Online tutorial support in open distance learning through audio-graphic SCMC: tutor impressions

Rosell-Aguilar, Fernando (2006). Online tutorial support in open distance learning through audio-graphic SCMC: tutor impressions. JALT-CALL Journal, 2(2) pp. 37–52.



The adoption of audio-graphic conferencing brings with it changes to the learning experience for tutors and students alike. These need to be researched to gain an insight into the learning experience of those teaching and being taught through the medium. One of the conferencing tools that has been utilised for much of the documented research on audio-graphic conferencing is the Lyceum software, used at the UK Open University since 2002 to provide tutorial support for higher level language learners. The use of the software has been reported at different stages, from the pilot projects since 1997 (Hauck & Haezewindt, 1999, Shield 2000, Kötter 2001, Hewer and Shield 2001), to reports of the mainstream use (Hampel 2003, Hampel & Hauck 2004). It seems logical that the next step should be to research into the tutors’ experiences of the audio-graphic tool, which is a key element in the CALL research agenda (Warschauer, 1997; Debski & Levy, 1999). As the Open University prepares to phase out the software and replace it with a Moodle-based open-content audio-graphic synchronous conferencing tool, the insight into teaching with such tools becomes more valuable to other language learning professionals and institutions.

In this paper we will report on a study of data collected from 18 tutors after spending a year teaching a new beginners’ course online. We will examine their perceptions of the audio-graphic tool and challenge some of the results from the initial research into audio-graphic conferencing. Most tutors found the teaching experience very positive and liked using the tool; however some experienced technical problems and believe that these affect the learning experience. In addition we will report on the first and successful use of the environment for assessment purposes.

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