Tutorials: Show us How it’s Done

Here’s hoping your first week has gone smoothly!

To keep things running well, I wanted to share a few tutorial options with you. Linking to or embedding a brief tutorial can be really helpful for introducing students to new technologies, procedures, tools, or other course-related items.

For example, suppose you are requiring students to use a LearningStudio feature with which they may be unfamiliar. Perhaps you’ve explained it in class – and even given a demonstration. But what happens when the deadline approaches and students go to post or submit items and things just aren’t jelling for them? Embedded LearningStudio video tutorials to the rescue!

“Great,” you say, “but my issue is with specialized software / lab equipment / physical actions. My students need to do these things just so.” Time to become a virtual expert and an on-call resource for your students. That is, you can create your own tutorial that students can call up as needed. We’ve reviewed Learnist and Instructables; we’ve also covered ShowMe and SnapGuide.

Better yet, why not have your students create tutorials to teach each other? Of course, there’s a case to be made for you, the instructor, creating tutorials in situations where safety or a lack of specialized knowledge would present a true barrier. But in situations where students could safely and reasonably figure out and then teach each other various aspects of the subject at hand, why not let them? There are a myriad of benefits to this active learning approach: the act of having to teach a concept can help students clarify their own thinking, students are likely to pay close attention to their peers, and successes or mis-steps in the tutorials provide both an authentic opportunity to gauge student learning and some great discussion fodder.

It’s true, students might produce tutorials with misinformation or misleading conclusions. Sharing control of the class can be messy sometimes. In cases where the tutorials aren’t of the quality you’d like, you can then help the students in question – and the rest of the class – discover what might work better. Tutorials don’t have to be right; they just have to be memorable. Doing things incorrectly, generating negative results, or demonstrating a failed reaction are all pretty memorable and, thus, valuable learning experiences. (We’ve written about learning from failure, too. You can think of those sub-standard tutorials as really efficient learning experiences.)

Sample tutorials might include: how to use statistical software to calculate various functions, greetings in a foreign language based on different ages / genders / group size, how to search specialized databases, different techniques for measuring a key course component, etc.

Let us know if you’re using tutorials or considering using them!

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