A case centred analysis of the narratives gathered in the main study suggests that tutors can enable positive tutorial experiences by being
- Friendly, encouraging, and helpful
- Understanding of the challenges distance learners face
- Supportive of co-tutors. Students notice how well we work together, and the quality of the tutors’ relationship impacts on their experience.
And by doing the following:
- Acknowledge differences in power and consider these when setting up the online room and granting privileges e.g. if students are using the chat box a lot, why not make it bigger?
- Provide accessible slides in advance to all students. Some students print these off and make notes on them.
- Use a webcam (briefly if broadband connections allow) or a tutor picture. This helps students feel that they can build a relationship with the tutor.
- Design activities that minimise anxiety, but which allow ideas to emerge and everyone to contribute comfortably. Use ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Use polls and breakout rooms, especially in larger groups. Enable interaction in any way that encourages students to test out their ideas, rather than focusing on microphone use.
- Respond encouragingly to everyone’s ideas, so that they know that their contributions are valued.
- Avoid multiple simultaneous conversations that are hard to follow i.e. avoid responding to queries in the chat pod whilst someone else is talking via the mic.
- Provide opportunities to chat and connect with ‘students like me’ whilst working in small groups. Realising that other students feel similarly can help students believe that they can pass the module.
- Develop further skill and confidence online tuition.