IH Certificate in Online Tutoring

The aim of the IH COLT course is to train tutors in techniques and approaches to online tutoring for both student-oriented and teacher-oriented courses on Virtual Learning Environments. The course focuses on the demands of the asynchronous environments and how this is different from face-to-face teaching. In addition, the course looks at the various ways synchronous tools can be used for teaching face to face online.

In this video Emma Cresswell, who has completed the COLT and is now a tutor, tells us more about what to expect from this course.

Who is it for?

  • Experienced language teachers that are interested in teaching students online
  • Qualified tutors that are interested in training teachers online
  • Experienced teacher trainers looking at mobbing into online training.
  • Teachers or tutors that are interested in designing online teaching courses (please note the course is not explicitly about course design)

In this video course graduate Sandy Millin shares her experience of the COLT course.


The course consists of 4 modules of input varying in length plus a reflection module, the modules are spread out over a 5 - 6 week period.

Module One: Orientation and Climate Setting

In this module, we explore the importance of establishing and sustaining a supportive community on an asynchronous course.  Module one looks at how students create their profiles through to introductions and site navigation.  Module one ends with an optional synchronous meeting.

Module Two: Basic Tutoring Skills

This module familiarises participants with both VLE and virtual classroom tools. We look at techniques for monitoring our students in the online environment and how to ensure participants are involved. Participants begin researching how people learn online, something continued in module 3.  We’ll also look at how to craft messages and the reasons for sending them. This module includes an option synchronous session in an online classroom. 

Module Three: Face to face and online learning

Module three compares different modes of learning and looks at how a teacher’s skills are adapted from the face to face classroom to online environs.  Additionally, it looks at how tasks might be adapted. We finish the research into how people learn online and through this look at the skills of summarising and weaving online discussions.  We also pose some ‘what if’ scenarios and look at how we might deal with them.

Module Four:  Tutoring Skills part 2

This is the longest module of the course as it brings everything together.  In a collaborative task, participants work together to decide what rules they would give students for working online and how these are enforced. Participants also design and present tasks for both the synchronous and asynchronous environment.

Module Five: Reflection

There is no input for this module: participants are required to finish off tasks and submit an end of course reflection.

Structure and assessment

The course is run entirely online by qualified online tutors. There are a few synchronous meetings led by tutors and participants. These are not compulsory but you are strongly encouraged to take part to make the most of the course. There are also a few collaborative tasks which require you work closely with other participants.

Participants submit a course portfolio comprising of a set of compulsory tasks to be externally moderated as well as an end-of-course reflection. Course participants must make regular and relevant contributions to the online Discussion Board. The grading of the course is Pass or Fail.

Time commitment

A minimum of 50 hours over 5 - 6 weeks, including online and offline work. The course is usually broken down into 5 phases with approximately 1 - 2 hours’ work per day, but the timetable is flexible.