Supporting technology instruction through peer tutoring, discussion boards and electronic journals

  • Dan P. Dewey
  • Anne E. Cannon


Given the diverse backgrounds and technical expertise that language
teachers can possess, it is challenging for technology instructors to
meet the needs of individuals during workshops or classes. In this
study, we explored the effectiveness of three interventions implemented
to help a technology instructor better meet the needs of
individuals in his class: peer tutoring, asynchronous discussion board
and electronic journal entries. Through the three interventions, the
instructor's role changed from being the provider of solutions to
every problem (firefighter) to being an available coach, able to focus
his attention on matters that required it most. The instructor
became well informed of individuals' challenges and frustrations
through discussion board postings and journal entries. Learners
regularly answered each others' questions and provided support and
advice as they acted as peer tutors and as they exchange messages via
the discussion board. A strong group dynamic developed as learners
grew accustomed to assisting each other regularly. The instructor
was able to adjust lessons according to needs perceived via journals
and discussion board entries. He was also able to focus more attention
on problems in class that required instructor attention (as opposed
to questions readily answerable by peers).