Two pioneering Scottish projects in communications and information technology have linked up to create a ground-breaking international e-workshop that aims to draw up best practice in online tutoring, Olga Wojtas writes.
Throughout the week, the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh have been hosting the virtual workshop for about 100 academics, online learning experts and online tutor trainers from 17 countries ranging from the Czech Republic and Germany to Australia and Japan.
Rachel Harris of RGU said: "In many respects you could say Scotland is leading the world. There are online conferences, but I've not come across a completely online workshop, from reviewing case studies to people getting to know one another and working to produce guides to online tutoring."
The workshop is being delivered through RGU's Virtual Learning Space, which is funded by Pounds 150,000 from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council. Heriot-Watt and RGU are also part of a wider Pounds 116,000 Shefc project aimed at developing academics' online tutoring skills.
Carol Higgison, project manager for online tutoring skills at Heriot-Watt, said: "All the materials from the workshop can be used by anybody. This is like the Human Genome Project. It's too expensive for everybody to try to develop their own expertise."
The organisers plan to publish tutor and staff development guidelines emerging from the workshop.