Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Guidelines for Online Tutors-Understand Language Differences

It can always be a challenge to manage a tutoring session when the tutor and tutee do not speak the same native language

While giving the lesson
  • Personalize the environment
  • Encourage introductions – introduce yourself. do it with empathy, using a friendly, on-patronizing tone
  • Use names when addressing responses to students – comment on personal things they have mentioned
  • Speak clearly, and naturally
  • Use an informal writing style but model correct grammar and spelling
  • Use repetition
  • Frequently ask the student if what you are saying makes sense
  • Ask students to become the tutor and explain the concept to you
  • Use restatement to clarify the student's response--I think you said...
  • If the student does not understand you, write down what you are saying.
  • If you do not understand the student, ask them to write what they are saying
  • Encourage students to read and to use their dictionaries
  • Be aware that students cannot see your nonverbal behavior – avoid sarcasm
  • Do so clearly and concisely, avoiding unnecessary use of jargon
  • Avoid sexism, racism, ageism or other discriminatory behavior

Guidelines for Online Tutors-Ask Questions

A technique critical to a successful tutoring session is the ability to ask the right question.

  • Ask questions that encourage students to state what they know about the material
  • There are many types of questions that a tutor can use in a tutoring session. Good questioning techniques are essential to a successful tutoring session.
  • It is important to use the right words. Try asking "What do you understand?" If you ask the learners what they don't understand, they will be clueless.

While explaining linear functions, a teacher intends to correlate a linear functions with a live example of bungee jump using a doll and rubber bands. The distance to which the doll will fall is directly proportional to the number of rubber bands, so this context is used to examine linear functions.

He can get the learner’s interest instantly by asking, "Do you think the length of the cord and the size of the person matters when bungee jumping? Would it be smart to lie about your height or weight?"

Another important aspect of asking questions is waiting for an answer.

  • Many tutors are too quick to answer their own questions.
  • Give students an opportunity to reflect on the question before they volunteer a response.
  • Always wait at least 20 seconds for the student to answer your question. This "wait time" might be uncomfortable at first, but it can greatly improve the tutoring session.

Remember to ask leading questions.

  • Questions that can be answered with yes/no have less value that those that ask the student to demonstrate understanding.
  • "What if" questions and analogies are excellent strategies for expanding student understanding.

Become familiar with the Socratic Method of teaching.

  • In Socratic teaching we focus on giving students questions, not answers.
  • It is the oldest, but still the most powerful teaching tactic for fostering critical thinking.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Guidelines for Online Tutors- First Impression

We Learn...

  • 10%...of What We Read
  • 20%...of What We Hear
  • 30%...of What We See
  • 50%...of What We See and Hear
  • 70%...of What We Discuss With Others
  • 80%...of What We Experience Personally
  • 95%...of What We Teach Others

William Glasser

It has been estimated that it takes only three or four minutes for the average person to form a positive or negative first impression.

Make that first meeting with your tutee a positive experience.

  • Be consistent in body, voice and words.
  • Establishing rapport with your tutee is very important. You can help create a good rapport by listening patiently and remaining open to what the tutee has to say.

It is also important to know why the student has requested tutoring.

  • Some students know exactly where they are having trouble.
  • Some students point out general areas of difficulty.
  • Some students can only vaguely describe the source of their confusion.

To help these students, simply ask them where they are having problems.

  • It could be that they fear the subject because of past failure.
  • Because it is a requirement; therefore they have no interest in the subject.
  • The students could also be lacking confidence in their ability to master the material, or they could be overwhelmed by the time requirements imposed on them for this particular class.
  • The reason for the tutoring request is important because it will give you a focus to plan your future tutoring sessions.

Good Online Tutoring- Principles of Planning

Effective lesson planning is the basis of effective teaching. A plan is a guide for the teacher as to where to go and how to get there. However - don't let the plan dominate - be flexible in your planning so that when the opportunities arise you can go with the flow.

Aims - considering realistic goals for the lesson, not too easy but not too difficult. You may find the following checklist useful:

  • What do the students know already?
  • What do the students need to know?
  • What did you do with the students in the previous class?
  • How well do the class work together?
  • How motivated are the students?

Variety - an important way of getting and keeping the students engaged and interested.

Flexibility - expect the unexpected! Things don't always go to plan in most lessons. Experienced teachers have the ability to cope when things go wrong. It's useful when planning to build in some extra and alternative tasks and exercises. Also teachers need to be aware of what is happening in the classroom. Students may raise an interesting point and discussions could provide unexpected opportunities for language work and practice. In these cases it can be appropriate to branch away from the plan.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Good Online Tutoring - Prepare a lesson plan

A lesson plan is a framework for a lesson. If you imagine a lesson is like a journey, then the lesson plan is the map. It shows you where you start, where you finish and the route to take to get there.

One of the most important reasons to plan is that the teacher needs to identify his or her aims for the lesson. Teachers need to know what it is they want their students to be able to do at the end of the lesson that they couldn't do before.

Here are some reasons planning is important:-

  • gives the teacher the opportunity to predict possible problems and therefore consider solutions
  • makes sure that lesson is balanced and appropriate for class
    gives teacher confidence
  • planning is generally good practice and a sign of professionalism

Good Online Tutoring-Identify the Learning Style

Students may prefer a visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), kinesthetic (moving) or tactile (touching) way of learning. Identify the learning style that is preferred by your tutee and design your lesson plan accordingly.

Those who prefer a visual learning style...
  • look at the teacher's face intently and prefer looking at wall displays, books etc.
  • often recognize words by sight
  • use lists to organize their thoughts
  • recall information by remembering how it was set out on a page

Those who prefer an auditory learning style...

  • like the teacher to provide verbal instructions
  • like dialogues, discussions and plays and solve problems by talking about them
  • use rhythm and sound as memory aids

Those who prefer a kinesthetic learning style...

  • learn best when they are involved or active
  • find it difficult to sit still for long periods
  • use movement as a memory aid

Those who prefer a tactile way of learning...

  • use writing and drawing as memory aids
  • learn well in hands-on activities like projects and demonstrations

Friday, July 13, 2007

Good Online Tutoring

“The demands on online tutors are much greater than those on face-to-face tutors in terms of roles, partly because the tutor is a more intense focus for relationships, than in face-to-face environments, where course administrators, and other staff, are more accessible, and partly because of the technology issue.” (McKenzie-D 2000a)

The teaching/learning settings, the constraints of the environment, status of the learners and the tutor, and the pedagogical model must all be understood in order to provide an effective online learning experience for students.

Identify the learner:

McCarthy (1980) described students as innovative learners, analytic learners, common sense learners or dynamic learners. The key to your success as an online tutor is to identify the type of learner the tutee is, and to design your method of teaching accordingly.

Innovative learners...

  • look for personal meaning while learning and draw on their values while learning
  • enjoy social interaction and are cooperative
  • want to make the world a better place

Analytic learners...

  • want to develop intellectually and draw on facts while learning
  • are patient and reflective
  • want to know " important things" and to add to the world's knowledge

Common sense learners...

  • want to find solutions and value things if they are useful
  • are kinesthetic, practical and straightforward
  • want to make things happen

Dynamic learners...

  • look for hidden possibilities and judge things by gut reactions
  • synthesize information from different sources
  • are enthusiastic and adventurous

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New Frontiers in video based e-learning

There is no mistaking in the observation that video based e-learning is making a deep impact in training environments - educational and corporate. Collaborative technologies have emerged to offer a way to familiarize learners with these new learning experiences.

E-learning makes use of a wide range of technologies and media that can be categorized by delivery media or interaction tools. It is also important to realize that each learner will often learn best with certain technologies. E-learning has been broadly classified into – synchronous and asynchronous learning.

Synchronous, which literally means "at the same time" involves interacting with an instructor via the Web in real time - learning and teaching takes place at the same time while the instructor and learners are physically separated from each other. Video has a great role to play in synchronous e-learning. Lately Video conferencing has been offering new possibilities for schools, colleges, and libraries who now use videoconferencing systems for a variety of purposes, including formal instruction (courses, lessons, and tutoring), connection with guest speakers and experts, multi-school project collaboration, professional activities, and community events. Some more traditional distance learning classes meet exclusively through dedicated videoconferencing systems. These video conferencing tools remove many of the differences between normal class environments and an online class environment.

As the bandwidth of the Internet increases over the coming years and emergence of tools like authorLIVE, Webex, Centra and Microsoft Net Meeting, synchronous conferencing options will become more effective, less costly and complex, and may gain more popularity. These synchronous collaboration tools are already being used to bridge gaps in geography and take learning to every corner of the enterprise. With features like live chat, whiteboards, hand raising, application sharing, and breakout rooms, these tools can be surprisingly effective at mirroring a live classroom setting. In addition, some of these solutions allow you to archive recorded sessions so everyone can take advantage of learning — on their own time and at their own pace.

Asynchronous, which means "not at the same time," allows the student to complete the WBT on his own time and schedule, without live interaction with the instructor. As asynchronous e-learning does not require a facilitator or instructor, it is one of the very popular e-learning deployment methods. Asynchronous learning is independent of time and space. Learners are able to interact with course materials and with each other at a time of their choosing. Examples of asynchronous e-learning are self-paced courses taken via Internet or CD-ROM, email, bulletin boards, stored audio/video web presentations or seminars, PowerPoint trainings and discussion threads.

Many upcoming tools like authorPOINT, Macromedia Breeze, Articulate and Presentation Pro have been successful in helping the trainers prepare an effective training session that can be made available to students/trainees all over the world through accessible URLs, or CD-ROM. These tools give e-learning much of its appeal. Learners can engage each other when it is most convenient. Web sites and CD-ROMs can track a student’s progress as they move through a course and offer interactivity with the materials. Moreover students that are trailing behind in course work receive the benefit of being able to read discussion posts.

Benefits of video based e-learning

Learning is a social process. It involves active acquisition of new knowledge and understanding through group and peer interaction ­- the key learning skill being communication.

Human beings gain much of their initial understanding of others through our sensory capabilities - both visual and auditory. According to some studies the written word only communicates 7% of what we mean. Voice tones and inflections can account for as much as 38% of the understanding a normal conversation. Where you place emphasis speaks volumes that are very hard to accomplish with words only in PowerPoint slides. With video you can add another 55% to understanding. Video allows you to include all those body language cues we all use – the smile, the twinkle of the eye, the raised eyebrow, the lean, the crossed arms, the tilt of the head. The instantaneousness of moving image and impact of human voice is very powerful.

As an interactive communication medium, video in e-learning stands out in a number of ways.

  • Video in e-learning stimulates better brainstorming, knowledge sharing and information gathering. Businesses can use video conferencing to provide training to its key members or give presentations to its clients in a professional manner irrespective of their location.
  • It provides students with the opportunity to learn by participating in a 2-way communication platform. It's almost like being there.
  • It can be richly informative cashing in to our profound ability to learn from our visual and auditory capacities.
  • The visual connection and interaction among participants enhances understanding and helps participants feel connected to each other. Seeing the instructor, or hearing his voice, goes a long way toward building relationships in a way that e-mail, telephone, or online chat systems cannot. Interactive communication and graphics are among the keys to learning. This way the students learn from a primary source rather than a textbook.
  • A video based e-learning session can prove to be more effective and efficient as it can improve retention and appeal to a variety of learning styles by including diverse media such as video or audio clips, graphics, animations, and computer applications. Further graphics and video do a great job of illustrating skills and techniques that are difficult to explain. This first hand learning is especially good for visual learners.
  • It lowers the cost of delivery and overcomes the need for centralized location-based training. All you need to do is author it once, and you can deploy it anywhere. Participants may attend a meeting from their normal workstations without travel
  • It heightens motivation as the excitement of being able to see the presenter or the co-participants enhances the motivation level of the students.
  • Holds Your Audience's Attention
  • Enhances interaction with experts. Students are able to get answers to questions from experts who, because of time and distance, would otherwise be inaccessible.
  • Students learn about cultural differences. They are able to interact with other students and adults who may be very different from themselves.
  • Improve Skills - Presentation and Speaking Skills, Communication and Management Skills, and Questioning Skills
  • Gives the distant learners an opportunity to achieve a sense of belonging with a peer community