I will freely admit, prior to lock down, I had thought more about the disadvantages of less face to face teaching in a classroom. However, what I found that I loved about remote learning was that the students (in my case children) actually felt more able to let me know what was going on outside of their learning - I met quite a lot of cats and dogs - and felt freer to share their ideas and ask for help when they knew that they could do that via email or one to one video calls rather than in front of a class. We were able to relate our learning to what interested them. I think the disadvantages were that it was easier to skip a lesson or not complete tasks and all the distractions at home. I have found this to be true for adult learners too.
This is so important Amanda. I work with Autistic children and their families, and remote learning has been for some, a much more positive experience than their classroom. When in their safe, comfortable environment, free from anxieties related to social and sensory demands of school, some have thrived. We are all our best selves when learning can be truly flexible to our learning styles and interests :)
I wanted my tutor to demonstrate both real life experience and academic knowledge so I knew I could learn from both aspects and use both in my real life as well as my course. There is a need to reach out and engage with students who are not engaging as much. In face to face this would be easier so extra sensitivity and effort is required from the tutor
I agree Bernadette in that I was inspired to enter teaching by the part-time tutors I had had at University and on FE programmes, who were actively working in their industry and so felt more relevant and practically helpful.
It's been interesting to see how people have adapted to remote working and schools to remote teaching. Having been involved in online learning for some time, it has been quite rewarding to see that the differences between remote teaching and remote learning are starting to be understood, something that the OU has understood for years.
The promotion of independent learning can be tough and there are so many barriers that crop up. F2F sessions as a tutor/coach/mentor/AL are changing and being pro-active with your students is so important. Helping them to understand their limits and get past them, helping them to identify target areas, being able to spot those needing additional support during difficult times and being able to reward and celebrate when things are going well.
This can be anything from a video call, phone call, email, text message or even sending a calming picture of kittens or puppies.
It definitely helps to be a human being! ;) These are important life and work skills as well, especially in IT, where it is necessary to try, fail, problem solve, Google, ask a friend and try again on a daily basis!
I think face-to-face and remote is very different. Although are all online most of the day, with many things available through simple searches. Experience teaching through covid, it is very difficult to grasp whether students actually understand. In a class, you can offer support and talk through questions and concepts. You can't gage body language working online, on a telephone, and it is also difficult through Zoom/Teams etc..
I've been a tutor and assessor in vocational education, within workplaces, charities & CICs for 12 years, so for me there is no 'traditional'. Often contact with my learners has been via email/text and most recently via Zoom/Meet/Teams.
I have always loved the freedom to really meet my learners where they are at, and offer truly personalised learning experiences which play to their strengths and what they 'can do' and have already done!
I have never worked in a formal school education environment, but I feel meeting individual needs there is harder, for example in case of SEND students. These are often the learners I have taught in alternative settings, who haven't been able to reach their potential at school.
Working as an OU tutor would differ from face-to-face work as in a digital environment there is sometimes an expectation that an email will be seen instantly and acted upon. In a face-to-face setting office hours are embedded and students respect that a teacher is either present and can be talked to or is not present and therefore you can not talk to them 'right now'. As an AL I believe a clear availability schedule would be a MUST, so that expectations are managed, but also so student know when and how to contact you at any given time. For example you could set 'office hours' and host a live video drop in session for students each week. Setting the expectation that outside of that time 'instant' reply could not be expected.
A tutor at OU is the face of the university. The first point of contact for a student with their new study material. As it is distance learning, the tutor would provide the support for the student to navigate through the OU website.
I think there are benefits and challenges to both types of learning and teaching.
As a teacher, my experiences of face-to-face learning are that feedback and reflection is instantaneous. However, sometimes I think that instant feedback can be forgotten, whereas considered online feedback is sometimes taken in more easily.
It is more difficult to really get to know someone if they are behind a screen, however, through technology such as Teams and Zoom, getting to know online learners is becoming easier.
Accessibility is a huge issue for me, as a disabled person. Attending face-to-face education has been difficult for me in the past, particularly at inaccessible venues, or on days where I may be feeling quite ill. Online learning gives disabled people the opportunity to participate in learning from home, eliminating many access issues and with supportive tutors, providing solutions to online access issues.
I think that sometimes, distraction may be an issue with online learning. I have sometimes found myself, when learning from home as an OU student, distracted by an incoming child, or my barking dog, which would not happen if I was in a face-to-face lecture. However, studying online, with recorded lectures gives me the opportunity to revisit the learning experience and "catch up", which is not usually the case in face-to-face learning that tends to be "in the moment".
I think first and foremost students need confidence. They will initially go through the stages of impostor syndrome and need to be supported to believe that they should be studying. Many will have 'failed' at school and will need extra back-up. Once that self belief is in place then all the other skills can be worked on.
Its a very good opportunity for the students who have responsibilities and other commitments. I must say f2f teaching is not as direct (in terms of individual student support) as online teaching, as the teacher is accessible via email or a phone call to discuss any idea or anything that a student is concerned about.
I think one big difference is helping students transition to less of a teacher led learning experience and more of a student led learning experience. As a student's tutor you're one of the resources they have available to them. We can help them learn how best to utilise that resource and all the other resources they have available to them.
But I would think there's also an opportunity to make proactive interventions when we see evidence that such might be required and are likely to be helpful?
I think Lucy G raises a significant point here that, for some students, distance learning enables them to communicate MORE freely than they might in F2F classroom settings. Having worked online a lot myself (due to Covid,) over the past 16 months, I can see that when meetings are managed well, everyone gets a voice and contributes. Using the chat option is also helpful for participants who may not feel comfortable saying something out loud.
Distance learning is different from the traditional F2F role of a teacher in that it might be harder for students to build relationships with one another. In F2F settings that would be a natural part of each session. Learning online requires the tutor to facilitate this more than may naturally occur when working together F2F.
Casual conversations will not happen in the same way as they would in a f2f situation so it may be more difficult to get to know the students. This means that identifying their support needs may be more difficult.