This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Supporting Learners…

  • In your experience of the ocTEL course so far, describe an instance where the support you received from tutors or peers felt particularly good – what made it good? describe an instance where the support had weaknesses – what made it poor?

When starting the course, there was a buzz of activity in which there was praise and direction. The good thing about it was that through Twitter, forums and blogging, I could meet new people with similar interests. It felt like when Facebook was all sparkly and new. After a few weeks, however, I realised that I was falling behind and the guilt afforded by a traditional class room based education crippled my input. Why should I have an opinion now when I had not contributed for a few weeks!  In addition, a lot of the serial tweeters and bloggers already had a lot of experience in TEL whereas I feel that I am still setting out. Though these are definintely things that might be perceived by myself, it’s harder to appreciate that peers and tutors are there to support me in a MOOC setting.

  • In your general experience, what approaches create an environment conducive to supporting self-directed learning, peer support and collaborative learning? What do these kinds of learning mean to you?


I suspect if there were online test aspects in order to see what knowledge I had gained in a more formal sense, I would both engage more and feel more comfortable that I was doing well. Again, this harks back to my own education where praise seeking was a large part of how I justified my work. I strongly suspect that this feeling would apply to a lot of people in my age group; indeed it is often a request I receive when teaching; can we have more tests (weird huh)? Though interest is a forceful motivator, praise is a large aspect (as we learn in our classroom management techniques and PGCEs. Though this isn’t a traditional class setting, the human psyche has not altered in line with TEL styles).

PEER SUPPORT: I suspect a skills base questionnaire and being matched by the course would lead to better peer support in the first instance. Since most of the collated information for the course progression seems to be derived from data mining, then it shouldn’t be difficult for this type of matching to happen (‘peer; meet your ideal support network for your course!). This could avoid feelings of inadequacy when starting the course as some people have far more experience than others. From here, additional peer support could be added in the form of mixing starter groups with more advanced groups.


Possible peer support network development?

# Possible peer support network development?

COLLABORATIVE LEARNING:Collaboration to me means people working together towards a common learning goal. From the classroom, I find that higher achievers tend to dominate the topics and direction. Without implementing differentiation, certain students tend to get lost and lose interest.  By having a more structured peer support network (i.e. the teacher chooses groups in which to work based on prior experience; it’s all soooo Bayesian), learners can feel more confident in voicing claims and justifying or altering their idea structures. Regarding this course, assigning peer croups that accounted for the course members who really are just setting out, collaborative learning will follow. Perhaps by matching people on level based peer support rather than classifying all participants as peers since they are on the same course, collaboration would be more easily achieved.

  • What resources and facilitation skills do you need to support learners in communicating and providing support for each other? Which of these will be most challenging for you?

With regards to my courses, learners tend towards being excellent Web 2.0 users. It’s getting them to interact with college systems that can be difficult. Since a lot of our adult learners have children, they often cannot find time to sit down in college and interact with the VLE and CPD software in their own time. Another issue is that not all of our students are connected to the Internet outside of college other than on their phones, which limits the amount of interactivity they can achieve with our and other systems.

A lot of our learners often use Facebook/Twitter, etc., as an informal peer support network, which can lead to the inevitable falling outs that afflicts even adults in education.

In summary, the most challenging aspect of using any kind of online peer support will be monitoring the progression of said support. Is support putting all the answers online? Is support saying that such and such cheated in an exam just because they did better? Where is the time to monitor such comments in the life of a tutor timetabled for 26 hours a week?

Speaking of that, last big push, then after the FAB I can get back to waiting for my real life to begin (and the OcTel Course, of course)

Peer support? Anyone?

Peer support? Anyone?

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