Avoid procrastination with new online learning tool

The Writing Centre helped create an online module for essay writing. (Lauren Fogazzi / Ryersonian Staff)

The Writing Centre helped create an online module for essay writing. (Lauren Fogazzi / Ryersonian Staff)

Two Ryerson resource centres have come together to launch a new online tool that will help struggling students write a successful research essay.

Ryerson’s library and Writing Centre are working together on the joint project, tentatively called “RU-Search: Student guide to Writing and Research,” which will allow students to access an online database that can direct students towards the proper print resources.

“The writing centre and library realize that students need someplace online to turn to,” interim e-learning librarian Kelly Dermody said. “We want to make them feel comfortable about writing their first paper at university.”

The tool will be launched this summer and will provide an interactive experience, with modules that teach students where to find sources for their writing assignments, the basics of proper time management and how to write as well as edit their final product.

It will be available at the start of the fall semester.

Students will be able to complete the whole online package in about 45 minutes, but there is also the option to pick and choose which module they want to complete. Each chapter can take about five to 10 minutes to finish.

“If they’re stuck in the middle of the night and need to refresh on how to do a citation page we offer an authoritative and trustworthy site,” Dermody said.

The library also offers an assignment calculator, available on its website, which allows students to create a step-by-step plan to help them finish their course assignments.

Ryerson created the modules after noticing an influx of online resources and learning tools that other universities offered, Dermody said.

The writing tool was inspired by York University’s Student Papers and Academic Research Kit (SPARKs) tool, a similar modular tool that offers students help with researching and writing.

Hanny Sierra, a fourth-year graphic communications management student, is the only student on the team of graphic design artists who are working on this project.

Sierra said she finds the tool helpful and wishes it was available to her during her four years at Ryerson. “I was even looking through it as I was designing the concepts,” she said.

“I find the modules are really helpful and it’s everything you would want in one easy to (access) site.”Christina Licastro, a first-year radio and television arts student, said the tool will help students who commute.

“If you have a tool online, it makes it more accessible for commuters especially,” Licastro said.

“I commute and I don’t really want to be down here all the time so it’s easier that way.”

For now, students only have the option to access resources already available on campus, but Dermody encourages students to make an appointment with a tutor or attend live lectures.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on April 2, 2014.

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