Developing a Digital Tutoring Hub: using the digital space to empower students

Karen Kenny (University of Exeter)

Thursday, April 01, 2021 1:30 PM - 2:15 PM

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Session Outline

In this presentation I will describe how the deployment of Microsoft Teams, Class Notebook, and Bookings as a Tutoring ‘Hub’ supported Academic Personal Tutors and their tutees in a virtual space. The arrival of Covid-19 and the measures taken to reduce the spread of the virus meant that we at Exeter, in common with colleagues around the globe, immediately moved our teaching online in the Spring of 2020, as face to face teaching stopped, so too did face to face tutoring. The main priority was ensuring that tutors stayed in touch with students and supported them into the exams period. This move to the digital tutoring was fast, but temporary, a long-term plan was needed, as well as an updated tutoring framework which took account of the associated challenges.

The shift to remote support was not without challenges, however it is important to note the possibilities for inclusivity afforded by the digital space. Teams provided a meeting space, and collaborative area, facilitating group meetings, and filesharing. At Exeter we set up tutoring Teams centrally, prepopulated with tutor and tutees, and offered a range of training to tutors to help them to work in this new digital space.

The Class Notebook is ideal to host an eportfolio of evidence which a student can gather to develop their study skills, collect research materials and boost their employability. By developing the institution wide tutoring communication, in a way which was augmented by the digital tools, we were able to share best practice across different schools. A template Notebook was developed to inspire use of the notebook, and recorded walkthroughs of the material were produced and stored centrally to allow easy access for all tutors. Incorporated into the template were examples of good practice from across the institution, for example the skills assessment and development tools offered by the APPLE form (Taylor, 2020) and Humanities in a Digital World (Birkett, Ward, & Jones, 2019).

Microsoft Bookings proved to be a popular means of facilitating tutor/tutee meetings. The ease with which appointments can be made and altered has proved very welcome, with tutors reporting an increase in uptake of appointments.

At Exeter we build our tutorial support around 3 themes: Transition, Progress, and Realising Ambition. This presentation will share some of the activities which were developed, in the Notebook format. These resources encouraged students to work both independently and collaboratively with peers. The audience will be encouraged to work in this Notebook space to share how they have delivered their own tutoring frameworks, and the ways in which they have adapted to digital tutoring.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
I7 - Data and information technology applicable to tutoring
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners
R6 - Facilitate problem solving, decision-making, meaning-making, planning, and goal setting