Web conferencing for synchronous online tutorials: perspectives of tutors using a new medium

Kear, Karen; Chetwynd, Frances; Williams, Judith and Donelan, Helen (2012). Web conferencing for synchronous online tutorials: perspectives of tutors using a new medium. Computers & Education, 58(3) pp. 953–963.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.015

Abstract

This paper reports on a pilot investigation into web conferencing in a distance learning module. It focuses on the perceptions and experiences of the tutors, all of whom were new to the web conferencing environment, but were experienced in online teaching. A number of synchronous online tutorials were studied through the collection of various datasets, mostly qualitative. The data were analysed by a team of researchers, informed by key literature in this area.

The main findings from the pilot indicated that tutors experienced challenges in creating social presence and in managing cognitive load when dealing with multiple tasks online. There were also technical obstacles to improvisation in response to students’ emerging needs. The findings of the pilot informed the training and support provided when web tutorials were subsequently rolled out to all tutorial groups (approximately 140) in the module. Overall, experiences from the web tutorials indicate that tutors and students reacted positively to the opportunities web conferencing provides for interactive learning and teaching.

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