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eTutoring: Top Tips for Engaging Students
& David Hopkins
1. Design for learning
5. Explain the goals
Online delivery needs to be designed
around what you want the students to
do. Material can often be adapted from
face-to-face teaching, but needs to
engage students who are studying
Make it very clear what you expect
students to do and why - for the unit as
a whole and for each activity. Identify
what’s in it for them e.g. marks,
underpins assessment etc. Provide
opportunities for students to assess
their own progress towards the goals.
2. Plan ahead
8. Force use of
Aim to model the behaviour you
wish to see from students and
plan your interventions
accordingly. Make sure you are
thoroughly familiar with the core
material before the unit starts.
Once the unit starts you can
make core material come alive
by including current news items
Insist students use discussion
forums for all questions and
discussions, so that ideas are
shared and your email is
reduced. Answer individual
emails and, if its not personal,
put Q&A on the unit support
forum (each unit should have
one). Subscribe to all forums
yourself and encourage your
students to do so too.
3. Diarise your
Create your own
timetable for eTutoring
and put this into your
calendar. Put a ‘do not
disturb’ sign on your
door to prevent
time for planning,
4. Make it personal
Introduce yourself and set clear
expectations for what students can
expect from you and what you expect
from them, particularly frequency of
contributions. Post a holding
announcement to make it clear when
the unit starts and explain any
preparation students should be doing.
Don’t overstretch yourself – you can
always do more than you’ve indicated
but never less.
Use marks to encourage participation
– note that marking criteria need to
be clear. Define pre-requisite
activities for assessment and make
the rules explicit. Spell out the
correlation between participation and
You need to have a strong
presence in the virtual
world. Two or three
announcements per week
as a minimum. Use
announcements to start
debate, provide feedback
and close activities.
Include a link to the forum
6. Understand strengths
Yours and the students’. Prompt
students to share ideas and to critique
their own work by using generic
feedback, FAQs, model answers,
marking criteria etc. Encourage
students to use their experience as
well as theory. Students appreciate
tasks grouped together and
discussions spread over two weeks.
10. Feedback and reinforce
Provide feedback covering what has gone
well and scope for improvement. Address
content and process. Reinforce collaboration
by sharing tips, your ideas, suggestions for
application etc. Invite feedback on the unit
through a feedback forum and always
respond promptly to comments made.
And finally ...
make sure you do what you said you will do!