Friday, 4 July 2008

Geography case study: embedding ELTC MOLE language tutorials

I attended a very positive meeting yesterday with Richard Simpson, Alice Lawrence and Victor (sorry, Victor, I didn't catch your surname) - all from ELTC - Paul Wigfield (MOLE czar) and Steve Wise (Geography). Steve was the chief instigator and is concerned to address standards of written English amongst home undergraduate students in his dept. In particular, grammatical and other problems which recur and, it appears, are on the increase in many students' work.

It was helpful from a TASH perspective to observe in practice precisely the kind of process we hope to facilitate more easily through the medium of the tutor guides and other staff facing materials. Steve had only recently been put on to the ELTC online language tutorials (by Alice?) and, having now spent a limited amount of time perusing them, can see that many aspects of these provide ready made solutions to many of the areas he wishes to address with his students - hopefully the TFGs (tutor-facing guides) will help to shortcircuit this realisation for others in the future. Better still, Steve now plans to develop aspects of one of his first year modules to make more embedded use of these materials, and is considering supporting this through use of the first year tutorial system. He plans to develop a small amount of new material and possibly tinker with small aspects of the ELTC materials too (particularly to make the grammar tutorials and/or the way the subject of grammar is approached much less technical - since the ELTC materials were originally developed with a second language audience in mind), and is willing to work with TASH to use this as a disciplinary case study to illustrate how more generic materials can be made to work effectively in subject specific contexts.

Particular outcomes then:
  • Steve to work on tailored UG "Writing for Geographers" materials using ELTC tutorials as a key component, and to share lessons learned with TASH; it would be good if we can find someone on 17 July to do something similar for PG writing and/or in the pure sciences too;
  • Alice and Victor to work on TASH TFGs in relation to the ELTC online tutorials - we may want to break these down into guides addressing the needs of first- and second-language students respectively;
  • Richard, who knows the back history of the ELTC resources, is happy for these to be shared more widely via MOLE (e.g. the plan is for all 1st year Geog UGs to have automatic access next acad year, rather than having to sign up to be enrolled), and in principle (as Lynn Parker has also hinted for the library info tutorials) is happy for some or more of the tutorials to be lifted out of MOLE and made more easily available via web pages;
  • Paul has confirmed it should not be a big technical task to take tutorials such of these out of MOLE and place them onto open web pages if this seems to be the most effective way forward as the project progresses (the main issue for TASH here being that we want to signpost people as accurately as possible ... but if pointing to a MOLE resource, can only do so to the front page and not link any deeper to specific elements of a tutorial or resource);
  • TASH will support Steve, Alice and Victor with development time etc. as appropriate, and may also be able to help facilitate some student focus group work around the materials Steve plans to develop (e.g. using our links with the CILASS-SAN and union education officer);
  • We need to have a word with Diana Ward (ELTC), who will be working with English Lit next year (Bob McKay, Brendan Stone?) on some first year language development support.
Steve, Alice and hopefully Victor will all be at 17 July meeting where we can begin to put some of these pieces alongside other disciplinary and faculty case study priorities. Thanks to all for a very productive 45 minutes.

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