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Rules of engagement: developing the online tutor

DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v20i0.19183

Keywords: confronting reality , sustainable models , online tutoring , sharing knowledge , CPD

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Abstract:

This paper considers professional development in a context that is familiar and problematic to teaching teams in tertiary education everywhere, that of delivering online programmes with an ever-decreasing complement of staff. The Teaching Qualification Further Education (TQFE) teaching team at University of Dundee confronted the reality of reduced staff numbers by centralising tutoring and support for programme participants. The new system involves standardising tutoring as far as possible through generic email, blog and microblog accounts, all badged “TQFE-Tutor” and staffed on a roster basis. Once the new “rules of engagement” via TQFE-Tutor were in place, it became clear that in addition to benefits in terms of student support, there were other unintended positive consequences: opportunities for informal professional development for staff and the promotion of effective team working. The experience of collective tutoring has facilitated collaboration on a range of innovations within online learning. This paper describes the evolution of the TQFE-Tutor innovation and reports upon a small scale study which was carried out to gather the views of the tutor team working with TQFE-Tutor. The authors conclude that the centralisation of communication and tutoring on the TQFE programme has been highly beneficial in terms of professional development for the team.

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