by Jake Altinger and Leslie James

With the new Learning Commons at Centennial campus opening at the beginning of this month, there is now a new app for students to use that go with it. The app was developed by PPCC Information Technology Support Services (ITSS) and took over a year to complete.

PPCC’s David Hayes, led the project and PPCC computer science students also contributed by testing and troubleshooting the app.

The app will help students and tutors connect in specific areas of work. Using the consistent school sign-in username and password, students have the ability to look at times and locations that tutors will be available to meet.

There are choices available for the student to pick in which areas they need assistance in and by doing so, the tutor knows exactly what to help with before they meet up.

In order to keep appointments running smoothly, the tutor sees the student’s photo ID on their iPad so they can find him/her easily. Students and tutors can now come together much faster and in a more organized manner.

Andy Scott, Director of Learning Support Services, described how data collected from the app will help improve tutoring services at PPCC. Given how every college student’s schedule is unique, the app will allow the Commons to know when the busiest times are that students come to meet, therefore knowing to allow more tutors on duty.

Learning Commons support staff will also be updated on tracking which courses students request help with most, that way more tutors can be recruited in that particular area of study.

“In the past, a student would come in to one of the Centers, sign in, and then just raise their hand or put a flag up whenever they wanted help with something,” Scott said. “So if the student was in there for four or five hours, then they clock out at the end of that period, maybe they only met with someone for half an hour, but in our system it showed that they were in for that four or five hours. If they worked with multiple people, we could only track one of the people that they worked with. We weren’t able to facilitate a situation where somebody’s working with three or four different tutors during the time they’re in the space.”

The new app will track exactly how long each tutor works with each student in real time and which course[s] the tutor assisted with. This gives more recognition to the tutors that spend their time to help the students, who also give their free time up for help.

Like any app, students can download it to their smartphones; which makes it easy to also keep track of appointments made with the tutors because on any smart phone, is a calendar as well. For students who cannot download the app, there is the option to access it through several iPad kiosks in the Learning Commons.

This effort made by Hayes, ITSS and the computer science students involved represents PPCC’s goal to help every student and make it as accessible as possible. This app helps education at PPCC flourish in the sense of a student’s ability to obtain the help they need.