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Online Workshop Report: Getting started with online tutoring skills


This is the transcript of the online workshop held on Tuesday 14 November on the topic of getting started with online tutoring skills.

Odile Hello.

Odile Hi Suzanne.

Suzanne Henwood Where are you from? I am from South Bank University in London.

Odile I am from OnLine Education in Hong Kong.

Suzanne Henwood Ah great - education in what area? I am in professions allied to medicine.

Odile We actually joint venture with partner universities to enable, manage and market an online version of their programmes.

Odile Hi Sylvia.

Suzanne Henwood Fascinating - I am just getting into online education here. My other remit is to run the postgraduate courses in PAMs - some of which go out online.

Odile Yes, so you are teaching online? (Guess that's why you are here tonight!)

Suzanne Henwood Well - my first venture was an online conference about professional development - but I am very new to the game and hoping to pick up on others skills today (1.00 pm here).

Odile It's 9 pm here.

Sylvia Brewer I am interested in trying on-line learning but not sure how to find out what is available, where to go etc.

Odile Almost time for bed! :-)

Suzanne Henwood You are very committed to be still working at 9.00pm!

Odile Quite!

Suzanne Henwood Sylvia - we are both participants too - no one has logged on yet to facilitate ... where are you from?

Odile So Sylvia, you are looking to study online rather than teaching?

Sylvia Brewer I am looking to see if on-line training is a way our staff could get involved in, but would also be interested in using it as a trainer.

Stephanie Phillips Hello all - some prompt attendees today! We usually start these sessions with introductions. Does anyone want to start (I note some early arrivers have already done this, but for the benefit of those arriving afterwards it would be helpful to do it again).

Sarah Turnbull Hello fellow chatters.... I don't think I've missed anything have I?

Suzanne Henwood Hi - my name is Suzanne and I am from the division of professions allied to medicine at South Bank University in London.

Ken Ken from Michigan U.S. Army training.

Odile Odile from OnLine Education Hong Kong.

Jane Wolfson Jane - LMD also.

Stephanie Phillips If everyone could quickly introduce themselves and their background, and what they'd particularly like to gain from today's session.

Sylvia Brewer Sylvia Brewer Training Manager a secure unit for children.

Sarah Turnbull My name is Sarah, I'm online learning manager at Learning World.

Debbie Hiller Hello everyone. My name is Debbie and I work as Sales Trainer for Johnston Press. This is my first time at one of these workshops and I am looking forward to swapping ideas.

Odile Odile, Customer Care Manager for OnLine Education. I am here tonight to find out more about online teaching as our organisation is involved in providing knowledge on the Internet.

Russell Holt Russell Holt : TrainingZONE. developing online learning on the site.

Jane Wolfson I've only used CMC before, this is a first time in a live workshop to see what it's like.

Stephanie Phillips How many people already have experience of either delivering or receiving online tutoring?

George Reavis Hi, George a workshop coordinator for a long-term customer focus resource for team leaders.

Suzanne Henwood I am looking for ideas / pitfalls etc from people who have run online events. I ran one online conference and it was good, but I know where I could have made it better.

Ken I've had some tutoring on-line.

Odile I have been involved in supporting tutors online.

Sylvia Brewer I have no experience but am keen to find out more.

Sarah Turnbull I have experience of providing online support and I am in the process of finishing the LeTTOL course (learning to teach online).

Stephanie Phillips (hi Catherine, Mike, just doing introductions)

Jane Wolfson Sarah, whose LETTOL course?

Debbie Hiller Johnston Press has recently commissioned a CD ROM to train our salespeople and sales managers on selling the benefits of advertising on out Internet sites.

Odile Stephanie, how can I save the transcript?

Stephanie Phillips Odile - don't worry, we do that from here and post it to the site later on today.

Odile Thanks.

Paul Duxbury Good afternoon all.

Sarah Turnbull Hi Jane, It's provided by Sheffield College.

Suzanne Henwood What is, Sarah?

Sylvia Brewer Have you got a contact number?

Jane Wolfson Sarah, thanks, would you recommend it?

Stephanie Phillips Hi Paul. I guess you may have some interesting input to add.

Bernie My name is Bernie, good evening.

catherinelie Lie Hi everybody, my job involves hiring and managing tutors.

Paul Duxbury Hi Stephanie, well this is all relatively new to me. Joined Academee about a month ago as an E-Coach and learning fast!!!

Jane Wolfson Learning what, Paul?!

Sarah Turnbull It's excellent, Jane. I have gained an enormous amount. If you have experience in the Internet the start is very easy but it increases in difficulty in nice easy stages.

Russell Holt Interested to know experiences of those doing online tutoring, especially the LeTTOL course. What works & what doesn't for you.

Paul Duxbury Our role is very much about coaching the learner rather than tutoring.

Paul Duxbury Jane - learning about E-Coaching.

Odile Paul - what is an e-coach?

Jane Wolfson So what do you see as key in e-coaching, Paul?

Paul Duxbury An E-Coach is there to support the learner, guide them to undertake a deep level of learning, facilitating discussions via email and online and also on occasions acting as a subject matter expert.

Debbie Hiller Debbie: I would like the info on e-coaching please Paul.

Odile So do I as that would greatly help my job.

Russell Holt Paul, how did you learn to get the right balance between technology & personal coaching skills?

Paul Duxbury Hi Debbie. I won't advertise our site but it's fairly obvious learning online (LOL) and that will give you some info and has some interesting stuff on it.

Sarah Turnbull Some of you may find this article interesting. I did simply from a 'you have been warned' point of view. You can find it at

Stephanie Phillips Okay, so has anyone found the technology easy to get to grips with or difficult? You could use something along the lines of this workshop - facilitating these types of events require certain skills in themselves.

Paul Duxbury Russell, I am just learning that set of skills at the moment, although the ICF says that 94% of all coaching is "e" if you consider e-mail etc.

Russell Holt I would not consider e-mail e-coaching though. Do you?

Suzanne Henwood I found I had problems with some of the technology - what systems would people out there recommend?

Debbie Hiller Thanks, Paul, I'll have a look.

Paul Duxbury Stephanie, it certainly does, speed of typing and the ability to follow chains of discussion are pretty key skills.

Stephanie Phillips E-mail has got to be an easy way of communicating, although of course there's the time lapse involved.

Suzanne Henwood What about in terms of on line conferencing etc - more than one person at a time?

Stephanie Phillips One of the key things to consider is whether the learning is going to be delivered in a synchronous or asynchronous form, i.e. here and now or with a time delay.

Sarah Turnbull Stephanie, I can see that with as large a numbers as we have today, where everyone has new ideas and wants to contribute slightly different things, it can be difficult to control.

Paul Duxbury Anything which is not "face to face" could be considered to be "e" too, couldn't it?

Stephanie Phillips Sarah - absolutely!

Paul Duxbury Sarah - completely - although having different colours for a contributor is a great help - each contributor that is.

Stephanie Phillips So what are the issues involved when you can't see the learner face-to-face? You can't judge voice tone or body language, for example.....

Suzanne Henwood How do you make sure everyone logged on gets involved and therefore learns from the activity?

Jane Wolfson For a start, not knowing who's talking (i.e. typing) when, so Q&A are all over the place, being able to subdivide this screen into topics would help.

Sarah Turnbull Stephanie, I think you have to consider all sorts of things that may otherwise be less of a problem...e.g. cultural differences.


Paul Duxbury Stephanie I think you learn over a period of time to make those judgements from the style/nature of responses etc.

Stephanie Phillips Agree - Ken, not sure what the Cap thing is?

Ken CAPital letters.

Paul Duxbury Shouting Stephanie.

Stephanie Phillips Oh, right! Not sure whether I'd like to be SHOUTED AT though!

Russell Holt I think the key is setting out the ground rules and etiquette beforehand whether it be e-mail, chat, bulletin board or whatever. Same as in a class really.

Paul Duxbury Well WE won't shout at you LOL.

Ken Only an observation for the discussion..

Sarah Turnbull Is everyone familiar with netiquette?

Sylvia Brewer Sylvia brewer the trainer would need to keep an eye out for people not contributing just as you would do so in a normal training event and try and bring them in.

Odile In e- learning, it's up to the learner to learn. If they've joined the chat it means that they are interested. Whether they participate or not is up to them.

Stephanie Phillips Russell - very true!

Jane Wolfson Russell, have you got sample etiquette guidelines?

Paul Duxbury Odile, I would agree with you.

Russell Holt No - but I'm sure they do exist. I've seen some stuff on managing discussion forums. I'll send you the URL if I find it again.

Suzanne Henwood I agree it is up to the individual - but surely we also have a responsibility to maximise the learning experience.

Jane Wolfson Thanks Russell!

Sarah Turnbull I think these are important tools during online discussion. Universal culture you might say.

Stephanie Phillips Suzanne, Odile, agree with both of you!

Paul Duxbury The emphasis must be on treating the Learner as an adult - andragogical as opposed to pedagogical approaches to learning.

Suzanne Henwood I had problems on my event where the conversation at times deteriorated into useless chat - is it 'netiquette' to log such users off?

Stephanie Phillips You need to keep people involved, literally, once they've logged on though.

Russell Holt As trainers, we need to look at why people are e-learning. Is it to save the company money, to get a better learning experience or to gain access to a wider range of resources.

Stephanie Phillips Paul - could you explain those terms?

Debbie Hiller As a face to face trainer I'm a little concerned that online learning will replace me. I like the balance that we have - online learning first followed by a face to face workshop to share ideas, problems, case studies etc. What do the rest think?

Sarah Turnbull You have to decide whether actions should be taken 'up front' or behind the scenes, Suzanne.

Paul Duxbury Suzanne no the role of the "Coach" or "Tutor" must be to ask appropriate questions of the group to stimulate discussion.

Odile Debbie, this is true, but e-learning will increase the number of students you can have.

Paul Duxbury Stephanie I knew you would ask that!!

Jane Wolfson Go for it Debbie: people are human. They like and learn from being with people. I mostly create mixed mode or balanced or integrated programmes - Internet, intranet, multimedia CD ROM, print, workshops by in-house and external trainers.

Odile It would also make participation wider with different cultures and countries etc.

Russell Holt Jane, what features do you use?

Paul Duxbury Andragalogical learning is that which encourages the Learner to explore and discover for themselves. Pedagogical is that which "teaches" the Learner what the "Teacher" thinks they should know - this is where most Trainers feel most comfortable in the role of "expert".

Sarah Turnbull I'm glad to hear that Jane. What you must be careful of is not giving your students 'Shovelware'.
Jane Wolfson ?? What is shovelware?

Stephanie Phillips Thanks Paul.

Debbie Hiller Thanks Odile. With the Internet taking off so quickly it has been difficult to get around the whole group to talk to them individually so the CD ROM will do some of my work for me, leaving me time to do follow-ups etc.
Paul Duxbury You're welcome.

Sarah Turnbull The link I posted explains it better but in short it is where the assumption is made that existing course material can simply be shovelled onto the internet. Thus rendering it useless and most importantly very BORING.

Odile Debbie, also the technology is catching up with stuff such as video links which also allow face to face.

Jane Wolfson Sarah, thanks. Well, we certainly don't do that!

Suzanne Henwood Is there a risk that if we place the onus on the individual, we negate our own responsibility in the learning environment - I don't see andragogy as being just about the individual, but about us facilitating that individual.

Paul Duxbury Suzanne, agree with you - but it is important that we allow the learner to determine the depth of knowledge that they want to acquire and we then work with them to explore that learning.

Russell Holt Paul, how are learners being educated into this shift? It's new for them.

Stephanie Phillips So what are the key considerations when working on the design of an online session? flexibility is obviously a key factor...

Suzanne Henwood How does this fit with M level courses etc where there is a clearly defined learning level to reach / assess etc?

Sarah Turnbull Suzanne, I don't think that any online course is reaching its potential unless human interaction is part of it.

Jane Wolfson I feel as if I'm at a party with 5 different conversations going on simultaneously ...

Odile I think that teaching online is the same thing as teaching face to face and that the style of the tutor always transpires.

Sarah Turnbull Interactivity is a big factor too.

Paul Duxbury LOL @ Jane that's "chat" for you.

Suzanne Henwood I am not suggesting student interaction is not a major part of it - but nor can we just let people log and not in some way 'direct' the experience.

Jane Wolfson Suzanne, M level is mostly about knowledge creation with peers, so discussion is essential ... though I'd settle for more thoughtful asynchronous computer mediated discussion.

Sarah Turnbull No I agree. The LeTTOL course allows students to conduct the discussions. Tutor interaction is not always necessary but it should nevertheless always be available.

Paul Duxbury That is what "coaching" them is about Suzanne, helping them to think about how to apply the learning in the real environment and collaborating with other learners to share experience and learning.

Stephanie Phillips It has to come down to successfully combining the human and technological aspects, doesn't it?

Mike Tatlow I think that using a CMC environment encourages the individual to participate on a level playing ground - a perfect scenario for M level interactions.

Suzanne Henwood Are all M level courses about knowledge creation with peers?? Not in my experience.

Mike Tatlow Are all M level learning processes a didactic mechanism?

Sarah Turnbull There should be a mixture of collaborative and individual tasks set.

Paul Duxbury Suzanne, the M level courses have a base level of knowledge that must be acquired but if we create an environment in which the learner is excited about learning they will dig deeper than this base level.

Odile Sorry I am lost, what does M level courses mean? Is it Master?

Suzanne Henwood Sarah - in the ideal world I agree, but in reality I am sure many M level courses are didactic.

Paul Duxbury Odile, I am assuming M means Management.

Mike Tatlow yes Odile M=masters :)

Paul Duxbury Oh right assumption proven wrong LOL.

Jane Wolfson I meant Masters too. We work a lot with university departments.

Debbie Hiller Our training always starts off with hearing from the delegates their ideas for their own training. We then devise the training around these objectives and revisit them before the end of training. This could still be done on-line to maintain the focus on personal development.

Stephanie Phillips Are masters courses of particular relevance for online learning?

Suzanne Henwood I was using M to mean masters level - sorry should have explained.

Jane Wolfson I'd have said particularly so, Stephanie.

Suzanne Henwood It is just one use of online learning - but one we have an interest in here at South Bank.

Paul Duxbury Debbie, any learning could be transferred to an online delivery, it is just ensuring that it matches the needs of the learner.

Odile I agree with Paul.

Odile In our company, we deliver 2 MBAs online.

Stephanie Phillips It is interesting to hear about the university experience - much of what we hear about online learning is in the corporate market.

Jane Wolfson I don't! There's lots of things that need F2F component.

Suzanne Henwood Odile - how do you assess students for your MBA?

Sarah Turnbull Paul, I don't entirely agree. There is so much more to consider when you involve that level of technology surely.

Odile They have to return an assignment which is marked by the University or our tutors.

Suzanne Henwood So the mode of delivery does not change the assessment protocols?

Odile For some courses, they have to sit an exam which would be in exam centers around the world.

Paul Duxbury Yes there is a lot to consider Sarah but I don't think we should see the technology as an inhibitor to learning but as another mechanism which we can make full advantage of.

Sarah Turnbull Odile, do you not give your students any credit for their involvement online?

Odile No it does not, Suzanne.

Russell Holt Are any synchronous learning tools used e.g. chat, application sharing?

Odile Not yet, but I know some Uni's which do.

Odile I actually think we should.

Odile Sorry Russell, was the question for me?

Russell Holt Yes, thanks.

Stephanie Phillips The OU were doing some stuff, I think? could be asynchronous though...

Odile Yes, we have our own campus, which includes discussion group and chat.

Sarah Turnbull Sure, I couldn't argue there. But you have to take into account that without incorporating some f2f contact, it requires a lot more co-ordination to maintain student satisfaction.

Sarah Turnbull Sorry, that was directed at Paul.

Russell Holt Sarah, are you saying f2f or online requires more co-ordination?

Sarah Turnbull Online, Russell.

Odile I agree, Sarah. That's why it is a totally different dimension of learning which requires a lot of follow up with the student.

Paul Duxbury I think you are right at this stage Sarah - until we get people more familiar with the richness of the medium and the things one can do - dread to think of myself on webcam but how long before we all have those as standard - giving us the f2f element.

Jane Wolfson I disagree, having done a lot of videoconferencing, it's still not the same as in the same room together.

Paul Duxbury What makes you say that Jane? What do you find that you are missing?

Sarah Turnbull It's probably a good projection, Paul, but the delay of vc-ing is as Jane says, not the same.

Odile Agree, but I think that for a lot of students such as ours who are for example in Zimbabwe or India, videoconferencing is better than nothing.

Jane Wolfson Time lag, tech quality; and simply not being in the same space together, which exerts pressures (usual) to work collaboratively on difficulties, where you need to be sensitive to every 'um' and 'er'.

Suzanne Henwood Could you even argue that with on line chat people might be more open and willing to share than if they were in a room? Although I think I would feel I could have more influence in person to enthuse people.

Paul Duxbury I think one of the things that we need to acknowledge is that the speed of the technology changing is amazing and will overcome many of the problems we now perceive.

Sarah Turnbull I know it is a common belief that the 'chat session' allows the more introvert student to contribute without fear of rebuke but I think that it also acts as a hindrance in some cases.

Jane Wolfson C'mon, use your email experience: in a tricky situation does it every work just to type at someone?

Odile I think that online people would jump in faster into a conversation and face to face.

Paul Duxbury Suzanne I would be tempted to agree I have found people sharing on a very profound level because of the security which "virtuality" gives them.

Odile Sorry I meant as opposed to face to face.

Suzanne Henwood Sarah - I am sure you are right and I think online will just be another style to chose from - and people will select their own preference - it will not suit everyone.

Mike Tatlow Suzanne - I agree with the idea, the only barrier is typing skills the anonymity is a benefit ;-)

Ken Reading speed also is a factor.

Stephanie Phillips Suzanne - I think that's the conclusion most are coming to....

Jane Wolfson Sometimes is, sometimes not.

Paul Duxbury Mike voice activated typing will overcome that one Please God!! LOL

Sarah Turnbull I agree Jane.

Suzanne Henwood It comes back to setting etiquette - that people know they are safe to contribute ad no one will rebuke them - even if they say something others disagree with.

Russell Holt There are services that use phone conferencing and web sharing of information.

Russell Holt ...i.e. to get around the typing issues.

Jane Wolfson Like Lotus learning server?

Russell Holt I'm thinking &

Jane Wolfson Who/what are they?

Sarah Turnbull Yes, pray tell.

Russell Holt Normal phone conferencing with text chat, PPT slide shows & whiteboards online.

Suzanne Henwood Some packages take a while to accommodate to our voice though - I have used dictation packages and ended up learning to type faster rather than persist with using them.

Ken Firetalk may be another one of those services.

Paul Duxbury rofl @ Suzanne I think you might be right.

Sarah Turnbull I second that Suzanne....I come from Newcastle so you can imagine my difficulty! :0)

Stephanie Phillips All - we have around five minutes left. Can we conclude by pulling out the main things to consider when getting involved in online tutoring?

Suzanne Henwood You need clear guidance for those getting involved - what is OK - what is not etc.

Jane Wolfson Decide when/how/for who/why it adds value over other options for communications.

Suzanne Henwood Be as prepared taking an on line session as you would be in a lecture theatre.

Paul Duxbury Stephanie, I think the main point that I would make is that we should be open to the idea and look at how we can work with a medium which the younger generation are very familiar with to encourage lifelong learning.

Russell Holt Using the net for what it's good at i.e. bringing disperse groups together, disseminating information, being able to control the nature & extent of interaction.

Paul Duxbury Learning even.

Odile Decide on how to deal with online silence from the participants.

Sarah Turnbull Give your students chance to adjust...... an icebreaker for new users is a good idea.

Suzanne Henwood looking at the role of facilitator to ensure everyone gets involved.

Stephanie Phillips Some great contributions there, thanks!

Sarah Turnbull I enjoyed that TTFN.

Stephanie Phillips All, this has been a lively and, I hope, useful session. The transcript will appear on TrainingZONE later today.

Suzanne Henwood Some useful references and great to hear other views - thanks.

Jane Wolfson Do you summarise on the site?

Paul Duxbury Thanks Stephanie I found that good - if a little tiring on the fingers LOL.

Stephanie Phillips Hope to 'see' you all at another session soon. Okay, if everyone's done we'll wind up there. Thanks all again for taking part. Bye all.

Russell Holt Bye all. Interesting stuff.


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