Sophia* is a childminder. She often discusses what she is learning with her daughter and her sister and occasionally talks with her tutor. She also occasionally talks with other students at face-to-face tutorials for her other module. She completed a diary and was interviewed about the second and third tutorials in the module. Here are her thoughts about them in her own words.
* Sophia chose her own pseudonym.
Tutorial 2 was a very good one, first explaining the level of study and the subject material, what to expect, what was going to be covered and then it went into preparing for assignments and also, it talked about the subjects that we covered in topics one and two. They did cover the Bronfenbrenner model quite a lot because that was quite an important part about the whole topic. It was a really good introduction to help me to prepare for my assignment. And they did a lot of brainstorming with the students to get them to think, even down to how to write and what sort of ideas to put in there and the importance of being careful when taking notes not to replicate the material in our essays because it could be plagiarising, and we could do it unknowingly.
We were invited to talk if we wanted to and also they had whiteboards so people can write on it and we can say our opinions in the chat box as well. Everybody could contribute at the same time, the whole group. I think in one of the tutorials, I don’t remember which one, they did separate and make small groups. That was good. They just divided us into two groups to get our perspectives on things, you know? Perhaps it was during my previous module.
I think the tutors were very good and they explained things clearly and they were very engaging with everyone. They shared it, half and half. I think it was very well-managed. One tutor managed the chat box and then one tutor was giving the lecture and then they swapped. So they talked. One talked about the information and the other talked about the assignment and sometimes, they would engage together, if the other tutor wanted to add something. They were tutors from other tutor groups. The difference having different tutors makes is everybody has their own style of teaching, so in that way it’s different, but the material is all the same that they covered, because I think they have set slides that they have to talk about as far as the topic goes.
I contributed on the chat box, but I didn’t add too much because I’m feeling a bit shy to say things. I don’t always contribute. I’m just worried about saying the wrong thing really. I prefer the chat box, rather than the microphone. It’s even more anonymous. It’s not really anonymous because everyone can see your name. I tried writing on the whiteboard, but I couldn’t figure it out actually.
Tutorial 3 was a bit different because they started with subject material, whereas some tutors will start with preparing for the assignment. It was good. It went straight into the material and went into depth and then went into depth with preparing for the assignment as well. They covered a lot of things. It was mainly chat box. I don’t remember doing any whiteboard activity. I think the tutor did go into a lot of detail and there wasn’t time for whiteboard activity. Everybody was chatting in the chat box. It was presentation and discussion. I think the videos didn’t work that day.
I’ve found the tutorials so helpful that I do go back and listen to them, the recorded ones and I listen to other recorded ones as well, not just the ones I’ve attended. I think it’s helping me a lot to understand and because I work alone. I do childminding, and so it’s nice for me to listen to other students because I also feel like I’m talking to somebody about the subject [laughter]. So that’s my way of keeping in touch with the subject with other people. I know the forums are a good way to do it, but I think that everybody on the forum is so busy with work and studying. I don’t think they’re chatting on the forum as perhaps they were expecting to.
Most tutorials are about sharing the information and then preparing for the assignments and reminding us to plan and prepare but different tutors emphasise different things, so I think that’s why it’s helped me to listen to different tutors as well because one might spend more time on planning, another tutor might spend more time on the actual material.
It’s helpful to learn in a group, you know, to share and discuss. It gets me to think around the topic more when we’re talking about it. It’s nice to have colleagues [laughter]. If you’re the same…studying the same topic…you have something in common. In the live session, we can chat more, but it’s not really building the relationship. We’re just talking about… We are responding to the tutors’ questions.
Sometimes, there’s only one tutor, I think. Then it must be hard for them, but it doesn’t make any difference at all. It’s still good. It’s nice that the tutors share their slides afterwards. Some of them do.
I think the tutorials I’ve attended are so helpful and good. I would definitely stick with the same format, introducing the materials and having parts of it to be interactive, getting everybody engaged and getting people to think and share their ideas and then preparing for assignments. There is a lot of things to share in one and a half to two hours, so I can see why sometimes, not everything gets covered. I’m actually just very happy with the tutorials so far.