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Online tutoring skillspixel.gif (807 bytes)

pixel.gif (807 bytes) Working with online tools
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WHETHER THE TUTOR is acting the role of subject expert, coach or assessor, they will be operating in an environment that has its own unique advantages and constraints. Here's just a few suggestions for tutors to consider when working with online tools:

Email will almost undoubtedly be an important means of communication between the tutor and learners. The tutor should:

  • collect the email addresses of all learners
  • organise these into an address group (an 'alias')
  • set up folders to store emails connected with the course
  • keep responses short - where appropriate refer learners to online materials or to other learners
  • create templates for frequently used responses (or set up an FAQ on the course web site)
  • obey the rules of 'netiquette'

Discussion groups
Many courses use discussion groups for asynchronous group communication. The tutor should be prepared to:

  • initiate discussion topics and questions to get things going
  • control discussions that are straying off course
  • act against any misuse of  the forum
  • delete dead topics

Text chat
Synchronous methods take a lot more management and experience. The tutor needs to:

  • obtain agreement on times for the chat
  • establish the rules of communication, not least how the tutor can regain the attention of the group when the chat gets out of control
  • encourage all members of the discussion to contribute
  • tactfully restrain members of the group who are tending to dominate
  • prevent the discussion from straying off course
  • act against anyone breaking the rules, particularly when members are in conflict
  • summarise outcomes at each stage of the discussion

You can probably think of many more rules. If so, please let me know and the list can continue to build.

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