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Currently I am a private tutor teaching programming and computer applications; Most of my learners are taking face to face one-one sessions, few of them are taking online synchronous sessions using Electa-zone platform or Skype given that the learner has an adequate i.e. high-speed connection.
What do you know about the learners in your field?
I would categorize my learners into two main group according to their age and subject matter. Certainly, within each group there is a diversity in backgrounds, sets of experiences, cultural contexts, and world views.
The first that constitute the majority of my students are millennials female computing learners need support in elementary programming courses such as introduction to programming, object-oriented programming and data structure. Many of them are struggling in their educational institutes and undergoing difficulty in attaining their subject matters. All of them are proficient in English though just as for me it isn’t their first language. Though they are tech-savvy, only few are open to the idea of taking synchronous one to one online sessions, the majority believe online learning is inefficient for them.
The other group are adult immigrants that have very limited or no computer skills. They believe that computers are very complex and difficult to use. They need to learn the basic skills and applications to adapt to society, obtain a better job, and interact with the world. The Majority of my learners in this category are poor in English and that highly impact the pace of their learning.
What variability exists across learners that you might want to be aware of?
In private sessions, things are quite different than it was for me when I was working at higher educational institutes. I need to identify my learner at a deeper level and at a faster pace as the content of sessions are tailored to serve the individuality of each learner and his/her personalized skills and abilities. Knowing the learner’s background, skills and needs isn’t only essential to customize the content but also teaching techniques and assessments to serve each the best. The variability exists across my learners in the following:
Different cognitive and technical levels: Computer programming requires the understanding of a variety of different areas such as logic and mathematical concepts, syntax, the language interface, algorithms, flowcharts, and pseudo code, that certainly require a lot of practice, struggle and mistakes to develop their programming skills. Among my learners, there is an immense diversity in the scale of tolerance, technical level, problem solving skills and logical abilities that I should consider when dealing with each.
Different priorities: The ultimate aim of my private sessions is to address priorities for student learning which might differ from one learner to another taking the same course. In the first few sessions, I need to fully understand learners’ interests, aspirations, and his/her set of priorities
Variance of anxiety amongst computing student: This non- cognitive domain of anxiety with regard to learning computer programming or acquiring computing skills for computer illiterates is one of major variance that should be considered by educators when they get to know their learners.
Difference in work schedule: Many of my learners are working adults, I have to consider that they have they have different work schedules; accordingly, I offer some of my sessions on the morning others at the evening.
Learners’ readiness for learning: While some of my college learners are equipped with life-long learning skills necessary for successful transition to postsecondary, others are still dependent and unfortunately need their educators’ help and intervention to know what to do.
Different English Language proficiency: There is a considerable level of variation in listening and speaking skills especially among learners that desire to learn basic computer skills.
Given the fact that you won’t have access to the non-verbal messages, what might be a sign that your learners are struggling?
The most prevalent signs that indicate that learners are struggling:
• LMS tracking Logs indicate absence or scarce number of login and access
• Lack of participation and engagement in online discussions
• Scarce /no volume of ongoing communication between the learners and their educators. For instance, the volume of emails and questions
• Not able to keep up with assignments’ dates or tasks
• Incomplete learning tasks/check points
• Poor submissions and hence grades
• Not interacting in collaborative projects which is a mandatory component so learners fully understand the programming concepts and are able to apply them in practice