This week’s Sounding Off column is a continuation of last week’s column in response to Peter Tretter’s guest editorial about tutor vacations. Thank you to everyone who shared their views on this issue!
I agree with Ms. Neuman’s comments [see last week] that as students we need to be organized enough to not be in a crisis state during crucial times such as exam preparation. I also want to add that since AU does not require the assignments be completed in an order, the schedule supplied is a ‘suggested’ one, so we can move ahead on our reading and other assignments in a course while a tutor is on holiday.
Further, I was unaware I could contact the course coordinator as a source of information when my tutor is unavailable. AU should include that tidbit in the course material.
Now as to her other comments, we are not all able to organize to that same level and/or we have outside obligations (e.g. work, family, etc.) that mean our schedules are more rigid and we do not have time to do outside research and hope to heaven it’s what we need for our course.
AU should implement a program where there is a “back up” tutor for all courses while tutors are on holidays. Other options would be to reduce a tutor’s workload as holiday time approaches and then increase it once they return and to require tutors to give a month’s notice and not two weeks or less before going on holiday. Notification could be sent by e-mail and ‘snail mail’ so no one could say they were not informed and allowed to have questions answered, etc.
In a brick and mortar school, tutors would not go on holiday mid-course. AU prides itself on being able to deliver the same services as schools with a physical home and should do so.
[Editor’s note: In last week’s Sounding Off, reader Teresa Neuman suggested that students contact their Course Coordinator when their tutor is on vacation. However, AU tutor services has noted that “If a tutor is away for 10 business days or less, no alternate tutorial support is provided. The students should not contact the course coordinator as the coordinators do not necessarily tutor the course and would not be able to provide support. The policy is no support for this period of time.” Suggestions made by readers in comment columns and letters only reflect the experience of that person, and do not necessarily reflect university policy.]
I couldn’t agree with everyone more; yes, it is expected for tutors to go on vacation, but we must have the opportunity to speak with another tutor if we need help in the course! I received a notice five days before my tutor went on holiday from June 22 – July 10 of this year. And I was not given another tutor whom I could contact. I ended up having to pay for an extension because my end date was June 30th and I could not do the final before June 22.