Maintaining an Effective Online Learning Environment and the Role of the E-Tutor: The University of Education, Winneba Experience

Salome O. Essuman, Patricia Appiah-Boateng

Abstract


Understanding the importance of the changing role of tutors about the skills needed to achieve an effective online teaching and learning is paramount to a successful online course and programme at large. This paper explores the new roles and responsibilities of some faculty members of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), who have been engaging in online tutoring activities for two years. There is an increasing quest to bring everyone on board for the growing interest in e-learning at UEW. However much is not known about the experiences of e-tutors regarding the roles they have been playing in online facilitation. The successful stories, the challenges and what mechanisms exist for improving the practice are very key. In the paper, we discuss the success factors and challenges and approaches required to support lecturers. A qualitative approach using a semi-structured interview guide was employed in collecting data from ten (10) purposively sampled lecturers who teach different courses at UEW. Among the key findings are that it is the tutors’ role to initiate the learning processes, moderate students’ participation and lead students in discovery mode of learning. Further, as managers and leaders in the learning process they bring students together through group work and other forms of social interaction. However, it emerged that special support and communication systems should be established for both tutors and students to enable them interact effectively. There is the need to provide tutors with continuous professional training and counseling as most of them are new to this mode of education delivery. Again, it emerged that there is ample opportunity to give diverse materials to students to read before any interaction either face-to-face or online. It was proposed that potential tutors should be IT savvy, sharpen their skills and think within an IT context. It is recommended that there should be motivation and recognition for lecturers who tutor online since this mode of teaching is time consuming and very demanding.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jet.v2i1.6685

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