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Advice for Academic Tutors about autumn 2020

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Questions

How will I hold Academic Tutor meetings in Welcome Week?

All Academic Tutor meetings during Welcome will be virtual, online, group tutor meetings.

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Do Academic Tutor meetings have to be held on the Monday of Welcome Week?

Schools can hold Academic Tutor meetings on any day in Welcome Week.

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Why will all Academic Tutor meetings in Welcome Week be virtual, online, group meetings?

To promote inclusivity and connectivity between tutees and facilitate peer-to-peer support whether tutees are on or off campus. It will be important to encourage social interaction to help to foster a sense of belonging and build academic confidence.

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How can I encourage social interaction in virtual, online, group Academic Tutor meetings?

Include ice-breaking activities and make this meeting a fun opportunity for you and your tutees to get to know each other.  Academic Tutors could make very short (e.g. 1-2 minutes) DIY video clip on their phone to introduce themselves and send that to tutees in advance by way of a welcome, to help them to relax.

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What technology should I use for virtual, online, group Academic Tutor meetings?

You can invite your tutees to a Teams meeting or alternatively it is possible to use Blackboard Collaborate.

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What if my tutees do not have their University usernames in time for the Academic Tutor meeting in Welcome?

Tutees can be invited to join Blackboard Collaborate or Teams meetings as a guest by sending them a link to their personal email address.

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Is there any support to help me run virtual, online, group Academic Tutor meetings?

CQSD offer a range of resources and training to support colleagues in delivering blended T&L.  Many of these will be relevant for Academic Tutors. See the CQSD pages for resources. Training sessions are advertised on the cqsd-t&l@lists.reading.ac.uk email list and you can sign up to join the list by using this form.

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What should I do if a student asks for a one-to-one Academic Tutor meeting?

After Welcome Week,  Academic Tutors may hold one-to-one, physically face-to-face meetings with their tutees, provided that the meetings take place safely in suitable rooms with appropriate control measures in place, both participants are comfortable to meet and that neither the Academic Tutor nor the tutee has a significant concern about doing so.

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Who is responsible for risk assessments for a one-to-one Academic Tutor meeting held after Welcome?

Risk assessments are the responsibility of the colleague running the activity (i.e. 1-1s). The Head of School has ultimate responsibility to ensure all activities and areas are assessed (and that these are part of the local return to work/induction piece) and so the Head of School could/should identify who will cover these assessments, supported by their Health and Safety Co-ordinator. Safety Note 78 is the current specifically relevant guidance.

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Will Academic Tutor meetings be timetabled in the Autumn Term?

No, it will not be possible to centrally timetable Academic Tutor meetings in the Autumn Term, so Academic Tutors will need to arrange these themselves. 

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Will there be any technology to help me arrange Academic Tutor meetings?

A new scheduling tool Microsoft Bookings is available to Academic Tutors on request.  Please look at this short blog for more information .  To request MS Bookings, please follow this link to Top Desk and submit the form.

Although this software is primarily designed for business use, it has been successfully trialled at the University. Tutors can indicate slots when they are available to meet, set maximum capacity, and then students can book themselves in.  It can be set to send an automated confirmation to the student including a calendar invite to a Teams meeting.

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Will there be any support available to help me use Microsoft Bookings?

There is some basic information on this IT webpage and there is training available through Linked In Learning.  We hope to be able to produce a short screencast for staff, and we will let you know when this is available.

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Will there be any specific training/resources for Academic Tutors?

CQSD have developed guidance on how to run virtual group Academic Tutor meetings and this is being shared via the Directors of Academic Tutoring Community of Practice.  You can also make use of our Academic Tutor Toolkit which contains useful information and advice to support your role. A revised Guide for Academic Tutors  and an interactive signposting page/referral flowchart are available online to download as pdfs. 

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What should I focus on in the first Academic Tutor meeting in Welcome Week? 

It is likely that the main focus of the first Academic Tutor meeting will be getting to know each other and setting students' minds at ease if they have any concerns. For more ideas please see the Welcome Week guidance and tips for Tutors

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Will there be any specific training/resources for School Directors of Academic Tutoring (SDATs)?

CQSD have provided SDATs with briefing slides to guide them, as well as a deck of briefing slides to tailor and roll out as start-of-term briefings for Academic Tutors in their Schools. A screencast tour of the Academic Tutor Toolkit and a one page set of useful links have also been shared. 

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Will there be an updated Guide for Academic Tutors for the next academic session?

Yes, a revised Guide for Academic Tutors with an interactive signposting page/referral flowchart are available online to download as pdfs. 

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Where can I find the Academic Tutor Toolkit? 

The Academic Tutor Toolkit can be found under ‘A' in the A-Z listings on the Staff Portal.  Here is a screencast tour of the Academic Tutor Toolkit.

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How will academic engagement be monitored in the Autumn Term?

The Student Attendance Management Project has been rescoped and will be looking at a range of existing datasets rather than physical attendance.  We will let you know when we have more details of how this will work.

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How will students be supported to prepare for the Autumn Term? 

  • New Welcome pages and Returners pages on Essentials have been developed.
  • The primary source of support to prepare new Foundation and Part 1 students for academic study in the Autumn Term will be an updated Study Smart course.  This was launched on 1 September and new students can enrol up until Week 6. A revised Tutor Guide for Study Smart has been produced.
  • A new online ‘Back to Uni: Your Essential Guide to Flexible and Online Study' course for returning and Master's students will be launched on 21 September. A Tutor Guide for ‘Back to Uni' is also available.
  • The virtual Student IT Guide is being finalised by DTS.
  • The Student Engagement CoP has developed some Top Tips for online learning for students and these will be published before the start of term

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Where can I find details of the central communications to students?

You can find an indexed list of the latest communications to students here on Essentials.

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I still have questions about Academic Tutoring in the Autumn Term, who can I ask?

You can ask your School Director of Academic Tutoring (SDAT), or Dr Jo Cordy in CQSD: j.cordy@reading.ac.uk.

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