OU tutorials are synchronous group events. They are social opportunities for learning and a place where students can meet an academic (and that might be you!). They are also a chance for students to share ideas and experiences with their peers.
Educational theorists, including Vygotsky (1988) and Wenger (1998), emphasise that learning is a social process. There are areas where a student cannot learn alone but needs to learn with a tutor or students with more experience. Tutorials are intended to offer opportunities for students to work with a tutor and other students to deal with areas that might be difficult for some students to learn alone.
They are also where students can share their own experience of distance learning, the challenges they face and discuss how they might overcome them. Frequently the challenges are diminished simply by having a chat and finding out that others are working through the same issues.