Fresno St unveils new online writing program

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno State's new online writing tutorial is a first in the California State University system and maybe among the first in the nation to help students meet university writing requirements.

The cutting-edge technology was developed on campus and uses a nationally-acclaimed faculty mentor to help students to meet their individual goals.

"We thought it was important to move students through graduation with as few obstacles as possible," Fresno State Provost William Covino said.

Covino says SPOT is "spot-on" when it comes to the future of online courses at the university.

"They have 24 hour access to the program so it really lends itself to the complex lives that many of our students have," Covino said.

The "Self-Paced Online Tutorial" (or SPOT) allows students to take up to six months to move through a series of writing exercises that help with everything from grammar to punctuation and even word choice.

"It seems very user friendly, it's on a program students are already familiar with on Blackboard," student Alyssa Gutnik said.

It also helps students prepare an e-portfolio to submit and satisfy the upper-division writing requirement and is completely customizable to reflect the kind of writing students will use in their specific majors and careers.

"One of the things that excites me is that it was developed right here. We have the expertise and technology here that gives students full access to a rich tutorial environment," Covino said.

Right now 20 students are enrolled in the pilot program.

If it's successful, Covino says, it will reduce the waiting lists of students who have not yet demonstrated the writing skills necessary for graduation.

"We have appreciative stories from students who say I've been trying to clear this requirement for awhile, my life has not allowed for it, there haven't been enough classes and this program has given me the access I've needed to finally graduate," Covino said.

The best part is, the course is free and anyone can sign-up - you don't even have to be a college student.

Covino is hoping to expand the program to include all 23 CSU campuses and the award-winning English professor who oversees the program will share its progress at two national conferences this spring.

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