The current wisdom in the ICT world is that we are due for a new killer application. The first was word processing. Apple built its initial success on the second, the spreadsheet. The third will be "education on the Internet".
Like the first two, this killer application requires a cohort of professionals to support it. The natural contenders this time are teachers and lecturers, but how do they make the transition from face-to-face tuition to online tutoring? How to be an Online Tutor by Julia Duggleby gives sound guidance to those aspiring to deliver web-based learning.
Julia Duggleby is an enthusiastic mid-life convert to technology. She has a wide range of first-hand experience in the delivery of online learning and shares her knowledge in a clearly written, well structured, understandable book. The first part starts from the safe base of face-to-face teaching and learning, briefly comparing the appropriateness of a range of traditional, distance, and electronic methods. The advantaes and disadvantages of technology-based learning are explored with fictional case study examples of typical learners. Part II is an online tutor's guide to the Internet, giving a brief history of how it has developed, case studies of how learners might benefit from using it as a learning medium, and explanations for tutors to understand facilities such ase-mail, chat, and the web. This section is brief and to the point containing only the essentials.
But parts III and IV are the real reason to buy this book. These sections cover the planning and design of courses and how to provide effective online student support, giving sound practical guidance on managing learners - and their expectations - online.
The message is that online learners are people and need to know what they can rely on. Julia Duggleby gives sound guidance rooted in real experience. If you are taking your courses online, then How to be an Online Tutor is a good place to start.
Les Watson Les Watson is director of information resources at Glasgow Caledonian university