Online Tutoring at UMass Amherst

In order to increase access for students who cannot make it to campus on a regular basis or who prefer working online, the Writing Center now offers online tutoring. Even though we believe that the most effective writing tutorial is face-to-face, the variety of reasons writers may prefer online tutoring—lack of transportation, last-minute questions, bad weather, discomfort in our space— lead us to believe that online tutoring may be a good alternative. Our goal is to reproduce the experience of a face-to-face tutorial as closely as possible.

We use our existing scheduling system, WC Online, to seamlessly integrate audio, video, and chat into an online tutoring appointment.

What You Need for Online Tutoring

Online tutoring requires access to a microphone and webcam. This technology will allow you to interact in real time with a Writing Center tutor. You and your tutor will be able to see and hear each other, and chat about and co-edit a document via WC Online.

Make an Online Appointment

When you make an appointment on WC Online, you have the option to make a face-to-face or online appointment. Find a tutor who is available for an “online appointment” and make your appointment with him or her. Click on “online appointment” and your tutor will know to meet you for tutoring online.

Your Online Tutoring Session

Five minutes before your online appointment log in to WC Online and click on your appointment to open the appointment window. Click on the red “Start or Join Online Consultation” link. An online meeting window will come up where you can communicate via video, chat, and work on an uploaded document with your tutor.

• You can immediately type in the chat area or in the document-sharing area.
• To start a video chat, click on the “start video/audio chat” button, and then, in the new window, click on “Connect”.
• To start co-writing in a document, click on “Start Publishing” and then upload their document.

If any of this is confusing, your tutor can chat with you immediately in the chat box and talk you through all of these steps.


Because an online tutoring appointment is no different from an in-person appointment, all work, including technical trouble-shooting, should be completed during the scheduled 45-minute session.

Audio/video problems

The WC Online audio/video option is compatible with any camera and microphone. The audio/video module works on all browsers, on slower internet connections, and on both PCs and Macs. Its success depends on the equipment working properly.

• Make sure you have a camera on or attached to your computer. Make sure the camera is connected, that the computer has the camera turned on.
• Make sure you have your audio turned up and not on mute.
• If audio or video, you can still complete your session using the chat area.

Other problems

You can still complete your online tutoring session!
• If you have trouble using audio and video, use the chat area instead.
• If you have trouble using the chat area, you can type in the document-sharing area.
• If you have trouble uploading a document, you can paste the document in the document-sharing area.


Fall 2014 Hours
Sunday 2pm - 6pm
Monday 10am - 9pm
Tuesday 10am - 9pm
Wednesday 10am - 9pm
Thursday 10am - 6pm
Friday 10am - 2pm

We are located in the northwest corner of the W.E.B. DuBois Library's Learning Commons.