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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Homework Helpers

Minnesota State Mankato students assist K-12 students with homework questions.

Amanda Dyslin, Mankato Free Press, 5-6-2012

MANKATO — Mymique Baxter has a ninth-grader, and when a ninth-grader needs help with his math homework, it can mean trouble for Mom and Dad.

“It takes me half an hour to get caught up to help him,” she said. This very situation is what inspired Baxter, Minnesota State University student relations coordina­tor, Ed Clark, vice president for technology and chief information officer, and Jean Haar, dean of the College of Education, to begin the pilot program Homework Helpers, run­ning through June 1. MSU students assist mostly K-12 students with homework questions online and over the phone. The program will begin again in the fall.

“We need our students better prepared when they get to college,” Baxter said. From 6-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, students can log on to­workhelpers and communi­cate with MSU students via WebEx, a chatroom. There are also phone numbers they can call to further explain their problems or questions if their computers don’t have audio capabili­ties.

Tutors can also do demonstrations through an online whiteboard.

The tutors are always being supervised by gradu­ate assistants or Baxter in case extra help is needed, Baxter said.

Junior high and high school students need their parents’ permission during registration. Students younger can get assistance, but MSU tutors work directly with the parents.

The program is also for GED students, adult learners and those learning English as a second language.

The homework help is for math, science and English.

Homework Helpers is working with Mankato Area Public Schools to become familiar with the curriculum. The student also can tell the helper what book they are studying, as many are accessible online, Baxter said.

If a student needs help with an English paper, he or she can email the paper directly to the helper and discuss the paper in WebEx.

Students can also take a screen shot of the assignment and message it over, or take a picture of their textbook with their phones and message it to the Homework Helpers.

Of course, even with the Internet, the MSU students may not know all the answers.

“There’s no guarantee,” Baxter said. “It’s to the best of our abilities. ... Most of our students are either science or math majors. We have pretty knowledgable people in there.”

Baxter plans to have 20 students involved in Homework Helpers in the fall. The jobs are paid or are part of work study.

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