CALC Tutoring Center in "Link-Up Magazine"
Note: This article details CALC's first online school, the
QuantumLink Tutoring Center, which was designed, developed, and directed
by Margaret Morabito. The Tutoring Center was located inside the
Learning Center section of QuantumLink. Shortly after starting the
Tutoring Center, Morabito developed and directed the Community College,
which offered structured courses in a real-time, classroom format.
QuantumLink is no longer in existence, but
its owners went on to develop America Online. CALCampus today still has some
of the original teachers from these early days from QuantumLink.
Tutoring the Online Way
By Margaret Morabito
Telecomputing is responsible for a new kind of education in this country--
the consumer-oriented kind.
What is consumer-oriented education? It is the offering of educational
opportunities to the population that exists outside of traditional schools.
Consumer education welcomes all ages of students from all sectors of
society, and it promotes learning as an enjoyable pastime. Perhaps what
is most attractive about it is that it is inexpensive.
The consumer-oriented environment can do much to make learning appealing,
and to bring back thousands of adults who may not have graduated from high
school or who graduated without really knowing how to read, write, or
figure math properly.
QuantumLink, a national online network for Commodore computer owners, is now
participating in this new wave of education. In October, QuantumLink opened
the Tutoring Center, the first national online tutoring project. The network
is set up for Commodore owners, and is a perfect vehicle for experimentation
in this new education area because there are well over five million C-64s
and C-128s in use across the nation.
QuantumLink has had success with other educational offerings and expects
the Tutoring Center to gain national recognition and to fill a need that
is not currently being met by any other commercial online network.
The Tutoring Center is as close to an after-school tutoring lab as you
can get. Its goal is to attract the widest range of learners, whether or
not currently enrolled in a school, who want to bone up on certain subjects.
All ages of students are invited to attend nightly tutoring sessions.
The Center is now offering sessions on the elementary and secondary levels
in mathematics, English, science, and BASIC programming, with more courses
Deciding which teaching methods to use through the medium of an online
network is a challenge for instructors. Teachers must work within the
structure of the network, and this calls for modifying their traditional
methods of classroom presentation.
Several methods are used on QuantumLink. The most innovative for online
education are the live tutoring sessions. These are hour-long sessions
held in real-time conference areas (classrooms), where a teacher is
available for providing instruction on a preassigned subject and for
answering students' specific questions about that subject.
Another method is the use of departmental message boards. Each subject for
tutoring has its own message board where students can keep in touch with
their teachers between classroom sessions. This accommodates those students
who need to follow up on a topic of discussion with their teacher or who may
not have been able to attend a live session. Teachers log onto the message
boards on a regular basis to reply to students' questions and comments.
The task of providing materials for students to work from is quite
challenging. While many students are already enrolled in schools and have
their own textbooks, some students are not in school and may not have a
reference book for the subject they want to study.
To accommodate both types of students, computer-based instruction is
applied. This bypasses the need for providing texts and other hardcopy
materials. Each department has its own database area where students can
download study materials for use on their computers while offline. Study
materials are composed of self-running educational computer programs and
supplemental reading in the form of text files. Students download, read
and/or print out the files from a word processor or from a utility program
supplied by QuantumLink.
Another way of getting students involved in their studies is to provide
online interactive quizzes. Many networks currently provide trivia
quizzes that can be taken online. This same principle is being used for
each subject in the Tutoring Center. Teachers can compose their own
multiple choice, true/false, or fill-in-the-blank quizzes for students
to take online.
All of the download materials provided through the QuantumLink Tutoring
Center are public domain. Some have been created by the Tutoring Center
teachers themselves, and many have been donated by educators and
programmers who are interested in education but are not tutoring in this
Who are the teachers? They are educators from across the nation who have
volunteered several hours of their time each week. The majority of them
are fulltime practicing teachers from the elementary through university level.
Anyone who has a C-64 or C-128 computer and is (or becomes) a subscriber
to QuantumLink can participate in the Tutoring Center. There are no
registration forms to fill out nor are there prerequisites to be met in
order to receive tutoring.
QuantumLink supplies its own terminal program, which can be used with 300-
or 1200-baud modems. Users pay a monthly fee of $9.95, which includes
one free hour of online time. Thereafter, usage costs $3.60 per hour.
New subscribers get the QuantumLink terminal program free when they sign up.
The network and Tutoring Center are open on weeknights from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Eastern time and 24 hours per day on weekends. Access is through Telenet or
For more information about the Tutoring Center, contact Margaret Morabito,
Director of the Tutoring Center, Rindge, New Hampshire.
(This article appeared on page 12 of the November, 1986 issue of
Link-Up Magazine, which was published
by Learned Information, Inc., NJ during the 1980s. Link-Up
was devoted to news and information about the online medium.)
Return to: CALCampus Home Page.
For other articles
about CALC and the early development of online distance education.