Tutor Forum report January 2024

Report on Tutor Forum 12 January 2024

A well- attended Tutor Forum was held on 12 January 2024. In small discussion groups two questions were considered: “How do we encourage more members of U3AC to become tutors?” and “How do we secure a greater take up of the provision of mentors for new tutors?”

The key points raised in answer to the first question were:

  • Is the title of ‘tutor’ a bit intimidating? U3AC should make it clearer that there are many ways of delivering a class and could use words such as class leader etc.
  • The Tutor Support Handbook is online. Keep some physical copies in reception.
  • When raising awareness of U3AC include a reference to the need for more course leaders.
  • Publish a short video on the website about becoming a course leader and encouraging members to offer a new course or activity.
  • Publish a flier to be handed out/emailed about becoming a course leader.

The key points raised in answer to the second question were:

  • U3AC should ask retired ‘tutors’ to consider taking on the role of mentor.
  • If there were more courses run by two leaders they would share and mentor each other, therefore another reason to encourage this arrangement.
  • The Tutor Forum is a vehicle for mentoring, support and encouragement giving an opportunity to meet and talk to other course leaders.
  • Promote more actively the help new course leaders can gain by contacting mentors.

The valuable points raised in response to both questions are being taken forward by the Courses Committee. Thank you to all those course leaders who took part in the Forum. We are able to show that our dialogue contributes to improvements for members and course leaders.

Report on Tutor Forum 27 September 2023

The Tutor Forum met on 27 September 2023 and considered in small groups the question: “How can we improve our support for new and experienced tutors?”

A summary of the points raised (not in priority order) is attached as the Appendix to this note. Subsequently, these points were discussed by the Courses Committee at their meeting in December where it was decided to revise substantially the Tutor Support Handbook (TSH) and to produce a Welcome Information Guide for new tutors.

The revised TSH was published on the U3AC ‘s website at the end of January 2024 and the Welcome Guide, which has been drafted, will be sent out to new tutors once all the course proposals for the next programme (2024/2025) have been received in May.

Thank you to all those tutors who took part in the Forum and were the catalyst for change.


Tutor Forum: 27 September 2023

Summary of points raised (not in priority order) in answer to the question: “How can we improve our support for new and experienced tutors?”

Points Raised
1.       There is a need to help tutors structure and present their material for the class.
2.       There is a need to help tutors manage any issues which may arise whilst classes are in session.
3.       Tutors need to be made aware of the range of support available to them, including the mentoring system at the beginning. (Is buddying a better description?)
4.       U3AC should subscribe to the software which adapts Apple computers using Keynote to PowerPoint/Microsoft. Free for education organisations but not individuals.
5.       Get members of the class involved with the technology or in other ways to help with social interaction.
6.       Having a co-organiser to deal with the Zoom element for a hybrid class should be encouraged.
7.       The title of ‘tutor’ might be intimidating for some. Using other titles such as facilitator/co-ordinator for example might be a more representative description.
8.       The phrase ‘friendly but firm’ is one which describes the role of the tutor and should be established right from the beginning.
9.       There are serious reservations about the intellectual property of any archived tutor materials. Would need to be carefully managed.
10.   Offer help to new tutors in the writing of their prospectus entry so that it reflects accurately what they will cover in a course and what level to which the course is aimed.
11.   Publish teaching ‘tips’ from experienced tutors to help new ones.
12.   Each new teacher to be assigned a mentor from the very start.
13.   Make some YouTube video clips to help new tutors in addition to the help in the Tutor Handbook.
14.   Make it clear where tutors should address any problems encountered in classes, ie to the U3AC office or to the CC.
15.   Allow adequate time for questions, particularly for Zoom and hybrid courses.
16.   Could those large waiting groups for ‘non-talk’ courses be offered the possibility of forming a new group, assuming that venues are available?
17.   There should be a checklist of what is expected of a mentor.
18.   It would be helpful to tutors to have a clearer idea of where they fit into the structure, contact and communication lines.
19.   It is important to assist/guide tutors on communication with students, how and when is best to get in touch initially and then keep in touch.
20.   Tutor Forums are part of the tutor support process.
21.   There is the potential, albeit not very likely, for very similar courses to appear in the prospectus.
22.   Is it possible for an official email list to be set up for each course, maintained by U3AC, so that the tutor can just send an email to 2023-course-code@u3ac.org.uk and this would be automatically be delivered to each student?
23.   Could tutors be given their own webpage to create, edit and maintain for communication with students?