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Recruitment of online tutors Sharon Slade, Fenella Galpin OU Business School.

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Presentation on theme: "Recruitment of online tutors Sharon Slade, Fenella Galpin OU Business School."— Presentation transcript:

1 Recruitment of online tutors Sharon Slade, Fenella Galpin OU Business School

2 Background OU Business School - since 1980s Increasing use of online conferencing Specific focus at tutor group level Increasing use of online links to course material and assessment Aim to achieve self-directed learning, so tutor becomes: –Sage on the stage –Guide on the side –Friend to the end

3 Traditional recruitment Focus on relevant experience Academic credentials Face-to-face facilitation skills Ability to provide supportive and constructive feedback on student assessments Geography is an issue

4 Additional competences for online/global tutors Online technical and online communication skills, –experience of assessing, marking, tutoring work online –excellent online facilitation skills A passion for teaching and supporting students online, –through a creative and imaginative approach depending on group and course needs –through early intervention, regular contact and ongoing support An interest and enthusiasm for international tutoring, including an understanding of, and sensitivity to, cultural differences Experience of working in an international context, and experience of working in an environment where English is not the first language

5 Review of recruitment approach Additional competences led to review of recruitment processes for online tutors Seeking to select tutors with more in- depth understanding of differences between traditional ‘classroom’ facilitation and online facilitation Recruitment process adapted to test skills needed, as an explicit part of the process itself

6 Outline of recruitment process Applicants are shortlisted for required competences/experience Activities to be completed online are emailed to candidates –e.g. sample conferencing messages –Ideas about online tuition –Electronic assignment for marking –Online tutorial plan Those who successfully complete these are (usually) invited for a phone interview

7 Recruitment activity - Tutor intervention One student never replies to any messages, but always reads them all - what are your thoughts on this? Please provide examples of any messages that you might send. –Might elicit some discussion around the nature of lurking, e.g., ‘ I have no problem with lurkers - there is a great deal of learning to be had from observation. If others are concerned by this I would pass on my own views. I would email the lurker privately to suggest ways in which he/she might respond and also to ascertain if there are any difficulties. ‘ –‘I may, if I felt that there was a problem with the activity, try another to see if they might engage with that topic. In particular I’d try something that might directly help with the next assignment to encourage participation.’

8 Recruitment activity – Understanding the environment Outline key activities a tutor needs to carry out to meet the needs of a distance learner via online conferencing –Create a welcome and supportive atmosphere initially by posting a welcome message –Get the students to post an initial message to the conference. –Provide the opportunity for students to engage in the materials by providing exercises and activities that encourage them to relate to their own experience –Provide tips and ideas to aid the students with their assignment –Provide generic feedback on the assignments so they can learn from each other –Respond regularly to contributions (but not always answering directly) and encouraging students to do so –Log in regularly in order to pick up on any issues quickly.

9 Recruitment activity – Tone and style of messages Example student messages - please insert any response that you might make to each : –Pete: ‘Hellooooo???? I’m starting to feel like I’m the only person in here’ –Sally: ‘When are we going to get our assignments back? They should have been returned 2 days ago…..’ –Rachel: ‘ Work and home pressures are starting to build up and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to carry on with the course. The online work is another pressure for me, so I’m thinking of throwing in the towel’

10 Recruitment activity – Interview questions Understanding of the online process, e.g. –What experience do you have as an online tutor? –In what ways has working online changed your thinking? Technical skills –Have you used online conferencing software? What do you need to be confident in its use? Online communication skills –In what ways can you establish your identity in an online environment, with a group of people you may never meet? Content expertise –How do you keep yourself up to date in your subject area? Personal characteristics –Fitting in the commitment to assignment marking, tutorials etc

11 Recruitment activity – Tutorial plan provide an excerpt from a short tutorial activity which: –has several separate activities –covers a particular area of course content –would run over a week or less describe how it could be facilitated in an online conferencing environment

12 Recruitment activity – Online assignment marking Given: –extracts of course material –an assignment question based on that material, –some guidance on what the assignment is designed to assess, –an answer produced by a student –a guide to the grading of answers. Applicants are asked to: –allocate a mark –insert comments into the text of the student’s answer on specific strengths and weaknesses in their answer, addressed to the student –write a summary paragraph of the overall assessment of the student’s answer

13 Conclusions If tutors are motivated and committed, can they learn online tutoring skills? Recruitment and ongoing staff development of tutors is key –Job specification –Online activities as part of interview process It’s about building trust, building relationships, giving support, giving resources” How is trust established? What constitutes the “enthusiastic voice”? Should these competences be required for all tutor roles? Impact of ongoing technology development

14 OU Business School The Open University Walton Hall Milton Keynes MK7 6AA

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