapter began. Taking distant learning course I was afraid that I won't have a chance to get help with my problems. 

Online tutoring is been really helping me. It keeps me finish reading for the week, then I won't falling behind. When I have questions I always get help from Roman. He will explain and helps me to solve the problems I have. He will prove me the best way to solve a problem. I think four people a group is perfect. Small groups gets better chances to talk and ask questions. 

One of the problem is that sometimes we'll have trouble about the connection. Sometimes the bad connection will waste our time between disconnect and reconnect. Sometimes even hard to hear other members talking. I don't know if this problems is from Centra or something else. 

Online tutoring is very helpful and is the best way to get helps with problems. I think taking a math class it is very important we can do enough of practice in order to understand the concept and find a best way to solve problems. Then we'll find it easier and faster to do the exam. My suggestion is that we have to finish the reading and homework before tutoring session so we can ask questions we have on the chapter. 

Thank you again for all the help !!!
Jenny L."

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From: Minh N.

"Here's my feedback:

Software: centranow.com was a good tool to use except for a few minor bugs. This include network lag or poor connection failure. I think if may be a good idea to have a pre-session with student before the actual tutoring (like on AIM), to go over the software, how to download and set-up. I think this would increase participation in the online session, plus would get a good start on the first tutor session over homework material, rather than trying to figure out how to use the controls for Centra. I personally had no problem figuring it out, but I know some students did, so a overview before the session would be great.

Tutors: I think the tutors were helpful and prepared. I had you as my tutor and I give you praise for a well organized session. Everything from the sample tests to the slides on various chapters was a good review and helped me understand the concepts more. I, also had Roman sometimes as a tutor, and he was just as helpful. Keep up the good work!

Students: Having the students in the online session was helpful because I was able to ask them how to input some equations in the calculator, something the tutor could not help me with. It was a good experience to interact with some students in the same class and share some answers and ideas, as well as give input and suggestions.

Thanks Helen for the past 3 months of tutoring, and have a nice summer? (I think the seasons are the same here as in Russia)

Best Regards,
Minh N."

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From: Patricia D.

"I enjoyed working with the tutor and the other students however, our session seemed always behind. The class was working on chapters that became way ahead of the tutoring session and seemed like a waste of time. We were also experience problems with the application we were using. Apparently, the time slot that we chose (8:00 - 10:00 PM) was right in the middle of Centra clean up time, and we were booted off the system at 9:00 PM during every session. My class mates had a difficult time understanding our tutor and kept emailing me to ask "what is he talking about," or "is he talking to me" which was very distracting. It was like having two conversations going on at the same time. 

Other than those things, it was interesting.

Thank you Helen.

Patricia J. D."

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From: Adrian T.

"To whom it may concern:

During the Spring quarter of 2002, I had the privilege to be enrolled in one of De Anza's distance learning classes. This is statistic class provide important information about how to collect data, and to interpretate of a subject purpose. The team of this online course: Math 10, Statistics was held by the extraordinary work and effort Susan Dean, instructor of the course and her tutors: Helen Mesheryakova, Roman Koryakin and Alexander Bystrov where the engine tools of this course. Thanks to the development of technology, provide by Centra was a clever idea to deliver knowledge to your home.

Note for Helen and Roman Koryakin:

Thank you Helen and Roman your tutoring lessons really help to improve the weak areas in my statistical learning. You were really thorough and really were master of the subject. Keep up the hard work, and don't get discourage by people when they have not read their lessons before coming to the session. You both have an awesome life.

Note for Centra Software CO.:

Thank you Centra your software really made this effort possible. Your software is really simple. My only suggestion will be to have a notepad connected to computer where you can write with and an electronic pen to draw graphics and data instead of using the mouse and clicking it into the whiteboard..... you can email for further information.

Adrian T."

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From: Maria V.

"Dear Helen,

Here is my feedback for the tutoring sessions. I think that we need to spend a little more time on the front end getting used to the software (maybe part of the first session on how to use the software). There are a lot of features but sometimes it takes time to
fumble through to figure out how to use properly. I like the fact that you can use the mike to communicate but I know I had difficulty a few times when it didn't work properly. 

Alex did a really good job tutoring. He was very patient and took the time to explain our questions. The only problem is that his connection wasn't very reliable and we lost him a couple of times during sessions. He was also very flexible and understanding
when we had computer difficulties.

I would say that an online session with only one student participating is difficult. Although I learned a lot I could have benefited from some of the questions that other students asked that I didn't think of. I think that the ideal group size is 3 to 4 and if it is smaller than that then potentially we should look at combining groups.

I also thought the sessions were a tad too long. I think that if we shortened it to 1.5 hours I would still get the benefits. Perhaps I feel this way since most of the time I was the only one participating.

Overall, I enjoyed the class and I think I learned more than I thought I would.

Regards,
Maria"

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From: Jill H

"In general, I think the tutoring was very helpful. The microphone and chalkboard features were very cool and helped simulate an actual in-person tutoring session. I did, however, have problems writing on the chalkboard with the drawing feature. It takes awhile to write out a problem using that feature. The most obvious problem is the fact that the first two weeks Centra's website crashed at 9pm, but later we found out that was when they do their maintenance. I used the same computer most of the time, except for once I used my parents . That computer did not like Centra and I had to reboot 4 times during the session. This was a distraction in my tutoring and I wonder if others experienced the dame technical difficulties.
Another problem I experienced was not being prepared enough. My session was on Thursdays from 6 until 8. Homework is usually assigned on Wednesdays, and I work full time during the week. It was especially hard for me to prepare for my sessions on weeks that we had tests and projects because my time and efforts were spent solely on those.
I also feel that the two hours is a bit long for a tutoring session. After an hour and a half my brain started to hurt and I would get a little restless from sitting at the computer. Perhaps two separate one hour a week sessions would be better.
All in all I felt the tutoring did benefit my understanding of the class in that my tutor was always helpful and would spend as much time as possible to make sure I understood the concepts. She did a great job and I am glad to have had the opportunity to work with her."

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From: Virginia E.

"Ms. Dean, 
At the last exam I told you I had some feedback about the online tutoring, so here it is. 
To begin with, the tutoring can be helpful at times, but was not always helpful when I needed it. The scoring of the tutoring sessions leaves a lot to be desired. The idea of tutoring, to me, is to help you understand concepts you need help with. With the current version of tutoring; if you did not know the answer already you did not receive full credit for the session. Even if you were the only person during the two hour session, you were expected to know all the answers already. So my question would be if you already know how to do the problems and can answer the questions correctly, why would you waste two hours of your time online for the session? I only feel it a waste of time if you do not come away with any new knowledge since you are expected to know the answers already. 

Another difficulty I encountered was the tutors were unable to help with the technology, I understand they do not have the calculators we have, but sometimes that was the area I struggled with. 

Also on one occasion, I had a different tutor, and he was trying to make us learn a formula that was no where in our text or lectures, which was more confusing for me. 

Finally, the last part making the tutoring session difficult was the time. I, personally, have very limited time- I am a full time student at National University, work full time, and have two daughters and a husband. The only time I was able to have my sessions was Wednesday night from 8-10p.m.. There were 2 difficulties with this. The first is that our exams were from 8:30 -9:30 on Wed. nights (these are the sessions that I am missing points because I could not make them up with my time constraints.)Second, the tutor would ask questions from the assignment that had just been assigned that day, expecting the correct answers. I know it is my fault, but I often had not had time to read the assignment yet, and if I had- I probably had not been able to finish the homework giving me a working knowledge. 

In conclusion the idea of tutoring sessions is a good one, however most people who take online classes do so because their time is limited, and finding two hours each week at the same time can be difficult- or it may interfere with other aspects of the class (like exams). Thank you for taking the time to read my e-mail. I hope the feedback is helpful. 
Sincerely, 
Virginia E."

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Fall quarter 2002:

From: Bill S.

" The online tutoring program has been a useful experience for me. It has been great using the Internet and the Centra software to gather more information on my class. 

The Centra software was easy to use and allowed the instructor and the students to easily communicate by text or voice. I especially found it useful that we could communicate by voice. 

My tutor, Helen, was great. She was very patient with the students in each session. She would continue to try and educate every student so they would have an understanding of each problem. She would discuss any subject pertaining to the class. If a student had questions on a certain subject or wanted to review anything, Helen would always make time in the session to accommodate the questions. 

The contributions of my classmates were helpful in some situations when I would have a wrong answer. Helen would have a student explain why they got a certain answer to help the other students understand where they went wrong. 

The sessions could be improved by having more easily accessible documentation or a pre-class session on the working of the Centra software. A lot of time was wasted educating the students on the workings of the Centra software: picking a color, writing with the pencil or the text tool, using the microphone, etc... One other problem was the fact students could write or draw at any time during the session on the whiteboard. People would type questions or statements or erase the problem before everyone was done. It made things confusing at times."

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From: Kevin S.

"I honestly didn't look forward to the tutor sessions because all I wanted to do when I got home from work was relax. But I felt really comfortable when I was attending the sessions. Helen was very helpful and never criticized any participants. The other three students in my sessions were made a good team and we always figured out the problems given to us. It really helps when you have already done the homework assignments and understand them somewhat. Then when you ask questions and solve the problems you didn't understand, it all makes sense, I only started the tutor sessions after my second exam, and must say, I was much more confident when taking the third exam. I can't think of any improvements that need to be made, the sight used was excellent and I had no problems once I figured out how to use my microphone. 

Thanks, 

Kevin "

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From: Lauren H.

"Hi Helen  

Well, I thought that the on-line MATH 10 course I took was very helpful. I don't like to ask a lot of questions in class but the on-line format let me ask as many questions as I wanted to. At first the on-line "class room" was a little weird and took some getting used to, but once I got the hang of it I liked it. I found the instructor (you!) to be very helpful and willing to answer all of a questions. I liked that you split up the problems for everyone to do. 

There was a little bit of pressure to answer quickly though, I felt rushed to answer sometimes. It takes me a while to review my notes and get my thoughts together, so possibly sending an e-mail out announcing what the scheduled agenda will be for the class so we can look over the problems that we'll probably be going over. 

All and all I would recommend the on-line tutoring to anyone who can (and should) devote at least an hour or 2 to math tutoring once a week. It helps! :)  

Thanks again for all of your help and patience!  

Lauren "

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From: Peggy P.

"I have only attended two on-line tutoring sessions, however, I found it was really helpful for me. The sofeware is very easy to use but when I tried to move my mouse and try to see the other side of the white board, the movement is not very smooth and kind of slow. My tutor, Helen, is excellent and helped me a lot. I also enjoy the interaction with my classmates and some of the questions ask by other classmates help me to understand the subject better. The on-line tutoring is very very helpful and I recommended other distance learning students to try it. 

Thank you! 

Peggy P. "

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Winter quarter 2003:

From: Arun S.

"I am currently taking Statistics (Math 10) at De Anza Community College with Professor Frank Soler. I participated in the online tutoring provided by the Virtual Classrooms program. Overall I thought it was a great program, and I found it very useful. The program that was used for the sessions was excellent. A person could use a microphone to talk or if they didn't have one they could use the Text Chat or use the Whiteboard. The Whiteboard was a great tool because it allowed to draw/write anything, which made solving the problems a lot easier. The Centra Software was very useful for the sessions and made it possible to easily communicate with the tutors through the Internet. 

The tutors themselves were also great; I personally worked with Alex and Helen. Both Alex and Helen were good tutors; they knew their material really well. The thing I liked most about them was that they would keep explaining a problem and until I completely understood how to do it now matter how long it took and they were willing to help me outside the session on their own time. I would definitely recommend Alex and Helen to any statistic student needing tutoring. 

Sincerely, 

Arun S. "

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From: Jila M.

"Helen, 

I can't survive math without you guys! I don't know what I'm going to do, you both have been extremely great help! I actually pass my test. The best tutor however was I have to say you Helen. You had the most patience with me that none of my friends/family or teachers around her could handle. You could handle any question I had. That was amazing, furthermore, you were kind, made the tutoring session time fly. Everytime I'd sign on, before I know it time was up! 

Thank you so much for you time, and tutoring. Is there any way to keep this program running? If so please let me know ASAP. 

Jila "

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From: Azadeh T.

"Hi Helen, 

I think this was an extremely good program. The software was simply and your staff gave excellent instructions and support, I really enjoyed the class and found it quite useful. I hope you can continue with it in the future. 

Many thanks, 

Azadeh "

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From: Evi G.

"Dear Helen, 

I was disappointed to read that the online tutoring system will be funded no more. From the 6 weeks I've participated in this program, I found it very revolutionary and really helpful. You were the only teacher with whom I've worked, but I liked your technique, your willingness to help us, and your availability. Being an international student from Greece myself, I noticed that your teaching resembles the teaching in my country and that was familiar. 

The software is really good, except for the times that the whiteboard was slow because of the writing on it. Other than that, I guess it's ok. 

I don't know what else to say except that this has been helpful for my statistics, as much help as we can get through the internet. 

Evi "

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From: Sorphea H.

"Dear Helen  

This is my evaluation for the online Math 10 tutoring. This is a great idea about online tutoring and I'm really enjoying it because I also don't have to stay at school to get a tutoring. I can just have it home. For the software also work really great for me but I hope it will be better if it all the people can use a pen or pencil to write something on the white board instead of using the mouse. It has the place where I type instead of writing with the mouse too but it isn't really good for writing it too. Because it takes a little too long for me and I don't actually can type that fast yet. Anyway I really like it and hopefully all the students who sign up for online Math 10 tutoring would like it too. "

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These are some feedback memos submitted by students in the C programming course class taught by Delia Garbacea at the De Anza College. The students who wrote these memos all participated in the study group and tutoring sessions conducted by Virtual Classrooms' tutor Alexander Shapeyev. This program was supported by the California Virtual Campus.

Winter quarter 2003:


From: Ashley N.

"Hi Alexander! 

The online program was really helpful. I have learned a lot from the meeting discussions, and it helped me to understand some information which I had been lost or never known. The tutor explained everything very clear and easy to understand. 

The software that we use to study online was really great. It allowed us to see the questions or answers from other group members, and we can also talk to the tutor with a microphone which is a good way to discuss about problem. 

Thank you for spending your time to help us. I hope we can study with you again. 

Good luck, 

Ashley"

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From: Aisha M.

"Dear Tutor, 

I think the sessions were very helpful for me and I am very sad that they are ending so soon. The software was very good, easy-to-use. And there was no confusion because after the first few times, everyone was comfortable with the meeting. I can't think of anyway to make it better. I myself had no major problems with connection. So it was very simple, good and helpful and I will recommend it to everyone. I think it was good because sometimes it is easier to talk to a tutor than it is to a teacher. And Mr. Shapeev, you were a wonderful tutor.. very helpful. 

Good job! Hope everything goes great for you. Thank you very much. 

Thanks, 

Aisha"

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From: Johnny N.

"Dear Alexander, 

I thought this tutoring program helped me a lot during this semester. My questions were all answered in each session I attended and it was great help towards my programming studies, homework, and labs. If I didn't receive help, then I would have never been able to complete my assignments and do fairly well on the quizzes and tests. I thought the software was fun and easy to use. I thought the text option could use some improvement such as being able to type in text then press enter to show up on the whiteboard instead of clicking on a different place. 

Another option that would be great is be able to have everyone see what you have typed right away. For example the chatting program ICQ allows people to see what the other person has typed as soon as one letter has been typed by the other person. This would be helpful for the tutor because he/she will know if you are typing something instead of waiting for a long period of time to see the entire message. The tutor will also be able to follow along as he/her types instead of waiting. I also think the whiteboard window should be maximized instead of minimized to provide more room for discussion purposes. Dividing the whiteboard among the other students was also a great way to keep everything organized during the session. 

Everyone is able to clearly see the comments each student has typed. While typing text in, I think the tab key should be implemented so typing lines of code onto the whiteboard could be easier and organized. I thought you (Alexander Shapeev) were a great tutor. 

Your language barrier did not affect me at all. I was always able to understand what you were saying and I think your English is good. You explain everything in detail making it easy for me to understand the topic well. The diagrams and examples you have provided were very helpful giving me an image to observe. 

The screen shots given were also good to refer to when I needed help. Thank you for all your time and effort you have spent tutoring us and I greatly appreciate it. I would be happy to participate in future tutoring programs. 

Sincerely, 

Johnny N."

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From: Nikhil N.

"Dear Alex, 

I am sorry to hear that funding for the online tutoring has stopped, as I was helped a great deal by it. What follows is my evaluation, just as you requested. 

I thought that the idea of having a tutor session online was a good one. The fact that it actually worked was even better. If anything, the only downfall was the fact that voice chat was not available, but that was more based on individual c ircumstances than anything else. The lack of voice chat seems to limit the number of problems that can be discussed in one tutoring session. Still, whatever was discussed in the session was helpful. You were a more than qualified tutor, and your example problems really helped everyone with the lab problems. 

Nikhil"

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