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pixel.gif (807 bytes) The tutor as subject expert
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IN MANY SITUATIONS the tutor will be asked to function as a subject expert, sometimes acting as the primary source of content but, more likely, supplementing and acting as a backup to content that is presented elsewhere.

This role is not dissimilar to the traditional teacher, lecturer or instructor, but what exactly does it entail? These are the principal behaviours you would expect of the subject expert:

With many online courses, the majority of content is presented in the form of self-study materials. The subject expert may well have had a role in the preparation of these, perhaps even as presenter of any audio or video materials.

In other cases, the subject expert may need to present information in a synchronous, real-time environment. This could range from a text chat through to broadcast videoconferencing.

With certain types of skills, whether cognitive or psychomotor, the subject expert may be required to provide a demonstration. This may be available as a resource for self-study or as part of a live event. Of course, psychomotor skills will not be easy to demonstrate without video.

There is a great danger that learners will become dependent on a subject expert, if every question they ask is answered in detail. To avoid this, the subject matter should, where possible, refer learners to available resources, whether within the learning materials, or in books or web sites. Spoon feeding simply makes the subject expert a reference tool for lazy learners.

The subject expert will have a key role to play in contributing to knowledge bases, FAQs and other reference tools for learners. They are also going to be valid contributors to discussion forums or chat sessions, although never in a dominant capacity.

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