The importance of tutor / e-moderator presence

For an elearning course led by a tutor to be effective, the tutor presence is one of the most important elements. Showing good e-moderating practice the tutor must:

  • login regularly
  • model good online behaviour
  • be seen to be present
  • post encouraging messages for students
  • respond to student queries as quickly as possible
  • always sign postings and use people’s names
  • respond to emails but try to keep learning points within the forum

The immediacy of the online environment leads students to expect an instant response. It’s a good idea as an online tutor or e-moderator to set expectations at the beginning of a course – e.g., that you will normally respond within 24 hours, or whatever interval is relevant to your course.

One of the most useful tools for the teacher is a subscription, such as that offered by Moodle, so that you know whenever a student has posted to your forums (and with Moodle, the content they have posted). This enables you to plan your visits to the course space. If everything is quiet, for example students are working on their own projects or are between e-tivities, then visits do not have to be as often.

Comments from students emphasise the point of tutor presence and encouragement being vital, and appreciated, especially in the early stages of developing the group.

Typical student comments include:

  • “Tutor support has been pretty immediate and I have found that very encouraging.”
  • “The comments from the tutor have been helpful and encouraging and have prompted reflection.”
  • “[The tutor] has been really prompt and supportive in replying.”

Encouraging responses don’t have to be long and complicated. The simple can work well. Here are some examples from my courses (which would all be signed with my name):

  • “Well done, Martin and Louise – keep going. Thank you for your thoughtful postings.”
  • “We’ll be looking at this issue of XXXXX in Week 3 smile Thank you for bringing up the subject.”
  • “That’s a very interesting point you made, Karen. What would it look like in practice do you think? Does anyone else have any further ideas?”