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what is the tutor role?


I'm currently looking into the role of the tutor in the online environment, predominantly in the FE sector but any experience would be valued.
Is the tutor becoming more of a facilitator? In e-learning, is it inevitable that the tutor takes more of a supportive (rather then pro-active, even didactic) role?
Can students learn "effectively" in this way?
And the key question, is it possible for students eventually to learn without tutor support at all?
Kate Fairbairn

4 Responses

  1. Yes, there is a (different) role for tutors

    It would be useful to you to carry our a search on ‘tutor skills’ in the Any Answers Search as this topic has been explored on several previous occasions. Also, have a look at the Topical Briefings papers, where there are several postings on online training skills.

    To summarise some of the points raised in earlier discussions:

    • The role of the tutor is fundamentally changed from being the ‘deliverer’ of materials to the ‘designer’ of learning and the ‘facilitator/supporter’ of that learning with students
    • As a consequence, learning is becoming much more individualised. This suits many learners as they can work at a pace and style which matches their time and interest.
    • However, the lack of a peer group for learning is also perceived as a serious limitation – for sharing, exploring, peer referencing, and support. An effective online learning environment needs to replicate aspects of a social group environment – perhaps with real face-2-face events, online networking, real-time online meetings, messaging systems, etc.
    • In response to your final question, there will always be a role for tutor support – but it will look and feel different. People need positive affirmation and feedback in their learning – from humans; they need sources of help when it’s not going well; and they need people to monitor their progress and pro-actively contact them when they appear to be less active.

    Tim Pickles, Founder, TrainingZONE

  2. tutor roles
    Research shows that there is a 30% increase in training retention in an e-learning environment.
    The tutor does become more of a supportive person than a teacher.
    The internet is the medium, not the message. Developing your own understanding of how people learn is the foundation of good coaching, allowing individuals to take responsibility for their own learning.
    Learning logs are good way to get students into active reflection, this then shows them the learning curve they have experienced.

  3. E-tutoring
    The e-tutor needs to be pro-active, even more than a classroom tutor. There is a danger that the freedom to learn ‘wherever you are, whenever you want’ can degenerate into anarchy. Therefore the e-tutors role is that of moderator and facilitator, making use of the most suitable delivery means for each aspect of learning (e-learning, chat-rooms, forums, classroom, background reading, projects, simulations etc.)

    The integrated learning approach provides a much more exciting and successful learning environment than anything before.

  4. Competencies for e-Tutors

    There’s powerful evidence that the role played by online tutors for effective e-Learning is vital.

    Left entirely to their own devices learners can feel isolated; course completion rates are much higher where proactive support from a skilled tutor is the norm.

    Unfortunately, the generic skills required of the e-tutor are neither commonplace nor simple common sense.



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