What are they?
An online tutorial is a self study activity designed to teach a specific learning outcome. They are usually delivered via Blackboard but can also be made available via the Internet or on a DVD. There are two main types of online tutorial which we refer to as Recorded and Interactive.
- Recorded tutorials are video or screencast recordings, typically of a subject expert presenting information and ideas or giving a demonstration. Click here to see an example of a screencast created using Camtasia. The tutorial is designed to teach students how to search for books and print journals on their reading list. It consists of an audio narration over PowerPoint slides and a demonstration of the Catalogue software.
- Interactive tutorials are a structured collection of navigable web pages. Individual pages can contain any combination of text, images, audio, video, self test questions and other interactive activities. Interactive tutorials can also contain screencasts. Click here to see an example of an interactive tutorial created using software Wimba Create.
Both types of online tutorial can be provided as supplementary learning materials or as an integral part of a core activity, e.g. a prerequisite to attend a time tabled seminar. Because of the benefits they offer (see next section), online tutorials are becoming common place within both programmes of learning and on a number of support service web sites.
Why use them?
Reasons to consider providing online tutorials for students (and staff) include:
- To allow learners to study in their own time and at their own pace
- To provide scalable (cost effective) and flexible training for staff
- To ensure learners have a baseline knowledge in particular subjects – e.g. incoming first-year students who have varying levels of prior knowledge
- To teach the more straight forward factual aspects of your subject, therefore freeing contact time for more complex or contested ideas
- To prepare students for lectures or lab work
- To facilitate consolidation and revision
- To cover aspects of the curriculum which are not covered in the time tabled part of the course
- To address time table clashes
- To support distance learning
Note: interactive tutorials can also be used to enable students to practice skills learnt in class, e.g. language listening skills using audio, self test questions and feedback. Another example is to allow medical students to practice diagnosing patients by proving videos of patients describing their symptoms accompanied with self test questions and feedback.
How can I provide online tutorials?
If you wish to develop your online tutorials for your learners, we advise you to email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a consultation. We can help you to develop you ideas and provide advice and training in:
- Best practice
- Effective online tutorial design
- Appropriate authoring tools
- Delivery options
Note: It is sometimes possible to purchase commercial online tutorials on specific topics. If funds are available it might be worth looking to see if there is anything on the market that suits your needs before spending time building your own. However, it is rare to find commercial tutorials that fully meet your needs. Some commercial licences allow you to tailor the tutorials to an extent, but it is often the case that by the time you have done this you may have well built a tutorial in-house.
What support is available?
- Individual consultations with a member of the e-Learning Team
- A campus wide licence for Wimba Create, an easy to use interactive online tutorial authoring tool (an add-in to MS Word)
- A regular training workshop called Creating Online Tutorials