Hint: if you notice that the 'discussion' tab on a particular page is blue rather than red, this means that the page in question has some discussion points on it. The discussion page for this page does, for example!

Background and process Edit

This is a write-up of the 'Tutoring' break-out session at the Vision2Learn conference held at Newbury College on 25th October 2005

The aim of the session was to generate lots ideas related to effective tutoring - including best practice and ways of improving still further what is already an excellent system - in a short space of time.

About 16 people, mostly tutors and Jonathan Ovenden from Creating Careers Ltd., participated in the 45 minute session.

Each participant was asked to think about three broad headings:

  • What works well? I.e. What, based on your experience as a V2L tutor , works well when you're tutoring? (New tutors were asked to think about their general experience of learning/helping others to learn.)
  • It would be even better if… I.e. V2L could be even better, from the point of view of learners and tutors, if…
  • Ideas (I.e. what general/random ideas for improving the system have occurred to you.)

If you weren't at the conference, or even if you were, and this list prompts further ideas and thoughts, please add them! See below for suggestions about how to do this.

Participants wrote points on Post-It notes related to each of these headings. The Post-Its were then stuck to flip charts: one chart per heading. Everyone reviewed all the points that had been posted and this was followed by an attempt to group similar points togehter. This was followed by a brief discussion.

How we could use this Edit

There are lots of excellent ideas in the lists below. We can, if we want, use this as a 'living document' - adding new ideas as they occur to us. I suggest that if you do add a new idea - either something completely new or a thought that's prompted by these lists) - you hightlight this new material in italics. Please also append your signature to the contribution. To add a signature you'll need to be signed-in. When you're ready to add your signature click the 'signature' logo which appears above the edit box or insert the following 'mark up' without the quotes '--~~~~'.

I suggest that we use the 'discussion page' associated with this page to discuss specific ideas so that this page can be kept for our standing lists of ideas, What works tips and even better ifs...

(If anyone makes it as far as this sentence, please could you send me an email - just a header 'Made it! with no body text would be fine. I'm just interested to know whether anyone is reading this stuff and to date no one has invented a hit counter which will tell me that!

Apart from a few minor edits, and addition of the leading dots in the 'Even Better If' section the lists show what was written on the Post Its. I've included duplicates so that you can see how many people had the same idea.

Ideas Edit

Group forum

  • Improve platform by alerting learners when something has been posted on group forum
  • Use forum as a place to store advice on given assessments


  • Next Steps students who have already completed First Steps to mentor new First Steps students
  • Buddying between learners in tutor groups
  • Learners allocated a learning coach who contacts them on a regular basis

Automating processes

  • Nice to have some template resources for sending a weekly newsletter
  • Haphazard email prompts do not work – a better structured system needs to be in place for learners who are not logging on (automated emails?)
  • Make the first task/assessment for all courses a quiz on using the platform ( forum, submitting via the right area etc.)
  • V2L to put out a congratulatory message for completers that is viewable by all learners on the platform.
  • Hide more assessments in the course (e.g. ‘behind’ tests etc.) so that students can’t do the assessments without going through the course material.

Sharing/best practice

  • More contacts between colleges and other tutors
  • Mentoring for tutors

Platform improvements

  • Platform to incorporate GLH logs
  • Use Access database to track learners and for tutors to bill colleges (I have a buggy one)
  • Automate some of the admin jobs like creating Learner Plans to leave more room for tutoring
  • Increase number of files that can be included in an assessment (some require more than 5 assessments)
  • Enable multi-tasking on the platform
  • Do induction feedback automatically so that tutor can get on with other jobs

Improvements to courses

General Ideas

  • Make assessments easier to find – some are too well hidden
  • Shorter assessments for Equality and Diversity
  • Have a learner suggestion box
  • Provide audio and visual material as part of courses
  • More tutor input into content and more up-to-date content
  • Ensure that tutors have jobs – e.g. by providing opportunities in counties which don’t currently have V2L
  • Learning agreements with tutors – signed by each party

What works well? Edit

There was some discussion of whether all these are ideas are actually examples of things that work well now or things that might work well. I think most of them are things that work well now - I've indicated things we do at Newbury College - perhaps others could add the name of their college when they add-to or amend this list. There are some general points where this isn't relevant.

  • Giving new learners an opportunity for a first session at their college helps as it provides a chance for them to learn the system
  • High standards of filtering and advice and guidance before allocating learners to courses and groups. A phone call works better than an email. (Newbury.)
  • Asking learners to skim through the course material before completing the course induction. (Newbury)
  • Ensuring that you understand what your learner wants from the course (Newbury - covered during initial advice and phone call by tutors)
  • Newsletters for learners (Newbury)
  • The system hiding assessments is great as you can see when learners are skipping through material
  • Making the effort to keep in touch with your students
  • V2L respond quickly to update course material following requests from tutors
  • Keeping up-to-date with course material/criteria
  • Learning outcomes table posted into feedback form so that students can relate the tasks to the qualification standards
  • Keeping to the ground rules
  • Automated tracking on V2L platform
  • Ongoing regular feedback
  • Establishing use of the discussion forums
  • ILPs with added columns for holidays is great as you don’t have to amend this sheet as you go, instead the expected dates change
  • Tutor subject support
  • Passing of information through the V2L platform
  • Have a repository of feedback that you can call upon
  • Be prompt
  • Proper responses/supportive responses
  • Prompt responses
  • Being honest and open
  • First rate, thought provoking feedback which convinces students that you have read and absorbed what they write
  • Be kind
  • Praise and encouragement
  • Collect and give useful tips to widen learners knowledge
  • Use language the learner is able to understand – not too much jargon
  • Feedback pointing out the good and positive things to students but also encouraging and guiding them
  • Knowing when your students are on holiday is important

It would be even better if… Edit

[There are lots of constructive of ideas in this list. I think that should be taken as an indication of the liveliness, commitment and breadth of experience of the participants in this session. In my view we've not only got something already that's very good, we've got a lots of people who are keen to make it even better. Properly used, this is a tremendous asset. ----Andrew Cooper 23:03, 25 Oct 2005 ]

  • ... there was better V-Mail functionality or if V-Mail was replaced with Web-Outlook or similar
  • ... learners and tutors were sent emails when assessments/feedback posted
  • ... V-Mail included a spell checker
  • ... big descriptions in ‘hover over’ rubrics (I didn’t understand this – if whoever wrote this reads this perhaps you could explain what you meant by amending this entry. Go to the ‘edit’ tab and change this bullet point.)
  • ... enrolments weren’t in dribs and drabs so tutors could put groups together who started together to make better use of group forum facilities
  • ... pay somehow reflected actual hours spent by tutors (e.g. for Next Steps in IT)
  • ... for the good of tutors explore further ideas about charging for courses even if only a deterrent to prevent people dropping out
  • ... students and tutors were kept up-to-date on student status after ‘completion’
  • ... colleges withdrew inactive students and didn’t leave it to tutors
  • ... pointers were provided to websites to expand points in knowledge gathering exercise e.g. HSE details
  • ... tutors could identify why learners aren’t responding and could help them to find solutions before they drop out
  • ... EI literature and content was reviewed
  • ... the tutor café used different software e.g. alert on new postings to existing threads
  • ... there was a heading structure and table of contents in tutor resource documents
  • ... at the end of the administration or enrolment stage a check was done on the learner’s computer for the right software required
  • ... it was possible to attach more than one document with feedback
  • ... V2L reported last log-in (it does – check the learner’s record page)
  • ... learning outcomes for course material were up-to-date and relevant e.g. use of newsgroups and read receipts in Next Steps
  • ... contact log was fixed – admin time calculation is wrong way around

(i.e. instead of asking you to enter how total time you spent for GLH, and then asking how many minutes of that was admin activity, you entered how many actual GLH minutes you spent, and then how many extra admin minutes).

  • ... the platform provided better and more visible information about learner progress – e.g. inactive learners
  • ... nudges were done regularly by the computer itself
  • ... induction was done automatically by the computer
  • ... there was less administrative overhead
  • ... entry level assessment of learners via inductions was improved
  • ... there was more telephone contact with learners
  • ... students were told what to expect at enrolment: e.g. major time commitment, assignments to do
  • ... the platform accepted files from outside the system
  • ... there was a wider base of students (out of the area) for tutors
  • ... we could foster the idea of a a tutor group community – like a class cohort in a face-to-face learning environment
  • ... there were more extra-course references (websites, books) to promote investigation
  • ... conferences could include break-out sessions organised by specialisation (EI, IT, etc.)
  • ... there was more up-to-date support for tutors
  • ... there was more/some peer learning
  • ... there were better facilities for group activities/participation (e.g. improve forums)
  • ... there was better use of group forums
  • ... we could build group identity – via forums etc.
  • ... we could eliminate delays in getting learners on programme so as not to reduce their motivation

And finally... Edit

...there was a question which didn’t fit into the works well/even better if/ideas structure:

How often are these conferences?

Good question! Not often enough would be my view, but I guess it all comes down to money. --Andrew Cooper 23:02, 25 Oct 2005 (UTC)

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