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Report on work in progress

Submitted as a Research Note to the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

Remote collaborative tutorial teaching in MANTCHI

S.W.Draper*, D.R.Benyon**, A.Crerar**, P.D.Gray*, A.C.Kilgour***, J.C.Newman****, J.T.Mayes****

*University of Glasgow; **Napier University. ***Heriot-Watt University; ****Glasgow Caledonian University.


The MANTCHI project, involving four HEIs in central Scotland, is exploring the delivery of tutorial material in the subject area of HCI over the internet. (For explanations of acronyms, see the glossary. For further information on the project, including personnel, funding body and programme, see the MANTCHI website cited below.) Typically this material is an exercise designed by another site and backed up by a remote expert, who may give a video conference tutorial or give feedback on submitted student work. In some cases students on different courses, as well as the teachers, interact. Extensive classroom evaluations of each use (in existing university courses for credit) are being conducted, using the method of Integrative Evaluation (Draper et al., 1996).

Key issues associated with the project are:

Teaching and learning normally includes not only primary exposition (e.g. lectures) and re-expression by the learners (e.g. writing an essay), but some iterative interaction between teacher and learners (e.g. question and answer sessions in tutorials, or feedback on written work). Mayes (1995) classifies applications of learning technology into primary, secondary, and tertiary respectively by reference to those categories of activity. Technology such as email and video conferencing supports such tertiary applications. An additional research question is whether such interactions could usefully be captured, "canned", and later re-used. It depends on whether learners benefit from witnessing interaction without themselves being active: a process that could be called "vicarious learning", "learning by onlooking", or "learning through tacit participation" (McKendree & Mayes, 1997; Draper, 1998; McMorris, 1998).

The most important feature of the project may turn out to be that it is structured around true reciprocal collaborative teaching. All of the four sites have authored material, and all four have received (delivered) material authored by other sites. This has kept all project members crucially aware not just of the problems of authoring, but of what it is like to be delivering to one's own students (in real, for-credit courses) material that others have authored: a true users' perspective. This may be a unique feature. MANTCHI has in effect built users of HE teaching material further into the design team by having each authoring site deliver material "not created here". The nearest to this situation that we are aware of is the EUROMET project, where although only some of their sites are authoring units, all are expected to use units authored by other sites. In MANTCHI, the units of material thus exchanged are called "ATOMs" (Autonomous Teaching Object in Mantchi).

Another benefit of reciprocal arrangements is that it reflects the basic structural fact of HE that experts are distributed across the country (or indeed the world), each with their specialism; yet all are required to deliver relatively general courses. Exchanging material matches this distribution of expertise, while avoiding difficult accounting issues that would be raised if the effort became seriously asymmetrical. This arrangement may turn out to be more a type of professional development than a permanent redistribution of teaching work: after receiving someone else's ATOM for a year or two, many deliverers will probably feel confident at delivering and perhaps adapting the exercise without help. This casts yet another new light on what it may mean to author for other teachers (who after all normally determine what their students will use).

The extensive student-centered evaluations were first targeted, in the spirit of integrative evaluation, at detecting problems in teaching delivery with a view to remedying them and in so doing, detecting any special issues in the delivery of ATOMs and using remote experts as part of the teaching. It furthermore makes extensive use of Resource Questionnaires (Brown et al. 1996), which ask students to rate the utility of the various available learning resources. This is yielding data both on the (perceived) relative utility of local and remote experts, and on teacher-generated vs. peer-generated material and feedback on a student's own solution vs. feedback on other students' work, and hence on vicarious learning. Interview data is additionally being collected from the teachers on the costs to them of the various roles (author, remote expert, local deliverer), and hence on whether reciprocal collaborative teaching seems generally resource-effective, and so may be voluntarily pursued beyond the end of the project.


ATOM = Autonomous Teaching Object in MANTCHI
CHI = Computer-Human Interaction a.k.a. HCI
EUROMET = A project producing computer-based training for professional meterologists in Europe (EUROMET; 1998).
HCI = Human-Computer Interaction
HEI = Higher Education Institution (e.g. a university)
MAN = Metropolitan Area Network
MANTCHI = MAN Tutoring in CHI (MANTCHI; 1998)


M.I.Brown, G.F.Doughty, S.W.Draper, F.P.Henderson, E.McAteer "Measuring learning resource use" (1996) Computers and Education vol.27, pp. 103-113.

E.McAteer, N.Barr, D.Neil, M.I.Brown, S.W.Draper, F.P.Henderson (1996) Draper,S.W., Brown, M.I., Henderson,F.P. & McAteer,E. (1996) "Integrative evaluation: an emerging role for classroom studies of CAL" Computers and Education vol.26 no.1-3, pp.17-32

Draper (1998) "Lurking and computer mediated discussion"[WWW document] URL

EUROMET (1998) Euromet project pages [WWW document] URL (visited 2000 Oct 2)

MANTCHI (1998) Official project pages [WWW document] URL

Mayes, J.T. (1995) "Learning Technology and Groundhog Day" in W.Strang, V.B.Simpson & D.Slater (eds.) Hypermedia at Work: Practice and Theory in Higher Education (University of Kent Press: Canterbury)

McKendree, J and Mayes, J.T. (1997). "The Vicarious Learner: investigating the benefits of observing peer dialogues" Proceedings of Computer-Assisted Learning Conference (CAL '97) Exeter, UK, pp. 161-164.

McMorris,L. (1998) Learning through tacit participation in undergraduate tutorials MA project, Dept. of Psychology, University of Glasgow

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