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Online one to one tutoring for school children

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On the BBC news last night, I saw a brief extract of what was supposed to be online tutoring.  It all looked quite slick in terms of the quality of the picture and the tutor seemed empathetic but it seemed to be an example of the constraints of using a tool that provides a webcam of the tutor rather than a Whiteboard as in Adobe Connect.  The tutor held up a piece of paper that had a sentence on and asked the school pupil what mistakes there were (some words that should have been in capitals were in lower case).  She had to check the learner could see and it probably was not very clear.  With Adobe Connect, this can be put on the whiteboard, which would be clearer.  She then asked the learner how to correct it.  Again Adobe Connect might look less slick but would have the affordance of allowing the learner to be able to correct it themselves by using the "draw" tool.

It seems worrying that money is being spent on online tutoring tools that seem superficially "modern" but a less spectacular looking platform like Adobe Connect (or OU Live and Elluminate - previous OU tools) would be better in terms of pedagogy and allowing learners to do more themselves.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 22 Jun 2020, 12:15)
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Collaborating on materials at a distance

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I have recently been writing materials for L185 Online Tutorials with some colleagues.  It has been an interesting and generally positive experience although there are challenges as well.

We have been able to develop materials in an exploratory way with different writers challenging the logic and also suggesting alternative ways of doing things.  There has also been some checking of relatively minor mistakes.

The biggest challenge has often been in terms of coordination and knowing which is the latest version of each piece of material.


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Sound difficulties on OU Live

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Wednesday, 11 Nov 2015, 14:49

I am still rather concerned about the fragility of OU Live.  One student said my sound kept cutting in and out in an OU Live session last night but students this morning seem to have found the sound quality good.  There seems to be too much unreliability for OU Live to be an integral part of courses.

Permalink 6 comments (latest comment by Patrick Andrews, Thursday, 12 Nov 2015, 12:51)
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Online language teaching

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I have just come across a rather negative critique of online language teaching at http://www.teflideas.com/055_The_Drawbacks_of_Online_Language_Learning.html

While there may be some challenges in teaching languages online, it seems to me that the post is unduly negative.  I first address the comments and then state some advantages of online language learning.

1 "only one person can have the mic at any time".  This is not true in OU Live.  The teacher may choose to restrict access to the microphone but it is easy to allow multiple speakers although this might affect sound quality.

2 "Groups tasks - are incredibly hard to initiate and execute".  Again this is not true.  In OU Live, there are Breakout Rooms where students can work together in groups.

3 "Circulating, listening in, praising good language, speaking specifically, demonstrating a point, eliciting errors and answers quietly to a group while others are working is virtually impossible in a virtual classroom".  Again this is not true.  A tutor can be in one of the breakout rooms and address feedback to the learners in that room only.

4 "Instruction gets filtered and convoluted when you put a medium between yourself and the learners. Non verbal gestures are unknown and unnoticed — you can’t point, shrug, nod, or grimace".  Perhaps there is more justice in this comment.  However, there is the option of the text box, which might be more public and allow for another mode for expression.  There is also the possibility of using emoticons.

5 "Teacher led teaching".  This does not need to be the case.  Learners can be asked to work in groups.  Learners also can/should bring their own needs to a class.  Learners can be asked to prepare to lead the session.

6 "whiteboard presentation, which forces all written communication to be typed".  This is not completely true but I am not really sure what the problem is with this.

7 "If a student asks something to the teacher, it’s inevitably typed rather than spoken".  This is not necessarily the case. 

Some other points that seem relevant are the following:

- the OU's online language learning tends to be integrated with the rest of the course (eg online asynchronous discussion forums) so online tutorials should not be seen in isolation.

- online classes allow for learners to be remote from each other and this provides opportunities in that the learners can see and know different things.  The sessions may bring people together who might not otherwise meet.

- sessions can be recorded and in theory, learners might be able to reflect on their performance in a way face to face teachers cannot.

Would anyone care to comment on the original posting or my reply?

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 7 Mar 2016, 10:44)
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OU Live problems

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I had an OU Live session tonight for LB160 and there were big problems with students being thrown out of the room and then being unable to get back in.  I think this must be very frustrating for the students concerned and I wonder what effect this has on motivation and retention.

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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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OU Live demonstration

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I attended the OU Live (replacement for Elluminate) demonstration yesterday.  My impression is that it is quite similar to Elluminate but perhaps more differences will become apparent once I start using it.
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