Today I had my first ever face-to-face tutorial since the start of my distance learning course in October; I had no idea what to expect as I hiked my way up five floors of a local university building in search of my tutor. I was welcomed into a room as one of four students who had turned up, a situation the socially anxious part of me was relieved to discover. We took our seats and for the next two hours listened, thought about and discussed ideas from our current module topic.
I was in two minds about attending the tutorial this morning, as I was both a little nervous and a little unsure if I’d get much out of it. Now, reflecting back on the experience I had, I’m actually pretty happy I went.
Based on today, here are some of the reasons I think tutorials are great for distance learners:
It’s possible to put a face to your tutor
Apart from the nice feeling of knowing who you’re communicating with online, tutorials are a great way to get to understand how your tutor sees the course and assessments. This is the person who is marking your essays, so knowing their preferred method for presenting work is helpful, and gaining their personal insight into the course themes can point you in the right direction.
You can take part in discussions
Being a distance learner can be a little isolating at times, and although a few discussions take place on the online forums, the discussions in the tutorial today were a lot more thought provoking.
You feel less overwhelmed and build confidence
One of the most valuable things I got out of the session today was the feeling that even though I’ve struggled with some of the material, everyone else has too. The course is meant to challenge our thinking and push us out of our comfort zones and that’s okay. The skill comes in asking questions and having the confidence to present an idea even when you’re not certain it’s a good idea.
There’s support available
The tutor I met today was amazingly welcoming, and I left feeling like I can definitely approach her in the future with any questions I may have about the course.
Overall, I think that distance learning holds many invaluable opportunities, of which face-to-face tutorials are one, and that taking as many of these as possible is important.
If you’d like to, you can read about what I’ve learnt in my first month of studying.