Towards an online institutional tutor programme at a higher institution of learning
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The University of the Western Cape (UWC) designed and developed a generic pilot Tutor Programme, in 2016. The Programme entails two components, namely, Generic Tutoring Skills; and Online Tutoring Skills. The generic component focuses on issues including, tutor identity and teaching and learning strategies. The eSkills component focuses on critical aspects related to the need for online tutoring in an institution that aspires to function in the digital age. Online skills include course design and effective interactive support and communication with individual students and student groups. This research highlights the eSkills component in relation to the tutors who are expected to enhance lecturer support. The tutor, who is also a subject-matter expert in the specific field, is equipped with necessary online tutoring skills. This qualitative research used individual face-to-face interviews with facilitators of the Tutor Programme, and with an academic Professional Support Unit Coordinator. An online survey was sent out to the tutors. Key findings of the research included the need for skilled online tutors for both blended and distance learning and teaching programmes; and need to design and develop a ‘purely-online tutor programme. The researchers recommend the continuation of the Tutor Programme, especially at time of national crisis in South Africa. As distant learning is key for future planning. However, online tutoring will be critical for the success thereof.