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Tutors Training Course

Module 3


Tutors Training Course


I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

Chinese proverb

In this module we focus on how we can help our participants learn. For this
purpose we analyze course activities, active learning, collaborative learning, and
feedback for learning.

Note: To begin explore the following questions

(Find a partner for Activity 1).

How do we learn?
How did you learn something that you
are good at? How did you learn to ride a
Did you read a manual, memorize the
steps and ride perfectly right away?
Or did you have to try, struggle, make
mistakes, make some sense of what
works and what doesnt, get advice and
try it out, try again and find your style?

Learning activities


People learn best when they have

opportunities to actually DO: to
engage in doing what they want
to learn, get feedback, reflect and
do it again.

As tutors, we want to favor interaction and reflection instead of transmission.

Helping participants learn is NOT transmitting information to them, it is engaging

Module 3: Course Activities

Tutors Training Course

them in building their own understanding. Learning is an active process in which

participants create meaning from their experiences.
Helping participants learn is about creating opportunities for them to make their
own meanings, based on their own experiences, contexts, and interests.
Just reading the text is not enough. Memorizing
definitions or doing quizzes are not real world
activities (completing a true or false quiz is not what
the professionals in the field DO). Tutors need to
engage participants in doing something meaningful
and thoughtful with knowledge using knowledge
the way experienced professionals do to solve
real, contextual and multidimensional problems.
Some examples of thoughtful activities are:

explaining, comparing, analyzing,

creating, designing, planning, problem
solving, evaluating, decision-making,
speculating, reasoning, summarizing...

The activities of the online course are the opportunities the participants have
to ride the bike (and not of reading the bike manual). When we design activities
or look at participants work, we want to see this trying outand this doing
happening. We want to see participants thinking of course knowledge in new
Some examples of thoughtful activities for an online course are:

Analysis of a case study, Debate,

Simulation, Team design, Role-play,
Position Paper, Reflection

These activities ask the participants to do something closer to what the expert
does than what a student does (read and take tests). We aim to help participants
develop the knowledge and skills they will need in the real world.

Module 3: Course Activities

Tutors Training Course

In an online professional development course for teachers on
technology integration, participants analyze a course that is available
online of a teacher who decided to hold all his Participation in
Government classes in a computer lab. Participants read the teachers
blog with his rationale for using technology, watch videos of classroom
interactions, and read course assignments and students work.
The assignment is to create a presentation to recommend, or not, this
way of integrating technology in their own schools. Participants work in
small groups in the course forum to share ideas and organize their work
(they can use the chat as well). They use research on the topic to
support their recommendations. Each team shares their presentation
with the other participants and provides feedback in the forum.
This activity engages participants to think about the challenging
questions professionals face. They study a real case and explore the
benefits and the complexities (it is not a hypothetical book example
with only one correct answer). In their jobs they will need the skills to
consider consequences of their technology decisions; they will have to
construct sound arguments on the choices of using or buying
technology, considering the multiple variables of real contexts such as
assigning precious time to a non-tested classroom activity.

Read about activities in online courses:

Interaction, Activities, and Learning: Engage learners meaningfully to

develop mastery

Activities to engage the online learner

Click on link to paper

Module 3: Course Activities

Tutors Training Course

Direct link

Collaborative learning
Learning is not only an active process but also an interactive one. We learn
through exchanges with the environment and with others.
In collaborative activities, students work
together in groups or pairs towards
a common goal. Through dialogue,
collaboration and social negotiation,
participants construct ideas together.
learn together and from each other
as they need to synthesize different
perspectives to accomplish the task.
Collaborative learning activities are
very powerful for authentic learning
in all kinds of learning situations but
they are especially powerful in online
courses where participation, motivation,
connection and community are key to
course success.

Collaboration Rubric:


Module 3: Course Activities

Tutors Training Course

Collaborative learning activities:

Encourage participation

Small groups encourage a spontaneous and

a comfortable environment to try out ideas.

Increase interest
and motivation

Interacting with colleagues with different

ideas and backgrounds makes assignments
more interesting.

Prevent participant

Participants are more visible in small groups.

They get to know and be known better.

Foster community

Working in assignments together makes

participants interdependent. It promotes a
sense of responsibility for the advancement
of the group as well as a sense of belonging.

While collaboration may happen spontaneously in some online courses, it generally

requires specific activities that ask participants to collaborate. Collaborative
activities also require clear guidelines and, at the beginning of the course, they
require tutor support to get group members organized.

Designing Activities
The course you will be tutoring will include proposed activities, some of which
may be required for participants to complete the course. However, as a tutor you
can add and modify some activities based on the particular group of students and
how you consider will better help them learn you will be customizing the course.
The purpose of the activities is to engage participants in doing something that
will help them develop the knowledge and skills of experienced practitioners in
the field. Your own experience of real life challenges will be useful for designing
effective activities.

Characteristics of effective activities:

Module 3: Course Activities

Tutors Training Course

Engage participants thought and creativity

Allow participants to relate and use what they know from their
particular contexts
Are directly connected to the course goals
Generate interaction and collaboration among participants
Provide opportunities for feedback and reflection
Are sequenced with other activities to help participants build on prior
This last characteristic is very important. You need to consider the course as a
whole with a beginning, medium and end in regards to the different dimensions.
Activities should be designed with that in mind. As the course progresses
participants become more skilled and capable of more elaborated and more
independent doing.
Engage participants thought and creativity
Example: If you ask participants to find answers given in a text,
they wont necessarily need to be thoughtful and creative, but if
you ask them to use ideas from the text to analyze a case they will
Allow participants to relate and use what they know from their
particular contexts
For example, by asking participants to bring in examples from their
own contexts, youll help them to assimilate information and make
it more meaningful
Are directly connected to the course goals
It should be clear for tutors and for participants how the activity
helps them advance towards their goals
Generate interaction and collaboration among participants
Richer activities make room for multiple perspectives or approaches
Provide opportunities for feedback and reflection
Learning is a process that advance the cycle of opportunity for action,
feedback, reflection and new action
Are sequenced with other activities to help participants build on prior
Knowledge gained from one activity can be used in a more complex
activity later in the course

Module 3: Course Activities

Tutors Training Course

Gilly Salmon represents the sequence of an online course in 5 stages of activity:



links outside
closed conferences

Technical support


Facilitating process




Information exchange

personalasing software

Sending and
receiving messages

Facilitating tasks and supporting

use of learning

Online socialisation
Facilitating and providing bridges between
cultural, social and learning

amount of interactivity

Knowledge construction

Access and motivation

Setting up system
and accesing

Welcoming and

From Salmon, G. 2002. E-tivities: the key to active online learning. London: Kogan Page.

Please go to this website to read examples of this model. E-activities:


Consider how this structure applies to our course. What specific

aspects of our course do or do not fit with these stages. How
can this structure help guide the work of the tutor?

Access and motivation:

Each participant should have access, get familiar and feel welcomed,
supported, and motivated to participate in the course environment
Online socialization:
Participants need to establish their online identities and begin to interact
with their colleagues -- the building of the online community depends on
these early interactions. Tutors need to create an atmosphere where the
participants feel respected and able to gain respect for their views.
Information exchange:
Participants are exploring the ideas of the course. Tutors help them

Module 3: Course Activities

Tutors Training Course

by linking information in interesting ways to stimulate productive and

constructive information sharing. This stage calls for careful preparation
and planning.
Knowledge construction:
Participants interact with each other in more exposed and participative
ways, considering different perspectives and widening their viewpoints.
Course-related group discussions occur and the interaction becomes
more collaborative. The communication depends on the establishment of
common understandings. Participants understanding is constructed by
interacting with their colleagues. Tutors support these constructions by
waving participants contributions together. There is a flattening of the
hierarchy/structure between tutors and participants. Tutors dont provide
the answers.
Participants reflect on the learning process and look to further what
theyve learned to achieve their personal goals.

Sequencing activities
We can divide activities in three groups according to their place in the course or
the topic:

Introductory activities
Welcome participants to the course and environment.
Help participats know each other: their interests and contexts, and start
to make connections.
Help participats place themselves in the group: define their interests, the
experience they bring to the group and their personal goals for the course.
Help tutors get to know the group, have and idea of what they already
know, and make sure they are all "present" and ready.
Allow tutors to establish direct communication with each participant.

Module 3: Course Activities

Tutors Training Course

Inquiry activities
Help participants to use knowledge to solve challenging situations by
doing research and analyzing information from different sources. (e.g.
debates or discussions of controversial topics).
Offer multiple opportunities to engage in doing and demonstrating what
one understands, as well as multiple opportunities to receive feedback,
reflect and do again.
Are diverse to reach participants with different learning styles or

Final activities
Are opportunities that synthesize and demonstrate the understandings
developed through the course.
Are more open ended and led by participants.
Point towards the future use of knowledge in the real contexts of
Allow for reflection.
Work as a bridge with real world activities that will come after the course.

Feedback for activities

Feedback is a key element in the learning
process and an integral part of the
educational impact of course activities.
Feedback, as in learning how to ride a
bike, is an integral part of learning, not
an irrelevant addition.
Participants need to receive
for all the course activities.
acknowledgement that the
reading participants work and
to helping them learn.

Module 3: Course Activities

It is the
tutor is


Tutors Training Course

Feedback given to participants needs to be constructive. Receiving feedback is

an important opportunity for authentic learning and for participants to learn from
what they do. It is knowledge directly related to participants level of understanding
about a particular interest.
The tutor doesnt need to be the only source of feedback in an online course.
Peers, experts or individuals outside the course can also be great sources of
In Module 4 we address the specifics of how to provide valuable feedback to

Design an activity.

a. Work in groups of two or three. Identify or

design a good activity for an online course (you
can either choose an activity from this course,
one from another course, or invent one).
b. Describe the activity and the rationale for
why you think it is a good activity. Consider
where this activity fits in the sequence of the
c. Together with your partner, design an activity
for the online course you will be tutoring that
resembles or that is inspired by the one you
d. Individually, respond to one of the group
postings by asking a question about their
designed activity. Your question must serve to
help them improve. [One participant moderates
the discussion]

Open discussion: Has your idea of your role as

a tutor expanded this week? If so, what would
you modify from the description of the role?
[Participant/s moderator/s]

Make a note for yourself about something that

you found interesting, surprising or useful in
this third week of the course.

Module 3: Course Activities