Tutor Managed Learning Model
An exploration of how the tutor manages the learning process and through this ensure effective, efficient and consistent learning.
At a time when e-learning is automating the lecture out of the training loop it may seem an anomaly to recommend tutor managed learning. Yet to deliver the higher levels of managerial and business learning I believe that the tutor plays a vital role - a role that extends beyond facilitation to that of learning management. Here I explores this and the way the tutor can ensure effective and consistent learning in a learner centred and controlled environment.
I see the tasks of the tutor  being:
Although this page describes the Tutor Managed Learning Model in the context of computer simulation, much of this model is applicable to other learner centred learning initiatives (case-studies, tutor led discussion, role-plays etc.) Also, it seems to me a viable model for the trainer in this e-learning world.
For computer-based business simulations this task has been progressively been reduced but there is still a need to keep records (for the review and to answer questions), to ensure that suitable facilities are provided (computers, team rooms, comfortable chairs etc.) and for interactive business simulations where decisions are entered into a single computer for the tutor to do this
The term facilitation is commonly used to describe the role of the trainer in active, learner centred learning situations. However, I find the blanket use of this term confusing. At one extreme there is the passively reactive tutor and at the other the proactive tutor. So, here I use facilitation to describe the passively reactive work.
Here facilitation involves the trainer responding to requests for rule clarification, information about simulation results and knowledge support. Just as any new job, the simulation as procedures that need to be learnt and, although a well designed simulation minimises these, some rules will need to be clarified (especially how to fill out forms clearly and legibly). Next, the business reports produced but the simulation may need explanation (such as financial terms or how results were calculated). Again a well designed and documented simulation will simplify this task. Finally, as the simulation progresses, the learners may realise gaps in their business knowledge (for example it may be necessary answer questions about pricing policy etc.)
I feel that it is this task that is the most important. Although some aspects overlap with passive and reactive facilitation, it is proactive and involves the tutor assessing team progress and them if and only if necessary providing suitable feedback.
The learning management process starts with an assessment of learning progress using three sources of information - observation, decisions and results. Although observation cannot be helped by the Tutor Support System, the analysis of Decisions and Results can.
Analysis of Decisions: Our simulations screen decisions as they are entered - rejecting decisions that are obviously wrong and commenting on decisions that are unusual. This means that action can be taken before simulation takes place.
Analysis of Results: Both our Direct Use and Tutor Mediated simulations provide comments that inform of strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, our Tutor Mediated simulations provide a tutor's audit and business analysis reports. These highlight and identify differences between teams and problems
This consists of two stages. First, a determination whether or not a learning problem exists that needs to be acted on and, if a problem (or opportunity) exists the next stage is to determine whether it is cognitive (a problem with learning), affective (a problem with feelings and engagement) or both combined.
The cause of the problem (affective, cognitive or both) determines the style and content of the feedback.
Content: Here the problem is associated with knowledge or experience and the trainer needs to coach the learners. For example, prior learning and the mix of team skills may be insufficient to make effective decisions. A situation that may necessitate remedial teaching on an individual team or whole group basis.
Style: Here the problem is associated with motivation and engagement. If the participants seem to be overwhelmed then the style should be supportive and emphasise successes. But where the participants are finding the simulation easy or are manic it is appropriate to challenge and ask searching questions
Coach or Challenge: The appropriateness of coaching or challenging is likely to change as the simulation progresses. At the start of the simulation learners may feel somewhat confused and overwhelmed. Here they may be making sensible decisions and so the feedback should address the problem with affection and, the tutor should praise the team and remind that it is "early days". Equally, later, a team may feel (arrogantly) that they are much better than they are. Here the tutor can take on the role of "head office"and challenge the team by asking them questions and requesting detailed information.
Learning Management and Business Simulation Type
The management of learning differs slightly depending on whether the simulation is Tutor Mediated or Direct Use.
Tutor Mediated Simulations are those where the tutor enters decisions, simulates, prints and returns results to the participants. This means that the tutor can easily and analyses decisions and results fully to diagnose problems. In particular, the tutor sees if comments are being made about decisions and results. During the first few simulated periods it is suggested that when decision comments are made the tutor should discuss these with the participants before simulation takes place. Result comments may be provided as part of the team results, business research and team commentary. Where the comments are made as part of team results of business research it is important to, briefly, discuss these with the participants in the early periods. In contrast, for team commentary comments on strengths and weaknesses, only the major weaknesses should be discussed during early periods, extending to all weaknesses later. Strengths should be discussed if the participants seen discouraged!
To download a PDF about tutoring this type of simulation
Direst Use Simulations are those where the participants enter their own decisions, simulate and receive their own results. This means that it is more difficult for the tutor to analyse decisions and results to diagnose problems. This means that the tutor must move between teams observing and peeking at the results.
To download a PDF about tutoring this type of simulation
The Manager of Learning must not be prescriptive or be seen as critical and should only become involved when absolutely necessary or where a significant learning opportunity occurs. In other words, the role of the tutor is that of a leader rather than an instructor. A leader where the authority for controlling the learning process is with the learners but the responsibility for ensuring learning is shared by the learners and the tutor.
I see Learning Management as being key to driving learning forward and not only does this ensure the effectiveness of learning but also ensures the efficiency of learning - in other words learning objectives are achieved in the shortest possible time.
Because of the importance of the tutor's role, I feel that a simulation must include a comprehensive Tutor Support System that provides support to all the tutor's tasks.
1 Hall, Jeremy J. S. B. (1994) Computerized tutor support systems: the tutor's role, needs and tasks The Simulation and Gaming Yearbook Kogan Page London
Most recent update: 09/09/14
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