E-tutoring

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See also: tutoring.

1 Definition

E-tutoring refers to online-tutoring. The word ‘tutor’ is most frequently used “to include, amongst others, academics, faculty, instructors, corporate trainers, animateurs, facilitators, moderators, subject specialist and learning support staff. The term online tutor includes any person undertaking a role to support and enable students to learn online effectively” (Higgison, 2000). Communication is an important mainstay of e-tutoring: technology enables people to learn new things because it gives a range of different ways of communicating to students. There is an impressive amount of online resources that enable e-learning, e.g blog, wiki, social bookmarking, podcasting, audio and video files, interactive games and quizzes, etc. A teacher who directs the studies of a number of students helps them to come up with new strategies for developing learning and studying skilful plannings.

See also online video tutoring

2 What makes a good e-tutor

E-tutor’s roles and activities are slightly different from those required in a face-to-face class.

“In a telematics-based environment the teacher is more or less just another participant, though very active one and the teachers role as an organiser is greatly emphasised. So in this way it is much more efficient to learn to communicate, and learning is not just a one-way street" (Tammelin, 2000).

  • E-tutors teach, motivate and direct students while maintaining high interest and achievement.
  • They should be able to effectively interact with different populations of students at a variety of academic levels.
  • They guide students to improve their knowledge through media such as email, asynchronous discussion forums or chat rooms.
  • They coach, assess and provide subject-matter expertise: they're experts but also motivators and even technical support people.
  • They bring the subject up to date with online digital resources and make it much more accessible.


According to Berge’s classification (1995) the roles of an online tutor involve four main aspects:

technical – which involves the technological support; e-tutors have to be ready to resolve technical queries quickly and effectively;

managerial – e-tutors have to arouse e-learners' participation and autonomy providing clearly tasks and deadlines of the e-tivities; they don’t have to rewrite e-learners' papers but they have to correct them improving their work and their writing skills; they guide students to outline and structure their writing assignments;

pedagogical – it aims at the educational experience involving students in an active collaboration and it goads them into a deep reflection; e-tutors aspire to establish excellent relationships with e-learners;

social – it’s linked to an community of learning: e-tutors provide adequate means for social interaction between e-learners, all members are encouraged in contributing to the discussion. A community of learning shares common interests.

3 What is required of e-learners

The changed role of tutors necessarily implies a different participation of learners.

  • They are more involved in the matter.
  • They play an active part in the process of e-learning; they're self-motivated with strong planning, organizational and leadership skills.
  • It takes more time: first of all because new competencies have to be learnt and then because new working practises have to be developed if e-tutoring is to be a success. They have to better organize their time in order to respect e-tivity deadlines.
  • E-tutors demand for comments, posts on blogs, assessments, etc. and e-learners always have to be ready to face them. Taking an active role in the e-learning process, e-tutors ask them for explanations of their work. They also have to make clear what skills they need to develop.
  • On Online Writing Laboratory e-learners can submit their papers to an e-tutor, ask for specific feedback and receive their work back with a response. Students request help with written assignments but they also collaborate to an extensive resource library full of links, tips and techniques for improving writing skills.
  • E-learners can share resources not only among the participating members but also among a virtual community of learning.
  • E-tutoring reminds students that making mistakes is one of the ways we learn and progress. E-learning gives the possibility to students to easily go back to their previous post version and correct it in one click.

The core skills of a good tutor are unlikely to change with a different delivery method. The list below (expanded in the Effective Online Tutoring Guidelines, 2002) offers some of the broad skills for e-tutoring:

  • good organisation
  • familiarity with the structure of the course
  • subject expertise
  • enthusiasm
  • ability to deploy resources effectively
  • good relationships with learners
  • ability to communicate
  • a flexible approach.

4 Links

  • The Institute of IT Training (2005). The Institute of IT Training's Standards. Retrieved December 14, 2006 from [1]
  • University of Leicester (n.d). What is E-Learning & How to become an e-Tutor /e-Teacher. Retrieved December 14, 2006 from [2]

5 References

  • Berge, Z.L. (1995). Facilitating Computer Conferencing: Recommendations From the Field. Educational Technology. 35(1) 22-30. There is also a different on-line version entitled he Role of the Online Instructor/Facilitator)
  • Cornelius, S. (2000). Learning Online. In Carol A. Higgison (ed.)Online Tutoring e-book Retrieved December 11, 2006 from http://otis.scotcit.ac.uk/onlinebook/. Excellent resource for starting. Includes a large collection of case studies.
  • Tammelin, M. (2000). Exploring the roles of the tutor in a mixed mode course for university students. In Online Tutoring Skills (OTiS) Project Website. Retrieved December 11, 2006 from [3]
  • Cornelius, S., & Higgison, C. (2000). The Tutor's Role. In Carol A. Higgison (ed.) Online Tutoring e-book (chapter 2). Retrieved December 11, 2006 from [4]
  • Reid, D. (2002.). A classification schema of online tutor competencies, Computers in Education, Proceedings. International Conference on Volume , Issue , 3-6 Dec. 2002 Page(s): 1049 - 1050 vol.2 Abstract
  • JISC/Sheffield College (2002). The Effective Online Tutoring Guidelines.