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Intensity and online tutorials

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Last Saturday, I had two online tutorials and was again struck by how intense they seem to be compared to face to face teaching.  There were several instances that struck me in this regard.

In the first tutorial, there were originally three students.  One suddenly disappeared and I was left wondering why that was.  She has not written since to explain so I am left slightly mystified.  Did she have technical problems?  If so, why not write to explain?  Did she think she was not getting what she wanted? 

Then during the rest of the tutorial, there were two students.  I know one quite well as he is in my tutor group and we have met face to face.  This means I feel comfortable pitching content to his level and interests.  We can refer back to previous conversations, his TGF contributions and assignments.  The other student was unknown to me which means I was having to react to any clues I could obtain about whether what I was doing was too quick/slow, complex/simple and my judgements were not helped by the way she was keener to use the textbox facility than speak.  She was also influenced by the way her family was in the room and sometimes this would presumably have affected her concentration.  My student was very sensitive to the dynamics and was keen to not dominate and eventually, it seemed like there was useful discussion and learning taking place.

The group for the afternoon tutorial was larger and this in some ways led to even greater diversity.  Three students only used text box chat and one of these hardly even used that and so I have no idea whether she obtained anything useful from the tutorial as I have no clue about her starting level and level of understanding of what we did.  However, the three who did use the microphones were engaged. I had not met any of the students before but one was in my tutor group so I did know something about her.  It seemed like we were able to do work where the students discussed issues in quite an exploratory way.  There was use of speech and text boxes as well as the drawing tool in the whiteboard so there was a rich multimodal communication.

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Associate Lecturer Assembly

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 23 Nov 2018, 10:03

I have been spending the day at the Associate Lecturer Assembly.

There was a brief talk by Mary Keller, the Acting Vice Chancellor, followed by a more extended discussion.  She was persuasive and quite inspiring in some ways.  She seems very committed to the vision of the Open University making a difference to students’ lives.  She also seems flexible about ways of working, including the continuance of face to face as well as online tuition.  I certainly feel more optimistic about the OU’s future than under the previous VC.

We were also updated on the prospect of an AL contract.  There has been discussion of the for nearly two decades but it now looks more likely than at any previous time.  This should make the position of tutors more secure.

In the afternoon, there was an interesting talk by Cath Brown, President of the Open University Students Association.  We discussed the issue of whether we thought we should encourage students to use microphones rather than text chat in online tutorials.  I tend to think it should depend on context but the widespread use of text chat in online tutorials can be useful but is very tiring for the tutor if they need to speak and monitor and in these cases, tutorials should be kept to one hour in length.

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Adobe connect session

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 6 Apr 2018, 17:19

Last night's session for E304 (Exploring English Grammar) was interesting.  The students coped well with what are quite complex concepts, related to mode.

It was noticeable that many of the students did not have working microphones and this poses some challenges for the teacher.  It makes getting feedback particularly slow.  Students can write in text boxes and I can see that a student is in the process or writing, it is hard to predict when they are going to finish writing and what they are likely to say.

I quite enjoy online tutorials but they are often very intense for the tutor as they need to think about what they are going to say as well as monitoring chat boxes, remembering who can be called on to speak (as they do have working microphones) and manipulating slides and working the whiteboard at the same time.

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OU Live

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It was working better for me last night.  However, one of the students did not seem to be able to speak and another kept getting thrown out of the room.  It is a very stressful and concentrated platform for teaching when the teacher needs to notice who is in the room, check whether participants can speak as well as think about what they want to do in terms of content.

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Problems with OU Live and intensity

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 14 Nov 2014, 11:27

Last night's OU Live session had added intensity as my volume kept slipping.  I could see that the slider was moving sometimes to reduce the volume and monitoring this added to the intensity of the session.  I frequently had to do all of the following at the same time:

- think about what I was saying

- respond to what students were saying

- work the whiteboard

- monitor and respond to messages in the text boxes

- monitor my own volume.

OU Live clearly has great value but it is challenging for tutors to work with it.  All teaching involves making many decisions and bearing different factors in mind but OU Live requires even more than most face to face teaching.

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An "intense" OU Live session

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014, 13:23

I had an OU Live meeting last night which seemed particularly intense in terms of the demands that I was under.  One of the students was having problems with sound so was typing about this problem in the chat box.  I was feeling under pressure to support her as I also spoke and manipulated the white board and also tried to encourage engagement from the other students in the group.  Sometimes the demands on tutors can be quite extreme when doing OU Live sessions.

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"Intensity" in OU Live

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The term "intensity" came up in an OU Live session yesterday where some students commented on how busy the tools.  They commented on how they were listening, speaking and also writing in the text box as well as reading the comments and looking at the whiteboard.

It is hard for the tutor and the participants to follow some of the strands that are going on.  I suppose there is a tendency to ensure that the sessions are seen as being valuable.

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Elluminate and teacher strain

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 20 Jan 2014, 15:51

Due to circumstances, I had two Elluminate sessions on the same day last Saturday (one should have been a face to face tutorial but was changed to Elluminate as the venue was closed and many students would have found it difficult to get to Bristol anyway with the transport chaos).

It was very much more tiring than a similar amount of face to face teaching would be and the intensity of Elluminate teaching was very apparent.

 

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