|Title||Tutorial Groups and WWW Conferencing|
|Originator||P. Vincent, G. Chapman and C. Steeples|
|Department||Departments of Geography and Educational Research, Lancaster University, LA1 4YB|
|Tel.||+44 (0)1524 593741|
|Fax.||+44 (0)1524 847099|
|WWW||The Internet as a Collaborative Learning Resource: An International Experiment|
This tutorial idea attempts to tackle a number of issues simultaneously - the need to instil computer literacy in students, to get them to acquire team-work skills, to develop research skills, and, most innovatively to internationalise what may be an overly British experience of geography in higher education.
A tutorial group in Lancaster worked with tutorial groups in geography departments in other countries (in this case Ireland and the USA) so as to produce collaboratively a piece of group research on a topic of common interest. At a technical level the system introduces the students to both the WWW (to find research material) and to Lotus Notes (which allows the international conferencing). The project lasts a full term, so that, aside from developing traditional project skills and experience of group work, it achieves these with full interaction with students in other countries. This latter element enhances not only the research (e.g. more sources of data) but also widens the students' horizons into how other people and education systems deal with geography. The use of WWW research resources means that the group in each country has access to the same range of material and they can discuss it among themselves, freed from the differences in the quality of their home university's stock of books and serials.
The difficulties with this approach include time-zone differences (real-time interactive work may be difficult to achieve in practice), language problems outside the realm of native English speakers, and the need for the project to last for at least a term so as to build up both the necessary computer skills and also a rapport with the other departments. The tutor needs to set up the inter-departmental links before the student group gets started and to monitor progress as usual in conjunction with the tutors overseas.