Stanford University Libraries

Tutorials: Advantages, Disadvantages and Considerations


  • Enables users to learn on demand and when they are motivated
  • Tutorial can be done independent of time and geography
  • User is able to stop for breaks and to repeat sections as needed
  • Easier to briefly review or skip sessions if not a beginner
  • Learning through written communication may be easier than learning through oral communication (e.g. English as a second language users)
  • Less ongoing staff time is needed for instruction
  • Experts can devise tutorial, even though they are located at a different institutions


  • Not possible to ask questions of instructor or to learn from questions asked by others learning the same topic
  • Density of presentation may be high because content must be self-contained
  • Individuals must be motivated enough to complete tutorial
  • Frequently takes novices longer to learn via tutorial than via classroom setting


  • Tutorials are very labor-intensive to devise
  • Hard to maintain especially if content in tutorial is changing rapidly
  • Should tutorial include practice problems or a quiz?
  • Using interactivity and examples to make tutorial more effective
  • Choosing the right media: audio, video, web, email, combinations?
  • Length of sessions—list total time needed, provide clear outline, and divide topics into modules
  • What equipment and other types of infrastructure is needed to deliver tutorial?
  • What level of user should you aim at?
  • Lobby producers to create tutorials
  • Use team to create tutorial