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5-Minute Solutions put a virtual tutor in students’ pockets

November 16, 2016

Shanthi Muthuswamy, acting associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs in the College of Engineering & Engineering Technology

Students in the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET) have a tutor in their pocket – figuratively speaking.

At the start of the fall semester, Acting Associate Dean Shanthi Muthuswamy launched 5-Minute Solutions, a series of short videos to explain basic concepts covered in classes. Each video, created on an iPad by a tutor from the college’s tutoring center, gives a brief explanation of the concept with an example.

“If [students are] waiting for the bus, they can put their headphones on, watch and review a concept on their phone before a quiz or as a refresher before class, and all it takes is five minutes or less,” Muthuswamy said. “It helps them to learn and review the concepts at their own pace.”

Muthuswamy said she created similar videos for classes she taught, inspired by middle school and high school students who do a lot of their homework and much of their learning online.

“Those middle and high school kids are going to be our students in a few years, and as a college, we need to be ready for them,” she said.

Currently, videos are being created for three math classes and two gateway engineering classes, and Muthuswamy hopes to add more next semester. The mobile-friendly videos are uploaded into a Blackboard community accessible to students registered in those classes.

Tutor Varshitha Reddy Manga said creating the videos took some getting used to, but it has gotten easier and the payoff is worth it.

“As word spreads about this and more students discover it, I think it’s going to be a good thing,” she said.

Now that the video creation is coming more easily, tutors are focusing on improving the quality, tutor Ananta Ravi Teja Vemaraju said. Vemaraju was pleasantly surprised when a student brought chocolates to thank him for videos which helped him stay on top of his coursework.

“For a few, it’s definitely helping, and if we can help even just four or five students to understand, that gives us a lot of happiness,” Vemaraju said.

Students told the tutors they used the videos to solve homework problems, study for exams and described the videos as “useful,” “helpful” and “easy.”

“Although CEET offers face-to-face tutoring through its tutoring center, not all engineering and engineering technology students can take advantage of this service,” Acting Dean Dr. Omar Ghrayeb said. “Many students are working or have busy schedules. The 5-Minute Solutions play a critical role to help students be successful in their classes. The data so far shows that this initiative is successful and we are planning to expand it to most engineering courses in the near future.”

Sample Videos

Video #1

Video #2

Video #3