For the pilot stage of the project (January-June 2011) we aimed to identify between 10-20 peer e-guides. We aimed to cover as broad a spectrum of courses as possible (covering levels 1 to 4), including both FE and HE learners. Consequently we targeted individual tutors in each Curriculum area to identify suitable learners to act as peer e-guides.
Project team members discussed the project aims with individual tutors. In addition, tutors and learners were given a brief document summarising the project and e-guide requirements.
The central project hypothesis was that learners look primarily to their peers for ICT support. Furthermore within a given cohort of learners one or more students will naturally emerge as the ones to whom other learners look for support. This hypothesis has proved correct in terms of the project experience so far. Most of the peer e-guides were selected by their tutors on this basis – although a few were selected by volunteering.
We were suprised at the high level of interest amongst staff and students at a very busy time of the academic year. We quickly identified 25 learners to act as e-guides. We allowed tutors to select more than one e-guide from their cohorts- mainly to ensure that all the Digital Literacy competencies were covered. In practice this provided more peer support amongst the e-guides and has enabled the e-guides to assist learners on the same programme of study but in a different cohort.
The benefits of the project were promoted to the e-guides solely in educational terms (ie would look good on CV, improve ICT skills, open up opportunities for further qualifications). Other incentives (ie prizes) were not revealed until after the initial briefings.
Only 3 of the e-guides identified dropped out prior to attending one of the briefing sessions. Of the 22 e-guides who attended the briefing session; 21 completed the intitial Digital Literacy skills audit and 2o attended at least one of the initial training sessions. E-guides were drawn from only two college campuses: Rhos & Denbigh, to facilitate supporting the pilot stage of the project.
The breakdown of e-guides by level of course (from Rhos campus) was as follows:
- Level 1 = 2
- Level 3 = 8
- Level 4 (ie HE) = 6