Becoming an Asynchronous Coach

Michigan Tech’s Multiliteracies Center (MTMC) has started working with students online on their work! While many students utilize this service due to ease, there are some features of it that need to be carefully taken care of in order to ensure that the best possible service is given. The first main feature that needs to be taken into consideration is that of the relationship between the coach and student. When meeting with a student who comes into the center, much more leeway is able to be given to the coach in terms of addressing the student. When working with a student physically within the center, the coach is able to address the student with questions regarding what has been written. However, when working with a student asynchronously, the coach must be very careful to use few, preferably no, questions directed towards the student as the student has no way to answer the question.

Another feature that needs to be taken into account is that when addressing a student in person, while it is not necessarily ideal to mention the student’s work as anything but writing (i.e. saying that “you” should do something here, or “you” need to clarify this), it is better to do that in person rather than online. When using an asynchronous approach, the coach needs to be sure to address the writing as just that: writing. The coach should not use “you,” as it comes across as accusatory towards the student. What ultimately needs to be remembered is that when working asynchronously with a student, the coach needs to address the writing, not the student. If anything other than the writing is being addressed, the student may begin to feel defensive about their writing and may feel deterred from using the service in the future.

One last key thing that needs to be taken into account the amount of time one has, and the amount of items that should be addressed. When speaking in person, numerous items can be addressed. Even though a limited number of items should still be addressed in a session when meeting with a student in person, there is more leeway to address those items in a less orderly fashion. However, when working online with a student’s work, the coach needs to be cautious of not overwhelming the student with comments. This can sometimes be difficult, as there are times when we, as a coach, may want to help the student with every possible thing, which is not actually ideal. Generally two to three items should be focused on such as grammar, clarity, or the overall flow of the paper. In doing this, the coach feels alleviated of needing to focus on absolutely every little thing, while is still effectively aiding the student in developing an even greater work.

As long as these key points are followed, the coach will likely have a successful appointment with the student, without deterring them from making future appointments asynchronously.


– by Larissa Grundmanis