The E-Tutor in the New Normal: Analysing the Changing Roles of Tutoring in an ODeL Environment during and post Covid-19
Keywords:open distance e-learning, e-tutorship, Covid-19 pandemic, exploratory qualitative research
This article reports on a study that explored how an open distance learning (ODL) institution is integrating its online processes in handling e-tutors’ experiences as they transition from face-to-face to blended facilitation. The study examined the following key issues: firstly, conceptions of how the university strategy transitions conventional tutors into its open distance e-learning (ODeL) system; secondly, conceptions of how e-tutors bridge the gap between facilitation and student support; and thirdly, how e-tutors are integrated in the ODeL institution’s system in relation to their personal academic development. The study adopted a qualitative exploratory approach, which relied on documentary sources and the experiences of university e-tutors at the Botswana Open University (BOU) captured through telephonic and online interviews. It is argued that the world is changing due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The changes have been fast, radical, demanding and uncertain. However, ODeL institutions can do more to confront these challenges. The study findings indicated that BOU has positively responded to these changes by relying on its capabilities and strengths. The article provides insights for improved access, success, tutor identities and development. The article ends with recommendations on what could be done to improve learning, teaching and practice as facilitated by e-tutors within ODeL institutions as they recover from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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