Building Virtual Communities of Learning via Online Group Personal Tutoring Sessions
In preparation for the 2020-21 academic year, the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Aston University prepared a portfolio of virtual group personal tutoring sessions aimed at bringing students together in online communities, as the usual methods through which students form learning communities would be disrupted due to Covid-19. The sessions were also designed to prepare students for the academic year ahead, focusing on a different academic theme each session. Resources were provided for personal tutors to inform their own delivery of the sessions. There is obvious benefit in providing support for students who are new to university and the Engineering and Applied Science Foundation Year Programme (EAS FYP) has always placed a high priority on personal tutoring. Within EAS FYP, personal tutor-ing is scaffolded; as the year progresses the proactive delivery of support is decreased, encouraging student independence and increasing confidence. The EAS FYP use of the virtual personal tutoring sessions developed by the College was similar in approach but with a few alterations to tailor the provision to foundation year students. This paper discusses the use of virtual group personal tutoring sessions to build communities of learning and the plans for their use in 2021-22.