Student Services promotes PLATO

By: Logan Pierce, editor-in-chief

Students in need of academic assistance have various services available to them on campus. Some are less well known than others.

While virtually all computer labs on campus offer the same programs and features, only two of those computers have a unique study package known as PLATO Learning.

PLATO is available for all students, but is designed to help those struggling with remedial, zero-level courses. It uses structured lesson plans to help students raise academic scores. While not associated with the Compass test, PLATO is available to help students increase their understanding of the material in order to improve their Compass test scores.

Secrets of success

Phillip Troutman, Student Services academic advisor, has directed many students to take advantage of PLATO. In one recent example, Jennifer Brock, a social sciences major, had taken the Compass test. She made a 35 on the English portion of the test and was placed in a remedial English class.

Prior to the start of the semester, Brock studied PLATO’s English courses for two weeks. “She spent a total of 11 hours on the program, then retook the Compass test,” Troutman said, “She raised her score from a 35 to an 89 and was able to go straight into English Comp 1.”

Something for everyone

“It’s a great program,” Brock said, “I saved myself two semesters worth of classes thanks to PLATO.”

In addition to English, PLATO offers courses for many different fields, including but not limited to, reading, writing, geography, biology, American history, and the most requested field, algebra.

“I was impressed by all the courses this program offers beyond reading, writing and algebra,” Troutman said, “PLATO is here to help prevent students from having to take zero-level courses. Those are the only courses we don’t want you to enroll in, because it’s like repeating what you learned in high school.”

Recently, prospective nursing students have been using PLATO to study pre-algebra. “The nursing program has a competitive enrollment process,” Troutman said, “They’re using PLATO to help improve their Compass test scores.”

Getting the word out

In spite of nursing students utilizing PLATO, the computers are unoccupied most of the time. “I want to see this change,” Troutman said, “I would like to see it be made available in the Learning Resources Lab.”

The time required for course completion varies by subject; it depends on how quickly the work is done. The lessons follow a sequential path with structured activities. Students are free to move at their own pace, and can revisit previously studied lessons. Completion certificates are available at the end of each course.

The PLATO Learning study package is free for student use and is located in the Student Success Center, Room 111. Two PLATO-enabled computers are available. Call Student Success at 733-7334 to reserve a study session.

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