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Online tutoring skillspixel.gif (807 bytes)

pixel.gif (807 bytes) The tutor as coach
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THERE WILL BE MANY TIMES when the tutor will need to act as a coach, helping to facilitate learning rather than presenting content directly. This role is especially important in an online environment where learners may be working for long periods on their own initiative.

These are the principal behaviours you would expect of the online coach:

Questioning is a vital skill for the coach to possess. By asking the right questions, the coach will stimulate learners to think for themselves, leading to more powerful insights than could ever be obtained with more didactic methods.

Listening goes hand in hand with questioning. Without the ability to listen - and in an online context that's just as likely to mean reading - the coach will never properly understand the learner's position or needs, and frustrate them into the bargain.

Feeding back
Having read or observed the learner's work, it is the duty of the coach to provide the learner with honest, constructive feedback, based on specifics rather than opinion and balanced towards the positive.

Many learners will find it hard to summon the self-discipline required to study on their own. The coach can help enormously by providing encouragement to learners to keep at it.

Motivation comes when learners are set challenging but achievable goals, which, when achieved, lead to outcomes that the learner regards as attractive. It is up to the coach to know just how challenging the goals should be for an individual learner and the types of outcomes that will provide the right incentive.

For most learners, recognition will be the most powerful incentive - and luckily this costs absolutely nothing. Other learners will be motivated by achieving a pass, overcoming a perceived weakness, stimulating their intellect or developing their skills.

It sounds like a strange behaviour for a coach, but online group work, whether asynchronous or synchronous, may, upon occasions, require a degree of control. Although learners will ideally be able to manage their own learning experiences, at times the coach will have to exercise some control to keep them on track.

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                                                     Fastrak Consulting Ltd, 1999. All rights reserved.                                Last revised 28/6/99