The Tutorial System: An Online Option

Decorative: "Zoom Help Center"


Clicking on the image above will take you to "Zoom Video Tutorials."

“College Courses Online Are Disappointing. Here’s How to Fix Them” (article) proposes “the tutorial system … adapt[ed] … for the online world” as “something worth paying for.” 

1.TL; DR

a. The Challenge: Online Learning

  • Students “ge[t] the best bang for [their] buck when [they] engag[e] directly with [their] professors, [their] classmates and the material."
  • It is “hard it is to sustain this kind of engagement while students learn at a distance.”

b. A Solution: A Tutorial Approach

  • “Lecture-related material is placed online for students to download and consume on their own.”
  • [S]tudents meet in small groups every week with [the instructor or] a graduate student … who is supervised by … the … professor.”
  • “[M]ore students end up participating collectively in the intellectual journey, rather than just the most extroverted or gregarious ones who tend to speak up during large lectures.”

2. The Classic Tutorial System

  • “[S]tudents do most of their learning in small sessions that include the professor (or an assistant) and just a few other students.”
  • “The students are expected to work actively with the material as they engage critically with the instructor and one another.”
  • “Courses may also include larger lectures and traditional exams, but the tutorials are where the main action happens.”

3. A Modified Tutorial System for Online Delivery

  • “Professors could record lectures on video for later viewing, annotate them with required and supplemental readings, and then schedule live video tutorials with, say, four or five students each.”
  • "This ... [is] more challenging than sitting passively in a lecture hall ... [b]ut research consistently shows that active learning leads to better learning."

4. Use with Larger Classes

  • “Tutorials could be a bit bigger, perhaps up to 15 students (a class size that research suggests is compatible with high levels of student achievement)” -- and a group size still manageable on Zoom.
  • They “could be led not just by professors but also by supervised teaching assistants.”
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