Global Models for Online Peer Observation

Online peer observation is an emerging practice still rare in most universities. Technology can provide flexible and authentic professional development for online tutors, but repurposing on-campus models of peer-observation into the networked space fails to exploit new opportunities.

University of Derby Online learning (UDOL) is well known for tailoring the student and tutor experience for online learners. In a new pilot project, Dr Nicholas Bowskill, Dr Maria Mavrommati and Susan Brock at UDOL have pioneered a unique approach to online peer observation for tutors.

They asked online tutors on two modules - Principles of English Language Teaching and Language Learning: Theory and Practice – to keep an online learning journal over a six week period of teaching. Tutors on both modules are part of a course team which is internationally distributed, so they collaborate online and often work from home.

These reflective accounts were shared in pairs between observer and observed and, in each case, the observer annotated the journal based on points of interest arising. This process generated reflective conversations and made ‘practice’ social.

There were emotional and pedagogical benefits for the observer and observed. The transferable model of online peer observation was successful in bringing globally distributed course teams together, with a greater sense of inclusion for home-based academics.

This new sense of institutional belonging aims to encourage continuous improvement of teaching and learning practice, the development of stronger tutor/student relationships and more effective engagement. The overall outcome of this will be an excellent student experience with improved retention.

For further press information please contact Gemma Bradley, University of Derby PR Officer, on 01332 592279 or email: g.bradley@derby.ac.uk.