Teaching Online 5: Five steps to becoming a (good) online tutor
Monday 25 October 2010
by Nicky Hockly
One question that I am often asked is: ´How do I become an online tutor?´
Nowadays, language teachers are increasingly expected to offer online options to their learners. Perhaps your school or institution has asked you to start teaching part of your course online. Perhaps your students themselves would like some of their classes to take place online rather than face-to-face. Perhaps you yourself would like to travel less and offer your private students part or all of their course online. The big question is, where to start?
Below are five steps to help you get started as an online tutor:
Step 1: Take an online course yourself
This does not necessarily need to be a language course (although that would be useful). You could take a course in an area of interest to yourself, such as fitness training, photography or cooking. Or you could do an online teacher training course. Whatever course you choose, ensure that it is an example of good practice in online teaching/learning. Taking an online course yourself as a student will give you immense insight into not only online course and task design, but in how it feels to be at the receiving end of online teaching.
Step 2: Get training
You will need training in both soft skills and hard skills. Soft skills refer to knowing how to do things such as tutoring, or knowing how to design good online tasks. Hard skills refer to knowing how to use technology in your online course. You should consider using both synchronous (real-time) tools such as a videoconferencing platform. You should also consider using an asynchronous platform for course content and tasks, such as a VLE (Virtual learning environment), or a wiki.
Step 3: Start small
Rather than launching an entire course online, first try putting a small part of a face-to-face course online. Consider this as a learning experience/pilot course. Look at your face-to-face syllabus, and identify approximately 20% of that course content that you could offer online. Plan how you would do so, and what tools and tasks you reduce. Try that out over a period of time (e.g. a term), and evaluate the experience. Keep a list of insights and learning points as you go along. Get your peers and learners to provide feedback on the online course experience as well.
Step 4: Get support
Being the only one in an institution trying out new stuff can be daunting. Try to get your director of studies/school administration/colleagues on board with your pilot project. Plan a pilot course (as in step 3 above) with peers. Sharing and bouncing ideas off other people can be an enriching experience.
Step 5: Consult resources
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Plenty of people before you have offered online courses. Look where possible at other online language courses, and look at online training resources already available on the web. Below are a few resources to get you started. Clearly, the first and most important resource you need is Lindsay and my book, Teaching Online, which is written to help and support language teachers who would like to offer some or all of their courses online!
1 Online language courses (look at the sample material):
– English 360 (Business English)
Note: these courses are not necessarily THE way to offer language courses online, but they will show you some of what is currently out there.
2 Videos about online course design and delivery:
– Dr. Curt Bonk (Indiana University) – a series of short 10-minute videos on designing and delivering online courses
Delta Development Blog
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Meet the Bloggers
- Bob Dignen & Steve Flinders (February to April 2013)
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- Chaz Pugliese (March 2010)
- Luke Meddings (August 2009)
- Lindsay Clandfield (July 2009)
- Duncan Foord (June 2009)
- Scott Thornbury (May 2009)
Teaching Online is essential reading for any teacher interested in online teaching and course delivery. It deals comprehensively with both the tools and the techniques necessary for online language instruction.
The Book of Pronunciation
Part of the multi-award-winning Delta Teacher Development Series. The Book of Pronunciation is a definitive account of the key role pronunciation plays in teaching and learning, providing a highly authoritative but hugely accessible overview of the essential elements of English pronunciation as well as a wide range of classroom practice.
DIGITAL PLAY - 2012 ELTONS WINNER IN INNOVATION IN TEACHER RESOURCES! Digital Play is a pioneering book on the use of computer games in language teaching. Authors Kyle and Graham are experts in teaching with technology and training teachers in innovative classroom practice.
The Business English Teacher
From the multi-award-winning DELTA TEACHER DEVELOPMENT SERIES. The Business English Teacher is a book not only for teachers who are thinking of making a career move into the field of business English teaching but also for those who would like to increase their skills and develop their potential.
Culture in our Classrooms
Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Culture in our Classrooms acknowledges the role of culture in the English Language Teaching classroom and provides lesson content which is relevant, useful and engaging for students.
The Company Words Keep
Part of the multi-award-winning Delta Teacher Development Series. The Company Words Keep is a practical and thought-provoking guide for language teachers, showing how the latest insights into “language chunks” can lead to learners acquiring natural and fluent English.
The Developing Teacher
The Developing Teacher has been awarded the 2009 Duke of Edinburgh/ESU Award for Best Entry for Teachers. The Developing Teacher suggests that teachers themselves are the most powerful agents of change and development in their own professional career.
Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Being Creative takes you on a journey that reveals how all teachers have the potential to become creative. Whether you are experienced or new to the classroom, Being Creative allows your teaching to take flight.
Teaching Unplugged was awarded the British Council 2010 ELTons UK Award for Innovation. Teaching Unplugged is the first book to deal comprehensively with the approach in English Language Teaching known as Dogme ELT.
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