Melissa* works full-time in a school and plans to qualify as a teacher. She did not complete the diary sheet for the research study, as she did not attend any online tutorials during the module, but she was happy to be interviewed about her decision-making around tutorial attendance. Melissa is well supported by colleagues at work, some of whom have also studied with the same university. She also sometimes discusses what she is learning with her sister and her own children, as she finds it helpful to get their perspective. She occasionally contacts her tutor. She does not have contact with any other students.
* Melissa chose her own pseudonym.
I attended one online tutorial at the very beginning of my studies, and I didn’t get a lot out of it. I found it just as helpful and useful to go through the Power Points and the recordings after. I mean, it wasn’t that it was awful. It just wasn’t for me. I was just sat there. I had my headset on, and you go through the PowerPoint and there’s a little… like a box where people that are attending can comment and address anything. It slowed the process down doing it like that. There wasn’t any videos. I think there was a breakout room when we got put into a group to discuss things. It’s kind of weird to talk to somebody through just typing and you’ve not actually met them. I found that it’s hard to make a connection.
I actually found it more beneficial to go through a PowerPoint in my own time, look at the notes and then, if I did have any queries, to contact my tutor. I can just email them. So it’s been like Power Points and recordings and I’ll just go through them cos there’s notes at the bottom as well. From the recording, I would just go through, pick out any particular bits that I need. I look for certain tips. Sometimes they push you in the right direction of where to use good information. It gives you examples of how to write certain things. If I need to find something out, there’s the forum where people post questions, so something where I think, ‘Someone else might have posted it’, I’ll have a look on there but I generally go through the stuff myself first. So sometimes, you have a question for your assignment, and you sort of think, ‘How am I actually going to tackle that? How would a paragraph of that look?’ And sometimes, you just need to see a rough example of something similar.
I haven’t been to any of the face-to-face tutorials because of the times that they were, distance, childcare, things like that, so I haven’t attended any of those.
I’ve worked in education for a long time. I’ve got lots of people that I can speak to at work and I’ve worked in three different schools. I think that’s probably why I don’t do the tutorials as much because I’m in the education sector and I would imagine for somebody who isn’t, they would get a lot more out of it. So maybe for somebody who hasn’t actually worked in schools, then they actually find that they need that communication with other students and to take part in those tutorials.
I might think about attending a tutorial if they were helping us look at it from a tutor’s perspective of what they’re looking for. They’ve got like a mark scheme and we have our assessment criteria, but I suppose it would be helpful to delve deeper into that. Some of the Power Points have been copied and pasted from the assessment criteria and it’s, ‘Okay, I’ve already got that information but how do…’ I would like more examples of how to pull it apart and put it back together again. It’s also important to keep it at a good pace and straight to the point. To say, ‘This is what you would need to do.’ Normally, I’m looking for information for the assignment, if I’m honest [laughter].
I think it’s always better face-to-face anyway when you’re in groups cos you can pick up more on what people are saying. I’ve never actually done a university tutorial with webcams. That would make more of a difference and you could actually see people’s faces and see their reactions. Recently, I have had a session with webcams because I’m currently retaking my English GCSE. So, for the college, we had to have one of those to discuss what’s happening cos all of that’s had to change now and that session was actually really good. I suppose that was different because I already know all of the other students, cos we see each other every Tuesday. It felt a bit more natural. With the university, no one actually sees each other… I mean it’s good because it’s flexible and everything, but you don’t have that connection as much.