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How Can Teaching Materials be Made Accessible and Engaging?

When I first went to school the teaching materials included:

  • 1 wooden desk (each with flip-top and inkwell)
  • 1 blackboard
  • 1 notebook and pen
  • some books
  • 1 tape player
  • 1 window to stare out of
  • and 1 teacher

Once in a blue moon the teacher would manage to procure an overhead projector which would magically project his badly-traced map from an acetate onto the grimy magnolia wall….

Online teaching materials have come a long way ...

Things have moved on since the blackboard …

Times have most definitely changed!

Nowadays there is no inkwell but instead camera phone filming the lecture, the blackboard is now an interactive whiteboard which allows the tutor to instantly access any webpage, video, powerpoint presentation or document which either the tutor or the students may annotate. Students who miss classes may find handouts and other course content uploaded onto a virtual learning environment where they may collaborate on group projects whilst they sit in their bedrooms, on the train or in a café.

Despite the gizmos, the platforms and the bombardment of information however, a student still needs the support of a good tutor – or guide – to succeed:

  • A good tutor knows exactly what knowledge the student has to obtain in order to succeed, and how and where to find it;
  • A good tutor knows how to synthesise this knowledge, how to pass it on in a way that is both intelligible and memorable and how to help the student interpret it;
  • A good tutor can identify the type of learner each student is (and what he or she needs) through the way each one learns and the mistakes each makes.
  • A good tutor can lead the student to reflect on these mistakes and demonstrate the learning tools and strategies the student needs in order to eliminate them.

In a world of unlimited information, selecting and using it all correctly still requires the guiding hand of a professional, be they on- or off-line.

Do you agree about the overriding importance of the tutor in future education? 

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