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Study Smart: tutors' guide

A guide for tutors

Questions about viewing the course

Will I be able to enrol on the course as a tutor?

Tutors will be able to view the course as a guest, once it has been finalised. We anticipate that this will be in late August. Guest enrolment will not allow editing or commenting, but will give you the opportunity to review the content in the same format that students are accessing it.

If you would like to enrol as a guest, please email us from your university email address. We will keep a record of those interested and send an invite when the course is available. Guest enrolment will be available throughout the period that the course is open.

Can we share direct links to course materials for students who are not eligible to enrol?

We will make links available to course materials where we can for use with students who are not eligible for enrolment (e.g. via YouTube for the videos). However, as these will be out of context, it is likely to be necessary that you mediate the materials with the students, rather than just giving them the link.

Questions about content

Is it going to conflict with what I tell my students?

The course is necessarily non-subject specific as it is aimed at all new undergraduates based on the Reading campuses. The focus is on the underlying principles that inform study at university level. Illustrations of how these might work at subject level will be accompanied with the warning that this is an example only, and that the principles may work differently in different subject disciplines.

In order to make the discipline-specific study contexts clearer, we have suggested some possible activities that tutors could undertake in Academic Tutor meetings, Welcome Week events and Week 6 schedules on the Using Study Smart with your students page.

Is the course going to be very essay-based?

We have made a conscious effort to widen the scope of writing to include genres other than essays, and refer to assignments throughout the course to avoid giving the impression of a close focus on essays. Each section focuses on the underpinning principles, and then contextualises them in various examples of practice. For instance, the Communications at University section starts from the idea of considering audience and purpose, and goes on to show how this might work both in interpersonal communications like emails to tutors, and in different types of academic assignment. This broader approach is also used when discussing time management (timetables from different subjects are compared) and academic integrity (the principles are discussed in terms of a wide range of study situations). In addition we have academic tutors from a variety of disciplines contributing to our podcasts and videos.

We're aware though that this is a difficult balance to achieve, so if you spot anything that could be done differently to achieve a better balance, do let us know - we will be reviewing content for next year's iteration.

Given the number of international students, will there be any adjustment made to language to accommodate them?

We're very conscious of the needs of both international and home students for whom English is not their first language. We have tried to avoid the use of colloquialisms where possible, and have included a link in one of the first Steps of the course to a Glossary which we suggest they bookmark, and to which we are adding terms we use that might be new or difficult as we review materials. This is located on our New to University? LibGuide so we can continue to update as necessary even once the course is open.

Will there be transcripts?

Yes, all videos and podcasts will have transcripts. FutureLearn is very conscious of accessibility needs.

Questions about student access

Will it be open to taught postgraduate students?

The current Study Smart course has been designed specifically for new undergraduates based on Reading campuses, so it is not suitable for postgraduate taught students. We hope to look in the future at developing a similar initiative for postgraduate taught students.

Is Study Smart available to our students at other campuses?

The course is open only to students based at our Reading campuses. The only exception to this are students undertaking Foundation Degrees in Children's Development and Learning at local partner colleges as they undertake some of their learning at Reading campuses.

The main reason for this decision is that, while the principles described will apply to students in our other campuses, some of the current content is location-focused. One of our primary aims is to develop a 'sense of belonging' for students which includes familiarity with the campus itself and the services based there. This will continue to be reviewed for future iterations.

Will Study Smart be available for International Foundation Programme students?

Study Smart is expressly designed for students starting their course at 1st year undergraduate (level 4), so we would expect IFP students to undertake it after their Foundation year when they commence degree-level study at the University. We are also conscious that the IFP includes its own very comprehensive programme of study skills teaching and do not want to confuse the students with guidance meant to apply to a slightly different level of study.

Questions about discussion boards

How will inappropriate use be moderated?

For the first few weeks that the course is open, we have six current students who will be acting in the role of 'mentors'. They have been drawn from existing peer schemes at the University, and will be sharing moderating duties with the Study Advice team. Posts that seem to be off-topic will be gently re-focused while anything that threatens to become inappropriate can be flagged for removal.

Will students be able to make contact with other students?

We certainly hope that the discussion boards will give students a chance to start talking to other students, both in their disciplines and more broadly across campus. However FutureLearn discourages the sharing of contact details on discussion boards. Instead, we suggest that students access their Department's social media pages via links on Departmental webpages, and continue the conversation there.

Could you have one mentor from every Dept/School for specific advice in discussions?

This sounds like an excellent idea, but unfortunately it would be unmanageable. We do not have the budget to pay for the number of mentors we would need, and could not ask individual mentors to be available 24/7 to respond to queries where they arose. However, we will suggest that students take any more specific queries to Departmental social media pages, STAR and PAL mentors, and ASK Advisors where they are available.